Coming from a Polygon hands-on session and chat with Junichi Masuda...
- starts off with the classic first choice — "Are you a boy or a girl?"
- then you customize how your character looks
- new trainers will head out to meet up with four other neighborhood kids
- over coffee in a little Parisian-style cafe is where you're given your starter Pokemon and the Pokedex
- these friends will travel alongside you as you move through the Kalos region
"This time we really wanted to make it a journey about you and your friends. When you first meet the kids at the beginning of the game, you don't actually know them, so you're meeting them for the first time. But one of the central themes of Pokemon X and Y are bonds — the bonds between people, and the bonds between people and Pokemon, for example. When focusing on this theme, we wanted to make [the game] a journey about meeting these friends and then getting to know them over the course of the adventure."
- Sycamore is studying Pokemon's Mega Evolutions
- he will often ask favors of people rather than do things himself
- this includes having friends deliver the Pokemon to players
- he will even challenge players to a Pokemon battle
- Pokemon newly introduced in X and Y will not have Mega Evolutions
- Pokemon must be holding a special Mega Stone when they head into battle in order to utilize their Mega Evolution
- this is a temporary state that ends along with the battle
"Mega Evolution works the way it does is for a variety of reasons. Another main theme of Pokemon X and Y is evolution, and I think the concept of evolution is the defining characteristic of [the Pokemon series]. When we were developing X and Y, we were thinking about what new things we could do with this — I talked with the graphic designers and the battle designers to come up with a good idea. What we came up with was a form of evolution that would only last during battle but would also require the Pokemon to hold the Mega Stone.
By requiring the Pokemon to hold the Mega Stone, it prevents it from holding any other item in battle that may come in handy or play to a certain strategy. Since you don't know what your opponent is holding, you kind of have to guess their strategy, especially if it's a Pokemon that can Mega Evolve. What this does is it adds a strategic depth.
We felt that temporarily going to this extreme level and then coming back to normal would be more interesting [that it being constant]. Also, from a gameplay perspective, if we just added another level of permanent evolution, the Pokemon would just become too strong and that would destroy the balance of the gameplay."
On including Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle at the start
"Originally I didn't plan to put them into the game [as starters], but the Red and Blue starters have always been really important to us and I knew that I wanted to give them Mega Evolutions, so I gave the direction to the designers. When I saw the designs that they came up with, I thought they were very cool and I wanted to give players the opportunity to get ahold of these Pokemon — and because in Red and Blue you receive the Pokemon from a professor, I felt it would be fitting to receive them from a professor [in X and Y] as well. It also fits well with the story. The professor in X and Y is researching Mega Evolutions, so it all just kind of matched."
- pokemon also make more natural sounds
- train individual Pokemon in Super Training minigames
- rub their tummies and feed them in Pokemon Amie
- find friends online to battle and trade
"We really wanted to design it so people could find their own play style — for example, with Pokemon Amie, we designed it for people who just really want to interact and play with their Pokemon and pet them, and they'll probably keep the bottom [screen] on the Pokemon Amie screen [at all times]. For others that like to play online, they'll just leave it at the Player Search System screen. I do think that people stick to a specific play style at specific times. "
- development of this UI and all the different activities, as well as a need to pick up the game's pacing, were a core focus during the game's development
"In Japan, one thing I really noticed, especially among middle school students, is everyone is really busy. They're writing blogs, going to real life meetups with friends, using Twitter, Facebook, playing mobile games... They just have a lot of different entertainment options with a variety of media. It just feels like a lot of people these days don't have a lot of time.
One of the things we focused on with Pokemon X and Y was to really speed up the pace, up the tempo a bit, and make it more of a brisk-paced adventure and make it easier to raise Pokemon. There are a lot of free games out there, and if you get bored it's easy to just switch to something else — we really wanted to make it constantly interesting and engaging."
On why the main series isn't hitting Wii U
"The series was built around the idea of trading Pokemon, trading these creatures, and everything we designed about the games was based on that concept. That trading aspect was also to promote communication between people, and really, you need the handheld to be able to go places in real life, meet people, easily trade and battle with them. I think that's the reason we designed them on the handheld; it's really important to Pokemon."
On returning to Pokemon Snap
"Personally, I really love the Pokemon Snap game, but it wouldn't be interesting if we just released the same game, how it was before, for the Wii U or 3DS. So we have to come up with a new idea or something that will make it more appealing to players. Sometime down the road, we may have something."