A portion of an ONM interview with Sugimori and Masuda of Game Freak…
ONM: What do you hope people will take from Black and White?
Junichi Masuda: People say that when you play a videogame you only play on your own. But I wanted an experience where you play with your friends. You have fun but you play together.
This was the idea I had in my mind when I created this videogame. You can battle together and trade with your friends. You can even go to the videogame store and meet a stranger and find you’re playing the same game together.
ONM: Can you tell us the inspiration behind the cover stars, Zekrom and Reshiram?
Ken Sugimori: Mr Masuda had specific instructions regarding Zekrom and Reshiram. There are three main points. Number one, they are Dragon-type Pokémon. Number two, they have to be black and white. And three: they had to show the idea of black and white, of bipolar opposites. So the silhouette had to be different. I thought of man versus women and power versus naivety. Also, these two Pokémon have to be Fire-type and Electric-type.
Another instruction from Mr Masuda was to create very cool Pokémon. In order to do that, I added very straight lines instead of curvy lines. Compared to existing Pokémon, sharpness was the focus.
The problem is, when you use black and white colours they tend to look very simple. So, in order to add sophistication to the designs, I added a lot of lines to the Pokémon. In order to emphasise powerfulness, I added a very thick tail.
ONM: And is there any meaning behind their names?
Ken Sugimori: It’s always difficult to come up with a name that stands up in another language. In this case we came up Zekrom and Reshiram based on Japanese. Black in Japanese is ‘kuro’ and white is ’shiro’. When you look at Zekrom, there’s a ‘kuro’ in it and Reshiram has the ’shiro’.
Yet Zekrom is a powerful, strong character, so ‘ze’ has a harder, stronger sound - ‘re’ is softer. So the names for Zekrom and Reshiram also consider that bipolar idea.