The development team at Genius Sonority talks about the upcoming Pokemon battle/RPG title for GameCube.
Today Nintendo hosted a teleconference with members of Genius Sonority, the developer of Pokemon Colosseum. Below are rough notes of the proceedings. Please note that this is NOT a true transcript; most quotes have been paraphrased. However, the very lengthy call would have taken a very long time to transcribe, and we thought our readers would rather have the gist of the information in a more timely manner.
Pokemon Colosseum Teleconference
Pokemon series: 38 million copies sold in N.A., over 1 billion dollars in sales revenue
Pre-sale bonus, Feb 9th, the preview disc w/Jirachi.
Mr. Yamana – Director, CEO:
Good morning, I’m Yamana, CEO of Genius Sonority. I’d like to talk about the story of the production of Pokemon Colosseum (PC). When Ruby & Sapphire were released, the possibility of creating a new 3D battle game for them in the vein of Stadium was brought to our attention. We wanted to appeal to new players as well, so we included an RPG mode in which players can catch their own Pokemon. RPG mode will make the game more fun for first-time Pokemon players, but experienced fans can enjoy battling against the difficult trainers in 3D graphics in this mode. The game has an RPG and battle mode, and it would not be unfair to say that it is two games in one. It took about a year and four months to complete, a relatively short time for such a big game. About sixty people from GS were involved, as well as people from Creatures who supervised the monster models and animations. In total, about 180 people were involved in the creation. This game was made by experts from many areas and includes new concepts, such as rescuing Pokemon from criminal organizations. It is different from previous Pokemon RPGs. Now we will have different people from the development team come talk about their parts of the game.
Game Concept: Hi, I created the game concept, my name is Miura. I wanted to produce a game that was a little bit different from the original RPG Pokemon games. To do that, I came up with three concepts. First, 2-on-2 (double) battles should enhance the battle elements and require some strategic thinking. The second is a new way to catch Pokemon, which is called “snagging”. The third is called “purifying”, this is a new way to communicate with your Pokemon. So these three concepts make PC look different, but it still has the roots of the Pokemon world. After we nailed down the game concept, we asked Mr. Hiromoto, who is a cartoonist, to define this world. He has released some comics in the U.S., so he is known there. I have been a fan of his work; his creative worlds are very stylish with great characters. He designed the characters and backgrounds for the game. Then we asked Mr. Orio, a veteran scenario writer in this industry, to create scenario of the game.
Character Design: Hi, I’m the character designer, my name is Hiromoto. As soon as I heard about this project, I had a certain look in mind to implement. I had fun working with the Pokemon world and characters. I created the world, and based on our image of Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S. Although I have never been there, I used my imagination to create this world. I hope you will enjoy the atmosphere and have fun.
Scenario Writer: Hi, I’m Orio, I was in charge of creating the scenario for this game. The story of the game…you can play it and you will know what it’s about. But let me just explain the overview. As mentioned earlier, this game features a new element called snagging. In the world of Pokemon, stealing someone else’s Pokemon was a taboo. As I mentioned, snagging could be a bad thing, however, I tried my best to balance this so the player wouldn’t feel guilty when he snags Pokemon. Contrary to other Pokemon games, the main character in this game is a bit older and more sophisticated. You will be playing in an older-looking, darker, cooler world. You will feel as you play it that this game is different from other Pokemon games, however, the rules have not changed, so you will enjoy this. In this game you will see many bad guys, however, none of those bad guys are truly bad. There are many attractive characters in the game, so I hope players in the U.S. will play this game and have fun. Thank you very much, and now I will give this to Mr. Tawada.
Music Director: Hi, I’m Mr. Tawada, I was in charge of music. First of all, I had real fun making this game. I was director of the music creation. I had discussed the game’s creation with the others, so I had a good idea of what they were each doing with the game. As you know, Pokemon games are played by mostly kids, younger players. But I intentionally created the music for a little bit older audience. Also, I wanted to mention that GameCube hardware is so attractive. I looked at GameCube as one instrument, and I tried my best to get the best out of it.
Graphics: Hi, I’m Mr. Wada, I was in charge of graphics. When creating PC, my main focus was to create exciting 3D battles. In Stadium, the battles were 3D, but we wanted to make them a lot cooler. During the 3D battles, you will see that we made such an effort in making the arena and the battle effects and trainers watching the Pokemon battle. Additionally, I think we were able to create very cool camera work, just like in the movies. Before we started the development of the game, we had two problems in the area of graphics. The first point is that Pokemon you normally see in 2D in the GB/GBA games, making those 2D Pokemon into 3D. The second point is, it was a big hurdle to create animations of Mr. Shiromoto’s art into 3D. Once we combined the two, it became extremely interesting, and I realized that this game was going to be very a interesting game.
Programming: Hi, I’m Mr. Kawamoto, I was in charge of programming. In PC, the players can connect the GBA and play your Ruby/Sapphire Pokemon in the game. Unlike N64’s Stadium, the players can enter commands using GBA. With this feature, you can hide what you are selecting, so the battle is going to be even more fun. Also, you can battle between the Colosseum player against your Ruby/Sapphire players. And of course, in PC you can have very difficult battles against computer A.I. trainers. I know that many Pokemon players know the game very well, so I made the computer trainers very challenging. What was difficult about programming this game is that there are so many Pokemon, and each can be customized in a thousand different ways. We had to deal with this issue in both RPG and battle mode, so it was very challenging. I hope that you will have many battles with Ruby/Sapphire players in PC.
Localization: Hi, I am Iwasawa, I am in charge of the localization. From the beginning of the project, PC was developed with localization in mind. Especially with help from NOA, the process is coming along very well. The biggest problem we had is that such the development schedule of the Japanese version was so tough, everyone was burned out after that version was complete. I had trouble motivating them to work on this U.S. version. I think that PC was very well received in Japan, we got very good reviews. I am very anxious to know if the players in the U.S. will feel this game is very approachable or awkward. For those players who have Ruby/Sapphire and want to play “gang” battles, I’m sure they will be satisfied with this game. In addition, the RPG mode in this game will attract a lot of other players too.
Q: Was there any consideration for online competition with the game?
A: Yamana – I was not thinking about online battles and I’m not planning for future online battles.
Q: It’s obvious that the story is darker and more brooding than in previous Pokemon titles. What challenges did you have with this type of story, and do you think this kind of story alienates the Pokemon demographic?
A: Miura – We wanted to create a Pokemon game that is different from the previous ones, so we made this one feel a little bit darker. Although it has dark feelings, it is still attractive. Once you start playing the game, you will know it is not only dark-themed, it also has your familiar Pokemon world. It’s not going to turn any established fans away from the game.
Q: Similarities and differences between Dragon Quest series and Pokemon series?
A: That is a very tough question, thank you for asking that! The difference between these series is a relationship between the story and the strategy element of the game. I think Pokemon requires more strategy, and Dragon Quest is more heavy on the story side. The reason why I wanted to challenge creating this game, PC, was that I wanted Pokemon, which features the strategy to feature more story, just like Dragon Quest. To be honest, I would like you to play PC and find out why I wanted to create this game.
Q: Why is “Colosseum” spelled incorrectly in the U.S. version?
A: We wanted to set this game apart, so we thought of using this creative spelling.
Q: Why are Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Silver, Gold, Crystal, not able to connect with PC? Are there plans to allow for these games to connect to it in the future?
A: We can’t discuss that right now.
Q: How does snagging work, and how is it different from catching wild Pokemon in the GB games?
A: Snagging is done during battle. You are taking away the opposing trainer’s Pokemon. The reason it is okay to do so is revealed in the game.
Q: How is item usage handled in Colosseum? Are there any big differences between battles in the GB games and in Colosseum?
A: The original GB games did not permit trainers to use items during link-cable battles, so we have preserved this rule in Colosseum. However, you can use trainer items in the RPG mode.
Q: You mentioned that the graphics and audio are targeted towards an older audience, so did you also skew the gameplay towards an older audience?
A: We did not change the age of the target audience. However, even older players will find this game interesting, they will find how deep the storyline is.
Q: In the RPG mode, can you capture the legendary Pokemon like Lugia or Entai?
A: It’s a secret!
Q: What do you think is the best new feature that will attract players who have never played a Pokemon game?
A: The Pokemon characters and how they are drawn in the 3D world.
Q: With the addition of snagging Pokemon, do you see this feature making into future games, or is it just a one-time deal?
A: Yamana – This is actually a secret, so I can’t really answer. But in the world of PC, there is something very special and unique, you will know this eventually.