Pokemon CEO Talks Challenges Of Localizing Pokemon Games In The Early Days

Pokemon CEO Talks Challenges Of Localizing Pokemon Games In The Early Days

Tsunekazu Ishihara, CEO and President of The Pokemon Company, recently spoke about the difficulties they faced when bringing the mainline Pokemon RPG to Nintendo Switch.

Ishihara also discussed the challenges The Pokemon Company faced when they were planning to bring the Pokemon games outside Japan and to the rest of the world. As the company decided to localize the Pokemon franchise in the late 90s, they started to encounter lots of problems they did not expect to face, as the games and other projects were initially made in mind for the Japanese audience.

For example, there were technical issues, such as translating text from Japanese to English in Pokemon Red and Blue. The layouts for both English and Japanese were different, memory space required was different, and all sorts of other issues that required Nintendo and their partners to overhaul the game to accommodate localization in other languages.

Other localization problems include catering to the taste of people living outside Japan. The Pokemon Company needed to know how Americans, French, and other people react to Pikachu’s cry. They also needed to name every Pokemon in many different languages. Things also that had to be taken into consideration are trademarks and culture of different countries.

In the beginning, it took about half a year to one year for a Pokemon game to launch in countries outside Japan due to localization. Over time, this reduced to 3 months, and finally, after 15 years, Pokemon games now launch simultaneously worldwide. The reduction in time between the Japanese launch and launch in other regions has reduced thanks to the lessons The Pokemon Company has learned over the years, and how they have drastically evolved their methods in handling localization.

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