Recently, Pokemon Card project manager Kouta Okamoto and director Atsushi Nagashima from Creatures, Inc. sat down with Famitsu for an interview about the hit trading card game.
During the interview, the two shared insight into the origins of the Pokemon TCG. Apparently, it was the idea of Creatures founder Tsunekazu Ishihara, and started development before Pokemon Red & Blue had even released!
Atsushi Nagashima, director: “At the time, I had yet to be involved in Pokemon Cards, so this is what I’ve heard, but it was Creatures founder [Tsunekazu] Ishihara who at the time was studying board games of all sorts. At the time, Pokemon Red & Green were still in development, but from how you could collect 151 species of Pokemon, and the game’s turn-based battle system, it was very compatible with the TCG format. That’s how development began, so I hear.”
Famitsu: So it started with Ishihara-san’s idea. So even when Pokemon Red & Green were in development, people were already looking for expand the series beyond games.
Kouta Okamoto, project manager: “Right. Because it was born as a new way of producing the Pokemon series, the Pokemon Card TCG has emphasized “pretending to be a trainer” from the very start. For example, the deck basically has the same role PCs do in the main games. Also, there’s only one battle space, and five bench spaces, meaning you follow the rule of only having six Pokemon. The fact your turn ends after you attack is the same way.”
Okamoto & Nagashima also talked about having a wide variety of illustrators for the cards, even for the same Pokemon. This decision was to avoid having cards of the same Pokemon look too similar, and instead show different sides of the Pokemon. In this way, players can feel like they are learning more about each Pokemon through each unique card and illustration.
Okamoto: “Currently, we request illustrations from about 80 different artists, each who have their own styles and strengths. So, we usually ask the artist who can draw that Pokemon with the most charm as a basis. However, because Pokemon that are often made into cards end up having a similar look when drawn by the same person, we sometimes ask new people to handle it. What’s important is keeping in mind those that are getting to know new Pokemon with these cards.”
Nagashima: “Pokemon Cards are like each a page of the Pokemon encyclopedia. That’s why the basic direction is to have artists draw illustrations that match the Pokemon’s image. However, sometimes one Pokemon may have several cards in the same expansion, and in these cases we ask artists to show a surprising side to the Pokemon for one of them.”
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