Pokemon Art Director Wants to Simplify Pokemon Designs

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Pokemon Art Director Wants to Simplify Pokemon Designs

gengar

Ken Sugimori wants the series to go back to its simpler roots.

Pokemon X and Y have only been out for around a month or so, but legendary art director Ken Sugimori, who has been with the series from the beginning, is already thinking about the next generation. Specifically, he feels that the series has become needlessly complex as of late, and wants it to return to its simpler roots.

Talking to the Japanese We Love Pokemon Magazine, Sugimori answered that rather than adding more features and more complex designs, he'd rather go back to having elements similar to what was offered in Pokemon Red and Blue to see how it would turn out.

He also believes that it's probably not possible to decrease the number of Pokemon, but it might be in the series' best interests to make a large adjustment to the number of attacks, abilities and items. He says that fan feedback has revealed that Pokemon fans also feel the same way.

On the actual design front, he says he wants to try experimenting with simpler designs for existing Pokemon in other media (such as the TV shows or manga), just to see what people's reactions would be.

Sugimori was also asked what his favorite Pokemon is, and his answer is something any budding artist can sympathize with. "Gengar, because it doesn't require many lines and is easy to draw." Consequently, Venusaur is his least favorite Pokemon.

Source: We Love Pokemon (Japanese) via Siliconera

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I cannot agree more. Like a good melody I always felt the simpler designs with very distinct silhouettes made them all the more iconic with the newer more complex ones feeling generic with complexity for complexities sake.

Their designs are simple enough as it is although they really need to tone down on the amount of shapes (like if you were to dissect a Pokemon drawing to its basic shapes like circles and rectangles) a Pokemon has, like Saulkar said, their silhouettes arent that great.

Digimons have a lot more detail and yet keep some nice silhouettes.

I'm fine with them getting simpler but I hope they don't go back to Gen 1 levels of simple. I grew up with Pokemon Blue but when I think back not to many pokemon really interested me in that gen

josemlopes:
Their designs are simple enough as it is although they really need to tone down on the amount of shapes (like if you were to dissect a Pokemon drawing to its basic shapes like circles and rectangles) a Pokemon has, like Saulkar said, their silhouettes arent that great.

Digimons have a lot more detail and yet keep some nice silhouettes.

I agree. Look at this abomination, for example:

image

I absolutely agree. The legendary pokemon look ridiculous & out of place. Plus more simplistic designs increases the likenesses of adorable mons.

simpler? Am I the only one who found Gen VI to be exactly that? The designs are sharp and clear and really really fun. And they're all good designs. There ARE some pokemon I find incredibly stupid (wtf aromatisse, just wtf) but that doesn't change the fact that they're well-designed. Really, I found Gen V to be quite strong but with Gen VI gamefreak blew it out of the park. Gen III and IV are completely forgettable and I couldn't sort the pokemon according to the games even if I tried :/

Plus, it's kinda funny that Sugimori wants to go back to Gen I when it contains both his most and LEAST favourite pokemon.

Some of the most liked Pokimen these last years were the most simpel, I agree with him completely.

TJC:
simpler? Am I the only one who found Gen VI to be exactly that? The designs are sharp and clear and really really fun. And they're all good designs.

That means he succeeded, doesn't it?
Most comments here seem to say exactly that, he already went back to simpler ways, which is what he aimed for.
So now all he needs to do is keep up the good work :)

Personally I haven't seen much of the mons after gen 3 and the ones I can actually name are gen 1 and 2, I played pokemon Black which was fun but it was my first thouch back into the series since Silver/Gold.
Maybe I'll get a 3DS at some point to play the latter part of the series.

TJC:
Gen III ... completely forgettable

You're a very brave person for speaking your mind, respect!

OT: Cool, more Pokemon!

Yeah, no I don't see the point that Pokemon have gotten worse because their designs have gotten more "complex" somehow. Isn't that what designs are supposed to do in long running franchises? The sad part is that if Game Freak had kept making simpler "generic" designs, people would still hate the new Pokemon for no good reason.

I think a lot of the early Pokemon designs are more "generic" personally than the later generations. Charizard is literally a classic European dragon, as is Dragonite. Seel and Dewgong look like creatures you see at an aquarium along with most of the water types. Paint a rat purple and you have a real Rattata. I like Gen 1 a lot, but if you want generic, look no further than Kanto and Johto.

Edit: Are people seriously complaining that newer Pokemon silhouettes are harder to make out and therefore, worse designs? If you were raised on the new Pokemon, you would know the silhouettes as well as the old ones. I've heard some lousy arguments, but this takes the cake.

josemlopes:
Their designs are simple enough as it is although they really need to tone down on the amount of shapes (like if you were to dissect a Pokemon drawing to its basic shapes like circles and rectangles) a Pokemon has, like Saulkar said, their silhouettes arent that great.

Digimons have a lot more detail and yet keep some nice silhouettes.

It's a good thing that Gen I silhouettes were so recognizable then!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G16gSgfBWRk

I wonder what his thoughts on Gen 6 are. On one hand, he certainly gets his "simpler" (and IMHO far better) pokemon designs. On the other, they added quite a few features and complications to the system. (flying vs sky, rotations, hordes, etc)

While Ken's speaking his mind, I wonder what his opinion is on the ice cream Pokemon.

I don't mind "simple" just as long as it doesn't go into "generic" like Hero of Lime mentioned. I definitely agree that the Legendaries have gotten...well, interesting, at the very least. But still, the Legendaries seem to be getting more complex and in some cases scarier. Not exactly a good match for a game with a cute-as-a-kitten-in-a-cup (as least I think that's what they were trying for) mascot.

I think they are trying to aim for simpler this time around. A lot of the Pokémon, besides getting updated cries, seem to have much cleaner and uncomplicated designs to them. This made many of them look a lot more presentable and more befitting the new graphics and design of the Kalos region.

My only hope is that they don't try to simplify anything else. Abilities, double/triple/rotation battles, sky battles, effort values...these are all things that in my opinion made the game much better and much more enjoyable to play. So...simplify the graphics if you must, but keep the gameplay elements intact.

This is what Pokemon needs.

It needs mole things, dogs, fish, snake-things. Not flying rocketship-like turtles or key chains.

I hope the next Pokemon game isn't shit. That's really universal.

glad he feels the same way i do. the last few generations have been getting more and more bizarre. they dont even look like pokemon anymore. honestly, if you were to put a bunch of official fifth and sixth gens in front of me, mixed in with a bunch of overly-complex fan art, i wouldnt be able to tell the difference. i mean, there are freaking ice cream pokemon now. and i think theres also a trash pile pokemon. and i know for a fact that there is a key chain pokemon. and a sword one... its just ridiculous, imo

Sure, Ken. Maybe less random spikes and stripes. And keep these color schemes down. Five different colors on one pokemon (I'm looking at you, Mega Lucario) is just too much.

However, do not cut down on moves, abilities, and items. They add depth to the game.

I can see why they'd want to cut down on the complexity of the design, i mean can you imagine trying to play Who's That Pokemon with Gen VI? Honestly i don't care so much about simple or complex designs, but what i would love is for the pokemon to have a more memorable design again. Gen V & VI have hardly had any pokemon in them that i remember once i put it down.

Oh, and why the fuck would you cut down on attacks and abilities? Having unique attacks or moves that are special only to a certain group of pokemon actually adds some drive to catch and evolve them, meaning it contributes to what many would call the "point" of pokemon in the first place.

Items i'd be fine with seeing cut down a bit though 'cause the new item bag is a pretty cluttered mess even after you sort it.

One look at the inventory of pokemon X/Y should tell you that cutting the fat is much, much needed.
Bullshit items that evolve only 1 specific critter when held during a trade after which they disappear (what the fuck, gamefreak. Stop that. Seriously), 9 flavors of evolution stones each only evolving ~4-5 pokemon and a shitload of outright useless items (who the hell uses attack boosting items?) and up to 3 items boosting the exact same element for each element all packed into one giant list.
Have fun scrolling cause the ones you want to use such as repels are right in the center.

Also HMs. Fuck. HMs.

Design-wise, they're on the right track with X/Y. A track leading far, far away from Reshiram and Zekrom.

They should fire whoever thought a menu that -on top of being a convoluted piece of shit- takes almost a second to pop up and close down and putting fade to black behind fucking everything was a-okay though.
That interface is the worst abortion I have ever seen in a pokemon game.

dylanmc12:
Not flying rocketship-like turtles

I'm really curious. What Pokemon is this?

Eh. I wouldn't mind either way. But some of my favourites tend to be simpler. Such as Scraggy over Scrafty. I like Scrafty, but it just added too many bits. The mohawk and hood are a bit intrusive. They should be smaller. And Diggersby doesn't need that big fluffy middle. He'd be totally fine, actually, probably better off, without it. Just put his hands by his sides or have him fold his arms.

That's the main thing, actually...just remove the fluffy bits. In case you still don't know what I mean, another example: Meowstic's fluffy collar.

Vykrel:
glad he feels the same way i do. the last few generations have been getting more and more bizarre. they dont even look like pokemon anymore.

*twitch*

Carry on.

I always love the designs Sugimori came up with. Generation V for me (despite all the hate it gets for Icecream Pokemon) is on the top of my list of all time favorites.

That being said, I don't mind simplified designs. Nothing wrong with that. I don't however want it to be Generation 1 simple.

As much as the genwunners like to put that generation on a pedestal, that gen was the epitome of generic ass animals that did cool attacks, and honestly when put up against the later generation Pokemon they now come off as plain.

I think gen 6 was a happy medium. Perhaps he will continue down that design path?

I will agree with some people here though. The legendary designs need to be toned down. The Ruby/Sapphire and Gold/Silver legendaries are still my top favorites.

[quote="JarinArenos" post="7.833408.20376130" they added quite a few features and complications to the system. (flying vs sky, rotations, hordes, etc)[/quote]

Sky battles are just a gimmick that all but a few trainers actually use.

As for rotation and triple battles those have proven to be quite fun. Although they aren't new additions anymore since they were introduced in Generation 5.

effort values, nature, breeding.

All that can go the fck away please. Its telling that while the adience presumably grew up into office slave shifting spreadsheetaround, more obtuse spreadsheet shit creeped into the game. To make it more complex i gather. But you know what, Fck that noise. How did find pokemon, wear down pokemon, catch, train and crush other pokemon turn into eveokemon?

I like having a slew of stuff to equip, items, attacks etc. Having a variety of options is good. Needing a fckn online database to train mons is wrong.

Clean that mess up please.

Vykrel:
glad he feels the same way i do. the last few generations have been getting more and more bizarre. they dont even look like pokemon anymore. honestly, if you were to put a bunch of official fifth and sixth gens in front of me, mixed in with a bunch of overly-complex fan art, i wouldnt be able to tell the difference. i mean, there are freaking ice cream pokemon now. and i think theres also a trash pile pokemon. and i know for a fact that there is a key chain pokemon. and a sword one... its just ridiculous, imo

you're opening yourself up to way to much of a counter argument many people could pull just from Gen 1.

OT: I'm actually pretty alright with the way pokmeon designs have gone. I mean yeah there's one's have I havent liked but in hindsight I'm no huge fan of the old Gen 1 designs and there's always been a few in each gen that turn me off to them. One of things I definitely liked was the Xerneas design just because it looked so (relatively) simple (what with it being a stag with colourful horns, which usually when you think nature and life you think spring and summer and fields of flowers hitting as many colours of the rainbow as possible). Honestly I think looking back the one legendary design I could never get on board with was the htird gen, in particular Groudon.

I can understand his opinion though, if I had to draw I'd probably hate drawing more complex designs, especially as I got older and did this for years.

As for the items thing... yeah, they could probably afford to lose a few. My big thing is trading (an I know why its so prevalent, especially in these days where its so much easier to do now) evolution items, mostly just cause its a bit of annoyance. I'm not against them perse, especially if its something like slowpoke where you get a different form, it would just be nice if they could work in game after a certain point.

dylanmc12:
This is what Pokemon needs.

It needs mole things, dogs, fish, snake-things. Not flying rocketship-like turtles or key chains.

I completely disagree. we have enough dog, snake, and fish pokemon. I'm fine with simpler pokemon, but they should be of animals that haven't been used. I'll take keychains and ice cream cones over the genericness of the next ratata/pidgey ripoff any day.

Neutral about the pokemon designs but I think there is definite room for improvement in the moves that the pokemon know. I would like there to be more variety, interesting effects and chances for interesting strategies rather than the ubiquitous power + type coverage. For example, dark type moves almost all have interesting conditions on their use but at the same time there are about 7 quick attacks differentiated only by their type.

loa:
Design-wise, they're on the right track with X/Y. A track leading far, far away from Reshiram and Zekrom.

What is wrong with Reshiram and Zekrom? I like Xerneas and Yveltal a lot, but I find Reshiram and Zekrom's design, and plot dynamic far more interesting than the rest of the other opposing legendary duos.

Vykrel:
glad he feels the same way i do. the last few generations have been getting more and more bizarre. they dont even look like pokemon anymore. honestly, if you were to put a bunch of official fifth and sixth gens in front of me, mixed in with a bunch of overly-complex fan art, i wouldnt be able to tell the difference. i mean, there are freaking ice cream pokemon now. and i think theres also a trash pile pokemon. and i know for a fact that there is a key chain pokemon. and a sword one... its just ridiculous, imo

Please tell us great Poke Guru, what is a Pokemon supposed to look like? I guess we've been playing some knock off games all these years since the great days of 6 eggs, and regular looking seals, rats, and birds. Don't forget that Pokeball that evolves by flipping over, man I miss those days...

I'm not overly bothered by any of the current designs and like most of them and I'm sure I'll like whatever new Pokémon we get. However, I don't think they should get rid of moves, it's good knowing that all of your Pokémon can have different movesets and not having all fire types have the same four moves.

Hero of Lime:
The sad part is that if Game Freak had kept making simpler "generic" designs, people would still hate the new Pokemon for no good reason.

This is exactly what will happen and the worst part is the people complaining about it won't even see the irony in their complaining.

Hero of Lime:
Please tell us great Poke Guru, what is a Pokemon supposed to look like? I guess we've been playing some knock off games all these years since the great days of 6 eggs, and regular looking seals, rats, and birds. Don't forget that Pokeball that evolves by flipping over, man I miss those days...

i know you probably want to protect what i assume is your favorite franchise, so ill try not to make you angry.

first, let me just say that gen 1 is not perfect. there are some profoundly stupid pokemon from each generation. gen 1 has mr mime and jynx, which are totally ridiculous. porygon doesnt really make any sense in the world. voltorb and electrode are incredibly uninspired, and they are kind of in the same boat as porygon, in that they dont seem natural like the majority of the other pokemon. magnemite and magneton, as well. staryu and starmie would make more sense if they were organic, instead of whatever the hell they are made out of. and ditto really seems strange when looking at every other pokemon. and as you mentioned, eggsegcute is pretty silly.

then there are the pokemon that fit into the world, but there is a flaw with their design... like hitmonchan and his naturally occuring boxing gloves, or blastoises cannons, or the whole kangaskan baby inception thing. still, despite the first gens flaws, the designs were not overly complex. neither were the designs in the second and third gen, for the most part.

to give you an example, lets look at the main legendaries for each set of games, starting with gold and silver...
Gold & Silver: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Gold_and_Silver_Versions alright, obviously they are birds. thats keeping with the whole "inspired by reality" theme that pokemon is supposed to have. the designs are a bit more complex, which is appropriate, considering they are legendary pokemon... but they are not too over-the-top

now lets look at Ruby & Sapphire: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ruby_and_Sapphire okay, things are getting a bit more complex. clearly, Kyogre is supposed to resemble some sort of manta ray, but i have no idea what the hell Groudon is. the design for the pokemon in gen 3 is mostly fine, up until you get to the legendaries. things start to get off-the-wall at that point, and they start to look pretty unlike the rest of the pokemon found in that generation.

moving on to Diamond & Pearl: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Diamond_and_Pearl_Versions we have offically stepped into Yu-Gi-Oh territory, here. i cant even begin to guess at what these legendaries are supposed to resemble, but thats probably because they might not resemble anything. the issue with that is that it isnt keeping to the tradition of what pokemon are supposed to be, which are fantastical creatures inspired by things that are found in the real world. ill be honest, the designs for gen 4 in general caused me to drop off from the series. some of them are okay, at best, but the majority of the pokemon in this generation look as though they should have been either slightly redesigned or rejected entirely.

okay, now Black & White: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Black_and_White_Versions again, i dont even know what to say. the other legendaries are similarly baffling, especially Landorus/Tornadus/whateverus...

and finally, X & Y: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/X_%26_Y well, one of them is definitely a deer, but holy hell is that a complex design. you know, part of what makes the simpler designs so great is that kids can actually draw them.

all i can say is, i dont mean to upset you or anyone. i like pokemon, but i really dont like the direction theyve taken when it comes to artistic design. in my opinion, they nailed it with gen 2, with the exception of maybe two or three stand outs. i cannot for the life of me figure out why they felt the need to add smoochum to the series. jynx was bad enough alone. and the Unknown are pretty random. overall, though, that generations pokemon were really well designed

Vykrel:

Hero of Lime:
Please tell us great Poke Guru, what is a Pokemon supposed to look like? I guess we've been playing some knock off games all these years since the great days of 6 eggs, and regular looking seals, rats, and birds. Don't forget that Pokeball that evolves by flipping over, man I miss those days...

i know you probably want to protect what i assume is your favorite franchise, so ill try not to make you angry.

first, let me just say that gen 1 is not perfect. there are some profoundly stupid pokemon from each generation. gen 1 has mr mime and jynx, which are totally ridiculous. porygon doesnt really make any sense in the world. voltorb and electrode are incredibly uninspired, and they are kind of in the same boat as porygon, in that they dont seem natural like the majority of the other pokemon. magnemite and magneton, as well. staryu and starmie would make more sense if they were organic, instead of whatever the hell they are made out of. and ditto really seems strange when looking at every other pokemon. and as you mentioned, eggsegcute is pretty silly.

then there are the pokemon that fit into the world, but there is a flaw with their design... like hitmonchan and his naturally occuring boxing gloves, or blastoises cannons, or the whole kangaskan baby inception thing. still, despite the first gens flaws, the designs were not overly complex. neither were the designs in the second and third gen, for the most part.

to give you an example, lets look at the main legendaries for each set of games, starting with gold and silver...
Gold & Silver: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Gold_and_Silver_Versions alright, obviously they are birds. thats keeping with the whole "inspired by reality" theme that pokemon is supposed to have. the designs are a bit more complex, which is appropriate, considering they are legendary pokemon... but they are not too over-the-top

now lets look at Ruby & Sapphire: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ruby_and_Sapphire okay, things are getting a bit more complex. clearly, Kyogre is supposed to resemble some sort of manta ray, but i have no idea what the hell Groudon is. the design for the pokemon in gen 3 is mostly fine, up until you get to the legendaries. things start to get off-the-wall at that point, and they start to look pretty unlike the rest of the pokemon found in that generation.

moving on to Diamond & Pearl: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Diamond_and_Pearl_Versions we have offically stepped into Yu-Gi-Oh territory, here. i cant even begin to guess at what these legendaries are supposed to resemble, but thats probably because they might not resemble anything. the issue with that is that it isnt keeping to the tradition of what pokemon are supposed to be, which are fantastical creatures inspired by things that are found in the real world. ill be honest, the designs for gen 4 in general caused me to drop off from the series. some of them are okay, at best, but the majority of the pokemon in this generation look as though they should have been either slightly redesigned or rejected entirely.

okay, now Black & White: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Black_and_White_Versions again, i dont even know what to say. the other legendaries are similarly baffling, especially Landorus/Tornadus/whateverus...

and finally, X & Y: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/X_%26_Y well, one of them is definitely a deer, but holy hell is that a complex design. you know, part of what makes the simpler designs so great is that kids can actually draw them.

all i can say is, i dont mean to upset you or anyone. i like pokemon, but i really dont like the direction theyve taken when it comes to artistic design. in my opinion, they nailed it with gen 2, with the exception of maybe two or three stand outs. i cannot for the life of me figure out why they felt the need to add smoochum to the series. jynx was bad enough alone. and the Unknown are pretty random. overall, though, that generations pokemon were really well designed

Admittedly, I probably wrote a more angry response then I should have. I really don't mind when people just say that newer Pokemon designs flat out suck, and leave at that. It's actually nice that you outlined why you find them less attractive than older gens. I would disagree personally, but it is an opinion, and even if I sounded pretty confrontational, I respect your opinion. I just get very defensive when it comes to Gen V, it's become my favorite in recent years, it has my favorite Pokemon(Reshiram) and I like to defend it when I can. It's like a very pathetic hobby I have.

I hate to start fights on the internet over something as trivial as Pokemon designs of all things. So I guess we can agree to disagree, but again, I'm glad you actuallyoutlined your feelings. Just as a side note, Pokemon would be my second favorite game franchise. My avatar and username will tell you my favorite. ;)

As long as "simplified" means we don't get another abomination like Exeggcute then we are okay.

Personally, I liked the designs of Gen 6 Pokemon, not too complex and quite appealing, Meowstic, Pangoro and Aegislash are easily up there in my all time faves.

Hero of Lime:
I hate to start fights on the internet over something as trivial as Pokemon designs of all things. So I guess we can agree to disagree, but again, I'm glad you actually outlined your feelings. Just as a side note, Pokemon would be my second favorite game franchise. My avatar and username will tell you my favorite. ;)

its no problem. i dont mean to get into things like this either. the only reason i even bring it up at all is because i love pokemon too. ive been a fan since 1997, and it just really irritates me when a franchise i love changes too much in a certain way, to the point where it doesnt seem to mesh with the original vision. obviously, that isnt an issue with everyone, but for people like me who find aesthetic design to be very important, it can be incredibly irritating to see something that is either ugly or overly complex... or overly simplistic. it goes both ways.

i guess i just need to be more clear in that i dont dislike the newer designs because they are new, but because they either arent logical to me or i dont find them aesthetically appealing. and i definitely dont want to seem like im just picking on Pokemon. there are plenty of other game series' that have showed a change in direction that i dont care for, causing me to stop playing.

I feel like the designs have just been getting sillier as they began running out of ideas.

Souplex:
I feel like the designs have just been getting sillier as they began running out of ideas.

I actually think that the Charizrd looks better than the real .

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