Pokémon‘s characters may be colorful, cuddly and cartoonish, but that doesn’t mean the games are only for children.
We’re less than a week away from the Western debut of the next generation of Pokémon games, which means that it’s time to kick the hype-cycle into full gear. While the franchise has long been seen as a series for children thanks to its colorful characters and messages of friendship and loyalty, kids aren’t the only ones eagerly awaiting Pokemon Black and White – and the series’ developers don’t think they should be.
In an interview with Official Nintendo Magazine UK, Game Freak’s director of game development Junichi Masuda said that he hoped the improvements that Black & White brought to the series would make the series more accessible to a wider range of players. It’s an interesting statement, given that Pokémon was already one of the most widely accessible franchises in all of gaming.
“A lot of people believe that Pokémon is a game that targets children, but I wanted more people – a broader audience – to play Pokémon. I’d been thinking about that for about a year … so a year later, we decided we should add something very cool to appeal to the older audience … So that an older audience [could] think it is very cool to play Pokémon.”
In the context of Black & White, that means slightly older characters (teenagers rather than preteens) and a more in-depth story beyond “collect 8 badges, beat the Elite 4, stop whatever plan is being hatched by Team Badguys.”
Of course, the core of Pokémon will always be accessible for younger gamers new to the series as well as older ones who’ve grown up with it. “There will be an audience who has never played Pokémon before and there is the advanced player who has always played Pokémon.
“We wanted to target both groups. In order to do so we created all new Pokémon for the game. And we took advantage of infrared technology so it’s easier for the audience to target each other.”
If you know anything about the competitive Pokémon metagame, what Mr. Masuda is saying should be obvious. I mean, have you seen the people who play Pokémon competitively? It’s kind of intimidating.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play, um, Bokemon Flack.