The “Iwata Asks” interviews have become famous showing how funny is the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo. In this episode concerning the new games out in store in a few days (March 13th in North America, March 26th in Europe), we can read that Iwata had some important roles during the establishment of Pokémon as a brand. He says: “Studying the program for the Pokémon battle system was part of my job.” In fact, Iwata-san was the director of HAL Laboratory, Inc. when Pokémon Stadium was in development and he was in charge to port the battle system over from Green and Red to a new Nintendo 64 game.
The thing that caught my attention is the development of the first games of Pokémon (Red and Green, followed by Blue 9 months later, and the second generation with Gold and Silver). Shigeki Morimoto from GameFreak says: “Actually, at that time (i.e. 1999) we had very few programmers. That wasn’t just the case for Gold and Silver but for Red and Green as well. There were only about four programmers.”
Well, four is a very small number for a game with such those contents. It’s impossible to think that Nintendo was conscious about the success the game would have had. Only some years later the release of Green and Red, Pokémon became a commercial phenomenon in all over the world and worthy of major efforts.
It’s interesting to read this brief excursus on Pokémon history. When Green and Red made their appearance on Japanese market in the February 1996, it seemed that Game Boy might have reached the end of its life. Fourteen years later, we could say that Pokémon was the third system seller (killer application is a so obsolete term) of the handheld Nintendo console after Tetris and Super Mario Land, and the game that made Game Boy popular again among video gamers.
I have only talked about some short topics in this post, for the entire interview, check here.