Can you talk about how choosing a theme enables you to make creative decisions; not just about the story, but also about how the game actually plays?
TU: In terms of Black 2 and White 2 with its theme of resonance, something where the theme really reflects the gameplay, one aspect of that is the Join Avenue, which is a brand new feature to the game.
In Black Version and White Version we had the Tag Log and the Entralink, which were places where players could communicate with each other.
But the theme of resonance, I really was inspired to expand on those possibilities of communication. So not just the Tag Log and the Entralink, but it'll also include the other communication aspects we had such as the Pokémon Dream World and trading over the GTS. I want to find a way to really combine all of these elements and have them resonate with each other.
By taking all of these communication elements and then having the information taken from them reflect on the Join Avenue -- it's a shopping mall type of place, it's a town that gets built up as you communicate with other players via the different aspects, such as the Dream World, the GTS, Tag Log, and Entralink.
And it's really interesting, because players have certain settings for what they like, and then by communicating with those players, the town will develop in a different way.
And another new aspect of Pokémon Black Version 2 and White Version 2 where a theme of resonance came into play was the new Pokémon World Tournament feature. It's a tournament in which you can battle trainers and various characters from the older games, but it also has a feature where you can download data and then you can battle against that data.
For example, the Pokémon World Championships that are held every year; they're events where players come and battle against each other. And one example is that we can take the data from the actual, real life World Championships and have players download and battle against those players.
So that theme of resonance really comes into play, where you have the real world champions' data being able to play against players in game, so it's kind of the real world and the game resonating, in that sense.
It sounds like you continuously want to update these features, and we see more and more focus on this. Do you actually see a potential to make a persistently online Pokémon game?
JM: I really like online connectivity, but for example, we're having this phone call right now, and it's really cool that we can communicate with each other from two really faraway places. But at the same time, it would also be really great if we could talk in person.
That's another thing we could do; it's much more enjoyable when you're talking in person. So I think the best way is to have kind of both at the same time, being able to enjoy this kind of faraway communication, as well as having aspects that allow you to enjoy communication face-to-face and in-person communication.
When the original Black and White were announced, it was viewed as a new beginning for the franchise. Did you achieve what you set out to achieve with the original Black and White?
JM: I think, yeah, we were able to achieve our goals with Pokémon Black Version and White Version. In respect to that, we've made the first step in kind of the new structure, the new form of Pokémon, I believe. For example, we have the Pokémon Global Link, where there's now a great number of people who've registered, and we have the wi-fi battles and wi-fi competitions.
Even in Japan, actually, we have the official qualifying events for the World Championships, and at the first stage of that, we actually used wi-fi competitions where players would sign up on the Pokémon Global Link and battle from there. So I think we definitely achieved our goals of making a new beginning.
In the past, especially on the Game Boy Color and the Advance, there were a lot of games that imitated Pokémon, and a lot of those franchises aren't really around anymore. But lately I've been shown a lot of social games on mobile or on Facebook that seem to imitate Pokémon; it seems to be back in vogue. Does it concern you to see that there are games like this being made, especially on platforms that you can't reach?
JM: So it's definitely a difficult subject, for sure; there are definitely some concerns there. I'm not really sure how far, or how much they copy, or are similar to the Pokémon games -- but as long players are looking at them and thinking, "Oh, this is similar to Pokémon", and as long as they're thinking of Pokémon, that's something that I'm happy about.
Pokémon is a series that's been around for a very long time. The reason it's been around for so long is because players really enjoy it and they play it for a very long time, so we think as long as we can continue that, then we're probably in good shape. However, we do feel that we need as many people as possible to play the Pokémon games; it's important, because the aspect of communication, having more people communicate with each other, is very important for the games. But what we focus on is what our players feel. We just want to keep innovating, doing our best, and making sure that we can make the best games possible, so players will enjoy them.
And just from a creator's point of view, sometimes I wonder whether people who make these really similar games -- or so-called copies -- whether they really want to make that kind of game; if they don't want to make their own thing, instead.