Because Bandai Namco, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company all enjoy the delicious green taste of money, the arcade fighting game Pokkén Tournament might have a shot at being released in the Western world. During a recent episode of NHK World’s Imagine-Nation, The Pokémon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara and Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada opened up on the drive behind their fighting game and the chances of it coming West.
“Considering that many of the people in the generation who experienced Red and Green are now nearing their thirties, and those who were in elementary school then are now in university, we aimed to make a game for those who grew up playing Pokémon—rather than just target children,” Ishihara said.
“The bottom line is, we want to show adults that this is the new Pokémon, and get them to play.”
Ugh, he’s right. I’m three months shy of 30 Mr. Ishihara, thank you for reminding me. In all fairness though, he was referring to the Japanese releases of the first Pokémon, which were available in Japan two years before they hit American shores. Maybe I’m off the hook!
I’m not sure what he means about attracting adults with a fighting game, because I know plenty of 30 years olds who still play the handheld RPGs.
“Players want to move around with a great deal of freedom and do a wide range of things, but the operability needs to be smooth as well. That’s probably the most important point,” Harada said.
“To be frank, with both Tekken and Soulcalibur, I’ve worked for the past 20 years on the pursuit of how to best organize copious amounts of animation into a product that can be animated smoothly and comfortably by players. That work has led to where I stand now, meaning I’ve given everything I’ve got to pull this off.
Players can quit a game after just one try if they find it boring. Seeing people quit after spending a hundred yen or even watching them play from behind and hearing their reactions firsthand can be very tough. There’ve been countless games that have been unable to re-coup their production costs after customers say things like ‘this is not fun’ or ‘this isn’t good at all!’ I mean, it’s all for nothing if nobody wants to play, even after spending a stupendous amount of money to develop the software, to cover the cost of the expense of the chassis, and the costly system that serves as the base. It can really be an unforgiving market.
Envisioning that our customers were Pokémon fans and maybe new to arcade games, we decided to forego the usual buttons-and-joystick approach common to arcade games, and opted for a controller people would be familiar with from home gaming, with the D-Pad, four buttons, and the L and R buttons. When they visit an arcade and see this controller, even those who play at home—which is now the trend—might just think ‘I can play this one’.”
Never accuse Harada of being one that is short of things to say. That man knows how to talk up a video game like the best of them. Ishihara would eventually come around to bringing up the chances of a localization for the Western world.
I think the possibility definitely exists. Basically, as an arcade game we would like to push the boundaries of combining familiar Pokémon characters with new and unexpected ones in battle. We want to show people different kinds of Pokémon characters that they can actually use.
I mean, Tekken is a well regarded international success, so Harada is certainly no stranger to that. Pokémon is also more popular in the West these days than it is in Japan since it doesn’t have to compete with Yokai Watch on a global scale yet. The West seems best for a release of this game. Let’s see it happen!