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Pokemon's Masuda: 2D Brings 'Flavor' To Series' Visuals

Talking to Gamasutra as part of a rare interview published today, Game Freak veteran Junichi Masuda has been discussing Pokemon's accessibility, saying that th
Talking to Gamasutra as part of a rare interview published today, Game Freak veteran Junichi Masuda has been discussing Pokemon's accessibility, saying that the 'flavor' of 2D art is key to the series' success. Masuda, the longtime director of the Nintendo-backed Pokemon series, which has now sold a staggering 186 million units worldwide over all franchise entries, explains in the interview why they haven't considered shifting to a 3D style for the core gameplay updates in the iconic game franchise, now updated with Pokemon Platinum: "The basic concept of Pokemon is that we want to attract the beginner, so that when the beginner comes and plays, if it's 3D, it's three dimensions instead of two, so it's much more information for you to take in. We don't know if that's what they want. We want the game to be approachable and easy to understand. Also, there is a balance that we have to make. By balance, I mean, do we want to make the scenario deeper, so we have a deeper, more complicated storyline, or do we want players to collect, catch, and trade Pokemon? That balance is always difficult, and we try to find a better balance always. But I absolutely consider it. If 3D makes the player catch and collect more Pokemon, then that's definitely the way to go." Later on in the interview, Masuda elaborated on the reasoning behind his choices, defending 2D stylings as key to Pokemon's success: "You [may] think that creating 2D is easier than 3D, but it's not. It requires a lot of technological understanding and technological skills. I always talk with the art director -- "What's the value is of sticking with 2D art?" When you look at 2D, it's like a picture. You look at the picture, and it has some flavor to it. 3D, yes, you can make the object very realistic, but 2D is something you can put flavor into. That's what we love about 2D." The full interview with Game Freak's Masuda, as well as Takeshi Kawachimaru, director of the recently-released Pokemon Platinum, is now available for reading as a Gamasutra feature.

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