Recently released in Japan, Nintendo's Official Japanese Pokémon Gold/Silver Guidebook contains a detailed interview with key members of the development team for Pokémon Gold and Silver. Thanks to a translation courtesy of Gamers.com, we are able to bring you this rare look into the internal workings of this most recent Pokémon title.
This title boasts many new features over past Pokémon titles, several of which were added in an attempt to create a more realistic Pokémon world. Using the Game Boy Color's internal clock, they were able to regulate a system of morning, daytime and night, which becomes subtly integrated into the gameplay. For example, players will tend to find more bird Pokémon in the early mornings, and may even find some sleeping ones at night. They thought it might also be interesting if Pokémon could become infected with a disease (called Pokerus in the Japanese version), and even be contagious. However, since they didn't want sickness to detract from the game's fun, the team promises that the results will only be positive. They wouldn't divulge the secret benefits of contracting the disease, but merely told gamers to "consider yourself lucky if you do get it."
Admitting that Pokémon Gold and Silver ended up taking quite a bit longer to develop than expected, the team sited the source of the delay partially to the continuing evolution of the hardware itself. During the course of development, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Printer were released, and the possibilities of using the infrared port came into play. Each time a new hardware feature was added, countless ideas emerged as to what it could be used for in the game. As well, this title contains 251 Pokémon, a hundred more than the previous games. More characters mean more moves, and a much more complex battle system to debug.
The developers also commented on how how the daunting task of creating a hundred new Pokémon was carried out. First conceptualized and developed by the character design team, the graphics of the new Pokémon were then examined by the programmers, who came up with statistics and moves appropriate for each one. Gimmicks such as reversible bodies and the ability to morph were given to characters with the thought that such elements could later be introduced in the Pokémon television show. Some Pokémon went through dramatic changes as development progressed. For example, the mysterious Unown began as an alien-type Pokémon, but when artists began to sketch them, they started to look like letters of the alphabet. As a result, there are now 26 different types of Unown, each resembling a letter. Players can even use them with the Game Boy Printer to spell out words and sentences. The team paid close attention to feedback from players of earlier games, such as an overabundance of one particular class of Pokémon, or ones who just seemed too strong, and tried to balance the characters. This became increasingly complex with the introduction of two new types: Dark and Steel. The team partially intended these new classes to counter the Psychic Pokémon, the strongest ones in previous games. As well, they hope that so many new and rebalanced Pokémon will force players to rethink their strategies and try out new characters and tactics.
There are many secrets in this game, and the developers had no intention of revealing too many of them, but they mention a few little-known details. They revealed that, oddly enough, one must capture only 249 of the 251 varieties of Pokémon to finish the game. As well, there are color variants of every Pokémon in the game. While they don't do anything special, the team stated that "it's cool to have something no one else has. You can gloat to your friends and say things like, 'My Gyarados is red.'" Elusive comments were made to the possibility of a legendary Pokémon hidden somewhere in the cartridge, yet inaccessible within the game itself. Undoubtedly, many mysteries and secrets await players in this game.
It is an uncommon treat for fans of a game to get the chance to see exactly what went into the creation of their favorite games, but the Pokémon team seemed more than happy to give gamers an inside look. Pokémon Gold and Silver is currently available in North America, released ahead of schedule this Wednesday.
[Note: this information is from a pre-North American release. Some of the aforementioned features may have been altered or removed.]