Pokemon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara says that Pokken Tournament is a game aimed at the adults who grew up with the original games.
You may have heard of Pokken Tournament, the strange, arcade-only Pokemon fighting game being developed in a collaboration between Nintendo and Tekken publisher Bandai Namco. It’s a very different type of Pokemon game, not just in genre, but also in visual style, and that’s completely intentional according to Pokemon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara. Ishihara explains that Pokken Tournament isn’t being made to appeal to children, but to those adults who grew up with the original Red and Blue games.
“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 Pokemon-rather than just target children,” Ishihara said in an interview with Japanese TV program NHK World. “The bottom line is, we want to show adults that this is the new Pokemon, and get them to play.”
Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada also piped up to talk a bit about the challenges of making an arcade-exclusive title in this day and age. While not quite in the dire straits of America’s arcade scene, Japan’s scene has been struggling more and more these days, as more and more gamers are preferring to play in the comfort of their own homes.
“Players can quit a game after just one try if they find it boring,” he says. “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.”
To combat this, Harada designed the game with the strange-yet-familar controller we saw revealed earlier in the year. “Envisioning that our customers were Pokemon 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,” says Harada. “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’.”
Finally, Ishihara was positive about a localization of the game in the west, stating that “I think the possibility definitely exists.”