Pokemon Head Discusses the Pains of 3DS Development

It's been a pretty busy first half of 2011 for everyone at The Pokémon Company -- the English version of Pokémon Black/White touched down in March; Pokédex 3D was released for free on the 3DS last month; and Pokémon Rumble Blast was just announced for a October 3DS release in America. For Pokémon Company head Tsunekazu Ishihara, it's all part of his team's effort to keep users excited and keep the fun flowing.

"The core idea with the Pokédex is to get people to play Pokémon Black/White on the 3DS," he toldFamitsu magazine this week. "Figuring out how to encourage that and how to use the 3DS feature set was what led to the Pokédex. There are still a lot of gamers we'd like to get playing Pokémon Black/White, and there are new methods of play that we wanted to introduce to people already playing the game. When the 3DS concept started going around, the first idea that came up was to create what was essentially the ultimate Pokédex. If we were going to go through with it, we definitely didn't want to put in a halfhearted effort."

For a free product, Pokédex 3D is indeed pretty extensive, although Ishihara admitted that it hasn't been downloaded quiet as much as his company had hoped quite yet. "People that have played it are giving us high marks for it," he said, "but to be honest, I think we're still just getting started in terms of distribution. I get the impression that a lot of 3DS users have yet to update their system software [the newest update was released early June] -- something that I hope more people get active on, because then they'll be able to use the Pokédex. A lot of gamers want us to cover the entire Pokédex for every region of Pokémon, too, and with what we've learned through using SpotPass, I'd definitely like to expand the Pokédex going into the future."

What does Ishihara think about the 3DS? "To be candid with you, it's not an easy platform to develop software on," he admitted. "Thinking about it another way, though, it's the kind of platform that really makes you want to delve into the feature set and figure out how to make fun things with it. The more you explore the features, the more ideas pop up about how to make games more fun. The 3DS has two CPUs -- one devoted to the game, another devoted to network communication -- and until the June update, I'd say that the communication chip was sort of a work in progress. The update completed the package, so to speak, and now we can get full performance out of that CPU. The fact that these two CPUs work independently of each other is really important -- one can work all by itself without being bogged down by the other. I think taking full advantage of that is one of the keys to 3DS game development."

It's been a busy past few months for Ishihara, and the rest of the year is apparently shaping up in similar fashion. "To be honest, there isn't much I can tell you yet, sadly," he said. "However, I can tell you that we've got just as many surprises in store for the second half of 2011 as we had for the first half, so keep an eye out for us. I don't think every Nintendo DS use has immediately upgraded to the 3DS, so while we'd like to keep DS gamers close in our minds, we also want to show people how much the world of Pokémon can be expanded with the 3DS's feature set."