27 feb. 2016

The origins of Pokémon... Capsule Monsters

Capsule Monsters was the initial concept by Satoshi Taijiri that ended up as Pokémon, an idea that started long before the release of the games a day like today, in 1996. As early as 1990 Taijiri was pitching his カプセルモンスター  to Nintendo, with sketches like these, which offer a glimpse into the original form of what became Pokémon.

We can even see some of the earliest designs, creatures like look pretty much like the final forms of monsters like Staryu, Rhydon, Blastoise, Gastly, Nidorino and Slowbro.
They should totally make a documentary on this!

By the way, these images and more appear on this website: glitterberri.com.
Caption: This illustration shows that Pokémon aren’t items to be traded and used in battle, but rather partners on the player’s adventure.

From Glitterberri: "Translator’s Notes

In accordance with the caption, Masuda had this to say on the role of Pokémon:
Masuda: At first, the protagonist and his Pokémon had a human-pet relationship. When we started making the game, however, we wondered whether it wouldn’t be better if they were more like friends."

"In addition, the two Pokémon seen above were some of the first created.
Sugimori: The first Pokémon were Rhydon, Clefairy, and Lapras. At first, we’d planned to have Pokémon living alongside humans, making their lives easier. So, during the early stages of development, many of the characters we came up with had clear roles, like carrying things around or sailing across the sea with people on their backs".
Title: Gousu vs. Yadon
Caption: Concept art depicting a battle scene, one of Pokémon’s unique perspectives.
From Glitterberri: "Translator’s Notes

While the Japanese picture is titled Gousu (Gastly) vs. Yadon (Slowpoke), the scene depicts Gastly battling Yadoran (Slowbro). It seems that Slowbro was originally called Yadon and only later renamed Yadoran. This may be because when Slowpoke was created, it bumped Slowbro up an evolutionary notch and stole its name.

As you can see, Gastly’s trainer has a whip, perhaps indicating a more hands-on approach to participation in Pokémon battles. These whips are preserved in several trainer sprites in Red/Blue/Green, including the Cooltrainers, Rockets, Rockers, and Tamers, as well as Sabrina. Perhaps their designs are leftovers of the concept.

Sugimori: At one time, the protagonist would fight as well. But then we asked ourselves “If you can fight on your own, what’s the point of having Pokémon?”

Pokémon fist fights…? I wonder how that would have fared with the censors."

Title: Karabajio vs. Mimii
Caption: A fight between Pokémon. Sugimori’s illustrations, brimming with liveliness, are a faithful representation of Tajiri’s game design.
From Glitterberri: "The Japanese name for Blastoise is Kamekkusu, but this picture calls him Karabajio. This is romanized to Caravaggio, the name of a famous painter who lived in Italy during the Renaissance. The Blastoise in this picture lacks shoulder cannons.

As someone on Glitterberri comments, the Caravaggio name is surely a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Likewise, Staryu’s Japanese name is Hitodeman, but here it is called Mimii. The origin of this name is unknown. The Staryu in this picture is missing its gold enameling.".
From Glitterberri: "As can be evidenced by the pictures we’ve seen so far, Pokémon were originally quite reptilian in nature. Indeed, Sugimori has confirmed this in an interview:
Sugimori: At first, Pokémon were more dinosaur-like than the ones you see today.
In Red & Blue, all Pokémon have an unseen index number used to identify them in the game’s ROM that differs from their number in the Pokédex. This numbering system seems to have some connection to the order that the Pokémon were created in. However, the list does have some irregularities, such as spaces where Pokémon were removed from the list, which now result in Missingno. Mew, the last Pokémon added to the game, is number #21, because it was fit into one of these empty spaces.

Rhydon, Clefairy, and Lapras, who Sugimori previously mentioned were the first Pokémon to be created, are #1, #4, and #19, respectively. Other Pokémon whose early conception is evidenced by their appearance in this planning document are Nidoran ♂ (#3), Slowbro (#8), Gengar (#14), Gastly (#25), Staryu (#27), and Blastoise (#28). While only some of these Pokémon could be said to be similar to dinosaurs, many other early-numbered creatures such as Kangaskhan (#2), Nidoking (#7), Ivysaur (#9), Nidoqueen (#16), and Gyarados (#22) seem to adhere to this principle.".
This piece of concept art depicts Pokémon’s #1 characteristic in a humorous manner: the negotiation of a trade.
There are also Transfer Animation Storyboards on this presentation, see them here: glitterberri.com/pokemon-red-blue/early-concept-art/7/.
Caption: This valuable piece of concept art reveals that hotels existed in early development.
Caption: Inside a hotel room. Aspects such as the figure of the girl restoring her Pokémon’s health using a healing apparatus give viewers an idea of how science coexists with humans and Pokémon

From Glitterberri: "Pokémon Centers may have originally been conceptualized as hotels. This is supported by the fact that that, in the anime, the centers provide lodging for Pokémon trainers.
The lone hotel in RGB is located in Celadon City. It shares the same tileset as the game’s Pokémon Centers, including the counter, floor tiles, palm trees, and couch.
The Celadon Hotel and the player’s house are also the only buildings in the game, aside from Pokémon Centers, to have PCs. (However, the player’s PC can only be used to store items.) If you don’t remember the PC in the hotel, that’s because it’s invisible. 
It sits at the far right of the lobby, in the same position you would expect to find it in a Pokémon Center. Players can access the PC by pressing A while standing in the position shown in the screenshot above. It was later removed in Pokémon Yellow.".

Caption (below): An item used to capture Pokémon, retrieved from the Pokéball design documents. Even the tiniest details have been planned out, including its product number.
The capsule is opened and closed by a button on the back.
Twist the capsule to lock it.
Monster Capsule™
Portable Monster Capsule
Monster Capsule dynamics storyboard: glitterberri.com/pokemon-red-blue/early-concept-art/9/

Caption (below): This picture reveals that trade and capture weren’t the only ways to obtain Pokémon. The idea of buying creatures existed in early development.
“Hey, Mister, I’ll take this one, please.”
“Lapras… I dunno if you’re tough enough to handle it yet, kid…”

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