Following our cover story this month, we had one last chance to sit down with Pokémon Sword and Shield director Shigeru Ohmori and producer Junichi Masuda. While we were sure to ask plenty of serious questions, things went off the rails fast. Before we knew it, we were talking about whether Yoshi was a Pokémon, which legendary Pokémon would emerge victorious, and which Pokémon the two Game Freak figureheads would have if they were gym leaders. You can read the full goofy conversation below.
Does Ash Ketchum exist anywhere in the Pokémon game universe?
Masuda: I don’t think so.
You ever notice there’s something weird between Professor Oak and Ash’s mom?
Masuda: They’re always together… it’s probably because they’re from the same town. [Laughs]
Are any Nintendo characters Pokémon? Maybe Yoshi? He does say his own name a lot.
Masuda: Yoshi is just Yoshi, but we did work on an old Yoshi game, and I actually created some of the cries for Yoshi and did some of the sound stuff, so there is a connection, but he’s not a Pokémon.
What about Kirby?
Masuda: Not a Pokémon, but there is a connection with Kirby you might not expect. The guy at Game Freak, Mr. [Kōji] Nishino, who was the inspiration for Snorlax… Snorlax’s Japanese name is Kabigon… anyway, Nishino was always someone who ate a lot and would go to sleep, and he kind of resembles Snorlax, but in development we would always call him Kirby. So we nicknamed him Kirby, then when we were naming Snorlax, the Japanese name was Kabigon – Kirby or “cubby”…
Speaking of which, the original naming inspiration for Kirby passed away. John Kirby.
I didn’t expect the answer to go in that direction!
Masuda: [Laughs] A lot of interesting and mysterious connections between the different things!
All the legendary Pokémon enter a tournament. Which one comes out the champion?
Masuda: From a personal feeling? I would like Mew to win, personally. I think Zacian and Zamazenta would get up there pretty well. They’d do a good job with that.
What’s the most dangerous Pokémon to encounter in the wild?
Masuda: Maybe Bewear?
The Pokédex entry does say it crushes trainer’s spines…
Ohmori: In Sword and Shield you’ll see Bewear walking around in the Wild Area and it can be kind of nerve wracking! [Laughs]
Are there people out there using older versions of the Pokédex, kind of like how some people use older iPhones?
Ohmori: Probably. But they’re working off old information. [Laughs]
Are there any small pockets of Team Rocket still active?
Masuda: They’re up to no good wherever you find them, but we saw them in Let’s Go, Pikachu recently… they’re in Pokémon Go now
So are the members in Team Rocket the same members in Team Go Rocket?
Masuda: Perhaps! You can find bad people just about anywhere.
Do you trust Professor Willow?
Masuda: [Laughs] Probably…
Since you worked on Pokémon Go so much, you must know what he does with all those Pokémon you transfer to him, right?
Masuda: I’m really not sure what kind of research he’s up to, but he’s getting so much information from all around the world, he must be really passionate about it.
Are the songs we hear in the towns and in the Pokémon Centers, are those real songs that exist in the Pokémon universe? Like, are those songs that are popular on the radio or that people in the games know?
Masuda: Maybe that’s the music that’s playing in the main character’s head.
So just in the character’s head? It’s not playing over the speakers in the Pokémon Center?
Masuda: I think in the Pokémon Center that’s the exception. I think it is playing in there. And for example, the recovery sound, like that little jingle, it’s definitely something that players in the world are hearing.
So does that mean that you’re a celebrity musician in the Pokémon world?
Masuda: [Laughs] I wonder…
Can you settle this once and for all: What’s it like inside a Poké Ball?
Masuda: I’ve heard it’s extremely comfortable, like a really high-end hotel.
What happens if a trainer eats Rare Candy?
Masuda: Maybe they level up! Like, they’re really good at studying suddenly!
What’s Lance up to these days?
Ohmori: I saw him in Pokémon Masters the other day…
Do you think Lance could take on Leon in Sword and Shield?
Ohmori: I think Leon’s pretty tough… he may have trouble. Leon’s never lost… undefeated… so I think that’s pretty impressive.
In Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, we saw Team Rainbow Rocket where all the evil team leaders joined up. Do all the professors even meet up like that?
Ohmori: That’s kind of hard to think what they would get up to if all the professors got together!
Would you rather fight 1 Rapidash-sized Psyduck or 100 Psyduck-sized Rapidash?
Masuda: 100 Psyduck-sized Rapidash.
Ohmori: 100 Psyduck-sized Rapidash.
Really? I thought it would have been the other way around!
Masuda: No no, that wouldn’t work, because I don’t know if you’ve seen the Detective Pikachu movie, but that one Psyduck had that much destructive power. Imagine if it were bigger!
If each of you is starting your own gym, what type are you and what three Pokémon are you using?
Masuda: Definitely electric-type gym for me. I’ve always been interested in doing electrical projects and stuff like that, so it’d be a full electric-type gym with lighting and cool, you know, electrical decorations. I’d definitely have Pikachu on my team… Yamper… and Morpeko.
So no evolved forms?
Masuda: They’re all cute Pokémon, so I’m not sure if I would actually do very well in the gym. [Laughs]
And what about you, Ohmori?
Ohmori: Grass-type! My name, Ohmori, in Chinese characters is “big forest.”
And what would your team be?
Ohmori: Alolan Exeggutor…. Have Grookey climb the Alolan Exeggutor…
Well, that’s cheating.
Ohmori: [Laughs] Then maybe an Oddish? It’s another one that’s probably not going to do very well! [Laughs]
Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle?
Do you usually choose fire-type and water-type?
Masuda: I choose a lot of grass, but I also pick fire sometimes.
Ohmori: For me, throughout development, I’ll choose the water-type, but when the games actually come out, I’ll go with grass a lot of the time.
Pokémon Sword and Shield launch on Switch November 15. For more coverage on these games, check out our exclusive coverage hub by clicking on the banner below.
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