When you think of iconic duos, what comes to your mind? Peanut butter and jelly? Beavis and Butthead? How about Pokémon and link battles? No, just me?
Link battles in Pokémon Red and Blue were the highlights of recess and sleepovers when I was a kid. While it usually just ended up being my Mewtwo versus my friend’s Mewtwo, it was still a super fun time, and I couldn’t imagine Pokémon without it. But, believe it or not, battling wasn’t always part of the vision for Pokémon. In fact, Nintendo pushed for its inclusion at the last minute, and without that ask, the feature likely would never have seen the light of day (at least in Gen 1).
This Poké-revelation comes from the talented and passionate folks at Did You Know Gaming who translated interviews from a 1996 Japan-only book called Pokédex that featured interviews with all of Pokémon’s original development team. In an interview with Game Freak designer and programmer Shigeki Morimoto, we get a better understanding of how it all came together.
“President Tajiri had wanted us to implement battling for a while, but I personally didn’t find the idea very interesting, and just thought it would be a pain to program. It looked like we’d run out of time and would have to scrap the battling feature, but Nintendo made it clear they wanted battles in the game, so we had to make it happen. So I just thought, well, no choice then, it has to be done. And the early battles were something you just watched. You would just see there was a battle and who won and who lost. We showed that to Nintendo and the surveys we got back called it ‘boring.’ I guess they were right, but we were cutting it close to the deadline trying to add in battles that the player commands. Ultimately, it’s what everyone wanted, so we got it to work with the link cable and made it a reality.”
Make sure to check out the full Did You Gaming video above for even more amazing Pokémon details!
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