No. 73

A touchscreen. Now it’s become a everyday
word, hasn’t it?
Yes. It’s the lower screen of the Nintendo DS.

I thought, ‘touch’ means to ‘touch something.’
I want to make people touch it.
I want players to touch it.
So, I wondered what it would be
that people would like to touch?

And I came up with an answer,
‘a switch.’

There are very many kinds of switches in
every corner of the world.
No matter which country you visit,
it’d be rare to stay in a room
where you can’t turn on the light.
And the moment you find a switch,
you feel like pressing it.
Or just click it on and off.

So, I went to a shop nearby and bought
about 10 switches of various shapes.
I studied them with our game designers
and our graphic designers.

Why do we feel like pressing a switch?
Why do we think we can actually “SWITCH”
something on?
We searched for the reason why people all
over the country have no difficulty in
dealing with it.

The answer we came up with is…

The space and the proturberance.

You feel you can press a switch because of the
space around it.
You feel you can press a switch because the switch
is protruded (or dented).

With this as a hint, we made every object that
can be pressed on the lower screen look like a
switch. In a word, they have a protuberance and
a space around it.
While we were developing them,
we were calling them just ‘switches.’

Proturberances are, because they appear in the
lower screen, designed from the perspective of
looking down from above. So, a switch has a
protuberance pointing downwards.
And this became a basic rule in developing
games for the DS.

This way, even if you didn’t know that the lower
screen of the DS is a touchscreen, you see something
that looks like a switch and feel like pressing it.

This was how we made decisions about the design of
the lower screen.

See ya.

No. 72

I’ll write a bit more about Pokemon Diamond
and Pearl today, too.

When in a battle, the lower screen shows
the “FIGHT” button.
It’s a big button, isn’t it?

There’s a reason.

The button is big because of its relation
with the following four moves.
When you press the ‘FIGHT’ button,
you don’t have to move your finger to select
a move, only press the button once more.
In short, I’d like to enable continuous
touches without moving the finger.
I wanted to design it in such a way.
So, to make it even clearer, behind the
‘FIGHT’ button we added shadows of the four

Speaking of which…
Even when you touch on the shadow part of
the moves, it means you selected ‘FIGHT.’
How it looks and how it is actually judged
by the game are different.
This is a technique often employed in game development.

In order for players to keep the finger
in the same place as long as possible.
With regard to the lower screen, every scene
is carefully designed with that in mind.

Also, the color is different because,
even when you are looking at the top screen,
that red button is vaguely in sight, and
I want people to remember that it means ‘FIGHT.’
This way, you can keep on playing without
lowering your eyes to the lower screen,
without focusing your eyes.

The moves are labeled with different colors
according to their types so that you
can easily distinguish them.

Using different colors might seem a simple
thing, but it makes a huge difference in
understanding and distinguishing each move,
because colors are symbolic.
Also, little kids with no knowledge of
alphabets can play it.
In that sense colors are very important.

See ya.

No. 71

Today, I will write in a somewhat serious tone.
I’ll explain the reason why we chose the finger
as the input device for the touchscreen.

When I first saw a prototype of the Nintendo DS
at Nintendo, Mr. Miyamoto was already using
a stylus to operate it.
He used the stylus to manipulate the objects
that would make quick movements,
similar to the way you’d use a PDA.

There are machines like ATM machines or ticket
machines at train stations that use touch
sensitive panels. These machines have a large
display and are intended for ordinary people,
so you can touch the panel directly to operate it.
You can use it intuitively.
They don’t have a stylus.

From that, I realized a simple fact.
A stylus is necessary only
:when the screen is small and operation is
difficult, and
:when manipulating small objects

Let’s put it another way. There is no need
for a stylus except for the above cases.
You can touch the screen directly, intuitively.
And if not, it wouldn’t make sense
to call it ‘touch.’

With such philosophy, we tried to develop a game
that is mainly operable by the finger,
a game where a player will feel the need for
a stylus as seldom as possible.

The disadvantage of this approach is that
the finger can’t select small objects.
We paid a special attention to that problem.

While the development was under way, I felt
most strongly about making Pokemon battle operable
by the finger.

There are several reasons.
Even when battles themselves are complex,
the operation should be easy enough for everybody.
And, a quick, intuitive operation.
A new way of operation.

Players need to have a sense of being a Pokemon
trainer who is giving orders.
In a battle, as I said earlier, the commands
should be not too many and operable by the finger,
without the need for a stylus.
Someone else can easily meddle with your playing.
Like, when a kid is playing, grandpa comes in
and makes a move on the screen with his finger.
Well, the kid might feel unhappy, but then
communication will be established between them.

Thus, the game was being developed with
the assumption that battles should be playable
by the finger.

However, in later developments, there are
many objections to this approach because the
lower screen becomes dirty with fingers.
Both inside and outside the company,
many people preferred the stylus.
In the end, there were even people who thought
it better to use the traditional
Direction Button.
We had many different thoughts about it.

But I myself had a conviction that it’s better
to use the finger.

Because, an absolute beginner can make a selection.
People around a beginner can teach him/her how
to play. So, I explained the situation and place
where the game would be actually played.
I said I wanted to create a new way to play
this game.

Also, this is a bit too extreme but…
I said things like,
Kids wouldn’t care much about dirt, and
only Japanese people are concerned about how
clean the screen is, or
we are too accustomed to the operations of
past Pokemon games.
When I went overseas and spotted foreigners
playing a game without stylus,
I took their pictures.
That way, little by little, I persuaded those
with different opinions.
It was very very difficult.
But in the end, people came to understand my idea.
Maybe they became used to it too.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl is a finger-operation game.
I’d like people to play it as if they are
telling Pokemon to do such and such things,
This is how I thought it best to play this game.
Please give it a try!

See ya.

No. 70

In the morning last Saturday, I went to
‘the World Hobby Fair”!
(an event for video games and toys organized
by Shogakukan, a Japanese publishing company).

On trains from Tokyo, kids were already
immersing themselves with games.
Every one of them had a smile on their faces
playing various kinds of games.

Among them, there was a boy who was playing
‘Shiritori’ (a word-chain game) with his mother.
(What is ‘Shiritori’? See

It’s been such a long time since I last played
Shiritori, so I tried hard to listen to their

And I was amazed how fast the mother replied.
As soon as her son said a word, the mother
gave another word.
When the boy said “KU-RI!”,
the mother instantly replied “RI-KU!”, and
the boy is happier than ever.
They almost made me laugh too, but I restrained
myself… and my face became funny.

What a fun. Shiritori could be such fun.
Having such an impression, I arrived at Makuhari Messe
(a convention center), and went to the site.


I found a great wave of people there
and it was such a hugh crowd.

Every booth had many people and much energy,
and it had a great atmosphere.
At every corner of the site, a fun event
was under way. Everyone seemed really excited.

First I tried to find the Pokemon booth,
but with so many people it seemed impossible to
find in an ordinary way.
So, I spotted a Pokemon balloon floating
above us and followed it.
I thought that this sure was convenient way to find
a place, and I approached the Pokemon booth.

On this year’s ballon, a giant Manaphy, and
Uxie, Mesprit, Azelf, the UMA trio, were floating
in the air.
It was a strange combination and something
I didn’t expect to see.

At the Pokemon booth, every attraction, including
“Pokemon Battle Revolution,” “Pokemon Movies,”
and also “Pokemon Trading Card,” was really popular!

After I visited many different booths,
I went home after about one hour’s stay.
This year too, the world HOBBY fair was fun!

See ya.

No. 69

I think when you play Pokemon Diamond and Pearl,
you realize that the player character enters
various houses and buildings again and again.

We created various ways of showing how
the player character goes in and comes out.
Today I’d like to write about that.

First, when the player character goes inside
a house. We wanted the players to feel as
strongly as possible the fact that they are
moving into a small space called a house.

Also, when the player character gets out of
a house, we wanted the players to feel
that they have moved from a small space
that is the inside of the house to a large
space called the field as strongly as possible.
We staged the screen with that in mind.

The act of going in and that of coming out
has slightly different meanings, so we prepared
two ways of presenting the scene,
one for going in and the other for coming out.

The aspect we were concerned the most
was the speed of the movement.
The player character goes in and comes out
of many houses for a considerable
number of times.
So, we tried to make the player character move
as quickly as possible.

When the player character enters a house,
(1) the screen is zoomed in
(2) the door opens
(3) the player character enters the house
(4) and closes the door
(5) the whole screen becomes gradually darker
This is the sequence of procedures that happens.

When the player character comes out of a house,
(1) a: the screen becomes divided into two parts,
topmost and lowermost, and the whole screen becomes
b: the magnified view returns to normal view
c: the door opens
[these three actions happen simultaneously]
(2) the player character comes out of the house
(3) and closes the door
This is how the sequence of procedures goes.

We decided that, when you enter a house,
you wouldn’t mind it if it takes some time
because you have a sense of expectations.
But when you get out of the house, you’d want
to act quickly because oftentimes you have other
mission at hand!

While keeping such player’s desire in mind,
we need to stage the scene effectively.
Therefore, the above-mentioned three features
happen simultaneously so that it doesn’t take
too long.

Such stage production is also a small detail,
but we have more creative freedom than television
or films because games are run by programs.
This of course means it takes more efforts,
but I think we should make the most of this
freedom and search for new ways of presentation.
It’s another aspect of game programming that
I care about very much.

See ya.

No. 68

As I wrote in the previous column,
it is very difficult to express nuances in 3-D,
and also it’s a very complicated process.
However, once you come up with a format, you
can use it for many purposes.

In the field of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl,
we have set up a certain trick in places where
you feel the sense of hight, such as staircases,
in order to let the player feel more interactive.

What could it be?

In those moments only,
a certain function is on.

That is…

Compared to the movement of the main character
(player), the screen is a little behind.

Actually, the player character looks a little
ahead in the screen.
With this effect on, the players will feel more
interactive because the screen does not look
too tight and makes you feel a sense of softness.

You can experience this effect when you
go up and down a staircase, for example.

This is such a small detail, but the screen was
only possible by carefully piling up these small details.

See ya.

No. 67

On January 9th (Tue), the ceremony for
“Invitation Awards” was held at Grand Hyatt Tokyo
in Roppongi.
(“Invitation Awards” are a prize to celebrate
Japanese image creators)

There, we received the game award!
It’s very pleasing for us in the game industry
to be on the same stage with members of other
industries related to visual images.

As I said on the podium that day…

In Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, we didn’t try
to make a computational, realistic 3-D screen.
Rather, we aimed for a 3-D screen that’s
sensory and emotional.

Players will feel good because it’s three
dimensional, and because there’s hight,
they can feel that they are moving forward…
I wanted them to feel the sense of adventure.
For that, we decided to have complicated
screens where 2-D and 3-D are blended together.

The field is 3-D, but human beings such as the
main character is 2-D.

The inside of the house is actually 3-D,
but in order to give the atmosphere of a small
room, we used a flat image that looked like 2-D.

At the same time, we made places like the gym
look more like 3-D.

It’s much harder than you might think.
To present reality in a sensory way.

But I think we need to focus on small details
until they are perfect. It’s more fun, and
it ends up being more realistic.

* So… Masuda appears in this month’s “Invitation”
magazine. Please buy a copy and take a look!

See ya.

No. 66

Well, a year passes so quickly, doesn’t it?
Today’s my birthday. Now I’m 39!
It’s a surprise even to myself.

I’m still telling myself to grow up,
to calm down, or to study more.

The most mysterious thing for me is myself,
so I try not to restrain what I’m capable of,
and will do my best at full throttle!

By the way…
As I’ve been developing games, it seems the
number of games I created is too few for my age.
To my surprise, the number of the games we
made is not that many!
Well, that also means I have special feelings
for each of our games…
Maybe each game took such a long time to
Well, I’m going to overcome that too, and
will try something new, something fun!

Now, I’m still going to make a scene!

* Masuda and Game Freak staff appear on a
monthly magazine called “King,” which goes
on sale tomorrow, January 13th (Sat).
Please buy a copy and take a look at it.
(Note: this magazine is no longer available).

See ya!

No. 65

A happy new year.
This year too I’m looking forward to your
support and encouragement.

In 2007 too, we will keep on challenging
many new things!

I hope Game Freak will become a base station
from which information about game development
will be sent out.
I will try to do more to make people think
“I want to work in the game industry!!”

About this column…
It seems it’s about time to write on various
topics related to Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

Please keep on visiting this page this year!
I’m looking forward to seeing you.

See ya!