The history and design process of games such as Pokemon are often the subject of great scrutiny. As seen with the surprising reveal of the Spaceworld 1997 Demo for Pokémon Gold and Silver last year, to the recent dumping of beta sprites from Generation 1, the mystique of old and cut content from past Pokémon games has always been strong.
Recently, one YouTuber going by the name of Dr. Lava has been adding to the historical narrative of lost Pokémon content. His entire YouTube channel is dedicated to cut content in Nintendo products, and recently Dr. Lava has turned his eyes onto Pokémon Black and White by translating Japanese interviews of Ken Sugimori across three issues of Nintendo Dream, in 2011. The translations, which can be found on Dr. Lava’s official site, offer an in-depth look into the design process of both Pokémon and characters found in Generation 5.
Some of the information translated has been found on the internet before, such as the origins of the Pokémon Stunfisk originally being a water/electric type, to the original design of the dragon Hydreigon with a tank motif. The interviews, however, were never fully translated in English, and through personal expense, Dr. Lava had every part of these interviews with Sugimori translated to shed some light over other designs and even re-arrangements of evolutionary stages.
In total, 104 Pokémon are discussed through the translations. Some talk about the designs or inspirations of in-game Pokémon and characters, while others hint at who possibly designed some of these Pokémon, such as Englishman James Turner or female designer Mana Ibe. Others pointed to specific design philosophies from previous games, such as the use of ‘fusion evolutions’ of Gen 1 Pokemon like Magnemite and Magneton, which were the inspiration for new Pokémon like the Vanillite and Klink line. We even learn of typing changes, such as the Frillish line adding a Ghost-typing for game balance, which according to Sugimori “The Frillish family’s original designer was disappointed that they ended up as scary Pokémon.”
Dr. Lava’s most recent video goes over several major findings, including an unused flame Pokémon that was the original first-stage of the Litwick line, a small ant Pokémon that was originally meant to be the smallest Pokémon in the game, to even using recorded footage (further enhanced, archived and translated with the help of a member of Helix Chamber, the group behind the Gen 1 beta sprites) from a video presentation at Meiji University in 2010 to show off an early concept design of what is believed to be Sawsbuck, which was drawn in 2009.
The full translations are in-depth and in total confirm and discuss the design process for 104 of the Generation 5 Pokémon. There is also discussions on designs, type-balancing, and even commissioned artwork to fill in the gaps for the missing beta designs or missing Pokémon. Dr. Lava also notes that he is still searching for further copies of Nintendo Dream to translate stories regarding the remainder of the Generation 5 Pokémon.
Dr. Lava has a 2nd video planned to go into the Generation 5 designs, and also promises to do a third video when he is able to track down and translate the remaining Nintendo Dream interviews.
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