Earlier this month, Kotaku asked the folks at Game Freak which starter Pokemon they prefer in Sun and Moon. Unfortunately, poor Popplio didn't make the cut. I got a chance to speak over the phone to Junichi Masuda, producer on Sun and Moon, as well as Shigeru Ohmori, director on Sun and Moon, and they dished on what monster they planned on selecting first for the new generation.
"At home I have a really tiny cat," Masuda said. "…it's 3kg. it crawls around, gets right on my shoulder, so I'm a cat man. I think I'll probably go with Litten."
Litten, the fire feline, is a rather popular choice among fans — so it's not surprising that a Pokemon head honcho would pick that critter. Ohmori had other ideas.
"I'd probably go with Rowlette for my favourite," Ohmori said. Ohmori elaborated that he still remembered when they first drafted Pokemon in 3D back in X & Y, they had to think of new ways of showing "movement" for these monsters. The aim was to make every Pokemon feel more lively. In Sun and Moon, Game Freak seems to have taken those aims to the next level, with Pokemon now having all sorts of subtle animations. For Ohmori, Rowlette exemplifies the values that Game Freak has been trying to capture for a while now. Ohmori said that he particularly appreciated the way Rowlette moves his head and body, something that you can really see shine with Rowlette's evolution:
Naturally, I had to bring up Popplio at this point. I jokingly told the developers that I noticed they didn't pick Popplio, and asked them if they had heard of some of the backlash against the water starter. I asked them, what did they think about that negative reaction against Popplio?
In response, I could hear some laughter on the other end of the line, but after a few moments, a concerned Ohmori seemed keen on reassuring me on Popplio's design.
"There's two of us," Ohmori explained, "But of course we don't want to exclude anybody. I personally think that Popplio was very cute and he'll be very popular with a lot of people."
And it's true: Popplio does indeed have a defence squad now, despite bullshit new reasons people bring up for disliking the design, like femininity. Once the games are out, though, it will be interesting to see the specific breakdowns for starter choices, though.
We'll have more from our interview with Ohmori and Masuda in the coming days.