More prototype designs from the early stages of Pokemon’s development have come to light, as posted on Helix Chamber. These designs include early title screens, as pictured above, early trainer models, early maps, and early pokemon designs.
Some of these designs were already known thanks to a recently-released manga about Pokemon’s creator, Satoshi Tajiri. I’m offering commentary on some of the designs here; the rest can be seen over at Helix Chamber.
The early design for Red had a bit of a roughneck look to him. He looks more like an adult, so perhaps Pokemon wasn’t always intended to be a kid’s game. Especially of interest is the whip he holds. It’s been suggested that in the early Pokemon games there was to be a conflict between trainers that were harsh with pokemon, using whips to discipline them, and trainers that built bonds with pokemon through trust. Previously, we’ve had evidence of this in that there still included trainer classes that held whips, such as Team Rocket members and even the gym leader Sabrina.
The fact that there are two large sprites showing Red with a whip and without suggests that maybe the player got to choose which side they’d take.
We get yet another look at Yujirou, the trainer who was originally planned as the Viridian gym leader. The take on him above is referred to as Ichitarou, with “ichi” meaning “first”, which implies what we already knew about him: he almost came before Brock!
Umezou may have been intended to be related to one of the main characters. His name implies it, as it does mean “junior”! His hat looks similar to one worn by Red in early art, so perhaps Umezou was to be Red’s little brother. He may have been replaced by Daisy, Blue’s sister. This is a large sprite, so it’s possible he had his own team.
Blaine has been through a lot of redesigns. This early one has him looking like an army man. Sugimori said that his gym was originally planned to have bombs in it, which was scrapped in favor of riddles.
This early map of Kanto contains many dummied-out sections. That there are several similar versions of this map goes to show that GameFreak was very deliberate about how the first Pokemon region was designed.
Notice how there is a town south of Fushia City? Seafoam Island was originally intended to be multiple islands, but this map doesn’t reflect that.
Now for the pokemon designs. There was originally planned to be as many as 190 pokemon in gen one, but some of them were scrapped. Here’s a few that stood out to me:
You know those guys who pick on Drifloon as an example of new pokemon designs looking too weird? Those guys can shut up now, because a balloon pokemon was planned from the start, and the one we ended up getting looks a lot more interesting.
This may be the backsprite for the crocodile pokemon first shown in the Tajiri manga, without the Einstein hair. However, it’s possible that this would have been the green dragon that would have taken “two hours to find and catch” that we’ve been hearing about.
Zubat may be annoying to encounter over and over again in caves, but at least it had personality. This guy was apparently to be a pre-evo, but didn’t quite make it into the final game.
This shows what could have been an evolved form of Marowak, which shows Cubone with its mother. There’s a resemblance to Kangaskhan that’s noteworthy.
This may very well be Gorochu, the evolved form of Raichu that we’ve been hearing a lot about recently! Gorochu was described as having fangs and horns. This back sprite shows just one horn, but you can notice the resemblance to Raichu in the bifurcating ears. What the ice-like formation is around it, I don’t know. Perhaps it was some kind of thundercloud?
There’s a lot more, as can be seen over at Helix Chamber. It’s really interesting to see some of the early concepts of Pokemon, as it shows just how much thought went into the game’s development. If even one of these pokemon were implemented into Pokemon Red and Green, that might have had an effect on the game that would have made Pokemon much different than it turned out to be.
Even now, decades later, stuff like this can still come to surface. It’s hard to tell what from the early concepts we’ll get to see next. More Gorochu, maybe?