It’s hard to imagine the world, let alone Nintendo, without the Pokemon franchise. It’s been a series that has lasted in shows, comics, toys, and of course, video games, for over 20 years. This wasn’t just a well-done franchise, it was a worldwide phenomenon. Which, makes it all the more ironic that things were almost very different. How so? Well, one of the team members behind the games, who worked on Red, Blue, and Green (the original titles) reveals that everything was almost lost once.
And it wasn’t because of a mistake or a glitch, but rather, the computer that had all the data on the original Pokemon games…crashed. What’s more, no one at Game Freak, including Junichi Masuda who revealed this story to Polygon, knew what to do.
Somewhere midway through the development, maybe in the fourth year or so, we had a really bad crash that we couldn’t, we didn’t know how to recover the computer from. That had all of the data for the game, all of the Pokémon, the main character and everything. It really felt like, “Oh my God, if we can’t recover this data, we’re finished here.” I just remember doing a lot of different research. I called the company that I used to work for, seeing if they had any advice to recover the data.
I would go on this internet service provider back then called Nifty Serve. It’s like a Japanese version of CompuServe. I’d go on and ask people that I never talked to for advice on how to recover the data. I would look at these English books about the machine itself, because there wasn’t a lot of information in Japanese, just to figure it out. We eventually figured out how to recover it, but that was like the most nerve-racking moment, I think, in development.
As Masuda noted, if this crashed hadn’t been recovered, the Pokemon games would virtually be done, for there was no way they’d be able to recreate all the data. Thankfully, technology didn’t fail them that day.