Pokemon‘s Pikachu was originally supposed to be muscular. Yes, the pocket monster that has become practically the standard of cuteness wasn’t supposed to be cute initially.
When Pokemon Red and Blue were being planned for their US release, Japanese developer Gamefreak had a very different idea of what we would get. Seeing as Japan tends to love their popular icons to be cute and pretty much the definition of adorable, they thought that Americans wouldn’t accept a game with cute monsters battling. Keep in mind that this was in the mid 90s, when everything was an over-the-top flash fest, and cute was considered relatively “niche.”
Basically, we were close to getting a version of Pikachu that might have rivaled Street Fighter II‘s Blanka in fearsomeness, with a long and exaggerated tail ending in what looks like it was shaped like a machete, wild hair, massive paws with elongated toes and claws, and a body that would make you think twice about approaching him. Pokemon‘s Pikachu looked downright ferocious in the proposed game art.
Thankfully nobody listened even to Gamefreak president Satoru Iwata, who recalls back when the decision was being made:
“Will America accept cute monsters? No, they said. Some people even recommended to make Pikachu more muscular. If we followed their advice Pokemon would never have been the success that it was. Brain Training software (Brain Age) became a hit in Japan, and I proposed that we sell it globally. And even as I said that as the president, no one listened.”
Nintendo Was Originally Told To Make Pikachu More Muscular For The US Market http://t.co/xXMGZAjaa6
— My Nintendo News (@MyNintendoNews) October 10, 2013
Would you have bought a copy of Pokemon Red or Blue if the monsters actually looked scary? Probably not, on the most part. The reason Pokemon was so popular was because the critters were adorable, and it opened up the game to a broader market. Yes, a muscular Pikachu may have sold about as well initially, but in the end it probably would have suffered from the need to make him look scarier.
We can all be grateful that Pokemon icon Pikachu is the adorable little dickens we know him to be, or the game series itself might have gone stale not long after Pokemon Red and Blue.
[image via Shacknews.com]