Why Pokemon Don't Say Their Names In The Games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

One of the trademark gimmicks of the cartoon series based around the Pokemon brand is that the actual Pokemon say their names when talking, interacting with other humans, performing their moves, or when called out of their Pokeball. Well, there's a reason why they don't say their names in the games.

Game Freak director Shigeru Ohmori and Junichi Masuda were interviewed by GamesMaster (opens in new tab) (via Nintendo Everything), where Masuda explained why the Pokemon don't say their names in the games.

When we first started, we were really restricted by the hardware, but nowadays that's not the case. For example, in the games we have Pikachu saying its own name just like it does in the anime, but what we do with our games is really consider what the purpose of the Pokémon's cry is. We consider what type of creature it is, its habitat, how it lives... all these kinds of things help to decide what style of cry it might have, based on all of that information. We also have slightly different cries for the same Pokémon, so when you stroke a Pokémon for example, it might have a different tone to its cry because it's feeling happy. When we're designing the main games, exactly what kind of cry we want the Pokémon to have is something we really consider.

Very interesting insight.

In the anime the Pokemon simply say their names, and the intonation and inflection of how their name is said determines their mood and what they convey. In the games it's a bit different because their responses have to be contextual related to gameplay, so it's approached more-so with their "cry" being reflected upon the state of the interaction within the game itself.

However, the bigger revelation as to why the Pokemon didn't say their names in the older games like Pokemon Red and Blue or _Pokemon Green _and Yellow is something that could easily be overlooked, but was very important to the era: the hardware.

As Junichi Masuda points out, the Gameboy and Gameboy Advanced were extremely limited in how they could depict the Pokemon. For the longest time the Pokemon game series were limited to utilizing static picture sprites due to the memory limitations of the cartridge. More animated images began making their way into the games, but the limited processing power meant that they still had to rely on sprites.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

These days the Nintendo 3DS is capable of fully rendered vector three-dimensional graphics, and that has allowed Game Freak to evolve the Pokemon to not only make noises but also display them in fully rendered 3D.

I suppose a better question for Junichi Masuda would have been if the hardware was capable back in the mid 1990s, would they have utilized the Pokemon saying their names in the game? It's definitely something to ponder on.

These days the Pokemon sounds within games like Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and the upcoming Sun and Moon fit in line with what Masuda mentions in the quote above. Then again, I suppose it would get really annoying if the Pokemon just kept saying their name after every move and after every hit.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.