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Game Freak

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GameFreakLogo

Game Freak logo

Game Freak, Inc (株式会社ゲームフリーク) is a Japanese video game developer, established April 26th, 1989. They are currently a second party developer for Nintendo, and are best known for their creation of the Pokémon games. The company headquarters are located in the Setagaya neighbourhood of Tokyo, on the 22nd floor of the Carrot Tower building. As of April 2014, the company has 73 employees.

History

Game Freak originated as an arcade game fanzine, created by Satoshi Tajiri. The idea was sparked by his interest in games such as Space Invaders and the lack of Japanese media coverage on games. Despite being handwritten and stapled together, the magazine drew attention from fellow gaming enthusiasts and gained more contributors, including illustrator Ken Sugimori. At its peak the magazine sold ten thousand copies.
GameFreakMag

Copies of the Game Freak magazine

Despite this small success, Tajiri became frustrated as he believed he and his friends were capable of making better games than the ones featured in the magazine. This led to him stopping work on the magazine and working with a few of Game Freak’s previous contributors to focus on game development in 1987.

Largely self-taught, Tajiri began his foray into game development by taking gaming systems apart to see how they worked. When Nintendo released the Family BASIC programming language, Tajiri studied it to better grasp the designs of Nintendo Entertainment System games. He then purchased the hardware to develop games.

After spending two years learning programming, and another year actively developing, Tajiri had created his very first game: Quinty.

Game Freak was officially established as a game development company on April 26th, 1989. Founding members included Junichi Masuda and Ken Sugimori, who are still key figures in the franchise today.

Creation of Pokémon

The idea for Pokémon came to Tajiri around 1990. He recalled the excitement he had felt as a child discovering and collecting bugs. When he first saw the Game Boy link cable, he imagined actual living organisms moving back and forth. He envisioned Pokémon battles as being like karate; "two players compete, they bow to each other. It's the Japanese concept of respect."

Creating the games spanned six years and almost bankrupted the company. Game Freak was regularly short of money and barely had enough to cover staff wages, with Tajiri himself working many unpaid hours.

Luckily, during those six years, Game Freak had worked alongside Nintendo on a couple of games. This led to a close friendship between Tajiri and Shigeru Miyamoto, the head of Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development. Miyamoto's faith in Tajiri ultimately solidified Nintendo's backing and funding of the project. Creatures Inc. (a subsidy of Nintendo) injected money into the project in exchange for one third of the franchise rights.

In-game

A version of the company appears in every main series Pokémon game. In Pokémon Black and White, some of the staff are in Castelia City, in the GAME FREAK building. Morimoto can be battled here once you beat the main quest. The sound director in the building, once you defeat the Elite Four for the first time, will change the Castelia theme to the Team Rocket theme from HeartGold and SoulSilver. The Game Director will give you a diploma if you see all Pokémon.

Games Developed

Games Published

  • Solitiba (2013)
  • Pulseman (2009)

External links

Official Website

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