Many of the beloved Pokémon designs responsible for kickstarting the craze back in the late 90s almost looked completely different.
As part of a nostalgic look back at the franchise’s humble beginnings, YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming?’s latest video features an old interview with Pokémon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara, who recalls how prior to the anime series’ first airing, Nintendo of America had pushed for redesigns of several Pokémon, including mascots Pikachu and Charizard due to its view that many of the now-iconic creatures were “too cute.”
Some of these proposals actually made it to the early stages, too, with some having even found their way online in the years since. One of these concepts, which show a wildly different-looking Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard, can be seen down below.
As for Pikachu – a now globally recognized character – Ishihara describes how NoA’s changes turned him “into something like a tiger with big breasts,” which, when he asked the company how it resembled the yellow mouse, responded with “well look, there’s its tail right there.” Fortunately for all involved, the Pokémon anime’s inaugural season had begun its first run in Japan while negotiations were ongoing and the ensuing explosion in popularity left Nintendo of America with two options: push forward with its own graffiti-style Pokémon (and incur massive localization costs as a result) or concede to The Pokémon Company’s original vision.
We know now, of course, that the latter outcome was deemed preferable, though it does beg the question. Would Pokémon be as popular as it is today, had Nintendo pursued the alternative? Sadly, we’ll never know, but it’s always fun to speculate. For a more in-depth look at Pokémon‘s history, you can check out DidYouKnowGaming?’s video by hitting the link below.