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Video of new Pokémon game hints at freaky Pikachu motion capture

By Matt Gerardi • October 22, 2013

The CEO of The Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, had previously let it slip that the organization will focus on series mascot Pikachu and a boy who, according to a Siliconera report on the statement, uses “playfulness” as a weapon. That last part’s a little weird, but okay, no real surprises there. Today, however, the folks over at Siliconera unearthed a clip from Japan’s NHK that might reveal a little bit more about the game. And boy, does it look freaky.

The short video, which is a teaser for a TV special that will air on NHK next Monday, depicts what looks to be a prototype of the game that uses some primitive motion capture and devil magic to map a player’s facial expressions onto a Pikachu. Theoretically, the final version of this would use the Nintendo 3DS’ cameras for motion capture, but there’s no indication of what was being used in the video. Whatever the method, it does a great job of turning Pikachu into a horrible cackling hell beast.

This won’t be the first time Pikachu stars in a game with weird, experimental player input. In 1998, Nintendo released a game for the Nintendo 64 called Hey You, Pikachu! that had players talking into a microphone and giving commands to their yellow rat friend—or shouting dirty words at it to see how it would react, because come on, that’s what everyone did. Scientists still haven’t entirely figured out voice recognition, so you could imagine how well it worked in a 15-year-old video game.

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21 Responses to “Video of new Pokémon game hints at freaky Pikachu motion capture”

  1. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    *clicks through three links to get to the damn video clip*
    *sees exactly 1.2 seconds of motion capture involving someone tilting their/Pikachu’s head up and opening mouth*

    Everybody panic!

    This is not substantive enough proof of anything good or bad related to this tech. In fact, I’m wondering if that mocap wasn’t just an example of how they’re animating Pikachu in the game, and not related to players at all?

  2. Chum Joely says:

    That commercial for Hey You! Pikachu! was totally extreme, dudes.

    • It’s a sad look into the life of a boy who, rejected and ignored by his family, retreats into the world of videogames, eventually declaring a fictional electric mouse his best friend. Weep for this child, friends. Weep.

    • NakedSnake says:

      I gotta say, it’s a fairly well constructed pitch for the game. My question, though, is who is the target audience for this ad? Nobody is gonna watch a 2 and a half minute ad (except 90s-nostalgia enthusiasts, apparently). So maybe it’s for E3 or something? Did that exist back then? Or investors/distributors, maybe?

    • GaryX says:

      All I remember about that game was how Pikacho reacted to my curse words.

      He wasn’t a fan.

  3. beema says:

    Hey guys, remember Cookie Clicker? Well it’s back, in Breaking Bad form!

    • neodocT says:

      I got way into that game last week until my browser unexpectedly crashed. When I opened it again my save file had been lost and I was too lazy to start a new one, so I managed to escape the dark depths of the empire business.

  4. neodocT says:

    “Pikachu understands over 200 words!”

    I loved this moment. It was totally earnest about the limits of technology at the time. I wonder if Seaman was any better? Though Siri understands a bunch of words and it’s still useless.

    Also, where do I know that kid actor from? I’m sure I didn’t watch the Hey You, Pikachu! coommercial that many times as a kid…

    • Citric says:

      My car learned how to pronounce my sister’s name, I was very impressed, mostly because it’s first attempt at saying it was amazingly far off.

      • neodocT says:

        Your car learns? Siri is still pronouncing my friend Aline’s name as “A Line”.

        • Citric says:

          It does, the first time it pronounced literally every syllable wrong (though I suppose my sister wouldn’t appreciate the internet knowing her name, so I guess I can’t go into too much detail) and now it actually is pretty close to how her name is actually pronounced.

    • Steve McCoy says:

      I like the detail of the friend kid starting all of his lines with “dude.” That and “sometimes Pikachu just ignores whatever you say.”

  5. rvb1023 says:

    Hey You, Pikachu! is one of the worst games ever made. I knew this when I was 9 and I know it today. I wish that was the worst Pokemon games ever got, but then there was Pokemon Channel on the Gamecube and that brought us to new non-interactive lows.

  6. NakedSnake says:

    That “Hey You, Pikachu” ad certainly takes it as a given that their customers have no friends.

  7. OldeFortran77 says:

    “Yellow rat friend”? I prefer Brock actually referring to it as “an electric rodent”.

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