|Game Freak, Inc.|
Game Freak logo
|Founded||April 26, 1989|
|Headquarters||Kanda Square, 2-2-1 Kandanishiki-cho, Chiyoda, Tokyo|
Game Freak, Inc. (Japanese: 株式会社ゲームフリーク Kabushiki gaisha Game Freak), officially stylized as GAME FREAK inc. or less commonly as GAMEFREAK inc., is a Japanese game development company founded on April 26, 1989 by Satoshi Tajiri, Ken Sugimori, and Junichi Masuda. Game Freak is responsible for the development of the core series Pokémon games, as well as the free-to-play spin-off game Pokémon Quest.
Game Freak shares ownership of The Pokémon Company with Creatures, Inc. and Nintendo. The company currently employs a staff of 169 as of March 2022, while Satoshi Tajiri serves as its current CEO. Its headquarters are on the 7th floor of Kanda Square in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan.
Game Freak acquired the mobile development company Koa Games in October 2015.
Satoshi Tajiri's background
The origin of the name "Game Freak" refers to a nickname used in Japan to refer to avid arcade game fans during the 1980s. At this point, competitive players including children used the term Urawaza (Japanese: 裏技, Secret Technique) in the context of video game strategy, although Masanobu Endo (creator of Xevious himself) was not a fan of the potential conflict at the arcades (this atmosphere is also covered in Satoshi Tajiri's 1990 book about his youth as an arcade game fan "A Catcher in Pac-Land" (Japanese: パックランドでつかまえて), as this included video game secrets that were proven to be false (such as the Xevious Star (Japanese: ゼビウス星)) and their veracity was subject to heated debate. He also did not want players to be spreading falsehoods and reportedly got angry regarding an interview about Xevious Star, but at the same time settled fans down from arguing during a visit. Another issue is that some of these techniques were (sometimes unknowingly) actually bugs (glitches) in the code.
Satoshi Tajiri himself was an avid fan of arcade games, and once met Masanobu Endo at the arcades. Occasionally, prototypes of new games were also released at specific Game Centers, such as one at Chiyoda, Tokyo famous for showcasing new Sega games. Satoshi Tajiri himself enjoyed visiting it.
Tajiri also identified as a "Game Freak" (as seen in video game magazines he wrote to), and other than his other interests like bug-catching, enjoyed writing about video games. In 1983, he self-published the Game Freak magazine series for strategy/hidden techniques in arcade games. When Ken Sugimori discovered it, he became Tajiri's friend and part of Tajiri's Game Freak circle (and magazine staff).
Furthermore, Tajiri stated in a May 2000 interview at Game Freak headquarters that the concept for the Pokémon Mew (although Shigeki Morimoto programmed and designed it into the game) as an "illusory Pokémon" was inspired by rumors at the arcades (including from the Game Freaks), specifically a hidden/unused F4 phantom fighter ship in Xevious. This was republished for a Japan-exclusive December 2000 book called Pokémon Story.
Other than Game Freak magazine, Satoshi Tajiri was also the author of the 1990 book "A Catcher in Pac-Land" and the 1995 book New Game Design. There was also a (possibly internal) 1993 Game Freak New Year postcard by Ken Sugimori thanking someone for their help the previous year (also revealing prerelease art of Kangaskhan and Exeggutor). This was later revealed to the public in a special 1999 edition of Game Freak magazine, though the official scan may only be in black and white.
GAME FREAK magazine
It was also around this time that arcade game fans wanted to know how video games worked and to compete as Game Freaks. Notably, Xevious expert at the time Yasuhiro Ohori (Japanese: 大堀康祐) (pseudonym Urusei Anzu) discovered how to score 10 million points in Xevious with the help of programming errors, and had his Mini-Comi "How to Score 10 Million Points in Xevious" (Japanese: ゼビウス1000万点への解法) published with fellow Game Freak Naohiko Nakagane (Japanese: 中金直彦). Coinciding with the Game Freak magazine series, Game Freak magazine republished their own version of the original as well.
The first Game Freak magazine (1983) featured Taizo Hori from Dig Dug on the front cover, and mentioned "Tajiri Corp." (although at the time, it was not an official corporation/company until 1989, also changing its name to Game Freak Co.). Run chiefly by Tajiri, with art made by Sugimori, the magazines typically were released at a length of around 28 pages and at a price of ¥300 (roughly US$3). Initially, the magazine was handwritten, but Tajiri later outsourced this to a professional printing company.
In 1989, Tajiri published and directed GAME FREAK's first video game, Quinty, (Japanese: クインティ) for the Famicom. The player's character, Carton, ("Bon-Bon" in the American release) must rescue his girlfriend Jenny from his younger sister, Quinty, who is jealous of the attention that Jenny gets from him. Quinty can be played cooperatively, and involves a player(s) flipping adjacent tiles from a top-down perspective to throw the enemies into walls, where defeating all of them will finish the stage. Each world has ten individual levels with a variety of enemies that all have unique abilities, before battling Quinty at the end of the game.
The game features the earliest known work by Junichi Masuda, who composed the entirety of the soundtrack, being aided in sound-effects by Yuji Shingai and Akihito Koriyama. The soundtrack is generally rather upbeat, with a couple of songs that appear to sound much like Masuda's later work - most notably the track Battle! (Boss) being similar to a combination of A Rival Appears from Pokémon Red and Green and A Rival Appears! from Pokémon Gold and Silver. In 2017, Masuda explained that at the time, GAME FREAK didn't possess any official development equipment, so they had to effectively hack the Famicom to understand how it worked in order to begin work on the game. Since Nintendo wasn't interested in Quinty due to GAME FREAK not yet being a formal development company, Tajiri reached out to Namco, who agreed to have a contract surrounding the game so long as GAME FREAK was an incorporated company.
Ken Sugimori would provide illustrations for both the box-art and manual, as well as a long-running Quinty manga that released in regular intervals for a few years following the launch of the game. Towards the manga's conclusion, a variety of characters would later resemble designs used in Pokémon, (albeit likely unintentionally) such as the Generation I Cue Ball or Swimmer. It was later localized as Mendel Palace for its North American release in 1990, which had all of its promotional artwork by Sugimori redrawn for the western market, as well as a change in almost every character name.
To help finance their work on what would later become Pokémon, GAME FREAK created a variety of games for other consoles whilst they worked on Generation I for over six-years. The first of these games was a cutesy 2D-platformer known as Jerry Boy (Japanese: ジェリーボーイ) for the Super Famicom in 1991. According to the credits, this job was shared with System Sacom, who handled the actual programming whilst the game design was done at GAME FREAK. The player controls a young boy named Jerry, who is transformed into a blob by an evil wizard at the behest of his jealous brother, Tom, who has a crush on the young princess Emi.
According to Tajiri, Jerry Boy's development spanned over two years, beginning about a year and a half before the release of the Super Famicom.  Tajiri worked at Epic Sony as somewhat of an advisor, and heard around the office that the company wanted to have some games to release alongside the Super Famicom, given that they were responsible for developing the system's sound chip. Sugimori and Tajiri initially envisioned the game as an action-RPG featuring a slime as a playable character, which later grew into a platformer after realizing how they could use the shapeless design of a blob as part of the gameplay. The small team intentionally designed a far larger, more action-oriented game as a response to Quinty's poor sales on the Famicom, with roughly 200 sprites for the main character alone, as well as early plans that would allow the player to split into several smaller pieces, though this was later scrapped as a result of complications with the player's movement. At one point, Jerry was also able to change colors which was also removed during development, though this may have inspired some of the other designs for the sequel.
The artwork was sketched in the style of 2D-animation before being translated to game sprites, as opposed to the typical process of drawing the sprites first. Tajiri mentioned that Jerry's design would probably resemble Akira Toriyama's design of a Slime from the Dragon Quest series for those already familiar with games, so the team decided to make him appear cuter to appeal to women or young children. Both Sugimori and Tajiri lamented the lack of difficulty for the final release of the game, with the bosses being highlighted as an example of poor balancing. When brought to the Super Nintendo as Smart Ball in 1992, all content relating to the story and every village section was strangely removed, with the game's box-art and promotional material again being redrawn from Sugimori's original work.
A short Jerry Boy manga following the events of the game was serialized in Family Computer Magazine between 1991 and 1992, which was collected and published into a single book alongside an additional Making of Jerry Boy story and a short Jerry Girl spin-off in 1993.  All of the various Jerry Boy manga was illustrated by Sugimori, whose style remains similar to that of the Quinty manga that ran at the same time. Likely as a result of the far simpler character design, Sugimori opts to draw characters with far thicker line weight here, combined with smaller paneling to better highlight the more frequent action.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Hirohiko Fukuda, Manabu Saito and Akira Yamaoka, likely as a result of it's co-development. This marks the first GAME FREAK game not to feature compositions from Junichi Masuda.
Box-art of Jerry Boy, drawn by Ken Sugimori
Cover of the Jerry Boy manga, drawn by Ken Sugimori
Chapter cover of the Jerry Girl spin-off manga, drawn by Ken Sugimori
Jerry Boy 2
Some time between 1994 and 2000, a near-finished prototype of a Jerry Boy sequel, known as Jerry Boy 2 was released online.  According to Electronic Gaming Monthly, the game was set to be released in September of 1994, but went on to be cancelled for unknown reasons. Although Ken Sugimori remained as character designer on the sequel, Tajiri only supervised the project, which was largely co-produced, much like the original game. Takashi Fukushima took upon the role of the game's director suggesting that the co-production may have been with Telenet Japan's Team Riot, of which many members would leave to form Media.Vision during the game's development, something that may have played a part in its cancellation. Another leading presumption among fans is that the falling out between Nintendo and Sony was to blame, (given the time period) but this is also speculation. The story was written by new GAME FREAK recruit Ryosuke Taniguchi, who would go on to become a scenario writer on Pulseman and Pokémon Red & Green.
Despite its cancellation, the only playable ROM of the game is largely complete, with the exception of some minor bugs, such as the credits theme ending improperly as loud noise. The plot follows a new main character known as Marine, who goes to visit "Jelly Land" with his four best friends and dog. They are halted by the evil wizard from the original Jerry Boy, and turned into different colored blobs. Determined to get their original bodies back, the cast ventures throughout the mysterious amusement park, facing the wizard at the very end. The game has had a complete overhaul from the original, with each character having various abilities, and are unlocked progressively after saving them from a boss. Also unlike the original, the player has the choice to choose from multiple levels at a time, instead of a linear adventure. Jerry Boy's 2 soundtrack was composed by Yoshinori Sunahara, Tetsuya Furumoto and Takafumi Fujisawa, the final of whom would go onto create the console start-up jingle for the PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3.
The only known artwork for Jerry Boy 2, drawn by Ken Sugimori
On December 14th, 1991, GAME FREAK launched Yoshi for the Famicom, which would see a simultaneous release with a Game Boy port of the game with the same name, and very similar gameplay. Both versions received worldwide releases the following year. Yoshi is a puzzle game where the player must match Yoshi egg shells in various columns in order to hatch them, which prevents the columns from becoming too tall. Should the columns of enemies rise above the top of the screen, the player will lose.
Yoshi was the first collaboration between GAME FREAK and Nintendo as a publisher, which would play a big part in helping to finance their development on Pokémon Red & Green. The project was offered by Nintendo and suggested by Tajiri's friend, Tsunekazu Ishihara, then member of Ape Inc.. Yoshi was developed in six months, and directed by Tajiri.
Ken Sugimori acted as both a game designer and as a graphic artist on the project, which was largely unknown for some time given that the game has no ending or credits. The score was handled solely by Masuda, who returns from his absence on the co-developed Jerry Boy titles. Despite being part of the existing Super Mario series, all of Masuda's compositions on Yoshi are purely original, and are not arrangements of any Mario music. Masuda also mentioned that GAME FREAK wanted to add in a realistic sounding Yoshi voice to the game, but Nintendo disapproved.
Yoshi's Japanese Famicom Box-art drawn by Yōichi Kotabe
Yoshi's North American NES Box-art drawn by Yōichi Kotabe
Yoshi's Japanese Game Boy Box-art drawn by Yōichi Kotabe
Yoshi's North American Game Boy Box-art drawn by Yōichi Kotabe
Magical Tarurūto-kun is a Japanese-only 2D-platformer developed by GAME FREAK for the Mega Drive, released on April 24, 1992, and based on the anime of the same name. The game was directed and designed by Sugimori, whilst Masuda worked on the soundtrack. You play as Tarurūto, and must thwart the evil Raivar by the end of the linear story. Tarurūto's abilities include the power to wield inanimate objects as makeshift weapons to use to his advantage, and to glide through levels with large pink wings.
Most of Masuda's compositions are relatively new here, though some stand out by virtue of being tied to the television anime that the game is based on. The game begins with the SEGA jingle arranged by Masuda but with the voice of Tarako, who voices the titular character of Tarurūto. Additionally, the Title Screen song is an arrangement of the first opening of the TV series, composed by Kenji Yamamoto, Yukihide Takekawa and Dai Satō, the final of whom would join the Pokémon team over 30 years later as the lead scriptwriter of Pokémon Horizons. The song Battle! (Raivar) bears a striking resemblance to much of Masuda's later work on Pokémon, with several similarities to Battle! (Giratina) which he composed for Pokémon Platinum.
Box-art of Magical Tarurūto-kun drawn by Shigeyasu Yamauchi
Mario & Wario
On August 27th, 1993, GAME FREAK released a puzzle game exclusively in Japan, known as Mario & Wario. Directed by Satoshi Tajiri, the player must guide Mario to the end of each stage under the control of the player character known as Wanda, who is controlled with the Super Famicom Mouse accessory. Mario & Wario appeared to have a variety of planned releases across the United States, Canada, Europe and Brazil as seen within magazine coverage from the era, planned to be sometime between September of 1993 and January of 1994, though no worldwide release was ever made. The reason for this is unknown, though it should be noted that the entire game is in English, with an unused Japanese title screen being accessible by editing bytes within the game data, suggesting that a planned worldwide release was scrapped very late on in development.
Motofumi Fujiwara makes his GAME FREAK game debut as an artist, who would go on to become instrumental in designing various Pokémon from Pokémon Red & Green until Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, such as Eevee, Jolteon and Flareon. Masuda returns as the sole composer for Mario & Wario, with tracks that would resemble his later work in Pokémon Red & Green, namely the Credits theme sounding similar to Victory! (Wild Pokémon) from Pokémon Red and Green.
Although the game released using the mouse accessory, the original idea was to control the game using the Nintendo Super Scope, though Masuda mentioned that it was scrapped after being too difficult to work with for a variety of reasons. Initially, the player was to use the Super Scope to shoot nets at monsters to capture, but the size of televisions at the time, as well as the general inaccuracy of the Super Scope recognizing the edges of the screen would ultimately force the team to use the mouse accessory. 
Box-art of Mario & Wario drawn by Yōichi Kotabe
Nontan to Issho: KuruKuru Puzzle
Nontan to Issho KuruKuru Puzzle is another puzzle game released exclusively in Japan, developed by GAME FREAK. They were in charge of the Super Famicom version, which released on November 25, 1994, long after the Game Boy version released and developed by Access on April 18, 1994. It is based on the Japanese children's book Nontan.
Box-art of Nontan to Issho: KuruKuru Puzzle drawn by Sachiko Kiyono
Pulseman is a 2D action-platformer developed by GAME FREAK, and directed by both Ken Sugimori and Satoshi Tajiri, releasing on July 22nd, 1994. It had a brief release in the United States throughout 1995 as part of the Sega Channel but became inaccessible after the end of the service. It got a re-release on the Wii Virtual Console in April 24, 2007 in Japan, with a July 13th, 2009 launch in PAL regions and a July 13, 2009 release in the United States, though these too became inaccessible after the closure of the Wii Shop Channel on January 31, 2019.
The game also received three officially licensed cover based on the game's soundtrack by Junichi Masuda, and were arranged by a variety of musicians. All three were released exclusively in Japan. The first was Electrace Pulseman on August 1st, 1994, which was supervised by Stereotype, comprised of Satoshi Tajiri, Dai Sato of White Base and Yoshinori Sunahara. It contains ten tracks in total.
Electrace Pulseman Track List:
|2||Electrace Pulse Man||7:17|
|4||Electrace Pulse Man[revenge]||6:45|
|6||DETESTI LEGGERE I MANUALI||5:31|
|8||16-bit SAD FINAL SECRET||5:39|
|9||BACK SPACE STRIKES BACK||7:25|
The second and third cover albums, both known as PULSEMAN (more commonly referred to as PULSEMAN Arranged) were released in 1994 and 1995 respectively. The former was released as a two-disc vinyl record, with the latter as a CD release. Both have a different selection of music.
PULSEMAN 1994 Track List:
|A1||Pulseman Goes To Party||4:17|
|C1||Pulseman Vs Sineman||13:10|
PULSEMAN 1995 Track List:
|7||Pulseman VS Sineman||12:58|
|9||Macro Scope [Last Stage Mix]||5:54|
- Main article: Capsule Monsters
Though the idea for what would become the Pokémon games had existed in Tajiri's mind for a while, actual development Pokémon idea began as Capsule Monsters, in 1990. Early that year, Tajiri pitched the idea to Ape (Creatures, Inc.) and Nintendo, with a contract to finish it in October; however, it was rejected, and issues trademarking the name led Tajiri to change it, first shortening it to CapuMon, then changing it to Pocket Monsters. Additionally, according to the official book Game Freak Asobi no Sekai Hyoujun o Nurikaeru Creative Shuudan written by Akihito Tomisawa, Tsunekazu Ishihara states Creatures, Inc. had their own prototype for a game called "Toto" with a similar creature collecting concept; so Creatures, Inc. rejected it out of respect for Tajiri. With further revision of the idea, Tajiri pitched it again to Nintendo, and with the confidence of Shigeru Miyamoto swaying the decision, development was finally greenlit. Miyamoto was also the one responsible for splitting the games into two different versions after hearing Tajiri's enthusiasm about kids trading Pokémon between each other, those being Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green.
- Main article: Pokémon Red and Green
As a result, Red & Green had the longest development history of any game in the series, requiring a significantly larger team than in past titles. Although she first began as a graphic artist on Pulseman, Atsuko Nishida's biggest contribution at this point was creating many of the original 151 creature designs, (including the eventual series mascot, Pikachu) amidst both company veterans such as Ken Sugimori and Motofumi Fujiwara, as well as newcomers like Shigeki Morimoto. Morimoto's known contributions (Mankey, Diglett and Tauros) are all remarkably close to each other using their internal index number, which may provide evidence of when he first appeared. His most infamous design, Mew, was always planned to be a part of the game's story but its actual inclusion as a usable in-game Pokémon was very last minute, leading to a strange placement in the index list away from the rest of Morimoto's designs. This is presumably because it was thrown in the game after the debugging period, and simply replaced the first missing slot. Sugimori and Nishida were in charge of designing every non-Pokémon human character, the former being responsible for every single Gym Leader.
Junichi Masuda composed and arranged the entirety of Generation I's soundtrack, where he wrote a program that allowed for PCM sampled playback to be converted for use on the Game Boy. All of Masuda's contributions to the soundtrack would be arranged by different composers for various media, with the Title Screen song being used as the main theme of the anime to this very day. The melody from the track Battle! (Wild Pokémon) continues to be referenced in every future core series entry battle against a Wild Pokémon, and his digitized cries personal to each Pokémon served as the basis for their sounds in Pokémon Stadium as well as their revised cries from Pokémon X & Y onwards.
Bazaar de Gosāru no Game de Gosāru
Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha
Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha is a Japanese-only turn-based action game developed by GAME FREAK for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, released on January 17th, 1997.
Box-art of Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha drawn by Ken Sugimori
Japanese Box-art of Drill Dozer, drawn by Ken Sugimori
North American Box-art of Drill Dozer, drawn by Ken Sugimori
Key Art of Harmoknight drawn by James Turner
Pocket Card Jockey
Box-art of Pokémon X
Box-art of Pokémon Y
Box-art of Pokémon Omega Ruby
Box-art of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire
Cancelled PlayStation 4 RPG
Tembo the Badass Elephant
Key Art of Tembo the Badass Elephant drawn by James Turner
Box-art of Pokémon Sun
Box-art of Pokémon Moon
Box-art of Pokémon Ultra Sun
Box-art of Pokémon Ultra Moon
English App icon of Pokémon Quest
Little Town Hero
Box-art of Pokémon Scarlet
Box-art of Pokémon Violet
Key Art of the The Teal Mask
Key Art of the The Indigo Disk
On May 9th, 2023, GAME FREAK announced an action-adventure game known as Project Bloom, directed by Kota Furushima in joint collaboration with Private Division, alongside a concept art reveal drawn by Kazuma Koda. It is scheduled for a release between 2025 and 2026.
Concept Art for Project Bloom by Kazuma Koda
- Satoshi Tajiri (田尻智) (founder, CEO, chairman of the board)
- Ken Sugimori (杉森建) (founder, board member, art director)
- Takenori Ōta (太田健程)
- Shigeki Morimoto (森本茂樹)
- Motofumi Fujiwara (藤原基史)
- Kōji Nishino (西野弘二)
- Jun'ichi Masuda (増田順一) (founder, former board member, former head of development)
In the games
Game Freak employees appear in every core series game besides Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Scarlet, and Violet. The main reason to visit them is to obtain a diploma (or stamps in the Alola region), awarded after the completion of the Pokédex. In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, the sound designer gives the GB Sounds after the player has obtained all 8 Kanto Badges.
Their headquarters are located on the third floor of the Celadon Condominiums. They have their own office on 22F of a building in Castelia City, just like in their former real-world office in Carrot Tower. They also have an office on the second floor of a building in Heahea City. In Hoenn, a group of Game Freak employees are on vacation, staying in Lilycove City's Cove Lily Motel; in Sinnoh, a single member is staying at the Hotel Grand Lake; in Unova, there is an office in a building in Castelia Street; in Kalos, the game director can be found staying at the Hotel Coumarine in Coumarine City; in Alola, Game Freak's office can be found in a building of Heahea City on Akala Island; in Galar, a group of Game Freak employees can be found staying in Hotel Ionia in Circhester.
In some of the core games the player can also fight against some members of the Game Freak's team. In Pokémon Black and White, the player can battle a character representing Shigeki Morimoto in the office after stopping Team Plasma. In Black 2 and White 2, they can also battle Kōji Nishino, who uses a Snorlax as his highest leveled Pokémon, a reference to his nickname カビゴン Kabigon, after which Snorlax is named (in the English versions, he calls himself Snorlax). Both Morimoto and Nishino have the Trainer class GAME FREAK. In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the player can battle Shigeki Morimoto in the Game Freak office after becoming Champion, who will give the player an Oval Charm the first time he is defeated. He can be battled once a day. In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the player can battle Morimoto again but this time Kazumasa Iwao will also be present and it is a Double Battle against the two. Morimoto reappears once again in Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! with his battle being located at Celadon Condominiums; in Pokémon Sword and Shield, his battle is in Hotel Ionia and in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl at the Hotel Grand Lake.
|This section is incomplete.|
Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.
Reason: Screens since Gen VI
- Company - Game Freak
- Game Freak, known as "Pokémon" development company, merged with smartphone game development company Koa Games... - gamebiz.jp
- The Game Freaks Who Play With Bugs – Discussions on the Video Game Xevious (Japanese: ゲームフリークはバグと戯れる―ビデオゲーム「ゼビウス」論) (Nakazawa Shinichi) (1984) (Translations from Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon and Tsugumi Okabe for Geemu Media Mix Volume 5, Issue 1, December 2015, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- Interview between Masanobu Endo, Satoshi Tajiri, Ken Sugimori - Denfaminicogamer (February 8, 2016)
- Mew's Origins: A Story of Secrets, Rumors & Legends Ft. maxmoefoe (Pokémon) - DidYouKnowGaming?
- YouTube video by DidYouKnowGaming? citing the book
|This article is part of Project Mass Media, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on official Pokémon publishing, broadcasting, communications, and other media.|