One of the features that defined the Pokemon franchise was inspired by an annoying monster from Dragon Quest 2, as it had a ridiculously low drop rate for a magic item.
The appeal of the Pokemon franchise is deeply rooted in its social elements. The series wouldn’t have been anywhere near as popular if it weren’t for the ability to battle or trade Pokemon with your friends. The need to seek out other players to complete the Pokedex meant that kids got to socialize with each other. It sucked if you could only play it on an emulator, but Nintendo doesn’t care about freeloaders. You can just complete Pokemon Red & Blue with a Kadabra and a Haunter like everyone else on the dole.
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The trading mechanic in Pokemon Red & Green was inspired by sheer frustration. Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri was interviewed during an episode of Game Center CX, and he talked about his experiences with Dragon Quest 2: Luminaries of the Legendary Line on the NES. This was the game that introduced party mechanics to the series, which included characters who were dedicated spellcasters. The Dragon Quest series uses an MP mechanic, which means that the player needs to be careful about casting too many spells during grunt battles, as they won’t have enough juice saved for boss battles.
One of the most useful items in Dragon Quest 2 is the Magic Hat (localized as the Mad Cap in English), which cuts the amount of MP needed to cast all spells. Satoshi Tajiri really wanted a Mad Cap, but they are extremely difficult to find, as they are 1/128 drops from three specific monsters: Pazuzu, Hargon (which is a boss), and Tyrannodactyl. Of the three, Tyrannodactyl is the easiest to kill, but it’s still an incredibly difficult opponent, as it spams sleep spells and can use a fire breath attack that hits the whole party.
Tajiri told Game Center CX that he kept killing Tyrannodactyls, but he never got a Mad Cap. Pokemon character designer Ken Sugimori was also playing Dragon Quest 2 at the same time, and he had the incredible good fortune of receiving two Mad Caps from enemies. Tajiri wanted to know if it was somehow possible to trade items between their copies of Dragon Quest 2. He even looked into the prospect, but to no avail, as the Famicom lacked the ability to share data between games. When the time came to choose a platform for Pokemon Red & Green, Tajiri chose the Game Boy, specifically for its Link Cable functionality. The Link Cable allowed data to be transferred from one system to another, which allowed Tajiri to fulfill his vision of trading between friends.
The age of the Link Cable has long since ended, and all of the trading between Pokemon games is done wirelessly. Even the versions of Pokemon Red & Blue on the Virtual Console use the wireless functionality of the Nintendo 3DS for trades and battles. The significance of connecting with the Link Cable goes beyond wires and handheld consoles, as it was the item that led to lifelong friendships being formed, and heated battles that are still fondly remembered to this day. Many kids who existed during the Pokemania era formed lifelong friendships through the Pokemon games, and the same can be said for adults with the modern games, like Pokemon Go. Pokemon fans needed to seek each other out in other to play the game, and that was a big part of what created such an enduring and loyal fanbase. Pokemon is now the biggest media franchise in the world, and we have a dumb-looking dinosaur that was created by Akira Toriyama, and a stupid hat with a low drop rate to thank for its existence.
Next: Dragon Quest 3 Speedrunner Uses Hot Plate To Overheat Cartridge, Causing Level 99 Bug
Source: Game Center CX
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Scott has been writing for The Gamer since it launched in 2017 and also regularly contributes to Screen Rant. He has previously written gaming articles for websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, and TopTenz. He has been gaming since the days of the ZX Spectrum, when it used to take 40 minutes to load a game from a tape cassette player to a black and white TV set.
Scott thinks Chrono Trigger is the best video game of all time, followed closely by Final Fantasy Tactics and Baldur’s Gate 2. He pretends that sorcerer is his favorite Dungeons & Dragons class in public but he secretly loves bards.
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