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Junichi Masuda

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Junichi Masuda
Masuda in 2007
Masuda in 2007
Background information
Born (1968-01-12) January 12, 1968 (age 54)
Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
InstrumentsPiano, Trombone
Years active1989–present

Junichi Masuda (増田 順一, Masuda Jun'ichi, born January 12, 1968) is a Japanese video game composer, director, designer, producer, singer, programmer and trombonist, best known for his work in the Pokémon franchise. He is a member of the Game Freak board of directors, and has been employed at the company since 1989 when he founded it alongside Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori.[1][2]

With the development of new Pokémon games, Masuda took new roles in future projects. He began to produce and direct games, starting with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, and became responsible for approving new character models. His style seeks to keep games accessible while still adding increasing levels of complexity. His work sticks to older mainstays of the series, including a focus on handheld game consoles and 2D graphics. His music draws inspiration from the work of celebrated modern composers like Dmitri Shostakovich, though he used the Super Mario series as a model of good video game composition.


Masuda was born on January 12, 1968 in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.[3] As a child, his family often vacationed in Kyūshū, where many of his relatives still live. There he spent his time catching fish and insects, a pastime that later influenced his video game design. Masuda modeled the Pokémon series's Hoenn Region after Kyūshū in an attempt to recapture his memories of summers there.[4] In high school, Masuda played the trombone; he soon discovered classical music, and was drawn in by works like Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.[5]

Masuda attended the Japan Electronics College, a technical school in Shinjuku, Tokyo, where he studied computer graphics and the C programming language using a DEC Professional.[6][7] His daughter Kiri was born in September 2002; he named a character in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire after her.[8]


Masuda has worked at Game Freak since the company's inception in 1989,[9][10] and has been involved in nearly every title that Game Freak has produced.[10] Masuda was one of the original developers of the Pokémon series, beginning with Pokémon Red and Green.[11] He was first hired to compose video game music, where his first game at Game Freak was Mendel Palace, a 1989 puzzle game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.[12] After Mendel Palace, he worked on Yoshi, the company's first collaboration with Nintendo.[12]

When the company first began releasing Pokémon titles, Masuda worked mainly as the composer, though he did minor programming work as well, and later began directing and producing them.[12] His work on the first games included writing the program to play audio in the games, music, and sound effects.[13] Masuda has been directly involved in the naming and design of many Pokémon. He has stated that one of the hardest aspects of design is making sure that a Pokémon's name and attributes will appeal to a global audience.[11] Since Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Masuda has been one of the main employees who approve or reject designs for new Pokémon.[14] He now serves as a member of the Game Freak board of directors.[15]

On September 28, 2018, Masuda revealed that during the early years of developing Pokémon games, "game data was nearly lost in a computer crash". Masuda described it as "the most nerve-racking moment in development", saying "We were developing the game on these Unix computer stations called the Sun SPARCstation 1. We’re developing, and they’re these Unix boxes, and they crashed quite a bit."[16]

On November 1, 2018, Masuda stated that Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! would likely be his final time serving as director for the main series Pokémon games. In the announcement interview, he stated that he wished to pass on the development torch to the younger generation of developers at Game Freak.[17]

Influences and style

Masuda approaches each of his games with the mindset that a beginner should be able to easily play it.[18] In view of this, his games begin in an easily approachable and accessible style, with more layers of complexity being introduced as the player progresses through the game.[12] He believes that handheld systems provide an opportunity for social interaction that cannot be found on non-handheld console systems.[18] He has stated that the continued use of 2D computer graphics has been integral to Pokémon's success.[19]

Masuda's musical style draws from a number of sources, particularly classical music and the works of Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich.[14] His favorite musical genre is techno, and he has looked to the music of the Super Mario series as an example of video game music that works well.[14] Most of his ideas draw inspiration from simply observing real life and visualizing how he would design or draw outside objects.[13] As a rule, he does not use previous characters as inspirations for new ones, instead creating each new one from independent sources.[13]


Year Game title Role
1989 Mendel Palace Composer
1991 Yoshi Staff
1992 Magical Tarurūto-kun Composer
1993 Mario & Wario Composer, programmer
1994 Pulseman
1996 Pokémon Red, Green and Blue
1997 Bushi Seiryūden: Futari no Yūsha Composer
1998 Pokémon Yellow Composer, programmer
1999 Pokémon Gold and Silver Sub director, composer, sound effects, game designer, us coordination
Pokémon Stadium Advisor
2000 Pokémon Crystal Co-director, game designer, game scenario, composer, us coordination
2002 Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Director, composer, game designer, plot scenario
2004 Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Director, composer, game designer
Pokémon Emerald World director, composer, game designer, scenario plot,
2005 Drill Dozer Producer, additional tuning
2006 Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Director, composer, plot scenario
Pokémon Ranger Game design advisor
2008 Pokémon Platinum Producer, composer, plot scenario
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia Game design advisor
2009 Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Producer, composer
Pokémon Rumble Game design advisor
2010 Pokémon Black and White Director, producer, composer, world & plot
Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs Game design advisor
2011 Pokémon Rumble Blast
Learn with Pokémon: Typing Adventure
2012 Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 Producer, composer, world & plot
HarmoKnight General producer
2013 Pokémon X and Y Director, composer, world & plot
Pokémon Rumble U Game design advisor
2014 Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Producer
Pokémon Battle Trozei Game design advisor
2015 Tembo the Badass Elephant General producer
Pokémon Picross Game design advisor
Pokémon Rumble World
2016 Pokémon Sun and Moon Producer, composer
Detective Pikachu Game design advisor
Pokémon Go Composer, game design assistance
2017 Giga Wrecker General producer
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Producer, sound
2018 Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Director, original music, concept, general producer
Pokémon Quest General producer
2019 Pokémon Sword and Shield Producer
Little Town Hero General producer
2020 Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra DLC Producer, composer
2021 Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Director, composer, concept and plot
2022 Pokémon Legends: Arceus Supervisor


  1. ^ "Interview with Shinji Miyazaki and the Game Freak sound team - #pocketmonsters, your source for news about Pokémon and Pocket Monsters". Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  2. ^ "GAME FREAK Secret Base for GAME FREAK's 30th Anniversary | GAME FREAK".
  3. ^ Masuda, Junichi (2010). "Profile". Hidden Power of Masuda: Director's Column. Game Freak. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  4. ^ Masuda, Junichi (9 September 2004). "No. 15". Hidden Power of Masuda: Director's Column. Game Freak. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  5. ^ Masuda, Junichi (4 October 2007). "No. 109". Hidden Power of Masuda: Director's Column. Game Freak. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  6. ^ Masuda, Junichi (12 June 2007). "No. 86". Hidden Power of Masuda: Director's Column. Game Freak. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  7. ^ Masuda, Junichi (2 September 2004). "No. 13". Hidden Power of Masuda: Director's Column. Game Freak. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  8. ^ Masuda, Junichi (28 October 2004). "No. 24". Hidden Power of Masuda: Director's Column. Game Freak. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  9. ^ Padilla, Raymond (17 March 2009). "Junichi Masuda & Takeshi Kawachimaru Talk 'Pokemon Platinum', Particle Physics, Bridges, And More!". G4. G4 Media. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Junichi Masuda Biography". IGN. News Corporation. 2010. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  11. ^ a b Noble, McKinley. "Pokemon Platinum: Developer Interview!". GamePro. IDG. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original on 2010-08-06. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  12. ^ a b c d Nutt, Christian (3 April 2009). "The Art of Balance: Pokémon's Masuda on Complexity and Simplicity". Gamasutra. Think Services. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  13. ^ a b c Harris, Craig (23 February 2009). "Pokemon Creators on Platinum". IGN. News Corporation. p. 2. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  14. ^ a b c Grimm, Michael. "How Pokemon are born". GamesRadar. Future plc. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  15. ^ Haywald, Justin (2009). "Why Gamers Still Play Pokémon". Hearst Corporation. p. 1. Archived from the original on 24 March 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  16. ^ "Pokemon Game Veteran Junichi Masuda Recalls 'Most Nerve-Racking Moment'". NDTV Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  17. ^ Nick Santangelo (November 2, 2018). "Pokemon Let's Go is 'Probably' the Last Pokemon Game Junichi Masuda Will Direct". IGN. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Hoggins, Tom (12 May 2009). "Pokémania continues with Pokémon Platinum". The Daily Telegraph. London. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  19. ^ Nutt, Christian (3 April 2009). "Pokemon's Masuda: 2D Brings 'Flavor' To Series' Visuals". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved 2 June 2010.