How Europe inspired Pokemon X and Y's creature designs

Pokemon X and Pokemon Y offer a bevy of new collectible monsters alongside 3D models of the old veterans. When it came time to make new monsters, Game Freak character art director Ken Sugimori says they looked to the setting for inspiration.

"With the game taking place in a Europe-inspired setting, [director Junichi Masuda] told us to avoid coming up with concepts straight out of our own minds, but to fully examine source material and such before putting pen to paper," Sugimori told Japanese magazine Famitsu (via Polygon). "We did things like visit France in order to get the full atmosphere of the area into the game."

3D art director Takao Unno added that characters like the Bunnelby were directly inspired by the local wildlife, since seeing wild hares was common in their scouting trips. He noted that "It was easier in some ways to pin down Pokemon designs once we settled on a region."

Sugimori also said that the more fantastical legendary Pokemon who appear on the cover, Xernaus and Yveltal, were much more difficult than usual. He tends to design the legendary creaturs himself, but this time he was struggling enough that he needed fellow art designer Atsuko Nishida to pitch in.

"I've designed a lot of the legendary Pokemon over the years, but for whatever reason, it was really hard to come up with the concepts this time around," he said. "This was the first time I had to field someone else to get me out of my artist's block, so in that respect, those are definitely the two Pokemon that stick out the most in my mind for this project."