The classic artwork of Ken Sugimori’s Pokémon designs has been rediscovered. After decades of poor-quality scams being circulated in books and online, the OG Pokémon art scans have been found.
Over the past two decades, online Pokédex websites such as Bulbapedia and more have relied on poor quality scams of Sugimori’s OG Pokémon art for the original 251 Kanto and Johto creatures. However, a group of Pokémon preservationists have now found higher quality versions, allowing everyone to appreciate the original designs as they should have been.
While some books and magazines have included these HD designs in the past, they have been few and far between. As preservationist and YouTuber LewTwo points out, the vast majority of poor-quality scans for the original 151 creatures were released in the 1998 Pokemon Red & Blue Player's Guide. The mass market walkthrough book decided to include horrendous quality art that killed the colours and details of Sugimori’s designs.
LewTwo reveals that a huge effort to discover all of the original Pokédex’s HD artwork has finally bore fruit. After collecting a variety of official sources, the Pokémon preservation community has finally acquired images of the entire Kanto and Pokédexes.
“For over 20 years, the Red, Blue, Gold & Silver artwork of each Pokemon across the internet had inaccurate colors, were often misshapen, and generally VERY low quality,” the preservationist said. “Thanks to scans provided by ExcaliburZero_Z, we're finally able to see how they were always meant to look.”
Since receiving the scans, the preservation group has worked to cross-reference the high-quality images across multiple official documents. Using RAW scans from the 2016 re-releases of Pokémon on 3DS, CoroCoro magazines from the time, official press releases, TCG cards and more, it’s been determined that this is what the games’ artwork was originally supposed to look like.
The new high-quality scans show much more detail than what many fans have been used to. For example, the image of Kanto Ditto has long lacked colour and detail, but it turns out that Sugimori’s design was not only more vibrant, but also filled with small details.
Furthermore, orange-toned Pokémon such as Diglett and Tauros were always supposed to be brown. Consequently, the blue shades of the Bulbasaur evolution line was originally green, but was faded in the western Player’s Guides.
Despite the discovery of higher-quality artwork, many fans have expressed a distaste for the changed appearances. While the new HD images are more accurate, they alter the nostalgia that many have for the poor quality scans. After all, it is a staggering difference in colour, simplicity and tone.
“We understand that people have an affinity for the way the original artwork looks, but our priority has always been preserving how this art is supposed to look, as much as possible,” said preservationist LewTwo. “I never grew up with these guides so I can't really relate, but the inaccurate versions will always exist on Bulbapedia's file history for those that want them there.”
The poor quality of the original 251 Pokémon designs could be seen as revisionist history. After all, until these new HD images of the OG Pokémon designs were made public, thousands of fans had no idea how they were supposed to look. Nevertheless, it’s good to have Sugimori’s original designs out in the wild. Not only do they look fantastic, but fans can now appreciate Pokémon’s original art style how it was supposed to be.