Creatures Inc. (株式会社クリーチャーズ Creatures Incorporated) is a Japanese video game development company previously known as Ape Inc.
They share joint ownership of The Pokémon Company alongside Nintendo and Game Freak and are best known for creating the Pokémon Trading Card Game. As Ape Inc., they are also known for creating and developing Mother / EarthBound Beginnings and Mother 2 / EarthBound.
1989-1994: Ape Inc.
Ape Inc. was formed when former president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi wanted to support new talent in video game design. The idea was proposed to famed writer Shigesato Itoi, whom Yamauchi was a fan of. Itoi liked the idea and began investing in it, eventually becoming company CEO. After the team was assembled (which included famed illustrator Ashura Benimaru Itoh, composer Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka, and Tsunekazu Ishihara - the future CEO of The Pokémon Company), development began on an RPG for the Famicom and written by Itoi titled Mother, released on July 27, 1989 (and in 2015 for the Wii U Virtual Console as EarthBound Beginnings).
Development on a sequel soon followed afterwards for the Super Famicom. The cycle lasted for five years and the game had been nearly cancelled multiple times. To help save the project, president of HAL Laboratory Satoru Iwata voluntarily joined the project, effectively restarting development over. While a small team from HAL were tasked with the programming, the rest of Ape worked on the game's assets such as the sprites, map data, and dialogue. Mother 2 would eventually release in Japan on 1994 and was later localized to the West for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as EarthBound in 1995. The company later disbanded mere months after the game's U.S. release.
Aside from the Mother series, five other games were made in the company's short life span; these include Monopoly, Mario's Picross, Tamori's Picross, The Monopoly Game 2, and Mario's Super Picross.
1995-Present: Creatures Inc.
The now-defunct Ape Inc. was re-established on November 8, 1995 as Creatures Inc. Their first project was assisting Game Freak in their final stages of developing Pokémon Red and Green. Following its runaway success, the company soon became deeply involved with the series by being the designers and primary 3D modelers of the Pokémon themselves.
Aside from the video games, Creatures is the primary maker of The Pokémon Trading Card Game. They began in 1996 and were initially Japan-exclusive and published by Media Factory. The cards featured new illustrations from Game Freak's Ken Sugimori, Mitsuhiro Arita, and Keiji Kinebuchi. In 1999, the cards finally saw distribution in North America under tabletop card company Wizards of the Coast, with an international release following soon afterwards. In 2003, the international distribution of the cards was handed over to Nintendo via The Pokémon Company International, with the Japanese distribution and publishing being handed over to the main Pokémon Company in 2006.
Aside from the Pokémon series, Creatures have been involved with several other projects for Nintendo. In 1998, they assisted Game Freak and the R&D1 team with the development of the Game Boy Camera. In 2001, they released the Japan-exclusive Game Boy Color game Chee-Chai Alien which uses the system's infrared port and is compatible with the Game Boy Printer. The company assisted in the development of the Japan-exclusive click-and-point adventure game Project Hacker: Kakusei as well as exercise assistant game Personal Trainer: Walking, both of which were released on the Nintendo DS.
Involvement with Super Smash Bros.
In terms of development, Creatures first became involved with Smash by resuming their role as 3D modelers of the playable Pokémon fighters and the Poké Ball Pokémon in the original Super Smash Bros. This role was greatly expanded upon as they modeled the fighters, stages, and Trophies in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The company's main representation is with the Pokémon series alongside Game Freak. This includes the fighters Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Mewtwo, Pichu, the Pokémon Trainer (with Charizard, Squirtle, and Ivysaur), Lucario, Greninja, and Incineroar; the stages Saffron City, Pokémon Stadium, Poké Floats, Pokémon Stadium 2, Spear Pillar, Unova Pokémon League, Prism Tower, and Kalos Pokémon League; several summonable Poké Ball Pokémon, music tracks, Trophies, Stickers, and Spirits.
The former Ape Inc. also has major representation in Smash through the Mother / EarthBound series. This includes the playable inclusion of EarthBound's Ness and Mother 3's Lucas; the stages Onett, Fourside, New Pork City, and Magicant; several music tracks, the Starman enemy making a cameo as an Assist Trophy, a Mii Fighter costume based on the Flying Man, and several Trophies, Stickers, and Spirits.
- Quick History of the MOTHER Series (English). EarthBound Central (03/11/2009). Retrieved on 2020-08-26.
- Krabbe, Esra (07/22/2019). How Satoru Iwata Saved Earthbound from Development Hell (English). IGN. Retrieved on 2020-08-26.
- Company Outline. Creatures.
- Frushtick, Russ (05/29/2018). The history of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (English). Polygon. Retrieved on 2020-08-26.
- Official website (in Japanese)