Pokémon are usually cute creatures. That’s part of the appeal. But the upcoming Pokémon fighting game is not about that life.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chat with Pokkén producers Katsuhiro Harada (of Tekken fame) and Masaaki Hoshino (of Soul Calibur fame). I wanted to know, what was the most surprising thing about working on a Pokémon fighting game? Turns out, the answer was different for both Harada and Hoshino.

“With this game, one of the things I really wanted to do was represent the Pokémon in a really realistic style,” said Hoshino. “A graphical representation that’s really realistic. I had to really convince the staff working on the game, as well the Pokémon company, to go in this direction.”

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It shows. When you look at critters like Pikachu and Lucario, you can make out tufts of fur. But, more noticeably, the animations for the Pokémon are pretty realistic, too. When a monster like Machamp lands a punch, it looks like it hurts. When Charizard gets pummeled by a legendary Pokémon, you can hear painful grunts.

Abstractly, we’ve known all along that Pokémon fight each other, but its typically rendered in a cartoonish way. When a Pokémon faints in the main series, I process it as “oh, my health bar has depleted” rather than “oh shit, my Pokémon is actually hurt.”

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Fighting games have a totally different priority. Fighting games are more openly about the impact of bodies brutalizing each other, of what happens when a blow connects. So, some semblance of realism here makes sense—you’re not just commanding a Pokémon to go do something, as you do in the main games. You ARE the Pokémon, which means you see the battles unfold first-hand. That’s inherently more intense.

Harada says a different element of developing Pokken Tournament proved most unexpected for him.

“It’s a simple thing that surprised me the most,” Harada said. “It’s a hidden element in the game. There are actually a few signature Tekken moves performed by the Pokémon in the game. And originally when I heard this idea [I thought] Tekken characters and Pokémon have totally different bone structures. I didn’t think they would fit at all.”

Harada was surprised to find that, despite his reservations, the Tekken moves “actually fit the Pokémon” really well.

Pokkén Tournament is out for Wii U on March 18th.