What a few months it has been. Since we last took a look at what we knew about Sun & Moon, following its original reveal, we have had a massive amount of information; it's still coming at us faster than a Quick Claw Speed Forme Deoxys using Extreme Speed.
While much of the news has focused on new Pokémon, we have started to learn more about these games beyond the pocket monsters; they seem to be the freshest reveals and most unique ideas that the series has had for quite some time, so let's do a quick rundown on the most fascinating new features.
So far, we know of 31 brand new Pokémon in this game and these are among some of the most imaginative Pokémon that we have seen yet. Not just in design, but in concept and even in types.
While we have standard things like Yungoos, we also have weird ones such as Minior with its concept of breaking out of its shell when its Hit Points hit 50%. The bird Oricorio has different forms for each island, all with different types. Komala, the cute koala that can only be put to sleep. Drampa with its unique Normal/Dragon-type. Salandit with its ability to Poison any Pokémon. Mimikyu, the Ghost/Fairy that cosplays as a Pikachu just so it can be loved. There's even guardian Pokémon of each island of Alola, such as Tapu Koko with a great typing of Electric/Fairy and the ability to call on Electric Terrain when sent out. The new Pokémon in this generation are really intriguing. You may not like the way they look, but they're really changing the game.
The Pokémon really seem to be bringing interesting new abilities to the fold as well, with ones that are unique and some that will change the competitive landscape forever. There is no shortage of ideas here.
Of course, we could go on for hours and hours about each of the brand new Pokémon, but we'll save that for another time
Now here's a cool new concept, and is reminiscent of the changes some Pokémon had in the Orange Islands saga of the anime, but then pushed up by thousands. Alola Forms are massive changes to Pokémon that changes their appearance, type and ability. For example, Vulpix & Ninetales both become Ice-type, with Ninetales also being Fairy-type. This is due to the climates of Alola changing them considerably. We only know of five so far; in addition to Vulpix & Ninetales, we have the new Grass/Dragon Exeggutor and the Ice/Steel-type Sandshrew & Sandslash.
This makes the Pokémon a lot different to how they used to be, and they'll be used differently, which essentially makes them new Pokémon. The possibilities are now endless. What Pokémon will they add and how will they differ? The mind races with the possibilities.
Gym? What's a Gym?
One of the more outlandish things we have learned is that the games will feature brand new challenges, the Island Trials. Here, you start off with special missions from Trial Captains. These are simple missions that vary from finding four items, calming Pokémon and more. Once that's done, then you can face off against Totem Pokémon.
Totem Pokémon are larger versions of standard Pokémon like Gumshoos and Lurantis and often have a stat boost. In addition to that, these battles are known as SOS Battles and they allow for the Totem Pokémon to call in other Pokémon into battle to help, so Gumshoos can call in a wild Yungoos to attack. This essentially makes them boss Pokémon.
Then, after doing the Trial and defeating the Totems, you have a chance to defeat the Kahuna, a leader of the island. This could be the closest thing we get to a Gym Leader. This whole setup is a massive departure from what we know of Pokémon games. Will they replace Gyms altogether? That remains to be seen but this is a fundamental shift.
Hyper Training is a new feature that was introduced in the July news reveal; this feature is a godsend to competitive players. It will allow for you to spend Bottle Cap items in order to increase the stats of the Pokémon. These aren't the Effort Values, however, but the actual Individual Values...the genetics of a Pokémon. These have never been alterable before and have mostly relied on luck and breeding. How rare these Bottle Caps are remains to be seen, but the ability to change IVs is absolutely huge.
Riding Pokémon has been a thing since X & Y, as well as Ranger games, and Sun & Moon has taken it to whole new levels. This time, it seems that they may be taking the place of HMs, allowing for you to do things such as break through rocks on Tauros, sniff out items on Stoutland and more.
So far we know of six Pokémon that can be ridden, two on water, three on land and one in the air. They are said to be able to be called at any time. This is an interesting change up from what happened in X & Y when you could only ride in specific areas. Unfortunately, you can't ride your own Pokémon so you won't be able to ride the shiny Charizard into the skies.
Will there be more Pokémon that can be used in this manner? That remains to be seen at this point.
Now we come to the real meat of the mechanics, the Z-Moves. Z-Moves are the new major mechanic of the game and it makes sense considering Professor Kukui's field of study is Pokémon moves. So what are Z-Moves? In essence, they are like a Mega Evolution for your move. If your Pokémon is holding a specific crystal, it can activate a special powerful move based on a type, with there being 18 Crystals, one for each Pokémon-type. The Pokémon needs to know a move of that type so Pikachu can use the Grass Z-Move, Bloom Doom, if you have taught it Grass Knot, and you can only use a Z-Move once per battle.
Z-Moves are very powerful, but we don't know to what extent just yet. Based on the trailer, we know they're not one hit KO guarantees as Pikachu's Gigavolt Havoc damage doesn't take Alolan Sandshrew down beyond around 30% of its health. This means they aren't a stonewall guarantee of success, and so deciding what - Move you're going to use in battle is going to be a tricky one.
So, we now know a great deal about many of the features in Pokémon Sun & Moon, but there's still so much we don't know. Is there to be an antagonistic team? What's the plot? What's the deal with Lillie and whatever is in her bag? Will this link to any other game in terms of story? Thankfully we don't have to wait long to find out.