Pokemon is a franchise that’s been around since the 90s, and with the new iteration of the games and anime, Pokemon Sun and Moon, that franchise is showing no signs of slowing down. There’s a lot to talk about with these new games, specifically because so much about Pokemon is changing, but regardless of that, there’s definitely a lot to look forward to. From new takes on old Pokemon to a completely different gym system in a completely different region that’s totally unique in comparison to anything we’ve gotten so far, there’s so much to get into that we might not even have time to cover it all. On top of that, there’s more news coming out with every passing day.
Without any further ado, here’s twenty things we should all be looking forward to when Pokemon Sun and Moon drops in November.
20. Customizable Trainers
While everyone seems to go crazy over new Pokemon, as a cosplayer of Pokemon trainers, the first thing I look at is the player characters. Even taking out my personal excitement to make that girl Trainer’s outfit, their designs are pretty awesome. They look like fully formed characters even though we don’t know much about them yet, but they also look like they belong in the lineup of previous Trainers we’ve had over the years. Additionally, they look like they’re going to have vastly different characterizations of their own, which is good news for people like me who read the Pokemon manga and watch the anime.
19. The Donald Trump Weasel
Oddly enough, there’s a Pokemon in the new generation that reminds me a lot of a certain presidential candidate who’s giving me major, major headaches. Meet Gumshoos, the Pokemon that’s being compared to real estate mogul and used makeup sponge Donald Trump. You won’t be able to unsee this now, but if you look at Donald Trump’s hair, and then look at the design of this Pokemon, you’d see the resemblance. Honestly, if Nintendo and the Pokemon Company came out tomorrow and told us that the inspiration came from Donald Trump, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. The Pokemon website had this to say about it:
“Gumshoos has a tenacious personality, which is why it targets one prey for so long without wavering. But when the sun goes down, it runs low on stamina, falling asleep right on the spot. Gumshoos can withstand a great deal of hunger. It’s able to stay perfectly still while waiting for its prey, keeping watch without eating a thing.”
From what I can tell, the inspiration for Gumshoos appears to be a gumshoe detective and a mongoose. I can kind of see that when I look at the trenchcoat-esque body he’s got, but honestly, I just keep looking at the hair and thinking about Donald Trump.
18. New Gym System
With the new games and new Pokemon, now comes the gyms. However, in a very interesting turn of events, Pokemon Sun and Moon don’t have traditional gyms, they have a new system called the Island challenge. Basically, the trainer (you) will have to prove themselves in some way by completing certain tasks to prove him or herself, and at the end of each challenge, the trainer has to fight a Totem Pokemon, which is a bigger and stronger version of whatever Pokemon the Totem happens to be. The last trial is the one where you have to fight the Island’s Kahuna, and you can only move on to the next island if you beat the current Island’s Kahuna.
We don’t know all of the Kahunas yet, or even who the trial captains are, so there’s still a lot of mystery here. It’s all very new and interesting, and it’s an excellent way to set Sun and Moon apart from the rest of the Pokemon games.
17. Brand New Region
With every new generation of Pokemon, we get new trainers, new challenges, and a brand new region to play in. This time around, we’re in the tropical Alola region, which is shaping up to resemble Hawaii, much like Unova was made to resemble New York and Kalos was made to resemble France. Alola, by nature of being Alola, is turning a lot of the old staples of Pokemon on their heads, from the concept of gyms to the designs of classic Pokemon from Generation 1. We’re going to talk about some of those changes later, but for now, here’s what we know about Alola.
The region consists of five islands, one of which is artificial. We only know the names of three of those islands: Melemele Island, Akala Island and Aether Paradise. The unique qualities of Alola’s geography led certain Pokemon to new habitats, and ultimately, those habitats affected their typing and design. For example, Exeggutor grew a long neck and looks like a palm tree in Alola, and Rattata and Raticate have new typings now.
16. New Generation Of Pokemon
We’re going to talk about some of the Pokemon in Generation 7 at length later on, but for right now, let’s talk about the generation in general. We’ve got some really interesting Pokemon in this mix, including a ghost Pikachu, an incredibly adorable owl, and a Pokemon whose actual name is “Type: Null.” So far, we’ve seen 42 of them, which brings the total up to 763 Pokemon. These new Pokemon bring in sixteen new moves, 22 new abilities, and alternate modes for Zygarde, a generation six legendary. On top of that, movement is more free and there are new ways to battle.
This isn’t even getting into the brand new versions of old Pokemon coming out in Sun and Moon. Regional variants aren’t a new concept in Pokemon if you think about it: Vivillion has sixteen some odd color schemes, Arbok has six different options for markings, and the anime has dealt in variant Pokemon before (the episode on Valencia Island comes to mind). We’ll get into some of those new Pokemon later on, but generally, these new takes on old Pokemon are very much their own thing, just as much as the new Pokemon of Generation 7 are. This is aside from the new Pokemon that have regional distances of their own, like the many different versions of Oricorio. That’s a lot to take in when the game comes out in November, on top of everything else.
15. New Exeggutor
We can’t talk about the new Pokemon and new takes on old Pokemon without bringing up the most surprising update on old Pokemon so far: the Grass/Dragon typed, long necked Exeggutor. When I think of Generation 1 Pokemon that could be redesigned as Dragons, the last Pokemon I would have thought of would have been Exeggutor. The neck also threw me and lots of others off at first, even taking into account the new, very tropical region of Alola. It’s just not what we picture an Exeggutor to be. However, once I got over the initial shock and saw Alolan Exeggutor in action, I’m personally very excited to see how he plays in battle.
14. New Bad Guys
Any Pokemon fan knows Team Rocket, whether it’s the version from the anime with Jessie and James, or the more sinister version from the games. Every new generation has a different team of bad guys, and this generation is no different. This time around, we have Team Skull. We don’t know too much about them, but as you can see in the picture above, they look pretty darn cool. They give me the same vibe Team Flare of generation six gave me back when X and Y came out, with a dash of Team Aqua from generation three. There’s not much information about what they’re trying to do, and I personally can’t wait to find out.
I wanted to talk about the generation 7 starters together, but given the reaction to them when they hit the Internet, that’s going to be an impossibility, just because there’s so much to talk about. For example, Rowlet, the Grass starter, got so many positive reactions from fans that this starter is practically a meme on his own. That’s for a good reason too, because Rowlet is adorable. There’s something about this little guy’s face that’s just totally endearing, and I can absolutely see why the Internet loves him. He’s also one of the few Grass starters that isn’t based off of some sort of dinosaur, so that’s another interesting thing about him.
Litten is a Fire type Pokemon that makes fire hairballs into attacks and sheds all of its fur by setting it on fire. By all accounts, this little guy is kind of amazing. You might not want him as an actual pet cat, but for a starter Pokemon, he’s kind of out there and not quite what I was expecting. He also fits in well with the other fire starters, as he’s representative of the Chinese zodiac like they are. Charmander is, of course, the Dragon, while Cyndaquil is the Rat, Torchic is the Rooster, Chimchar’s the Monkey, Tepig is the pig, and Fennekin is the dog. Litten fits in well as the Tiger, especially when looking at what Litten eventually turns into.
Popplio fits in well with the other Water type Starters, as they’re all based on real aquatic animals. However, Popplio underwent a backlash on the level of the one the generation five starters got. Nobody liked him for whatever reason, whether it was for his big, red, clown nose, or his very happy face, or just because people were feeling salty about the starters in general. While I totally didn’t understand this dislike, I did understand why everyone changed their minds and started giving him the love he deserves: his crazy awesome looking evolutions. This starter is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge something until you know more about it.
In every Pokemon generation, as the fans know, there’s a Pikachu stand in. This is a Pokemon that fills in the space Pikachu takes up in generation one. These are interesting Pokemon specifically because they’re supposed to be very Pikachu-esque, but they’re unique characters of their own. Alola’s Pika-clone takes this concept all the way up to eleven, not only because Mimikyu’s completely different from every Pikaclone that came before it, but because his story is impossible to separate from Pikachu himself. The Pokemon website explains Mimikyu better than I ever could:
“Mimikyu lives its life completely covered by its cloth and is always hidden. People believe that anybody who sees its true form beneath the cloth will be stricken with a mysterious illness. People in the Alola region are convinced that you must never try to peek beneath its covering. Mimikyu’s health fails when it’s bathed in the rays of the sun, so it prefers to stick to dark places. It’s rumored that the reason it covers itself with a cloth is to avoid sunlight.
The rising popularity of Pikachu-styled merchandise around 20 years ago is the reason that Mimikyu makes itself look like Pikachu. In fact, this Pokémon is dreadfully lonely, and it thought it would be able to make friends with humans if only it looked like Pikachu.”
9. Alolan Vulpix and Ninetails
The Alolan version of Vulpix and Ninetails are basically Dragon type killing machines thanks to their Ice typing, and Fairy typing in the case of Ninetails. This is a perfect example of how the Alola region can change a well known Pokemon in a way that makes sense for the region and the franchise’s overall lore:
“Alolan Ninetales live on a snowy peak that is revered in the Alola region as a holy mountain. They are treated as sacred emissaries, and people meet them with awe and fear. This Pokémon’s personality is extremely gentle, and at times it has helped humans who seem to be in distress. However, it shows no mercy at all to anyone or anything that dares to damage its territory!
The Alolan Ninetales is able to produce ice crystals from the fur that covers its body. It can use these ice crystals to block attacks, or it can form balls of ice with them, which it fires like bullets at opponents. The power of these ice missiles is great enough to pulverize rock!”
8. New Characters
With a new game and new anime comes brand new characters. First, we have ourselves a new Professor, who’s called Professor Kukui, which is a really appropriate name for a professor of a tropical region. We’ve also got trial captains and Kahunas to deal with in lieu of the traditional gym leaders, plus new friends for the protagonists. This isn’t even taking into account Professor Kukui’s assistant and the Aether Foundation, both of which will be playing huge roles in the upcoming games. This is all we know about the Aether foundation so far:
“The Aether Foundation works in the Alola region. The foundation’s goal is to care for Pokémon that have been hurt.
The Aether Foundation has constructed an artificial island called Aether Paradise. There, they not only provide shelter for Pokémon, but also conduct various research projects. It seems that the main character will also be able to visit Aether Paradise during the adventure.”
7. New Anime Series
Speaking of the animated series, there’s a ton of changes happening here. First, Ash himself has undergone a major art style change, for better or for worse. On top of that, it looks like Ash is going to be going to school for the first time in twenty some odd years. That’s going to be enough to get used to without bringing in all of the new changes from the games, like the Kahuna and trial captain systems in place of the traditional gym structure. This could also change up the anime’s traditional endgame of beating the Pokemon League of the region, since it’s not like Alola has gyms to worry about. Then again, Ash hasn’t won a League since Orange and had the Kalos League brutally taken away from him, so maybe a change of pace will do him some good. Check out the trailer, which highlights this more old-school art style.
With these new games comes a new mechanic: Z-Moves. Basically, it’s a move that you only get to use once per battle, and every Pokemon is capable of performing one. You’ll need two items: a Z-Ring and a Z-Crystal:
“The Z-Ring fits on a Trainer’s arm, and Z-Crystals are set into it. If a Pokémon holds the same variety of Z-Crystal, the two will be able to resonate with one another. Crystals that correspond to each Pokémon type have been found in the Alola region.”
What’s even more awesome about this? Z-Rings are being released for fans in the real world.
“Tomy International will be releasing a Z-Ring item for sale, timed to match up with the launch of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon.
When a player uses a Z-Move in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, his or her real-life Z-Ring will light up, vibrate, and play sounds to go along with the video and sounds in the game. With this new experience, players will feel the force of these overwhelming Z-Moves with even more realism!”
5. Pokemon Generations
Pokemon Generations doesn’t have much to do with Pokemon Sun and Moon, but since both are big ways the Pokemon Company is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the franchise, this is definitely something worth talking about. Pokemon Generations is essentially a web series that’s going to fill in gaps the anime left over the past 20 years, and the time frame spans from the beginning at Kanto to the craziness of the Kalos anime. It’s definitely something that lots of fans have been waiting for, even if they didn’t know that they’d get it in Pokemon Generations. Two episodes are out so far, and new episodes are coming out every week until around Christmas time.
4. Night/Day Reversals
One thing that I wasn’t expecting at first but totally makes sense now that it’s been announced is the night and day reversals for both Pokemon Sun and Moon. The games will take place with a twelve hour time difference, meaning that in Sun, the time is normal, but in Moon, the time is shifted so it’s the opposite. This is a game changer for dealing with certain Pokemon, especially Espeon and Umbreon, who have different evolutionary criteria depending on the time of day.
“The two worlds of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moonare 12 hours apart and are tied to the actual time in real life. Pokémon Sun operates on the same time as your Nintendo 3DS system, but time in the world of Pokémon Moon is shifted by 12 hours. Some Totem Pokémon which appear in the trials throughout the game will also be different in each version. Players will encounter different Pokémon on the same route depending on whether it is day or night, which means players will have different experiences according to their chosen version of the game.”
This is pretty cool, because the games won’t be the exact same thing minus a couple of details anymore. Encounters will be different because of the time of day, and working with your Pokemon will be different as well.
New games mean new Legendary Pokemon, and the generation 7 legendaries did not disappoint. Meet Solgaleo and Lunaala, our new Legendaries. Solgaleo is a Psychic/Steel type with the ability Full Metal Body, which makes a lot of sense for it to have once you get past the fact that a Legendary who’s based on the Sun isn’t a Fire type. Lunaala, on the other hand, is a Psychic/Ghost type with the ability Shadow Shield, which is basically exactly what I thought the Pokemon representative of the Moon would have. Their designs are very reminiscent of the heavenly bodies they’re based on, which is also pretty great.
2. Hyper Training
Hyper Training is basically exactly what it sounds like: it’s a way to “draw forth a Pokémon’s power to its utmost limit.”
“Pokémon grow stronger by raising their levels and increasing their base stats. However, their power is still affected by the individual strengths innate to each Pokémon. Now, with Hyper Training, Pokémon that have grown to Lv. 100 will be able to increase their individual strengths, which has never been possible before.
With Hyper Training, you can increase the strength of the Lv. 100 Pokémon you’ve been adventuring with!”
In order to do this, you’ll need a new item called a Bottle Cap, which Magearna will helpfully be carrying. This is a great way to get your maxed out Pokemon to continue to grow, which sounds like it could be an invaluable tool for competitive players.
1. Ultra Beasts
Nothing has piqued my interest like the inclusion of mysterious beings called Ultra Beasts. Different ones are coming to both Sun and Moon, which is yet another thing that sets the games apart from each other. For example, this recent trailer shows two Ultra Beasts with the same code to identify them: UB-02. However, there’s no way to know if Ultra Beasts function the same way regular Pokemon do, if they’re counted in the Pokedex like regular Pokemon are, or if they’re even relevant to gameplay outside of the Alola storyline to begin with. All we know is that the Aether Foundation is looking into them. Here’s what we know about UB-01, who was announced not long ago:
“UB-01’s body is composed of a glass-like substance. However, it’s constantly changing shapes, never settling on one.
While evidence of something like a survival instinct can be observed in UB-01, no one knows whether it has a will of its own or any emotions. It’s said that, for some reason, its movements resemble those of a young girl.”
This sheds a little light on UB-01 while opening up a lot more questions. I have my own theories, as I’m sure other fans do, but in order to find out more about this and about everything else we’re hearing about, we’re going to have to wait until November, when we can get the game in our hands.