Pokémon Sun and Moon has got to be one of the most highly anticipated video game releases of the year, and the first new game in the hugely popular franchise in two years. For the first time in the history of Pokémon, they’re trying something new rather than simply tweaking the details of the familiar storyline about battling trainers in gyms. The adventure began with the release of the demo on October 18, exactly one month before the game’s release date, where the focus is on Ash-Greninja, the Pokémon from the animated TV series, Pokémon the Series: XYZ. Pokémon series producer, director and composer, Junichi Masuda, and first-time director, Shigeru Ohmori, wanted to create something new with Sun and Moon. They’ve taken a different route to arrive at Pokémon battles. In Sun and Moon, the play is more like quests than the usual series of trainer versus trainer battles. Players battle the environment and powerful bosses called Totem Pokémon, who can call in allies and use combination attacks. It means that Sun and Moon has a lot to offer existing Pokémon fans as well as newcomers to the franchise.
The new dimensions indicate a new trajectory for the whole Pokémon franchise, but at the same time, Sun and Moon clearly also has a nostalgic element. Red and Green, the original Trainers, have already shown up in trailers as 30-somethings. Some of the monsters that everyone knows and loves already come with cool little variations like a version of Pikachu with a hat. Players will meet up with classic Pokémon early on in the game, and all the Alola Form Pokémon originate from the Kanto region of the Red and Blue game. Sun and Moon is scheduled to arrive on November 18, 2016, for Nintendo 3DS and 2DS. Check out our list of the 15 secrets in Pokémon Sun and Moon, and get a leg up before the rest of the crowd.
15. Poké-Anniversary Dates
Nintendo first announced the new Sun and Moon titles on February 27, 2016, on the twentieth anniversary of the Pokémon franchise debut. If you know your Pokémon history, you’ll be able to spot several occasions where game designers have left secret hints that connect Sun and Moon to significant moments in the franchise’s past. If you check out Greninja’s details, his related date is set on October 17, 2013. That’s the date that “Lumiose City Pursuit!” – the second episode of the X&Y series – first aired in Japan. It’s the episode where Ash added Froakie to his party. The episode’s ID number is 131017, which represents the date in the Japanese format. May 10, 2016, is the related date for Professor Kukui’s Pikachu, the day that Nintendo released the first information about the game after that initial announcement. Another tidbit is that Kukui’s Trainer ID is 161118, which translates to November 18, 2016, which is the Sun and Moon release date in the Japanese format.
14. Z-Moves Plus Mega Evolutions
A lot of the buzz surrounding Sun and Moon has come from the Z-Moves, a new dimension to doing battle. Z-Moves are extraordinarily powerful moves that can be used only once in battle, and they can be used by any Pokémon. Z-Moves are applicable by type, with some exclusive to specific Pokémon. In contrast, Mega Evolutions were the mainstay of battles in Pokémon X&Y, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and were always specific to type. Mega Evolutions haven’t appeared at all in the Sun and Moon demo. The demo and first run through of the full-length game were designed to get players to learn and use the new Z-Moves for each Pokémon, and many players and media sources have assumed that Z-Moves completely replace the older style Mega Evolutions. Yet, that isn’t actually the case. In the full version, once the Sun and Moon game story is finished the first time around, players will be able to unlock their access to Mega Evolve Pokémon. That means, going into Sun and Moon again, players can up their strategic gameplay by using both Z-Moves and mega-evolved Pokémon against their opponents.
13. Tropical Inspiration – Tropical Power
The Pokémon gameplay regions are based on a real location: Hawaii. Game designer, Shigeru Ohmori, has revealed in interviews that he based Alola on personal experience as a frequent visitor to Hawaii. It’s not just the name and tropical locale that draw their inspiration from Hawaii, the resemblance goes deeper than that. Ohmori says that he used elements of Hawaiian culture, including the emphasis on the beauty of the natural setting. Like Hawaii, Alola is made up of several (four) islands. The sun is stronger in Alola, meaning that the Pokémon evolutions just keep growing. That’s why, for example, Exeggutor grows so much taller in Alola than in any other version of the game. Composer, Junichi Masuda, created the soundtrack for the game using the rhythms of traditional Hawaiian music over new melodies. The Galapagos Islands are another inspiration for the Alola forms of the Pokémon, since they represent unique variations, just as the animals of the Galapagos Islands have evolved into unique species. For example, the bird, Oricorio, has forms that are unique to each of the four Alola islands.
12. Sun And Moon
Red and Blue, X&Y, Ruby and Sapphire are the names of the succession games in the Pokémon franchise that have come from various sources. Game designer, Shigeru Ohmori, has said in interviews that part of the inspiration for the name comes from his essential fascination with all things Hawaiian. According to Ohmori, the way the ocean is lit up by warm sunlight during the day and serene moonlight at night was a concept that he wanted to bring to the Alola region. While he’s designed many games in the Pokémon franchise, it was Ohmori’s first time as director, and he wanted to put his own stamp on the 20th anniversary of the game. He wanted Sun and Moon to come in contrast to the more materialistic sounding names of the many games, reinforcing a new focus on Pokémon as living creatures in a natural environment. The sun is a particular force in the game overall, since it’s one of the major factors that influences Alola evolutions.
11. Play And Play Again
Sun and Moon features new game mechanics that will give variable answers at certain turning points, which means that you’ll be returning to those areas more often than you’d expect in previous versions of the Pokémon franchise. That’s already a feature in the demo, where repeated gameplay brings new elements to catch, including the mysterious old man at the top of the Mahalo Trail. On the first encounter with him, he gives players three Stardusts. Obsessed fans have speculated that there was something more, however, and attempted to approach him multiple times. On subsequent visits, he gives them a different message each time, but insists he has no more to offer them. As with the demo, extra events as you replay mean that the game goes on longer and the longer you play it and there will be rewards for doing so. When encountering the same Pokémon for repeat battles, players will get hints from the game in the form of notifications to inform which Pokémon’s attacks are effective, super effective, or not effective at all. That will come in handy when you’re attempting to adjust your strategies in order to capture new Pokémon.
10. Poké Finder – Shades Of Poké Snap
Players who have made it through the Pokémon Sun and Moon demo a few times may have met the mysterious woman who sometimes appears on the beach on Ten Carat Hill. She gives players the opportunity to take a picture of an Alola Dugtrio using Poké Finder, which in the demo is upgraded to version 2, including a zoom function. The woman doesn’t appear very often, and she’ll stay on the beach until the player leaves. Players can speak to her as many times as they like and keep photographing the Dugtrio, which may be facing them or have their back turned. In the full version, Poké Finder will allow players to take photographs of Pokémon in their natural environment. One caveat, however, those Pokémon you’re snapping pics of may also attack you. Yet, that means taking a photograph could also represent an opportunity to nab a rare Pokémon.
9. Two-Region Game Play?
There hasn’t been a two region Pokémon game in nearly two decades, but the evidence is stacking up that Sun and Moon will revisit the concept. In the Sun and Moon game, the protagonist has just moved to Alola from Kanto, which was the setting for the original Red and Blue game. All the battle intros are revealed in the Sun and Moon demo, and there are five at the end that seem to take place outside of Alola. It looks like the game eventually leads from Alola to another region (possibly Kalos, the setting for X&Y). Various elements of those scenes, such as fields of yellow, purple, and red flowers, along with brown grass, are reminiscent of Kalos, which is the Pokémon equivalent of Japan. Kalos also ties into the October 17, 2003, date, which is the Froakie episode (since Froakie is from Kalos,) and its reference to X&Y that designers built into Sun and Moon. An Alola to Kalos progression is also reinforced by the three Sun and Moon trailers that follow a Japanese boy in Hawaii as he plays the game. At the end of the third video, he says he is leaving to go home.
8. Transferring Pokémon Between Versions
Once you save the Sun and Moon demo game for the first time, players get the opportunity to speak to Professor Kukui inside the Pokémon Center about transport and transferable rewards to the full version of the game when it’s available. Transferring Pokémon from other versions of the game to Sun and Moon will be a little trickier. Pokémon transferred from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire to Sun and Moon will not evolve into their Alola forms since only the Pokémon raised in Alola can have this unique ability to transform into this evolution. That raises interesting possibilities for players to combine Alola and non-Alola versions of various Pokémon. The Pokémon Bank is an extra feature that currently lets players transfer their Pokémon between X&Y and ORAS, and will also work to facilitate transfers of any generation one Pokémon to the seventh generation games. This is provided that they were caught in digital versions of Red, Blue and Yellow.
7. Ultra Beasts From Alien Worlds?
Sun and Moon introduces Ultra Beasts, a new creature that may belong into a completely new category. The Ultra Beasts are quite mysterious, and are feared by the residents of Alola as a threat. The demo featured only one Ultra Beast, and other than a shifting form, not many other details have been revealed. Yet, the evidence is definitely pointing into one specific direction. The Aether Foundation is a benevolent organization in Alola that studies the Ultra Beasts. At one point in the demo, Aether’s President Lusamine says something that has had fans in a furor. His statement, “Even Pokémon from distant worlds, far from the Alola region, are worthy of my love” may hint at the connection between Ultra Beasts and alien worlds. Many fan sites, including Bulbapedia, have already speculated that at least some Pokémon are from outer space. Certainly, Ultra Beasts seem quite alien to the Alola environment as compared with any of the other creatures players encounter there.
6. Primarina And Her Songs
Primarina is one of the three final evolutions revealed in the Sun and Moon trailers. She begins as the Water-type, Popplio, which first becomes a Brionne before the final evolution to Primarina. The Japanese word for Primarina is Ashirēnu, which seems to be a mash-up of the Japanese word ashika, or sea lion, and the French word sirène, which means mermaid or the Sirens of legend. Like mermaids and sirens, Primarina uses song, but not to attract hapless sailors in this case. From Poplio to Brionne to Primarina, the evolution has emphasized the balloon play, and Primarinas use their voices to manipulate the balloons in both battle and gameplay. There are many, many variations of the Primarina songs that control the balloons and other elements but those aren’t the only variations on the theme. Primarinas who live together will share the same songs so that the songs they use will vary from colony to colony.
5. Dancing Ash
Pokémon Sun and Moon introduces freedom of movement to a game universe that was previously defined by rigid navigation based on grid formations. Along with the move to an open universe model comes freedom of movement for your characters, who can now move in any direction to explore the Alola landscape as they wish. Along with the standard and utilitarian ways of moving that are strictly required for gameplay, game designers have made it worthwhile exploring the controls for making your characters move, including some purely creative flourishes. While your character is already walking, if you keep tapping B, sooner or later they will stumble and seem to nearly fall. Using the Circle Pad, or by mashing your B and moving it around at the right speed (which is fairly fast), your character will twirl around in a pirouette. Eventually, they end up in a stylized dance position.
4. Ghost Girl
Ghosts are a familiar aspect of the Pokémon universe to avid players of the hugely successful franchise. Ghost-type Pokémon are actually pretty commonplace. However, human ghost apparitions are a wild card that designers have been throwing into the Pokémon universe since that strange girl asks if you believe in ghosts in Lavender Town in Pokémon Red and Blue. Those creepy encounters have made up some of the more memorable points in the game. There’s that ghost girl who haunts the battle with Phoebe of the Elite Four in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Ghosts have appeared in Pokémon X and Y as well as Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. It looks like it’s an element that the designers of Nintendo and Game Freak are bringing back to Sun and Moon. As one of the timed events in the demo, players can earn a comet by visiting with a woman inside the ferry terminal after 24 days. When the encounter is over, she walks away, and Machamp walks by, but once he has passed, the woman has vanished.
3. Poké Marts Inside Pokémon Centers… Along With A Coffee Bar
The Poké Mart has been a staple of the Pokémon franchise, a quick stop convenience store where players can purchase the supplies they need to train their Pokémon. They can be found in most cities throughout the Pokémon universe, and since Generation V, they’ve been located inside the Pokémon Centers. That holds true for Sun and Moon, and the Poké Mart can be found to the right of Nurse Joy’s station. Yet, that’s not all that players will find in the Pokémon Centers of Alola. To the left of Nurse Joy’s station, there’s a bar. Sun and Moon aren’t as obviously geared to younger players as older versions of the game. Designers have recognized that Pokémon players are now reaching in their 30s and 40s, and some of the details reflect that while still maintaining that G-rating. While it’s a nod to older players, given the characters are still preteens, however, offerings will be all about coffee, juices, milk and other non-alcoholic fare.
2. Status Condition: Paralysis Changes
In Sun and Moon, paralysis only cuts you down to half speed and not the usual 75 percent. That will make a huge difference when battling fast attackers like the Dragon Dance Salamence. During a Greninja/Pikachu battle, a quick-witted player noticed that S67 Pikachu was able to strike first against S130 Greninja while affected by paralysis. This is something that couldn’t happen if speed had been reduced by a full 75 percent. Another important point about paralysis is one that is announced in the game info. A separate mode called Pokémon Refresh allows Trainers to clean their Pokémon up after a battle, and that includes healing both paralysis and poisoning. While it’s not exactly a secret, it has an unforeseen effect on gameplay. Previously, Trainers would have to carry around specific items or take injured Pokémon to the Poké Center. The Refresh mode cuts down on the number of items that need to be carted around.
1. Familiar Alolans
Professor Samuel Oak is a longstanding character in the Pokémon universe, going back to the initial release of Red and Blue. As a specialist in human/Pokémon relationships, he’s aided many Trainers and researchers, and a cousin of his shows up in Sun and Moon. Samson Oak looks very much like his cousin, Professor Samuel Oak. In Sun and Moon, he’s a Pokémon researcher who studies the Alola Pokémon and how their unique features have adapted them to the Alola environment. Director Junichi Masuda has said that Samson is something of an Alolan variation himself, and will be the only member of Professor Oak’s family to show up in Sun and Moon. Ash, as an 11-year old, will be going back to school in Sun and Moon, and Samson will be the principal of that school. Sun and Moon will contain other characters that recur from previous versions of Pokémon. Like the Pokémon from the Kanto region or the Pokémon native to the Alola region, they will all display unique features that aren’t found anywhere else.