Folks, today has been a crazy day. I am posting this as I come down from a Legend of Zelda high that will probably take a week to chill out. But I still need some time to process everything we learned about Breath of the Wild, so for now I’m going to talk about the still very exciting details we got to see about Pokemon Sun and Moon.
DETAIL #1: “BATTLE SHADOW”
So when you are out in the field and a trainer is nearby, the top and bottom of the screen get black bars that change your screen to a widescreen view. This touch lets you know that a battle is near, which can be useful if you’d prefer to avoid combat with a trainer. Plus it’s just a cool way to up the ante before you lock eyes with your opponent.
DETAIL #2: BATTLE SCREEN CHANGES
When you enter a battle in Sun and Moon, a lot of things are going to look different. On the upper screen, the terrain circles that would normally sit underneath your Pokemon are now gone – your Pokemon stands on (or hovers above) the ground itself. Additionally, you can now see trainers during combat, with some dynamic camera angles even focusing on them.
The lower screen has a new setup that shows the commands Fight, Pokemon, Bag, and Run surrounding a small image of the combatants. There are lots of new features on the lower screen.You can open a window that shows all changes to your Pokemon’s stats, indicating whether each stat is normal or has been raised or lowered, and by how many stages. When you open the Fight menu to look at your moves, each one has a little help circle that you can tap to easily see a description of the move and its effects. The most interesting new feature is this: if you’ve battled the opposing Pokemon before, each move will have a little box that explains how effective it is against the opponent’s typing. This allows those unfamiliar with the relationships between different types to still choose the most effective moves. This decision is a bit of a double-edged sword – for those who want a bigger challenge from Pokemon, this is a step in the wrong direction. But it definitely helps casual players get the best experience.
DETAIL #3: CULTURE
The gameplay footage we saw confirmed that the player character is new to Alola. As (s)he begins a Pokemon journey along with the rival character Hau, they take part in a ceremony where they battle each other in front of the whole village. While this is all we really know about the town’s culture at the moment, it does show that the Pokemon journey is something more ritual and spiritual in this installment than it has been in the past.
DETAIL #4: LILLIE
Another new fact revealed was that Lillie is not a trainer at all. There was some speculation that she might be the main rival for the game while Hau served as a sort of secondary rival. We now know for sure that this isn’t the case. It seems like the concept of having a rival who picks the starter with type advantage against you is going to be a thing of the past. Since Lillie’s role is still supposed to be pretty significant, her impact on the story is likely more substantial than Hau’s.
DETAIL #5: LEGENDARY PHASES
While this wasn’t shown during gameplay, the Pokemon website revealed that Solgaleo and Lunala each have special “phases:” the Radiant Sun phase for Solgaleo and the Full Moon phase for Lunala. These phases are not the same thing as the “formes” that Pokemon such as Zygarde, Shaymin, and Deoxys take – they seem to only have story significance and no mechanical significance. What that significance is has yet to be revealed.
DETAIL #6: CUSTOMIZATION
Just like in Pokemon XY, character customization will be available to players. This is absolutely confirmed for clothing, and I’d say that it is safe to assume that this extends to hairstyles just as it did in XY.
DETAIL #7: BATTLE ROYALE
A new type of battle mode will be available in Sun and Moon: Battle Royale! This is a four-way free-for-all where each trainer stands on his or her own two feet against everyone else. The goal is to have the most Pokemon remaining while also defeating the most Pokemon. The first person to lose all of their Pokemon marks the end of the match – the other three players will be scored based on the number of Pokemon they have remaining and on how many Pokemon they knocked out. The one with the highest score wins the Battle Royale. I personally am not drawn to this mode, but I know a lot of people liked the idea of free-for-alls and requested this battle mode from Gamefreak, so it’s cool that the company listened to their players.
DETAIL #8: POKEDEX
While we didn’t learn much new about the Rotom Pokedex, we did get one really cool bit of information – when you catch a new Pokemon, the Pokedex shows little white Pokeball symbols to show how many Pokemon are “connected” to it. The most straightforward interpretation of this is that it reveals how many evolutions the Pokemon will have, which is useful for telling you when a Pokemon has the potential to evolve. I think it’s curious how they phrased it as being “connected;” it certainly makes me wonder if these icons could suggest some other mechanic. Only time will tell.
DETAIL #9: MAGEARNA
Added to the list of things revealed on the website rather than during the stream, we learned some new info about the legendary Pokemon Magearna. This Pokemon was invented by a genius scientist, a product of steel and of the life energy of Pokemon. Because Pokemon life force gives life to Magearna, it can sense the feelings and pain of other Pokemon and it empathizes deeply with those feelings. This is the fictional explanation for its mechanical ability, Soul Heart. When a Pokemon on the field gets knocked out, Magearna’s special attack stat raises by one stage. I imagine this Pokemon will see lots of competitive use in the VGC format, as there are always multiple Pokemon on the field to benefit from. Magearna can also assume the form of a Pokeball, which it usually does when sleeping. Anyone interested in having a Magearna needs to stay tuned to the Pokemon website in order to learn about the QR code that will be used to distribute Magearna to Sun and Moon players.
DETAIL #10: NEW POKEMON
Finally, let’s talk about the three new Pokemon revealed during the E3 presentation.
First we met Yungoos, a very hungry Pokemon that simply eats and eats until it falls asleep. Yungoos is apparently not a native to Alola, but was instead brought from elsewhere to deal with the overpopulation of a different Pokemon species. This in itself has a lot of interesting implications – will 8th gen reveal the region Yungoos was brought over from? And what is this Pokemon that threatened to overpopulate Alola before Yungoos came along? Anyway, Yungoos is a normal type and has a new ability called Stakeout. When the opponent switches, Yungoos deals double damage to the new Pokemon that switches in. This is a pretty powerful ability and I can see it being popular in competitive, if Yungoos and its evolutionary line have good stats. It’s hidden ability is Strong Jaw, which increases the attack power of any biting move.
Next we found Pikipek, a normal/flying type that resembles a woodpecker. Pikipek is lightning-fast, able to peck 16 times a second with enough force to chip through stone. They use this technique to create nests where they hide small, shiny trinkets they have stolen. Pikipek has the Keen Eye ability, but it’s Hidden Ability is Skill Link, which guarantees five hits for any multi-hit attack. This is even represented in the Pokemon’s description: Pikipek is known for weaponizing seeds by spitting them rapid-fire at enemies, which means that it will likely learn the Bullet Seed move early on.
Finally, while we didn’t see it on the stream, a third Pokemon named Grubbin was revealed during E3. Grubbin is a bug type Pokemon with the Swarm ability, making its Bug-type moves more powerful at low HP. Little is said about Grubbin online – it likes to hang out around power plants and it is known to hang from the threads it spins like an actor on a suspension wire. This vague description suggests that Grubbin is probably similar to Caterpie or Scatterbug, where you catch it early and evolve it very quickly. Hopefully its affinity for power plants means it will at least have an interesting typing when it evolves.
And that is everything I remember from Pokemon Sun and Moon at E3. I hope you found this information interesting and that it has helped you become more excited for the game! I’ll continue to cover any Pokemon news as it becomes available to me. Stay tuned to the blog to see more updates from E3!