Nintendo’s presence at this year’s E3 was muted. A Nintendo Treehouse stream showing off Pokémon Sun & Moon and The Legend of Zelda (now with the subtitle Breath of the Wild) was all we got, but the amount of gameplay in this stream was immense. Pokémon got some new details, which are laid out below.
The first new noteable feature shown was, obviously, the new Pokémon. Alongside already-revealed Water type starter Popplio, a Normal-type Pokémon called Yungoos made its big debut. Yungoos closely resembles an Otter, which are plentiful in the Pacific Islands that Sun & Moon are inspired by. According to the official website, Yungoos is “a big eater that is never satisfied” and was bought into the Alola region to curb the population of “a certain other Pokémon” which points to a situation that us Australians in particular know all too well with the Cane Toad. They also have a chance to posess a new Ability called Stakeout, which guarantees double damage against Pokémon that have just switched into battle. The meta’s gonna love this (They actually won’t). Yungoos apparently resembles Donald Trump, too, so there’s that. Yungoos also has an evolution that we haven’t seen yet.
The other new pocket monster revealed in the stream was Pikipek, a Normal/Flying type that resembles a Pileated woodpecker and/or everybody’s favourite “birb mum“. It’s apparently a loud bugger, as it can “strike 16 times a second” with its pointed beak and they use these sounds as “warning signals and greetings amongst allies”. It can boast the Keen Eye and Skill Link abilities, making its evolutions potentially perfect sweepers if it receives lots of multi-hit moves. A nice looking early-game bird creature, I have to admit, and should only get more interesting as its other two evolutions are eventually revealed. The last new Pokémon to be revealed is a larva called Grubbin, a Bug type Pokémon with the Swarm ability. Not much is known about this little guy, apart from its love of electricity and his spider swingin’ powers using “sticky threads that it spews from its mouth”.
The final new Pokémon to be thrown at us was the legendary Magearna: A Fairy/Steel type, which is a very interesting combination. It has the “power to perceive the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of other Pokémon” and feels their pains and pleasures. It can transform itself into the form of a Poké Ball, which it does while sleeping or when it’s feeling down in the dumps. Its real body is the orb in its chest called the Soul-Heart, which is also the name of its all-new Ability. Soul-Heart raises Magearna’s Special Attack stat by one point each time another Pokémon in the area faints. This’ll shake things up in Legendary-friendly battles. Magaerna is also the first area-distributed Pokémon to be announced for Sun & Moon, with QR codes to be distributed at a TBA date. This leads into another new feature of Sun & Moon: QR scanning. Whether this’ll be available in all 3DS models or just the New 3DS remains to be seen. The game’s other legendaries, Solgaleo and Lunala, will have alternate forms as well. The sun-lion Solgaleo will transform into its Radiant Sun (must come after Radiant Dawn, then) form and the moon-bat Lunala will take on its Full Moon phase to come full circle (of the Moon) when confronted by an unknown factor.
Sun & Moon‘s improves upon more things than its Pokédex quantity. Animation quality has considerably risen as well, with your trainer struggling to wade through tall grass or climb up a hill. And what gorgeous hills they are; enviroments look more fluid and organic than ever. NPCs also boast idle animations, and they’re represented in-battle through their full 3D model instead of the 2D art used in X & Y. Pokémon animation is as smooth as ever, and attack particles and textures have never looked better. Characters will also have more “correct” body proportions, which may tread the uncanny valley for some. Player customisation makes a welcome return as well. The music is full of quintessentially island vibes, sounding a lot like some of the ditties from Ruby & Sapphire. The tweaks to the gameplay are perfect examples of a game becoming more accessible for new players without inconveniencing veterans. Attacks now show how effective they are against opposing Pokémon right on the tab and how many stat points they change for better or worse with either a push of a shoulder button or a tap on its Information bubble, and the screen darkens when you approach a trainer creating an almost anime-like moment of tension. These are sure to be accompanied by even more changes to how the game works, and I’m shaking with excitement to see what they are.
The biggest change, however, is one they saved until last. A new battling mode called Battle Royal was unveiled, in which four players face off against each other…but not on teams. The rules are simple, according to the official website: “Each of the four Trainers chooses three Pokémon and sends one Pokémon into battle at a time. The battle is over at the end of any turn when all of the Pokémon of one Trainer have fainted. The players are ranked, and a victor is declared based on the number of Pokémon each defeated and the number of Pokémon each has remaining in play.” Battle Royal looks like a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to see what (if anything) the competitive scene does with it.
Pokémon Sun & Moon will launch on November 18th in North America, and November 23rd in Europe. The reason for this release window, according to Nintendo themselves, is so people can get a grip on Pokémon GO! before they get stuck into Sun & Moon. I’m really excited to see more information about the game, and I hope you are too!
Banner art created by Impergator160. Solgaleo and Lunala images courtesy of Nintendo. Battle Royal images provided by IGN.