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It’s been a big year for Pokemon. Celebrating its 20th year, Pokemon has made forays into the mobile space with the smash-hit Pokemon GO, and in the fighting game space with Pokken Tournament earlier this year. However, the crowning jewel of this 20th anniversary appears to be the upcoming 3DS titles, Pokemon Sun and Moon. Not content to simply build upon the successes of its predecessors, Pokemon Sun and Moon are changing up conventions we’ve had in the Pokemon series since the beginning.
No Gyms – We’ve been facing gym leaders for 20 years, but in Pokemon Sun and Moon’s Alola region, they have a different kind of cultural significance when it comes to battling Pokemon. Enter: The Island Challenge. It consists of meeting designated captains of Alola’s numerous islands. We’ll do tasks for them and fight what are dubbed Totem Pokemon, which are stronger versions of Pokemon we’ve already met with additional buffs and abilities. It isn’t clear how many captains are designated to each island, but this is a radical shift from the pace we’ve had since Pokemon Red and Blue.
No HMs – The Soar mechanic from Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were one of the most lauded additions, negating the HM Fly completely. Pokemon Sun and Moon look to do the same thing with many types of traversal that were previously saved for HMs. Climbing rocks, traversing bodies of water, these sorts of things were annoying and menial in previous generations. Say goodbye to your “HM slave”, and hello to your traversal-specific Pokemon.
Alola Forms – Plenty of Vulpixes and Sandshrews have crossed our paths, but Sun and Moon are changing up what these Pokemon are in “Alola Forms”. From a logical perspective, Pokemon in a completely different climate over time will evolve differently, and not in the Pokemon evolution kind of way, either. Aforementioned Red and Blue staples Sandshrew and Vulpix are both ice types, having acclimated to Alolas more frigid areas. It’s an interesting way to give a new twist to old staples, and has more creativity than simply giving them more evolutions.
Hyper Training – Pokemon have had intrinsic powers given to them by their Effort Values (EVs) and Individual Values (IVs). Pokemon X and Y let you deal with EVs after the fact, and Sun and Moon look to go even further beyond. The process of Hyper Training, led by the illustrious Mr. Hyper, lets trainers implement IVs even if the Pokemon is at level 100. There’s finally something more you can do with your level 100 Pokemon besides just having them fight.
Z-Moves and the Possible Removal of Megas – The most recent trailer gave us a look at Z-Moves, which are awesomely powerful moves that can only be used once per-battle. It’s a visual spectacle that doles out massive amounts of damage, and looks to be an interesting development in tried and true practice of Pokemon battling. However, between this announcement and the aforementioned Alola forms of established Pokemon, is there still a place for Mega Evolutions, one of the defining aspects of Pokemon X and Y? The games will be out in less than four months, and with no previously showcased Mega Evolutions shown on top of no new ones being revealed, suspicion is in the air.