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Pokémon Sun and Moon – Welcome to Alola!

by Daniel Boylan


“Is that still going?” is one of the questions I often get asked when a parent is told by Little Johnny™ to preorder the latest games in the Pokémon series. It’s a testament to the staying power of the franchise that it’s going as strong as ever in 2016.
You’d need to have been living under a Geodude to have avoided the Pokémon fever that hit once Pokémon Go launched on mobile devices earlier this year. Indeed, when I first got my hands on Pokémon Red all those years ago, I never dreamed I’d still be playing it nearly 20 years later.
Yet here we are only a week away from the launch of the seventh generation of games in the main series, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, and I’m as excited as I was way back in 1999!
When the original set of Game Boy games hit Europe, three and a half years after the Japanese release, the gamers of the day were practically foaming at the mouth to get their hands on them. I often use this example when kids are in my store complaining that we have to wait almost an entire week this time, the horror! I distinctly remember heading to the shop with my money saved up and then spending the entire bus journey home playing it, in all its black and white glory (or green and darker green). The graphics were basic but it didn’t matter, I was transported to the magical world of Kanto (as it would later come to be known) and I was going to become a Pokémon Master!
Setting the Scene

In this new generation of titles we’ll be exploring the Alola region, which draws heavy inspiration from Hawaii. The region is divided up into five different islands, four natural and one man-made.

It is a resort area that attracts tourists from all over the world, looking to soak up the sun with their Pokémon pals. Naturally you’ll begin your adventure as a novice trainer that you get to name, playing as a boy or girl who has just moved to the Alola region.

As with every game in the series, there is a regional guru that the locals call the Pokémon Professor. Carrying on the tradition of professors named after trees (so far we’ve had Oak, Elm, Birch, Rowan, Juniper and Sycamore), this time we’ll be guided by Professor Kukui–a dedicated but casually dressed Pokémon expert.

New Places, Familiar Faces

While there are tonnes of brand new Pokémon to meet and befriend in Alola, there are plenty of our favourites roaming the land too–some with a brand new look. When many Pokémon from the Kanto region first came to Alola, they had to adapt to their new habitat and changed as a result. These Alolan Forms not only alter the look of familiar Pokémon, but even change their type. This adds a whole new level of discovery and tactics for those who think they know the first generation creatures inside out.


An Evolving Series

Much like many of the Pokémon in the games, the series itself has been evolving right from the beginning. A lot of the things players of the recent games take for granted were only added in years after the original games launched. Some of the additions made over the years have been small but very useful, such as the ability to register your most used items so they’re only a button press away. Others have had a more dramatic effect on the way the games actually play, such as the ability to have Pokémon breed, adding in entirely new types, and trading online to name but a few. One of the biggest changes that has been made this time is the addition of the Z-Ring, which allows the player to use an all new type of move known as a Z-Move. Many of these super powerful moves can only be used by specific Pokémon and can change the flow of a battle instantly. Players can even purchase their very own Z-Ring and Crystals that can interact with the game!

New Threats

No Pokémon adventure would be complete without some evil to fight. This time you’ll come up against the thugs of Team Skull, who cause all kinds of havoc around Alola, including stealing other people’s Pokémon! Aside from Team Skull we also have the looming danger of the Ultra Beasts, new types of monsters which pose a serious threat to both people and Pokémon alike!


In With the Old

There’s a bonus in store for players who purchased Pokémon Red, Blue, or Yellow on 2DS/3DS Virtual Console! Starting in January 2017, these old school games will become compatible with Nintendo’s cloud based Pokémon storage system: Pokémon Bank. With this £4.49/€4.99 a year service (Nintendo eShop credit available in stores), you can upload and store insane amounts of Pokémon for later use. This means that all of those lovely first generation beasts you’ve acquired can be transferred to Sun or Moon, giving your Pokédex a serious boost! Owners of Pokémon X, Y, Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire can also bring their monsters over to the newest generation using this method.

The Early Pidgey Gets the Wurmple

The extra bonuses just keep coming as anyone who purchases either Sun or Moon before 11th January 2017 are eligible to download a special version of the Pokémon Munchlax, holding the item Snorlium Z.

When Munchlax evolves into Snorlax, this item allows it to use the Z-Move Pulverizing Pancake which no other Pokémon can use.

As if that wasn’t good enough, your special Munchlax will also know two moves it normally can’t learn: Hold Back and Happy Hour.
Both of these moves are very handy in your quest, with Hold Back always leaving your opponent with 1HP–very handy for weakening a potential catch without letting it faint.
Happy Hour on the other hand will double the prize money earned in Trainer Battles, so your wallet will be bursting in no time!

Play Now!

For those eager to get in on the action right away, a free demo is available right now on Nintendo eShop which allows the transfer of some useful items to the finished game, as well as the very special Pokémon Ash-Greninja used in the demo.

Pokémon Sun and Moon are available from 23rd November, as well as special Nintendo 2DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL consoles so make sure you preorder now!