Pokémon Sun and Moon's Region and Starters Revealed!
Sun and Moon were announced in late February 2016 on the eve of the
20th anniversary of the release of the first Pokémon games in Japan,
with a special video
celebrating millions that have played Pokémon over the years, followed
little more than some tantalizing concept art hinting at a tropical
The wait till mid-May for additional information was a long one, but for me, the excitement generated by the trailer
, which shows off the new trio of starter Pokémon, and the new setting was more than worth it.
While the main headline was the reveal of the new Pokémon, I personally
found the first glimpse of the new region to be featured in the games
far more exciting.
When the Unova region was introduced in Pokémon Black and White, and
based on New York City and eastern New Jersey, I did a series of location hunt videos
explaining some of the real life neighborhoods and locations that
were featured in the games.
Pokémon X and Y’s Kalos region was based on France, and it was fun
seeing fans on Youtube do videos highlighting the connections between
the game world and actual locations and mythology unique to France.
Pokémon Sun and Moon’s setting, the new Alola region, does nothing to
disguise the fact that it’s based on the Hawaiian islands, and while I
may have some personal bias in the fact that Hawaii is part of the
country where I’m from, I’m just excited for the promise of a new
region of the Pokémon world to explore, with each additional region
more firmly anchoring the fantasy world to our own real world.
the attention to detail the Pokémon team has done in researching real
life places for interesting locations to translate into the Pokémon
world, Hawaii offers a lot of unique opportunities for them, and my
imaginary bags are packed for my trip to the Alola region this November.
As for the gameplay shown, I’m thrilled to see that the player’s
character model, as well as those of non-playable characters, are more
realistically proportioned, and eschew the “chibi” style seen during
gameplay in the earlier Pokémon titles for Nintendo 3DS, where people
only appeared at a more detailed “full size” during non playable
The game world itself also looks more “realistic” in regards to the
representation of the scale of the locations in relations to the
people, and are presented with more dynamic camera angles that will
hopefully give more of a sense of actually being there, as opposed to
just seeing the game mainly from an overhead point of view. The city
street seen in the trailer looks as wide as an actual street, with cars
and people being the proper size so that it all looks congruent.
Black and White slightly toyed with the idea of cars being seen in
certain locations, but due to technical limitations and possibly time
constraints as well, their presence was extremely minimal, though they
did add flavor to the places where they appeared, they were never seen
in locations the player could actually walk around in.
This is one thing that EarthBound for the Super NES was ahead of its
time with, but doing this is a much more complex task given that
GameFreak is working with 3D. With the limitations of the Nintendo
3DS’s low-output technical specs, and its good to see them take an
increased interest in making the game world look as believable as
The starter Pokémon strike me as the most strikingly unique trio yet
featured, and Rowlett the Grass owl, Litten the Fire kitten, and Poplio
the Water sea lion, I think are an awesome fit for a Hawaii themed
region, though nothing takes the cake like the France themed Kalos
region getting Froakie, a water type frog, for a starter.
this point for me, it’s a choice between Poplio and Litten. I like
Litten’s design a lot, the predominantly black coloring with red
markings evoke volcanic imagery, and its nice for a Fire type starter
Pokémon not to be mainly red or orange.
I also like Poplio, he’s adorable, and seems to take inspiration from
the imagery of performing sea lions in old circuses balancing balls on
their snouts. In the official artwork, and in the battle footage shown
in the reveal trailer, Poplio seems to be a bit of a show off, and I
like when Pokémon are given a lot of character.
I’m more instinctually drawn toward Litten. I like its design more than
Poplio’s, find the idea of a fiery volcanic cat especially suited to an
adventure through Poké-Hawaii.
Also, since I chose the Water type starter for the last two Pokémon
games I played, Pokémon Omega Ruby, and Pokémon Y, it would be
refreshing to start with something different from what I’ve recently
become accustomed to starting with.
However, I have to admit, I’m somewhat drawn toward Poplio given that
in the online forums and social media, it seems to be the least popular
of the three starters, and with Litten seeming to be the most popular.
While I wouldn’t choose Poplio just to be “different”, I think a first
playthrough Sun or Moon with a Pokémon most other players pass over
would be interesting.
with this in consideration, I find Litten to be the coolest and most
appealing of the three starters, and there’s a 75% chance I’ll be
picking him for my first adventure through Alola, with the final
decision depending on whether Poplio or Litten's yet-to-be-revealed
evolved forms pique my interest more.
The two “box mascot” Legendary Pokémon were also revealed in the May
2016 trailer, with Pokémon Sun’s box featuring a gigantic lion with sun
motifs, and Pokémon Moon’s box featuring a huge bat with motifs
reminiscent of the night sky.
Based on trademarks filed by agents connected to Game Freak and The
Pokémon Company, the Pokémon are speculated to be named Solgaleo and
Lunaala, though these shouldn’t be assumed to be accurate final names
until a formal announcement is made.
Based on what’s been seen. I think I’ll pick Pokémon Moon, which
features the bat-like Legendary Pokémon, who I may be tempted to give a
nickname like Stellaluna when I capture it in the game.
The Pokémon Sun box mascot, the lion, doesn’t really appeal to me,
though I will mention that I brought Pokémon Y because I like Yveltal
more than Xerneas, only for Xerneas’s design to later grow on me and
become my favorite, so hopefully I don’t change my mind after the fact
this time around.
have to mention that the Japanese audience got a very different video
revealing the first Sun and Moon gameplay footage and new Pokémon.
Instead of a basic trailer, Japan was treated to a heartwarming concept video
telling the story of an imaginary boy who moves from Japan to Hawaii
(further cementing the connection between Hawaii and the game’s new
Alola region) and makes friends in spite of language barriers by
playing Pokémon Sun and Moon with the local children.
The people within The Pokémon Company, GameFreak, Nintendo, and whoever
else is involved, have been putting out a stream of really great
live-action videos that have rather beautifully communicated the appeal
of Pokémon, especially in regards to tying in the games to the real
lives of the players and the real world the people playing the game
live within, and this new video continues that recent trend.
The Japanese Pokémon Sun and Moon video reflects a lot of people’s
experiences being able to break the ice and make new friends using
Pokémon, and also demonstrates the value of making the Pokémon games
As far as gameplay is concerned, the Japanese video’s most exciting
reveal for me was that customization options for the appearance of your
Pokémon Trainer are returning from Pokémon X and Y, after being absent
in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and that among these options are more
skin tone choices.
The default Trainers in Pokémon games have traditionally been depicted
as light skinned in such a way that someone of Japanese descent could
interpret them as being Japanese, and a person of European descent
could interpret them as being white.
increased presence of darker skinned people in the games started with
Pokémon Black and White, the first major Pokémon games to be set in a
region based on somewhere other than Japan, where more racial diversity
could be expected, especially since Black and White’s Unova region was
based on the New York City metropolitan area.
Pokémon X and Y, set in the France based Kalos region, placed and
emphasis on fashion, and players were able to customize their wardrobe
and accessories for the first time, which included for the first time,
the chance for players to choose between three different skin tones for
their Trainer at the start of the game.
Though these options were a huge enhancement, the fact that there were
only three skin tones to choose from, and that none of these skin tone
options were as dark as I am in real life, as dark as the Mii avatar I
use on my 3DS, or even as dark as other Pokémon Trainers featured
within the game.
I was disappointed that my Pokémon Trainer in X and Y couldn’t be as
dark as I am in real life, especially when other RPGs and video games,
including some on the 3DS itself, include character customization
options where anyone of any hereditary background could make a
character that at least somewhat looks like them.
However I recognize that Game Freak only exposed them to this criticism
because they attempted to even take steps toward having skin tone
options to begin with, and just crossed my fingers hoping that down the
line, Game Freak would enhance these options in future games.
When I made a video on YouTube expressing this, at least a couple of
people insisted that I was being unreasonable, and even told me that
the Nintendo 3DS wasn’t technically capable of handling darker skin
tones on a customizable player character, which is absurd given that my
3DS Mii avatar has nearly my exact skin tone.
choice of interesting starter Pokémon, an awesome looking new Legendary
Pokémon I’m interested in encountering, and the promise of a
fascinating and imaginative new region that further cements the Pokémon
world to the real world, I’ll be thrilled to download Pokémon Moon to
my Nintendo 3DS when it launches in late November of this year.
While they’re enough enhancements, improvements, and features I hope
for out of these new games to double the length of this webpage, more
than anything else, the recent news about these games makes me think
back to the enjoyment I felt back in 2011, being a New York City native
and playing through the Pokémon world’s New York inspired Unova region
in Pokémon Black for Nintendo DS.
If there’s only one wish I could have for this next generation of
Pokémon games for Nintendo 3DS, I hope it’s that Pokémon fans in Hawaii
get an extra special and satisfying experience out exploring the Alola region when Pokémon Sun and Moon release this November.
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The artwork of H as a Lunarian Pokémon Trainer was provided by KeetahSpacecat! Thanks Keetah!
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