The newest iteration of Pokemon came out to play in full force during the Nintendo Treehouse livestreams, showing a live gameplay demo and introducing viewers to a couple of new Pokemon as well as a colorful cast of characters you can expect to encounter in the region of Alola, the sprawling Hawaiian influenced islands that form the setting of the newest adventure. We got a glimpse of the full map, below, that will be available for exploring. It was also highly emphasized that this region is positively teeming with life, placing a high priority on the idea that the area is “overflowing with life force”. Since the game’s title is based on the idea of the sun as the most important proprietor of life, this emphasis on life probably will play heavily into the theme of the game’s plot/message.
We also got to watch as our hero made his way through the first series of tall grasses and engaged in Pokemon battles with both wild Pokemon and Trainers, from the classically cute Lass Trainer to the adorable Preschooler Pokemon Trainer hopeful. We saw a handful of old favorites–Ledyba, Caterpie, and a Meowth in residence–as well as a couple of new additions to the Pokedex.
The gameplay also showed some amazing new battle features; namely, the addition of the Trainer standing behind their Pokemon in-battle, an effective way of showcasing both the importance of Trainer and Pokemon bond as well as really giving players a sense of proportion in regards to their Pokemon’s size. The camera angles creatively swing around the battle, highlighting both your opponent and own team and adding some cool dynamics to battle play.
The battle mechanics also have some cool new features. Namely, we can now check our opponent’s stats, for the first time monitoring the levels in battle. Another fun addition is the inclusion of ‘effectiveness ratings’ on each attack, remembering how well a particular move worked on an opposing type.
While not much about the plot was revealed, we did get to see a little more background into our new friends, including Hau, the trainer friend who will accompany us on much of the journey, and the Pokemon Professor of this region, who has already garnered quite a bit of attention for himself. The team also stressed a more social approach to Pokemon battles in the Alola region, showcasing briefly the way battles are held here; the village gathers around the Pokemon battles as a social ritual, and the battles have a certain air of respect to them. It’s a very cool approach, and we definitely can’t wait for more.
As a matter of fact, it looks like the social aspects of Pokemon battling are taking center stage this time around. The Nintendo Conference also introduced the Battle Royal feature, which allows multiple trainers to join together in arena-style battle. Four trainers can go head to head, and garner points based on number of wins as well as number of Pokemon left over at the end of battle. This new feature will require a unique approach to battle strategy, giving players a new way to stretch and test their abilities.
Temporarily sated, we’ll settle back into anxiously waiting for more news of Pokemon Sun and Moon. The gameplay demo provided the classic plays that we’ve loved over the years as well as introduced fresh new aspects that can help enhance our Pokemon experience. We can’t wait until we step into the shoes of our newest Hero/Heroine and embark on a new Pokemon adventure! Are you ready? Which Pokemon are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!