On Friday afternoon, Nintendo took six minutes to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the legendary Pokémon franchise in one of its Direct streams, while also using it to announce to announce the next core games in the series. Pokémon Sun and Moon, which come out during the holiday season, herald the seventh generation of Pokémon games, much like the announcement of Pokémon X and Y did three years ago (although there’s a notable absence of confirmed new Pokémon as of this time, with the possible exception of the Pokémon Magearna, which was revealed earlier this month).
Naturally, a lot of people are very excited about the news, including me, a dedicated Pokémon fan since the beginning of the new millennium. Of course, there’s still a disconcerting lack of information around the new games, and what Generation VII will offer, but I have a very distinct feeling that Pokémon Sun and Moon will turn out better than Pokémon X and Y. I say this because I actually remember expressing some scepticism over the announcement of Pokémon X and Y, which I worried was being made and unveiled too quickly after Pokémon Black and White 2.
Of course, a lot of those worries were linked in some way to the fact that X and Y were the first core Pokémon games that featured 3D graphics. The transition from 2D to 3D is never completely seamless, and while the games were good, they did disappoint in plenty of ways, mainly because they didn’t have a lot of post-game content, and only introduced 70 new Pokémon. With Sun and Moon, I think that Nintendo might be taking more time with this project. For all we know, they could have started developing the games months before the trademarks and logos were even discovered. Given the Pokémon series’ interesting pattern of odd-numbered generations introducing more species of Pokémon to play with (of course, now we can expect around 8 months of increasingly impatient agony interspersed with CoroCoro leaks).
Of course, what’s most striking is that almost nothing about Pokémon Sun and Moon is currently known except for three things.
- The release date
- A new legendary Pokémon that appears in the next movie
- That Pokémon Bank will eventually be able to store Pokémon from the digital versions of Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow (which were released yesterday), and they can be transferred to Pokémon Sun and Moon.
That last part alone should be exciting, because now it builds a bridge between the first-generation Pokémon games and the line of Pokémon games that has been going on since 2002 (now if only we had digital versions of Pokémon Gold/Silver/Crystal, then we’d be set for life).
At this time, it’s pretty much impossible to tell what’s coming, but for now, we can keep guessing until the leaks start cropping up. Even with the leaks, I’m still hugely excited for the new Pokémon games (to the point that money is no object), and even more for whatever new ideas Nintendo aims to present in those games. Even as the Pokémon games retain the same core gameplay, the developers always find new ways of enriching the Pokémon experience, in terms of both aesthetics and gameplay. It might be much too early to say, but I think that, depending on what Nintendo does with them, Pokémon Sun and Moon could potentially be the most refined 3D Pokémon experience we haven’t seen yet. It’d certainly be fitting for the games that were unveiled in celebration of Pokémon’s 20th anniversary.