Nintendo Treehouse at E3 2016 revealed a massive amount of new Pokemon Sun and Moon info and, more miraculously, made me hate Popplio less.
Producer Junichi Masuda and director Shigeru Ohmori talked viewers through the starting area of the Alola region. It’s clearly based on the Pacific Islands, and the effects are more than just cosmetic. It’s a beautiful location, full of gently waving palm trees and bronzed skies. The location also changes the way characters look - dressed in simpler, lightweight clothes. More generally, Pokemon Sun and Moon looks more grown up. Character proportions have changed, and trainers now look slightly more human.
Before long, the demo went roving into the long grass for a few random battles. The first one was against Ledyba, a returning Pokemon from Red and Blue. Next we saw a new Pokemon, Yungoos, who looks like a grumpy otter-stoat thing. His problem is he’s always hungry, apparently, which is something I can absolutely relate to. Later they showed off Pikipek, a woodpecker Pokemon apparently capable of pecking 16 times a second.
It was a great demonstration off the tweaked animations. You can see clear differences in each Pokemon - Pikipek in particular is erratic and flighty - and the whole experience was more dramatic. You see close ups of each Pokemon, and trainers lurk in the background, making everything feel more like the cartoon. The lighting even changes depending on the time of day. With the new animations, even Popplio seemed endearing - an impressive turnaround for a nightmare clown-seal.
There are few other tweaks to make things more accessible. You can see the effects of buffs and debuffs more easily, so you don’t need to recall a complex, interlocking history of attacks. This also extends to the post-battle info. When you’ve caught a new Pokemon, it gets registered on-screen, while white Pokeballs in the background remind you there are more Pokemon of the same type to catch. It’s a cool touch, which really encourages players to literally, um, catch ‘em all.
There were also a few glimpses of other important characters. As well as a few random trainer battles - nicely foreshadowed by black letterboxes that appear as you approach - the stream showed off some story characters. Hala, who’s been shown before, is the spiritual leader of the area, and the main trainer. He’s also the who gives you your first Pokemon. They also showed off fellow trainer hau, who will presumably accompany you on your journey. Finally, there was the important and deliciously chiseled reveal of Professor Kukui - who’s so hot he makes Professor Sycamore look like fire-damaged Lego - and his assistant Lillie. Lillie isn’t a trainer, but will accompany the player on their adventure. If you’re lucky, maybe Professor Kukui will, too. My word.
There was also a glimpse of the legendary Pokemon who will grace the different boxes: Solgaleo for the Sun version, and Lunala for Moon. They’ll also play a crucial role in the story itself, in a unique way that’s never happened before in a Pokemon game.
Pokemon Sun and Moon will be released for Nintendo 3DS on 18th November 2016