With Pokemon reaching its twentieth anniversary on 27th February, Nintendo has been doing its best to give the franchise a birthday to remember, with various new games such as Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon and the Tekken crossover Pokken being released this year, as well as the re-release of the original Pokemon games on the 3DS Virtual Console to get the nostalgia pumping. So naturally, when it was announced that there was going to be a special five-minute Nintendo Direct dedicated to Pokemon’s 20th, the hype train picked up even more speed and the rumour mill went into overdrive.
The general assumption was that the next main games in the series would be announced; some were expecting Pokemon Z, the long-awaited follow-up to X and Y, others were claiming that a leaked Nintendo of America marketing schedule confirmed the existence of Pokemon Rainbow and then the day before the Direct somebody found trademarks and logos for Pokemon Sun and Moon.
Then the Direct finally arrived, with the Pokemon Company’s CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara being introduced via a throwback to the title screens of the original Red and Blue. After a short introduction came a video showing off how the games have evolved over the years, culminating in what everyone had been waiting for: the announcement of the next games, Pokemon Sun and Moon, releasing later this year on 3DS.
However, that’s about all the information we’ve been given, apart from a glimpse behind the scenes of development showing some concept art of a hotel and a 3D model of what looks like some sort of bird Pokemon. One final announcement was made, though: Pokemon caught in the re-released 3DS versions of Red, Blue and Yellow will be
transferable to Sun and Moon via the Pokemon Bank storage service, meaning that Pokemon from the original games can finally be transferred all the way to the most recent. It’s not clear exactly how this will be managed, given that in the 20 years since the originals were released the stat system and movesets of Pokemon have been completely revamped, but it’s a nice touch all the same. It’s nice to think that the companions I made on my first ever Pokemon adventure can still be part of the world in some small way.
Overall, it was an impressive presentation that, while not revealing much, has certainly created a lot of buzz around the newest entries in the series. It has raised a few questions surrounding the long-rumoured Pokemon Z, however. Many had assumed that the announcement of new Zygarde formes and a movie entitled “Pokemon XY and Z” meant that the traditional third entry of the generation was on its way, but the announcement of Sun and Moon seems to have knocked that theory on the head. Whether this means Sun and Moon are in fact sequels to X and Y in a similar vein to Black and White 2 or they’re a new generation with Zygarde somehow incorporated into the plot is uncertain, but all in all, one thing is clear: it’s going to be a good year for Pokemon fans.