2016 is a big year for Pokemon, with the series celebrating its 20th anniversary. We’ve seen a lot of Pokemon over the years with tons of games, anime series, movies, and more. However, Sun and Moon mark a step in the series further than anything we’ve seen before, a step into the ridiculous. So far many of the Pokemon designs we’ve seen for the new games have been completely wacky and absurd, and the story looks to be moving that direction as well.
On top of that, Sun and Moon are changing things up for the series by moving away from traditional gym leaders and instead adding Trial Captains, as well as adding on crazy Z-Moves that actually let the trainer join in with their Pokemon for a super powerful attack. Many fans have wanted Pokemon to take a turn toward the serious, but the new game’s wacky tone may be just the refreshing change the series needs.
The 20th anniversary is a celebration of everything Pokemon, bringing nostalgia back for longtime fans while also trying to bring in new fans. We saw the Pokemon series hit mainstream popularity like never before earlier this year with Pokemon GO, and now it falls on the shoulders of Sun and Moon to keep that popularity going. To that point, we’re not only seeing a host of new Pokemon joining in, but also new forms of first-gen monsters. Many of these designs are tied to the new game’s setting, the tropical paradise of the Alolan islands.
Yes, the series has had some more tropical locales over the years, like the Orange Islands in the TV show, but Alola is more colorful and vibrant than anywhere the games have been. Humans and Pokemon have very close relationships on the islands, and the culture of the area is definitely different from the other regions we’ve seen. Alola is based off of the U.S. state Hawaii, and the game’s director Shigeru Ohmori, and producer Junichi Masuda, describe this inspiration in an interview with Nintendo UK.
“As we’re commemorating 20 years of Pokémon, we wanted to look at and think of the Trainers and the Pokémon as living things and express that in a better way. We looked at a place where this idea of life is really abundant and Hawaii came to mind as a great place to reflect that,” Masuda says.
This idea of life plays into every facet of Sun and Moon and Alola, like Hawaii, is an area overflowing with life. When you combine this fact with the advancing technology of Sun and Moon, the new games allow Game Freak to tell a more vibrant and lively Pokemon story than any we’ve seen. Characters now more closely resemble the dimension of a real human being, and the switch to 3D with Pokemon X and Y has allowed the team to create even more emotionally expressive Pokemon in Sun and Moon.