The last stop on my little tour of new things that were talked about in today’s Pokémon Sun and Moon trailer are the new mechanics that were highlighted. Both were first shown off in earlier reveals and leaks, but until now neither were really elaborated on all that heavily. So, let’s talk a little about riding Pokémon and Z-Moves.
There’s not too much to talk about here, to be completely honest with you guys. Pokémon riding was introduced in X and Y, and it was a cool feature there that had some prominent use in a few areas, but otherwise it was more of a gimmick if anything. Or, perhaps it was a proof of concept, as I like to see it. They did return in some capacity in ORAS, but only in that certain Pokémon would replace the generic surf sprite when you used them – such as Sharpedo or Kyogre. Technically, flying Mega Latios or Latias around also counted as ridable Pokémon, but it was a little different. It was the best part of that game arguably, but it was still different.
I like to see it that way because the idea of riding Pokémon was confirmed to be returning in Sun and Moon, bigger and badder than before. The first image we got regarding Pokémon riding showcased a Stoutland, which I commented was one of my favorite Generation 5 Pokémon at the time, so I was pretty excited.
Then, in the official made-for-TV Pokémon Sun and Moon Ad, there was a moment toward the end of the video that showed off even more Pokémon being ridden by the silent protagonists. All of them had really cool looking riding mounts, and all of them seemed to be doing slightly different things, but because of how fast the moments went by it was a little hard to tell just what was happening unless you slowed down the video.
But now, we know more.
In Pokémon Sun and Moon, there will be a service called Poké Ride. Essentially, it’ll allow the rental of Pokémon at certain areas in the game that will help you traverse whatever obstacles are in the way. So far, it’s been confirmed that Charizard will be sky-based and allow the player to fly, Lapras will be water-based and allow you to swim, Sharpedo will also be water-based but swim faster (allowing you to jump and crash into rocks), Stoutland will allow you to search out hidden items, Tauros will allow you to run fast and break through rocks, and Mudsdale will allow you to walk over rocky terrain (much like Rhyhorn in X and Y).
Now, the coolest thing about this, besides the obvious novelty of getting to ride cool Pokémon like Charizard, is that it seems to finally be a manageable means to work around using HM moves – a complaint that’s been made of the Pokémon series for a long, long time. HM moves are cumbersome, allowing for things like puzzles in a 2D sprite-based environment. Pushing rocks, breaking rocks, going over water and so on. It worked, but you needed to teach a move to your Pokémon to be able to do the puzzles, and it’s impossible to learn a move on top of them, so you have to go to a move deleter in order to replace the attack.
In the transition to 3D with X and Y, things like strength-necessary rocks to push became clunky and weird to both look at and manage realistically. But in Sun and Moon, it looks like that problem will be a thing of the past: Rental Pokémon will allow for you to call upon what would otherwise be an HM slave taking up space in your party, that way you can keep the space in your party open for what you need.
If it works out and is convenient, as convenient as using the Eon Flute was in ORAS, then this change will be a wonderful one, one that’s been asked for since probably before I can even remember.
So in that same post that I did regarding the made-for-TV Ad, I also touched upon another small element that took up just a few seconds of screen time. I believe I described it as a strange dance move that looked like it might be important in a Pokémon Contest circuit in Alola, much like the timing based dance moves of Hearthome City’s Contest Hall in Generation 4.
It seems like I was way off the marker, however. Instead of being an objectively negligible contest component, the dance moves are instead a part of a new mechanic known as Z-Moves.
The idea is relatively straightforward in theory, or at least they are in the way the official Pokémon website describes it. There will be a new set of items, Z-Crystals, that will correspond to each typing in the game. So, there will be 18 Crystals to collect: Normal, Fire, Water, Grass, Bug, Rock, Steel, Ice, Ground, Electric, Flying, Dragon, Fairy, Poison, Psychic, Dark, Ghost and Fighting. Along with these will be a Z-Ring that each trainer will receive, much like the Mega Bracelets of X, Y and ORAS fame.
When a Pokémon is holding a Z-Crystal that corresponds with a move that the Pokémon has (meaning the Crystal doesn’t have to be Electric-type if you’re using a Pikachu, it could be a Steel Z-Crystal and activate if your Pikachu knows Iron Tail), you can activate a Z-Move, which is like an ultimate attack for each typing in the game. So far, we only know about 4 Z-Moves, but there will be one for each type in the game.
Images courtesy of Serebii.net
Z-Moves will be an “overwhelmingly powerful” attack that every Pokémon can use, though you’ll only be able to use one Z-Move per battle, so you’ll have to choose wisely.
On top of that, there will be a physical Z-Ring toy sold at the same time as the launch of Sun and Moon, one which will connect with your game, then light up and play sounds at the same time as the game has Z-Moves activating. Now, I may be 19-years-old and going for a college degree… But I’m more than willing to admit that I’d be super excited to buy a Z-Ring to go along with my game. Especially if it has even more functionality than just gimmicky lights and sounds.
Now, the coolest thing to me about Z-Moves is the competitive viability of the attacks. Due to both the single use and the universal nature of the attacks, there will be some serious mind games going on trying to figure out just who has the Z-Crystal and for what they’ll use it to do. My current favorite example, Hydreigon. Popular and awesome three-headed Dragon-type beast that basically ruled over all back in Generation 5. Then, in Generation 6, Fairy-types were added, and created a really effective x4 weakness for the Dragon/Dark-type Pokémon. However, Hydreigon can learn Steel Wing, Flash Cannon or Iron Tail, which means that with a Steel-type Z-Crystal, Hydreigon could potentially shut down any fairy looking to wall its power.
Also, as a side note, I get the feeling the Z-Crystals will correspond to the Trial Captains in some way. In my post on the Island Challenges, I talked about how I imagined there would be 18 Captains, each representing all the Pokémon types. So, wouldn’t it make sense if the Z-Crystals corresponded with them? Perhaps a Z-Crystal would be the prize for completing a trial, or perhaps it will be hidden away somewhere in their trial grounds. There’s no way to know yet, but I think it’d make a lot of sense.
Well, that just about concludes my three-part romp through today’s new Sun and Moon trailer. It was undoubtedly a lot to digest, but I think every piece individually had their own great and fascinating ideas to debate. If nothing else, the trailer definitely gave off an overwhelming feeling of unity, in my opinion. The new Pokémon and battle styles, the Pokémon that change at an almost molecular level from their environments, the Island Challenges, the connection with Pokémon you can call on to assist you traverse terrain, the power of the Z-Crystals and possible connections to the Trial Captains, and so much more… All of it really seems to be painting an image of Alola as a deeply personal and connected place. A place that I’m very, very excited to explore come November.
What do you think of the possible removal of HM moves as a result of Poké Ride? What cool combinations are you thinking could be possible with Z-Crystals? Overall, how are you feeling about Sun and Moon now that we’re starting to get closer? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for sticking with me through all of this relentless rambling on.