It’s that time once again, ladies and gentlemen. With a brand new Pokémon Direct this morning comes a brand new reason to get hyped up for the holiday season!
While the Direct itself is only about 8 minutes long, with half of that time filled up by a rather long trailer, there are still three main announcements to pull out: Pokkén Tournament DX for the Switch, Pokémon Gold and Silver coming out on the 3DS virtual console and (most importantly to me) Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon being announced for the 3DS, coming out later this year.
Oh yeah, that’s right. A new(ish) Pokémon game to look forward to again. What a time to be alive.
But I’ll get to that last, as it’ll likely be the longest thing I talk about. For now, let’s go in order and start off with Pokkén.
Pokkén Tournament DX
I’ll get this out of the way first – I have not personally had the chance to play the original Pokkén Tournament. Despite certainly being interested in the game, for some reason circumstances have led to it flying completely under my radar. I never bought the game and neither did any of my close friends, so we never got to experience it together either.
That being said, I won’t be able to judge whether or not I think the game will mesh well with the Nintendo Switch. However, I can say that based on my experiences playing Breath of the Wild and seeing the variety of play style options showcased on the trailer shown during the direct that it seems like the fighting game will work well on the home/mobile hybrid console.
Especially considering you can split the joy cons up to use as controllers for two people, making it pretty accessible to play with friends. That’s a nice looking addition.
Due to my lack of experience with the game, that’s all I can really say about it at the moment. I’m looking forward to hopefully making use of this second chance to try it out, and the additional fighters being added into the console version certainly help with encouragement. I’d main Decidueye all day, every day for… Well obvious reasons for anyone who has followed my blog for any stretch of time.
The game is coming out on September 22, 2017, so look out for that. I know I will be.
Pokémon Gold and Silver
Okay to be honest, there isn’t a hell of a lot to say here – not from me personally, but just from what was announced in general. Pokémon Gold and Silver will be available on the 3DS virtual console on September 22, 2017, the same day as the new Pokkén Tournament is being released. According to Sun and Moon’s Producer Junichi Masuda in the Direct, the games will look as they did on the Gameboy Color and be compatible with Pokémon Bank, so everyone will get to take their Red Gyarados from the Lake of Rage with them into the Alola region. Pretty sweet.
While this announcement is cool, I’ll admit it seems a little bit underwhelming. Not only does it simply follow the announcement of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but Gold and Silver also don’t tend to carry the same general nostalgic weight as Red, Blue and Yellow do (despite being infinitely better games in my opinion), so there doesn’t seem to be as much fanfare for them.
However, Pokémon Crystal was the first Pokémon game I ever played, so I’m honestly excited to take up any opportunity to jump back into the Johto region. In other words… Count me in for some virtual console action.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
Now here’s the real bread and butter of this little 8-minute Direct, the part where it seems Game Freak and Nintendo were intent on burying the lede of their story only to tease us with something on the horizon. When I say burying the lede, I mean they dropped the fact that these games exist and are coming soon in the last few seconds of the more than three minute trailer for Pokkén Tournament DX. Nice going guys, way to drop a bomb out of nowhere.
Before I get into talking about the games specifically, check out these logos:
Images courtesy of Serebii.net
These are some sleek-looking logos, if I do say so myself. Honestly, they remind me a lot of the logos for Black 2 and White 2:
Images courtesy of Serebii.net
Which, I might add, is a theme I’ll be returning to in a minute, so hang onto that thought.
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon appear to be rehashes of Pokémon Sun and Moon with additional content. Specifically, we get to see a range of new cutscenes and are promised new Pokémon will appear in the Alola region than we saw during our last romp there. The only ones we get to see, however, are versions of Lunala and Solgaleo covered with black, crystalized parts similar in appearance to the Ultra Beast Necrozma.
From here on out, I will be referring to them as Necro-Mega Noivern and Necro-Mega Pyroar.
Okay probably not, those names are starting to get ridiculously long, but callback jokes are always appreciated in my own head at least.
Necro-Lunala and Necro-Solgaleo aren’t necessarily the most physically appealing special legendaries in my opinion, if I’m being completely honest about it. Solgaleo’s gear looks a bit cooler, especially with what appear to be metallic arms on his back, but Lunala’s face looks way more intense with the red-eyes-shining-through-black-crystal effect. I’ll probably stick with Moon, as Lunala is still my personal favorite of the two.
However, this is where the comparisons begin. The whole “main series legendaries fused with a third, less important legendary in a pair of sequels” thing has been done before. In fact, it was done in an eerily similar way for Black 2 and White 2, where Kyurem was fused with either Reshiram or Zekrom to form White and Black Kyurem. On top of that, Black 2 and White 2 have thus far been the only Pokémon game to come out with sequels for both versions of the game rather than just having a third game in a trilogy, whites exactly what Sun and Moon are now doing.
Granted, Pokémon X and Y did not even get a sequel version, so maybe it’s been Game Freaks plan to release two version sequels for every game starting in Generation 5… But who knows, really.
While the idea of dual sequels does not worry me necessarily, as Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are arguably some of the most high up games in terms of my favorite Pokémon titles, what does worry me a little is the idea that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon seem to be rehashes, like I said, rather than full on sequels. The titles suggest just that: Black 2 and White 2 followed up on Black and White, while Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are just “ultra” versions of their first counterparts.
Also if that is the case, I do feel like better titles could have been used than just the same things with “ultra” added on. I’m an advocate for Kirby Super Star Ultra as much as he next guy, but for a Pokémon title I think it could’ve been cool to do more space-specific terminology to add onto Sun and Moon. That’s more of a personal qualm, however.
Naming conventions aside, the reason why this idea worries me is because the idea behind Black 2 and White 2 being set three years after Black and White was what really made those games special and unique, in my opinion. While they went through the same general region, new Pokémon, set pieces and roadblocks were implemented to show the passage of time had taken effect. On top of that, characters in the game had special moments and scenes that showed their own development over the years since the first games took place, which helped to rocket most of them past most other non-playable characters in the Pokémon World as far as personality and intrigue goes.
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon don’t seem like they’re necessarily going to get the same kind of treatment. Junichi Masuda says right at the beginning of his explanation for the games that the titles will feature an “alternative story taking place in the same world.” This alternative story does appear to have potentially new protagonists (based on their clothes at least, since facial features appear to be the same), new graphical additions (such as the Wingull flying overhead when the protagonists run past their houses), new locations (like the Pikachu-based area the trailer shows) and new cutscenes featuring a variety of Alolan Pokémon (including my favorite, Mimikyu).
However, it is not fully addressed just how far these changes go. Are they mostly aesthetic differences with new cutscenes on top of the same basic game?
The main thing that tells me that this won’t be the case is Necro-Lunala and Necro-Solgaleo. Most of the events throughout Sun and Moon are driven a least partially by Lusamine’s ultimate plan. Team Skull works under her orders, the Aether Foundation works under her orders and the Ultra Beasts become the true area of focus as the story progresses.
Yet, this focus on Ultra Beasts leads to the main box art legendaries Lunala and Solgaleo seeming to almost take a backseat as far as importance to the plot. Yes, they’re referenced throughout the game and receive a good amount of lore, but this lore mostly comes through things like legends in the Malie City library. At the end of the day, you use these Legendary Pokémon primarily as a means of transportation to stop Lusamine’s plan, rather than them being the embodiment of her plan like most other legendaries have been in the past.
Because Necrozma was not even acknowledged during the main plot in Sun and Moon (it only appeared post-Looker missions in the post-game), the fact that it appears to have a more significant place in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s storylines does give me a lot of hope. It suggest that these games, rather than just being a simple rehash of Sun and Moon, will actually be something much bigger. The additions they talk about look to me like Sun and Moon were originally planned to be much bigger games, but development time led to there being a bunch of content to leave out. Either that or perhaps these sequels were in the initial planning stages, and Game Freak has secretly been holding back on us this whole time.
Either way, the long ramblings on such a short reveal trailer should be more than enough evidence that I’m hyped and ready to talk more about the games as we get closer to their release for the 3DS on November 17, 2017.
Just seeing the extra cutscenes with Pokémon like Lycanroc, Mimikyu and Togedemaru were more than enough to get me invested, however. Just saying.
What did you think of the Pokémon Direct? Are you excited for the upcoming titles? And how do you feel about Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon? Do you think the games will be too similar to their predecessors? Or will they tread enough new ground to be exciting additions to the Pokémon anthology? Let me know you thoughts in the comments below!