Skip to main content

Nintendo dives deep into ‘Pokémon Sun and Moon’ at E3

Pokemon’s back, and with a bang. During Nintendo’s Treehouse live stream at E3 2016, company reps sat down with longtime Pokémon developer Game Freak and revealed a few juicy new details on Sun and Moon, the upcoming twin additions to the endearing monster-hunting series.

The play session, which marked the first live demonstration of Sun and Moon, laid out many of the details in full. The new games are set in the Alola Region, a tropical archipelago inspired by the volcanic islands of Hawaii, and that’s not all that’s new. There is now an improved character selection screen with a number of races and gender combinations to choose from, and you have two new NPC guides: Professor Kukui and his ‘mysterious’ assistant, Lillie, who introduce you to the game’s most fundamental mechanics. Traversal and battles between Pokémon are also rendered fully in 3D. New catchable Pokémon are in tow, too — Litten, a kitten-like fire type; Popplio, a water type; Rowlet, a grass-flying type; Yungoos, a normal type; Pikipek, a normal/flying type; Grubbin, a bug-type; and two new legendary Pokémon, Solgaleo and Lunala.

E3 2016: Lego Worlds builds on its success by offering online multiplayer option

The premise on Sun and Moon might sound familiar to longtime fans of the series: you assume the role of a young trainer who recently moved to the Alola Region. After bidding farewell to your mother, departing home, and receiving your first Pokémon, you set off on your first grand adventure across the islands.

The narrative many not tread new ground, but Sun and Moon’s marks a technical departure from past Pokémon entries. In battles between Pokémon, for instance, the game camera now moves “dynamically” to the left and right, and when you’re Pokémon is ready to strike, each selectable attack’s accompanied by a detailed explanation. Another enhancement: tapping the 2D icon of the enemy Pokémon pulls up its defense, and accuracy stats, and, if it’s a Pokémon you’ve fought before, a truncated battle history with the effectiveness of the attacks you’ve previously used against it. Capturing a Pokémon is a tad more verbose now, too: when a new creature’s added to the Pokédex, indicators show how many variants of the captured Pokémon you’ve yet to encounter.

Trainers in Sun and Moon are a touch more fleshed out than the homogeneous almost-clones in previous Pokémon titles. Each opponent has their own set of unique animations, down even to the way they toss a Pokeball. And some battles, like those against local gym leaders, take place in arenas in front of cheering crowds of NPC onlookers.

The single-player experience isn’t all that’s been revamped. Sun and Moon feature a new four-player multiplayer mode, Battle Royal, in which participants choose up to three Pokémon and battle one at a time. It’s a free-for-all battle: first three trainer to lose all three Pokémon cede victory to the remaining player, and the final score is a combined tally of the number of Pokémon defeated and the number of Pokémon remaining.

One of broader goals of Sun and Moon was to make Pokémon more “accessible” to franchise newcomers, said Nintendo. To that end, settings screens have been “simplified” and “pared down.” And it’ll ship in more than nine languages, including Simplified and Traditional Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Korean — a series first. But in a nod to fans who’ve sunk a few hours into the Virtual Console versions of Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, X, Y, Omega Ruby and/or Alpha Sapphire will have their efforts rewarded in Sun and Moon: both games are compatible with the Pokémon Bank, Game Freak’s online Pokémon storage system.

Pokémon Sun and Moon hits store physical and digital shelves for the Nintendo 3DS on November 18 in Japan, North America, and Australia, and on November 23 in Europe. It lands on the Pokémon series’ 20th anniversary; the original Pokémon was released on February 27, 1996. It’s grown, since then — Nintendo’s Pokémon properties now generate a collective $2 billion a year annually, and lifetime sales of the games in May surpassed 200 million copies.

Editors' Recommendations

Kyle Wiggers
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets…
The Nintendo 3DS’ best (and weirdest) cult hit is coming to Apple Arcade
Horses race in Pocket Card Jockey.

Apple Arcade is kicking off 2023 by adding three new titles in January. Most notable among them is Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!, a mobile port of one of the Nintendo 3DS cult hits set to launch on January 20.

The original Pocket Card Jockey, released in 2013 in Japan and 2016 in North America, is one of the 3DS' oddest titles. Developed by Pokémon studio Game Freak, it's a horse-racing RPG that revolves around solitaire. Players raise and breed horses and then race them by playing fast-paced rounds of solitaire. It's an extremely bizarre concept, but an incredibly fun one that made it one of the handheld's most charming hidden gems.

Read more
Summer Game Fest returns just before E3 2023 next June
The official artwork confirming Summer Game Fest's return on June 8, 2023.

Geoff Keighley has confirmed when Summer Game Fest will return in June 2023. It will begin with a live kickoff show on June 8, 2023, placing Keighley's game announcement alternative less than a week before E3's grand (intended) 2023 return.
Unlike past years, Summer Game Fest Live Kickoff 2023 will feature a live audience, like Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards. It will take place in the YouTube Theater at Hollywood Park, with tickets going on sale in early 2023. It will still be livestreamed across platforms like YouTube and Twitch, though. It's currently unknown who's participating, how long Summer Game Fest will run afterward, or if it will feature a Summer Game Fest Play Days-like element for fans. Still, Keighley says all of that info will be revealed ahead of the event next year, teasing what people can expect. 
"In keeping with tradition, we'll have tons of exciting announcements from the developers that are pushing the games industry forward, and will once again highlight other publisher digital events, demos, and more surprises to be announced in the coming months," Keighley says in a press release. 
That June 8 start date, and the other Summer Game Fest events likely to follow, put Keighley's show just ahead of E3 2023. The ESA and ReedPop plan to bring E3 back between June 13 and June 16, 2023. With five days of lead time on E3, Summer Game Fest can coexist with the long-running gaming conference and encompass the plethora of publisher showcases that tend to precede E3.
Geoff Keighley made it clear that he wants Summer Game Fest and E3 to coexist for a while. "We've had extensive conversations with ReedPop about E3," he said in an interview with Epic Games Store. "I think it'll kind of fit together and flow kind of from what we're doing into what they're doing and stuff. E3, to me, is this kind of master brand that represents gaming news in June."
With the start date of Summer Game Fest confirmed, the coexistence of these two summer gaming events is a reality. Summer Game Fest returns on June 8, 2023.

Read more
E3 2023 returns in June with separate business and consumer days
Logo for E3 2023.

E3 2023 will return as an in-person event from June 13 to June 16, 2023, as announced by ReedPop today.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) already revealed that E3 will return in 2023, but now we know exactly when the event will take place, along with several other key details. E3 will once again take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center after a four-year hiatus, but will incorporate separate days for industry professionals and general consumers.

Read more