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  • Kavya Seth

5 Ways Pokemon Sun and Moon is Changing the Standard Franchise Formula

Pokemon has been around for 20 years now, and everyone is used to the formula of the core series games by now. You start out from a small town with your mother’s blessing. You’re given a starter Pokemon by the regional Pokemon Professor. You earn Gym Badges by defeating all the Gym Leaders, and finally, you beat the Elite Four and become the Champion. All the while, you battle the game’s stereotypical evil team, trying to use the power of the legendary Pokemon for their own gain. You beat them, and capture the game’s signature legendary Pokemon. After 6 generations of games, this formula has never changed… until now. While many parts of it remain the same, GameFreak’s newest Pokemon game, Sun and Moon, breathes new life into the series with innovative changes to the classic game that has been beloved by millions of players.

1. Alolan Forms

This is probably the first thing anybody who has heard of the changes to Pokemon Sun and Moon knows about. Several Pokemon from previous generations are getting makeovers, with new appearances and typings for the new region, Alola. The explanation for these new Alolan forms is similar to the concept of adaptive radiation. It’s pretty cool to see Gamefreak to actually include a nod to real evolutionary mechanics for once. Especially when it produces results as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the new Vulpix and Ninetales.

2. Z-Moves

Probably the second-most well-known new addition are the Z-moves. Z-moves are new, extremely powerful moves that can only be used once per battle. Heartwarmingly, they are described in-story as the combination of Pokemon and Trainer's wishes and motivations. Like the Mega Stone and Mega Ring required for Mega Evolution from Generation 6, Z-Moves cannot be executed without the Trainer wearing a Z-Ring and the Pokemon is holding its corresponding Z-Crystal. Although their limitations and the utility of other held items make them unlikely to be used in competitive gaming, there's no reason you can't feel epic unleashing your Pokemon's Z-moves in-game.

The default female Trainer and Pikachu's charging animation for Pikachu's Z-Move, Catastropika

3. No More Gyms or HMs

Anyone who has played a Pokemon game can tell you that HMs are the bane of their existence. They take up valuable move space on your team just so you can navigate the game’s numerous Insurmountable Waist-Height Fences.

Facing off against Gym Leaders is supposed to be exciting, the Pokemon equivalent of a boss battle. But just like HMs, the same old formula of collecting gym badges was also quickly becoming stale, a fatal flaw of franchise formula games. As a long-awaited breath of fresh air, Generation 7 completely removes both features. Instead, you can ride and surf on Pokemon through a special menu. These Pokemon don’t take up any space on your team, so you can build a balanced party without restrictions. Gyms are replaced with island challenges. Unlike gym battles, island challenges are not limited to battling with Pokemon. They can be taking pictures, finding items, or answering trivia. But players who enjoy epic battles need not worry- there is still the traditional Gym Leader battle, in the form of each island’s Grand Trial, where the player battles the island Kahuna.

4. Ability to Raise IVs

In the metadata of Pokemon, IVs are like Pokemon genetics. They’re hidden stat modifiers that are determined at generation and cannot be changed… until now. Hyper Training puts an end to Pokemon eugenics, allowing players to finally stop frustratedly breeding hundreds to thousands of Pokemon to get the statistically superior Pokemon they need for competitive matches. Similar to Move Tutors, by giving bottlecaps to the uncreatively named Mr. Hyper, players can raise the IVs of their level 100 Pokemon.

Bottle caps as payment? What is this, Fallout?

5. Game-Changing Abilities

For many, a key part of Pokemon is competitive battling. Thus, any change in the gameplay that affects battle strategy is extremely important. Of particular concern to competitive battlers are the newly introduced abilities. There are so many I could write a whole other article about them, but I'll only cover two right now.

First is the primary ability of the new Pokemon Bruxish. Bruxish is a single-evolution pokemon whose stats are probably going to be underwhelming, but its appearance and ability, Dazzling, are the opposite. Its garish bright colors and strange shape are so bizzare, they confuse opposing Pokemon into being unable to use moves with increased priority. As priority is a huge staple of the meta, allowing Pokemon to land in game-changing hits before they faint, this Pokemon is sure to make players grinds its teeth just as much as it is.

I guess it makes sense if you look at how lurid it is. It's enough to make your eyes bleed.

Second is the signature ability of the Dewpider line, Water Bubble. Not only is its appearance unnerving, its ability is scary- it doubles the power of Water-type moves, halves the damage of Fire-type moves, and prevents the Pokemon from being burned. That’s very powerful for a dual Water-Bug type, who would normally take 1x the damage from Fire-type moves, gets 2.5x rather than 1.5x STAB (same-type attack bonus) for Water-Type moves, and is burn immune. Though this will likely be balanced out with a low overall base stat total and high special attack rather than attack, it’s still unnerving to have the potential of this ability being given to another Pokemon as a Hidden Ability.


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