You might be forgiven in thinking Pokémon Go was the only Pokémon game out in 2016 based on the colossal success it's had this summer, but there's a whole new generation of games on the way in the form of Pokémon Sun and Moon on the 3DS, arriving for the franchise's 20th anniversary.
The seventh generation of Pokémon games introduces a new wave of creatures to find, catch and train - including some adorable new starters - a new map based on a real world location, and some neat new features for long-time fans to get very excited about.
Meet Pokémon Sun and Moon Starters Rowlet, Litten and Popplio
Arguably the most exciting new additions to any new generation of Pokémon are the starters, and Pokémon Sun and Moon delivers on the traditional fire / grass / water line-up with a few cute newcomers:
- Flying Grass type Rowlet
- Fire type Litten
- Water type Popplio
Pokémon Sun and Moon Legendary Pokémon Solgaleo and Lunala
One of the core differences between each generation's new pair of Pokémon games are their Legendaries, which are themed around their respective titles.
Solgaleo is a Psychic / Steel type, with a powerful Sunsteel Strike move and Full Metal Body ability. It can transform into the Radiant Sun phase.
Lunala is a Psychic / Ghost type, with a powerful Moongiest Beam and Shadow Shield ability. It can transform into the Full Moon phase.
Based on previous games, both these Legendaries expect them to be available as part of a story-related event in the late game, and that the only way to add the opposing Legendary to your Pokédex will be via trading - so have a friend who will own the other edition at hand.
As well as this pair, we already know about the game's mythical Pokémon - think along the lines of Mew and Celebi - which is Magearna, a man-made Steel / Fairy type created over 500 years ago.
Expect to get your hands on this via a special event outside of the game at some point post-release through the game's new QR code system (see the 'Other new features' section for more details).
Other new Pokémon in Pokémon Sun and Moon
Outside of the one-of-a-kind creatures you receive through special events, there's set to be plenty of others you'll find out in the wild as part of this generation's update. The total number has yet to be confirmed, but based on previous instalments, could range between 70 and 150, bringing the Pokedex number to under 800.
- While not technically new Pokédex entries, a number of classic creatures have been given new 'Alola' forms, turning Exeggutor into a towering Grass / Dragon-Type palm tree, Dark Rattata and Raticate (which turned after being hunted on the island), and icy versions of Vulpix, Ninetails, Sandshrew and Sandslash. Fans of Pikachu evolution Raichu will be pleased with a form that can now surf and wear hats.
- A bear named Kiteruguma and a Ghost / Fairy type named Mimikkyu that hides inside a ropey-looking Pikachu disguise.
- There are some rather bizarre designs, from a big-lipped fish (Bruxish), a tiny gnat (Cutiefly) to a Pikachu-looking mouse (Togedemaru).
- A bird named Oricorio, which has a unique style that changes Type according to the island it's currently situated - from Fire to Electric, Psychic and Ghost - with a 'Revelation Dance' move that changes Type too.
- Amusingly, there's also Gumshoos, and is the evolution of mongoose-style Pokémon Yungoos, which some claim looks like Donald Trump...
- Several other new additions include:
Pokémon Sun and Moon new setting, new Professor and characters
Pokémon Sun and Moon are set in the region of Alola, which is loosely based on the islands of Hawaii - so expect plenty of beaches, palm trees and sunny climes as you run around catching creatures.
Professor Kukui is your new guide for this generation, a bare-chested, shades-wearing character who will likely be the one to offer up your starter Pokémon and provide a helping hand throughout your journey. He's also joined by Professor Oak's cousin, Samson Oak, who appears to discuss different forms of known animals.
Other new characters include Professor Kukui's "mysterious" assistant Lillie, and a series of Trial Champions and Kahuna that you'll encounter on each island; Mallow is Grass-based, Lana is Water, Sophocles is Electric and Kiawe is Fire. Complete their challenges - ranging from battling, finding items or completing tests of knowledge - and you'll then face powerful 'Totum Pokémon' who can call on ally Pokémon to help.
There is also the The Aether Foundation - the 'good' team which rivals the bad Team Skull - of which Lusamine is president.
Finally, you can also expect some familiar faces from the very first Pokémon game. No spoilers here, but click the prior link to see who you'll be bumping into...
Playing Pokémon Go? Check out our Pokémon Go guide, tips, tricks and cheats hub to get the most out of finding, catching and leveling up.
Other new features: Battle Royale, QR codes and Hyper Training
- One of the biggest reveals during E3 was the Battle Royale mode, where four players compete at once in a free-for-all scrap where the winner is whoever has the most Pokémon surviving by the end. While it sounds chaotic, strategy will lie in predicting who will attack who next in order to pick off the right players to claim the top spot.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon will introduce the ability to scan QR codes, allowing you to register Pokémon data to your Pokedex, adding its habitat data so you can search them out. As well as being released through special events, you can also create codes based on what you've caught to share with friends.
- There will be more customisation options than ever before for Trainers, including the ability to choose skin tone and hair style and colour.
- You can now employ a powerful Z-Move once per battle, which are not unlike a Summon in a Final Fantasy game. Each Type has a unique Z-Move; ones we know about include the electric Gigavolt Havoc, the grass Bloom Doom, fire Inferno Overdrive, and water Hydro Vortex. It's also how Mega Evolutions will appear in-game, too (which have been confirmed to be sidelined for this generation). Meanwhile, a real-life Z-Ring device which holds Z-Crystals will be released as a toy by Tomy. Use a Z-Move in the games and it will light up with the appropriate colour.
- For the first time HMs are looking to be removed from the game, in favour of Pokémon you can call upon to help you explore the environment, perhaps putting an end the need for a 'HM Slave'.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon's Pokédex features a Rotom, a type of Pokémon found in man-made electrical goods, meaning your 'dex will have more of a chatty personality and a map on the 3DS's bottom screen.
- This new entry will simplify the lengthy IV training mechanic of previous games with a feature named Hyper Training. This simplifies the complicated process, which involved breeding generations of a particular Pokémon species until you get a monster with the perfect stats, by taking a level 100 creature and increasing their stats to the maximum with rare bottle cap items that are traded with a new character named Mr Hyper.
Meanwhile, owners of the 3DS Virtual Console editions of Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow will be able to transfer the original 151 Pokémon to Sun and Moon via the Pokémon Bank app - perfect if you want to craft a team of Kanto-only Elite Four creatures. Note that the ability to transfer Pokémon via the Bank will be available in a future update. Pokémon can also be received from the sixth generation of games.
- It looks like Pokémon Sun and Moon has a nod to N64 outing Pokémon Snap - letting you enter first person view in certain places and snap a shot of nearby Pokémon. It looks like you will be judged on the quality of your photo, both in game and what looks to be online from other players, too.
- By gathering a series of collectibles - Zygarde Cells and Zygarde Cores - you can form what appears to be the 'Complete Forme' of legendary Pokémon Zygarde.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon are set 12 hours apart, and as such, events will happen at different times for each entry:
Pokémon Sun and Moon release date and where to pre-order
Pokémon Sun and Moon will be available exclusively on Nintendo 3DS from November 18 worldwide, and in more languages than ever; English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese (both Traditional and Simplified).
In the meantime, you can read our hands-on impressions of the opening two hours and try a free downloadable demo from October 18, which will include a special version of Greninja - the Ash-Greninja from the Pokémon anime - as well as other items to then transfer into the full game upon release. Our Pokemon Sun and Moon demo guide can help you unlock everything you need to carry forward.