In the past I wrote about how Pokémon evolved as a series, where the way Pokémon are raised, battled, shown, evolved, etc became more sophisticated and involved over time. The introduction of abilities, forms, natures, and things like that have made Pokémon the experience it is today. As someone (due to a couple of Let's Plays and all Gen 1 games going on the 3DS) who played the original 8-bit titles 5 times in the past 2 years I can tell you playing White 2 again has been very refreshing... oh the things we trainers take for granted nowadays.
I wrote about the evolution of Pokémon, not only for the great pun, but also the introduction of Mega Evolution. Forms in Gen 5 I always thought looked nice, but I found ultimately pointless until Mega Evolution and now the new Alola forms and Z Moves. You can tell the Pokémon Company are treating this as their 20th anniversary game with all of the shake ups Gen 7 will add to the universe. It's something the Pokémon team are good at, working on new things and building on them as the series progresses.
I heard an interesting rumor from a guy I met on my Pokémon GO travels who told me that the Alola region may be trying to set up it's own Pokémon League as it doesn't have one yet. This is something I hope to be true as the islands we saw do seem to not have many gyms, and the one we did see greatly resembled a hotel that may or may not have been trying to add a gym for their business as they liked the idea of Alola getting a Pokémon League.
With this in mind it's clear to me that they are fully taking advantage of their tropical island setting, a setting that is proving to be drastically different than any other Pokémon game we've seen in the past. We had hints of tropical areas sure, but in the end of the day we always seen something in the likes of towns and cities by a mountain to climb (cause you know, cryptic metaphor).
Based on what we seen I see that this game has more emphasis on traveling, as if you the player are on a tropical vacation/journey. Especially when you consider that the developers made your Pokédex (already a guide to the Pokémon world) and threw a Rotom in there to add sentience to it in order to enhance the idea of a Navi-like guide.
What's been really catching my eye is the Z-moves and Alola Forms. Like I said, this game is taking advantage of its new setting. This should come with the Pokémon as well. For the first time we don't only see Pokémon we've seen before, but rather we see a sort of Natural Selection process with Pokémon taking new forms. We also see the Z-moves as a way to add to the idea of Mega Evolution. The new possibilities of battle and all sorts of Pokémon training has just skyrocketed with possibilities.
I can also see how this is beneficial to all sides as the developers (since they have to make models now and not sprites) can use their old resources and work them into a clever and interesting use of animals in different environments. This really makes the Pokémon world feel more believable and vast.
Not only do they introduce new Pokémon, but they also show that what the region has to offer as a whole is new and exciting without overwhelming the player with so many new things to learn (like the issue the original Unova games had with the huge amount of new Pokémon, which is fair cause it's the first game in a new continent, but still made trainers feel held back).
What Alola is doing to create its own identity is something I want to see for every Pokémon game in the future. It's been a great 20 years and this game is being worked on to show that.