The last couple of weeks have been a huge time for Pokemon Sun and Moon, full of speculation and unfortunately full of leaks. These leaks have included new Alola forms, other new Pokemon, and even the entire Pokedex. I personally don't like to encourage the publication of leaks; as a writer, I can't support someone who would spread an idea that isn't theirs and is not yet meant to be made public. So rather than speak about all the new info that was leaking, I chose to wait until an official trailer from the Pokemon Company. That trailer has finally come, and while not every leaked Pokemon has been addressed, we learned about quite a few newcomers as well as the villainous team for Sun and Moon. So let's take a look at the info from the trailer and from the website and see what we can learn about the upcoming games!
First let's look at the trailer itself.
Watched it? Alright. Now let's talk about all that new info, and dissect it along with the information provided on the official website.
I love the name of this little guy! Wishiwashi is a pure Water type Pokemon with a brand new ability called Schooling. According to the website, Wishiwashi is quite small even for a Pokemon and is incredibly weak on its own. Despite this, the people of the Alola region fear it. Why is that? Well when Wishiwashi is in danger, it sends out a signal to all of its nearby brethren. They come together with their Schooling ability to become what locals call "the demon of the sea."
Now the description of both forms on the website only say that the Schooling ability activates "under certain conditions," but the trailer and the description both indicate that Wishiwashi has to reach a certain level before this is possible. In a way, this alternate form is similar to an evolution, which is an interesting new take on an ability. In school form, Wishiwashi is apparently significantly more powerful, and the Pokedex entry says that it can go toe-to-toe with Gyarados. And we all know how powerful that Pokemon is!
I like Wishiwashi's design and the idea of this wimpy little thing becoming a powerful water Pokemon when it schools together with others is a really neat concept. It isn't exactly original (I mean, Magikarp does evolve into Gyarados), but it hasn't been done in quite some time and this is definitely a different take on the idea. I'm excited to see exactly how powerful Wishiwashi is in this new form. The only real disadvantage that I see is that because Wishiwashi's ability only allows it to enter this form, it effectively doesn't have an ability when compared to something like Gyarados, which not only has high stats but also great abilities like Intimidate or Moxie. Of course, that really only affects competitive viability, and I am definitely excited to try this Pokemon in a playthrough.
Icky! Pyukumuku is a pure Water type Pokemon with the new ability Innards Out. You know, in case the word "puke" in the name wasn't already nasty enough. These little guys are actually kind of sad. They choose a spot to hang out in and then stay there for the rest of their lives, and they always come back to that spot if someone moves them. If they run out of food there, too bad - they'll just starve themselves. Alolan locals who feel sorry for these ugly things will throw them into nutrient-rich water to keep them from dying when they're really skinny. Pyukumuku have weird organs inside of them that look like fists, and if anyone messes with them they use this to fight back. They also retain moisture well, with the ability to stay on dry land for a week without getting dried out. The fluid that allows them to do this is often harvested by locals to use in skin-care products.
The really interesting thing about these guys is that new ability, Innards Out. When you see it in the trailer, Pyukumuku simply does some damage to its opponent Minior when it gets knocked out - identical to the ability Aftermath, seemingly. But Innards Out is far more devious. When Pyukumuku gets knocked out, Innards Out does damage to the attacker equal to the amount of HP Pyukumuku had remaining. So if you knock out Pyukumuku from full health, you're going to be taking an obscene amount of damage. This could very well be on Wobbuffet level when it comes to ending a Nuzlocke. You knock one of these suckers out with a powerful grass or electric move, only to lose your Pokemon when Innards Out activates. This ability is incredibly devious, and in the right circumstances could also be incredibly devastating.
Overall I like Pyukumuku. I mean, it's ugly for sure, but isn't that the point? The design accomplishes what it's supposed to do, that ability is really crafty, and ultimately I think this is an interesting Pokemon. Not one I intend to use, but interesting nonetheless.
Wait, is that...it is! A Grass/Fairy Pokemon! I thought we weren't allowed to put those two types together! I mean, when this thing wasn't Grass/Fairy-
And neither was this one-
I just assumed it was forbidden. Anyway, Morelull is described by the Pokedex as yet another nocturnal Grass Pokemon. It uses its roots as little feet to move around because digging them into the soil would steal valuable nutrients from other plants in the area. They can also use these roots to communicate with the other plants. When Morelull releases its spores, they glow brightly upon bursting. The lights can induce drowsiness, and Morelull will release them in times of danger to calm everyone down.
Morelull has the Illuminate or Effect Spore abilities, both of which are returning abilities. Illuminate increases the encounter rate when looking for Pokemon, and Effect Spore has a chance of inflicting a status problem on a Pokemon that attacks Morelull directly. Nothing too crazy here.
Morelull has a really cute design, and it's nice to finally see a Pokemon be both Grass and Fairy (although that 4x weakness to Poison does not sound appealing). My biggest hope for this little thing is that it evolves into something - as it stands, Morelull doesn't exactly strike me as a powerhouse. Not that every Pokemon has to be incredible, but typically I don't use Pokemon that stay in one small, weak form (Dunsparce and Farfetch'd come to mind).
That's it for new Pokemon, but the next part of the video finally introduces us to the villains of Sun and Moon - Team Skull.
THE VILLAINOUS TEAM SKULL
Team Skull seems a lot like Team Rocket at first glance. Their crimes seem to be focused on stealing Pokemon and on messing up the sites of the Island Challenge trials. Their clothes are similar to those of a modern "gangster," what with the bandannas and chains and whatnot. Pictured above are the grunts, the typical goons that we as the players will be able to trounce without a thought.
There are two known leaders in Team Skull. The first is Plumeria, the team's "Big Sister." She apparently got this title because she watches over the grunts in a strict but loving manner, just as a tough older sister would.
The leader of the team is this guy, Guzma. He describes himself in the trailer as someone who couldn't be a trial captain and he lumps Professor Kukui into this number as well. We can speculate that this means that both Kukui and Guzma tried to be trial captains at some point, with no success. While Kukui chose the path of a professor, Guzma chose to become a criminal.
I have mixed feelings about this team. From a design perspective, this very well may be my least favorite evil team. Their designs are incredible bland, so much so that Plumeria looks like a generic trainer design from X and Y.
Some of my distaste with the design is definitely personal. I really don't like the whole "chains and skull necklaces" thing for the bad guys. It's all kinds of cliche and seriously lacks creativity. I don't know if maybe gang activity is a serious problem in Hawaii and that's what inspired this choice, but I really don't like it.
What I do like is the return to an evil team whose goal isn't quite so "lofty." Coming fresh off of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the evil teams there had goals that were supposedly "noble" but ultimately were just stupid. Flood the world? Seriously?! What good do you think that will do? With this gang, there is none of that nonsense. These guys just want to steal Pokemon and mess up the trials, and I appreciate the idea that Team Skull is really just a bunch of hoodlums running around and causing a ruckus. While Team Rocket was more of an organized gang similar to the mafia, these guys have that same "classic criminal" feel while not being a direct copy. I just wish their designs weren't so poor.
Now that we know a little bit about our villains, let's get back to what folks are really excited about - Pokemon. The end of the trailer showed off a number of new Alola forms for us to enjoy, so let's check them out!
This Pokemon got a much needed overhaul in Alola, finally becoming the type we always knew it should be - Dark.
Oh shoot, wait, wrong one.
There we go. Look at this sassy little thing! Alolan Meowth is a Pure dark type and is packed to the gills with personality. This is a result of Meowth coming to the Alola region as gifts for the royal family. Raised by arrogant monarchs, these Pokemon adapted over time to become as prideful and crafty as their masters. According to the Pokedex, it is said that these kitties hate nothing more than a wound to their pride or dirt on their money. When either of those things happen, Meowth goes ballistic. Once the monarchy fell, these prideful pussycats became wild and spread throughout the region - but they never lost their attitudes.
Alolan Meowth can have the Pickup or Technician abilities, the latter being a very good ability that is popular in competitive. Technician increases the attack power of moves with 60 power or less, so Meowth will be a powerhouse when using traditionally "weaker" moves.
I love Alolan Meowth's design and I think the new typing was a strong - if obvious - choice. I just hope that Alolan Meowth brings more to the table than Purlloin before it, because the last thing we need is two Dark type cats that are completely useless.
If you read my last update, you may remember that I theorized that Marowak would have a Fire type Alolan form because it was the companion of the Fire type trial captain. Turns out I made a good call!
Because there are many Grass type Pokemon in Alola, Cubone and Marowak had to develop a new lifestyle and stay very close to their partners in order to survive. Over time, this connection gave them something of a sixth sense and allowed them to change their form. They learned to ignite the ends of their bone club by rubbing it against their skull mask. The people of Alola have come to fear Marowak as conjurers. Marowak has perfected a move that launches fireballs at the opponent - these fireballs are weak but they endlessly chase their target. It seems likely that this is describing a Fire variant of moves like Swift, Shadow Punch, and Faint Attack, which has average power but cannot miss.
I love Marowak's new design, new typing, and new abilities. Cursed Body is pretty decent as it has a chance to disable an attacking move used against Marowak, while Lightning Rod allows the Pokemon to maintain its Electric immunity from the Ground typing while also giving it a damage boost. If this form of Marowak is a special attacker, Lightningrod will be very viable and useful. The only thing I don't really like about this Pokemon is the justification for why it changes to Ghost type. It was so close with its partner it got a sixth sense? Really? Cubone's original lore is that it wears the skull of its fallen mother - so why not take advantage of the existing Marowak ghost stories and use those as the justification for this new typing? The vengeful spirit of Cubone's fallen mother taking a physical form in Alola would be nuts. That seems like a huge missed opportunity to me, but I guess they're trying to keep things safe for the kiddos.
Perhaps the most forgotten Pokemon has finally made a comeback. Everyone loves Pikachu but this thing gets no love whatsoever. Jokes abounded about how Pikachu was going to break the rules and be the only not-fully-evolved Pokemon to get a Mega evolution. Instead, Big Pikachu is finally getting some attention with a new Alola form.
No one knows why Raichu is different in Alola, and the locals don't really seem to care. The Alolan Raichu is Electric/Psychic, and it uses its psychic power to hover on its tail and surf. According to the Pokedex, when Raichu rubs the electric pouches on its cheeks a sweet aroma is released. Researchers contribute this to its psychic powers. Because psychic powers smell good, I guess.
Alolan Raichu has a new ability called Surge Surfer. This ability doubles its speed stat when hovering over Electric Terrain, making it sort of an Electric type Sand Rush. Considering the competitive viability of Sand Rush, I'm guessing that this move might make Raichu a bigger hitter on the competitive scene. I want to address this in a bit more detail in a few moments.
Overall, I like that Raichu finally got some love and I do enjoy the new typing and ability. I probably won't use Pikachu in this game anymore than I ever have, but I definitely appreciate that there is finally a reason to use it besides the mascot factor.
LET'S TALK BATTLING
So I mentioned that I wanted to address Raichu's new ability and its implications in greater detail. Surge Surfer is an interesting new ability because it makes Electric Terrain - considered effectively useless last generation - somewhat more viable. Combine this with Tapu Koko's ability to create electric terrain when it enters the field, and suddenly you have a combo. Look at that in combination with the fact that Vikavolt's electric attacks are powered up by Charjabug, and you have a trend. A lot of the new Pokemon introduced in Sun and Moon have new abilities or moves that are effective in double battles.
Now here's why that is interesting. If you've played most of the Pokemon games, then you know that double battles are an anomaly, not the norm. Most battles are one-on-one. When players developed their own competitive battle styles (SMOGON being the foremost of these), competitive Pokemon naturally focused on single battles. Then when the Pokemon Company premiered the official competitive style of Pokemon - Video Game Championships (VGC) - they chose double battles as the format. So in a game where most of your fights are one-on-one, the officially-sanctioned form of competitive battling was two-on-two.
Doesn't make much sense, eh?
A lot of folks embraced VGC, but in a game where most of the mechanics are designed for single combat and where most of your battles are single battles, it definitely had some kinks to be worked out. The trend in Sun and Moon towards abilities that combo together and Pokemon that can work as a team suggests that the Pokemon Company is adjusting the mechanics of the game so that they line up better with the official competitive style. Arguably, this is supported by the fact that trial Pokemon can summon allies to fight alongside them, making doubles more common in the actual gameplay of Pokemon. I definitely think that if Pokemon wants to push VGC as the definitive form of Pokemon battling, they need to make their games line up with that and design more Pokemon that can make effective combos. And that seems to be what they are doing.
The last thing I want to talk about is the other implication of Raichu's Surge Surfer ability - the idea that terrain moves (or Electric Terrain at least) will be more viable in Sun and Moon. When the new terrains were introduced in X and Y, they looked cool but didn't do much of anything. Each terrain only affects Pokemon touching the ground, and they had pretty limited affects at that. Electric Terrain prevented sleep, Grassy Terrain gave some light healing each turn, and Misty Terrain prevented status problems. Not exactly something you want to waste a turn on, especially when the terrain lasts only five turns.
The reveal of Tapu Koko gave us a Pokemon with the ability to set terrain just by entering the battlefield. Much like Drought, Drizzle, or Sand Stream, this allows you to get the benefit of the move without actually having to waste a turn using it. Now all we needed was something that could take real advantage of Electric Terrain - and Raichu gave us that.
I think it is possible that the Pokemon Company is seeking to make terrain moves more viable by adding in these sorts of elements. Now Electric Terrain doesn't just wake Pokemon up - it increases the power of their Electric-type moves. A Raichu on Electric Terrain would then have doubled speed and greater electrical power. Set the terrain up with Tapu Koko, switch in Raichu, and rain destruction on the enemy. It sounds a lot like the combos possible with the different types of weather, and if more than just these two Pokemon get abilities that can capitalize on Electric Terrain, then it could become infinitely more viable than it was in X and Y.
I can see some fans getting frustrated by this turn of events for one main reason: Hail. This weather effect has been around since generation 3 and yet has not seen the sort of competitive buff that the other weathers have. Sun teams are quite viable thanks to the boost to Fire moves and the ability to use moves like Synthesis and Solar Beam to greater effects. Rain teams gain speed with abilities like Swift Swim, greater water power, and guaranteed accuracy for Thunder. Sand gives greater special defense to Rock-type Pokemon, activates abilities like Sand Rush and Sand Veil, and slowly chips away at the health of your opponents. Meanwhile, Hail simply damages every Pokemon that isn't Ice type and guarantees accuracy for Blizzard. There are few Pokemon who can capitalize on the benefits of Hail and unlike the other weather conditions, the Pokemon that do benefit are all of one type - Ice. This makes Hail really unappealing as a weather condition and really reduces its competitive viability. A lot of fans want Hail to be improved, but by the look of things the Pokemon Company is going to focus more on improving the terrain moves - and so far the only one we've seen buffed is Electric Terrain.
Future updates may reveal that the Pokemon Company has bigger plans for not only Electric Terrain, but also for Grassy and Misty Terrain as well. Hopefully Hail will be included in that number as well, although there is only so much they can do. We'll just have to wait and see what happens with these different abilities.
Well folks, that's all she wrote. Er, well, he wrote. I'm a guy. If you enjoyed this update on Pokemon Sun and Moon be sure to check out my blog Adventure Rules at ianshepard.wordpress.com for all of my Sun and Moon coverage!