It's all go on the Pokemon front lately, what with critter-catching app Pokemon GO showing no signs of slowing down, and a brand-spanking new Pokemon adventure in the works from the Big N themselves. Hitting 3DSes everywhere this November, Pokemon Sun and Moon look set to continue the series overhaul started by Pokemon X and Y, adding a whole host of new features and fun stuff to the tried and tested 'gotta catch 'em all' formula. Given that all the Poke-news has been a bit of a blur these past few weeks, we've rounded up the biggest bits so you don't have to!
First off, we have the Alola region's equivalent of mega-evolution - Z-Moves. In both Pokemon Sun and Moon, Pokemon are able to unleash a powerful Z-Move once per battle, triggered when a Pokemon trainer and their Pokemon's "wishes resonate with each other", often with explosive consequences. All Pokemon, both new and old, are capable of using these Z-Moves, providing the Pokemon trainer has the correct Z-Crystal set into the Z-Ring bracelet on their arm. Pokemon which hold the same type of Z-Crystal as the one in the arm band are then able to resonate with their trainer and wield their respective Z-Move. If you're really into your Pokemon, toy company TOMY will also be releasing a real-life replica Z-Ring bracelet, which syncs with your game to light up, vibrate and make noises when your in-game Pokemon uses their Z-Move.
Moving on - the game's new setting, the Alola region, is made up of a number of tropical islands, where humans and Pokemon coexist in a rather close relationship, with both Pokemon and battling being heavily ingrained in the archipelago's culture. One such culture is something known as the 'island challenge', a rite of passage that sees young wannabe Pokemon trainers setting off on a journey to traverse each of the four islands. And, you guessed it, this is what the protagonist is about to set off on themselves. Interestingly, though, not all the challenges involve battling; some may require you to find certain items or complete tests of knowledge instead.
At the end of each trial, a powerful Pokemon known as the Totem Pokemon lies in wait. Much larger than the rest of it's species, and enveloped in a special aura, these Pokemon summon other ally Pokemon to join them in battle, amping up their own power in the process, making for a formidable opponent. Beat the Totem Pokemon and you can then progress to the Grand Trial, where an elite Pokemon master known as the Kahuna will be waiting - and you'll need to beat them before you can be officially recognised as having passed the island's trial. Each island also has its own dedicated Captain, under whose guidance you'll be lead through the trial in question, with each Captain specialising in a particular type of Pokemon.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Pokemon game without some kind of Team Rocket antagonist equivalents - a bunch of nefarious Pokemon trainers with a hidden agenda that's usually related to taking over the world, one uber powerful Legendary Pokemon at a time. So far, all we have on Sun and Moon's bad guys are a name, Team Skull, and a few pieces of artwork - their modus operandi remains unclear for the moment, beyond the fact they like messing up the aforementioned island challenge sites. From the looks of it, they're a bunch of skaters/bikers/pirates, fronted by the blingy Guzma, alongside a pink-haired goth girl called Plumeri, who go around dressed in black and skull-and-crossbones emblazoned t-shirts, presumably causing a bit of a ruckus wherever they go.
It may be a couple of months until Pokemon Sun and Moon hit stores, but keen Pokemon masters might want to get in and reserve themselves a copy ASAP - and reap the rewards that come with pre-ordering. Available from selected retailers (we've found it on GAME, Amazon and Nintendo's own official store), you'll be able to nab yourself a special Pokemon Sun/Moon Fan Edition, which swaps the usual plastic box for a fancy SteelBook case instead. However, as an extra incentive to buy from Nintendo's own store, they're also throwing in a figurine of each game's respective Legendary Pokemon, so sun lion Solgaleo for Sun and the bat-like Lunala for Moon. There's also a (much more expensive) limited edition 3DS console coming to various stores, which includes the game and figurine for the game of your choice, as well as a black New Nintendo 3DS XL console emblazoned with drawings of both Legendary Pokemon, if you're feeling particularly flush.
Pokemon Sun and Moon will be hitting the 3DS on the 23rd November this year, bringing with them a whole raft of changes, tweaks and new Pokemon to catch. Why not check out the latest trailer below: