While Pokemon GO may be the current flavour of the week, it can be easy to forget we're actually just a few short months away from a proper, all new Pokemon adventure. Much more exciting than what is essentially a virtual Pokemon sticker book/treasure hunt, Pokemon Sun and Moon already promise a whole raft of new Pokemon to catch, battle and raise, and a lush looking island paradise to explore - but a new region doesn't just mean new Pokemon either - and Nintendo have a new twist on catching your old favourites.
It turns out some familiar Pokemon have emigrated to the Alola region, and over time evolved into different forms - different looking versions of some of your favourite Pokemon from games gone by. These regional variants not only look different, they also have different elemental types and quirks unique to the Alola region, effectively turning familiar faces into brand new Pokemon to find, catch and raise. So far, the following Alola forms have been officially revealed:
A dual grass and dragon type (as opposed to the grass/phychic he was before), Alolan Exeggutor has seemingly put all his resources into growing one heck of a long neck. Essentially a coconut tree with legs, he also has developed a fourth head - on a tail near his base, letting him attack opponents from the rear that his three main heads can't reach.
One of our favourite fire 'mons, Vulpix, and it's evolution Ninetails, have both had the Alolan makeover, trading it's traditional fire typing for a new ice element instead - and in the case of Ninetails, an additional fairy typing too. Legend has it little ol' Vulpix came across to the region with humans, but ended up moving up to the snowy mountain peaks to avoid the island's endemic Pokemon, evolving to suit its new habitat in the process. Ninetails meanwhile, has spent it's time mastering ice attacks - able to produce ice crystals from it's fur, they can be used to block attacks or formed into powerful ice missiles to fire at it's opponents.
Another Pokemon that's traded it's old elemental typing for ice is Sandshrew, and it's evolved form, Sandslash. Originally a ground type, Sandshrew/Sandslash's new dual ice and steel type is a result of the frequent volcanic eruptions of it's new Alolan desert habitat, which drove them up into the snowy mountains instead. As such, Sandslash's spiky back is now formed from ice crystals, which they use to hide themselves from predators, burying themselves below the snow with only their spines exposed.
Ground type Marowak is another one that's changed in the journey over to the new Alola region - now a dual fire and ghost type, the bone-wielding, mother's-skull-wearing weirdo looks much darker than before. Mostly black, and carrying a flaming baton/bone it lights by rubbing it against it's forehead, Marowak is regarded with fear by the native Alolans, who've dubbed it the 'conjurer'. Currently, there's no mention as to whether there'll be an Alolan Cubone from which it evolves, but we wouldn't be surprised.
Everyone's favourite quick-talking Team Rocket member is also getting in on the Alolan variant fun - normal type Meowth now comes in a dark element version, exclusive to the Alola islands. Blueish grey and with more than a whiff of the Egyptian sphyx about him, attacking his enemies with the golden coin atop his head, Meowth made his journey to the Alola islands as a royal gift from another region. With only a select few able to take them on as partners, Meowth developed a bit of a selfish and prideful attitude, which is apparently what caused his new look. Whether the Alolan form will carry over into his evolution, Persian, though, we don't know.
As the less attractive older brother, Raichu has always lived in Pikachu's shadow. But the little electric mouse doesn't let things get him down - with what looks like a bit of a suntan, the new Alolan Raichu seems to have taken up surfing. On his perfectly surfboard-shaped tail, of course. Now a dual electric and psychic type, the little guy gathers his new-found psychic power in his tail, and uses it to ride on air. We wouldn't be surprised if an Alolan form for his pre-volution and Pokemon poster boy, Pikachu, will come out of the woodwork in the next few weeks.
Pokemon Sun and Moon will be hitting 3DSes everywhere on the 23rd November, bringing with it a whole host of tweaks and changes to the tried and tested formula. We don't know about you, but we can't wait. For a sneak peak at some of the new Alola forms, why not check out the latest trailer below: