Baton Pass, Part II: To Alola, and Beyond

Last time I talked about Pokémon, I offered my perspective on the most recent generation of the series. Now, with the latest generation almost ready to take the world by storm, let’s focus on what’s to come.

To this day, it still amuses me how the news cycle for this generation has played out. (And, if we’re being honest, it’s been far more fun than this past electoral cycle.) If you weren’t paying attention, here’s a brief summary of how the news cycle has played out:

  • February 26th, 2016: Sun and Moon are officially announced.
  • March to Mid-May: No news at all; not even anything from CoroCoro Magazine, a Japanese magazine publication that is notorious for leaking Pokémon-related information ahead of The Pokémon Company International and Game Freak’s official announcements.
  • May 10th: The first gameplay, starter trio, and legendaries are revealed.
  • June-October: Monthly news blitzes revealing mind-blowing new additions and features, with some smaller surprise reveals in-between.

Yeah. That’s pretty crazy. What’s even crazier is how they’ve been able to keep this up for almost half a year.

We get confirmation of new titles, things go bone-dry for a few months afterward, and then all of a sudden all kinds of new information pops up every month, most of it involving things people never would’ve seen coming otherwise. Things like Alolan forms, Z-Moves, and Ultra Beasts blew people away when they were first revealed, with the promise of adding new dimensions to the tried-and-true formula. That, to me, is a big part of why I think Game Freak has been keeping all the excitement and speculation going for as long as it has.

But as great as all these supersized info-drops have been, one of my hopes for these games is that there’s more to these games than what Game Freak and TPCi are letting on. The fact that we’ve been getting so much info on these games before their release is all well and good, considering we didn’t get anything for the better part of two-and-a-half months. At the same time, I still want there to be some element of surprise when it comes to what the games have to offer.

Something that I feel is missing in a lot of games these days is that surprise factor. Everything is unveiled before the games even officially come out, whether it’s through leakers or, in some rarer cases, the developers themselves. Even then, and with this being Pokémon’s big 20th anniversary, my hope is that all of this info they’ve dropped on us for the past five months is just part of something bigger. Not a small part, necessarily, but this game as a whole feels like something Game Freak has been working towards for a long time.

One of the few issues that I had with Generation VI as a whole was its story. Again, it was nothing really bad… just lackluster. I will grant that it had a tough act to follow with Generation V’s story, but even then it’s no excuse to follow up with a story that wasn’t just hollow, but also left a lot of untapped potential on the table; potential that could’ve been realized with a Pokémon Z, or an X2/Y2 like what they did for Black and White. Of course, we now know that’s never going to happen.

For Sun and Moon, I want to see what Game Freak can really do for a story. There have been little bits and pieces on what the games’ story centers on, such as what truly makes a Pokémon, which already sounds like an interesting concept to work off of. If Game Freak goes deeper with that concept, and truly delivers, we could have something really special on our hands. On top of that, strong character development is also welcome. The characters we’ve seen so far look fun and enjoyable, but there’s bound to be more to them under the surface.

A story-related hope I have is that Game Freak really surprises us with these characters and how they develop throughout the journey. I want to see something like Lillie, who’s against Pokémon battles normally, come to the realization that they’re not as bad as she makes them out to be. Or what about something like Guzma, for all the streetwise bravado he’s shown off, revealing a different side to his character. And possibly the biggest surprise of them all would come from the Aether Foundation; most people are pinning them as the true villains of the story, but what if Game Freak toyed with our expectations and made them a genuinely benevolent organization? I’d give them kudos for that.

…Maybe.

But above all else, the single biggest wish that I have for Sun and Moon is really pretty simple: That it’s just as fun as the previous games, if not moreso. Being a game enthusiast, I always hold out hope that the games I play will be enjoyable; basically, I’m a “Gameplay First” kind of person. They pull that much off, and they get a passing grade, it’s as simple as that. X and Y were already enjoyable as they were; they may have had a few hiccups to them, sure, but in the end, going through Kalos was still a treat. For Sun and Moon, I’m really hoping that they take what worked before, and go a few steps further with them. With the demo being out for a while, there’s a good feeling that Game Freak will answer the call in making this a great experience for any and all Pokémon fans. Whether or not that will translate to the full experience being fun is anybody’s guess.

Even with all the reveals we’ve been getting, and some leaked information coming out as well, there’s still a lot about Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon that we don’t know yet. Are we getting more than what we’ve seen for new Pokémon and Alolan forms? Is the Aether Foundation the real team of antagonists? What exactly ARE the Ultra Beasts? What happens once we clear the Island Challenge? We don’t have the answers to these questions yet. Thankfully, there’s good news: As of this writing, we’re a week away from finding out.

From Generation VI to Generation VII, Game Freak used Baton Pass.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

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Author: lydonsmind1990

Hello there! I am a freelance writer with interests in sports (namely New England-based trams like the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox), video games, and other details as well. If you like what you see here and want me to write an article for you, please feel free to drop me an e-mail and we'll talk specifics.

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