Pokémon Sun and Moon, which launch on Nov. 18, bring some of the biggest changes to the iconic game franchise in years.
Rather than collecting gym badges, players are tasked with completing challenges around the fictional islands of Aloha and battling leaders known as "kahunas." A new element called "Z-Moves" lets trainers unleash powerful moves once per battle if they and their Pokémon meet the right criteria.
The same features that made Pokémon games appealing in the past are still present — the most rewarding parts still involve leveling up, discovering new Pokémon, and winning battles. But the story and gameplay have been remixed just enough to make Sun and Moon seem different. For the first time in a while, Pokémon fans can expect to play a game that feels fresh.
After spending a few days playing Pokémon Moon, here's a look at some of ways the new games are different from older titles.
Pokémon can call for help
In Sun and Moon, Pokémon you encounter in the wild can call for backup. When this happens, another Pokémon of the same species as your current opponent will sometimes appear in battle, meaning you'll have to defeat them both for the battle to end. This can be helpful for trainers looking to boost their team's experience points more quickly, but you can't attempt to catch a wild Pokémon when more than one creature is present in battle.
Older Pokémon get a new look
Trainers are likely to encounter many familiar faces during their journey through the Aloha region. But classic Pokémon from the original roster are getting a fresh appearance in these games. Rattata, for example, now has black fur and stands upright, whereas he previously moved on all four legs and was colored purple. And Dugtrio has striking blonde hair.
There's a combat assistant
As the Pokémon universe has expanded, it's become increasingly difficult to remember which types of moves are powerful against which kinds of Pokémon. Sun and Moon help address this issue. When battling a Pokémon you've encountered before, you'll be able to see whether or not a move is effective, super effective, or not effective against an opponent in the battle menu.
Your Pokédex is alive and more helpful than ever
The Pokédex has always been a companion to trainers, but in Sun and Moon it can actually communicate and give you tips. That's because a Pokémon called Rotom, which has the power to inhabit electronic devices, now "lives" inside it.
The map now shows you where to go
The Rotom Pokédex also packs a new map with an objective locator that guides you to your next goal. This red marker can be helpful if you've spent a lot of time training or capturing Pokémon and have forgotten where to venture next.