Undoubtedly, Sun and Moon will try to channel the success of Pokemon Go. Hell, any game will attempt to channel that success. But Pokemon Go has done something other installments of Pokemon past have failed to do: Capture the imagination of players who lost the Pokemon spark sometime after the first generation.
Recent games have attempted to do just this, with Pokemon X and Y making a very apparent bid to nab fans of the original games with their Mega Evolutions. Many, us included, picked their variant of the game based on which version of Charizard or Mewtwo we desired. Others only renewed their interest in the series when it came time to see new takes on some of their favourite creatures.
Sun and Moon is making those same overtures, certainly, with the Alolan forms. But they are going further, still, by introducing characters meant to pull at our heartstrings and win us back.
Take the new Professor Oak, for instance. He’s the spitting image of Kanto’s Professor Samuel Oak, but this tanned gentleman is far from the same person. Professor SAMSON Oak studies regional variations of Pokemon and is a thousand times more chill, dude. Game Freak could have chosen any Prof to recreate—or made a new one altogether—yet they chose to bring back Oak. That’s no mere coincidence.
Another first-gen throwback comes in the form of the new Pokemon Type: Null. Null is drawing comparisons to many different Pokemon, but especially Arceus and Absol, but we can’t help but feel this monstrosity is meant to be Sun and Moon’s Mewtwo.
The official description of Null reads as follows:
“The shapes of its front and hind legs are clearly different. The reason is that Type: Null was constructed to synthesize the strengths of various Pokémon, enabling it to adapt to any situation”.
That definitely evokes the same vibes of Team Rocket messing around to create Mewtwo. The two scream out as long lost brothers fighting for the same, misguided cause.
The newest trailer has another throwback, too, though this one doesn’t stretch quite so far back. Another faction joins the battle: The Aether Foundation. They are opposed to all of Team Skull’s nefarious ways, selling off Pokemon, and instead work to heal Pokemon. We’re reminded of Team Aqua and Team Magma, here, and how both worked to opposite ends.
And in a more Pokemon Go/Snap type set-up, Sun and Moon will introduce a new take on the Poke Finder: Players will get a shot to snap pics of Pokemon they encounter at certain spots. Taking better photos is rewarded with upgrades.
There’s a lot of throwback love in Sun and Moon. And if Game Freak is smart, they’ll partner with Niantic to make Pokemon Go their marketing tool.
We know more Pokemon are coming to Go. It’s just a matter of time. While conventional wisdom suggests Pokemon will be rolled out via generation—with Johto mainstays the next to appear—we like to think Game Freak are savvier than that.
What better way to promote Sun and Moon then by adding regional variations of the Pokemon already found inside Pokemon Go? Alolan Ratata could easily populate city streets while Sandshrew and Vulpix are more secluded. There’s no better way to drum up interest for a new Pokemon game than by cashing in on the success of Pokemon Go and the reverence for the originals.
This is just speculation, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see this. In the meantime, the Pokemon marketing machine seems happy to tell you there’s a New Oak. A New Marowak. A New Mewtwo. They may be called Pokemon Sun and Moon, but there is no escaping the shadow cast by Pokemon Go.