Pokemon Sun & Moon: 6 New Features That Change Everything


Pokemon is a mega-franchise, with enough cartoons and merchandise to keep the series afloat until the end of time — every entry is a sure-fire hit, so there hasn’t been much pressure to change the core mechanics. A new type of Pokemon here, or a Pokemon Bank app there; changes have been incremental, even if we absolutely appreciate every little tweak. Still, some players are hungry for more.

Even lapsed fans might want to check out Pokemon Sun and Moon. Why? Because this adventure is replete with changes both big and small. Tons of franchise staples have been altered or completely reworked for a new generation, and the last big hurrah of the Nintendo 3DS is working hard to impress.

There’s so many changes, it’s hard to categorize them all. Instead of just listing everything new, we’re going to try something a little bit different — we’re risking hyperbole, but here are 6 new features that absolutely change everything.

6 New Features That Change Everything

Pokemon Sun and Moon, set in the Alola Region of islands, is the seventh generation in the core game series. Maybe seven is developer Game Freak’s lucky number, because their latest title offers so much new content for dormant fans, we just want to shout from the rooftops.

From small alterations, to massive swaps in the formula, here are all the new features in Sun and Moon that make this the freshest Pokemon game in the series.

#6: The Pokedex Is Now Your Pal

The Pokedex isn’t just a place to study up on Pokemon anymore. The enhanced Pokedex, called the Rotom Dex, is inhabited by a Rotom Pokemon — and it provides tons of useful information. Basically, it’s a Pokedex with lots of extra functionality. Here’s just a few extra features of the Rotom Dex.


  • Enhanced Map: Minimap with pointers showing Pokemon living locations, and providing waypoints based on conversations with characters. Now you’ll never get lost, and always have a marker showing where to go next.
  • Poke Pictures: The Poke Finder lets you take pictures of hiding Pokemon in the wild. After taking a picture at special camera spots found throughout Alola, you’ll get a rating — the better your rating, the more features you’ll unlock for your camera, like a zoom.
  • QR Scanner: Now you can scan QR codes in the real world, registering Pokemon in the Pokedex and providing a waypoint, showing you where to find their living locations in Alola.

Basically, the Rotom Dex is a huge improvement over the regular Pokedex, and provides lots of useful information for new players. Don’t worry, it’s still a place to check out your current collection of Pokemon, and the region featured in Sun and Moon comes with new twists to some of the very first species in the series.

#5: Alolan Pokemon Remix Old Favorites

The Alolan Region in Pokemon Sun and Moon is home to unique, enclosed island environments, and some Generation 1 Pokemon species have adapted in their own unique ways. That means you’ll see returning favorites like Meowth, Diglett, Raichu and more in an all-new light.

Alolan Pokemon have their own unique look, transitioning from the basic types we all know and love. Fire Pokemon like Vulpix now has an icey makeover, while Grimer and Muk gain a splash of color to their usual grim pallor. Then there’s the tall-necked palm tree Exeggutor, and a surfer-haired set of tourist Dugtrio.

Every new type is weird in its own special way, and we’re all for new spins on the classics. If you’re eager to see every single additional and alteration, check out this gallery of Alolan forms.


There aren’t just more Pokemon to collect, there are new features designed specifically for Pokemon outsite your active roster. Any extra Pokemon you want to train can visit the unlockable islands over at the Poke Pelago.

#4: Poke Pelago Is Open For Business

The Poke Pelago is a resort for Pokemon to relax, relax… and get stuff done. As you progress through the story, you’ll meet up with Mohn, a character that takes care of the Poke Pelago. As you send more Pokemon to this optional area, you’ll unlock new islands and new functions to take advantage of.


There are five islands that form the Poke Pelago, and there’s something to discover on each one. At the start, only Isle Abeens is available, but more will unlock as you progress. Here are the basic functions of three islands;

  • Isle Abeens: Wild Pokemon will visit — and if they like the player, there’s a chance these wild Pokemon will join up with you. No capturing needed! Just watch for hearts over the wild Pokemon’s head.
  • Isle Aphun: Pokemon sent to this island search for rare items in the cove. Here, it’s possible to find Evolution Stones, Float Stones, Hard Stones, and other useful items.
  • Isle Evelup: On this island, drinks are mixed and given to Pokemon to increase stats or provide an experience boost. Fancy!

The Poke Pelago even features facilities for growing berries. Pokemon are sent to this area when placed in the PC Box for storage, so only a limited amount can visit at any time.

You’re going to want to take advantage of the Pelago, because now it’s even easier to battle and trade with Pokemon trainers in your area.

#3: Trade & Battle In Festival Plaza


Festival Plaza is a new interface where you can visit any Trainers in Streetpass range. Though similar to Entralink and Join Avenue from the Generation 5 games, Festival Plaza offers plenty more for trainers looking to trade or battle with friends (or strangers!) whenever.

Festival Plaza features it’s own currency (Festival Coins) that can be used at various special shops. Your own particular Festival Plaza will also rank up depending on how many coins you’ve earned — talk to guests to gain coins, and suggest which of the shops they want to check out, based on their text.

There are three types of shops, and they’re all worthwhile:

  • Goody Shops: Item shop — sells specialty items in exchange for Festival Coins.
  • Bouncy Houses: Instead of selling items, Bouncy Houses send a selected Pokemon through an obstacle course to raise their stats.
  • Dye Houses: Used to dye cosmetic clothing items. Now you can change your items to whatever color you want.

Now only can you visit shops, trade, and battle with visitors, you can also embark on cooperative missions once you’ve reached a certain rank. Completing missions, such as capturing certain Pokemon types or answering certain questions from guests, will help you raise rank even further.

And it doesn’t just apply to local visitors. There will be, at times, global missions — everyone can join in on these for a big bonus.

That’s a cool new feature, but it’s more of an addition than a huge alteration. Next up, we’re going to discuss something that completely changes the game.

#2: Island Challenges Are The New Gyms

Gyms are out, Island Challenges are in. Instead of visiting every gym across the region and defeating a Gym Leader, you’ll now embark on special missions called Island Challenges. Instead of Gym Leaders, you’ll deal with Trial Captains. These Captains challenge the player to become the Island Challenge Champion, and every island features a different task to complete.


  • What Kind of Tasks Will You Take On?: Finding items, battling Pokemon, completing puzzles and more.

At the end of each trial, there is a special battle against a Totem Pokemon. This is where things get tough, because Totem Pokemon aren’t going to be your normal Trainer battle. No, they’re tougher in almost every way, so you’ll have to really be prepared before attempting to take one down.

  • Why are Totem Pokemon so tough?
    • Totem Pokemon are huge! Much larger than a regular Pokemon.
    • One turn isn’t enough — Totem Pokemon can take multiple turns!
    • Each Totem Pokemon has an aura; a buff that increases strength, defense, etc.
    • Totem Pokemon summon other Pokemon to fight alongside them.

To complete an island, you’ll have to finish multiple challenges and battle several Totem Pokemon. At the end of these ordeals, you’ll come face-to-face with the Island Kahuna. These characters are much closer to a standard Gym Leader battle, and there is one Island Kahuna for each of the four islands.

That changes up the basic structure of your adventure, but there’s one final change we can’t praise enough.

#1: HMs Can Be Used Anywhere, Anytime

Finally, our prayers have been answered. You no longer need Pokemon with specific HMs in your party. Now you can bust boulders, swim, fly, and much more with the touch of a button.


This is (mostly) thanks to the new Poke Ride system, allowing you to register up to four Pokemon and summon them at will. They don’t have to be in your party, so no more strategic HM sorting required here. Once you gain the Ride Pager in-game, you’ll be able to assign four Pokemon to the D-Pad. Here are some of the Pokemon you can ride, and what powers they’ll unleash.

  • Charizard (Glide): Gives your trainer the power of flight!
  • Lapras (Paddle): Lets your trainer cross bodies of water and fish anywhere off Lapras’ back.
  • Sharpedo (Jet): Even faster than Lapras, and busts through large rocks in the sea.
  • Tauros (Charge): Smashes large rocks and increases your movement speed.
  • Mudsdale: Allows the trainer to cross rocky terrain.
  • Stoutland: Helps you hone in on hidden items in the environment.

This new feature is supremely useful, and on top of Poke Rides, you can simply select from your unlocked HMs to cut, crush, or push any obstacles in your way. It’s a joy to behold.

What are you favorite new features included in Pokemon Sun and Moon? Sound off in the comments below!

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