By Areeya Tipyasothi

Being the new kid is tough, especially when there’s a language barrier. But no worries, it’s all totally cool because, according to an advertisement from the Pokemon Company, the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon games have got your back.

The ad, which aired all the way back in May, is truly heartwarming, touching on the themes of friendship and determination that have kept us going back for more $40 pieces of plastic. In it, a new kid named Shohei arrives on a suspiciously Hawaii-like island from, presumably, Japan. Armed with nothing but a shiny new 3DS XL in Flame Red, Shohei ventures through classrooms and game stores with the sole purpose of making some new friends. Eventually, having been chauffeured around by his mom all day in an impeccably white Toyota Prius, he finds his crew in a park — they’re all on their DSs, seemingly unaware of the literal white-sanded, crystal-watered beach next to them and the fact that it’s a school night.

He runs up to the head of the group and with the single utterance of what is apparently their super-secret password — “Pokemon?” — he is officially inducted into the chillest group of Poke-nerds I have ever seen.

Yeah, I’ll admit it; I totally cried.

Maybe it was the soaring, inspirational music, or maybe it was the touching story of a unifying factor allowing people to overcome barriers that kept me tearing up even after the tenth viewing.
I mean, there aren’t a lot of things out there that can transcend nationality, language, culture… the things that define and divide us as humans. But there’s math. There’s music. And, apparently, there’s Pokemon, too.

This particular ad was used to announce the long-awaited Sun and Moon, the seventh generation of mainline Pokemon games. And while the actual games aren’t set to be released until Nov. 18, the good people at Nintendo decided to bestow upon us mortals a “special demo version” that was released on Tuesday.

Being the dedicated and forward-thinking student I am, I quickly jumped on this opportunity to educate my peers on the wonders of Pokemon and all the new features in Sun and Moon. You know, because I care about you guys, and obviously not because there were dope-ass freebies I wanted.

“Were you flew here or were you grew here?” – Team Skull Grunt A
The demo lands you, as the male main player character with the eponymous name of Sun, in Hau’oli City. Hailing from the Kanto region of gen 1 fame, you’re a recent transplant just like our ol’ pal Shohei. While checking out your new surroundings, your mom helpfully informs you that in Alola, the accepted form of greeting is — surprise, surprise — “Alola!” Thanks, Mom!
It’s around this time that Hau, a cheerful local dude, runs over and greets you. In the full version of the game, Hau will most likely be the accompanying rival or, at the very least, a helpful friend who pops in every now and then to guide you along your journey.

“We’re not bad–we’re just hard!” – Team Skull Grunt B
The meeting with Hau ushers you into your very first battle of the Sun/Moon series. But it’s not with him. It’s with two Team Skull Grunts lying in wait right outside city hall, where you just were. Their aesthetic is a mix between early 2000s emo teen and white rapper, the latter of which is further emphasized by some completely unnecessary hand gestures. Obviously, Team Skull is this series’ group of antagonistic Pokemon-stealers, but other than that, not much is known about them. Their Pokemon of choice include Gumshoos and Yungoos, which also happen to be the Pokemon forms of Real Life Grunts A and B, Donald and Eric Trump — at least according to patrons of the world wide web. One of the team’s admins does make an appearance in the demo: Plumeria, who seems to be the very definition of edgy with her stomach tattoo and thick eyeliner.

“Looking good!” – Hau’oli City Passerby
The graphics in this game are LIT. There’s a lot of detail put into the overworld, with little knick-knacks here and there that really breathe life and island verve into the game. The battle graphics are equally, if not more, fantastic. Frame rate is high AF, which is especially enjoyable when looking at special attack sequences, like Pikachu’s Gigavolt Havoc (you borrow a Pikachu later on). For some reason, battles can’t be viewed in 3D like in past games, but that could just be a feature limited to the full version.

“I let myself get hit with all kinds of moves so I can test their power!” – Professor Kukui
The professor of this game is Professor Kukui, whose bulging muscles and surfer dude aura have made him notorious in certain internet circles. Apparently, he cares enough about lab safety to use safety glasses, but not enough to cover his six-pack. His research centers around Pokemon moves, which could play an interesting role in the full game.

“You wanna go through a trial to make yourself stronger?” – Professor Kukui
One of the most significant changes made in Sun/Moon is the dropping of gym battles in favor of trials. You go through one trial in the demo as prepared by Kukui. Based on that and the other information released by Nintendo, it seems that trials are battles interspersed with certain tasks to be performed for ‘trial captains’ who are the new gym leaders of the game.

“When the eyes of Pokemon trainers meet, it’s time to battle!” – Ten Carat Hill girl on the beach
The format of in-battle buttons has shifted around a little to accommodate a sort-of tactical view on the touchscreen. Also, the new battling system now tells you which moves in your Pokemon’s moveset will be effective or ineffective, which, for those who haven’t memorized the type chart, can definitely be useful when strategizing. Another plus with the new system: you can now easily see changes in stats on the touchscreen when exposed to passive (or active!) stat-changing moves.

“What are you sending to the full version?” – Professor Kukui
The demo has some freebies that are definitely worth looking for, some of which are set to be released on certain days as indicated by the gifting NPC. So far, the most notable transferable item is actually the Greninja you’re gifted with at the beginning of the demo. Some other items include star pieces, nuggets, and pretty wings.

Even with just the demo, Pokemon Sun and Moon is looking to be incredibly feature-rich. There are even more features beyond those covered here, from poke-ride to z-rings to poke-finder, which is all the more reason for you to play it. While the demo isn’t a part of the actual game’s chronology, it’s a nice glimpse into the Alola region and what it has to offer.

Midterms are going to be over soon, guys, so there’s going to be no better time to decompress and chill out. Relax — lose your inhibitions, pick up a DS, and take your first steps into the tall grass. Adventure awaits!