Rolling Stone recently sat down for an interview with Junichi Masuda, director/producer/composer of most everything Pokemon, and Shigeru Ohmori, director of the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon. In the interview, Masuda and Ohmori revealed that the massively successful mobile app Pokemon Go was just a warm-up for the immersive and expansive adventure that players will be treated with for Pokemon’s 20th anniversary in Pokemon Sun and Moon.
Pokemon Go was and still is a massive success, blowing financials of even the most lucrative mobile games other than itself out of the water. Even though the public has been eating up the straightforward and very addictive app, however, it is no secret that Pokemon Go, being devoid of major goals or any real strategic thinking, is far from a full-fledged Pokemon experience. Long-time Pokemon fans, as well as Masuda and Ohmori themselves, recognize that Pokemon Go is small potatoes compared to the impending Sun and Moon.
That is not to say Pokemon Sun and Moon will simply expand on Go’s clearly winning formula. In fact, says Masuda, the two Pokemon experiences are completely different and share very few, if any, game mechanics.
“From the beginning, I knew we wanted Go to take a different direction,” Masuda notes.
“Go was to be a game where you walk around finding Pokemon in your real-world surroundings – I was actually specifically involved in designing the catching sequence. Sun and Moon are tailored more towards long play sessions. You don’t just catch Pokemon, you train and battle with them, and you can enjoy growing stronger alongside them. Since the directions we wanted each title to take were so different, there really isn’t anything in Sun and Moon that was influenced by Go’s success.”
In other words, Pokemon Go experience is in no way a prerequisite for playing Pokemon Sun and Moon. On the other hand, though, Pokemon Sun and Moon will certainly build off that sense of adventure, accomplishment, and 90s nostalgia that made so many people fall in love with Go. Essentially, continues Masuda, Pokemon Go was a fun and extremely accessible diversion that lured in new fans on a massive scale.
“I do think Pokemon Go has increased brand awareness, though, so maybe people are more familiar with it. Personally, I just want them to give Sun and Moon a try.
Go was just a skirmish. It’s time for some regulation play with Sun and Moon.
That being said, Pokemon Sun and Moon will not go the way to the other end of the spectrum by sticking to the traditional mechanics of the Pokemon main series games. The games will be Ohmori’s directorial debut, and he wants to do something different.
“This is the first time for me working as a director on an all-new Pokemon generation,” says Ohmori. “I knew from the beginning that I wanted to approach the game design as if I were doing it from scratch… I think this style of progression will be a fresh experience for both veteran players and new players alike.”
To make Pokemon Sun and Moon a fresh new Pokemon experience, Ohmori has done away with a lot of tried and true series staples, inserting new and exciting features instead. For instance, the games will eschew Pokemon gyms in favor of “Island Trials” that will require the player to interact with more of the environment. HMs, formerly major methods of transport for the player throughout the adventure, are being replaced by “ride Pokemon” that serve the same function. Of course, Ohmori is not changing the elements of the Pokemon games that make them so dear to so many, like the sense of adventure or the stellar soundtrack.
If you enjoyed Pokemon Go or any of the Pokemon games from early in the franchise’s history, playing through Pokemon Sun or Moon is almost guaranteed to appeal to you.
With Pokemon Sun and Moon less than a month away, fans are hoping it can live up to the hype. In return, Pokemon wants to gift all of its Pokemon Go fans with an even deeper Pokemon experience in Pokemon Sun and Moon.