Steep: Road to the Olympics Hands-On Preview

I Like Steep Thrills

I had the opportunity to try out the upcoming expansion to Ubisoft’s Steep, titled Road to the Olympics. This full expansion will add official Winter Olympics events and a career mode to the base game’s open-world skiing and snowboarding gameplay. From the early build I played, Steep: Road to the Olympics had a satisfying competitive atmosphere while retaining the thrill of speeding downhill.

Check out the Video Version for my hands-on preview with quotes from the game director, Arnaud Ragot!

Continue reading “Steep: Road to the Olympics Hands-On Preview”

Nintendo’s Switch Presentation: My Roller Coaster of Highlights

Merry Switchmas

Nintendo finally held its long awaited press conference for its upcoming console/handheld hybrid, the Nintendo Switch. The company revealed the system’s $299.99 price tag and its March 3 release date. Nintendo also announced quite a few games. Here are my strongest positive and negative reactions to the Switch Presentation.

Super Mario Odyssey

Imagine a modern urban setting with your typical skyscraper, a theater, a store called “Crazy Cap,” and a street sign for Dixie St. The only indication of which game world you’re in are the words, “New Donk City.” Pan down to the streets where a taxi passes by. Suddenly, a manhole cover begins to shake and out pops… Mario? This is how the new Super Mario Odyssey trailer started, and I love it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game will feature an large open sandbox world akin to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. I adore Super Mario Galaxy and its inventive worlds and mechanics. However, most levels were distinctly more linear than the rich, explorative areas of the former two. Super Mario Odyssey is a return to form, and it looks more amazing than I could have imagined based on the initial Switch video. The theme is “jumping to an unknown world,” and the world looks spectacular. I wanted to roll around in that Mexican-themed town, run across magical leaves that form in midair, ride a lion through an inverse-pyramid desert expanse, and dance with robots in a lush jungle. I’d even cook myself in that giant crystallized vegetable soup area. The world looks somewhat parallel to our own, yet it oozes with such creativity.

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I hope I’m invited!

New Donk City, an area with realistic humans walking about, will be a fitting playground for our Brooklyn-born plumber. In the trailer, Mario triple-jumps on a cab, spins on a traffic pole, and wall-jumps up skyscrapers. Sure, it’s odd to see Mario in a city setting with regularly-proportioned people, but Sonic did it in his first 3D adventure… Actually, that’s probably not the best example. Sorry, Sonic! Regardless, it’s endearing to see Mario jump rope with two ladies in a park. Even Bowser is dressed for the occasion, looking more debonair than ever before in his white top hat and suave suit. Seriously, Peach, give him a chance!

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That hair though.

The last major point changes up the gameplay significantly. Mario can throw his signature red cap as a boomerang. While the hat is in midair, Mario can then bounce on it, leading to what will likely be a huge platforming game-changer. Nintendo even borrowed a page from Rare’s old-school collectathons like Banjo-Kazooie and put googly eyes on the hat. Super Mario 64 is one of my favorite games of all time, and if SMO can replicate and improve upon that style, then I will have a fantastic time next holiday season. There are other great games to come to the Switch, but Super Mario Odyssey was quite easily my game of the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zelda: Breath of the Wild at Launch

The latest trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is gorgeous. Watch it if you haven’t already. I fell in love with the new open-air gameplay that Nintendo showed off during their 2016 E3 presentation, and the newest trailer cements it as my most anticipated game this year. Zelda herself looks like she jumped out of a Ghibli movie, and I adore the personality she displays this time around. It’s especially powerful when she cries into Link’s arms. To that point, Nintendo is really making an effort to finally use voice acting to its finest. With what appears to be a fascinating cast of characters and an intriguing plot with 100 years of history, Breath of the Wild will hopefully be one of the finest titles to grace the Switch. And the best part? It’s a launch game, coming out on the same day as the Switch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Emblem Warriors

I spent over a hundred hours playing the content-rich Hyrule Warriors Legends, and Fire Emblem Fates was one of my favorite games of 2016. Enter Fire Emblem Warriors, a fusion of the Fire Emblem franchise and Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors gameplay. Excuse me while I salivate. The very prospect of running around the field slicing and dicing enemies as Marth, Ike, Lucina, and Corrin has me giddy inside. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much and can’t tell exactly who will be in the game. But if it’s anything like the fanservice celebrations of Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes (which is now coming to Switch!), we will have a star-studded cast of the series’ lords.

 

 

 

 

 

RPGs

Next to platfomers, one of my favorite genres is the role-playing game, particularly Japanese ones (JRPGs). The Wii U unfortunately lacked RPGs, only having a few (great ones!) near the end of its life cycle. During the presentation, Nintendo announced a handful of RPGs. If they all came out within the next year, I’d be set until their next system. I’m most hyped for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which appears to be a truer sequel to the Wii original than Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X was. The game looks great so far, with stunning visuals, a vast world, and cute anime characters. That game on its own would be meaty enough, but there were more surprises during the show. Atlus teased a new Shin Megami Tensei, a classic RPG series that has since spun off into Persona and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Square Enix also revealed a new “Project Octopath Traveler,” made by the same team who worked on (and named) the Bravely Default games. Though we didn’t see much, the game had a distinct Super Nintendo or early PlayStation sprite artstyle, which speaks to the 16-bit lover in me. Finally, we got announcements of Dragon Quest X and XI, though it’s up in the air whether those will make it to the West.

 

 

 

The Return of Bomberman and Puyo Puyo Tetris

There was a sizzle reel at the end that showed nearly every other game publicly scheduled for the Switch. I saw some good-looking games in the reel such as Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Ultra Street Fighter II, and Sonic Mania. But honestly, no other games caught my eye more than Super Bomberman R and Puyo Puyo Tetris. For Konami to actually release a new Hudson game, and for it to be Bomberman, is nothing short of amazing. I was actually moved by the Bomberman 33rd anniversary logo in the corner of the game box. Bomberman hasn’t had a proper console game in years, and yet here he is, gracing the Switch with his adorable presence. Playing eight-player local and online battles will probably be a launch highlight. I’m happy this beloved gaming mascot is back. Similarly, I’m excited for the return of Puyo Puyo Tetris and the chance to play two different puzzle games with cute anime characters. I wish these games had a bigger presence during the actual presentation rather than being relegated to bits in a sizzle reel and post-presentation YouTube uploads.

 

LOWS

Presentation

This brings me to my lowlights: The presentation itself wasn’t that great. Make no mistake. The games look fabulous, but perhaps the presenters could have spent more time showing them off, particularly the ones that actually had trailers. For instance, they could have easily talked about their new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe update which has a revamped Battle Mode and new characters and tracks from Splatoon. They could have also shown us why we should be interested in a game called Snipperclips, which I knew nothing about until Treehouse Live did a hilarious playthrough the following day. Instead, we had a long explanation about the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers. I understand that the mini Wiimote-like devices that snap onto a bigger controller deserve explanation. However, it was unnecessary to talk about them for a fourth of the conference, especially when they began showing off the Joy-Con’s ability to read hand signals.

It didn’t help that the first game they showed off was this eccentric party game called 1-2 Switch. I was fine with Wii Sports, stuck with Wii Play, and even enjoyed Nintendo Land. I’m not sure what the appeal of 1-2 Switch is. The game revolves around a series of minigames where two players face each other and perform random motion-controlled actions, completely ignoring the screen. The first example was “Quick Draw,” a wild-west style gun duel where the first one to pull their Joy-Con out on the mark wins. Other examples include mock-eating contests, air guitar, wizard duels, swordplay, and milking a cow. I suppose it allows you to reach into your imagination, but then why would you need a $300 machine to do it? Perhaps it’s for children, but it’s primarily an older crowd playing in the trailer. I’d understand if it were a launch game, in which case, I would certainly play it and would love to be pleasantly surprised. Otherwise, I’m not sure whom this game is for. I don’t generally hate on things either. I’m genuinely confused what’s fun about 1-2 Switch.

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Launch Lineup 2017

Launch Day Lineup

On launch day, we will at least have Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, and 1-2 Switch. We also have Skylanders Imaginators and Just Dance at launch, with more games to come in the year. While Breath of the Wild will hopefully be enough as a launch game, it’s also coming out on Wii U the same day. As alluring as Bomberman is, Nintendo has an uphill battle to climb if they want to attract people to their system. To be fair, most consoles have had poor launch days. Even some of my favorite systems only had a single remarkable game. Although it’s still a low point that the launch is weak, the launch year looks like it will be strong overall, with hits like Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 coming soon.

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March 3, 2017

Conclusion

There were other assorted highs and lows during the presentation. I’m very excited about the system being region free, the HD rumble technology (as weird as that sounds), and the Switch’s capacitive touch screen – making it closer to a smartphone than a 3DS. I’m also glad that EA and Bethesda are supporting the Switch at this stage and hope that they stick with it. I’m not fond of the new paid online, though I hope this leads to a better online infrastructure. I’m fine with the system’s price, but don’t like the expensive costs of each additional controller and accessory. Overall, I’m still as excited as ever for the system. The excitement isn’t as mind-blowing yet, but there’s enough great games in the pipeline to have convinced me to preorder. This will be an interesting year for Nintendo, and I hope to cover my own journey with the Switch when it ships on March 3!

What did you think about the Nintendo Switch Presentation? What are your highlights and lowlights regarding the new system? What do you want to see for the system? Are you getting a Switch? Please share any thoughts in the comments section below! Thank you for reading!

Why I’m Excited for Nintendo Switch

Switching it Up

It finally happened. Nintendo revealed their upcoming system, Nintendo Switch. The trailer was under four minutes long, but it was enough to get me hyped up for it. Here are five reasons why I’m excited for the Nintendo Switch.

 

1. Hybrid System

I love handhelds. The Nintendo 3DS is one of my favorite gaming systems as was the Nintendo DS before it. I appreciate the ability to play games wherever I want, especially while I’m commuting or traveling. Even at home, I actually prefer the 3DS or Wii U’s off-TV play because I can play in any room.

Thus, I was thrilled to hear that the Nintendo Switch would be a hybrid system, allowing for both home console and handheld capabilities. While playing on the TV, the “Joy-Grip” controller looks like a standard huge controller with two removable sides, lovingly called the “Joy-Con.” When the Joy-Con sides come off and attach to the Switch’s tablet-like screen, it suddenly functions like a handheld that continues the game where you left off. This mirrors the Wii U’s off-TV play, effectively making the new controller a logical progression of the Wii U’s GamePad. Since the system appears to use game cards similarly to the 3DS, we’ll be able to take games on-the-go, which is great news for handheld gamers. If the system can replicate the awesome experiences I’ve had with the 3DS, then I’m already on board.

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The Nintendo Switch and puppy-face controller (can’t unsee it)

2. Unification

We may also finally be looking at a unified system. Instead of having to buy two separate systems, we may only have to buy one, and all of the new titles will ideally be streamlined into it. We could be looking at a built-in cross-buy, which would fix the existing issue of having to buy the same game on both systems. This move benefits Nintendo as well. The Wii U didn’t do as well this generation, while the 3DS sold like hotcakes. Its handhelds have performed traditionally well, so it would be wise for Nintendo to play to its strengths. In the best-case scenario, the Nintendo Switch could have the sales and lasting power of the 3DS and the larger-scale game experiences of the Wii U.

Of course, in the worst-case scenario, we could get neither. It will depend on several factors. First, if the cost is on the upper end, then it might actually lose sales from those who are used to the cheaper handhelds. After all, the 3DS struggled when originally launched (also in March) with its $249.99 price point. The Switch will need a price that will sell its new hybrid vision while still remaining profitable. Also, we’d need more information on the handheld. For instance, what is the battery life, and how will the video quality be? Is it online-enabled? It’s hard to tell much without physically having the controller. At the very least, if the DS line ends here, I’d miss the dual-screen and clamshell features. It’s still up in the air how exactly Nintendo will handle the handheld situation.

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I look forward to both console and handheld titles on the Nintendo Switch.

Of course, if the handheld line continues with Nintendo Switch, we could be looking at the next version of Pokémon on a console/handheld. In fact, just having PokémonPokémon on the Switch would do wonders, since it’s a big system-seller already. It’d also be great to see big recent handheld games such as Monster Hunter and Yo-kai Watch on the system. I’d love for many handheld franchises to be on a console while still maintaining portable functionality. Likewise, I’d be ecstatic to take all of the big console games wherever I want.

3. Sleek Design

I usually don’t care how a system looks when I play it. After all, I played with the Nintendo 64 controller, the original DS, and the GameCube (Disclaimer: I love all three). That said, I love how the Nintendo Switch looks. The transformation into a tablet surrounded by two slide-on Joy-Cons works so much better than I could have imagined. The end result resembles a flatter, cleaner, sleeker GamePad.

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I adore how the sides slide onto the tablet screen.

The Joy-Con controllers are surprisingly versatile. Not only can you connect them to the tablet, but you can also detach and use them like miniature Wii remotes. It’s unclear whether they have motion control, but you can play with one on each hand or even sideways like an NES controller (à la the Wii remote). With a kickstand and headphone jack, the Switch is already looking more user-friendly than some phones. Finally, I found the traditional pro controller’s design to be one of the best since the GameCube’s. The right control stick is finally on the bottom right, and it just looks comfortable to hold.

I also think the name Switch effectively describes its function with a single word. It might not be the hippest console name, but it’s at least a better name than Wii U. I do think there is a missed opportunity though. They really should have gone with Swiitch. Joking…

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I want to know where in the Mushroom Kingdom this is.

4. 3D Mario

There were a few games teased during the reveal trailer, including possible updates or new games for Splatoon and Mario Kart. However, the one game that caught my attention most was the 3D Mario game. It only appeared for about five seconds, but I rewatched those five seconds over and over. I loved Super Mario 3D World, but I’ve always wanted to see another hub-world adventure more akin to Mario’s first 3D outings. What little we saw looks like it may be a return to form. It resembles Super Mario Sunshine combined with a Mexican-inspired world. The footage looks unlike anything we’ve seen in a Mario game, and it’s that freshness that has me craving more. I’m still excited for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but this potentially new 3D Mario is an easy second place.

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Impressive list of Nintendo Switch partners

5. Third-Party Support

Third-party support is crucial. The Wii U lacked it, which led to long game droughts. Exclusive Wii U owners also missed out on many games. While we don’t know exactly what will be on the system, we do know that the Nintendo Switch will have an extensive list of partners. Its usual partners Capcom, Platinum Games, and Sega are back. Some third parties are back like Electronic Arts, Activision, and Konami. It’s great to see Square Enix, who will hopefully bring Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts in addition to Dragon Quest. Support from DeNA (creators of Miitomo and upcoming mobile Nintendo games), SpikeChunsoft (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Zero Escape), and Level-5’s (Professor Layton, Yo-kai Watch) suggests that we’ll be seeing portable, and perhaps mobile, franchises on the Switch.

Some other interesting partners (and their notable series) are Bethesda (which we saw in the trailer with Skyrim), FromSoftware (Dark Souls series), Telltale Games (The Walking Dead adventure series), Tokyo RPG Factory (I Am Setsuna), and Take-Two Interactive (Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption). It would be amazing for the Nintendo Switch to finally become a melting pot of excellent game series that reach a variety of gamers. Wii U also started with a fair share of partners, but fizzled out with third-party support early on its life. If played right, we could finally see Nintendo standing tall with the big third-party properties.

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What else are you hiding, Mario?

Conclusion

There is plenty to be excited about with the Nintendo Switch. At the same time, there is a lot we don’t know regarding the Joy-Con, the games, the release schedule, battery life, and cost, among other things. Regardless, I remain optimistic that Nintendo will learn from previous missteps and move forward with this sleek new hybrid system. I also hope that Nintendo can give the system broad appeal with a diverse line-up of games. Either way, for the above reasons, I am excited to make the switch to Nintendo Switch in March!

What did you think of the Nintendo Switch reveal trailer? What are you most excited about? What do you still want to see? What games would you like to see on the hybrid system? Finally, will you be getting the Switch? Please share any thoughts you have about the Nintendo Switch in the comments below!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Comprehensive Preview and Analysis

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Preview

Nintendo delivered on their promise to bring a full day of their newest Zelda game at E3 2016. Each stream featured a great amount of footage focusing on different aspects of the gameplay, from exploration to combat. Nintendo kicked off with a gorgeous trailer of the game. Read on to find out more about the new gameplay, enhanced equipment system, exciting combat, expansive map, puzzle-filled Shrines, special Rune powers, unique aesthetics, and amiibo support. I’ll also be examining other things such as the voice in the trailer, where this is in the world, the Sheikah technology, and where this could possibly fit on the timeline. Get ready for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild!

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Promotional art for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Initial Gameplay Demo

The game demo begins with a female voice, speaking with full English voice acting! This is definitely an exciting change from all previous Zelda games, and will hopefully make the world feel richer. While she talks at the beginning and once another time to give Link a hint about where to go, she is generally quiet. There hasn’t been other voice acting so far besides Link’s usual grunts, and all other dialogue is displayed through the usual text boxes. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome change of pace to have real voice acting.

The voice tells Link to wake up, and we see a nearly naked Link submerged in a black tublike pod. It’s not clear where he is or why he was sleeping there, but he is told by the disembodied voice to activate a small obelisk, from which he gains the Sheikah Slate, an item resembling the Wii U GamePad that Link uses to look at maps and activate special powers.

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Eat your heart out, Shulk.

Following this, some important things happen that teach gamers some crucial mechanics. First of all, there are treasure chests with some clothes for our bare hero. Link can now equip different tops and bottoms that give him more defense, which is a stat that wasn’t present in older Zelda titles. In the official trailer, Link can be seen wearing knight armor and later streams show Link wearing the iconic blue tunic from initial trailers. There appears to be a variety of clothes that affect his defense as well as how warm or cold he is.

A second big mechanic is that Link can finally jump with the press of a button! This mostly comes into play when jumping onto cliffs to climb them or when trying to reach items in trees. Regardless, it’s a huge upgrade for the usually earthbound hero. Scaling cliffs is also a big part, allowing you to go past the boundaries of where you could reach before. There is a stamina meter, represented by a depleting green circle. Similar to Skyward Sword, stamina decreases as you run and climb. Naturally, this means that there is a limit to how high you can go. Hopefully, there is a way to eventually increase stamina.

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Intriguing, and yes, this part is voiced.

Link finally escapes the cave and runs towards a cliff. Accompanied by a beautiful piano track, Link reaches the edge of the cliff, and players are greeted with a wondrous view of the expansive environment. In the distance, you can see many mountains – a tribute to one of the original illustrations for The Legend of Zelda for the NES, in which Link stands on a cliff overlooking Hyrule. Other locations you can see in the distance include a vast forest, an old monastery, and what appears to be Death Mountain.

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The view is utterly breathtaking.

The screen shows you an old man walking towards a bonfire, then leaves you to your own desires. You could go to the old man, and the disembodied voice tells you that you might want to use your Sheikah Stone to find out where to go. But you are otherwise free to do whatever you want. Seriously. You can explore anywhere that you can see, and although the game demo is limited to the opening area, you may be able to go further in the full game. Even on the way to the old man, there are so many distractors, from trees and cliffs that you can climb to apples and mushrooms that sparkle, awaiting your attention.

This freedom is one of the best parts about Breath of the Wild. Like in the original NES LoZ, you can do anything. Of course, there is a path that you must ultimately follow to get through the game. Even then, like in the original and A Link Between Worlds, you can go at it in any order you like. Explore until you find a place of interest, then choose to conquer it now or wait until you’re better prepared. Additionally, you can play the game however you like, with a myriad of ways to solve puzzles or get through enemies. What items or abilities will you use to solve the puzzle? How far outside the box can you think using the resources you have? Do you sneak up on enemies, perform an all-out assault, or attack enemies from afar? Everything is your choice, and the wealth of actions you can perform in a single area is remarkable. And we’re only talking about the demo so far!

Finally, it’s amazing that the game does not start out with a proper tutorial as has been the recent trend with Zelda games. Instead, they give you an opening cave (without telling you what to do), and then throw you out into the world with vague hints about where you need to be. There is no partner like Navi or Midna, nor are there objectives constantly reminding you where to go. Just explore and figure it out yourself, because it’s a big world out there. This is just the injection of exploration this series needed, and I’m glad to see that the team is delivering on their promise to bring forth an expansive open-ended world!

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How will you fight?

Weapons and Items

Like in other open-world games, Link can now switch weapons with a few simple button presses. Different weapons have varying attack strengths, as to be expected. The bigger change is that Link can use a myriad of weapon types. Unlike in older Zelda games, these weapons are not subweapons, but rather a complete alternative to the sword. For example, Link can wield spears which have a longer reach and axes that can also chop down trees. He can throw certain weapons too, which can especially help if your weapons are on fire, in the case of flinging burning sticks.

As you use weapons, they eventually degrade, which is a bit unfortunate. However, weapons are quite plentiful in the world apparently, at least according to the demo. There are different weapons lying about in the many chests throughout the land, as well as swords just sitting on pedestals, awaiting your control.

Stealing enemies’ weapons is a mechanic that returns from The Wind Waker. Here, it’s as important as ever since you get to keep the dropped weapons. You can only keep a limited amount of weapons in your inventory. If your stock is full, you must drop or use up a weapon in order to pick up another. This constant item management may sound cumbersome, but it will likely become strategic and exciting as more new and exciting weapons open up.

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Hopefully Link’s cooking something that won’t give him the breath of the wild…

Hunting and foraging will also be important, as they may be one of the few ways to regain health. Cutting grass and defeating enemies appear to no longer drop hearts. Instead, you must eat the items you collect, such as acorns, mushrooms, peppers, and meat. Each item gives you a certain amount of health, which is indicated in the item description. Ingredients can eventually be mixed and cooked to create new dishes. Raw ingredients net you less hearts, while well-cooked items can give you more health back. Specific foods provide other bonuses such as cold resistance. Other foods may even temporarily increase your max health, indicated by yellow hearts extending past your current maximum health gauge. Although no Heart Containers or Pieces of Heart were obtained during the demos, the amount of hearts that can be regained on some foods exceed the initial 3. This implies that there will still be ways to increase your maximum health. On a final note regarding items, Rupees were not seen once during any of the gameplay streams, indicating that they might not be necessary in this game. It would be interesting if this were the first Zelda game to not include Rupees.

Two other pieces of equipment are your sailcloth paraglider (similar to Skyward Sword’s) and shields. Using your paraglider, you can float away to far distances. Shields also function similarly to weapons, and you can find stronger shields as you progress. The real treat of shields this time around is using them as snowboards! Sliding down ramps with an item intended for defense is a fun touch.

Combat and Enemies

Combat is similar to other titles, with the classic L-Targeting system returning. Arrows appear above enemies that you can target. Once your sights are set on an enemy, you can perform the typical L-Targeting attacks such as jump attacks and backflips (as seen in the trailer). Although this iteration takes away the motion control combat of Skyward Sword, Link still attacks enemies with different angles of sword slices. He can also perform the iconic Spin Attack.

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Combat will be as fun as ever.

If Link attacks an enemy with perfect timing, he will activate a Flurry Rush, in which the enemy slows down for a moment, allowing Link to counter with a barrage of attacks. It’s not clear exactly what perfect timing means, but it’ll probably become easier to do with experience.

Enemies seen throughout the demos include Bokoblins (very common), Chuchus of different colors, and one-eyed Keese. There are many ways to take them down besides regular attacks. You can use a bow and arrow to take them out from afar, or even target explosive barrels to annihilate a group of foes. You can even roll boulders down cliffs to smash enemies as seen in the trailer. Enemies have interesting AI this time around, and will readily respond accordingly to your actions. If you are quiet, they may not notice you at all, but if you slip and make a tiny sound, they will have a question mark appear above their heads and search for the noise. Exclamation marks notify players that enemies have found you and are ready to respond. They don’t just stand around either. Some enemies will immediately head towards you, while some will try to surround you, hoping that its partners will do likewise. There will be plenty of enemy groups in the forms of camps and tree forts, and it will be interesting to see how the battles will differ based on the groups. You can use the Shiekah Slate to see an enemy’s current and maximum hit points, which helps to gauge whether you should engage it or not.

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Guardians pose bigger threats to our hero.

There are also bigger enemies, which are much stronger and have more hit points than the typical enemy. Two big enemies shown were the Steppe Talus, the golem seen in the trailer (who also gave the Treehouse their first Game Over), and the Guardian. The latter is an interesting creature featured prominently in the trailer as a technological being that shoots lasers. When you initially encounter them, they appear to be turned off and in ruin. However, they eventually awaken and cause havoc with their lasers and long tentacles. One of the first Guardians that appear in the demo sports an impressive 500 HP. For comparison, a scanned Bokoblin only had 13 HP.

Maps and HUDs

The map alone reveals that this is a huge game and the biggest Zelda overworld yet! Getting around will require strategic use of the new Sheikah Slate, the GamePad-like item that Link finds at the beginning of the demo. Using the Sheikah Slate’s Scope, you can look in first-person and examine landmarks that you see in the distance. You can place a pin on anything that you find interesting, and it will be marked with a red symbol on your map. The world is so massive that just because you pin something that you can see, it doesn’t mean it’s anywhere close to you. At one point, Treehouse pinned a tower that ended up being way past the opening area. Important areas receive special blue pins that allow you to fast-travel to those locations.

You can also place different stamps wherever you want on the map to remind you of important things. For instance, you may want to put a skull stamp on a big enemy that you can’t defeat yet and a treasure stamp on an area where there are chests that you can’t quite reach yet.

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This is just a small part of a big world.

The demo only includes the Great Plateau (although Treehouse streamers did eventually start up games in areas outside of it). The Great Plateau alone looks bigger than Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule Field, and there are many more huge areas that can just barely be seen on what little of the world map they’ve shown us. This extraordinarily massive world should please any fan of exploration.

The Great Plateau includes a wide array of locations and terrains, for what is considered a “smaller” area. From the map and gameplay, you can see Mt. Hylia in the southwest corner (an icy area that includes the highest peak in the plateau), the Forest of Spirits in the north, the Hylia River that goes past the left side of the plateau, and the Temple of Time. In particular, the Temple of Time appears to be a ruinous area with overgrown vines and seemingly dead Guardians. The end of the trailer shows the iconic Master Sword, somewhat rusted and sitting on an old pedestal. At the moment, it is unknown if it is in the Temple of Time, but it can be assumed that you’ll be able to get it at some point.

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The Great Plateau is filled with different environments and terrains.

The heads-up display, or HUD, reveals some gameplay elements. On the lower right, there is a circular mini-map that shows where you’re going. An interesting change is that on the bottom of the map is the current in-game time. The game is heavily impacted by what time it is, such as a day/night cycle, temperature changes depending on what time it is, and enemies being asleep at certain times. The game follows a 24 hour day cycle, but 5 seconds of real time equate to 5 minutes of in-game time.

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The game will be epic. Also, notice the lower right corner.

Just left of that are two smaller circles. The top one is a temperature gauge that can inform players if it may be too cold or hot for Link. If it’s too cold, Link can put on clothes (which one Treehouse streamer refused to do because she preferred shirtless Link!), or eat certain foods like Spicy Peppers that increase his cold resistance. Below that is a purple sonograph that records how much sound you’re currently making. This is important for measuring how stealthy you are when approaching enemies. This will likely also come into play if BotW follows the trend of having an obligatory stealth area.

Shrines and Runes

Breath of the Wild features both dungeons and shrines. The former was never shown on a stream, but was mentioned as being more or less a typical Zelda dungeon experience. Shrines, on the other hand, are new mini-dungeons that test your mettle with a certain type of puzzle or ability. The first 4 Shrines are not too long and only took Treehouse streamers about 10-15 minutes each, but later shrines will be longer. There are over 100 of these mini-dungeons, ensuring no end to those seeking puzzle-room gameplay.

BotW_Shrine.png
These shrines are scattered throughout the world.

The first 4 Shrines are required to obtain the sailcloth from the old man, but they can be attempted in any order. Within these beginner shrines, Link is able to update the Sheikah Slate with a Rune, or special ability that can be activated at will. Think of Runes like apps that can be downloaded onto a smartphone. The runes we saw were remote bombs, magnetic powers, ice pillar creation, and stopping time. These Runes are more versatile than they seem. For instance, Magnesis can be used to pick up metal slabs on the floor, open doors, and pull treasure chests towards you. Remote Bombs come in both round and cube forms, forcing you to choose whichever one works for a given situation. Creating ice pillars is a fun throwback to the Cane of Somaria, which allowed players to create blocks out of nothing in A Link to the Past. Through the Cryonis Rune, you can make a climbable pillar of ice emerge from water without the need for Ice Arrows. Finally, you can stop time for a single item using the Stasis Rune. An obvious use is stopping moving platforms and gears. However, Treehouse showed an interesting use as well. By wailing on the item in stasis, you can build up force applied to it. Once stasis expires on the item, it will go flying. It’ll definitely be exciting to see how these Runes impact gameplay and promote further exploration and shenanigans!

BotW_Magnesis.png
Behold the power of Magnesis!

Graphics and Sound

The graphics look incredibly gorgeous so far, showing off a gouache painting style, signified by its opaque watercolors. It resembles an even more realized version of Skyward Sword’s graphics. The game comes alive with each item fitting into the world, and yet standing out so beautifully. The Treehouse team likened it to an artform called open-air painting, as if the artists sat down in front of an object and painted it in a real-world setting. There is a lot of attention to detail as well, with particles of soot falling down from the mountaintop and Link’s clothes dripping wet when emerging from water.

BotW_Sailcloth.png
Beautiful.

On the music side, BotW distinctly lacks it. Most of the time, you will only hear sound effects. Occasionally, pieces of music will play like the beautiful piano piece heard when Link first stands on the cliff’s edge and a sweet piece while Link is floating with his sailcloth. Music will also play during enemy battles, but it’s not as loud as in previous titles. In fact, the music is sometimes not that noticeable when immersed in gameplay. It’s as if the music just flows naturally, coming and going. This choice was made to account for everyone’s unique experience with the game. Everyone will play in a different style, and the musical pieces that play will represent that. Music will play during key moments, likely evoking emotions in players. The Treehouse promises an aural experience with music that will resonate and stand out when juxtaposed with the overall lack of music. As a fan of Zelda music, I firmly hope this is true.

There will be voice acting, and it will be for more than the woman from the beginning. Not every character will be voiced, as seen through the old men who only communicates via text boxes. However, there will be more voices, most likely main characters. Link will remain silent as usual, only making grunting noises and shouts.

amiibo Support

Four amiibo were announced to be compatible with BotW. Three of them are brand new figurines created for the game and include “Archer Link,” “Rider Link,” and a “Guardian.” The Guardian will be the first amiibo to include posable parts (its tentacles). The functionality has not been revealed yet.

The 4th compatible amiibo is an already existing amiibo, Wolf Link. This amiibo originally came with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U. When scanned with BotW, Wolf Link will suddenly appear next to regular Link. In what is the cutest functionality of any amiibo, Wolf Link will fight alongside you, hunting for food while you run around. Your faithful wolf companion comes with 3 hearts, but you can increase that number based on how many hearts you have saved onto the amiibo when scanning it in Twilight Princess HD. Once Wolf Link dies, you must wait a full day in real life before scanning it again.

BotW_WolfLink.png
Wolf Link will be by your side.

Theories & Analysis

Here, I will present some quick thoughts on questions and speculations based on my analysis of the gameplay and trailers. The following represents possibilities based on what already exists, but does not necessarily indicate the truth of what’s going on, as we lack pretty much all story information and a full game. This makes talking about it even more exciting, though!

Mysterious Female Voice

Starting off, who is that mysterious female voice who tells Link to wake up? The most obvious speculation is that it’s Zelda. In A Link to the Past, the game begins with Zelda crying to Link for help through some telekinetic power. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the same is happening here. The disembodied voice also seems to know that Link is the special light in the world who will shine throughout Hyrule. It could still be any other female sage or maiden, as in other Zelda games, but Zelda herself would be the most likely and probably best choice. Also, it’s interesting that she calls him Link. That would imply that you can’t change the name, since it’s already been voiced so clearly.

Link’s Awakening

In fact, the bigger question is where is Link when he starts off the demo? Assuming this is also the start of the game, Link begins by opening his eyes. Lying nearly submerged in a black tub filled with water, it seems like he was sleeping for quite some time. Either that, or Link has some odd sleep habits. Link usually begins his games by waking up, but this is a unique case where he was sleeping inside of a cave. So why was he sleeping and how did he lock himself in that cave? Maybe he was put there, left in stasis until a certain time when he’d be needed. Perhaps this slumber was longer than a typical sleep. He may even be a Link from long ago (not necessarily from an older game, but a Link that was put to sleep until evil arose).  Either way, he was woken up by a voice telling him to open his eyes, so that might have been the magic trigger to summon the Hero of Time.

BotW_Wings.jpg
Hmm, where is Link?

Where in the World is Link?

We know that the game begins in the Great Plateau. We also know that this place is indeed known as Hyrule, according to the first old man Link encounters. However, where is the Great Plateau exactly? Brief glimpses of the map indicate that this is part of an area known as Central Hyrule and that the Temple of Time is an area within it. In Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and The Wind Waker, the Temple of Time is indeed somewhere around the middle (not perfectly so). Depending on where this is in the timeline, this is likely that same area, based on the Temple of Time’s location alone. There are other interesting areas on the Great Plateau like Mt. Hylia that are not accounted for on a regular map, and we don’t know exactly what lies outside. The exception is a mysterious black castle surrounded by pink mist. This is probably Ganon’s Castle, though it’s very unclear. Interestingly enough, there is a shadow monster with pink mist in the trailer, so perhaps that’s related to this mysterious castle’s surroundings.

BotW_Rock.jpg
Of course, Link could be in the world of Xenbolade Chronicles X.

Where does this fit on the timeline?

The Legend of Zelda timeline is extremely complicated, so this is written with the assumption that you know what the timeline looks like. Here are our big clues to figuring this out.

  1. There are old men that look very similar to the ones in the original Legend of Zelda for the NES.
  2. According to the old man, they are in Hyrule.
  3. Ganon, both the creature and the name, exist in this time.
  4. The Temple of Time is present, but in ruins.
  5. Guardians seem to represent old technology, similarly to the robots from Skyward Sword.
  6. The Sheikah Slate and symbol exist, representing technology again as well as the presence of the Sheikah.
  7. The Master Sword is in the trailer, and is rusted.
  8. A location that resembles Eldin Bridge appears in the trailer.
  9. Koroks, the cute leaf creatures from The Wind Waker,
BotW_Bridge.jpg
Is that Eldin Bridge?

The final clue alone is huge enough to narrow it down, but let’s look at the other clues as well. The old men in this game (and the fact that there is a reference to an original NES Zelda illustration within the first few minutes of the game) appear to be throwbacks to the original Legend of Zelda. It makes sense given the open-world gameplay of BotW and its insistence on making players feel like they’re playing a fully realized 3D version of the classic game. So although it feels like it could just be along the timeline of the original games, it’s hard to say judging just based on that.

Ganon exists in this timeline, so it is most likely after Ocarina of Time, since Ganon in his recognizable pig form (or thief form) has never been in a game before OoT in the timeline. This makes it complicated, since there are three alternate branches following OoT, but it helps to know that our favorite pigman is already well-known.

The Temple of Time’s presence helps confirm this, since it has also not been in a game preceding OoT. It has only been in the child and adult timeline branches so far, in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess (in ruins and in past form) respectively. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be in the timeline in which the hero dies. However, there are already so many games in that timeline without the Temple that it’s likely that Ganon destroyed it upon winning during Ocarina of Time. The Master Sword is rusted in the trailer. Although the Temple of Time is also in ruins and filled with overgrown vines in Twilight Princess, the Master Sword seemed pretty nice and pristine when Link picked it up in that game. In contrast, The Wind Waker had a world of ruin already, and there was no chance any regular Joe was going to get the Master Sword. This is due to the hero being forgotten, which I’ll come back to in a second.

The Sheikah race exists, based on the fact that there is a key item known as the Sheikah Slate. The Sheikah race has always protected Princess Zelda, starting with Impa in Skyward Sword. However, we don’t regularly see Sheikah in games following Ocarina of Time. We do see Impa sometimes, but she is never confirmed to be a Sheikah in games following OoT. Based on the Sheikah Slate’s importance and the fact that everyone at Nintendo is wearing a shirt with the Sheikah symbol on it, they are probably important in the game, and we will likely learn more about it. Thus, it doesn’t help us at the moment to know about the Sheikah.

BotW_SheikahSlate.jpg
There is some interesting technology in BotW.

What is more useful is the fact that both the Sheikah Slate and Guardians seem to represent old technology. We saw technology in Skyward Sword through the Ancient Robots, which could only be activated in the past. Even in the first confirmed game in the timeline, robots were considered ancient technology. What’s most mysterious is the fact that the Sheikah Slate and Guardians appear to be working in this point in time with seemingly no explanation. As established before, the game could not take place before Skyward Sword, so an explanation for this technology is unclear.

Our final two clues reflect two completely different timelines. The place resembling Eldin Bridge, from Twilight Princess is seen briefly in the trailer. Koroks, leaf creatures from The Wind Waker are seen throughout the livestream gameplay. It’s unclear whether it is the Eldin Bridge, and it wouldn’t be unheard of if something like the Eldin Bridge also existed in the Wind Waker timeline. Plus, Koroks are living forest spirits that were only in The Wind Waker, making somewhere in that timeline the probable answer.

BotW_Korok.jpeg
Koroks are back!

As to when exactly it takes place, there are two possibilities. It could be sometime following The Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass saga, in a world where land has finally come back, ripe for exploring. There are 100 years that take place in-between PH and its sequel, Spirit Tracks, so it’s entirely possible we’re looking at the rebirth of Hyrule (you know, before they added trains). The name Breath of the Wild implies wild exploration and what’s wilder than venturing through an unknown land. My initial thought while watching the streams was that this could be directly following Skyward Sword in which a new Link is exploring the unknown land of Hyrule. However, that contradicts every paragraph before this, so this is the other land to pioneer.

BotW could also theoretically take place before The Wind Waker, highlighting the downfall of Hyrule before the water appears. This makes a little less sense to me since the reason Ganon took over the world in that timeline was because adult Link wasn’t there to stop him anymore. So unless BotW has a tragic end, this seems less likely. Plus Koroks already exist, and I assume that they and the Rito tribe (also from TWW) came to be after Hyrule was flooded.

One thing to note is that they have confirmed that there will be towns and people in the game, but that it would spoil the story. Perhaps it would be spoiled because these would all be upstart towns. It might reveal that people are just looking for places to inhabit. This is all theory, but this is why I believe the proper place in the timeline for Breath of the Wild is between Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks when the land of Hyrule returned to the world.

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Will we be able to get the fabled Master Sword? Find out in March 2017.

Conclusion

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is slated for March 2017 and will release for both the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo NX consoles. There are no indications that they will be different. By next year, many players will be able to experience this absolutely massive game, filled with the open-world that producer Eiji Aonuma has always promised. It is yet unknown how expansive the world will be, but given the map and the incredible length of the demo for a singular area, this game will be packed to the brim with content. And that content will be amazing, with lots of unique weapons, puzzle-filled shrines and dungeons, fun Runes that change the game, and a story that unfolds itself as you learn about the lore. Backed by gorgeous graphics and beautiful piano pieces, this game is already primed to be amazing.

Most importantly, the game looks fun! Everyone at Treehouse Live was just enjoying the game, whether using runes to make mischief or just doing wacky things on screen. The sky’s the limit for this game, and you can play it however you want. That’s the best part about it. I look forward to diving into this open world, speculating about this iteration of Hyrule, and experiencing the largest game in The Legend of Zelda franchise with you when the game finally releases!

Source: Nintendo YouTubeNintendo Twitch

What are your thoughts so far on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Are you looking forward to playing it? What is the best thing you’ve seen so far for it? If you’re at E3, have you played it and what do you think? What are your own theories and speculations regarding the game and what are your thoughts on my own theories? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Pokémon Sun and Moon Analysis & Thoughts

Information, Thoughts, & Analysis on Pokémon Sun and Moon

The Pokémon Company recently revealed a trailer for the upcoming games in the Pokémon series: Sun and Moon.  I will share my thoughts and analyses on what the trailer and official website had to offer, including information on starters, legendaries, gameplay, and region.  Please share any thoughts or excitement you may have about anything Generation VII in the comments below!

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Introducing the Pokemon Starters: Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio!

Rowlet: The Grass Starter

Rowlet is this generation’s grass starter and is actually a dual-type, Grass/Flying.  Its typing makes sense since it’s an owl Pokemon.  More notably, we haven’t seen a dual-type base starter since Bulbasaur’s Grass/Poison typing.  While this may seem to take away speculation regarding what types its evolutions will be, there has been precedence for Pokemon changing types upon evolving.  For instance, Scyther switches its secondary typing from Flying to Steel when it becomes Scizor, and Fletchling goes from Normal/Flying to Fire/Flying when it becomes Fletchinder.  I’d be fine if Rowlet remained Grass/Flying, which would hopefully make it a better version of Generation II’s Jumpluff or Generation III’s Tropius, but usable in official battles unlike the mythical legendary Pokemon Shaymin.

Rowlet
Introducing your Grass starter for Pokemon Sun and Moon, Rowlet!

The official site lists some interesting tidbits about Rowlet, likely from its Pokedex entries.  This excerpt from Rowlet’s page is particularly interesting:

Rowlet can attack without making a sound! It flies silently through the skies, drawing near to its opponent without being noticed, and then lashing out with powerful kicks. It can also attack from a distance using the razor-sharp leaves that form part of its feathers.

Pokédex entries are usually fluff entries that don’t actually describe what the Pokémon can do in game, but instead make up legends or tall tales about the Pokémon.  This entry is interesting because it makes Rowlet seem like a flying ninja.  While it’s probable that this excerpt doesn’t mean much, there is a chance that this predicts what kind of Pokemon Rowlet will evolve into, perhaps something along the lines of Greninja merged with a Sceptile and Noctowl.  Its other entry talks about it turning its head 180 degrees which further emphasizes its owl resemblance.  Rowlet actually does this as part of an animation in the trailer.  Its first Grass move, Leafage, is a brand new attack that appears to strike Pokémon with leaves, presumably made from its own feather quills.  Though this sounds like another established Grass move, Razor Leaf, the trailer shows that it more resembles several homed shots of leaves aimed towards the opponent as opposed to a barrage of leaves.  The other starter’s moves include Ember and Water Gun, which are both weaker moves with a base power of 40.  This suggests that Leafage may be the base power 40 version of Razor Leaf.

Rowlet 2
Rowlet is too cute.

Rowlet’s name seems to be a pun of “owlet,” which is a name for a baby owl.  Its Japanese name, Mokuroh, is likely also a pun of “moku” (wood) and “fukurou” (owl).  Rowlet looks like a round baby owl with a leaf bowtie.  Although I don’t typically pick the grass starter, Rowlet might just be my first one due to its overwhelming cuteness and potential.  For fun, these are what come to mind when I look at Rowlet.

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Kikwi from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Blathers.png
Blathers from Animal Crossing – He even has the same green bow tie!

Litten: The Fire Starter

Litten is a fire kitten starter with a black body and red whiskers, leg markings, and face markings.  It starts out as a plain Fire starter, but based on its color and general attitude, it looks like it may gain a secondary typing of Dark down the line.  This would also match the general color scheme of Pokémon like Gen II’s Houndoom and Gen IV’s Weavile.  We already have a dark wildcat in Gen V’s leopard-like Liepard but maybe we’ll see Litten evolve into a different wildcat like a dark tiger or even a liger.

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Litten, the coolheaded Fire starter of Sun and Moon!

The official site characterizes Litten as a coolheaded Pokemon who doesn’t show its emotions.  It’s always nice to see Pokemon have such a defined personality just like with Gen V’s beloved smug grass starter, Snivy.  Litten starts with the move, Ember, which has been a common starting Fire move since Red and Blue.  The difference comes in how Litten produces fireballs, which the official site describes as flaming hairballs.  That’s right.  Litten actually licks its own fur and spits out hairballs as explosive projectiles, which is amazing.

Litten 2.png
Litten spits out fiery hairballs to attack.

Litten’s name most obviously derives from kitten, or baby cat.  The “Lit” part of its name likely refers to a fire or candle being lit.  The same “Lit” can be seen in the Fire lion cub Pokémon’s name, Litleo.  Litten’s Japanese name, Nyabby, also fits well.  “Nya” is the Japanese onomatopoeia for “Meow,” and can also be seen in Meowth’s Japanese name, “Nyasu.”  The “by” part of Nyabby’s name might be a pun off of the Japanese character (kanji) for fire 火.  Although that character is more commonly pronounced “hi,” it is changed to “bi” when following certain vowel sounds.  Finally, Nyabby rhymes with tabby, which is a breed of cat.

Its attitude and overall coolness makes Litten a good choice for a Fire starter.  I tend to lean towards the Fire starter ever since Charmander, and I’m glad that Litten doesn’t disappoint (as far as we know, right Fennekin?).  Litten reminds me of the following:

Grumpy Cat
Grumpy Cat, whose author I was recently able to meet!
Salem
Salem, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, is also a dark cat with attitude.

Popplio: The Water Starter

Popplio, the sea lion Pokémon, is Generation VII’s water starter.  Its playful appearance, red clown nose, and jester-like neck suggest that it identifies itself with the circus or a water show like at a zoo or Sea World.  Its base form is a Water-type, but it may gain an ice-type for its final evolution, just like the other sea lion Pokémon, Gen I’s Dewgong.  It is also similar to Gen III’s Sealeo, who is a Water/Ice type Pokémon that evolves into Walrein.  Dewgong and Walrein resemble dugongs and walruses respectively, so maybe Popplio’s final form could be a dolphin?  In all 20 years of Pokémon, we have not yet seen an actual dolphin Pokémon, so this starter could become a series first.  Sure, it has whiskers, but even baby dolphins have whiskers on their upper jaws that fall off following birth.  Of course, it may just become another sea lion just as its Pokédex classification indicates.

Popplio
Popplio, the playful water starter!

Regardless of what kind of animal it resembles, Popplio is definitely a creature of the stage.  The official site states that Popplio can “snort out balloons made of water.”  It can then use the “elasticity of its balloons to perform acrobatic stunts and jumps.”  Even its image shows Popplio as a performer.  If this were Gen III or IV, it could have taken part in one of its renowned Pokémon Contests.  Perhaps Pokémon Contests may even return in Gen VII with Popplio being one of its big stars.  Popplio’s playful nature suggests that looks and style may have a role to play in some form.  Its first move is Water Gun, though I wonder if its bubble balloon technique could be the foundation of a brand new signature move.

Popplio 2
Popplio is like a circus performer that you’d find in an aquarium show.

Popplio seems to be a combination of pop and (sea) lion, referring to both its bubble ability as well as its classification.  Bulbagarden notes that “lio” may also come from Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, Hawaiian for monk seal, which makes sense considering the Hawaiian-based region.  Its Japanese name, Ashimari, may come from ashika meaning sea lion and temari which are Japanese silk hand balls.  These hand balls can be played with, similarly to how Popplio plays with its balloons.  Although I’m not terribly fond of Popplio, there is hope in where its final design will lead, especially since water starters have had a recent history of having superb final evolutions, such as Greninja.  Here is what Popplio makes me think of:

Jonathan
Jonathan, the seal from Kaleido Star, an anime about the circus
Stitch
Okay, Stitch is a stretch, but maybe I’ve been influenced by the Hawaiian-based region in this game.

Legendaries: Solgaleo and Lunaala

The cover legendaries were also shown off in the trailer and the official website.  The names Solgaleo and Lunaala have not been confirmed but are heavily speculated names based on trademarks made by The Pokémon Company.  Sun’s legendary is a majestic white lion with hints of red and yellow on its mane.  The name of Solgaleo would be very fitting if true since “sol” is Latin for sun and “leo” is Latin for lion.  It resembles Gen VI’s fire lion, Pyroar.  In addition to this, the fiery background and nature of the sun imply a Fire typing at the very least for Solgaleo.  The sun emblem from the logo art appears on its forehead in the trailer.  A fire beam can be seen emanating from its forehead roughly 44 seconds into the Japanese commercial.

Legendaries.png
The cover legendaries for Pokemon Sun and Moon.  The lion Pokemon on the left may be named Solgaleo.  The bat Pokemon on the right may be named Lunaala.

Moon’s legendary is a large purple bat with two crescent wings and an upward-facing crescent moon on its head.  It resembles Noivern from the previous generation but somehow looks even more sinister.  An obvious dual-typing for this legendary would be Dark and Flying, though nothing has been said.  It looks like it generates a beam attack from its moon forehead, seen in both the trailer and commercial.  Its possible name, Lunaala, would fit since “luna” is Latin for moon and “ala” is Latin for wing.

Gameplay

The graphics during Pokémon battles look very similar to Pokémon X/Y, which is good since it had a very graphically impressive and dynamic battle style.  Outside of Pokémon battles, it seems that you will be able to move freely as opposed to the grid-based nature of previous entries in the series.  Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were grid-based but also allowed you to run anywhere if you wanted.  This seems to be an evolution of that style, perhaps taking away the grid entirely.  The camera angles are also different and employ more natural perspectives instead of a strictly bird’s eye view.  This should be exciting for those who want a Pokémon adventure that feels more like a full 3D game experience.

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Pokemon battles will look similar to Pokemon X and Y.
Pokemon City
Camera angles are more dynamic in this game, and hopefully unlike Lumiose City’s.

Hawaiian-Based Region

In the reveal trailer, we also get a glimpse of the new region of Alola.  The name Alola, most likely coming from Aloha – which means both “hello” and “goodbye” in Hawaiian – more or less confirms that this region is based on Hawaii.  In addition, the clothes, flora, fauna, volcanoes, and islands of the region resemble Hawaii.  My best guess of which Hawaiian island this is most like would be Oahu, which is also the most tourist-friendly island.  The volcano in the southeast might be part of Ko’olau, one of two shield volcanoes in Oahu.  The city is probably Waikiki, a well-known tourist destination most recognized for its city-like appearance and sparkling sandy beach.  The city/beach area shown on the map matches where Waikiki would be in the real world.  The big tower in the middle may then be based on Aloha Tower in Honolulu.  Also seen on the map is a tropical area just behind the big city which looks similar to what most of the rest of Oahu looks like.  If this truly is Oahu, there is likely another volcano area further to the northwest, a big surf area in the North Shore beaches, and Pearl Harbor.  I’m assuming that Pearl Harbor won’t be referenced in the game due to cultural reasons, but we’ll see.

Alola Region.png
The Alola Region resembles an island of Hawaii.

Another big sign that it is based on Hawaii comes from the Japanese commercial for Pokémon Sun and Moon.  During this sweet video, we see a young Japanese boy move to Hawaii and feel like he doesn’t belong.  That is, until he discovers the new Pokémon Sun and Moon games and makes friends with other kids through his love of Pokémon.  This beautiful commercial harkens back to the original reveal trailer for Sun and Moon in which people of many different languages and ages come together through Pokémon.  It also reminds me of the Pokémon 20th Anniversary Super Bowl Commercial in which many diverse people look towards the future and say, “I can do that.”  This, along with the worldwide push of Pokémon, seems to reflect The Pokémon Company’s recent theme of bringing people together and inspiring hope through a common interest.

Pokemon Tropical
There is a big tropical island theme in this game.

Regardless of where this region is based off of, one aspect is clear.  There will be much water.

Sun Moon Starters
Catch ’em All again on November 18, 2016!

Conclusion

Pokémon Sun and Moon looks like a solid continuation of how X and Y evolved the franchise on the 3DS.  The starters look pretty solid for the most part, and its evolutions will likely be guiding factors for the ultimate decision.  The legendaries look interesting and promote the titular sun and moon themes.  Finally, the Hawaiian region is a nice change of pace from the big city-based regions of past generations.  I’m looking forward to the advancements that this next generation will bring!  Pokémon Sun and Moon will be released worldwide for the Nintendo 3DS on November 18, 2016.

What did you think of the reveal trailer of Pokémon Sun and Moon?  Did it raise your hype for Generation VII?  Which starter Pokémon will you choose?  Which version are you going to pick up?  What do you think of the Alola region?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Source: Pokémon, Official Pokémon Youtube Channel, and Pokémon CoJP Youtube Channel