2016 marked the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, the global video game phenomenon that became a culture-conquering international merchandising empire and arguably did more than any other individual game franchise to keep Nintendo at the top of the handheld console food chain across multiple generations. And while celebratory new spins on the property like Great Detective Pikachu, Pokken Tournament and the ambitious mobile venture Pokémon Go are both eagerly anticipated by fans, the question on everyone's mind was whether or not there would be a new installment of the main series to commemorate the occasion.
Now, we have our answer: In keeping with the franchise's traditional dual-title release platform, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon have been announced for a Holiday 2016 release.
Announced today by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon will mark the 7th iteration of the resilient "Pocket Monsters" franchise, which began all the way back on the original GameBoy and became an international obsession for a generation - popular enough to spawn a trading-card game, an anime and a series of feature films, all of which are still running and successful. Said a statement from The Pokémon Company timed to the big reveal:
"As we celebrate 20 years since the launch of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green in Japan, the next era of Pokémon games is being announced! Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are coming out for systems in the Nintendo 3DS family in holiday 2016, with a new world, new Pokémon, and new adventures to discover!"
The games mark perhaps the biggest news yet in a year-long celebration that has gifted fans with the promise of many new and exciting experiences: Pokken Tournament will bring a selection of fan-favorite characters to the tournament-fighter genre for the first time, while Pokémon Go is a game for mobile devices that aims to make the Pokémon experience "real" by combining the creature-catching premise with geocaching-style technology. But there's also a wave of "Pokenostalgia" to ride, with Nintendo Virtual Console re-releases of the original three Game Boy titles (Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow) that will not only allow longtime fans to relive the moment they first fell in love with the series but also to upload Pokémon captured therein to the Pokémon Bank for use in Sun and Moon.
In addition, the series (which has always excelled at bringing a worldwide community of players and fans together across cultural and language barriers) will now become even more inclusive with it's linguistic options. According to TPC:
"Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon will be the first games in the Pokémon series to allow players to choose from nine languages to play in. In addition to English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish, players will now be able to play in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese."
Left unsaid is whether or not the games will be available only for the 3DS. While that would typically be an automatic assumption, the announcement comes at a moment where the gaming industry is expecting details on Nintendo's next device (currently codenamed "The NX") to either leak or be revealed at any moment - a device that many believe could be a console/handheld "hybrid" that would unify the platforms and effectively replace the 3DS. If so, that would make The NX the logical home for a new Pokémon release, which (combined with the cryptic lack of new imagery from the games themselves) will likely lead to speculation that the new system will either run 3DS software or that the games might be ported.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are due for Holiday 2016.
Source: The Pokémon Company