Over the past twenty-one years, POKÉMON has spread far and wide with its multimedia reach. From video games to trading cards to anime and manga, there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of this iconic franchise. The past few years have seen core POKÉMON games (that is, original games where you play as a trainer to catch’em all) released every year. Sometimes the games are remakes; other times, like last year, they bring in an entirely new generation.

2016’s POKÉMON Sun and Moon embodies the seventh generation of the franchise. Introducing new characters, new Pokémon, new movesets, and an entirely new region, Sun and Moon boasts a refreshing story and overall POKÉMON experience. Hot on its heels are Ultra Sun and Moon, direct sequels to the games that promise even more new twists and turns.

Map of Ultra SM’s Alola region | Image: YouTube

It’s easy to dismiss Ultra Sun and Moon as weakly-glamorized bonus editions created to rake in more money. After all, previous generation sequels, such as Emerald and Platinum, were basically that — the same basic storyline with a few extra features that were just different enough to have kids begging their parents for them. However, Nintendo seems determined to prove us wrong this time, as demonstrated by its most recent promotional material.

Ultra Sun and Moon may be a return to Alola’s sunny shores, but its latest poster hints a potentially — and surprisingly — much darker journey. Check it out below!

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An Approaching Eclipse?!

POKEMON Ultra Sun and Moon Poster
Image: Polygon

The art uses an overall darker color palette than Sun and Moon’s. It also utilizes shadows to cloak nearly every character aside from the new protagonists. A purple cloud and white fog conceal mysterious figures (possibly new characters) at the top of the poster. Plus, Solgaleo and Lunala, the token Legendaries, sit hidden in the darkness with only their eyes glowing ominously.

The characters we can see wear much more serious expressions than usual. Especially Hau, who is missing his signature bright smile. Most notable is Lillie’s presence, indicating her return from the Kanto region, where she had departed to at the end of the previous game. Sharp-eyed fans will notice that she’s even holding a Pokéball, which implies that she may be taking on the role of a trainer in this game.

Even the new protagonists are frowning as they face the viewers. They clench their fists in determination, perhaps foreshadowing the difficult choices and trials they will encounter throughout the game. Surrounding them are the final evolutions of the region’s three starters, all in the process of attacking.

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Ultra Potential

Combined, these elements create a much more intense and somber atmosphere than we’ve seen before in the POKÉMON franchise. I personally think the poster combined with that treacherous-looking map from above makes it seem as though an apocalypse is on the horizon. To be fair, looming destruction isn’t exactly new for POKÉMON, but with the right execution Ultra Sun and Moon could easily surpass its predecessors through more mature storytelling alone.

POKÉMON Ultra Sun and Moon will feature an alternate storyline from its prequels. It will include new Pokémon, new Alolan forms, and new Z-Moves. It also uses new designs for its player characters, who seem to be much younger than the usual standard for POKÉMON games. Ultra Sun and Moon will release worldwide on November 17, 2017 for the Nintendo 3DS.

Featured image from the Official Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon website.

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