Pokemon Sun and Moon is the sequel to Pokemon Red and Green. It is released in Japan in December 1999, as a launch game for the Game Boy Nova in that country. Its North American release is on June 23, 2000. Like the original games, it comes in two different versions, each with certain Pokemon that cannot be caught in the other game. As the counterpart to OTL's Pokemon Gold and Silver, it has many similarities to those two games, and particularly to the remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver. Due to the graphical capabilities of the Game Boy Nova, Sun and Moon bears a strong graphical resemblance to the OTL Nintendo DS Pokemon titles, and in battle, Pokemon actually can be seen to move somewhat, in a way resembling the battle animations in OTL's Pokemon Black and White. Thus, the game is a massive graphical step up from OTL's games in every conceivable way. In terms of gameplay mechanics, the gameplay improvements from OTL's Gold and Silver, including the Special stat split, night/day mechanics, the new Dark and Steel types, and berries all appear in TTL's game. In addition, a number of improvements from OTL'sRuby/Sapphire and Diamond/Pearl games also appear, including Pokemon natures and abilities. A notable improvement that does not appear is the addition of physical/special components for moves. All moves in Pokemon Sun and Moon are still either physical or special based on their type, and not a separate component of the move. The game's musical score is considered to be a major improvement as well, due to the enhanced sound capabilities of the Nova, allowing for orchestral songs to appear at certain points in the game. A lyrical theme song for the end credits was considered, but ultimately rejected to save memory space for other game features.
The OTL Gold and Silver featured 100 new Pokemon in addition to the 151 already present in the previous game. Sun and Moon feature 106 new Pokemon (including 7 legendaries as opposed to 6 IOTL), 68 of them either completely the same as OTL Pokemon or very very similar with only slight changes (such as a name change), and 38 new Pokemon that did not appear IOTL.
Some Pokemon that appear in OTL's game that also appear in Sun and Moon include:
- All 9 starter Pokemon (Chikorita, Bayleef, Meganium, Cyndaquil, Quilava, Typhlosion, Totodile, Croconaw, Feraligator (no R removed ITTL))
- Skateray (OTL Mantine)
- Pichu/Elekid/Magby/Cleffa (but no Igglybuff)
- Ho-Oh/Lugia (though Lugia's role as a version mascot is removed)
Some Pokemon that appear in OTL's game that do not appear in Sun and Moon include:
Some of the original to Sun and Moon Pokemon are:
- Tazap (a taser-like Electric/Steel Pokemon)
- Scareprize (a Ghost/Psychic Pokemon that floats around as a sphere of energy before popping out a big scary face to attack)
- Chilpup/Timberg (an Ice-type wolf Pokemon that starts out as a little wolf pup and then evolves into a majestic timberwolf)
- Larvii/Wasping/Hawksis (a three-stage Dark/Bug type tarantula wasp Pokemon, unlike most three-stage Bug evolutions, it evolves at later levels into an absolutely vicious creature, Hawksis is basically a Cazador from New Vegas with a 525 BST: 75/140/65/70/50/125)
- Seamaster (a third stage for the Goldeen line to compliment Kingdra)
- Stagle (Heracross becomes a second stage Pokemon ITTL, Stagle is his pre-evolution)
- Seeding/Leaflette/Bloomarch (A three-stage Grass evolution with a large flower as its final stage, basically replaces the Sunflora/Jumpluff line ITTL)
- Gloombeak/Raveness (a two-stage Dark/Flying line with raven-like Pokemon, essentially replaces Murkrow
Rivitor/Constructer/Kraftscrap (a three-stage Steel/Fighting line, Rivitor is like a cute little construction worker while Constructer gains metal appendages and Kraftscrap has six arms and can shift its body parts around like a robot, it has very high Attack and Defense)
- Lunalux (the Moon version mascot, a beautiful Psychic/Flying legendary bird Pokemon that shoots moonbeams from its plume and is rivals with Ho-Oh)
Ho-Oh can only be caught in Sun, Lunalux can only be caught in Moon, and Lugia can be caught in both and later becomes the version mascot for Eclipse (Nivek came up with the name for the later third game).
The gym leaders mostly remain the same, with a couple of changes:
Bugsy in Azalea Town is replaced with Josh, a Fighting type Gym Leader, and Chuck in Cianwood is replaced with Uma, a Bug type Gym Leader. Essentially, Fighting and Bug switch places.
The plot of Pokemon Sun and Moon shares much with Gold and Silver, and indeed with most Pokemon games: you start out as a young boy (or girl, in this game you can pick) who gets a starter Pokemon from the professor (Elm, same as OTL) and sets out on a journey to complete the Pokedex, conquer the gyms, and become a Pokemon master. In this game, Team Rocket returns as Team Shrapnel, and their goals are somewhat darker than IOTL's game. After Team Rocket was defeated in Red and Green, they return as Team Shrapnel, though Shrapnel consists of only the most extreme members of the old Team Rocket along with new, hardcore recruits, who stop at nothing to capture powerful Pokemon and in this case, conquer the world at the behest of their new leader, Breaker. As the player progresses on their journey, they encounter Team Shrapnel on numerous occasions, each plan more dastardly than the last. They still attempt to capture Gyarados at the Lake of Rage, and in this case, they succeed despite the player's best efforts, gravely injuring Dragon Master Lance in the process. Other Team Shrapnel plans include the abduction of Gym Leader Whitney (the player has to rescue her before they can fight in Goldenrod Gym), the raiding of a Pokemon Day Care (they try to use Ditto to hatch powerful Pokemon before the player stops them), the poisoning of milk from Moo Moo Farm with a toxin that compels whoever drinks it to give up their Pokemon, and finally, toward the end of the game, the attempted assassination of the Gym Leader Clair via the use of the Shining Gyarados (though in the end, Clair and the player foil this). After Team Shrapnel is defeated in Blackthorne City, Breaker gets away, but this is left unresolved in the main game, as the player must complete their journey. Because of Lance's injury, the final Champion at the end of the Elite Four is Zacharias, an elite trainer who assisted the player in rescuing Whitney and whom the player helped after he injected some of the tainted milk and nearly gave up his prized Tyranitar (whom he's more than happy to use against the player in the final battle). Defeating Zacharias wins the main game, but there's an entire postgame left over...the player must journey to Kanto, just as IOTL Gold and Silver. Here is where the Breaker storyline is resolved once and for all, after Breaker takes over the Cinnabar Island Gym. Giovanni meets him there to try and talk him down, but is severely wounded by Breaker's Hawksis, and the player must defeat him. In the end, Breaker, in a desperate attempt to kill the player and Giovanni, tries to trigger Cinnabar's volcano, but ends up falling in instead in the first on-screen death in the Pokemon game series (ITTL, there will be many more, due to Sony creative's influence on Game Freak gradually leading the series' plotline down a more serious path). The final challenge in this post game is to defeat Red at Mt. Silver, just as in OTL. He's even more powerful and dangerous than in OTL's game, with a level 100 Pikachu that players will need to train seriously to defeat. Finally, after Red is defeated, the game is at last truly beaten, with the only goal remaining being to "catch 'em all"!
Needless to say, the sales of Pokemon Sun and Moon are exceptionally strong. Though the game has a bit of a slower start than Gold and Silver did IOTL (simply due to the fact that fewer people own the new and somewhat expensive Game Boy Nova), the game drives Nova sales in a major way, and the game remains near the top or at the top of the sales charts for the remainder of the year and beyond, eventually selling about as many if not a bit more total copies in North America than Gold and Silver did. Reviews are also very strong for the game, it averages around 9/10 in most review outlets, with particular praise going to the expanded game world, the designs of the new Pokemon, the improvements in graphical presentation and sound quality, and the stronger storyline compared to the original game. Sun and Moon continues the Pokemon craze still sweeping the world, and as of the end of 2000, it shows no signs of slowing down.