The closer we get to the November release of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, the clearer it becomes that the developers are shooting for the Moon this time around. It’s easy to look at previous generations and think, “huh, so they added some new monsters and that’s it,” but not so this year. With the addition of regional variants, different kinds of challenges, and a new set of special moves, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are set to be weirder than ever.

As with the Mega Evolutions introduced in the previous generation of games, Sun and Moon are set to add a special bracelet of their own. A Z-Ring with specific Z-Crystals allows trainers to use special Z-Moves with Pokémon holding the same variety of Z-Crystal. The explanation is the press release is that they are “releasing their full power together when their wishes resonate with each other.” (There’s even going to be a physical version of the Z-Ring that pairs with the game in a manner that’s not entirely clear yet.)

Another interesting tidbit here is the full-on embrace of natural selection. Critters like Vulpix and Sandshrew and their prospective evolutions have special Alola region forms — specifically, both are getting a little chillier with a general Ice-type change. Perhaps most bizarre is the new Dragon type addition to Exeggutor. You know, the bunch of eggs that previously transformed into a palm tree with coconuts for some reason. In Alola, it’s a palm tree with coconuts that has a really long neck and also a tail.

But perhaps the biggest change is the addition of island-based trials. All five islands will include a larger challenge of some kind that must be completed by the player — and that aren’t necessarily solved through battling, which has historically been the most common point of progression. How exactly Gyms and Gym Leaders fit into this new addition has yet to be revealed, but the most likely scenario is that Gyms only constitute one part of the trial. On the other hand, maybe the traditional Gym and badges and all that are going out the window.

And suddenly, Sandslash is cool again. Literally this time.
And suddenly, Sandslash is cool again. Literally this time.

After all, it’s been revealed that the player gets their starter from a “kahuna” named Hala rather than a professor of some kind, so maybe it’s time to completely shake up the formula rather than just change one or two important details. What better year to showcase the future of Pokémon than the 20th anniversary, especially after the success of Pokémon Go?

Photos via The Pokémon Company International

Rollin Bishop serves as gaming editor at Inverse, though his heart is full of anime. Currently based out of Austin, TX, his writing also appears at the likes of Motherboard, Playboy, and Popular Mechanics. You might recognize him from that one time R.L. Stine tweeted at him.