This past week, Nintendo released the latest trailer for it's set of new Pokemon games: Sun and Moon. In addition to showing off five new Pokemon and a new region, in their trailer Nintendo also made it quite clear that for the first time in the franchise's twenty year lifespan, players will be able to choose Pokemon trainers with distinctly darker skin tones.
players will be able to choose Pokemon trainers with distinctly darker skin tones.
In Nintendo's past there's been a few black characters but it wasn't until 2011's Pokemon Black & White, that the Pokemon series saw it's first black characters Lenora, Marshal and seemingly Iris, although all three were only bosses you could battle and were not playable characters. It was also the first game in the series to introduce minor pokemon trainers of a darker hue.
2013's Pokemon X and Y featured another black gym leader and other dark skin pokemon trainers that could be fought in battles around the Kalos region. Like the previous game, Pokemon X & Y broke down barriers by allowing players to choose a somewhat tanned skin complexion for their customised trainers.
While this was a great alternative for many who wanted to play as a trainer who wasn't the white default skin tone, there were some players who felt as though Nintendo had snubbed them by not allowing players to choose a skin tone that was undeniably black. This changes in Nintendo and Game Freak's latest affair.
Nintendo has not given a reason why it expanded it's skin colour choices, but it could well have something to do with Sun and Moon's setting. Keeping in custom with the previous two games (which took place in fictionalized interpretations of New York City and Paris), Sun and Moon starts in the Alola Region, which seems to be loosely based on Oahu in Hawaii, the country's third-largest island.
It goes without saying that at least some of the people born in a location with a hot climate would tend to have dark skin. Even if that wasn't the unrhetorical logic that inspired Nintendo’s decision, it’s a change that’s likely to please a lot of players who have yet to see themselves in one of Nintendo's most lucrative video game series.
It’s a change that’s likely to please a lot of players who have yet to see themselves in one of Nintendo's most lucrative video game series.
So far the character customisation in Pokemon Sun and Moon appears to be limited, which is disappointing but non too surprising. While we were hoping to see a variety of diverse hairstyles and the choice to choose from a wider selection of skin colour palettes, it's refreshing to see dark skin tones in a Pokemon game and better than what Game Freak did with Pokemon Oras, which had no character customization whatsoever.
Pokemon Sun and Moon will be released in Japan and North American on November 18 and on November 23 in Europe.