Nintendo UK’s Pokemon Sun & Moon Festival Event Report
In yet another wild fit of passion from Nintendo UK, we, the fans, were treated to a special launch event on the evening of the 22nd November, from 5pm until 10pm.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Pokémon Fan Festival on the European launch night of Sun and Moon, which took place at the old Truman Brewery in London.
To me, it was like a mini-convention. It had many things you’d expect to see at Hyper Japan or EGX. The organisers made a great attempt with the décor; props, leis, beach bars, and pine trees that were definitely real, all helped to give that Alola vibe.
Expectedly, there were countless setups of Pokémon Sun and Moon scattered around the venue for people to try. I was somewhat hesitant to try the versions there due to spoilers; nevertheless there were more setups here than at most conventions so enthusiasts would never have to queue to try it out.
As per the Nintendo norm there were events held onstage, hosted once again by regular presenter, Alex. Always enthusiastic and engaging, Alex hosted a number of battles and interviews. The biggest draw was Battle Royals – the new four-way battle mode introduced in Sun and Moon. Having never seen this mode before, my favourite part of the event was excitedly watching the action play out on the big screens. It’s undoubtedly the new feature I’m most looking forward to playing myself in.
There was also a big name in attendance: Shigeki Morimoto, developer for Game Freak who has been there from the start. For the most recent additions he had the role of Battle Director, which has to be one of the most important positions for a Pokémon game. He also created Mew, and I have to admire how he mischievously added Mew to Red and Green without telling a single person at Game Freak. Well played, Morimoto.
Anyway, Morimoto himself had a quick interview with Alex before participating in Battle Royals himself with press and fans. Unsurprisingly, he was victorious, but the opportunity to play with the most knowledgeable developer of them all must have been exhilarating. Morimoto then moved to a table for signing sessions with fans.
Elsewhere, there was an area for Trading Card Game (TCG) battles, with a nice display of past Pokémon games and consoles. Finally, there were the costumes: giant Rowlet, Poplio, and Litten suits – along with a Pikachu of course – wondered around the venue for plenty of photo opportunities. The costumes looked fantastic, although I did feel sympathy for the people inside them who must have been immensely hot by the end of the night…
Cosplayers were in attendance, and the most attention went to a brilliant Team Skull posse that included Plumeria and Guzma. It was a lovely gesture from Nintendo, as the dedicated Team Skull cosplayers had been invited following their appearance at London Comic Con. The group went on to be used on several of Nintendo’s social media sites (as well as many press sites too).
A final commendation needs giving to whoever arranged the free food and drink. I was concerned I would have to spend extortionate amounts on this at the venue, but a food voucher and free drinks averted that.
It was a pleasant, positive night in the lead-up to the new Pokémon games, which left attendees enthusiastic for the experience. Alola!
The venue was beautiful inside out. The tall windows were graced by light-up palm trees and giant Pokémon stickers. Foliage around every corner ensured you were never too far from nature yet the abundance of leaves didn’t at all clutter or hinder the space. Rustic tables and benches were home to snug throws, coloring pages, and face painting. Statues and console stands littered the floor while themed fencing kept everything in the space neat and tidy. Huts with free drinks being meticulously manned meant a fresh array of hydration awaited anyone who desired it, and all of the above was home to floor lighting which gave the event just that bit more visual charm.
Every guest into the event was handed a free meal ticket and the choice of a lei, Pikachu paper hat, or both. (Naturally, being the fun loving being I am I opted for both even if the Pikachu hat was too small for my fat head). The food wasn’t mindblowing, but it was very well presented, there was a fair bit too each portion, and it tasted good. Every now and then we were joined by a Rowlett, Litten, Popplio, and Pikachu. They would wonder onto the floor, pose for photos and videos for a while and then head off to take a break. These mascot suits were absurdly good looking, every single one was incredibly accurate- and adorable to boot. Whoever was in them retained a bouncy and overall animated demeanour every time I saw them (but held still briefly for photos), and they were a huge hit.
Seeing as Conor has pretty much covered everything in the event I shant write much more. What I will say is I think the weaker points of this event were it being a bit too long given what there was to do there. The speakers by the stage gave out some unfortunately nasty sounds every now and then (usually had 5+ people in the vicinity visibly cringing from certain sound effects), and the queues could have been labelled and managed a bit better.
Overall the event was jaw-dropping. The amount of time, effort (and money) that must have gone into it paid off extremely well. Attendees seemed in good spirits, the stage remained highly engaging, Streetpasses were aplenty, and every single little bit of attention to detail was magnificent. Last year there was a similar, but smaller event held by Nintendo UK launching Super Mario Maker, a celebration that was born out of gratitude for the community. This event was just that- and then some (and then some more. And some more). Being in the EU we often get products later than other places, and miss out on special editions and such, so it’s a true privilege that UK fans are able to experience things like this, one that certainly hasn’t gone unappreciated.