Giving Pokémon Sun & Moon an HD Makeover

Fans have already figured out how to give Pokémon Sun & Moon an HD graphics enhancement, thanks to some clever source code manipulation.

The latest entries in the long-running Pokémon series are due out on Nintendo 3DS next month. Ahead of the games’ release, Trainers are enjoying Sun & Moon’s Special Demo Version. But some have gone a step further to give the demo’s visuals a very simple, yet stunning overhaul.

Nintendo News caught up to YouTube user KazoWAR to ask him a few questions about the video footage he recently published. Using a Nintendo 3DS emulator called Citra, he and a few helpers were able to capture some interesting footage after altering some of the code for the Sun & Moon demo.

While some of the footage may appear rough in the foreground and background areas, KazoWAR said it’s still technically 1080p. “The top screen on the Citra emulator was sized to 1800×1080,” he said. With the help of Shiny Quagsire and Tinivi, the trio figured out how to remove the dark lines from the games’ standard models to produce a highly polished appearance.

KazoWAR explained the process in more detail, which only took about one hour to figure out:

“Shiny Quagsire first posted a picture with the lines removed. When asked how he did it, [Tinivi and I] were given a patch that should have set the drawLine’s flag to false. Me and some other people tried it and it wasn’t working. Tinivi took a look at the code and tried the same thing … set the drawLine flag to false, but still nothing. He then decided to make a patch that would skip over the function even if the drawLine’s flag was still true, and that one finally worked for me.”

The video footage below shows a Trainer in the Ten Carat Hill area of the Sun & Moon demo. While unofficial, it was produced to show off what a real-time battle looks like in HD, free of model outlines. However, the Alolan Dugtrio — hairdos and all — is the real deal.

Pokémon Sun & Moon HD Enhancement

The “no-line patch,” as KazoWAR refers to it as, is a manual replacement for some of the characters in the demo’s ROM code itself. “On Citra, the lines are a bit buggy and are not properly removed when the Poké Ball is moved around,” he explained. “At higher resolutions they actual get in the way of the nice high-res models since they are rendered as a static image drawn over top the models. When those textures are resized, the pixels on the lines become larger.”

KazoWAR told me that enhancing the graphics didn’t take much effort. “Changing things like this in the demo were not difficult since Game Freak left in certain symbols from the code. All the function’s names and their parameters were left in the game, making it super easy to change things like disabling the lines.”

In addition, KazoWAR admits that Game Freak did a good job with scrubbing the game, but failed to remove the sprites for all of the Pokémon and for other models. (This is precisely what led data miners to share hundreds of images online just one day after the demo was released.)

“It’s odd because Game Freak spent so much time gutting the game of stuff they don’t want us to see. It’s like trying to hide all the evidence for a crime you committed, but forgot to remove the dead body.”

KazoWAR provided Nintendo News with a batch of images to further show the comparison between models with and without the stock outlines. “In my opinion, the lines are fine on the system, but in Citra they are a bit buggy,” he said. “And when you run Citra at higher resolutions, they become large and blocky as if they where drawn at 240p then resized.”

Pokémon Sun & Moon HD Screen Comparisons

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon on Nintendo 3DS debut in North America and Japan on November 18. Both games arrive in Europe a few days later, on November 23.

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