Once in a while something good comes your way. A pay rise at work or a date with that boy/girl you like. Even rarer a situation is that they exceed all your expectations. This was Pokémon Sun and Moon. Right when I thought that X and Y were going to the last of the decent new Pokémon games, I was proven wrong. This is coming from an avid Pokémon fan who’s taken part in tournaments and spent hundreds of hours breeding for shiny’s.
Leading into the release I was slightly concerned with some of the changes shown by Nintendo. Some of the Pokémon looked a little ridiculous and didn’t seem functional. GameFreak had made it apparent that it was going to make some pretty big changes in Generation 7. What worried me is how other gamers would react to them. So many people I’ve spoken with never played the last few generations. They were either turned off by the rehashing or changes making it too different. All concerns I had were shut down fairly quickly though.
The game takes place in a new region called Alola; very much inspired by Hawaii both topographically and culturally. A new professor has taken the mentor role named Professor Kukui. He introduces you to the world of Alola and helps you choose your first Pokémon. I should mention that the starter selection is great. Seeing your Pokémon have to accept you and share a sweet little moment is perfect. Once you and your new Poké friend are acquainted, it’s time to move on to your first trial.
Trials have replaced the long-standing gym mechanic. This is a bold move, but one that’s paid off. Now each area has a Captain that runs the trials. These are just mini games that see you doing a whole range of tasks. They include simply beating a Pokémon in the area or something as new as making a soup to attract particular Pokémon. These are all a lot of fun and really flesh out the experience. Once you have completed the trial you then need to beat the Totem Pokémon in the area. Once all captains and trials on that island are defeated you can challenge the Kahuna. These are the elite Pokémon trainers of each island and they are tough.
The basis of Sun and Moon is your journey to become the best, the very best, like no one ever was. There’s a lot more going on than that though. Parallel dimensions and Ultra Beasts are involved and soon mesh into your adventure. I don’t want to get into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil anything.
All I’ll say is the story is great and at times the game almost feels like an anime. This will be really appealing for a lot of people. Never fear though as you can plug through the game and not typically pay attention to the story if you prefer. Why the hell you would, I don’t know, but it’s doable. I absolutely love the story and found it melded really well with the gam play and experience.
One thing I found interesting are the new Z moves. Once you obtain the Z ring and a Z crystal you can perform them. It can only be used once per battle and is an item that needs to be equipped. These work like limit breaks and are really strong versions of the attack you use it with. I thought it was pretty rad to see the little cut scene that goes with them as well. In fact most attacks now have better animations as a whole, but the Z moves are next level.
Speaking of visuals, the entire game has improved visually again. The design has a slightly more cartoonish touch and has been made more colourful than normal. I have found myself on occasion checking out scenery and that’s not something you would normally do in a Pokémon game.
All of the previous Pokémon are back for the most part. There are some new additions which I really like. There are also some alternate versions of generation 1 Pokémon. Nothing too drastic, type changes and slight aesthetics to accommodate the variation. For example, Ninetales got opposing looks with an ice variant. Coupled with the Fairy type this allows some really cool move sets. Some others like the Alola Persian which is now a Dark type that got some major stat changes.
It feels like this time around Pokémon was developed with competitive and tournament play in mind. Everything seems a lot more balanced and can potentially throw off the current Meta. This means if you play online or go to tournaments you will see more than the same six Pokémon being used.
The way Pokémon works is that anyone who is a fan will likely already have a copy… So I’ll direct this at anyone who owns a 3DS and does not currently own one of these titles. You should highly consider playing this game. And some of you are those fence sitters that claims that only Pokémon’s early generations are worth playing. Time to wake up and smell the Roselias people. Pokémon Sun and Moon are GameFreak’s best versions yet.
Pokémon Sun and Moon was reviewed using a retail copy on 3DS provided to PowerUp! by Nintendo.
Game Title: Pokémon Sun and Moon
Trials, Captains and Kahunas, Oh My! - 9/10
Balancing Act - 9/10
Story Time - 9/10