Enjoy your tan!
The newest Pokemon games have finally been released and yet over a staggered release around the world I was able to contain my excitement and wait it out until the European release date finally arrived, and what a day it was. This game has helped to bring some much needed innovation to the series and changed up the formula just enough that while it still feels like Pokemon it’s very much a beast of its own. However can it stack up to the likes of Heartgold and SoulSilver as the best overall Pokemon game? Time to find out!
The story this time actually doesn’t involve you going on an epic journey to defeat the gym leaders and become a Pokemon League Champion, instead opting for something that fits more into the local flavour. See the new region, Alola, is Hawaii in everything but name. Tropical islands, sunny weather and palm trees all around! This time you much complete Trials set by Trial Captains which are essentially different tasks and mini games that force you to use your head and observation skills rather than just basic Pokemon battling. After completing these trials you face each island’s Kahuna, basically the leader and protector of the island, and move onto the next one. While it doesn’t get rid of the normal formula exactly it does add some much needed variety onto the gameplay rather than just fighting a trainer with a different theme of Pokemon. Along the way you will fight against the silly and incredibly non self aware Team Skull who seem like the type of people who view Eminem as an actual god. also you will meet the mysterious but goodhearted Aether Foundation who are Pokemon Conservationists and scientists looking to catalogue and protect the Pokemon of the world. Each of the new groups you meet are a normal trope of course however there are some unique twists that the story throws at you and makes everything not as tropical and nature based as this game originally seems to imply. also special note goes to the Rival in this game, Hau and your partner Lillie who manage to be thoroughly fleshed out in character development and actually manage to not be an annoying single trope side character for once! Also I think I might be in love with Professor Kukui who is without a doubt the most interactive and interesting Pokemon Professor this series has produced ever. Sorry Oak, you’ve been outclassed.
The presentation of this game I feel has its ups and downs over the previous games. I may be biased as I really enjoy the old sprite look of Pokemon however the 3D models of Pokemon still look as good as ever, even if they are just reused from the previous games. The new Pokemon almost all seem to be really well designed and fit with the themes and lcoation of Sun and Moon incredibly well. One of my absolute favourite Pokemon from this game is the new bug type Golisopod who seems to be a brawler take on the giant Isopod creature, taking what is basically nightmare fuel and making it a badass! Alola itself looks really nice and bright, a similar trait to the rest of the games in the series. Even though it mainly is a tropical setting there are different environments that mimic Hawaii really well. I especially love the black sand beaches which are based off an actual thing in this area of the world. The music too is really good this time around with stellar songs that mainly turn up later in the game and I have found myself humming from time to time, though the normal trainer battle themes and other similar background music doesn’t capture me as much (hah, see what I did there?). However one way the presentation lets itself down is in how the 3DS handles the new graphics. Mainly due to the increased amount of particle effects and additional sprites on the screen the older models of the 3DS (which is the one I own) seem to struggle with the framerate when things get exciting. Don’t even get me started on four way battle royales that give you more than plenty of time to think about your next move as it struggles to even show you normal move animations during these battles.
The gameplay itself is basically your standard Pokemon affair aside from the story changes which I mentioned already. Included into the battling system are new “Z-Moves”, super powerful one time moves that require a Pokemon to hold a specific stone for whichever type of move it plans to use. These are tied into the story so I won’t spoil anything by telling you how to get them but just know that the animations for these new moves are amazing but again sometimes cause the framerate to absolutely chug. Alongside this of course are the new Pokemon of which there are around 80 new ones, which also includes the new ‘Alolan Forms’. These are examples of real life evolutionary traits among species where they change and adapt their genetic structure in order to better fit their current climate. These are all new forms for some of the original 151 Pokemon and include different stats, move, abilities and even completely new types. They help to bring a fresh look to many old favourites and even help to make some Pokemon more viable in the competitive scene. This game is also more of a challenge than the other recent entries in the series which is an absolute blessing. By the time I was nearing the end game I was really struggling and I found myself enjoying it a whole lot more than simply blazing past everything in my path. I will say however that in the post game when you plan to breed and make your most powerful and competitive Pokemon viable for battling online you will find that levelling up becomes an absolute grind as the new XP system has diminishing returns as you get higher and higher making for a more frustrating experience.
Overall however I really enjoyed this experience. I am sad that Pokemon Bank isn’t available yet for use and so I have to wait till next year until I can use my favourite team in the post game here however that will obviously be even better once that feature is unlocked. This entry helped to make some good changes to the series and provided a brand new type of environment to Pokemon that really fits. It ultimately is held slightly back by technical limitations however it just makes me more excited to see where the series goes from here and onto what console it makes its way to. If you love Pokemon or RPG’s in general then you can’t really go wrong with Pokemon Sun and Moon. By the way if you are inetrested for some reason I chose Sun, I don’t know why. Maybe I just like Sun Lions more than Moon Bats.