Pokémon Sun and Moon were released a few months ago. So what are the new features? What features are familiar? Are these games an improvement on Pokémon X and Y? Find our answers in this review.
Developer: Game Freak
Platform: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 2DS, New Nintendo 3DS
Age rating: PEGI 7
Genre: RPG, Adventure
Just like all of the previous Pokémon games this game revolves around your character, someone who aspires to become a Pokémon trainer and is about to receive his or her first Pokémon. As always you choose between a fire, a water or a grass Pokémon. Alola is the brand new region this story takes place in and it’s a little different from previous regions, for one there are no gym leaders here. Instead you face several trials before you can battle to become the Alolan champion. This is only one of the many differences between Pokémon Sun and Moon and its predecessors. Alola is filled with new Pokémon and new features for you to enjoy.
Pokémon Sun and Moon have been very well received among Pokémon fans, me included. The game contains a lot of familiar features, but a lot of them have been improved upon. The new generation of Pokémon was varied and seemed well thought out, although some were clearly meant to be funny, such as the Alolan version of Diglett, which I could also appreciate. The entire game, including the storyline, seemed to be very detailed and there were even a few surprises in store when it came to the storyline, if you didn’t read all the spoilers online beforehand. In its entirety this game was very entertaining and still offers quite a few activities once you have become the Alolan Champion, such as completing your Pokédex, catching Ultra Beasts and battling at the Battle Tree.
This game is fun to play whether you have been a fan of the franchise since childhood or just stepping into it. Pokémon Sun and Moon is easy to follow and easy to start playing again after putting it aside for a while. There’s enough to discover in Alola, even for those who have played all the previous games.
Want to know more about why I feel this way? Keep reading!
Aloha-.. I mean Alola!
Region, Storyline & Characters
Pokémon Sun and Moon take place in the region Alola, which, as you probably guessed by now, is largely inspired by and based on Hawaii. Alola exists out of four islands: Melemele Island, Akala Island, Ula’ula Island and Poni Island. There’s also one artificial island in this region. Within Alola there are many Pokémon to find and many challenges and trainers to face.
On top of this there are also some fun details, like a face board cut out at the Alola Tourist Bureau, with an Hawaiian image on it. Homes were a little more decorated and your character’s mother even had her own bedroom. Bathrooms still mysteriously lacked in all houses though and other people didn’t often seem to have bedrooms either.
A cute twist in this story is that your starter Pokémon also has to choose you, which it does of course, but it’s made into a little ritual. Whichever Pokémon you choose, Hau, your ‘rival’, choses the one which is easiest for you to beat. Although I doubt anyone would really call Hau their rival, he’s a very cheerful guy who seems to look up to you.
Another character that often returns in the story is Lillie and although many fans loved her she was one of the big downsides to me. Every time she came up to my trainer I sighed and said ‘Not Lillie again’. Personally she was a little too whiny for my taste and especially very helpless. She repeated herself very often and kept complaining about how she didn’t like Pokémon battles. Later on, knowing a bit more about her background, I could see she was definitely not the most dramatic member of her family, but she still annoyed me. Therefore I was very happy with the conversation options and would often choose the option that’d get a funny reaction out of her.
Less chibi, more convenience
Gameplay & Style
Although the game itself doesn’t work very differently from previous Pokémon games, a lot has been improved. The characters within the game move more when they talk to you they have expressions and often when you start a conversation someone greets you with an ‘Alola’ and a gesture. Unfortunately your own character doesn’t show any expressions, even in situations where your character should’ve clearly been surprised there is still a sort of creepy blank stare, semi smile on its face. In this game you can still customize your trainer’s hair, outfit and eye colour, but the options are still limited. Even more so for male trainers than female trainers.
Another improvement can be seen in your Pokédex, which is now a Rotom Pokédex. It’s particularly handy when you haven’t played for a while as it reminds you what you were up to, or rather what quest you were busy with. You can also take pictures of Pokémon using this Pokédex, or rather its Poké Finder function, and obviously it has the standard Pokédex functionalities.
When battling or capturing a Pokémon you’ll encounter some new features as well. You’ll be able to see, after you’ve battled this kind of Pokémon before, which of your Pokémon’s moves will be very effective, effective, not very effective of will have no effect whatsoever. This helps you if, like me, you get a bit confused with what types exists and which are weak to what. Since there are a total of 18 types at this moment, this might come in handy. If your party is full and you capture a Pokémon you can choose to swap it for one in your party. You can also send it to a box and, if it is holding an item, take it’s held item.
The biggest difference between Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, apart from some version exclusive Pokémon and the Legendary Pokémon, is the time difference. I admit that I didn’t enjoy always playing ‘at night’, because I purchased Pokémon Moon that was often the case since I mostly played the game during the day. I missed out on Pokémon that only showed up during in game daytime, but this was very easy to fix since I quickly began changing the time of my 3DS forwards and backwards when needed.
As always the music in the game fit the circumstances well. Although I must admit I didn’t turn my sound on very often, as I have the habit of playing Pokémon games while watching series.
One complaint I heard from the people around me was that playing the game on an ‘old’ 3DS, instead of the New 3DS, was that the game slowed down a bit too much. It was, according to them, clearly a little too much for their 3DS to handle.
The 7th Generation of Pokémon
Starters, Alolan Forms, Legendaries & Ultra Beasts
As shown in the video above, this Pokémon game includes the starters Rowlet, Litten and Popplio. It’s not hard to find out my favourite, as I made a 3D Rowlet cake before the game came out. Although in all honesty I preferred Popplio’s final evolution, Primarina, so I did end up having it in my team as well.
Aside from the starters there are a lot of other new Pokémon in this game, which looked pretty well thought out. Some looked very pretty or tough, others were clearly intended to look funny. On top of these Pokémon some of the older generations’ Pokémon got their very own Alolan version, making them into different types and changing their looks a little. For instance an Ice Vulpix and a Dark Meowth. This added a nice familiar, yet slightly new element to the game.
The Legendary Pokémon of Sun and Moon represented the titles very well. Their colours and looks certainly fit the themes well. Of course there were more than just two Legendary Pokémon. The four Totem Pokémon, which you catch after becoming the Alolan Champion, among others. Out of all the other Legendary Pokémon I’d have to say Magearna was definitely my favourite. Its design is quite detailed.
Ultra Beasts are another addition to this game, which you catch after becoming Champion. These are not exactly Pokémon, but it’s hard to explain without giving the story away. I’m hoping they’ll play a part in future games as well, as some of them look pretty cool.
A new way to find Pokémon is the QR scanner. With the Island Scan somewhere on the island a special Pokémon will appear which you can catch. Which Pokémon it is depends on the island and the day of the week.
There are many more new and improved features in Pokémon Sun and Moon. There’s for instance a Poké Ride system now, meaning you don’t have to teach your Pokémon any moves like Fly, as you page a Poké Ride and they will do all the digging, searching, flying and more for you.
Z-Crystals have been introduced in this game, which give your Pokémon a special Z-Move. This move is more powerful than its other moves. I often used them while playing the game.
Poké Pelago was one of my favourite aspects of the game, it’s sort of a mini game within the game. You can collect beans, which you use to develop the ‘islands’ within Poké Pelago. You can attract wild Pokémon and get them to join your team, grow berries, send your Pokémon out to find treasure in a cave, relax your Pokémon or EV train them.
Some of the other features are Pokémon Refresh, the Battle Tree, Battle Royal and the Festival Plaza.