Pokémon Sun and Moon are the newest Pokémon games to date, with tons of new landscaping features being brought into the ever-expanding scope of their franchise. Taking the world by storm, these games have dominated the 3DS market and continue to emulate the hard-boiled success and breakthroughs that its preceding beloved RPGs have had to offer. Yet again, Nintendo's Game Freak have caught lightning in a bottle—or, rather, a Mewtwo in a Poké Ball—with this one.
These two games remind me of why I first fell in love with this strong going franchise. Like revisiting an old friend from the past, Pokémon Sun and Moon actually have a story and, for once since two generations ago, it was actually worth not spamming A until your finger's as numb as an armadillo in the Arctic. They were fluid enough to read like a book, and their story captured an element the Pokémon games have fatally been forgetting. This franchise was a key contributor to what we now informally and collectively refer to as button mashing—constantly spamming buttons like a dishwasher on overdrive just to get some dang text to get off the screen—and, after all, the best they could do was repair their sin. So why bring this up so early in the review? Because, as I'm writing this, I've gotta get it off my chest. It's such a common Pokémon foible to have a vapid, button mashing, vanilla and invariably friendship-based adventure that your character is silent, silent because he/she's full of absolute hatred for all of this garbage happening around them. It's all a big conspiracy. I mean, heck, all I've ever wanted to do is sit on a Charizard and become a supreme overlord over the Pokémon world and burn everything in an oblivion of wrath, and I'm sure my character, one who has been with me on my Pokémon journey since day one can, albeit silently, agree.
Stuff to note beforehand:
- Sun and Moon form Generation 7. Pokémon X and Y and Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire collectively formed Generation 6.
- Gyms no longer exist, being replaced by Island Kahunas and Trial Captains.
- The professor of this generation is known as Professor Kukui.
- There are four islands; the verdant Melemele, the starting island, home to the player's house and the largest city in Alola, Hau'oli City; the nature-harmonising Akala Island, home to a trifecta of three of the four Trial Captains of Alola; the pluvial and atmospheric Ula'ula, home to the two major mountains of Alola, Mount Lanakila and Mount Hokulani, the former of which is home to the Pokémon League—oh yeah, it's also the largest island in Alola; and the Grand Canyon-like Poni Island, consumed by nature and, to its norternmost point, the Battle Tree, essentially the Battle Resort or Battle Frontier of Alola. Wish you were here!
- The player's rival is known as Hau. He's not as lame as past rivals, however.
- There's also a character known as Lillie whose Cosmog, Nebby, has spawned a certain internet phenomena. Lillie's mother is Lusamine, and her brother is Gladion.
- There are four island deities, one for each island—Tapu Koko of Melemele, Tapu Lele of Akala, Tapu Bulu of Ula'ula, and Tapu Fini of Poni—and the four of them specialise in two respective stats.
- The "evil team" of Alola is Team Skull, lead by Guzma. However, there's effectively two, with the Aether Foundation proving to be rather conflicted, working both to keep Pokémon safe and to research Ultra Beasts. However, the latter ends up making the leader, Lusamine, go a little crazy, her motives to do with the loss of her husband. Team Skull disbands, though Aether does not, despite their leader leaving the group to be cared for by Lillie (she nearly dies).
- After defeating the Elite Four, you're crowned champion, but you've gotta beat Professor Kukui first. Kukui isn't the champion, however, he's just the man behind the final pre-game fight.
- The Elite Four are the Kahunas, with the exception of the Kahunas of Ula'ula and Poni. These two have been instead replaced by Acerola, an Island Captain, and literally the only entirely irrelevant character in the story, Kahili.
It's a lot to take in, I know. :P
Game Freak has truly delivered with this one and, oh boy, they delivered well. Seriously, these guys would make excellent postmen.
- Story — as stated, these games have a great story. Unlike previous instalments in the ever-expanding RPG giant's series, this game had a story that was both equally immersive and something different—seriously, aside from a certain person in the Alolan Elite Four whom I shall not name, I literally pale at the question of any character that seemed forgettable to me. This game expertly husbanded the always difficult toil of tying in new and often significant changes with the story, and what I mean by this is the Island Kahunas, who replaced the eight Gym Leaders. I won't get in too much depth here (because I'll mention them later!), but they all had perks I enjoyed to a great extent. I can recite all of their interesting features right here right now, in fact—Island Kahuna Hala, for one, is the Fighting-type specialising grandfather of the player's rival, Hau, and is greatly revered by the people of Melemele Island and, as Hau himself states, is an important figure in the story; he's so revered that, in fact, he drove the man that would become Hau's father off to the Kanto region, what with having so much to live up to! And this man is only one of four of these people. Interesting character or what? This is the same with the Trial Captains who, once again, I won't get into too much depth about, but were all memorable in their own right. Take a gander at the pic below; at first sight, they seem miles more interesting than some of the gym leaders of the past—and trust your first sight, my friend!
- New features — as I've noted, there're these things called Trial Captains and Kahunas, both of which collectively replace Gym Leaders. When these two were first seen by fans, they were of course heavily dismayed about, but with the games' releases, we should really learn that they've got this. The trials give you a fun little mission in line with some strong Pokémon, known as Totem Pokémon, to fight. The trials themselves range from downright hilarious to totally suspenseful! The Kahunas, on the other hand, are a tad higher in terms of title to the captains, being one per island and effectively acting as Gym Leaders, with them specialising in a specific type, with a ton of tough Pokémon. One of these Kahunas was Dark-type, too, so they've finally conformed to our wishes! (Mostly, that is. :P) Other notable features include Pokémon Refresh, an improvement on Pokémon Amie from Generation 6, the Rotom Pokédex, your own little travelling companion that is composed of a Map of the islands and the Pokédex (and, additionally, Rotom's unobtrusive speech input on happenings around you), the Poké Finder, a sentiment of Pokémon Snap, which allows you to take photos of Pokémon in certain areas, and is accessed from this Rotom Pokédex, etc. There's also the Festival Plaza, which allows you to Battle and Trade with others in addition to being able to play minigames. All of these things, in my opinion, are great additions to the game, though my only question is why Festival Plaza was necessary since most of the minigames aren't used much. It can be quite overcomplicated, too. One other thing I need to talk about is Poké Pelago, which gives the Pokémon in your PC the ability to play in a bunch of islands each with their individual specialities. It's great for those that feel guilty for all of those PC-living Pokémon (I know I do, I've got over two hundred of the things), and is incredibly low maintenance. It's also the best way to farm berries in a Pokémon game yet, being a few clicks and a few waits, and one berry harvest grants you about five—and, considering how many berry harvest spots there are, it's easy to farm. It's really neat and something I hope won't be a novelty to this game only, because there's a ton of examples when such was the case, sadly. ;-;
- Informalities — I've gotta hand it to Game Freak, they do a super good job of entertaining me. What I mean by informalities is that these games really tone down a little. It's pretty hard to explain, but would you expect Generation 1 to reference an internet meme? Seriously, the masterminds behind these games pulled a sneaky "7.8 Too much water" in their OWN GAME. I'm aware that this meme was after Generation 1 was introduced, but seriously, do you think they'd slip this kind of thing into the first generation of Pokémon? I just love the atmosphere and how it really feels more friendly and comfortable. Team Skull, too, is another testament to this. I mean, first of all, let's face it: the only way they can articulate is through some lengthy rigmaroles that sound like raps, yo. And it's all kid-restricted, yo, don't want none of that PG-13 from those Pegi peeps, yo. They keep getting up in my grill, yo, they should back off, yo. That's how they talk, simply put. And, I mean, who doesn't like Team Skull? That one guy in the corner does, yo.
- Evil team — I know I've already mentioned them, but Team Skull were hilariously (albeit intentionally) bad, and evil teams I actually enjoyed seeing around. Back in Gen 6, Team Flare were a pain in the ass and simply put annoying, since their dialogue was just boring "omg hes in the base pls stop teh anying brat!11!", and Lysandre's little character development just hindered the team even more. For so many generations now we've had the same repetitive evil team just clothed in different uniforms, that's literally the only difference, and the one leader who's a philistine, condescending and overbearing prat. The leaders up to Generation 7 have conformed to this same profile, but they have been admittedly difficult, particularly Cyrus and, my goodness, Ghetsis, that guy was tough. The teams themselves have been decent to me, but in pretty much all past games they were everywhere and ineptly repetitive in terms of their teams, and no fun to battle whatsoever. However, they still had their charm. Team Flare, though, ugh ... it was a poorly-done Team Rocket that felt like a forced mandate put on the Pokémon team at Game Freak, or something in small-print at the bottom of the team's bucket list they forgot about and, within hours of release, was added. Team Skull's leader, Guzma, to me, seemed awesome and wasn't the typically old arrogant leader you tend to see from these games. He was a hooligan like the rest of them, but had a cool theme and literal everything. His Golisopod was pretty difficult to surpass, too. Plumeria, the co-leader if you will, had an intriguing "big sis" vibe to the Grunts and, despite having small character development, wasn't as forgettable as people like Admin Tabitha of Team Magma, and the rest of them. This is the same case with the Aether Foundation, the grunts within the organisation actually being pretty tough, but I dislike how, as cool as it is, the cutscene at the start of the game spoiled everything about them.
- The Pokémon — I think it's mutual that everyone thought the Pokémon of this generation stunk at first glance; however, upon journeying with them to my heart's content, I realised that these are, in my humble opinion, the best bunch of Pokémon we've ever had. Why? Because they were all unique in their own individual way. I mean, take Alolan Muk, for instance—looks like your ordinary pile of unicorn barf, right? Well, you're wrong, for this Pokémon gobbles up the garbage of Alola, thus the interesting pigmentation—there's even a rubbish plant in the region that uses this exact method! Disgusting but totally rad. When most of the Alola Pokémon were leaked, people seemed to heavily look down upon things like Comfey and Oranguru, but they ended up being super cool, and a neat addition to the franchise. Sure, there are some stinkers, like Bounsweet and Bruxish, but the former evolves quickly and easily and the latter is excellent at almost everything outside of design. Oh yeah, the vast majority of Pokémon in this generation have their own signature moves/abilities (or both), too—I can't tell you how many times I spammed Turtonator's Shell Trap, it's sooooo fun. All of the Alolan forms, too are epic; my personal favourite's Alolan Dugtrio, that hair is just on point. I can't really doubt any of them, I love them all.
Not gonna lie, I could probably write my own phD of things that could've been done better in this generation, but it's impossible to keep me happy, right? However, there are some major foibles in this game that I don't think anyone could pass. Not to make this sound like a rant or whatever, though.
- Festival Plaza and the removal of the Player Search System — okay, I don't think a single person playing this game has not stumbled at the Festival Plaza. First off, it's much, much longer than Generation 6's Player Search System was, which was just a few clicks of a button, and incredibly easy to use. With Festival Plaza, you have to first add that person's friend code, ensure they've done it, too, both connect online on the Festival Plaza, and then hope to find one another on their friend's list on the Plaza. As someone who's used to Generation 6's much more efficient method, do you think or do you not think I had to look that up first? For newcomers, too, which I thought Pokémon was supposed to be trying to cater for more, this is a massive hassle. The V.I.P. function, too, is entirely broken, or so it seems. Sure, it does give us minigames and such over the old one, but I'm sure about ninety per cent of players ignore these—I, for one, am part of that figure.
- ↑ Lamoreux, Ben. https://www.gamnesia.com/news/pokemon-sun-moon-reference-igns-infamous-7.8-10-too-much-water-review "Thanks to some leaked images, we can see that one of the options you can choose is "7.8/10 Too much water." Nice to see Game Freak having a little fun [···]"