Last year, Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced players to the 7th generation of Pokémon. With this generation, fans are traveling to the Alola region. The region is made up of four small islands in a tropical region far away from the Kanto region. This region inspired by the landscape, customs, traditions and even the animals of Hawaii. With the Alola region having new Pokemon to capture, stories to tell, bad guys to stop; Will Alola be a new fresh experience for fans or just be a similar experience?
Unlike previous games, the story starts right out of the gate with a small cut scene of a mysterious girl. She carries some unknown Pokémon in a duffel bag while being chased by people in white uniforms. Three months later, the game starts as the player is preparing to move to the Alola region.
Pokémon Sun and Moon changes up the typical story formula of collecting eight gym badges, stopping the villainous team from taking over the world, capturing the legendary Pokémon, and becoming the champion.
The major change in the story formula is the gameplay objective and how the story is not intertwined. With previous Pokémon games, the players main objective has always been to collect eight gym badges throughout the region. However, in Sun and Moon, this is replaced with the Island Challenge. While the island challenge requires the player to overcome various obstacles, These island challenge missed the beat when trying to flush out the main character. Instead, major plot points take place when Lillie, the game’s second protagonist, and the main character are together.
Early on in the game, the player meets Lillie and her companion Pokémon Cosmog. She commonly refers to it as Nebby. As the game progresses the player becomes close friends with Lillie and Nebby, eventually helping Lillie get through some tough situations. While traveling about, Lillie hides Nebby in a bag instead of a Pokéball.
In Alola, the villainous team is Team Skull and their goal is different compared to previous evil teams as they are more focused on destroying the various island trials. As the story progresses, Team Skull becomes relatable as most of its members failed the island challenge and are treated poorly by society. While the player travels across the 4 main islands of Alola, they also encounter the Aether Foundation whose purpose is to help and take care of Pokémon. The combination of these two groups really makes the Alola region come to life.
While Pokémon Sun and Moon adds new things to the story formula it failed with a few other aspects. How the player obtains the main legendary is rather lackluster and some questions were left unanswered for being one of the major aspects of the game. The best thing it did to the story was by eliminating the main character as the focus of the stories plot. This is a major step forward as the main objective and the story felt like they were not intertwined.
With Pokémon making the jump to 3D on the 3DS during the last generation, it allowed for superb 3D models of the Pokémon and the environment making it harder for Sun and Moon to follow suit. However, Sun and Moon’s updates though minor, made the Alola region look beautiful. The character models are fully built with every model in the overworld set to a proper ratio. By far the greatest improvement was the battle scene. The field terrain matches better to the scenery where the player is currently at while the trainers are present in the battle being behind their Pokémon. When the player is deciding on which move they will take, the avatar will stand there thinking. Once the player has decided, their avatar will signal the Pokémon to do an attack. To add on that, every trainer the player faces will be using balls outside of the traditional Pokéball. This small change does a lot in making it feel like the player is not the only trainer using different types of Pokéballs. The other big update was the effects that each of the different types of Pokéballs has. Before this generation depending on which type of Pokéball you use, had a simple effect with a few exceptions such as the dusk ball, quick ball, and timer ball. With this update, it allows players another form of customization on how they want to show their Pokémon coming into battle.
One of the big issues that Pokémon faced in previous games was its varying difficulty curves. Sun and Moon take the right step forward and about halfway through the main story the difficulty starts to ramp. The game will punish the player for poor decision making. There were multiple times where poor decision making made me have to restart the trials. Upon reaching the Final fight in the main story the AI makes more intelligent decisions. Generation six added the mega evolution mechanic for Pokémon fans which allowed certain Pokémon the ability to evolve in battle temporarily. This generation introduced Z-Moves which is an enhanced version of any move in the game. Similar to mega evolution, it can only be used once per battle and in order to perform a Z-move correctly, the Pokémon must be holding a specific item, in this the Z-crystal. If the player wanted to use a Rock type Z-move the Pokémon must be holding a Rock Z-Crystal and have at least one rock type move. This will allow more creativity in competitive battling as a lot of it has run rather stale with Pokémon with superior stats and abilities reigning on top.
Most Pokémon games are based on real world locations. Alola region is no different as it is heavily inspired off the state of Hawaii. Sharing similarities, both Alola and Hawaii have 4 islands and areas inside of the region being reflected through Alola.
Hawaiian music roots come from Polynesian culture. That music is focused on using the light beat of drums and string instruments as a baseline for the song. This is used in the music for Alola region allowing the music to give the full feeling to the player they are traveling amongst an island paradise.
Pokémon Sun and Moon are great games for the franchise. Exploring with new concepts to bring a new fresh look to the series. With an interesting story. Any Pokémon fan should player this game as it is a unique experience.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives Pokémon Sun and Moon 8.5 Alola out of 10!
A Unique Encounter
Pros: New Pokémon, exciting Z-moves, compelling story, memorable character depth, challenging end game. Cons: Inconsistent trial depth.