It has been three years since Game Freak released the 6th generation of games. Game Freak made a huge leap when it transitioned to the Nintendo 3DS. The sixth generation introduced new things like 3D battles, character customization and super training. Now that Game Freak released Pokémon Sun and Moon and they made several improvements and refinements to the gameplay and graphics. Does the new generation of Pokémon games live up to the hype? We’ll find out.
Warning: Review contains spoilers.
The story focuses on the main character coming to the Alola region. After meeting Professor Kukui to get your starter Pokémon, you eventually follow Lillie, Kukui’s assistant to a draw bridge. The main character saves Cosmog from wild Pokémon on a rope bridge. The rope bridge broke after Cosmog used its special powers. The island guardian, Tapu Kokeko rescues you and Cosmog from the fall. Once you obtain your starter Pokémon, the player start setting out for the island tour (島巡り) to complete island trials.
The main character will encounter Team Skull throughout the journey, a criminal organization that steals Pokémon and cause mischief. As the journey progresses, the main character finds out that Aether Foundation is the evil organization that funding Team Skull. Instead of protecting Pokémon, Lusamine obsesses about Ultra Beasts, particularly the one that looks like her daughter, Lillie. She needs Cosmog, which can open ultra-holes to accomplish her desire.
Compared to previous games, while Team Skull provides comedy relief, it’s surprising to see that Aether Foundation (エーテル財団) is the villainous organization. The Aether Foundation is similar to Team Plasma since they are a Pokémon welfare organization.
On the other hand, with Lillie’s character development and seeing her carry a Cosmog named Hoshigumo (ほしぐも) reveals shady things about Aether Foundation. Lusamine, who is Lillie’s mother and representative of the Aether Foundation obsesses about ultra-beasts and ultra-holes. After seeing Utsuroido, she becomes obsessed with it. She wants to use Cosmog to bring it out again in order to capture it.
In comparison to Pokémon X and Y, the story is an improvement. However, there are some things that the story left unanswered. Why did Lusamine became obsessed with ultra-beasts? Is her husband’s disappearance connected to Lusamine’s obsession for Ultra Beasts? Moreover, why do the ultra-beasts look similar to Lillie, Lusamine, Gladio and Guzuma? Aside from that, I like the story primarily because of Lillie being an enjoyable character.
Graphics-wise, Pokémon Sun and Moon looks better than Pokémon X and Y. Not only the character model and over world looks a lot better, but the battles too. The trainer model now appears in Pokémon battles like in Pokémon Battle Revolution. While the game runs smooth for the most part, Game Freak removed triple and rotation battles. While we don’t know the exact reason, it’s apparent that double battles suffers from lower frame rates. This is nothing new since Pokémon X and Y suffers with frame rate issues . This makes you wonder if Game Freak intended to make Sun and Moon for the Nintendo Switch, but changed their minds.
As for the gameplay, compared to previous games, it’s different. Instead of challenging gym leaders, you do island trials and grand trials. Each trial has different goals and objectives. The grand trials on the other hand are essentially Pokémon battles against Island Kings or Queens. You can only advance once you beat them. After clearing all the trials, you can challenge the Elite Four.
I have to admit that the trials are interesting. Compared to battling gym trainers and leaders, it’s a fresh idea. To me, it felt a bit too easy, mostly because I effort value trained my Pokémon. In other words, I can breeze through them without issues. I have to admit that Acerola’s trial was somewhat tricky, but I managed to clear it on the first try.
Another new battle game mechanic is Z-Moves. They are powerful moves that can deal a lot of damage or power up a Pokémon. You can only use a Z-Move once per battle and require a Pokémon to hold a Z-Crystal. Although I feel that they are gimmicky, it will change the meta game.
Despite Super Training removal, Game Freak made it easier to raise Pokémon for competitive battles. While there are no more hordes, wild Pokémon now call for help if their HP is low. This change makes it easier to EV train without moving in the grass back and forth. Another change is Hyper Training, which makes it possible to max out individual values. Although you can’t pass down the Hyper Training boost, it will reduce the need to breed endlessly.
Lastly, character customization has improved, at least for female characters. Compared to Pokémon X and Y, there are more hair and clothing options in Sun and Moon, including makeup. Males on the other hand still have limited customization options, but at least it’s somewhat better. Also, you can remove the hat, which is something you couldn’t do in the last game. Lastly you can also customize how the player’s character throw their ball. In shor, the customization options overall are a noticeable improvement over Pokémon X and Y.
Overall, Sun and Moon is a solid addition to the franchise. While there are some things that I wish Game Freak wouldn’t take out, it’s definitely a step in a right direction. Still, I wish that they would improve the post-game and add more Mega Evolutions, but one can wish.
The Bottom Line:
Strengths: Improved graphics, interesting story, SOS Battles, improved customization, ability to change Individual values, easier to see effort values and individual values. Also, the new island trials are a good change from the usual formula.
Weaknesses: Frame rate problems in double battles, weak post games, no new mega evolutions, customization options limited for male characters, removed Triple and Rotation battle modes, and removal of Super Training. ¶