POKÉMON Sun and Moon are a fantastic achievement for an aging franchise; after 20 years, familiar yet refreshing gameplay, as well as new Pokémon designs that perfectly suit the new region help create the most genuine and thoughtful Pokémon game yet.
Sun and Moon are set in the fictional region of Alola. Based off real life Hawaii, Alola has everything from sun soaked beaches and sparkling seas, to active molten volcanoes, lush jungles and even frosty mountain tops. After two decades of Pokémon, it’s likely you think you know everything the series has to offer: eight gyms, an elite four, and the champion; you. Whilst new Pokémon appear, the story remains dull and unoriginal. Pokémon SM throw out these notions in favour of a more self-aware, humour-filled overworld, replacing the gyms with trials. These new trials involve varied challenges in different environments, culminating with a final battle with an incredibly powerful totem Pokémon. This gives the game an opportunity to introduce you to Alola slowly, and provide a sense of scale for the region. As there is a trial for nearly every type in the game, there is a constant sense of wonder and enthusiasm to progress in the main story.
“there is a constant sense of wonder and enthusiasm to progress in the main story”
At the forefront of the story in this generation is Team Skull: a team not too dissimilar from Team Rocket, aside from one great difference: a level of self-awareness to the point where they know they’re both named “grunt,” and just a generic villain. It’s as if the writers realised the way to balance having an audience with a spectrum of ages; from the young who are starting out with their very first game, to those who have played since they were young themselves. The lore and history of Alola will also pervade your adventure. Be it the design of the islands, the stories of long-passed powerful ultra beasts, or the guardian deities that protect the islanders.
Critical to the game’s success is its battling system. This time around, a more refined move selection screen, including effectiveness of moves, helps newer players become quickly familiar with vital game mechanics, whilst also leaving a level playing field in the competitive scene. The ingame environments of Sun and Moon are also far removed from the blocky and pixelated regions of games past. The fun and colourful Hawaiian setting of Alola make these the nicest-looking games to date. The music fits perfectly with each area, and the Pokémon that exist in each of these draws a nice synergy and sense of realism as to where you are going. It really is the thoughtfulness and care that developers GameFreak have put into Sun and Moon which excel the games to a new level.
“The fun and colourful Hawaiian setting of Alola make these the nicest-looking games to date”
Nintendo’s archaic multiplayer system is slightly improved upon in these games, however they mainly rely on X and Y’s menu to trade and battle. The introduction of battle royale, where four players each send one Pokémon in and battle together, provides a fresh challenge which draws on strategy and suspense to change the way people can battle in larger groups. Cool version exclusive Pokémon such as Oranguru in Moon version require trading to be an important aspect of the game still, and utilising the new Festival Plaza acts to unify these interactions and provide a bespoke, dedicated area. Mini games such as Poké Pelago provide poké- beans for the newly worked Pokémon refresh, quite identical to Pokémon amie from X and Y, however they now allow training of Pokémon, a replacement from the day care. One of the fan-favourite additions in these new games includes the removal of HM’s in favour of Pokémon pager, where with the click of a button you can ride Pokémon including charizard, tauros and lapras. Perfectly, this gives you ample opportunity to build your team throughout the game without relying on one Pokémon for many uses. Pokémon Sun and Moon progress the format without removing the lifeblood of the series. A new region, interesting new Pokémon and a cool story further prove that Nintendo can continue to revitalise aging IPs with new and exciting ideas