Before we start this review off I already know what you’re thinking; “Why are you releasing a review now?” or saying various sentiments to that effect. There’s a perfect answer for this, seeing how this is the 20-year anniversary of a franchise that literally has been in majority of our lives deserves to be savored and paced. Add fact that The Pokémon Company has given us new approaches only amplifying game intrigue by 10, yeah this review is coming out now.
Pokémon has reached that pinnacle point in its history where you ask yourself, where else can the franchise go? For 20 years the main titles along with the spinoffs have supplied many die-hard fans endless memories. Pikachu was the first Pokémon to ever gain mainstream popularity in the late 90s and since then, has been the mascot for the franchise 800+ Pokémon later. Now with the hopes of changing things up as well as celebrating this 20-year milestone, The Pokémon Company comes, Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon.
The Pokémon Company made it abundantly clear that they wanted to pay homage to the original 151 but further push the franchise in a new direction. By doing this they’ve taken a handful of the ‘Original 151’ and alter their typing and battle style with a form called Alola Form (i.e. Sandshrew, Sandslash, Vulpix, and Ninetales). The game also featured a few cameos that many fans would appreciate. GameFreak & The Pokémon Company have a way to add a reminder to fans who may have stepped aside a chance to catch up as alongside the revamped approach for a new generation.
Sun and Moon take place in a fictitious region known as Alola, the adventurous setting inspired by Hawaii. Although this may have some difference from the real Hawaii the way the game is handled through exploration in this in-game world is truly beautiful than any other region in the main series. You no longer have the restrictions of being on the grid as your freedom to explore immerses you to enjoy the tropical lands of Alola. From big cities, canyons, jungles, and icy mountains fans will truly have a chance to enjoy the region for what it really has to offer.
At the behest of staying true to the original games, Sun and Moon add a whole new meaning to completing the main narrative. One surprise that had many asking various questions was the removal of ‘Gym leaders’. Growing accustom to battling 8 specialized trainers of the region before heading to the Pokémon had become normal for fans. They have been replaced with Captains and skilled Kahunas where each one initiates the player to solve puzzles. The lack of badges is replaced with Z-Crystals after completing defeating the Captain or the super-charged Totem Pokémon. However, the different challenges and tasks that provide players with a way of proving their worth as an aspiring Pokémon Champion have a satisfying emotion when the dust settles.
With the introduction of Z-Crystals the battle system which is largely untouched triggers the inclusion of a new move called, Z-Moves. These moves correspond to the typing of the Pokémon holding the crystal. The Z-Move itself once activated packs an incredibly powerful attack that can completely change the tide of battle. These moves are limited to one use per battle, much like Mega Evolutions which is not included in this year’s game. With the focus on new and original beasts with the added alternate forms battle strategy will become important to win the duel. enhanced through the emotion that characters are better able to convey following an overhaul of the on-screen human models, but these tweaks have come at a cost.
Enhanced through the emotion that characters are better able to convey following an overhaul of the on-screen human models, these tweaks have come at a cost. The 3d-enabled play does not function with the games in any form, and battles featuring more than two Pokemon at a time take a noticeable dip in the ‘frames per second’ department. It’s far from game-breaking, but it’s the reality of developing on portable hardware that’s only as powerful as the Nintendo 3DS. I can’t pet Solgaleo’s head without the transition feeling like an overloaded computer program.
Speaking of the previous statement, the additions of Poké Pelago and Pokémon Refresh takes on a new meaning of ensuring the player bonds with their Pokémon through the main narrative. In Poké Pelago the player has the option of growing their own berries and Poké Beans which are used to raise the fondness towards the player. Pokémon Refresh takes on several avenues that will give the player several advantages to victory—if utilized properly (preventing a Pokémon from fainting, shaking off a battle status, dodging attacks frequently, and landing critical hits). Can’t tell you how many time I’ve been in a tight spot during a battle and a move would miss or I’d land a critical hit taking the Pokémon out.
All in all, Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon is a new exciting adventure that die-hards and new fans will love. The evolution of the game has come a long way guaranteeing that you will never grow too old for this franchise. Removing gyms, Hidden Machines (HMs), and altering original Pokémon was a huge gamble that ultimately paid off. The loving craftsmanship that Nintendo and The Pokémon Company truly honored the past while focusing on the future story of this beloved franchise. 20 years of Pokémon and Sun/Moon will be the reminder that the franchise will never be in vain.