With Pokemon celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, all eyes of the franchise’s fans turned to the latest game in the franchise “Pokemon Sun and Moon.” Released by Game Freak and the Pokemon Company on November 18, “Pokemon Sun and Moon” takes place in the tropical Hawaiian based area called the Alola region. Bright blue skies, colorful tropical flowers aplenty, many unique islands to explore, and plentiful amount of new pokemon in many different shapes and sizes await players in this beautiful addition to the series.
The story of the game takes place when the player themselves has moved to Alola from the Kanto region, an area from previous games Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow version. They are greeted by the Pokemon Professor of this region, Professor Kukui, who tells the player of the trials and kahuna’s they must face in the Alola region to become the Alolan champion. The player is then introduced to their rival, Hau, who occasionally challenges the player to see how far they have progressed. Another character the player is introduced to is Lillie, a mysterious girl who is hiding a secret from the harmful eyes of the villainess Team Skull. This team is a group of ruffian punks who cause trouble for many of the Alola regions inhabitants. It is up to the player to prove how tough they can battle and unlock the secrets of Alola.
The gameplay in this installment is almost exactly like the previous installments. However, unlike the last two, the mechanism of mega evolution is replaced with another called Z-Moves. Z-moves are special moves that players can access once per pokemon battle, much like mega evolving. These moves are used by the obtainment of Z-crystals that the player obtains when beating each trial. For each trial beaten, there is one crystal that focuses on one pokemon typing, such as fire, water, electricity, etc. These moves are incredibly powerful and if used right can knock out a strong pokemon instantly.
There are many changes to this game from the previous installments. For instance, instead of gym battles, the trainer goes on the previously stated trials. Each island of Alola has trials the player much defeat in order to obtain Z-Crystals and move forward in the story. Once all trials on an island are beaten, the trainer can then challenge the kahuna of the island for a grand trial. Once defeated the player can move to the next island.
Another change is the usage of HM’s also known as hidden moves. These moves were used in past games to continue into different regions by riding up waterfalls, flying long distances, or surfing on large bodies of water. In “Pokemon Sun and Moon,” HM’s aren’t used, but instead the player obtains a ride pager. This device gives the player the access of usable pokemon that can essentially do what the HM’s did. For example, instead of using the HM move “Fly,” players can call upon a Charizard to help them fly to different islands and towns.
One of the most talked about things about the game is the colorful new pokemon found in it. A lot of this region is tropically based including the pokemon, with a multitude of them having water and grass typing. In the theme of the title, Sun and Moon, some pokemon evolve at night time and some during the daytime, while other are exclusive to either of the two versions. While the new pokemon based from the region are great, another idea is implemented in this game. That is the idea of Alolan forms, where some species of pokemon from previous games immigrated to the Alolan islands and changed their look and typing over time. This idea relates to the real idea of variation, which correlates to the idea of evolution. With new looks and typing, some fan-favorite pokemon have even more style and uniqueness.
There have even been changes in the mini games and online gameplay aspects of the game, as well. Taking place for the Pokemon Amie option from the past two installments is the new option, Pokemon Refresh. Still being a mechanic where players can pet and feed their pokemon to increase relationship between each other, some changes have been made. There isn’t any type of way to get the pokemon’s enjoyment up by way of mini game, the player must battle once the pokemon needs enjoyment. Also instead of poke puffs being used to feed their pokemon, player’s feed them poke beans. However, the biggest change is the groom/healing option the player receives sometimes after battling. The player can then clean their pokemon for affection or can even heal status conditions such as poison, burns, and paralysis.
For online gameplay there is the option for the Festival Plaza. Here players can trade and battle locally and globally via wireless connection. They can also visit shops found in the plaza to win prizes in game and help train their pokemon.
Another mini game option is the Poke Pelago, where pokemon that aren’t in the player’s team can do activities that help find items or help the pokemon train. All of this can be done while the player is playing the main game. This is also a way for the player to obtain poke beans for the Pokemon Refresh option.
Customization of the player has returned as a mechanic in “Pokemon Sun and Moon.” Originally from the past installment, “Pokemon X and Y,” the player can customize their avatar to look like them and can be stylish while traveling the Alola region. Clothing stores and hair dressers can be found on each island in specific towns for this purpose.
While “Pokemon Sun and Moon” has a lot of good ideas and successful mechanics that will keep the player entertained, there are two issues with the game. The biggest issue is the long and gratuitous intro that begins the game. New players of the Pokemon games might get tired of all the exposition and introductions, as well as veteran players might get upset at how long it is before they can get their hands on their starter pokemon. Another issue, is the cheesy and sometimes confusing dialogue that is said in the game. Some of the characters sentences sound off as if they were mistranslated from Japanese to English, which can be confusing when reading every line of dialogue. However, this doesn’t occur too often in the game, so it is still enjoyable.
“Pokemon Sun and Moon” are another fun and exciting addition to the pokemon gaming franchise. With all the new option and mechanics to explore and enjoy, it’s no wonder the game is so popular at the moment. If you’re looking for a game where you can battle alongside a Pikachu at an island resort hotel, then this game is for you. “Pokemon Sun and Moon” gets the rating of 4.8/5.