Game Freak, creator of Pokemon, has clearly outdone itself once again, because Pokemon “Sun” and “Moon” are two of the best games in the series.
Admittedly, “Sun” and “Moon” follow the series’s basic formula, which feel like Mad Libs at this point. The player is a child living in the new Alola region, based on Hawaii. He or she is tasked by a professor named after a tree to train creatures known as Pokémon, as well as adding information to the Pokedex, an encyclopedia about them. The player will choose between a Water, Fire or Grass type as his or her partner, go about exploring the region, battle other trainers, make friends and foil the plot of an evil organization to use the legendary Pokémon on the game’s cover art.
However, the actual plot is a lot more compelling, with a surprising amount of character development. On top of this, the story is structured differently. Instead of challenging gyms to prove strength in battle, players instead take on Island Trials as a rite of passage, which can range from a trivia challenge to a surprisingly hilarious game of spot the difference, and rather than fight a powerful trainer, the bosses of these trials are powerful Totem Pokemon. This is one of many changes to the series- in fact, Sun and Moon add many new features that change up how the series has worked for years.
One of the most notable changes is Poke Ride. In the past, players have dealt with field moves, moves which must be taught to certain Pokémon to advance. For example, a Flying Pokémon was basically required on any team to fly to different areas. However, Poke Ride allows players to call Pokémon at any time to travel rather than carry one on their team. This allows for players to have more choice in what Pokémon they play with.
Speaking of what Pokémon to play with, many fascinating new Pokémon are introduced in “Sun” and “Moon.” Many are based on animals native to Hawaii, e.g. the coconut crab Crabrawler, and others are more fantastic concepts, like Palossand, a ghostly sandcastle. However, what’s most interesting are the new Alolan forms. These are Pokémon from past games that have been redesigned, having adapted to different habitats, which changes their type and powers. For example, fans may remember a Pokemon called Exeggutor, which is a sentient palm tree with psychic powers. While these creatures are roughly 6’ tall in other regions, they take in so much sunlight in the Alola region that they grow to 35’, and they exchange the Psychic type for the Dragon type. Not only is it fascinating to see how these classic characters are revamped, it also provides worldbuilding in the form of having subspecies of Pokémon, much like real world species.
One constant from past games is version difference. “Sun” and “Moon” do follow the same story as one another but with a few differences. As with almost every game in the series, there are a couple Pokémon exclusive to version. It’s possible to train Pokémon from the other version by trading Pokémon with another player.
That’s not the only difference, though. For the first time in the series, there’s a time difference. Pokémon Sun plays normally, but Moon is set 12 hours apart, so if played during the daytime, the game’s environment will be nighttime and vice versa. It’s an interesting way to separate the two versions, and it’s especially useful because there are some nocturnal Pokémon, so players can now find these elusive creatures without messing up their sleep schedules.
On top of all that, these games have a gorgeous presentation. The soundtrack is memorable, ranging from relaxing town themes to exciting battle music, but what’s more obvious is the graphical prowess, because the visuals push the 3DS to its limit. However, this is where one of the few issues of Sun and Moon comes in, as the game has lag issues. It’s not as bad as it could be because the game runs perfectly fine for the most part. The only time there’s significant lag is when the player is fighting multiple opponents at once.
If the game is played on a regular 3DS, the framerate will drop faster than Pokémon GO drops player interest -zing!- but it will return to normal after the battle. This doesn’t occur often, as there aren’t many instances of battling multiple foes simultaneously, and the lag is completely nonexistent on the New 3DS, which has a bit better processing power, but it may be an issue for some players.
Pokémon “Sun” and “Moon” introduce so much more that it’s hard to fit it all in one review. While the game can be beaten in roughly 15 hours if rushed, taking time exploring everything can take over 50 hours, and that’s not even counting playing together with friends. It does have a few minor flaws, such as boiling down to a similar base plot, a couple less interesting designs, and lag issues, but they’re all fairly minor and are far outweighed by the positives.
It’s easy to see why Pokémon “Sun” and “Moon” broke the record of Nintendo’s fastest-selling game ever upon launch.
Pokémon “Sun” and “Moon” are well worth the $40 price, and are an amazing experience for anyone with a 3DS. The games can be purchased at a games retailer like GameStop or digitally on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
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