Pokémon Sun & Moon Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided for this review by Nintendo.
There’s an old adage we always say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Pokémon has always been like that for over twenty years, providing the same concept through multiple generations. Now we reach Generation 7 with the arrival of Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon. It has been said that the game is going to be different than the previous generations. Will the game carry the same enjoyable experience or will the changes make this be something else?
The story is set in the region of Alola, based off of Hawaii. It focuses on a young individual who just moved from Kanto with his mom to Alola. With help from his uncle Prof. Kukui, the trainer embarks on a journey to become the strongest trainer in the region. There’s also another plot revolving Lillie and a Pokémon of hers named Nebby who’s on the run from a shady organization. Most of the story’s told through scenes that occur during your journey. It’s done well though I feel the story regarding Lillie can be improved a bit, not that it’s a bad thing.
All Pokémon games have had the same gameplay since the beginning. But this time, Nintendo & the Pokémon Company decide to take a gamble and provide a different experience for players. The gameplay is the same where you travel all over a region to catch Pokémon and use them to battle, other trainers. If you’ve played previous Pokémon handheld games, it’s straightforward. In the case of Sun & Moon, how you go about your journey is different. Gone are the usual gym leaders and in its place comes the Island Challenge.
In the Island Challenge, you travel from one island to the next completing various Island Trials. The Island Trials are missions where you tackle specific objectives before you take on the Island Totem Pokémon in an SOS battle. The Totem Pokémon will sometimes bring ally Pokémon to fight alongside it. After beating the Totem Pokémon, you complete the trial. Some islands will have more than one Trial and they need to be completed in order to reach the Grand Trial. Grand Trials are like gym battles where you take on the Island Kahuna. Beating them will complete the trial and you will move on to the next island.
I personally love the Island Challenges. Instead of battling, you have to do objectives to move on from one trial to the next. It helps the game feel fresh and different while keeping everything the same and I hope that future Pokémon games can follow this style. Not only that they have removed gyms but also HMs. Replacing HMs is the Ride Pager, giving you access to Ride Pokémon that can help trek through Alola. A welcome addition to the game and one that is quite fun to have.
Another addition is Z-Moves. As you journey through Alola, you’ll acquire Z-Crystals that give your Pokémon access to super powered moves that can turn the tide of battle. However they can only be used once per battle, so be careful. A neat addition and can be helpful in a moment’s notice. You can also take pictures of Pokémon with your Pokedex and send them to get results. You get rewarded for it to boot.
The game is a long one and depending if players want to complete their Pokedex and have all the Pokémon, it can take a while. But for an estimate, the game will take roughly 30-40 hours, even longer especially when you can also trade and battle online adding the length to unbelievable levels. Speaking of which, the online has changed. You still have the usual GTS but the addition of the Festival Plaza allows players to meet other people and earn coins so they can use them to improve their plaza to make it better.
Presentation-wise, the game is a big step up from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. The characters look a lot better and the environment itself is vibrant and colorful. Battles are intense and though it reuses stuff from the previous game, I won’t complain. The Z-Moves themselves do look great. But if I were to find any nitpicks with the game, I feel the story needs a bit of work. Also the game can have a tendency to slow down when double battles occur. It mostly happens on a regular Nintendo 3DS but if you’re playing on a New Nintendo 3DS, the slowdown doesn’t happen. Considering that the game is pushing the 3DS hardware to its limits, it’s to be expected.
Pokémon Sun & Moon has breathed new life into the franchise, providing a familiar feel while also adding new features and innovations. Sure the story can be hit or miss but overall, it’s a satisfying experience. So much to do in the region of Alola that you can spend weeks or even months and with updates that allow players to transfer Pokémon from previous games to this one adds it even more. The franchise’s 20th Anniversary was a huge celebration and this game’s release certifies that this game franchise will be around for a long time to come.
I give Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon a perfect 10 out of 10. Legendary status and it’s worth your time and money.