In typical Nintendo fashion the next big Pokémon adventure comes in two exciting flavours: Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. While the story for both games are virtually the same, each version offers exclusive Pokémon only available in that version, along with a few other differences such as Pokémon Sun taking place in real-time, while Pokémon Moon‘s clock is set 12 hours ahead. In the game you’ll play as a young character who has just arrived to the stunningly beautiful archipelago of Alola, a brand new region in the Pokémon universe. Following a warm welcome by Professor Kukui, it’s time to explore vast these tropical islands in search of wild Pokémon, of which several new species are unique to this region of the world.
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: November 18, 2016
Developer: Game Freak
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
I love the new approach in Pokémon Sun (the version I played) and Pokémon Moon where you have to take The Island Challenge, an adventurous rite of passage that involves traveling to all four islands and completing the island trials. The tropical climate of the area also neat effects on the Pokémon that inhabit it, such as the new nocturnal Alolan Rattata and the oh so adorable Alolan Dugtrio who now have flowing golden hair. The final trial of each island is to go one-on-one against the island kahuna, a name given to island leader. Watch out for the presence of Team Skull though, as this ruffian group loves to swoop in when you least expect them, then challenge you to battle and steal your beloved Pokémon.
Building out you Pokémon team
Like in all previous main series Pokémon games, your adventure begins by choosing one of three Starter Pokémon, this time selected from Rowlet (Grass/Flying), Litten (Fire), and Popplio (Water). I chose Rowlet since he was just so irresistibly cute, but it really a tough choice. To build your team, you must venture around town through tall grass areas where you can find wild Pokémon to catch in your Poké Ball. In combat, Pokémon can only hold up to four move at once, usually consisting of various attacks, and buff/debuff skills. Strategy is of the utmost importance in these Pokémon games (and all others), so make sure to take the time outside of battle to known your Pokémon strength and weaknesses in and out.
What’s cool this time around is now you can care for your Pokémon outside of battle using Pokémon Refresh. Here you can groom your Pokémon by brushing dirt off them, blow drying them when they’re wet, and other helpful actions that get them ready for the next battle. Not only do properly groomed Pokémon fight harder for you, but you can cure also cure status conditions like poisoning and paralysis using Pokémon Refresh. Another awesome new feature is Poké Ride, a method of transportation unique to the Alolan culture, where you hop on the back of friendly Pokémon who can take you to otherwise inaccessible locations. Never before have I seen a region where humans Pokémon coexist so harmoniously, and it’s really heartwarming to see.
Getting around is easier than ever before
In Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, you’ll receive a special new Rotum Pokédex that will make travels easier than ever before. This particular Pokédex is inhabited by Rotem, a special Pokémon with the ability to reside within electronic devices. Not only will your Rotum Pokédex always remind you of what your next objective is, but it’ll also show your current location, your destination, and give you helpful advice along the way. And it’s uber cute to boot.
Unleash the power of Z-Moves
Battles in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon get supercharged with the addition of powerful new Z-Moves. After obtaining a Z-Ring at the beginning of the game, your Pokémon can launch a massive attack once per battle, if the Pokémon holds a Z-Crystal that matches the type of your Z-Ring. Generally you get more of these items after completing a main story event (but there are other ways to discover new items too), and I thought these extremely useful rewards were much better than the badge system used in previous games.
Stunning 2D graphics
The moment you step foot on the Alola island you’ll immediately notice the beautiful, colourful, and vibrant tropical scenery. Towns look quite a bit more detailed than in previous games, and this gorgeous esthetic extends to the interior of buildings as well, where you’ll find many more smaller touches from a variety of colourful posters on the walls, to small trinkets decorating tables and desks. The cutscenes are extremely well done too, easily rivaling the quality of Pokémon anime, and the charming, orchestral score is as wonderful as it’s ever been.
I often found myself exploring all the nooks and crannies in towns and surrounding area, partially just to take in all the gorgeous scenery, but also to discover the shimmering Poké Balls laying on the ground. It’s also a nice touch that many NPCs can be seen playing or otherwise interacting with their Pokémon, again emphasizing just how much this region adores their Pokémon. At first I was a bit disappointed to see the game was only presented in 2D, particularly after seeing such great implementation of 3D in recent games like Yo-kai Watch 2 and Fire Emblem Fates, but really, it’s hard to complain when Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon may just be the prettiest game to ever grace the 3DS console.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon is phenomenal and fans of the series should not hesitate to pick up one, or both versions. I love the new Alola islands, all the new Pokémon you can catch, train, and battle, and the stunning graphics will amaze you at every turn. There are also plenty of meaningful evolutions to the core battle system that are well-implemented and fun to use, making this overall quite possibly the best Pokémon game yet.
+ Best battle mechanics yet
+ Beautiful, vast world to explore
+ Evolves the franchise is good ways
+ Fun extra features
+ We can ride Pokémon
– Lack of 3D
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5