Sorry that this review is a week late, I was planning on having it ready a week after it came out like I usually do, but I was too busy playing it to have the time to type this! But whatever, let’s get on with the review! And PS, I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible, so if you haven’t beat it yet, you’re safe! And PSS, even though this is a review for Sun AND Moon, I only played Sun, but since they’re so similar the same praises and criticisms probably still apply.
I also made a Creators version of this same review complete with pictures and GIFs, and it is also categorized for easier reading! So if you want a cooler version of this review, follow the link! But make sure to come back and leave your feedback in the comments of this Flickr version!: creators.co/@luigifan10/4160159
The 7th generation of Pokemon is finally in our hands, and with it, comes new modes, new adventures, and of course, new Pokemon. For 20 years this series has touched millions of people and everybody and their grandma knows Pikachu as well as Mickey Mouse. From the craze in the 90s with everything imaginable being branded with Pokemon, to the latest craze with Pokemon GO, Pokemon was a smash hit from the start and is one of the only series that still holds up just as well today. In this review, I’ll try to cover absolutely every aspect I possibly can about the latest entry in the Pokemon series, Pokemon Sun and Moon. From battles to modes to story to design choices, I’ll talk about it all! So sit back, grab a drink, and let’s get to it!
I’ll start off this review with my most important aspect of any Pokemon game- the Pokemon. Hell, I don’t really even care about the gameplay or story too much when it comes to Pokemon games, I just love to see all of the new additions to the Pokedex! And, I’m glad to say, that the new faces here fit in spectacularly! I’d say that the new designs are the best they’ve been since Gen 4! They don’t feel cranked out like they did in Gen 5 and 6, pretty much all of them seem like obvious and clear additions! We’ve got new animals represented like a toucan, a sea cucumber, a orangutan, a sea anemone, and a koala, and they all look like Pokemon! And we’ve also got some cool object-based Pokemon like a sandcastle and a lei that feel like they belong with Magnemite and Voltorb and the other non-animal Pokemon, which is one huge complaint of mine from Gens 5 & 6. I mean, we’ve had a garbage bag, a gear, a sword, and a damn key ring in the past, so it’s great to see some actually good non-animal Pokemon designs! Not all of the new Pokemon designs are home runs though, there are some iffy ones like Crabominable, Bewear, Type: Null, Bruxish, and Dhelmise, but for the most part, the new Pokemon designs are great! And as for starters, I think they’re pretty decent! I think they’re also the best they’ve been since Gen 4, and I was having a tough time deciding between Rowlet and Litten! And also, all of the new type combinations are pretty great, but I’ll talk more about that kind of stuff in the gameplay/battles section in a little bit.
Another half new addition Pokemon-wise are the inclusion of regional variants called Alolan forms! They’re classic Pokemon but given slightly altered designs as a result of the tropical climate of Alola. It’s an amazing idea that gives new life to old classics, while making it seem like there’s more new Pokemon in the game! It also makes the Pokemon world feel more real and connected. Some of them are amazing, like Exeggutor, Dugtrio, and Raichu, while some of them are kinda lame, like Geodude and Persian. But, I love the idea and I hope they continue to make regional variants of classic Pokemon!
There’s also the legendaries and pseudo-legendaries like the Tapus and Cosmog in this game, and I honestly think they’re pretty weak. I don’t like Solgaleo or Lunala at all, and all of the Tapus are pretty lame. Cosmog is fine I guess, but Cosmoem is garbage. Overall, the legendary Pokemon in this game are very lacking, and are probably the worst group in the series.
And, since they’re in the Pokedex, I guess I can talk about the Ultra Beasts too. I hate pretty much all of them. They’re a neat idea that ties into the main plot and post-game, but… most of their designs are awful! The absolute worst is Celesteela, while the best has to be Buzzwole. They look more like weird Yu-Gi-Oh creatures, and I wish they made them… more Pokemon-esque. But, they aren’t really Pokemon, so it kinda makes sense? I don’t know, all I know is that I don’t really like them.
Next, let’s get to the bread and butter of every game, the gameplay. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from Pokemon, but there are some new features that greatly improve the overall experience. The battles are just like they’ve always been, with the user interface and the actual view of the battles being improved a lot. They’ve made it so that after you’ve fought a Pokemon once, the next time you fight it you can see what attacks are effective against it! This is really helpful to more lapsed trainers like myself who don’t have all of the type effectivenesses memorized, and in the process it’s been helping me to learn them too! The touch screen buttons feel like they’re in the right places, and you can easily access the Pokeballs quickly too, which is very nice! I don’t remember if they did this in X and Y, but I love that they added that little shortcut in this game! And, as for the actual view of the battle you get, it’s a huge improvement over X and Y! They removed those circles around the Pokemon and made the environments more detailed, and it’s feeling more and more like the anime’s battles, which are a lot less stiff and a lot cooler. The animations the Pokemon make are also pretty good, and I also love the small touch that you can see the trainers behind their Pokemon pointing or thinking. It makes the battles feel more attached to the world! But, even though the fights are great, when you’re fighting more than one Pokemon in double battles, the game has some serious lag problems. I’m not sure if this is a problem on the New 3DS, but on the original 3DS, there is some really noticeable lag that I can’t gloss over and not mention. And, one more thing, I also feel like the abilities are more useful and prominent this time, but that may just be something personal.
The new feature that they’ve added this time around is the introduction on Z-Moves to replace Mega Evolutions, and in my opinion, Z-Moves a vast improvement over Mega Evolutions. They serve the same purpose of having an insta-kill button that you can use once per battle, and unlike Mega Evolutions, they can be used with any Pokemon. There’s one for every type, and the same crystal can even be given to multiple Pokemon in your party! This is much better than Mega Evolutions, because they aren’t Pokemon specific, and instead of just buffing a Pokemon, they get an instant attack that pretty much always takes down a Pokemon.
There’s also a new 1 v 1 v 1 v 1 mode called Battle Royal, which is pretty original and, from the one match I played in the story, fun! I feel like I can’t say much about it because I haven’t really played it, but I like the concept and I’m sure it’s super fun. Overall, the battle system is the best it has ever been, and make even the most laid back gamers feel comfortable with the RPG mechanics in place!
As for wild encounters, they’re actually a bit of a downgrade. They’ve added a new system where wild Pokemon can call for other Pokemon to assist them, and even though it’s sometimes nice for grinding, it happens way too often. It can also happen multiple times in a single battle, so some wild encounters can drag on for way too long. It’s a good idea on paper, but it turned out to be pretty broken in practice.
Now, onto the other gameplay aspects! They’ve revamped the entire gym system for the better, introducing the new Island Challenges. They’re a lot more creative and fun, because even though they include battles, they usually introduce a fun side quest thing to spice things up! You could be playing a memory game, or going on a scavenger hunt for different items, or you could be taking an audio quiz! It’s a fun way to put a spin on the gameplay, and I can’t see myself going back to standard gyms! I also feel like the rewards, being the Z-Crystals, are a lot better than the standard badges and have more use.
This time around, the Pokedex is actually a character! The Rotom Pokedex is a Pokemon who helps you with catching them all! He’s present throughout most of the campaign, and is responsible for accessing all of the menus, side modes, the map, and also saving the game. He’s also responsible for a new Pokemon Snap-esque mode called Poke Finder, which sounds cool, but is actually really lame and totally not worth your time. I feel like I should say more about it, but… whatever. Rotom Pokedex is also cool because it gives quippy remarks throughout your campaign, and he’s a very lovable character on his own! I’ll go into the other characters later in the review though, so keep on readin’!
Besides the main battles and campaign, there’s a bunch of other side things to get into! There’s the new Pokemon Refresh, which is an improved version of Pokemon Amie that has a lot more practical use! After a battle, you can clean off your Pokemon to get rid of any status ailments that your Pokemon obtain in battle, and you can feed them PokeBeans to raise their affection towards you, which is totally worth it! If you care for them enough, they’ll get more critical hits in battle, they’ll dodge more attacks, and they’ll even sometimes shake off any status ailments they get just so you won’t worry! That’s so cool, and makes Pokemon Refresh a great and necessary part of the experience, unlike its predecessor Pokemon Amie.
Next, let’s talk about Poke Pelago. Poke Pelago is a new feature that allows the Pokemon you’ve sent to your PC to be useful for once! You have a couple of different choices to make about what you want them to do, whether it be looking for and obtaining items, growing berries and PokeBeans, and even training them to improve their stats or level! It’s a fun side thing to check on, but I feel like it could have a little more use attached to it to make it more worthwhile, like maybe having some way to make money through it, but of what (kinda small) amount of content is there, is nice to have and a fun new distraction to add to the main experience.
Another side feature you can access is the Festival Plaza. This is the central hub for most of the online stuff like trading and battling. Even though most of the features carried flawlessly from X and Y, I think it’s still a downgrade from X and Y. I feel like getting there takes too long, and I don’t Wonder Trade as much as I used to because it feels like it’s too much of a process to get there. I wish the features here were present on the main menu instead for easy access, because the Festival Plaza feels too tedious and drawn out.
Back to a good feature; the new Poke Ride system. It essentially replaces HMs, which, THANK GOD! It’s a fun way to keep the old HM mechanics, but make it so you can actually use all six of your slots instead of having an HM slave. They also replaced the bikes in a way, which I’m fine with, because riding on a Tauros is wayyyyyyy better than a bike! I hope this becomes a staple in the Pokemon series and they never ever go back to those damn HMs!
Trainer customization also returns from X and Y, and it’s pretty good! I wish there was more options, but I feel like people would complain about that no matter how much of it was in the game, soooooo… yeah.
-Story, Characters, and World-
Now, let’s talk story! The story in this game is, in my opinion, the best in the series. This is the first time where I’ve really gotten into the story and how the characters interact with each other. It’s by far the most memorable plot in the series, and the end even got a little emotional! The story was held up by some pretty great characters like Hau, Gladion, Lusamine, Professor Kukui, Nanu, and also Lillie, who was probably my favorite character in this whole game and one of the most memorable NPCs in all of Pokemon! I won’t go into plot details, but the way that all of the characters’ motives and stories intertwined was very well thought out, well done, and a little surprising! Team Skull was also great, and probably my favorite evil team in the series! Character and story-wise, Sun and Moon hit it out of the park and made me care about more than just the Pokemon for once!
The region of Alola is also spectacular! Even though it’s based on Hawaii, they got a lot more diversity with the environments than I would’ve expected! There’s also a lot of cool buildings and towns that are really memorable! The entire layout and 5 island structure is designed smartly, and their design helped to keep the story flowing effortlessly from one location to the next! No complaints when it comes to the region itself, and it is a vast improvement over Kalos.
And, since we’re talking about the characters and the world, the art style is also great! I initially didn’t think it was a huge jump from X and Y, but looking back, I never realized how chibi-looking Gen 6 was! But this game fixes that and what is left is a great look that feels like what modern Pokemon should be! Again, besides the double battle lag, this game looks and runs great!
The last thing I’ll talk about is the post-game content. Now I won’t go too deep into it to avoid spoilers, but I will say that the post-game is really good and worth playing through. This is where the game’s difficulty spikes up, and I’m glad it did, because I felt like the main campaign was just a little bit too easy. I’ve been playing for 30+ hours, and I haven’t whited out once. But anyway, there’s a lot to catch and experience after you catch the (pretty sucky) legendary, and it’s fun the whole time.
To finally conclude my in-depth review, Pokemon Sun and Moon have easily become my favorite games in the series. It’s a culmination of everything that makes Pokemon great, and almost every aspect of every mode was fine tuned to be the greatest it’s ever been. The story and characters are also amazing, having the most memorable plot in Pokemon history, and the new Pokemon are for the most part spectacular, with the exception of the legendaries and Ultra Beasts. So, keeping everything I’ve talked about in mind, I’m giving Pokemon Sun and Moon a 9.1/10. It’s a must have for all 3DS owners, and it’s yet another damn good reason to pick up a 3DS up if you don’t already own the system.
Tagged: , pokemon , sun , moon , 3ds , nintendo , review , alola
Actress/singer Miranda Cosgrove after her presentation at The Jimmy Kimmel Live Show in Hollywood, California, Nov 15, 2010.
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