6 Thoughts on Pokemon Sun and Moon
The new Elite Four stands defeated. The Ultra Beasts are in my grasp. Even Necrozma is mine to command. I have defeated Pokemon Moon — almost, there are still a few random battles to fight and meadows to explore. But still, I’ve logged upwards of 50 hours into Pokemon Moon and had a blast! This was a great game and a ton of fun, and now it’s time for a recap.
Video Game Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I loved the new Pokemon. I loved the new story. I had a blast designing my character and adventuring across the wilderness with her. Like every Pokemon game for a good, long while now, I played a girl named Whistler, to honor my fan fiction character from high school. And Pokemon Moon was so good, I’m considering starting a second play through, as long as I can figure out the best way to move some Pokemon from my current save file into a new one.
Anyway, join me after the jump for a semi-review and six thoughts on Pokemon Sun and Moon!
6. A great Pokemon game!
It’s quite simple: Sun and Moon are great Pokemon games, and very good games overall. I’ve been disappointed in Pokemon games before. I remember being particularly disappointed with the previous generation, X and Y for their incredibly lackluster storyline. But Sun and Moon are fantastic! The setting is bright, colorful and full of personality. The new pokemon are a lot of fun, and the revamped original monsters are great, too. I’ll get into more detail with the rest of the list, but everything from the trial competitions to the lack of gym structure to the characters to the storyline come together to make a really compelling, really fun game. Nintendo and Game Freak definitely did not just phone this one in, it’s a really great gaming experience.
I’m very glad to know that Pokemon can still be surprising and fun all these decades later.
5. Probably the best storyline
For the first time in a long time, I was really pleased with the storyline in a Pokemon game. It’s been a longtime complaint that the main storyline never changes in each Pokemon game. You’re always a young protagonist starting your Pokemon journey, you fight a few local leaders and eventually become champion, while dealing with a random Team of ne’er-do-wells. Pokemon Sun Moon follows this general outline, but for the first time in the series, they change it up and add new features, ideas and stories! It’s great and rewarding and I loved it.
First of all, the Pokemon Gyms are gone. The Alola Islands have their own traditions: a couple of chieftains scattered around the islands, and a Big Kahuna for each island. Pokemon trainers have to complete the chieftain trials, which can range from gathering ingredients for a meal, watching a dance competition or hunting for rare pokemon in a cave, and each one ends with a battle against a specific totem pokemon. Then when you beat all the trials on the island, you can face the Kahuna in an epic one-on-one battle.
All of that would be great, because change is a sure sign of good progress. But the story takes it a step further by having the characters decide, halfway through the game, that they want to be part of the greater world community. So they decide to build their own Pokemon League championship and Elite Four, and you get to watch them do it as the construction goes along. And you get to watch as chieftains and kahunas you met along the way get chosen to become the area’s first ever Elite Four. It’s fun as heck and adds a great new bit of depth to the whole process. And it helps that you then become the first ever Alola Champion, which is a neat distinction.
The new bad guys are great, too. This game goes really, really deep. First up, you’ve got Team Skull, who fit the mold of traditional bad guys with ‘Team’ in their name. But as you face off against these punks, you discover that they’re basically just troubled kids who are being manipulated by their leader, who actually works for the Aether Foundation, this large-scale pokemon relief agency. It’s not a huge twist that seemingly benign Aether is actually evil, but it’s more of a twist than I expect from a Pokemon game.
To add to even that, the game introduces the inter-dimensional Ultra Beasts! The Aether Foundation is studying a group of creatures who seem to hail from another dimension, and these creatures are weird and creepy in ways that exceed even the weird and creepy pokemon. And this all culminates in a big battle where you take on the crazy president of Aether, who merges with one of the Ultra Beasts to become a super-monster! This game gets really, really insane.
And I haven’t even gotten into the side storylines about you and your friends and rivals. Or the idea that the player characters has just moved to Alola, providing a nice explanation for why everything is new to him/her.
Seriously, this storyline just kept getting bigger, weirder and more rewarding. The Legendary Pokemon were weaved in very well. I felt really cool as the main character. There was just a lot to love about Pokemon Sun and Moon’s story and gameplay.
4. Super fun characters
Along with the great storyline, the game is just filled with tons of great characters who really add to the whole experience. Since the trials, challenges and eventual Elite Four are really casual, the game weaves the trial captains and kahunas into the story a lot more than previous games. It used to be that you’d show up and meet the Gym Leader only when you went to their Gym, and the Elite Four would just be there at the end. But in Pokemon Sun and Moon, you meet these characters throughout the adventure under many different circumstances, only to later find out that you’ve got to fight them.
And they’re never predictable. At one point, it seems like the four Big Kahunas are simply going to be elevated to the Elite Four, until you find out that one Kahuna wanted none of that nonsense and sent a trial captain in his place. And then it was utterly surprising when the fourth member of the Elite Four turned out to be someone you’d never met before. Then there was the trial captain who just showed up on a random bridge, claimed to be a painter and just handed you the victory as she passed by because she was too artsy to care otherwise. And also the ally who eventually gets chosen as a kahuna while you’re hanging out.
These weren’t just static gym leaders. The game is filled with fun characters who weave in and out of the adventure.
Some of the more personal characters were great too. The traditional rival, Hau, is kind of a dork who doesn’t have much depth and was mostly a tag along, but the game added the fact that he was the grandson of the first Kahuna, so that was a nice touch. Then there’s Gladion, your real rival, who seems to be a reluctant member of Team Skull but has a lot more going on, including his cool, one-of-a-kind pokemon Type: Null. And then Lillie is the best!
Lillie is your real best friend/partner, sort of. She’s this shy, nervous young woman who seems to be best pals with the Legendary Pokemon in its starter form. I wasn’t sure if Lillie was going to turn out to be an Ultra Beast disguised as a human or what. But she actually has a nice character arc throughout the game, one that you greatly contribute to as her friend. Considering some of the losers you had to hang out with in Pokemon X and Y, the new friends, frenemies and allies were really cool in the new game.
3. New Pokemon were kind of rare
I’m a little disappointed at how rare the new Alolan pokemon were. Like many Pokemon games, Sun and Moon mix in their fair share of older generation pokemon. There are a ton of monsters out there in the field. And they did this cool new thing where they take classic, original pokemon and give them a new look. That’s a great dynamic. But too many of the new Sun and Moon pokemon were either hard to get, unavailable or weren’t available until the end of the game.
Jangmo-o and his evolution line don’t show up until the very last trial, and by then you’re too deep into the storyline to care. Drampa is only found on the very last route in the game. Mimikyu is found on the third island near the end, and is hard to catch. And one of my personal squad’s pokemon, Crabrawler, can only evolve on the steps to the Elite Four.
Sorry, Pokemon, but I put my team together and keep them together for as long as possible. I’m not about to add some last minute pokemon to my team because you think it’s a great idea to withhold your own awesomeness.
2. I want more clothing options, dammit!
For the past two Pokemon games, we’ve been able to customize our trainers and their outfits — and both times have been found lacking! I love character customization in video games. It’s one of my all-time favorite things. And I’m thrilled that I get to design my Pokemon trainer. But in both X and Y and now Sun and Moon, the game really, really skimps on the options. There are tons of clothes to buy, but they’re often very specific and rarely do they get very creative. There are a lot of neat, stylized tank tops, but zero stylized T-shirts, at least for the girls. There are no jackets or upper accessories, and not much in the way of pants, unless you like capris. Some of the colors are game specific. And sometimes the only difference in the hat was the color under the bill, which you rarely get to see anyway.
I just want more variety, and definitely more creativity in the clothing. Come up with some unique outfits that you get awarded in the game at certain moments. Add layers, like coats or shawls or ponchos. Throw in all manner of fun hats! And I want more options in the hair color and hair styles. And I’d like a preview of what my haircut is going to look like before I spend all that money.
I want more character creation options!
1. This might be my last Pokemon game for a very long time
As great as this game was, I’m sad to admit that Pokemon Moon may very well be the last main Pokemon game that I play. While I do love the series, and look forward to the future, I just don’t think I have it in me anymore to upgrade the hardware.
I have played every generation of Pokemon since Red and Blue, and at least twice, I have purchased the necessary handheld device to go along with the game. I bought my DS in order to play the new generation of Pokemon, and I bought my 3DS in order to play the new generation of Pokemon. I don’t think I played any other DS or 3DS games, certainly not enough to warrant such a major purchase. And that’s insane. I definitely should not have spent so much money at once just to play the new Pokemon game.
And while I don’t know what the future holds, I’m assuming that Nintendo will come out with their next handheld device between now and the next major Pokemon game. The 3DS has been around for awhile now, covering several Pokemon releases, and it’ll be three or so years until the next Pokemon game. It just makes sense that Nintendo will come out with new hardware. The 4DS, maybe?
But as a responsible adult who is generally losing interest in console video games, this is probably the end for me. I have yet to buy into the X-Box One/Playstation 4 generation of consoles, and I doubt I’m going to spend so much on future Nintendo handhelds.
So yeah, this might be the end of an era. Good thing I’ve still got Pokemon GO!