Treecko. The first Pokémon I ever had. I was eight years of age when I set out on my first adventure through the Hoenn region with this little green gecko, with Pokémon Ruby in the cartridge slot of my GameBoy Advance. I was hooked. Something about building my team of creatures and travelling the world with them enthralled me. Defeating foes, collecting badges and gaining allies, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Little did I know I’d still be playing the series 14 years later, having played every installment.
Upon seeing the trailers for Pokémon Sun & Moon, like every other fanatic around the world, I was beyond excited. Every time a new Pokémon game is announced, this feeling of nostalgia and excitement takes over, only quenched when I’m right there again, choosing my starter Pokémon to accompany me on the journey ahead. The below trailer would undoubtedly get any Pokéfan riled up with anticipation, as it did for this writer.
Moving with his Mother to Melemele Island in the Alola region, our hero couldn’t possibly have imagined what would await him/her. Each region in Pokémon is a fictional adaptation of a real-life location, this time around, they’ve attempted to emulate Hawaii, to great applomb, with it’s sandy beaches and tropical climate. Absolute paradise.
Our hero is quickly introduced to the island’s native Pokémon Professor, the character that is Prof. Kukui. Completely in love with the way Pokémon perform moves, this guy will be sure to keep you entertained on your venture through Alola. He certainly provides a bit of comic relief and reminds us that even Pokémon professors can have a light-hearted, fun side.
The starters that are presented to us are, as always, interesting to say the least. On my playthrough, I chose Rowlett. This Grass/Flying-type caught my eye straight away out of the others, namely the fire type kitten Pokémon – Litten and the miniature seal Pokémon, Poplio. The combination of having a Grass/Flying Pokémon as my partner intrigued me.
Lillie and Hau both play a prominent part in this game, and I must say, that both of these characters are great. They are part of the reason I enjoyed the game as much as I did.
The goofball that tries his best, but ultimately always manages to fall, the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” effect. His Grandfather is one of the island Kahunas, which we will cover later on.
The shy, timid girl that eventually, with the help of her friends, comes out of her shell and plays a pivotal role in the story. She’s quite charming and misunderstood, until she finds her feet and realises that she is not just a doormat.
Pokémon Sun & Moon have changed the formula a bit, as far as the premise and goal of your quest. The Alola region does not have Gyms, and no Gym Leaders to battle. Instead, the player undertakes what’s called an Island Challenge, endeavouring to complete the challenges set out by each Kahuna, Alola’s version of a Gym Leader, if you will. I was definitely skeptical at first to learn about this change, certainly an unexpected one. It was undoubtedly a bold move from the Pokémon Company and GameFreak, seeing as the formula that they had well established for the series could fall under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category with ease.
Alola is broken up into several islands, and the challenger must travel to each to complete their Island Challenge. Each Kahuna sets you a different task, with each task ultimately leading to a final battle with what’s known as a Totem Pokémon. These are tougher to beat than your ordinary Pocket Monster, posing a serious threat, should the player neglect to raise his/her party sufficiently.
This release is easily the most story driven that I’ve ever seen when it comes to Pokémon. Although every game in the series has had a certain amount of backstory and the lore that this entails, Pokémon Sun & Moon really knock it out of the park on this front. The story is very dependant on characters, and more importantly, their developement, how they grow.
I do have certain gripes with the game, on the other hand. The first is that the game is just so easy. It feels like the player’s hand is held throughout it’s entirety, with the people around you always helping and healing your Pokémon at every turn. This may not necessarily be a bad aspect of the game, but this player certainly would have loved more of a challenge. It’s as if the difficulty has been set to Easy when in general, the other entries in the series could be seen as being set to Normal, even Hard at times.
Another issue that I had was not directly related to this game as such, more at the continuity since the last entries in the series, namely Pokémon X & Y and Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire. These games featured Mega Evolutions, an aspect of the series that received a lot of attention and was received positively for the most part. Nowhere in Sun & Moon is there even reference to Mega Evolutions throughout the entire main story, which is something that I definitely expected to be carried over, given the amount of emphasis placed on it in the aforementioned games.
Instead, we received Alolan Forms of certain Pokémon an addition that I found bizarre. This featured appearance and type changes of a few well known Pokémon that have been around for years. An Ice/Fairy-Type Ninetails? An Rock/Electric Geodude family? Really? Baffled to say the least.
Other than those small issues that I had during my playthrough, for the most part I definitely loved Pokémon Sun & Moon. I chose to purchase Moon, completely due to how cool the Legendary Pokémon, Lunala, looked on the cover.
It was definitely a memorable experience, due to the few small changes the developers decided to make, and definitely due to the characters. The story is simply amazing as far as as a Pokémon game goes, and the characters that lead the story make this an easy recommendation for me to make.
Can’t wait for the next one! Bring it on!