In the 20 odd years since the lovable critters of the Pokemon Universe took the world by storm, the franchise has been adapted into several different kinds of media. As would befit a franchise this popular, there have been a ton of Pokemon games over the years. Some of them have been great and inspired fan frenzy, while othershave tried and failed to garner player interest. However, Pokemon Sun and Moon is a fine return to form for the series and a great reminder of what made the franchise so popular in the first place. Balancing combat, exploration and RPG elements expertly, Sun and Moon is a fun, challenging adventure that will be enjoyable for returning fans and new players alike.
The most noticeable change in Sun and Moon is the setting. The Island of Alola is a treasure trove of varied combat and puzzle challenges that usually lead to some sort of a boss/mini-boss battle. You’ll perform adorable dances on a volcano and hunt for different ingredients that allow you to prepare a meal to lure some new Pokemon. Some elements of this playstyle will be immediately familiar to players who’ve gone through other games in this series, but Sun and Moon also adds enough twists to keep things fresh.
By taking things into the great outdoors, Sun and Moon abandons the gym-heavy formula that some of the previous games in the series have used. As a result, Alola feels like a living, breathing island that has a life of its own. It also keeps things from becoming repetitive, and encourages you to try out more characters than you usually would. There are also enough mini-games spliced into the proceedings to keep things moving.
The island of Alola, and its rich history and traditions are delivered through the trials, which offer you a way to know more about the different captains that inhabit the island. There are several almost mythical, deity-like Pokemon that are talked about in conversations all through the trials. You’ll come to love the new region as you progress through the game.
Each time you win a trial, you are awarded a Z-Crystal, which is a powerful artifact that allows your Pokemon to unleash a devastating ability once every fight. This system is Sun and Moon’s version of Mega Evolutions, and while these might feel somewhat superfluous after a while, they’re still entertaining to behold. If you handle things correctly, you probably won’t need to use any of these, but they’re still a good trump card to hold on to, just in case.
Alola, which is very loosely inspired by Hawaii, is truly one of the most delightful regions that a Pokemon game has ever been set in. it consists of four mini-islands, and each of these has their own unique attributes. One of the islands, for example, is straight out of a western. One of the others is a more luxurious settlement, but also harbors a volcano.
With the change in location also comes a list of modified Pokemon that feel right at home in the new setting. Exeggutor, for example, is a coconut-tree like tall Pokemon that walks around on two legs. There are several interesting additions to the roster, such as the psychic Solgaleo and the intimidating Bastiodon. It will be interesting to see how these new Pokemon fare in the online arena. Even the music on Alola is fitting for the island setting and features slightly reimagined versions of iconic Pokemon tracks.
The single-player campaign:
Will keep you entertained for around 35-40 hours, and it is a testament to all of the detail that has gone into building the new world. While other Pokemon games would devolve into grinding and end-game content, Sun and Moon makes the journey to the end equally enjoyable. While the story won’t win any literary awards, it’s perfectly serviceable and features a lot of cute humor. The island of Alola itself makes all of the happenings in the game more enjoyable, and you will have a lot of fun interacting with the different residents and quests that you find here.
The battle UI:
Has been vastly improved, and makes understanding what is happening on screen much easier. At a glance, you’ll now be able to glean detailed information about the nature of a particular move and how it might interact with your opponents. It’s a great way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different Pokemon types. There’s also the new Poke Ride mode, which makes wandering around the island and collecting new Pokemon a lot more fun. You’ll also have a lot more of the roster immediately usable once you start the game.
Pokemon Sun and Moon is a significant step forward for a franchise that has been improving incrementally over two decades. A vibrant new world and an interesting cast of characters, along with an improved interface and lots of single player content make this an easy game to recommend. If you haven’t played a Pokemon game before, check this one out to understand what makes this franchise such a juggernaut.