Tropical Pocket Monsters.
Pokémon has had themselves a pretty banner year in 2016. With Pokémon Go being the giant success it is and now a brand new Pokémon experience in the full fledged form on the 3DS, it’s growing even bigger than it already was. With the new Sun and Moon versions, Game Freak is hoping to ease players in with a bit more story than we have seen in most of the previous entries in the franchise, while adding a bit more in terms of production value and scope. Once again, we have ourselves a solid RPG with big ambitions and a lot to offer while still using the tried and true formula.
Pokémon Sun and Moon has players take on the role of a new trainer that has recently moved to a remote series of islands called the Aloha Region. Here, they will take on island challenges in order to compete with the best trainers in the area. Think of them like mini dungeons with objectives that take the place of the standard Pokémon gyms. In fact, a lot of things have been reworked in Sun and Moon that deviate slightly from the original form.
Price I’d pay: $39.99
Water>Fire>Grass – We all know this.
Of course, the combat remains the same, with each Pokémon having four moves that have different stats and elemental types. Utilizing the types with Super Effective and Not Very Effective advantages is still the best way to play, and knowing when to switch out the up to six party members is the key to winning battles. Nothing really changes in this sense. What are the overhauls we do see are in ease of use and quality of life improvements.
After fighting a certain Pokémon, from then on, when players fight them again, each move will show up if it is effective or not, keeping the guessing and memory game out of it. It actually really does help out, especially when there are so many of these creatures in the game. Also, the fact that Pokeballs are now mapped to a button is a fantastic improvement that they finally added to the game. So rather than me having to go through my bag to grab a capturing device, I can now just hit a button on the battle menu to throw a ball.
You got a little something in your hair.
Players can now treat their party members to grooming and feeding using the touch screen. Cleaning party members after battle and keeping their bellies full will raise their affection towards the trainer making them more effective in battle. There’s even a pseudo-Pokémon Snap feature where players will find locations around the region where they can snap photos of Pokémon as they move around. Small things like this add more to the overall experience which is just the icing on the cake of the traditional Pokémon game.
The biggest mechanic to come out of this new series are the Z Powers. Players will earn crystals they can equip to their Pokémon that will power up a certain type of move depending on the crystal. These will change up the move both in strength and in animation. They can only be used once per battle but offer up a little more, kind of like the mega evolutions for X and Y.
Tell me a story. Show me where to go.
The story has a lot more emphasis this go around, even more so than Pokémon X and Y. The story beats do well to show players what to do and where to go next. It does come off a bit like handholding, but in the end, this is a game targeted towards children. Plus, for someone like me who doesn’t have the time to wander trying to find the next island challenge, having a person tell me where to go next or having my Pokedex remind me of the next stop is actually really nice, and with the overhaul of the EXP Share from X and Y still present in Sun and Moon, it makes the long grind for levels much, much easier.
The overall look has also been improved. Since Red and Blue, Pokémon games have always had this chibi look to all the characters. This time around, we’re finally changing to modern looking characters with a much more cinematic feel. The camera feels more fluid and the battles play out more like the anime, with the trainers being seen in the background of the fight. Mix that with a still catchy soundtrack, and Sun and Moon still have a pretty fantastic presentation.
Like a Slowpoke.
Now, with the graphical improvements come a few technical hiccups. Multiple times during heavy battle sequences I would experience some rather significant slow down, as well as during the photography sections. Perhaps the 3DS is getting a little age on it at this point.
The online, at least the quick look I took at it, offers up trading along with online battles with trainers across the globe. It works and works well, and I never had any connectivity issues, but considering how this game is played, it should be an issue anyway.
While this is a pretty great RPG, it’s still not for everyone. The combat has some depth to it, but it can eventually get old, and the main formula has and doesn’t change much at all in the grand scheme of things. If you weren’t a fan of Pokémon games before, this one will probably not change your mind, but any RPG fan and Pokémon player will have a pretty fun time exploring the Aloha Region, and the improvements to the quality of life make it a fun, simple, and pretty enjoyable Pokémon experience that can easily last players a good 30 hours.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.