The old adage goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Game Freak has ignored this for the better, creating a solid update in Pokémon Sun and Moon. The creators of Pokémon have changed quite a bit of the tried-and-true formula of Pokémon in their latest installment, Pokémon Sun and Moon. Most are welcome, but a few could use improvements. In the end, it’s still a very fun experience for all ages.

ridingtauros

Now you can use Ride Pokémon instead of HMs!

Updates Are Good

A great number of things have changed in Pokémon, helping it to evolve during its 20-year life span. No more is the player on a quest for Gym Badges, but now has a core story that, while similar in a sense, is noticeably different from previous installments. As opposed to tackling Gyms, Trials are the new main challenge, and a challenge they most certainly are. Trials are a series of smaller challenges that the trial captains set up. These end when you fight a particular Totem Pokemon, which is a larger and more powerful variant of a normal wild Pokémon. I found a few times that if I didn’t have the proper Pokémon for the job, I would have a real tough time. Even if I did have the right type match-up it was still a challenge, and this was a very welcome change; I was able to steamroll all the trainers and Gym Leaders after the third Gym too many times in previous games.

These trials help to direct the player around the various islands present but can be a bit of a double-edged sword.  If you play the game quickly and can remember what your next objective is, the marked objectives can be a bit annoying and obvious. On the contrary, I can easily see if you set the game down for a week between play sessions, it can help direct you further down the story if you don’t remember. In the end, it’s not a big deal as long as you’re OK with a little bit of hand holding.

Previously, the Pokémon community was introduced to Mega Evolution, which was a new take on Pokémon as a franchise. These are super powerful, temporary evolutions of certain Pokémon and required an item that was unique to each Pokémon in order to be used. In Sun and Moon, however, powerful Z-Moves are what Game Freak chose to introduce. Similarly to Mega Evolutions, Z-Moves are activated by a unique item, though, unlike Mega Evolutions, this item is available to be used on any Pokémon matching the type. For example, just to clear any confusion, anyone who can use a Normal-type move can hold what is called “Normalium-Z” and receive a once-per-battle use of a super powerful Normal-type move. With activation, it turns a normal Tackle into “Breakneck Blitz” and does massive damage. This brings a new level of strategy to each fight that really shines in difficult battles such as when facing the final of each Trial.

z_moves

Trainers get in on the new Z-Moves!

Freedom of Choice

In previous installments, one slot in your party was typically used for an “HM slave”. An HM slave was a Pokémon who could learn several different HM moves, which are used in the field to advance through an area. In an ideal world, you could find one which had all four move slots filled with field moves. A few of these moves were helpful in battle scenarios, but most were virtually useless. Sun and Moon has done away with HMs to, instead, replace them with a new feature called Ride Pokémon. This addition allows you to call a Tauros, Lapras, Stoutland, and a few others. that the player can climb on and ride to their destination. Tauros can help break rocks and free passages, Lapras helps to surf, and Charizard allows flight. This frees up the extra slot on the one more team member, as well as removing the requirement for having a Flying-type and Water-type on your team. And, with all of the new species introduced, you can feel to build your team with any sort of configuration. Feel like being a trainer with a focus for Fire-types? Now you can with no limits! All this freedom to choose really is great! Now I just have to figure out my team of only 6 instead of 5….who to kick from the team?

Some Things Never Change

Not everything is tossed aside, however. Sun and Moon still has the evil corporation at large and ever-present. This time we’re fighting a bunch of wannabe gangsters in Team Skull. The grunts are mockingly funny in their walks and actions, and are as weak and cowardly as ever. Without going too far, though, the team does bring an an interesting take to the game. I liked in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire how each side had a logical reason, though flawed executions, and I actually felt bad for them. Team Skull shares this, as they are more just misguided youths manipulated by a bigger, worse corporation. It’s actually one of the more interesting developments of Pokémon Sun and Moon.

teamskullgrunts

Team Skull are TOTALLY intimidating, or at least they think so.


As stated, there are a lot of new Pokémon, with many new and interesting typing pairings. Now, this is nothing new for a new generation, the very existence of new and never before seen creatures is part of the main fun. Roaming around the first play through of any new generation is always exciting to find out what kind of new potential friends await. Some are super powerful, some look cool but are weak, and some are just cute. All are exciting to find!

Not All Peaches And Cream

With all the good that Pokémon Sun and Moon has brought to the table, some things can be a bit taxing as well. Sadly, gone are the days of roaming, free to do as you please. Now, almost everywhere you go is a new cut-scene. Granted, this adds a bit more content and meat to the overall story of completing your Trials, but they occur with such frequency I found myself going back and training for the fun of it, rather than advancing through the game to watch the story unfold. Other games did a much better job of engaging the player in a much more seamless manner. Some other animations, such as actually using a Z-Move can be so long and boring after the tenth use that I started to avoid using them unless I really needed them.

In addition to the slight annoyances of Z-Move animations and waypoints, Ally Pokémon make their debut in Sun and Moon. This is a rather annoying situation, considering you have no control over when it happens. It serves as a new way to try to grind and/or find another Pokémon of the same type as you just fought. Previous games had a mechanic so if you just fought a Rattata and wanted to chain, you used an item. Now, allies can be called to assist. The major issue is that you cannot try to capture the Pokémon you want while there are two on the battlefield. Then, as soon as you defeat one, the other can call for more allies. This only ends if you get lucky and they don’t succeed in calling the ally, and you manage to defeat or capture the Pokémon you intend to. If not, the battle can go on and on, whittling your own team’s HP down to nothing.

In the end, the latest installment in the 20-year franchise of Pokémon breathes a much-needed breath of fresh air into the world. We are introduced to a new region, get new mechanics, and get to see more new creatures to battle, capture, and train.

Pokémon Sun and Moon Review
The Good
  • New Ride Pokemon
  • Fun, Updated Mechanics
  • Trials replace outdated Gym Battles
The Bad
  • Ally Pokemon are frustrating
  • Cut scenes everywhere
9Overall Score
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About The Author

Bobby C
Director, Editorial/Reviews

Bobby C is a veteran FPS and adventure gamer, starting with the NES and Super Mario Bros. The game that really started his love for the FPS Genre was Goldeneye for the N64. Since then, the love grew. From casual, to semi-pro COD with Modern Warfare 2 and 3, and back to casual, it’s a bad week when there isn’t at least 15 hours of games played.