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[Review] Pokémon Sun/Moon

Posted on November 15, 2016 by (@P_Trah) in 3DS, Reviews

One of the biggest concerns I had about Sun and Moon before jumping in was that along with the change of formula would come an unfortunate lack of difficulty. I’m incredibly pleased to say that this is not the case whatsoever. Pokémon Sun and Moon are far from easy. The game’s balance is kept very consistent, and the early game can be surprisingly challenging. Following along with the story will keep you at just the right level for there to be a constant challenge, but if you’re raising a larger team of more the six Pokémon it might be best to keep the Experience Share item on while you play to avoid having to grind. Totem battles and Kahunas will test your team’s variety and move sets, and while type advantage plays an important role, it won’t carry you through these encounters by any means.

The trial system in the Alola region is a much needed change of pace. Each trial usually involves a certain task or challenge you need to complete at the request of the Trial Captain. Most are focused on exploring certain natural areas around Alola, while others serve as fun mini-game-esque activities; but each trial incorporates Pokémon battles throughout. The trials end with a battle against a powerful totem Pokémon, which is an unusually large creature with a certain buff added to it. These battles are fun and involve a healthy amount of strategy, as totem Pokémon are no pushovers and can call in other friends to join in the fight multiple times over the course of a battle. If you take a step back and look at the trial system, its deceptively similar to the Gym system of previous titles, though I’d say it’s a vast improvement. This is because the trials are much more than just a gauntlet of bland trainers culminating in a battle with a Gym leader. They’re fun and enjoyable challenges that lead up to an intense battle with brand new Pokémon. What’s more, it gives each Trial Captain their chance to stand out and develop their own unique personality. My most important takeaway from the trial system is that every single trial was enjoyable, and in turn, every Trial Captain and Kahuna felt memorable and important, something that was a huge issue for many previous Gym Leaders.

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There are, however, a handful of new additions to Sun and Moon’s structure that I do have issues with. First, is one of Sun and Moon’s biggest gimmicks and my biggest complaint: the newly introduced Z-move mechanic. Z-moves are extremely powerful moves that can be used once per battle if a Pokémon is holding a Z-crystal that corresponds to a certain move’s type. Once a Z-move is used, a very long and flashy animation will play that deals out an attack that does an absurd amount of damage. Frankly, the Z-move mechanic feels very cheap, especially during important story-related battles. They essentially boil down to annoyingly long guaranteed one hit K.O. moves, which feel unfair to both receive and dish out. After testing out the mechanic for a while, I personally opted out of using it all together. While I was able to get the through game perfectly fine without it, it always felt a little cheap to have one of my Pokémon instantly knocked out during certain important fights.

Other minor annoyances involve wild Pokémon being able to call for help, which makes catching new Pokémon needlessly frustrating and tedious, and the Rotom Dex. While the Rotom Dex’s personality thankfully isn’t annoying, I had issues with its use as the overall map. To access the map, you tap on the bottom screen and Rotom will show you a more detailed map of the region. However, sometimes when trying to view the map, Rotom will repeat the same story-related line over and over, blocking the use of the full map view altogether until you progress. Thankfully, these two things were only minor annoyances in the big picture, and hardly detract from the overall game in any substantial way.

Aside from Z-moves, I found that nearly every other substantial change to the formula enhances Sun and Moon for the better. For example, HMs, which have needed a long overdue revision, have finally received one. More specifically, they’ve been replaced entirely with the introduction of Poké Rides. The Poké Ride system is an aspect of the culture of Alola, where certain Pokémon are used to help trainers overcome the Alola region’s many natural obstacles. In the process of replacing the outdated and cumbersome HM system, you can now simply use any of the Poké Ride partners you acquire throughout your journey at any time with no penalty or hindrance. This system is seamless and convenient as a result of being able to access the menu with the press of a button, and being able to map up to four Poké Rides to the d-pad. What’s even better is that this addition is actually just fun to use. Going back and exploring areas with newly obtained Poké Rides is great, and often yields invaluable rewards for your time spent exploring. Things like TM’s, rare items, and even rare Pokémon can all be obtained through exploring islands with new Poké Rides.

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There are plenty of other convenient changes like being able to add newly caught Pokémon directly to your party or cutting the extra fluff from almost all the menus in the game. Menu navigations that were previously cumbersome can now be executed with a single button, which makes everything feel more fluid and more convenient than ever before. These little tweaks across the entire game add up to make the overall experience the smoothest it’s ever been, and will hopefully pave the way for even greater improvements in the future.


The Verdict
thumbs up review


 

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are near-perfect experiences. With a wonderfully fun and heartfelt story, a lovable and dynamic cast of characters, a beautiful new world to explore, and countless nuances that have undoubtedly rejuvenated the series, new and old fans alike are in for an adventure unlike any other in the franchise’s history. Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon are a momentous achievement and a monumental step in the right direction for the series’ future.

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