July 25, 2018

Series: Pokémon
Genre: Turn-Based JRPG

Hours to beat: 32 hours
Release date: JP: November 18, 2016 | NA: November 18, 2016 | EU: November 26, 2016


3,5 out of 5 stars

Pokémon is a franchise that feels like coming home and taking a warm bath for me. I’ve been a Pokémon trainer ever since we managed to receive TV Tokyo on our satellite TV and loving the anime on there, despite not speaking a single word of Japanese as a 6-year-old. Pokémon Sun and Moon celebrate the 20th anniversary and tries to improve on the formula by changing some things around.

Alola

Pokémon Sun and Moon places you on the tropical islands of Alola with 81 new Pokémon and 18 Alolan Pokémon, which are generation 1 Pokémon with a new design, typing, and moves. the new Pokémon feel balanced compared to the previous generations and generally have good designs. A new feature of Alola which I welcomed very much is the removal of HM’s and replacing them with Ride Pokémon, which leaves you multiple attack slots which can then be used for actually useful attacks and helps the backtracking for missed HM’s a lot. Something else that has been changed is the removal of the Pokémon League, instead of entering the Pokémon League the trainers that come of age in Alola take the Island challenge.

The island challenge consists of multiple island trials, which all concentrate on one specific type of Pokémon. The trials all consist of a challenge like a scavenger hunt, or a quiz which will lead you to challenge the Totem Pokémon, a bigger sized Pokémon with boosted stats for a chance to beat the trial and earn the type-specific Z-crystal and their accompanying Z-move. Sadly the trials can start to feel very repetitive after you’ve done a couple, as they all depend on the same formula of solving a puzzle, maybe battle some Pokémon and battle the Totem Pokémon.

Z-moves

Z-moves are powerful attacks you can use once per battle, with varying effect. Some Z-moves blast some powerful attacks on your opponent while others boost the stats of your entire team. The use of Z-moves is almost a novelty during regular gameplay as the difficulty of Sun and Moon lies even lower than that of X & Y, but I can imagine they can prove useful in the competitive scene.

Plot

The plot of Sun and Moon takes some steps forward compared to the previous installments but does this in a way that gets pretty frustrating quickly. The game is filled to the brim with cutscenes that could have benefitted from more facial emotions (especially in the main character that usually stands around like an emotionless block), awkward dialogue and generally still a weak plot for a JRPG.

Improvement on old features

To help you along in your quest some features return from previous installments in a new form; Pokémon Refresh is an altered version from Pokémon X & Y’s Pokémon Amie which helps you get rid of status ailments outside of battle. X & Y’s Wondertrade also makes its return, but rather than it being a stand-alone function Sun and Moon turned it into a Festival-themed island where you can set up stands where you can earn multiple items and participate in multiplayer battles. If you’re a vivid Pokémon player you’ll be able to appreciate the improvements Sun and Moon were able to make on these functions.

Conclusion

All in all is Pokémon Sun and Moon an entry in the franchise which tries to bring some evolution, sadly this comes to the expensive of the Pokémon League which gets replaced by trials which can start to feel very repetitive once you’ve beaten 2 or 3 of them. The pacing of the game gets halted a bit by the very frequent cutscenes. Sun and Moon also made some really needed improvements to the formula with the removal of HM’s and improving on features like Pokémon Refresh and Wondertrade.

If you’re someone that likes Pokémon definitely give this one a try or someone new that’s looking for a fun JRPG. But if you’re new and you want a good introduction to the series, look for X & Y or Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby instead.