Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: The Pokémon Company
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS/2DS
So I’ve gotten a full time job recently, which is why content has been slowed recently, more than I thought it would. But expect some more soon with Final Fantasy 15, Overwatch, maybe the Last Guardian and more! But today I’d like to share with you my thoughts on Pokémon Sun. It’s a long one, so grab a muffin, coffee or whatever you like to dig into, and enjoy! : )
It’s that time again. Another year, another Pokémon game for us to devour. But this time, the games have taken a new turning, and you could say it’s a much better game as a result. While Pokémon games are usually always good, they’ve been following the same format since the first game, which all came down to fighting the Team villains, beating all Gym leaders, overcoming the Elite Four/Champion (which are both in Sun and Moon) and some form of Battle Frontier or online multiplayer. Maybe deviating from this structure would result in us players not liking it, and who would blame them? They’ve been very successful, and Pokémon Sun and Moon are no different.
The story in Pokémon Sun and Moon is pretty interesting. But the thing with story lines in Pokémon games is that some players (those I’ve across) tend not to invest in it too much, as they mostly care for online battles and training their Pokémon to be the strongest they can be. This doesn’t mean the story line isn’t good, in fact it’s one of my favourites, although the same can’t be said for Team Skull. I won’t say anything more about the story, but Team Skull just feel really out of place and lack originality, and I’m sure that it’s largely the whole ‘gangster’ style. I even lowered the volume when they appeared to avoid listening to the painful music that played when interacting with them.
These Games are Different
With Sun and Moon taking place in a location with obvious inspiration taken from Hawaii, they have had some pretty big changes made to the way you play the game, the biggest being the replacement of Gyms for Trials and Kahunas. What if I told you that there were no Gyms anymore? Well that’s pretty much the case. In Pokémon Sun, you’ll instead be taking on Trials, which you clear a certain number of Pokémon, then fight the Totem Pokémon at the end, which can be quite challenging if you’re not prepared. Totem Pokémon are essentially bigger versions of a normal Pokémon. While Trials are something different, they’re basically a Gym, before you fight the Captain(s) and eventually, the Kahuna of the island.
In addition to Trials, you also go up against the Kahuna of the island. But let’s face it, he or she is essentially a ‘Gym leader’, and it’s great that it’s been kept in some form because I always love the epic showdowns between yourself and the toughest leader in each area. This gave each area a conclusion, and it’s where the next chapter started in your adventure began. Whether you’re a fan of Trials and Kahunas or not, it definitely breathes life into the same format we’ve been used to for years.
After I completed the Wela Volcano Park Trial, I realised something that I always seem to do in new Pokémon games. I always tend to use older generation Pokémon. At this point, my Pokémon were in the level 24-33 range and I decided to take on some gen 7 ones! So if you’re usually sticking to the usual Growlithe, Machop, Pikachu and so on, I recommend trying out some of the new Pokémon, even if a small number of them have lazy designs (*cough* Klefki) and don’t look very appealing. Although the majority of Gen 7 Pokémon do look good this time.
The game certainly becomes a lot more interesting when you’re using the latest Pokémon, and of course, why wouldn’t it? Using unfamiliar Pokémon gives you a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, especially when fighting against them. You learn better strategies as a result.
My first actual gen 7 Pokémon was Salandit at level 16, which was when I decided to use newer Pokémon. I thought to myself, “I really like the look of this thing”, and set my heart on training it and evolving it into a Salazzle. Normally I’d check up on Bulbapedia or some other ridiculously informative website on when certain Pokémon evolve, but this time I didn’t. By the time my Salandit got to level 26 or so, I started to wonder when it would. That was when my heart sank as I read the words, ‘only female Salandits evolve into Salazzle‘. Time was wasted, sure, but it felt a lot better than referring to a walkthrough from the beginning and not having found out for yourself.
One of my best changes in the game that might not seem that big, is the ability to swap a Pokemon you’ve just caught for one of the six you have on you. Instead of having to go a computer to get that Pokemon, you can do it on the go. How nifty is that?!
The Battle Royal is like the Battle Tower of the Sun and Moon, with the differences being each battle is a free-for-all between 4 trainers and last Pokémon standing wins. Survival is the game and strategy is key. I’ve found usingPokémon with strong Defence, Special Defence and multi-target damage/status effects have an advantage here. Once again, a game mode such as this is good to see and I like how they’re able to bring something different to the game, even if it isn’t exactly the most original idea, instead of the usual 1 on 1/2 on 2 Battle Tower-esque mode. You can see Master Rank gameplay in the video above. Credit to wario dpader over on his YouTube channel.
EV Berries are a grind
For competitive players, does having a Pokémon with less than ideal EV stats bug you? If you need to reset your EV points, you can’t do it with Super Training for Reset Bags anymore. Instead, you have to settle for EV berries, which reduces a stat by 10 each time (48 hours for them to grow, but higher rank yields more berries). It’s not exactly the best of grinds, but it’s what they’ve chosen to go with. The reset system in Gen 6 was fine as it was and I don’t see why we’re back to using berries. Here’s a nice little guide on resetting EVs.
Is it Challenging?
The difficulty of the game feels much better than it was in Pokémon X and Y. With those games I felt slightly bored because, well everything was very easy, and my Pokémon weren’t over levelled. In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the difficulty is in a good place, but there are still some artificial difficulties. You have the Exp. Share, which if you turn on, all 6 of your Pokémon will get some experience after beating a Pokémon, regardless of who beat them. Levelling becomes less of a grind and a lot faster as a result.
Next we have the ‘call for help’ ability of wild and Totem Pokémon. I feel this ability makes the game more challenging by putting you up against 2 Pokémon at the same time. On their own, Totem Pokémon aren’t nearly as much of a threat, but having to control the ally Pokémon and deal with the main opponent is where the challenge lies.
What made Gyms quite easy to overcome is the fact that you were able to heal in between battles. Each Trial in Pokémon Sun and Moon feels like the Elite Four, where you can’t rest up your Pokémon between battles. It’s still far more interesting than Gym battles (except for the Gym leader) in previous games. We still have to keep in mind that people of all ages can play this game. So the challenge can’t be too big.
Alolan Pokémon and Game Exclusives
What I always look forward to when it comes to new Pokémon games, is the difference between the two games. Sun and Moon are pretty much the same game, with the exception of the time being separated by 12 hours (Moon is ahead of your time by 12 hours and Sun follows your time). While this may not put you in a position where you’re unsure of which version to get, it’s a nice feature because some Pokémon appear during the day, and some at night.
Now the biggest difference between Sun and Moon, and what made the decision of which version to get ever so more difficult, are the different Alolan Pokémon you’re able to find and catch. The Legendary Pokémon were basically an afterthought for me. But the reason I chose Sun was because I had seen that Alolan Ninetales exist. That was the sole reason as to why I got Pokémon Sun, and it was an easy decision because Ninetales is one of my favourite Pokémon, so the thought of having a ice/ghost version, had me excited like a little kid. This also makes the community more active because players who have Sun for example, might want a certain Pokémon you can only in Moon. Trading is the way to do that.
A Better Game without HMs
You could say that HMs provide good and negative gameplay value. Did they add some form of strategy by hindering some of your Pokémon, effectively having you work with 3 moves instead of 4? Well, not really. In fact, HMs were an annoying artificial difficulty that provided no real gameplay value, other than to either keep you switching Pokémon when you needed to use Flash or Rock Smash, or to hinder your main Pokémon if you didn’t want to go all the way back to that Pokémon Centre.
The removal of HMs in Pokémon Sun and Moon is perhaps one of the, if not, the best change Game Freak have made. Now we don’t have to worry about benching a Pokémon or two, or using up your 6th team slot for a Pokémon filled with HMs!
Extending on the whole HM business, Sun and Moon also have Poké Rides. Some of them directly replace HMs, such as riding around on Tauros for Rock Smash, calling a Charizard for Fly and a Lapras to help you cross water. Another great thing about Poké Rides is that they aren’t just HM replacements. There’s even a Stoutland you can ride to help you find hidden items!
While the game is very good, it does have some flaws/annoyances. For one thing, there is a lot of dialogue, especially during the early stages of the game and it did get to a point where I just wanted to get some battles going. You might think me crazy, but this is something I feel there is a little too much of.
Another thing is the ‘call for help’ ability every wild Pokémon has available to them. At first, I loved it. It definitely adds a bit more depth to battles by keeping you on your toes. You don’t realise how much things can turn around when it goes from a 1 on 1 to a 2 on 1. But after a few times, it can get tiresome. Facing up against a Zubat that continuously calls for help after you beat the other one is quite frustrating. On top of that, you can’t catch a Pokémon if they have an ally with them. As annoying as it is, it’s something different, and different is great after so many 1 on 1 battles in previous Pokémon games.
3D Environment and Music is Great
One thing I adored about Pokémon X and Y was how the game was built more as a 3D environment and feels very refreshing as a result as it gives the world a new perspective. Seeing the size of Pokemon compared to each other, Human is nice improvement, along with having trainers shown behind their Pokémon.
One thing I’ve noticed about performance is the apparent drop in frame rate during a Z-Move like Inferno Overdrive. The game slows down for a second as the move is powering up. The game also takes longer than usual to close, at up to 15 seconds. Keeping in mind I have a 2DS, it’s not so bad and these things can get fixed in a patch sooner or later.
Pokémon music is a big deal. If the music isn’t so good, then it can lower my experience of the game. As I mentioned earlier, I had to lower the volume of the Team Skull Grunt music when interacting with them. But fortunately, every other piece of music is more enjoyable to listen to. From the relaxing tones to the more intense ones, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the adventure as much as I have been.
Unsurprisingly, Pokémon Sun is a fantastic game. I’ve been having a great time with the new changes and additions and I can’t wait to get started on working on my Pokémon teams to start EV training! There are a few flaws but everything good about the game makes up for it and I’m excited to see what direction they’ll take the next game. I can easily recommend this game to any Pokémon fan as it’s worth playing, even just to see what differences there are.
If you’re still not sure if you want to buy it yet, let me know why in the comments below and maybe I’ll be able to answer any questions you have. Or if you agree/disagree with this entire post, share your thoughts with me! : )
- Trials, Captains and island Kahunas breathe life into the game, as opposed to the same Gym format every time
- 3D environment is improved upon
- Music is good as always
- Most Gen 7 Pokémon are appealing, including the Alolan Pokémon
- Removal of HMs are a welcome change, and so are Poké Rides
- Many quality of life improvements made
- Some performance issues
- A couple of artificial difficulties
- Some lengthy dialogue
- EV stat resetting can be a grind
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