Game Review: Pokémon Sun and Moon

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Having run out of colours, precious metals and gemstones to name their games after, Game Freak’s Pokémon Sun and Moon has finally hit the shelves. Imogen Jade Beckhelling takes a look at the latest game in the series…

Playing a new Pokémon game is a bit like visiting home after a University term, everything feels so familiar yet different at the same time, and this game is no exception. Pokemon Sun and Moon reinvents the series with a new region/ tropical setting with a variety of refreshing new features.

This review will be going solely off Pokémon Moon, as that is the game I own, but the only differences between Sun and Moon are a couple of game-exclusive Pokémon, and the fact that the time is offset by 12 hours in Moon (honestly a strange addition to the game but being able to evolve an Eevee into an Umbreon whilst playing during the day was a welcome feature).

As with the previous Pokemon games, Sun and Moon delivers a charming little story about going off on an adventure with your friends, and then being harassed by a group of evil baddies that only you – the ten year old that started their journey mere days ago – can stop. As far as plot goes this game does top some of the older ones, it feels more involved with the region, and it’s more about the journey itself, rather than grinding through the game and making a bee line for the elite four. It’s much more pleasant and heart-warming to play through. That’s not to say that the writing for Team Skull can be very cringe-worthy at times, but there are plenty of jokes throughout that make it clear that Game Freak doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Check out the new starter Pokémon! (Credits to IGN.com)

Check out the new starter Pokémon! (Credits to IGN.com)

The new region, Alola, is based on Hawaii, and it’s evident that research has been done to create all different sorts of areas to explore, from volcanoes and resorts to small local towns, and even one town reminiscent of an old western ranch. Alola is also home to new forms of old Pokémon, such as the strange new Exeggutor which looks like a palm tree and the adorable ice type Vulpix. While some might argue that this is a cheap way for the company not to have to design hundreds of new Pokémon, the new forms help add a sense of familiarity to the new surroundings.

Battling

The battling system has also been updated so now when fighting a Pokémon you’ve fought before, the game tells you what each of your Pokémon’s moves effectiveness will be against it. If you’ve played Pokémon games in the past, you might find this feature a bit tedious, as it feels like it’s making the game too easy. However, considering the success of Pokémon Go, this has likely been added to help players that are new to the games get to grips with the type match-up mechanics. While an option to toggle this on or off wouldn’t go amiss, it’s still useful when going against the new Alolan Pokémon.

Whilst on the subject of battling, one of the only really disappointing aspects of the game is that the frame rate really suffers when there’s more than two Pokémon on screen during a battle. This is a real shame as a new battle format, Battle Royal, has been introduced, in which four trainers all fight individually against each other, and it would be a lot more fun if the game was able to keep up properly. That’s not to say that the frame rate drops make it unplayable, but it could be improved to make it run more smoothly.

New features

In regards to other features, Pokémon centers can be found along routes on the islands of Alola, not just in towns (thank you Game Freak), and the game has become a lot more guided, with a mini map displayed on the lower screen with an marker telling you where your next objective is. The islands are big and have a lot of different routes to the same areas so the markers really help if, like me, you have a habit of getting lost exploring. They’ve also improved the Pokémon Amie feature first introduced in X and Y, now called Pokémon Refresh, allowing you to remove status conditions from your Pokémon after a battle.

With Sun and Moon, Pokémon has evolved into an even more engrossing game. Taking ideas that worked before and adding in some new concepts, they’ve really revitalised the series. If you’re an old fan of the games or are considering getting it because of how much you loved Pokémon Go, it’s definitely worth the money.

Take a look at both games in the trailer…