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Pokémon Moon Review

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Pokemon Moon box art.pngPokémon has lasted twenty years and six generations of games without significant changes to the core game structure. Now generation seven, Pokémon Sun and Moon, finally shakes things up a bit more than the gradual and minor additions of the past. Of course the essentials are still the same–you still catch, train, and battle Pokémon–but the new island trial system is a breath of fresh air, while other changes make Sun and Moon much simpler without spoiling any of the fun of a Pokémon adventure.
Even after two decades, the adventure begins the same way: choose your starter out of a grass, fire, or water type Pokémon, then get out there to see and capture every creature you can. Storytelling has never been a particular focus of the Pokémon franchise and not much has changed in Sun and Moon. The Hawaiian-inspired Alola region is fun and the characters themselves are charming but the lack of development on the more interesting plot points means its mostly window dressing. The larger narrative doesn't even get going in earnest for at least ten or so hours of playtime. Still, it has its cute moments, and when it comes down to it the best part of a Pokémon game is simply becoming a Pokémon Master and exploring the game's world, not following some storyline revolving around yet more mysterious and unknown Pokémon.
For six generations the path to Pokémon Mastery was the same: defeat the gym leaders then take on the Pokémon League in order to be crowned champion. Sun and Moon introduce something a little different: to progress you must complete Trials. These are functionally the same as gym challenges since they involve fighting a themed set of Pokémon, but they're far more varied. One Trial involves answering questions based on sound cues, while another uses the Poké Finder feature (a way of photographing Pokémon in the game) in order to actually find the Pokémon you must battle. Many Trials also involve exploring the environments of Alola. The Trials may fill the same purpose as gyms but they feel like a more natural fit for the world of Pokémon. They do a great job of keeping you engaged in the broader universe of Pokémon–the Trials aren't just checkpoints, they help give Alola a unique sense of personality.
Pokemon Moon Popplio.jpg
In battle, the bottom screen provides some helpful information.
The next change may seem minor but longtime fans will rejoice: there are no more Hidden Machines (HMs)! Neither Pokémon nor player need be shackled to this outdated system! HMs used to act as keys for the player, restricting access to later areas until you teach one of your Pokémon the requisite HM move. The problem with this system was that Pokémon had to give up a move slot in order to have an HM, which led many players to simply have a dedicated HM Pokémon for exploration. It was restrictive, and while some of the moves were useful enough in battle many of them felt like a waste. Sun and Moon has eliminated all of that, and instead HM moves are represented by special Pokémon you can call on while exploring–a Poké-Uber system if you will. Not only do these Pokémon let you move around faster (also replacing the bicycle from previous games), each one has a special ability such as breaking weak rocks or moving stones. This change was a long time coming. Restricting access until the player has progressed far enough is perfectly fine–every game does it–but now the keys exist outside of your Pokémon team, so they are no longer a burden.
Pokémon has been getting progressively more accessible each generation by simplifying certain aspects and making others more conveniently visible. The EXP Share returns to make level raising easy–you don't need to grind at all to finish the main story, especially if you keep Pokémon type advantages in mind. Best of all, the game makes that easy for you too. While in battle, if you have encountered or captured the opposing Pokémon before, you'll be able to see on the battle screen whether your attacks will be super effective or not. You can also check other details like if an attack can paralyze or poison the enemy. Veteran trainers may scoff at this feature but it is massively beneficial to anyone who hasn't memorized every Pokémon's strengths and weaknesses (which is becoming increasingly difficult to do, as Sun and Moon brings the total Pokémon count up to around 800). It's important to note that these features change nothing for players who still want a more serious challenge out of Pokémon. EXP Share can be turned off, and the extra information won't necessarily help if you don't have the right attacks to take advantage of it. But by making the game a little easier for novice players, Sun and Moon ensure anyone can enjoy the adventure, from Youngsters to Ace Trainers.
Speaking of that massive Pokémon roster, the Alola region pays homage to the monsters that started it all with special Alolan variants. Some Pokémon from generation one reappear in Sun and Moon with slightly different types and moves. It's kind of a clever way of keeping older Pokémon relevant, and even makes a sort of sense within the game's Poké-biology logic: in a different environment Pokémon adapted differently to survive. And just look at Dugtrio's flowing golden locks.
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One of the other highlights of this new generation is the Z-Move system. Last generation introduced Mega Evolutions which gave one Pokémon per battle a power boost, oftentimes with new type advantages and abilities. Z-Moves are similar, but increase the power of only one attack. This gives them less impact than Mega Evolutions but that's actually a good thing. Z-Moves feel less overpowered and function more as a trump card rather than the necessity that Mega Evolutions seemed to become. Z-Moves seem a bit more balanced.
Not surprisingly Sun and Moon introduce a ton of side content for you to enjoy as well. If nothing else these can be fun ways to break from the main adventure. Pokémon Refresh lets you pet and feed your Pokémon, and while it seems like a frivolous feature at first there are benefits to having a happy Pokémon. There's also Poké Pelago which lets you use your boxed Pokémon on a number of small islands. They can train to earn experience, explore caves to find items, or you may even attract wild Pokémon. It's great to have a use for your benched Pokémon, since over the course of your adventure you'll have plenty of unused critters collecting dust. Finally there's Battle Royal, a four-player free-for-all which is, if nothing else, a novelty. It's certainly a fresh way to battle, but can also be a little unsatisfyingly chaotic.
And although there are few things genuinely wrong with Sun and Moon, there are a few features that are less successful than others. In a battle with a wild Pokémon, once it's injured, it may call for help which adds a second Pokémon to the fight. You can use this to grind EXP or increase your chance of finding a shiny Pokémon but when you just want to defeat or capture the first Pokémon the SOS system is pretty annoying. Calling for help is a free action on the part of the wild Pokémon, so even when you defeat the reinforcement a new one can be called in immediately. You also can't catch Pokémon when there are two on screen, so you have to defeat one before you get the chance to throw a ball. Too often these battles drag on in a loop. The SOS system is a neat idea but definitely needs some kind of adjustment. Additionally, instead of a usual Pokédex, Rotom inhabits your dex as a semi-active guide. It's cute but it feels like a half-hearted effort. Rotom only chimes in to remind you of your next story objective–often right after you are told what to do. It seems like the developers wanted to have a side kick character but didn't put in the full effort, so instead Rotom feels unnecessary.
Pokemon Moon Festival Plaza.jpg
Festival Plaza is your one-stop hub for all online activities, including special global missions.
Sun and Moon also revamps Pokémon's online system. Now there is an entire area dedicated to multiplayer gaming, Festival Plaza, where you can connect with others or access specialty shops. Connecting with friends online is a tiny bit more complicated than it needs to be (there's no dedicated friend's list, just a list of other players some of which are marked as friends) but it's a small price to pay for getting to share the Pokémon experience online.
Generation seven abandons another old tenet of the Pokémon series: no more grid based movement. It's not a big deal but it does allow for more dynamic graphics in the overworld. Despite being limited to a series of islands the Alola region is beautiful and still manages to pack in all of the standard elemental environments. Anyone with a large screen 3DS may be a little distracted by the giant pixelated look of some of the close-up views but the game as a whole looks great. And the visuals in battle are some of the most elaborate yet for a mainline game, which is a really nice touch. The only problem is the long animation for Z-Moves, which definitely should have had an option to turn off. The music, meanwhile, has plenty of good, forgettable songs. The ones that do stand out, though, are excellent, such as the Welcoming theme which has a nice touch of Hawaiian influence to it.
Pokémon Sun and Moon introduce some welcome changes to the now two-decade-old Pokémon formula. This is still the same great creature collection adventure that fans have loved for years, but with just slight tweaks the journey feels fresh and exciting once more. And like a lot of recent Nintendo games Sun and Moon offer slight changes to a tried and true formula to make the game a little easier and more accessible to new players. Sun and Moon, however, manage to keep the hand holding to a minimum, so truly anyone can enjoy this Pokémon adventure.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars


Posted this a little earlier than usual since I'm going to be busy this weekend.

Edited by Eliwood8

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I'm not the only one who thinks the SOS system is an interesting concept, but poor in execution!  


Also, although I like the trials and captains and hakunas... I don't remember their names well sometimes because there's no cool name pun to them. They're less rememberable because their names are common, odd, or boring. 






In order: Fighting guy, Ilima, Lana, Kakrui, Mallow, Olivia, Acerator, Nanu, Paint Girl, no captain guy, Haku, Flying Elite 4. I don't think I said most of them right. WHERE ARE THE CATCHY NAME PUNS?! I even forgot Sophocles! And most of them a based on plants. Wow. 



Edited by XLW

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4 minutes ago, XLW said:

I'm not the only one who thinks the SOS system is an interesting concept, but poor in execution!  


Also, although I like the trials and captains and hakunas... I don't remember their names well sometimes because there's no cool name pun to them. They're less rememberable because their names are common, odd, or boring. 


  Reveal hidden contents




In order: Fighting guy, Ilima, Lana, Kakrui, Mallow, Olivia, Acerator, Nanu, Paint Girl, no captain guy, Haku, Flying Elite 4. I don't think I said most of them right. WHERE ARE THE CATCHY NAME PUNS?! I even forgot Sophocles! 




Exactly. There's not a lot to them. Like they did an ok job on the outside of the game but the rest seems really shallow. Not that other Pokemon games haven't been like it before (X and Y kind of was to a point), but it's a bit disappointing.

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Just now, Lance's Dragonite said:


Exactly. There's not a lot to them. Like they did an ok job on the outside of the game but the rest seems really shallow. Not that other Pokemon games haven't been like it before (X and Y kind of was to a point), but it's a bit disappointing.


Some of them experience the trials with the character, but I don't usually remember them because their names suck. Seriously, I don't know plant names and species. Yes, some older games didn't do name puns as well. Koga. Giovanni. Falkner. Clair. Tate. Liza. Cress. Cilan. Iris. Whoever else I'm forgetting. But, you're also right on why they're so forgettable too. 


The fact that the captains don't battle like a "surrogate" to their own trials is disappointing. That would have been a 1-UP on the gyms. Battling both wild Pokémon and trainers in a trial. (To make it fair, the captains heal your Pokémon before you face them after you battle the wild Pokémon.) It sucks that I have to face some after the trial. Give me another challenge. The games' whole premise is a challenge to be stronger, but the captains can't be even more intimidating to make sure you're really worthy of being a champion?! That's not right!  




And don't give me the Title Defense thing. If all else, that could've been handled similarly to what HGSS did. I would've loved to see how they got stronger since the last time I beat them!

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So, is it challenging or not? Post is confusing. 


At least you remember the gym leaders for certain Pokemon, what they do, level design, and their catchy names, and where they reside. At least you remember what the grunts do and what their purpose is.  


The captains pose no challenge, although the totems do. That makes it sad that I know them more than the captains. 



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That is perhaps true. Only THE MILTANK OF DOOM AND THE KINGDRA OF NIGHTMARES gave me a real problem when I first played them.  


But to this day, I can list maybe all of the six generation gym leaders and Elite 4 more than I can the current roster of captains and elite 4.


Brock, Misty, Lt. Surge, Erika, Koga, Blaine, Sabrina, Giovanni, Lorelei, Bruno, Agatha, Lace, Red/Blue/Green/Gary. 


Falkner, Bugsy, Whitney, Morty, Chuck, Jasmine, Pryce, Clair, Will, Koga, Bruno, Karen, Lance, Janine for Kanto, Blue for Kanto, Red for Kanto. 


Roxanne, Brawly, Wyatt, Flannery, Norman, Winona, Tate and Liza, Wallace/ Juan, Sidney, Glacia, Phoebe, Drake, Wallace/Steven 


Roark, Gardenia, Crasher Wake, Maylene, -1 for ghost contest chick with the Driflloom, Byron, Candace, Volkner, Aaron, Betha, Flint, Cynthia.  


Chili/Cress/Cilan, Lenora, Burgh, Elesa, Clay, Brycen, Iris/Drayden, Shauntal, Marshal, Grimsley, -1 for pyschic chick who was also in the Sinnoh/Johto battle frontiers, Alder 


Round 2 sequels, Cheren, Roxie, Marlon, and Iris as champ


-1 for bug photographer gym leader, Grant, Lady Korrina, Ramos, Clemont, Olympia, Valerie, Wulfuric, Malva, Wikstrom, Drana, Siebold, Diantha


2 hours ago, Lt. Surge said:

I remember the Trial Captains and the Kahunas relatively well, a lot better than I do the Sinnoh, Unova, and Kalos gym leaders.


I remember most of them, but most their names are so confusing, that I usually pass on them. 


Hala, Ilima, Lana, Kiawe, Mallow, Olivia, Sophocles, Acerola, Nanu, Hapu, none, Kahili, paint girl.


I think I did better than last time. 

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