Pokemon Sun/Moon: A Review

November 25, 2016

I grabbed the new Pokemon the other day, Sun to be exact, off of the Nintendo E-Shop. Like many of you who are my age, Pokemon was the video game I cut my RPG teeth.  I've followed the main line of games ever since, and within those games, along with the re-releases, this is the first title that I am conflicted over.

 

Let me start with the good:

 

For a Pokemon game, it's beautiful. They've added a lot of detail to the world, the battles, the items, and overall experience. It feels like a real Pokemon adventure. It's a feeling I've wanted out of every game, that realistic touch, and this is the first one to deliver that, in my opinion. The leap we see in this game compared not only to the first generation that came out 20 years ago but also with some that have been released not that long ago, is fantastic.

 

Going along with the look and feel of the game, the new Pokemon are also great looking, and fascinating. The starters are impressive, and the debut Pokemon that are unique to the Alola Islands are also very cool. I've put in many hours exploring the water, caverns and tall grass areas trying to catch every single Pokemon I could; this in and of itself is a great feat accomplished because I haven't been all that impressed in past games with new species.

Adding to the previous point, you'll find quite a few old favorites coming back in Sun and Moon. Best yet, some are given a brand new look, with updated stats and move-sets. These are old species that are regionally variant called "Alolan" Pokemon. On the team I am running right now, I have an Alolan Grimer (Muk eventually), and I'm very impressed by how they have updated it. While even at the upper levels, I don't see this version becoming a God-Tier contender, I have no reason to think it won't contend nicely with other Tier-1 Pokemon and fair quite well. Even just in-game battles have been in my favor most of the time. Along with the Pichu-Pikachu-Raichu, and my starter (Litten), this Alolan version stays in the top-3 of my team consistently.

 

The Pokemon Team has added a few features that have caught my eye and added a bit of depth to a pretty straightforward series. The main being Pokemon Refresh, a way to cure status impairments, pet, feed and interact with your Pokemon. You can also catch new Pokemon when your team is full, and instead of it automatically sending to your box you can switch out current team members, or choose a particular box (not just the next empty one).

 

There's a lot I'm leaving out, and some that have been crossed over from other gens, but let's move on in the interest of time.

 

Now, for the bad:

 

Remember how I said it looked beautiful for a Pokemon game? That's just it; only if you are comparing this generation to past generations does it look good. If you compare it to any other 3DS games that have come out, especially recently, it fails the visual test. The main world is extremely pixelated and jerky at times; sometimes battles slow down, and the cut-scenes are anything but impressive.

 

Which brings me to my next two grievances. SOS Battles and Cut-Scenes.

First, the SOS Battles. This is a new feature when dealing with wild Pokemon. This allows the wild Pokemon to "call for help," adding another Pokemon to fight you. At first, I thought this was an interesting feature, but it turned out to be obnoxious way faster than anticipated. Let's say you are looking to capture the wild Pokemon you encountered. If it calls for help, a new fresh one appears, and you are unable to catch the other until the new one is defeated. Let's also say, you are a completionist and are looking to fill the Pokedex up. There are many Pokemon that you can only catch IF it appears as the second in an SOS Battle.

 

SOS Battles bring another problem, other than mechanical and that has to do with my original point: the graphics. Every once in a while, SOS Battles lag horribly. It isn't each and every time, but it occurs often enough to where it becomes a bother. It does feel like you're back in 8th grade at a LAN party, and someone's computer is not keeping up with the others. Yeah. Something I never thought I'd complain about with a Pokemon game.

 

Finally, my biggest problem with this game is the cut-scenes. And boy oh boy are there a lot of them. It was over 20minutes into the game before I got my starter Pokemon, over 40minutes in until you are free enough to start the ACTUAL game and close to an hour before you are truly out into the wilds of the first island to explore and do what you wish openly. I'd estimate (and be confident to put money on it) that if you tried to speed run this game, you would encounter a cut-scene every 6-10 minutes. It's heavy with dialogue, and non-existent story.

 

I don't want to keep bashing it, or trying to win anyone over, because it will just take way too long to list every new detail that made me happy, or annoyed me.

 

Overall (tl;dr):

 

It's not a bad game.  Under all the new good/bad aspects it is still a Pokemon game. You still walk through tall grass catching wild Pokemon, fill up a Pokedex and fight other trainers. There are still potions, PokeCenters and Pikachu have no fear. Instead of gym leaders, you have Kahuna, and instead of gyms, you have island challenges. Instead of badges, you have z-crystals. It's all rather drab, but it gives the game a good feel.

 

The music is great, and it nods to past generations just enough to make long-time veterans smile. Nothing here is too great of a departure, but enough of the game has changed to where I've come to realize X/Y might be the last game to target my demographic. 

 

Pick it up, but be warned, be patient and pretend that Team Skull just doesn't exist.

 

--f.h.

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