I’ve always had a list of things I wanted to see change for the Pokémon series, but I feel many of them have been addressed in Pokémon Sun and Moon. For the seventh entry into the main series, Pokémon Sun and Moon gives everyone a new region to explore, tons of new Pokémon to catch and train, as well as a new story and tons of fan service to go along with it. But none of this comes without a few sacrifices, a few of which may be notable in some instances. However, none of that keeps this from being a fun and exciting time in the wide world of Nintendo’s incredibly popular role-playing game.
Pokémon Sun and Moon takes you to the Alola region, a Hawaiian inspired area filled with new species of Pokémon, as well as a number of variant types of previous generation Pokémon. You may have seen a Sandshrew or Meowth hundreds of times, but you’ve never seen what they’ve become in this new region. They may have different moves they can use, or even be classified with a completely new type to differentiate themselves from their previous gen counterparts. You can still find older versions of these Pokémon, but the predominant population have the traits found exclusively in the Alola region.
The Hawaiian theme is really played up throughout the entirety of Pokémon Sun and Moon, both in the story and in the places you visit. Visually, the game is a big step up from its predecessors, taking a lot of inspiration from Nintendo’s other collection role-playing game, Yo-Kai Watch. The region is broken into a number of islands, each with their own trials (instead of traditional gyms) that you must overcome to make your way to the Pokémon League.
This mixes up a lot of what we’ve seen in previous games, making the concept of battling gym leaders and gain badges feel fresh and new, even though it’s the exact same premise as before. The main story does have a few plot points that borderline on being cheesy or outlandish, going as far as to implement outside dimensions. If you can look past how ridiculous some elements of the story can be and just roll with it, you’ll find yourself enjoying every step of the way.
Battling has always been a shining point of the series, and Pokémon Sun and Moon are no exception. You have single battles, teams, and even a new free-for-all battle royal styled fights that keep things exciting and new. There is a big drop in the difficulty compared to previous games in the series, most of the beginning sections of the game can be a breeze if you pay attention to types and weaknesses of different Pokémon.
I had an easy time getting through the first batch of islands and their trials, which could have been made even easier if I had chosen a different starter Pokémon. Many of the characters and trainers you encounter don’t really provide a tough challenge until the later portions of the game, but even then can be a push-over if you obtained many of the bonuses available before the game’s launch. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but this game is definitely easier and more accessible than previous Pokémon titles.
A big change this time around is how HM moves are handled differently. No longer are you limited to having a move like Fly or Surf take up a slot on a Pokémon for battling, instead you can use the new feature called Poke Ride. This allows you to borrow a Pokémon and use a specific ability that would normally be included as an HM move. If I had to return back to town, I could use Poke Ride to call a Charizard to instantly teleport me back to a Pokémon Center. This makes backtracking and exploration a lot easier without having to sacrifice anything in return. I no longer have to reserve one of my Pokémon as the HM user when I travel around, which is fantastic.
But this is only the surface of what Pokémon Sun and Moon has to offer. You still have plenty of side quests that can be attention grabbers away from the main story, as well as an assortment of mini-games to help increase the strength and happiness of your Pokémon. There’s almost an overabundance of stuff to do in Pokémon Sun and Moon, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The end game content is plentiful and will keep you playing for many hours long after finishing the main story. After finishing all of the trials and entering the Pokémon League, I found myself revisiting old locations for new side quests and opportunities to increase my Pokedex collection. I’ll be hard pressed if I don’t find myself passing the 50 hour or more mark in playtime with my own save file, especially with extra downloadable content available after release.
If you’ve been a big fan of Pokémon for some time, then you have absolutely no reason to miss out on Pokémon Sun and Moon. But to its credit, this is also a great entry point for new fans that have never picked up a Pokémon game before. There’s tons to do during and after the main story, as well as an assortment of extra features, both online and offline, that will keep anyone busy for a long time. The new Alola region and variant Pokémon species are a nice touch that work well together in providing a fresh new experience to a long running franchise. Pokémon Sun and Moon shows that there’s still plenty of cool stuff to discover in the world of Pokémon.
This review is based on a digital review code for Pokemon Sun and Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, provided by Nintendo.