Review: Pokemon Sun & Moon (3DS)

Alola, Pokefans and welcome to a brand new Pokemon adventure for the Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon Sun and Moon. First things first, this review was written after playing Pokemon Moon and secondly, I hope I do this review justice as there’s so much to see and do in this latest Pokemon outing!

There’s so many new things, I’m not sure where to start but let’s begin with were the game is set. Say good bye to the Kanto region and hello to the Alola region where the sun always shines, the birds always sing and everyday is more beautiful than the last. This region consists of four islands: Melemele Island, Akala Island and a couple of other islands that I am yet to unlock. But what I can tell you is that each island has a series of trials which you must undertake. These consist of a trial captain and their Pokemon facing off against yours in a familiar battle. Once you accomplish that, you then take on the Kahuna of the island. Each island has a kahuna and each island has a different number of trials to complete. There are no Gyms in Pokemon Sun and Moon, this is how it’s done in this latest offering. The prize for beating the trials and kahuna is a Z stone which unlocks the Z-Move in your Pokemon. These new powers have to be seen to be believed, they can turn the tide of a game in the blink of an eye but you have to choose when to use it as the Z-Move can only be used once in each fight. Each Pokemon in your party can hold their own Z-Stone as long they’re compatible with it. Once you use it, you can’t use it again until the next battle so it really makes you think very carefully about just thinking you can win each fight with your Z-Move.

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Team Rocket has been replaced with Team Skull who show up when you’re least expecting it and try to steal your Pokemon or they’re trying to steal some else’s Pokemon and it’s up to you to save the day. I can’t help but think of a past game for the DS, The World Ends With You, whenever they show up as their music is very reminiscent of that Square Enix title. Anyone who’s played TWEWY, trust me on this, you’ll know when you hear it. As can be expected, things never go their way but it’s always fun when they show up.

You can traverse the game using Pokemon to ride on land, sea or take to the skies with Charizard which is really cool. Each Pokemon that you’re riding also have abilities which you can use to access new parts of the game that you wouldn’t be able to if you were on foot. Riding Tauros around, for example, allows you to smash rocks which get in your path and stop from accessing more of the map. Speaking of the map, you always know where you have to go as there’s a handy arrow indicator so you can’t really get lost. I honestly don’t recall this feature being implemented in past titles and if it was, somehow I missed it but it’s really obvious in this game. If you’re unsure where to go and the arrow isn’t on the screen, walking around usually reveals it and the path you need to take.

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The multiplayer aspect I haven’t really been able to explore due to very few people having the game in this region but what little I did play was really cool as it’s all accessed through an area called the Festival Plaza.In here you can use the communication features of the game for trading and battling but you can also meet other players in a hub of sorts.You can play games and win coins which are then redeemable for items which will help you along the way. This is one part that I can’t wait to really play with once the game is out, it looks like a lot of fun will be had.

Your friend in the game is Hau who happens to be the grandson of Hala the Kahuna of Melemele Island. He’s a very likable young kid and you end up having battles with him on your journey which get harder as the game progresses. You also receive guidance and assistance from Prof. Kukui, he’s just like the Oak version only he walks around topless a lot.

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Two things that I always like to talk about in games I review are the music and the visuals. The music is amazing, it’s so good! It’s a blend of Hawaiian with gentle drums and changes up for nearly every part of the map so just as you start to get bored of it, it changes with the terrain. It’s a very Caribbeanesque soundtrack which may not be for everyone but after hearing subtle changes in the score in previous Pokemon games to this score which is vastly different and matches the environment perfectly, it’s a very welcome change. Add some ocean breeze and the sound of palm leaves waving in the wind and the sound is totally on point. Visually, it’s also a feast for the eyes. Everything is so lush and colourful that it’s very hard to put the game down once you start playing. It’s so nice to have such a bright landscape with rich colours and warm tones that help to really draw you into the game and make you forget how long you’ve been playing for. The new Pokemon look great! I’m not going to pretend that I know all their names but I loved encountering new ones purely for the new experience of seeing what they look and what their abilities are. Older generation Pokemon like Rattata and Zubat look amazing and have received a facelift so they blend in effortlessly among the newer looking Pokemon.

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I have to be completely honest here and say that I’ve only ever completed one Pokemon game and that was Pokemon Black but I can wholeheartedly say that this new entry will keep me going until I reach the end and so far, it’s been the only game to tear me away from Monster Hunter Generations. I really don’t want to say more unless I spoil it and I sincerely hope that I haven’t done that. I think Pokemon fans will be extremely familiar with the game mechanics as the core of the game hasn’t changed at all. What has changed is how it look, sounds, feels and to a certain extent, how it plays. The Z-Moves will keep you on your toes and by now I think we’ve all seen the countless videos showing them but seeing them right in front of you at a pivotal moment of the battle is a fist pumping moment.

In this new game, for me personally, I feel that any little gripe I had with past games have been addressed and polished to perfection. You can see the amount of testing and work that went into this game, it’s a very well rounded product and one that must be experienced for both existing fans and newcomers to the series. I’m really having a lot of fun with this one and found it extremely hard to put down to write this. This is the pinnacle right here for Pokemon games. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Final score: 10/10

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