It's been one month since the release of Pokémon Sun & Moon, and I figured that I should give my thoughts on the game after getting to play it for myself. If you must know what I version and starter I picked, the answers are Sun and Litten. Just a warning, there will be some spoilers.The Story
Pokémon Sun & Moon
really brought focus back onto story, which is something that many players really rejoiced after X/Y. I didn't have a real problem with Gen 6's story, but it's nice that there is more reason to get into the series. The plot of the game is a huge deconstruction of the various aspects of the Pokémon series, which is reflected in the characters and their actions. I will go into detail about the characters in the next part, but my Arceus, is Sun & Moon
surprisingly dark for a lighthearted, colorful series! They even went as far as using the D word!The Characters
Many fans have complained about X/Y producing a bland, annoying, and underdeveloped cast, which was alleviated a bit with ORAS and the Delta Episode. I myself enjoyed the characters there, but Sun & Moon established a lot of depth and personality to the new characters and even some of the returning ones. Lillie is well-liked since her reveal in the pre-release trailers, and we the players get to experience her growth from a shy, passive girl to a confident and active young lady. Hau is the nice rival once again, and although this may make him seem overdone and generic, it becomes very clear that the PLAYER
is the actual rival akin to Blue/Green, and the player's own true rival is Gladion. Team Skull can be construed as a portrayal of young people who have just given up and have low self-esteem, much like what would happen to a Pokémon Trainer in real-life circumstances. The Aether Foundation's reveal as the true villain team is a twist that many people saw coming. They didn't even try to hide that twist in the prologue! Lusamine fulfilled my wish of having an female evil team leader, and she incorporates many personality traits from Cyrus, Ghetsis, and Lysandre. However, the fact that Nihilego's (aka UB-01 Symbiont) neurotoxins that altered her behavior in her search for her husband after his disappearance does leave her true morality open for interpretation. I really liked Lusamine's Pokémon team and themes, and she's almost a foil to Cynthia.The Species
Alola produced the second least amount of brand-new Pokémon at 81 (one is unreleased), and some Kanto Pokémon got new looks and Types. Overall, the Alola region is the slowest in terms of the species, save for outliers like Salazzle and Ribombee. A majority of the Alola Pokémon are mighty glaciers, sacrificing speed for power. Some people are ticked at this, but I believe that it is good to slow down a bit, especially when there are also anti-priority tactics implemented to balance out the gameplay. Many of the designs are really cute, and I really like that. The new creatures are based on some rare species that aren't represented often in media, such as crown-of-thorns sea stars (Mareanie/Toxapex), mata mata turtles (Turtonator), and bee flies (Cutiefly/Ribombee). Others also fit into the Hawaiian-themed setting, such as the Sandygast line, Comfey, Oricorio, and Bruxish. Many of the unique Type combos that we've had before are no longer unique. Not that it's a bad thing, but it's something notable.
18 Kanto Pokémon adapted to the tropical environment and acquired new methods of dealing with other Pokémon. It really says something when GameFreak remembers so many oddities in the past and implemented them into the actual game series. For instance, there was the 1997 box art of the Japanese Jungle Set for the TCG featuring a long-trunked Exeggutor, and now we have the 35' tall coconut tree that is also a Dragon Type. Meowth, Grimer, and Rattata being associated with Team Rocket and other evil teams fits their new classification as the Dark Type. The Alola forms, as they're called, also fit into the Hawaiian-themed setting, even if they initially seem out-of-place. Marowak is clearly a Hawaiian fire dancer, but as Gaijin Goomba stated in his video it could also be a nightmarcher. Dugtrio's blond hair and brown fur/skin not only evokes surfer dudes, but could also be a stealth pun on the heavy metal band Hawaii, given they have metal hair
As for the Ultra Beasts, they are eerie and unnerving, especially when they invoke the uncanny valley. Guzzlord scared me when I first saw what it looked like and read its description. Nihilego and Pheromosa somehow make deadly and/or disgusting creatures look beautiful. Did anyone expect a parasitic jellyfish and a molted cockroach to pull it off? Both Kartana and Celesteela are very faithful to their Japan-based origins; the former is a fusion of origami and katana swords, while the latter is a shout-out to the folktale of Princess Kaguya (bamboo motifs and exclusivity to Moon
). Buzzwole is just okay for me.
GameFreak did so much research in creating all these new Pokémon (forms), that not only is Sun & Moon
entertaining, but educational as well. That feeling when you learn more from a video game than from school... The Region
Alola is a region based on Hawaii, as I may have pointed out before. It is another region based on an American state, after Unova (New York/New Jersey) in the Gen 5 games and Orre (Arizona) in Colosseum. Just like with Gen 5's region, there is a lot of cultural diversity with the people and the Pokémon they live with. Seeing how Hawaii has a high Japanese population, especially the Issei (first generation
Japanese), it makes sense that only the Gen 1 Pokémon had Alola forms. My favorite cities in the game are Konikoni City and Malie City, which appeal to my heritage. Hau'Oli City comes close with the Battle Buffet. Also like Gen 5, many of the Pokémon don't evolve very early or have pre-requisites beyond level-up, referencing how the US's legal age is higher than in Japan and France. The leveling system from Unova also returns, making grinding more difficult, though Gen 6's EXP Share does help a bit.Other Technical AspectsPokémon Sun & Moon
are the first games in the handheld series to have full-sized models. With that, the whole world feels more immersive than ever before. It's much easier to visualize yourself in the environments, and the NPCs even notice you as you walk by.
Junichi Masuda once again composed some awesome music tracks for this game. Most of the themes are very fitting to the setting, and the boss themes are out of this world. Lusamine's first theme exudes beauty, just like what she cared for in her neurotoxin-fueled insanity. Her second theme is that up to eleven. Po Town's dreary BGM gave me a sense of dread and hopelessness; the piano sounded like the one from save room theme of the classic Resident Evil
games. But why insert shamelessly cheerful overworld music for cemeteries?
Z-Moves are a sight to behold, especially with the signature ones from the awe-inspiring Oceanic Operetta to the hilarious Pulverizing Pancake.
Customization returns from X/Y, with added hair and skin tone options as well as the option to remove the hat. It used to be the unwritten rule that protagonists wear hats or other headgear and rivals go bareheaded. I do miss the ensemble outfits, however, like full dresses. The colors are version exclusive, when it wasn't the case in Gen 6...
The Trials are creative and show that there's more to a Trainer than commanding Pokémon to use moves until the opponent faints, and I feel they're pretty much Gym Battles under different names and better. Plus, we finally get the closest person to a Dark Gym Leader: Nanu, the Kahuna of Ula'Ula Island.
HMs are gone! Instead, we have Ride Pokémon who fulfill the roles that help surmount obstacles without taking up party space. In-universe, this is because Alola has laws prohibiting non-Ride Pokémon from using moves outside of battle. This also extends to non-HM moves Dig, Sweet Scent, Teleport, Milk Drink, and Softboiled. Lapras and Sharpedo reprise their Surf roles from X/Y and ORAS respectively, and Charizard, Machamp, and Tauros are the ones who use Fly, Strength, and Rock Smash respectively. Tauros also doubles as a Bicycle by having the fastest running speed when B is held. Mudsdale takes up Rhyhorn's role from X/Y, and Stoutland is the Item Finder/Dowsing Machine. Afraid of missing out on good moves like Fly, Surf, and Waterfall? They're now TMs, and because it's after Gen 5, they're reusable! The Riding Wear is derided for having a garish design while also being forced to sacrifice personal style, but would you really care about an 11-year old's looks over safety?
In conclusion, I think Sun & Moon
is a great start for Gen 7. With so much new things while still having enough of the old, they are a set of games that should not be missed. I hope that future Pokémon games in this Gen and beyond deliver the high quality that Alola gave us for years to come.
On a personal level, I find Sun & Moon to be very relatable. My mother used to live in Hawaii before settling in California, and the female protagonist actually looks like me after I got a haircut back in May.