Twenty years ago, Pokémon took the gaming industry by storm. The idea was born of Satoshi Tajiri’s childhood hobby of collecting insects and tadpoles. Combining his collection hobby with ideas from the Ultra Seven TV series, his ideas would form into what was then known as Capsule Monsters. Nintendo actually shot his pitch down several times, until Shigeru Miyamoto stepped in and saved the day. Due to trademarks held by other companies, Capsule Monsters would become Pocket Monsters. Little did they know that the brand would become nearly as synonymous with Nintendo as the Mario brothers.
It’s almost hard to believe that with each new generation of core games, Nintendo continually improves an already amazing game experience. New gameplay mechanics, new battle types, updated graphics, the games get better with every core release. This article will provide an in-depth look at the latest releases of the core series, Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon.
One of the biggest changes in the 7th generation is the new Ride Pokémon system. Gone are the days of lugging around an HM slave (I’m looking at you Bibarel) to simply navigate through the game’s landscape. Hidden Machines have been eliminated altogether in favor of this new system. The Ride Pager is mapped to the Y button when not in battle, and you can even individually map Ride Pokémon to all four directions on the D-Pad. More Ride Pokémon become available as the player progresses further into the game.
There are also a few new features when fighting Pokémon in the wild. Pokéballs are now mapped to the Y button when in battle, making navigating item menus looking for the right ball for the situation a thing of the past. Once you reach a certain milestone in the game wild Pokémon are given the ability to call for help. This does not take the opponent’s turn. The Pokémon summoned are usually directly related to the one you’re currently battling, but there are exceptions. This system can be used to catch evolved forms of the current Pokémon and can even be used to farm shiny variants of the current Pokémon! Also now when you catch a Pokémon you are given several options. You can view the summary of the Pokémon you just caught, view the summary of your party, and you can even swap the new Pokémon for one that is currently in your party! This is a MAJOR game changer. Now when you catch that Legendary ‘mon you’ve been after, you don’t have to find the quickest way back to town to pull it out of a box! The game also implements a new “Care” system so you can treat status effects without items after battle and make Pokémon grow friendlier. This option is also available from the menu screen.
Another new battle feature makes its first appearance. When battling wild Pokémon or Trainers, move effectiveness will be displayed next to the move name. Note that you must have encountered the particular Pokémon at least once to soft-register to your Pokédex before this will show up, but it certainly cuts down on memorization of Pokémon types and weaknesses. With over 800 Pokémon to choose from, this tiny change makes a huge difference!
The Gym system of previous titles has been abandoned in favor of the new Kahuna system. This change is story-related, but I’m trying my best to leave spoilers out, so you’ll have to play to find out. Basically, the way this new system works is that you must face a varying number of captains on each island before earning the right to face the islands Kahuna. Since we no longer need badges to use HM moves, this change only seems fitting.
Some side elements of the game have been tweaked as well. Fishing is still an option, but fishing areas have become more restricted. Instead of fishing in any body of water, the option is only available when the player is near underwater rock circles. Berry planting is no longer available, but berry piles spawn at the base of trees. These piles provide a variety of berries and have a chance of spawning a Pokémon to battle. While neither feature was pertinent to the game, I will miss the option to grow fields of Leppa berries.
Perhaps the biggest change to the game’s battle system is the introduction of Z-Moves.
Z-Moves are upgraded forms of standard Pokémon attacks, and depending on the move type can either cause additional damage or change the move altogether. Splash, for instance, has been a move that does absolutely nothing in previous games, now raises Attack 3 stages when infused with Z-Power. The moves also cause damage against Pokémon using moves like Protect, but only cause 25% of regular damage. These new attacks add a new level of strategy to competitive play.
With every new generation of core games, a plethora of new Pokémon are available to be caught. Sun and Moon adds a total of 81 new Pokémon to the National Pokédex, from the adorable Rockruff, to the fearsome-looking Golisopod. One of the more notable Pokémon of this generation is Mimikyu with its unique Ghost/Fairy typing. With new Pokémon , also comes new moves and abilities to shake up Pokémon battles.
Along with the new Pokémon this generation has also introduced regional variants of classic Pokémon. These Pokémon are dubbed “Alolan” representing the new region the games takes place in. Alolan Pokémon possess different typing than their standard counterparts. One of the more talked about Alolan forms was Exeggutor’s new form changing it standard typing of Grass/Psychic to Grass/Dragon. These new forms also change the appearance of the creatures significantly, adding an innovative twist to Pokémon from the first generation.
IT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING THAT DISCUSSING POST-GAME ACTIVITIES MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
THIS SECTION CONTAINS POTENTIAL SPOILERS!
CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!
Since Generation 1 the Pokémon games have offered additional content after becoming the Pokémon League Champion. Sun and Moon are no different. There are a variety of things to do once you complete your Pokémon adventure. During the story, an event takes place that opens up dimensional wormholes, leading to the release of the Ultra Beasts, or UBs. It is never really said whether or not the UBs are Pokémon or not, but they are amazingly powerful creatures. Once you’ve beaten the Elite Four, your old pal from previous games, Looker, shows up in Alola accompanied by his boss Anabel. They provide you with the locations that the UBs have been spotted and task you with capturing them (You have to catch them, otherwise they will respawn). You are given special Pokéballs developed by the Aether Foundation that were specifically designed to catch these beasts. Once you’ve collected them all, a the new Legendary Pokémon, Necrozma, becomes available to capture.
In addition to the Ultra Beasts, the Tapu Pokémon of each island are available to fight and capture. These are the guardian Pokémon of their respective islands so be ready for a fight. They include Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu, and Tapu Fini. These Pokémon spawn in the ruins areas of their respective islands, except for Tapu Koko, whom is immediately battled after completing the game.
Players are also given the opportunity to catch another of their games signature legendary (Solgaleo and Lunala) in its base form, Cosmog. To find it, simply return to the Altar of the Sunne (or Moone) and enter the portal to another world. From there Simply travel to the Lake of the Sunne/Moone and Cosmog will ask to join your party.
Gladion can be visited in 2F of Aether Foundation. He will be reflecting on the games events, and eventually hand over the unique Pokémon, Type:Null, and the items to change its evolved form Silvally into different types.
The Battle Tree is a really fun addition to the game. It allows the player to battle until they no longer can. Players are rewarded with Battle Points based on their win streak to spend on items.Expect some familiar faces from previous games to show up for battle!
Challenging the Elite Four again also comes with some new surprises. Not only are their Pokemon more powerful, but additional trainers will show up randomly and try to take the title of Pokémon League Champion from you!
Well that wraps up my in-depth look at Pokémon Sun/Moon. In my opinion this may be the greatest Pokémon game to date. With new mechanics, simplified controls, and a slew of new Pokémon this game is a great way to break into the series if you’ve never played, and veterans will enjoy exploring the new land of Alola. Now get out there and catch ’em all!!