Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are the newest instalments in the long-running Pokémon series, released to coincide with the franchise’s 20th anniversary. Introducing the seventh generation of Pokémon, the brand-new Alola region, and even a revamped system of trainer progression and attainment, these games are a truly fantastic new interactive adventure to get lost in.
Perhaps the first thing I should mention is that the games are not so straightforward as they once were - and this is a good thing. In Sun and Moon, you don’t just get your starter Pokémon, fight through eight gyms, defeat the bad guys and then defeat the elite four and champion as your final flourish - there is more of an actual story, with a real sense of direction and purpose to your journey, for you to undertake this time. You become fully-involved with Alolan life and culture, undertaking challenges and tasks beyond those specifically to advance you as a trainer, and these make the games so much more interesting and enjoyable to play.
“...characters around you, too, are much more developed in terms of personality..."
The region around you becomes so much more of a feature and actual environment, rather than being reduced to merely a backdrop that you travel through, and you get to meet such a variety of people and Pokémon that will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. The recurring characters around you, too, are much more developed in terms of personality and interaction; Professor Kukui, your rival Hau, and even Lillie - Kukui’s mysterious assistant - don’t just feel like cogs in the wheel of story progression, they feel like actual people who are getting on with their own lives. As such, Sun and Moon took away for me perhaps the most frustrating repetitive elements of the Pokémon franchise: lack of depth, and lack of personality.
In terms of appearance, Sun and Moon are pretty much flawless. The graphics quality has again been improved upon, with the in-game 3D style in full effect, and this makes traveling through Alola a really fun and interactive experience. Even walking through grass now feels realistic, as not only can you hear the rustling, but you can also see it - meaning when that unexpected wild Pokémon pops up and the battle music begins, you get even more frustrated as you can see just how close you were to getting out of that grass. 81 new additions have been added to the Pokédex, including Yungoos (a.k.a. Donald Trump), Mudbray, Salandit and Mimikyu, and these make the games feel both new and familiar given their combined presence with the previous-generation Pokémon and their Alolan forms.
The battling system has been updated in terms of new move animations, a shortcut to pokéballs during battles with wild Pokémon (it’s amazing), information courtesy of the Rotom Pokédex as to move and type effectiveness (provided that you’ve battled the Pokémon before), and even accessible windows that inform you what your own moves actually do. These features, amongst the many others, really make the game both fun and accessible for all players - no matter whether you’ve been playing for years or if you’re new to the series.
Overall, I’d easily rate Sun and Moon five out of five. They breathe new life into the Pokémon franchise, introduce fantastic new features and a wonderful region to explore, and inspire players to go out and catch ‘em all - whilst also defeating the evil Team Skull and thwarting their plans. Yep, that’s still a thing - did I forget to mention...?