Friday 23 December 2016

Pokémon Sun/Moon

Two whole generations have been infected by Pokémon now and it’s not surprising, given that Nintendo reached into pretty much every outlet possible. Earlier this year we had the much anticipated release of Pokémon Go, which briefly took over the world and helped to raise the excited for Nintendo’s latest 2DS/3DS game, ‘Pokémon Sun/Moon’.

I personally was brought up on generation 1 and 2 games (Crystal being my ultimate favourite) and so have found some of the changes to the recent games quite unnecessary. Once I’d found myself having to dress my Pokémon up with pretty bows and enter them into irrelevant competitions then I was ready to get my GameBoy Colour out again. However, Pokémon Sun/Moon has mixed it all up again and created something that feels really very new.
Set on a bunch of tropical islands, the premise of the game is exactly the same – become the champion of the league by raising a strong team of Pokémon, and solve a few mysteries along the way. The structure is different though with trials instead of gyms, where the player must solve a puzzle and then beat a Totem (Guardian) Pokémon, before also beating the island captain to gain Z-Power stones rather than the usual gym badges. It makes an exciting change but also works really well, giving more variety to the gameplay that we’re all so used to.
Another new change that you’ll only notice if you bought Moon is that day and night have been switched round. This is great if you play primarily at night, although for kids Sun might be better if they want more daylight (or you can just change the time on the DS).
It’s obvious that the game has been tailored more to the younger players, with aspects like Refresh and Pelago (surprisingly fun), but this is frustrating for the older players as there’s very little challenge left. Items are far more frequent across the world and you even get given an Exp. Share at the start of the game, meaning that if you train your Pokémon in order of weakest first as I do then you’ll find you never need to use your top 4 strongest party members as they level up on their own accord.
Now, you don’t have to use Exp. Share but you do have to use all of the other new features, such as a ‘handy’ note on the battle screen telling you whether your moves are effective or not. There’s no way of turning it off, and so battling doesn’t require so much brainpower now. Having a difficulty variable would have helped immensely as at any one time I was always at least five levels above where I should have been, and so found myself getting bored. The only feature that seemed to be in place to make it harder was the notion of 'call for help’ (a wild Pokémon summons an identical Pokémon of a similar level to join the battle) although this didn’t really make it any harder and just provided more XP – all it really did was raise my blood pressure.
As well as XP, it’s also easy to rack up money fairly quickly; most of this you’ll find will disappear at the hair salon when you try and get the perfect haircut. (No previews or refunds to be seen here!)
Team Skill, our newest group of antagonists, are also not much of a challenge. Similar to Team Rocket in motive and difficulty, they wear baseball caps and chains, and bowl at you armed with freestyle lines and ridiculous hand movements. Hilarious, but again they’re nothing more than mildly irritating.
One aspect I really liked was Z-Power – a once-a-battle move initiated by a simple dance routine that has much more gravity. Each type has its own seriously OTT animation, and adds something else to the overall strategy.
From a technical perspective the animation is the best yet, and there’s a lot more focus on cut-scenes and imagery. The game struggled in parts though – any battle with more than three Pokémon led to significant lag, which certainly took some enjoyment out of the main battles.

Pokémon Sun/Moon is a good game, filled with new Pokémon, side quests, and features. It’s way better than any other games post-Gen 3, and would make a great Christmas present for the kids. Unfortunately for the more seasoned plater its evolved so much that its lost the magic of the original game, but if you’re looking for something new then it’s well worth a try. 4/5


Hannah Read

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