Here we are again. Well... not here... We’re in Alola now. But it’s not like this isn’t a familiar situation. The Pokémon games in general haven’t tread too far into unknown mechanics, but we all know that’s for the best. Fan’s don’t want reinvention for the series. Fan’s want a lot of other things though (including an MMO, but I’m not here to argue for that). So do the latest iterations, Pokémon Sun and Moon, deliver the things fans want?
- First and foremost, Pokémon is Pokémon. The mechanics are basically the same. I don’t know what arguments there are to change it, or even if there are any. This is a basic, turn-based RPG at its core and probably always will be. The changes made with the trials and the narrative based progression are refreshing without tossing out what makes Pokémon Pokémon.
- Even though the foundation is the same, it’s been reinforced with quality-of-life improvements that the series has been adding for the past few generations. We saw Game Freak take steps in X & Y, and again in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby. Sun & Moon really takes the cake in making the game enjoyable for casual and competitive players. Adding more info in the battle screen makes diving in as a novice trainer great, but adding S.O.S. battles along with other small changes make competitive team building accessible for those who want to pursue it.
- Z-Moves make battling with your favorite Pokémon fun. Less viable options in the competitive pool start to stand a chance and it makes every Pokémon, even those without Mega-evolutions, feel like important parts of your team.
- I’ve always hated hearing Pikachu say “Pikachu” or “Pika” in game. Why can’t it have it’s old cry like the rest of the Pokémon? Make Pikachu cry again!
- The visual overhaul is apparent, but goes deeper than character over-world models. The battle animations are more flashy, and your trainer acts out calling attacks during a battle. This is a direction that Game Freak should definitely keep pursuing. The sound design is generally great, though some songs fell a little flat for me.
- The story focus seems like a double-edged sword. Many gamers have said they like the focus on a narrative, and I appreciate that it weaves a more detailed Pokémon universe. But while I was playing a lot of the character interactions seemed like hand holding at best, and at worst contrived story-driven funneling. It’s probably blind nostalgia, but I love a Pokémon world where I was guided by the world design rather than forced by a Stoutland searching for items.
While Pokémon Sun and Moon versions are definitely Pokémon games, with all the trappings that come with that, they are also the most quintessential Pokémon games made. Game Freak knows it’s franchise, and I think it’s making the best choices so far as modernizing and polishing for all types of gamers. If you have a 3DS I can’t imagine a reason for not playing. The new focus on story broadens it’s appeal, along with mechanics that make it a game for everyone.
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