EACH new entry in Gamefreak’s legendary critter catcher series is steadily getting braver.
Up until Pokémon Black and White, the games were criticised for stubbornly sticking to the formula.
Then, more robust multiplayer options were brought in, new battle types, new ways to train and some brilliant monster designs.
After the beautiful X&Y, with its useful super training, badass mega-evolutions and great post game areas and challenges; I couldn’t wait for Sun and Moon.
Hmm, oh well.
Yes, Gamefreak have indeed gotten braver. Unfortunately, I can’t say it has paid off.
Let me start with what Sun and Moon gets right.
The Pokémon designs are top drawer.
Apart from a few weird ones, most of them look great.
They have also really thought about what stats, move pools and abilities these beasts should have; so competitive multiplayer has some interesting new additions (looking at you Salazzle).
The new Alolan forms are a little undercooked, there are only about 20 and they make it difficult to counter pick in battle.
For example, Vulpix could now be a fire or an ice type.
Still, I like their looks and twist on the formula.
Graphically, the whole game impresses.
Colours pop and the world is no longer orientated North, South, East and West so the layout feels less like a giant chess board.
The looks do come at a slight price.
I played on an old 3DS and it really made it chug. This is the first Pokémon game where the load screens are noticeable.
The gameplay itself has also seen some nice changes.
Gyms have been removed and replaced with “Trials” which feel more adventurous as they’re set in the wild.
Mechanically they are the same though; you complete a menial task, battle some ‘mon then get a badge/Z Crystal that lets you go to new places.
The best thing about the new progression mechanics is the removal of HMs.
Instead, at the press of a button you can summon one of several Pokémon to ride.
These Pokémon let you surf, fly, smash stuff and sniff out hidden objects.
It looks, feels and works great.
The battling itself is largely the same, though it now tells you which moves are effective against Pokémon you’ve met before; useful.
You can also now remove status conditions post-battle in a mini-game thing, saving you from buying a pile of full heals.
For EV trainers there is a new ‘Poképelago’ system that replaces super training.
It’s not very well explained and takes some finding, but in the end it works better and makes team training so much easier.
Here are the things Sun and Moon get wrong.
Z-moves are just disgusting.
They replace the awesome mega-evolutions entirely and they contribute NOTHING to the gameplay.
If anything they make it worse.
They look tacky with each including a cringe worthy dance by your avatar.
They are also extremely overpowered, essentially giving a free One Hit Knock Out.
There is no skill to this, you could execute a complicated sequence of set up moves only to have a much less skilled player wipe out you sword danced Scizor with a cheap Z-move.
They are broken, but they are not the worst offender.
That is the story.
Oh my lord, the story.
I don’t exclusively hate it because it is mind-numbingly dreadful, I also hate it because of the way it is told.
It took me over two and a half-hours to reach the first Pokémon centre.
You would assume this is because a lot happens in the intro.
Nope, nothing interesting happens.
You rescue a girl and are given your first Pokémon.
That’s it, but it takes hours because Sun and Moon is padded with thousands of lines of terribly written and pointless dialogue that you cannot skip.
Eight hours in to the game, it was still structuring itself like an appalling introduction.
For every 10 steps you take it shoves a 5 minute cutscene down your throat; insisting it’s got something important to teach you.
This got so tedious, that I stopped paying any attention to what was going on.
I hammered “A” and hoped to god it would just end.
After 40 something hours, I climbed the mountain to the elite four and triumphantly kicked their arses.
Once the champion (well, professor) was defeated, I gleefully waited for the credits to pop up so I could explore Alola in the post-game; with no irritating recurring characters testing my resolve to not throw my 3DS under a moving bus.
Sun and Moon then gave me the ultimate “fuck you.”
The game doesn’t save when you beat the Pokémon league.
It instead gives one last, extremely long cutscene where the countless characters, you don’t care about, dance around on a plank of wood.
This thing goes on forever, worse the game has the cheek to throw a legendary Pokémon battle at you half-way through it.
I hadn’t saved since before the elite four, two hours ago, and all previous Pokémon games had taught me that you only get one chance at a legendary.
24 ultra balls and a lot of obscene language later, I caught the thing.
It then took a further twenty minutes for the cutscene to stopped torturing me.
Then the non-skippable credits started…
I’ll leave it there. Just know, this is the first Pokémon Game that I didn’t enjoy playing.
That angers me because, if not for the obtrusive narrative and baffling Z-moves, this would have been the very best.
+ Colourful and pretty Alola
+ New Pokémon designs
+ No HMs
– Boring story
– Constant unavoidable cutscenes
– Painful writing
– Broken Z-moves
Try if you like:
Long conversations with brick walls,
Watching paint dry,
Other Pokémon games (duh),