Both Nintendo and Game Freak have done a phenomenal job with the latest installment of Pokémon Sun and Moon on the 3DS, creating a brand new experience for long-time veterans of the series as well as those picking it up for the first time. There are few titles that are as well-known and loved as the Pokémon franchise. It has been 20 years since the first generation of Pocket Monsters hit the United States and the game has since touched millions of players across the world of varying ages. Sun and Moon bring several new experiences to players that make them feel very much like exciting new games.
While the visuals are vibrant and show great detail, it is at a cost. The game can slow down at times when too much is going on at once. It almost feels as if they wasted a good amount of the effort put into the visuals since players aren’t getting to experience them in their full glory. It is a fantastic new title to add to the series, but it does feel like Nintendo tried to be a bit too ambitious for what could be done.
The game’s new Alola Region boasts bright and vibrant colors inspired by the Hawai’ian islands. This atmosphere is accompanied by a new entry of Pokémon, and of course a bunch of new features to make the game a fresh experience.
The story starts off pretty much the same way as the others, the player character is introduced to the new region and ultimately given a selection of one of three starters of either grass, fire, or water. For those who did a small amount of research before the game, it was a nice refresher to find out that each of their final forms boasts a second element that hasn’t been seen on a starter yet.
The game does feature a large amount of Pokémon that players have already seen, but many have a unique twist of an Alolan Form that can only be found on the Alolan Islands. Originals like Exeggutor now sport a whole new appearance and type combination, it’s like getting a whole new Pokémon into the Pokédex. Even the Pokédex itself sports a brand new upgrade, imbued with a Rotom that talks to you throughout the game.
It is a visually stunning experience, and all of the Pokémon models are in 3D and the environmental effects are beyond what has been done in any Pokémon game before. The amount of effort and detail that went into development shows. The one downside to this is that when wild Pokémon call for backup, and they do quite often, the game’s framerate can drop drastically. It feels as if the game was a bit ambitious and was maybe designed to be supported by future devices such as the upcoming Nintendo Switch.
The game sports many new features and experiences such a PokéPelago where trainers can send Pokémon to train, relax, or even gather berries. This feels very reminiscent of the features from earlier Digimon titles where players could create their own islands to train Digimon they weren’t using currently.
For those worried that the excitement runs out at the end of the game, fear not. After becoming the first Alolan Champion, the player even has the opportunity to defend their championship from various in-game characters creating a more immersive feel to the status of Champion.
There is much more to this game than is first expected from the simple Pokémon games, and is going to be a huge benchmark in what is expected of the games. With the limitations the 3DS tech holds in playing it though it begs the very important question, “What does Nintendo have planned for Pokémon with the upcoming Switch?”
Whether it is the first time for a young player or someone who has been a champion since the original Kanto Region, Sun and Moon are a definite must have for a 3DS owner. The new features added just for the Alola Region make it a unique and one-of-a-kind addition to the ever growing world of Pokémon. With all these elements added though, at times it feels like they just tried to do too much. The originality and creativity show in the detail put into world, but at the cost of clean gameplay. It seems as if the developers wanted to cram all of their ideas possible into the game with little concern for their effect on the game itself. Even with the moments of reduced quality, it is safe to say that Sun and Moon are the best addition to the series since HeartGold and SoulSilver hit the DS.