I grew up in the Pokemon generation so it’s fair to say that it holds a very special place in my hardened, cold heart and where I mentioned on a previous review about how I dislike it when companies bring out a ‘new game’ that is essentially the exact same as previous ones, Nintendo always seem to only make small changes which make each game feel vastly different. You may say I’m being a hypocrite and well… yeah, you’re right.
For the purpose of my review I will do my utmost to ensure that my nostalgia doesn’t ramp up any bias but at the same time a childhood love of Pokemon is more than likely apparent in anyone who buys a new Pokemon game, whether they buy it for themselves or for their children. I like to think of the franchise as the Disney of the video game industry in that everyone likes to make fun of it/ make fun of the people who enjoy it but deep down we all have our favourite memories of it and anyone who’s played it for a prolonged period of time will always be a fan.
Now in previous iterrations of the franchise we’ve explored Kanto, Johto, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos. Pokemon sun/moon takes place in an all new region called Alola and it’s fair to say that the Alola region is the Hawaii of the Pokemon universe. The new region brings with it some all new Pokemon fronted by the new starter Pokemon of Rowlet (Grass type), Litten (Fire type) and Poplio (Water) along with its legendaries Solgaleo (Sun version only) and Lunala (Moon version only). So in this regard it sticks to the original formula of the same 3 type starters and the version locked legendaries of previous Pokemon games. However, something that I do find interesting in the new generation is that they include some ‘Alola-form’ Pokemon. These are original pokemon that we all know and love (Sandslash, Vulpix, Rattata etc) but with a few differences. They all look different in appearance and they also have type changes among them to give an all new way of using them. A lot of people have said this is lazy on the developers part but it’s something that I really like the theory of. I mean think about it, you can go to Bolivia and see a horse that has been bred in the high altitude for generations. After this take a trip to the Netherlands and see a horse that has bred in a low altitude for generations. The chances are, despite them both being horses, they will have different characteristics based on the environmental impact of their surroundings. I just thought it was a good way of introducing the idea of evolution to the world of Pokemon. Many games won’t think about things like this and that’s what sets the world of Pokemon apart.
The number of tweaks to the game play may seem quite small but the new elements that they have implemented are more than welcome. For example, if you are fighting an enemy that you’ve fought before the game will tell you whether a move that you’ve previously moved is super effective or not very effective to the opposing Pokemon. A lot of the hardcore fans may say “You shouldn’t need that, you should just memorise the type charts” to which I’d respond by saying the exact same things in a stupid voice to mock them as I’m a bit of a d*ck. Although I do know the strengths and weaknesses or most if not all types, it’s really useful to stop stupid mistakes when you are struggling to keep your eyes from closing as night as you’re playing in bed.
Outside of battle it handles very much like the last generation of Pokemon (X/Y) and other than the occasional disorientation/not being able to get through a 1×1 space because your thumbs are too big to control your character effectively and having to revert to the d-pad like the pleb you are. Other than all that and the self-loathing that follows, there isn’t too much to say regarding the game play. It’s fine. It does exactly what it’s meant to do. It works. By keeping the art style and game play simple it means you more than likely won’t run into any buggy textures or any sprites that don’t work.
I honestly can’t see anything wrong with anything in this game. Now you may be thinking “But I’ve scrolled to the bottom of the page and I’ve seen that the rating is less than 10/10. If there is nothing wrong with it then surely it should achieve a perfect 10/10” and you’d be correct with what I’ve said thus far but allow me to explain.
I was being truthful when I said it can’t see anything wrong in this game. The main problem that I have with each new Pokemon game is not what’s in the game, but what isn’t in them. We live in the computing generation where we have more power in our pockets that the spacecraft which landed on the moon. Video games are getting more immersive, more high tech and more mind blowing. Now I’m not saying that there should be a virtual reality, open world Pokemon extravaganza but surely it needs to evolve past what it is (pun intended). If you strip back the 3-d graphics to a overhead perspective and lose the split/touch screen capabilities you’ve basically got Pokemon Red/Blue which were released in 1996 on the original Game Boy. Where most franchises are evolving to keep up with the tech enhancements (Final Fantasy/ Super Mario being a good examples), the Pokemon franchise seems to be too afraid to take risks. And yes I know before you say anything you can say that Pokemon Go and Pokken Tournament are vastly evolved. But to me these aren’t part of the same franchise, they’re a mobile geographical location game and a fighting game. A Pokemon game, to me, is a story where the player has to battle his/her way to the top, catching them all as he/she goes. What I think the developers should do (and this may be controversial) is take inspiration from Pixelmon (a popular Minecraft mod fusing Minecraft and Pokemon). Give us a game that we’ll load up for the first time wondering what it will be like. Let us, the fans, feel immersed in the world of Pokemon rather than just being bystanders following a story through to the end.
There was a fan made game in development not long ago called Pokemon: Generations. It was very basic and the playable area was tiny, but it had the potential to be PHENOMENAL if done properly. However we will never know what it could have become as Nintendo ordered it to be shut down (rightly so as it is their intellectual property) but Nintendo should use it as a base to create a brand new take on the series. Better yet, hire the fan who made it. Surely Nintendo have made enough money from the franchise to take a few risks to allow it to reach the unbelievable potential that it has always had.
Overall, Pokemon Sun/Moon is a very welcome game to my gaming shelf. I’ll spend many, many hours assembling my ultimate line up and catching them all but I can’t help wonder what might have been.
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I always seem to go off on a tangent in these reviews.