Well, here it is. My beefiest review yet. I wanted it out so much sooner but we had two college assignments due and those took priority. However, I’m glad to at least have it out before the new games (Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon) are released. It’s my way of giving one last hurrah to these Gen7 games before everyone, including me, moves to Ultra. I honestly don’t feel this review is my best, or even really that good but here it is anyways. Now, onto the review:
Pokémon is my favourite ongoing franchise and second favourite RPG series. I started with Pokemon Sapphire and have at least one of every game for each generation. When X and Y were announced, we were all very much excited to see the series go to 3D as the last true 3D Pokemon adventure was Gale Of Darkness on the GameCube way back in 2003. Mega Evolution gave some Pokémon much needed buffs (the Kanto starters come to mind) whilst also completely breaking others (Kangaskhan comes to mind). Whilst X and Y were released to a lot of fanfare, we were all pretty disappointed when we found out how short the games were and how it lacked new Pokémon. However, this was the game that got me into competitive battling; with all the new additions to X and Y, it was super easy to start being a competitive battler and it’s a choice I do not regret. Then, after the hype of X and Y had died down to nothing, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were announced as Generation 3 remakes. Needless to say I almost died from the reveal, as they did an amazing job remaking Gold and Silver on the DS so seeing my first-time Pokemon game remade on the 3DS was such an exciting thought. Then, as they revealed more things, my hype died down. New mega evolutions, primal reversions, and changes to the story… this seemed like less of a remake and more of a new game that just happened to be set in Hoenn. Regardless, I picked both Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire up on day one to see if I was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t; the games were far from being the remake I had imagined. After completing Alpha Sapphire (which took one week) I never touched it again and never even started Omega Ruby. So, the two sat on my shelf with the rest of my 3DS collection. I didn’t even go back to X and Y since Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire had pretty much killed my love of Pokémon. Then, Sun and Moon were announced. I wasn’t exactly excited but my curiosity was certainly held. Time went by, and they revealed so many new Pokémon with unique designs and traits. So I pre-ordered both Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon despite not being 100% hyped. The day those games came out, I faked a sick day to get out of school and spend all day playing Pokémon Sun. So, was the game worth pulling a sickie? Let’s find out!
I’ll try not to spend too long on the gameplay, but it is where I’ll start off as usual. For those who have been living under a rock since they were born, Pokémon is played out in turn-based battles between your Pokémon and those of the opponent. Each side will select a move on their turn, be it status, set-up, or attacking. If you all your Pokémon faint then you lose, and if the opponent’s Pokémon all faint then you win and gain prize money. Oh, and your Pokémon also gain experience points which will level them up and potentially make them evolve. That’s pretty much all you need to know if you’re a casual player. With the basics out of the way, I’ll detail what Sun and Moon does that makes the gameplay so wonderfully smooth; battle animations don’t drag out at all and the HP bar doesn’t feel sluggish like in XY/ORAS (something you’ll only really understand if you’ve played XY/ORAS and SuMo). Speaking of battle animations, they’ve been hugely improved from the preview games. I say this because XY/ORAS attempted to just copy the 2D game’s animations, which made moves such as Pursuit look awkward. But awkward animations no more, as Sun and Moon gave almost every single move a much improved animation! Speaking of moves (again), whilst Gen6 gave us Mega Evolutions Gen7 gave us Z-Moves: Powerful attacks that can be performed only once per battle. There is one Z-Moves for each Pokémon type, although a few Pokémon have a singular exclusive Z-Move (or two if your name is “Pikachu”). Like with Mega Evolutions, these have had a huge impact on the competitive meta-game. But unlike Mega Evolutions, every single Pokémon can use a Z-Move. Yes, even the useless duo of Metapod and Kakuna. Not all Z-Moves deal damage, some instead boosting stats along with the base move’s regular effect. I personally don’t like Z-Moves too much since so many people rely on them, much like everyone used to rely on using Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Metagross. However it doesn’t ruin Sun and Moon’s overall gameplay, which is very solid and well-paced. I daresay it’s better than the gameplay of Gale Of Darkness.
Graphically, there’s not been a huge change from the models in Gen6. Some Pokémon do have nicer textures than before but that’s about it for what has been updated. For what Sun and Moon introduces, though, it’s quite amazing. Long gone are the days of having strangely proportioned overworld characters. No, now they’ve taken the Colosseum/Gale Of Darkness route by making the trainer overworld models proportioned the same as their in-battle counterparts. This is something I was extremely disappointed by in XY/ORAS; the chibi overworld models. They looked really weird and a bit stupid. The GameBoy/DS games had the excuse of using chibi overworlds because they were sprite-based and, in the case of the GameBoy titles, had limited drawing space per sprite. Even in Gen5 you can see that they were attempting to make the overworld sprites look more in-tune with the trainer sprites seen in-battle, so when XY/ORAS went back to midget-sized overworlds it was… weird. As for environments, they all look luscious and greatly detailed; it’s clear that tons upon tons of effort went into designing each location of the Alola region, along with the Pokémon that inhabit the islands. Whilst most people bash the new Pokémon introduced for Sun and Moon, I find myself liking a lot of them. The likes of Lurantis, Incineroar, and Silvally are very cool-looking whilst Pokémon such as Jangmo-o, Mimikyu, and Pyukumuku are adorable. Sure there are some stinkers (like what the f—k even is Bruxish) but for the most part the new Pokémon are well designed. Trainers look like… Well, just that; trainers. They even stand behind their Pokémon during battle and animate to give their Pokémon commands, much like two certain GameCube games I’ve mentioned already. Unlike said games, though, the trainers won’t react to their Pokémon getting hit which really sucks. It’s a minor thing, yes, but they did it for giving commands so why not getting hit as well? Doesn’t make much sense if you ask me. Collectively, though, the graphics here are very good. One complaint I have is that some textures are noticeably lower quality or grainy, which is incredibly clear when the camera comes up close. Another minor issue is that a few overworld models are noticeably blocky, but this can be excused; if ever model was highly detailed then the 3DS would explode into pieces with how much it’d need to render at any one time.
The story… Holy f—king sh-t the story of this game, I absolutely LOVE the story for this game. It starts off rather generic, with you being a kid that’s just moved to Alola and is on their way to get a Pokémon. But that’s when things shake-up a bit; rather than just being given a Pokémon right away, you encounter a girl named Lillie whose Pokémon is getting attacked by a hoard of Spearow. You step onto the rickety bridge and shield Lillie’s Pokémon, who she calls Nebby, from the Spearow. However, Nebby then unleashes a burst of energy which causes the bridge to collapse. As it seems you’re about to fall into the pit below, Tapu Koko flies in and knocks the Spearow away before carrying you and Nebby back up to land, but not before dropping a sparkling stone next to your feet. This is the most I can say without spoiling it, and I honest to Arceus don’t want to spoil this game’s story; it is beautiful. Not since Platinum version has Pokémon had this much story, let alone one that made me feel emotional. Now I can’t go longer without spoiling anything, so if you wish to avoid spoilers please skip to the music section using CTRL+F or just scrolling really quickly. I must also say that even if you only plan to play Ultra Sun/Moon, the story to that game will be parallel to this game’s story so I’d recommend skipping the spoilers if that is your case. There was your spoiler warning, spoilers coming in 3… 2… 1… Now: The game doesn’t really get all too emotional until Gladion takes you to rescue Lillie from Aether Paradise. There, you see that Aether and Team Skull were actually teamed-up; Team Skull would steal Pokémon and then give them to the foundation for their workers to use. This makes the Aether employees have a great variety of teams, much like members of Cipher did in the GameCube titles. Back on-track… after fighting your way to Lusamine, you see how insane she is. Not only does she want to kill Cosmog (Nebby) to summon Ultra Beasts, which are basically Kaiju abominations from another world, not only does she have a collection of Pokémon frozen in ice, not only did she neglect her children, not only does she state “I just want my precious beast! I don’t care about any of the rest of you!”, but she outright wants you and your friends dead. No matter if you win or lose the first battle against her, however, the Ultra Wormhole summoned by Cosmog begins to close which makes Lusamine run into it with a prototype “Beast Ball” (a new Pokéball used to catch Ultra Beasts whilst having a x0.3 catch rate on others). Guzma, leader of Team Skull, also follows her inside right before the portal shuts. Cosmog, as a result of being caused so much pain, has changed form. Lillie takes it with her regardless, before you, her, Hau, and Gladion rest-up at the foundation for the night. The next day, Lillie calls for you to see her and she’s dressed-up in an entirely new outfit which she dubs her “Z-Power form”. Gladion takes you and her to the final island, Poni Island, which is when things start getting emotional all over. You and Lillie travel to see Hapu, who was just appointed Kahuna due to her grandfather’s death, and she speaks of the two flutes. Then you go to Exeggutor Island to claim the other flute. It’s here where, whilst sheltering from heavy rainfall, Lillie admits she wants to become a real Pokémon trainer and travel with you. The rain stops sooner after, and the two of you claim the second flute. Travelling back to Poni, Team Skull stop you from going into the alter. With one last fight against them, Plumeria (Team Skull’s admin) interrupts and apologizes for all the horrible things she did. She then hands you the Poison-type Z-Crystal before walking off. Next is essentially victory road, except much less tedious due to the lack of HMs. Once you reach the trial site, you clear it (or at least you should clear it) and proceed to the altar. You and Lillie play the flutes together, which causes Nebby to fly out of Lillie’s back and evolve into the legendary Pokémon: Solgaleo in Sun and Lunala in Moon. You’re both then transported to the beast’s world, where Lillie hopes to speak with her mother. It is there you see Guzma, who speaks of how a Nihilego possessed him and made him go insane before warning that Lusamine has lost her mind over the ultra beasts. Lillie presses on, wanting to speak with her mother to make her see reason. Lusamine, surrounded by Nihilego, detests the arrival of you and Lillie in what she deems as her perfect world. Lillie finally stands up for herself, arguing that children and Pokémon are not just collectibles to be tossed around. Practically unfazed, Lusamine hits back saying how trainers, such as her friend (you), are no better for depositing Pokémon they deem useless into storage as they please. Then, finally fed-up with your attempts to stop her, Lusamine throws out a Beast Ball containing Nihilego. She fuses with the beast and battles you, her Pokémon being powered-up from Nihilego’s neurotoxins. After being defeated, Lusamine tries to attack you and Lillie, although Solgaleo/Lunala jumps in to strike Lusamine first. Nihilego detaches itself from Lusamine, who falls to the ground. Lillie catches her mother as she falls, who then compliments her before falling unconscious. A hoarde of Nihileho attack you, Lillie, and Guzma although Solgaleo/Lunala manage to transport everyone back to Alola just in time. Hapu orders Guzma to help Lusamine onto her Mudsdale so they can go get her help. Lillie stays behind with you and Solgaleo/Lunala briefly, talking about how she wants to keep travelling with Nebby but is unable to. Turning to you, she asks you to give Nebby a ball of its own. After catching Nebby, you offer Lillie the ball but she refuses. She says how you are now Nebby’s trainer and that they’ll be able to experience so many exhilarating battles by your side. Lillie goes to leave, but runs back to remind Nebby not to go anywhere on their own. She then gives you a smile, leaving to go see her mother for herself. Nanu reveals he was watching the whole time, as he was asked to take you to the Pokémon League. You both travel to the base of Mount Lanakila, where Gladion battles you a third time although this time as a rival rather than enemies. Once you win, he says that Lillie wanted to pass on a message; how you’re the best Pokémon trainer in the world. He then leaves, and you go on through Lanakila and to the Pokémon League. After one final battle with Hau, you fight the Elite Four as per standard and then go to the champion chamber which is empty. Sitting on the throne makes Kukui approach you, saying if you want to be crowned Champion you will have to beat him. You win, and are crowned Alola’s first ever champion. Everyone goes back to Melemele Island to celebrate, including Lillie. At the festival Lillie slips off to the bridge where you both first met, speaking of how Nebby was able to bring the both of you closer together. Then, you continue onto the shrine of Tapu Koko to thank the being for saving Nebby on that day. However, Tapu Koko appears to fight you. After defeating/capturing it, you and Lillie go back to the festival. Everyone asks to see the partners who had stuck by your side for your adventure. Then, after a few Pokeball sounds, the game cuts to black before proceeding to the next day. Hau drags you down to the marina, where Lillie is preparing to leave for Kanto. She gives you reassurance that she’ll be fine, wanting to journey around Kanto like you had around Alola. With one final thanks, she hands you an item that she kept dearly; a worn out Pokedoll. The boat arrives, taking Lillie off to Kanto. Kukui walks you and Hau back home, concluding the game. Afterwards, it shows a package next to Lillie’s backpack. The package opens, and along with the credits, photos of how everyone at Alola is doing after Lillie’s leave show in the background. It ends with a photo of Lillie and Solgaleo/Lunala, along with what I consider to be a beautiful quote: “Everyone’s smiles shine so brightly. Those smiles led us to so many other people. And those meetings will lead us to a brighter future. I’m so glad I got to meet everyone. I’m so glad I got to meet you.”
The game cuts to black again. One last photo is shown: The first photo Rotom Dex took of you, Hau, and Lillie back at Hau’oli city in the beginning of the game.
SPOILERS END HERE!
All-in-all, the story is wonderful. Although paced somewhat weirdly that doesn’t kill it for me, and I always find myself enjoying the story every time I’ve replayed this game.
Now onto the last bit; the music. Most Pokémon games have great soundtracks, and these games are no exception. Whilst I love every one of the battle themes presented in this game, especially the Ultra Beast battle theme, the same cannot be said for route and city/town themes. A good majority is really pleasurable to listen to, but there are an equal number of themes that are completely forgettable. No doubt there’s lots of great music here, but my personal gripe is that an equal amount of them are forgettable. It’s especially disappointing as every region has at least one notably popular route theme (such as Diamond/Pearl/Platinum’s Route 216 music) and I don’t feel these games have one of those themes. What memorable themes there are, however, really are a pleasure to the ears.
Near-perfect for the 3DS. Environments looks beautiful and Pokémon are well represented in their 3D forms, although a few textures really show their faults when one looks closely.
Familiar and simple gameplay that has been perfected to make everything wonderfully smooth and enjoyable.
Although a somewhat slow start, everything picks-up very quickly and it ends up being rather emotional and very well done. Not as impactful as Black and White’s story but it is certainly still wonderful.
Some of the best in the entire franchise although a fair amount of themes are nothing more than forgettable.
Overall score: 10/10
Right from the start I knew I was giving this game a perfect ten. Not only did this game reignite my love for Pokémon, but the gameplay is absolutely perfected and the story, whilst not having the same impact as the much-loved Black and White’s story, gets quite emotional especially at the end. Plus, there’s actual post-game content that can expand playtime by a fair emount. I will never forget the time I’ve spent playing this game as from the day I got it, I’ve made so many amazing memories with it; finding a random Shiny Yungoos at the start of my first playthrough, playing the game during many train journeys whilst on holidays to London, accidentally catching Guzzlord in a Love Ball, making friends at my college all because I played the game during lunch, and of course I shall never forget the first time I ever completed it. These games are very easily repayable (I’ve played the games a combined total of nine times), and every time I told myself “one last replay” I’ve gone back and done another replay of it. Even when writing this review, I went back and did another replay of the game just to experience it one final time before the new games come out. That’s how amazing it is; much like Gale Of Darkness it keeps bringing me back no matter how often I experience it.
Thank you Game Freak for making such an amazing game that brought back my love for the Pokémon series. The time I’ve spent with these games will never be forgotten and I hope to make similar memories with Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon starting from this Friday.