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Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon game

Novemeber 18, 2016

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gameIt is hard to believe but it has been 20 years since the first Pokemon games, Pocket Monsters Red and Green in Japan and Pokémon Red and Blue internationally, were released for the Game Boy system. Since then, the series has evolved from a colourless RPG to an oftentimes arresting 3-D experience. To celebrate 20 years of the franchise, developer Game Freak and Nintendo have released Pokemon Sun and Moon, the most vibrant, accessible and refined Pokemon game to date.

The Alola region itself is the beautiful and colourful Pokemon setting ever designed. Inspired by Hawaii and other tropical locales, the towering cliff faces, the gorgeous inlets and flourishing jungles are a wonder to travel through. The Alola region also has its own culture with tiki totems and statues scattered all over the islands, special island ceremonies, sacred beliefs and a distinct way of life that is unlike any other Pokemon region.

Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gameThe Alola region culture is not just a backdrop either, it plays into every aspect of the game. For instance, each island has a special trial or island challenge (a complex series of Pokemon battles) which must be completed before you can battle that island’s champion or Island Kahuna. Each island has their own unique Pokedex too. In the very first challenge on Melemele Island, you must navigate a cave, fighting and chasing down ground Pokemon before taking on the guardian creature (a Totem Pokémon) and claiming a valuable token, not a badge. This system replaces the usual gym battles.

The Alola region culture is also incorporated into the storyline. The Pokemon series has been often criticized for a bare bones approach to storytelling but Sun and Moon shatter that notion with a rich and detailed story that guides you on your adventure. There are richly developed core characters accompanying you on every step of your journey, not just appearing here and there as they do in the other instalments. There is wise Professor Kukui who is the Alola region’s Professor Oak, the mysterious Lillie who despises Pokemon battles and Hau, a laid-back and humourous fellow trainer.

Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gameThe main teams or groups this time around are the pesky Team Skull, who steal and mistreat Pokemon and their foes The Aether Foundation, who are working to cure and care for hurt Pokemon. Badly rapping instead of just speaking, Team Skull is more humourous than threatening, to tell you the truth.

Everything from the animations as your Pokemon are healed at a Pokemon Center to the various Pokemon battle animations have all been upgraded. The improvements don’t end there though. Your Pokedex, for example, is a special model inhabited by the dual-type Electric-Ghost Pokémon, Rotom. The Rotom Pokédex is therefore interactive. It will remind you of special challenges or missions offer advice, all in a helpful way not in an annoying Navi kind of way either.

Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gameZ-Moves have also changed the way battling works. Although you can only use them once per battle and must have the appropriate Z-Crystal, Z-Moves are powerful attacks that combine the will of both Pokemon and their trainer. Unleashing a Z-Move has the potential to alter the tide of any battle and should be used wisely.

You don’t necessarily have to memorize the entire rock, paper, scissors mechanic of Pokemon either. Once you have battled a particular Pokemon once from then on your display will indicate which moves are not effective or not against that type of Pokemon therefore taking out the guesswork for some rookie trainers.

Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gameIn evolving and strengthening your Pokemon, you won’t have to search for valuable TMs or solve cryptic riddles either. The majority are given to you as rewards or by other characters you encounter. The all-important Exp. Share, for instance, is given to you by Professor Kukui near the very start of the adventure when you arrive at a Pokemon academy.

While some die-hard, veteran players may see these changes as possibly dumbing down the gameplay there are surely others who will be grateful that some of the unneeded stress and aggravation has been removed from the game.

Other welcome changes to the standard Pokemon formula are a four player free-for-all Battle Royal, the ability to call Pokemon to ride them and use their special abilities at any time (though they are not a member of your party), Hyper Training, a Festival Plaza for meeting and trading with other players online and the ability to gain more loyalty from your Pokemon by taking care of them in a mini-game.

Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gameGame Freak has done it once again. Just when you think they couldn’t up the ante with the Pokemon franchise they produce Sun and Moon, a sophisticated and refined Pokemon game with only one possible flaw. Neither version takes advantage of the Nintendo 3D’s 3-D capabilities. Sun and Moon is a 2D game, not that you would know it from the incredible animations though.

With so many sequels, remakes and remasters, you wouldn’t think a 3DS game would lead the pack in innovation and ingenuity but Sun and Moon does so in every way. It stands as a fantastic example of how to make a classic series even better than anyone thought it could be.

Sun and Moon, the very best Pokemon gamePokemon Sun and Moon
Format: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Game Freak
ESRB Rating: G for Everyone

Official Site:

Rating: 9 / 10

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