This November saw the release of a new entry into the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Sun and Moon. While it did bring the usual cavalcade of new Pokemon, areas to explore and the return of some long forgotten characters, Pokemon Sun and Moon has also brought about a few big changes to the usual recipe.
The previous games in the Pokemon series have always revolved around collecting badges from gyms and eventually taking on the Elite 4 and the champion to prove that you are the very best, like no one ever was (bam bum bum bum). So you might be surprised to hear that in Sun and Moon there are no gyms at all and the Elite 4 doesn’t exist when you start the game, instead you take part in what is known as an Island Trial. Surprisingly enough all the trials involve battling a few smaller Pokemon, a slightly bigger one at the end all to get the trials Z Crystal, so really gyms are still a big part of the game they have just changed the name. Once you have completed your trial then you get the unique opportunity, in a dramatic twist, to take on the Elite 4 and become the champion! I may be being a little bit cynical considering Pokemon hasn’t changed this much since 1996. All of the trials are at least a unique to each other and overall it does feel very changed when compared the previous versions, I just feel it would have been nice for at least one of the trials not devolving into a series of battles.
The biggest change to me has been the removal of HM’s, to those of you who have never played a game before HM’s are set moves you needed your Pokemon to learn to progress through the game and most of them suck. In the newest game they are completely gone and are replaced by an ability to call a Pokemon to perform the move for you I.E Machamp cradling you lovingly in his arms while he pushed boulders around. Not only does this mean you don’t have to dedicate one of your party to be your HM mule but it looks pretty cool when a Charizard flies by and you blast off into space just to go back a few metres to the nearest Pokemon Centre.
Another edition to Sun and Moon are Z Moves, which are a once per battle ultra move your Pokemon can perform. In the previous two games they introduced the concept of Mega Evolutions, during a battle if you had the right items you could make one of your party basically go super saiyan until they pass out or the battle ends. By replacing this with a Z Move that just corresponds to the type of move used it guarantees that any Pokemon can use it as long as they have collected the right crystal whereas previously only a select few were able to use Mega Evolutions. While it is less cool than seeing a Pinsir suddenly sprout wings it does make battling a little bit more strategic, since it is a one off attack you need to pick the best moment to use it and if it fails you cannot use another one till the end of the battle.
It wouldn’t be a new Pokemon without new bizarre creatures for your 12 year old character to capture and force to fight for shiny crystals and Sun and Moon is no exception. Among my personnel favourites are Mimikyu, the adorable little guy who wears a Pikachu costume so people will like him and is also said to be so hideous that it drove a man insane when it looked under its costume, and Stufful, a little toy bear looking Pokemon who apparently will go ape-shit and kill anyone who touches it. Overall there aren’t any new additions that don’t seem to fit and they have even been able to avoid the problems they had in previous game where they made new Pokemon from keychains and string.
Overall I am really impressed with Pokemon Sun and Moon, it has added enough new content and ideas to the franchise to keep me entertained but has kept enough the same so that the fans of the series don’t feel like its changed to much.