Game Review: Pokémon Moon

It’s been over 6 months that the new Pokémon generation Pokémon Sun / Moon has been released and meanwhile the follow-up Ultra Sun / Moon has been announced. I guess now is the time to reflect on generation 7, the very first Pokémon game I actually got on the date of release, and review which changes I liked and which ones I didn’t approve of.

The new setting “Alola” is strongly reminiscent of Hawaii, which is a nice idea in itself. The creators were very thorough in adding small details and also some (lovingly presented) stereotypes, like the gimmick Pokémon Comfey (a living flower wreath) or a hula dancer Pokémon trainer. The design overall is much more detailed than ever before, the characters look very nice and in proportion (no over-large heads or pixel eyes) and the look of “Pokémon Hawaii” is super pretty. Still, personally I preferred the world in X and Y – maybe I just felt more at home in the European setting 🙂

It took me a while to get used to the new way of collecting “gym badges”. Everything got a new name (island challenge, guardian deities, kahuna…) and the game starts off with a slow beginning. It didn’t really grip me until I was a few hours in. But once I got my head around the new system of “gym” battles and found some Pokémon to raise, I was completely hooked as usual. I actually quite like the idea of having to fight wild Pokémon on their own as a trial and then also have a separate battle with the island champions. That meant more serious fights. On the downside – it added quite a few characters to the already large cast.

The new baddies Team Skull seemed like a joke to me at first. They did not actually create those “yo yo yo!” people with pink and turquoise hair? Well, they did. And I got used to them, but I could never take them seriously. Well, could I ever take an evil team seriously?!

I was playing Pokémon Moon myself and I really liked my Lunala! As starter Pokémon I chose Rowlett, as I’m a huge owl fan anyway. I did my “favourites only” challenge, so I didn’t necessarily evolve all my Pokémon. My team also consisted of Haunter, Kadabra, Sneasel and Lanturn. All in all, I found this generation MUCH harder. Everyone seemed to have a Dark type to one-hit half my team… I admit, that was strategically unwise of me… But I found that the level curve was much steeper than in X and Y and all opponents had better fighting strategies (or got a massive stat push…). It’s not a problem as such, but I preferred the “soft” levelling of X and Y.

Another feature that was added are the Z-Crystals. I think it’s an interesting concept and the different attacks have some great animations, but in a way it was re-inventing the wheel. Like the developers were desperately looking for some unique feature for this game. In my opinion the region itself and the whole trainer story-arch spanning different islands would have been more than sufficient. I used the Z-Power attacks, but simply because they were there. I wouldn’t have missed them.

As in X and Y you can freely style your character, which I enjoyed probably a bit too much. That is a feature I would have missed sorely (and did in Alpha Sapphire…). I like the available clothes and hairstyles and colours. For the clothes I have to say that I preferred the items in Kalos, but that’s my personal taste again. I missed the roller-blades from X and Y as well… I’m also glad they kept Pokémon-Amie somehow in “Pokémon Refresh”. The mini-games are gone, but at least you can still get up close and create a bond with your team 🙂

As final new feature I would like to mention Ultra Beasts and the Alolan forms. Ultra Beasts will come in later in the game, so I don’t want to spoiler too much, but for my taste they were more Digimon than Pokémon. But that’s alright. The Alolan forms are a nice idea – some Pokémon from Kanto have come to Alola and have since adapted to their surroundings. Alolan Vulpix is super adorable as Ice type and even ideas like the “proper-palm-tree” Exeggutor somehow work. Some designs just seem a little uninspired or unnecessarily hideous (I’m looking at you Persian and Dugtrio…).

Overall, Pokémon Moon is a solid Pokémon game with a few new gimmicks and some new Pokémon, some old ones and some old ones in a new guise. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Alola and I am looking forward to Ultra Sun / Moon. I wouldn’t recommend this game to a first time Pokémon player, X and Y are much better suited to that. But for fans of the series, like me, it’s simply a nice addition to the world of Pokémon. Let’s see where Pokémon is going in the future!


About Trampoline Nerd

I’m someone who feels at home in the night sky, on the road and inside imagination.
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