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!