Pokemon Sun and Moon: A Journey into the Seventh Generation

The Perfect Gift

You may be wondering what to get for your Pokémon-fanatic friend and/or family member this Christmas. It should be something special, as not all fans of Pokémon are alike. Some adhere to the first Generation, some only collect the cards, while others prefer to bury themselves in piles of plushies. There is very little that all fans can agree on. The best present you can get for them, one that is bound to bring a smile to their face, is one straight from a Nintendo Pokémon Center. In Japan. Yes, it will require purchasing plane tickets, flying 20 hours, booking a hotel and traversing a foreign land in the name of some game merch, but honestly, it's the gesture that makes the difference and makes it truly special. And is that not what Christmas is all about?

Or you could buy them a copy of Pokémon Sun and Moon.

For those unsure about purchasing the game for themselves, or simply wishing to avoid spoilers, the following review will examine ONLY the game's play mechanics and not the storyline of Pokémon Sun and Moon. Wouldn't wanna spoil the actual game for anyone.

Aesthetically, the animation has improved phenomenally since Pokémon ORAS, and the full 3D world is a true treat for players who've personally witnessed the evolution of the games since their monochromatic debut on the Gameboy. There are some drawbacks and slip-ups, however.

While the 3D over-world is something players have been wanting for a long time now, it is limiting to the players field of vision. This makes spotting potential Trainer battles and puzzle layouts a challenge. The game has addressed the Trainer battle issue by lessening the AI's trigger range and causing the screen to letterbox when a Trainer is in close proximity, but their solution for the puzzle layouts is slightly nauseating as it causes the camera to pan upwards into an overhead view.

The player's character model also appears to be lacking some programming for facial expressions. During many serious cut-scenes, everyone is in shock or angry, and when the camera pans over, there's the player: serene default smile like the end of the world is just fine by them. A lot of the more dramatic or sombre scenes have their mood cut by this effect, or rather, lack thereof. Which is a shame as there were facial expressions programmed in ORAS.

Also the walk-cycle is quite silly. Takes a while to get used to.

As for play-ability, Pokémon Sun and Moon is roughly the same length as previous games: the Island Trials lead up to Elite battles to become a Champion and being the Champion opens up new areas of the game. But it's the games smaller, added features that help lengthen it out.

For those who enjoy the Nintendo DS' Spot Pass and Mii Plaza, Sun and Moon's Festival Plaza is just that, with the added bonus of being able to buff up your Pokémon at the same time.

Poké Pelago allows players to use Poké Beans in a multitude of ways. Leaving beans on one island may result in wild Pokémon appearing and requesting to join your party or PC box. Another allows players to cultivate berries faster depending on how many beans are left. Another has Pokémon staying in the PC boxes to go out and search for shards, rare evolution stones and even rare items. And others allow for even more buffing and outside-of-battle experience gain. All in all, a great game feature to exploit catching and leveling Pokémon faster and obtaining items that can't be found easily in-game.

Pokémon Refresh is Sun and Moons version of Pokémon Amie and introduces a new feature to interacting with your Pokémon: Healing. After certain battles, the game will prompt the player to open Pokémon Refresh to either brush dirt from their Pokémon's fur, towel them dry or even heal them of status conditions. This is a great money-saving feature for those who normally stock up on antidotes, awakens, paralyze heals, full heals and the like. It should be noted that Pokémon still dodge, inflict critical hits, hang onto their last 1 HP and heal themselves when their Affection is maxed-out in Refresh. Hours will be spent petting your Pokémon. Hours.

Two other features that are worth mentioning, yet not necessarily game-prolonging are the QR scanner and Quick Link.

Quick Link is a superb improvement in connecting with other players via DS wireless. Players no longer have to reach a certain point in the game where they are finally allowed to go to the second floor of the Pokémon Center to be asked a million questions before entering a connection room to find another player to battle or trade with. Players can now go directly to their start menu, select Quick Link and search for other players near them. This means trades and battles can occur at anytime, anywhere. AND, Pokémon can be selected directly from a players PC box, it is no longer required to be in their party. Amazing.

The QR scanner allows players to add Pokémon to their Pokédex as though they've encountered them, simply by scanning their corresponding QR code. While early on this idea fell somewhat flat, it was quickly abused as players began uploading Pokémon QR codes to gaming forums so others could fill their Pokédex pages and receive the chance to battle non-Sun-and-Moon-native Pokémon for every 10 codes scanned. Note: limit 10 scans per day. Players are also able to receive event Pokémon via QR codes, and while these appear to be region locked, if any are store-only events, it is bound to be abused in the same way. Praise be the invention of the camera-phone.

All in all, Pokémon Sun and Moon has been an absolute treasure to play since its release on November 18th. Despite the various downfalls, including the game limits a player's ability to explore so that they advance the story along, it has many glorious upsides, such as eliminating HMs and therefore the need for HM slaves or limiting your team's move-sets.

Pokémon Sun and Moon, the seventh generation in the series, receives four "get-in-the-bag"s out of five.


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Catlin Spencer is a long-time volunteer and news director at CJLO with experience in writing, hosting, producing, and training under her belt. A lover of satire, cartoons and video games, Catlin is a huge dork who is always one line away from making a really bad pun.