For those of us not slapped in the face with the Nintendo ban hammer for pirating Pokémon Sun and Moon we were finally able to get our grubby hands on it today at long last. I will admit the closer I got to the release date the more I dreaded that very little would have changed since X and Y. While there are some staple features of Nintendo’s 20 year old franchise even those have been tweaked and improved upon. Graphics are similar to those in XY/ORAS but the colors feel much more vibrant, the sound richer to the ear and the battle moves in many cases completely revamped and very noticeable.
The newest Pokémon professor, Kukui, even though he’s never met you, doesn’t ask you if you are a boy or a girl. Though that may be because Nintendo and Game Freak didn’t want to find themselves in the middle a PC shit storm. Instead in generation seven you are asked which picture from a line up matches you the closest, a clever way around the issue. Not breaking the tradition this time you are still a young person who has moved with their mother into the most remote house in the most remote area of the new region. The difference this time though is that you are shown a scene of a girl later to be revealed to be the professors assistant running away from some unknown people in what appear to be white uniforms, throwing you into a story you know nothing about. This definitely caught me off guard and grabbed my attention hard, and in a good way. Already in Sun and Moon I’ve noticed the game keeps you much more involved with the narrative as opposed to the occasional NPC popping up and musing to you that you should probably head to the next city to get the next badge. Every route I’ve been on so far, 3 with the occasional cave has had things happening to keep me engaged.
One thing that’s keeping me locked in and quite entertained is the new team; Team Skull. I don’t know how others will end up feeling about the new guys but this team is such a joke that even nameless passerbys on the street will think nothing to mock them and their inevitable failure. Their fake bravado is so delightful to me, watching them bust their moves while trying to be “hard as bone” thugs has made me laugh out loud more than once. As long as the team keeps being this charming they could easily become the most beloved team of the entire franchise. In a weird way the anticipation of the stupid shit that I know is going to come out of their masked mouths makes me eager to meet up with them again so I can kick the crap out of them.
Sadly so far not every character has managed to entertain as Team Skull have so far. The game keeps wanting me to be friends with this young man by the name of Hau who is the grandson of the Islands kahuna, or as I’m sure I will never stop saying in my head Big Kahuna. There is nothing wrong with Hau per se its just that he has yet to develop any personality beyond that fact. He is not a good battler though they keep trying to make me believe that, though how any one who chose the starter weak to mine and only battles with two Pokémon against my six cant be that good. I mean I suppose he could if he smacked me around like a bitch who hasn’t paid her due using only his two to beat my six but the matches are very one sided. Currently its Lillie who has my attention though its not that she herself has earned it more circumstances surrounding her have. That said I’ve only just finished my first island and they both have tons of time to develop and grow on me.
For all the improvements though I do have some gripes. First and foremost is something I don’t see myself being able to get over is the absence of the Dex Nav from ORAS. For those of you who did not play the remakes of the generation three titles the Dex Nave was a wonderful bottom screen feature that let you know how close you were to catching all the Pokémon currently available to you in a zone based on your progression. Finish getting all the Pokémon possible in zone one? A sparkling golden crown icon would appear in the top right corner of the screen and tapping on it would give you the message, congratulations you have caught all the Pokémon currently available on this route. The collector in me will never be able to let go of my pure love for that feature and I will mourn its loss as one does a lost lover or expensive left overs they forgot to eat.
Also on my list of stuff I want to bitch about is the encounter rate seems a bit high and Pokémon in this game constantly want to spam status moves constantly. Getting growled at constantly is incredibly annoying until you manage to get a few types covered and a special attacker or two. Even with that situation under control I will still be out trying to catch a Mon (side note I will not say Poke I’m not trying to catch a pocket…) and have it call for reinforcements and have both go to town on an accuracy lowering sand attack or the like. That combined with how slow the HP bar moves now on occasion makes me incredibly annoyed with the game at times. The frustration of some battles and the pure enjoyment of the story elements often make for a complicated love hate relationship so far.
Overall though I would have to say I am greatly enjoying the new generation, the new monsters are growing on me and a lot of the small things are grabbing onto me and making me really happy. One example is when you chose your starter the adults tell you that’s fine and good but it has to want to go with you and be willing to chose you as well. Scenes like this help enforce the themes of friendship and teamwork the games always try to convey. Its much more satisfying wiping out a zone full of Spearows knowing its a bonding activity for me and my new best friend. As the old saying goes friends who slay together stay together. I’m pretty sure that’s a saying, if not it should be. Just don’t use it anywhere the NSA could hear you saying….. yanno what ignore all of that. You should probably just never say that ever. I’m reasonably sure I would feel guilty knowing people were being waterboarding in Gitmo for anything they read from me. I mean pretty sure, I cant say with complete journalistic integrity that I would without experiencing it first hand but I digress.
So for those of you out there on the fence on if you should get the game or not as of the completion of my first island I would give it a thumbs up, while I do have my complaints they do not overshadow the big new steps the series has already shown me its taking and I’m excited to go around the next corner and see what’s ahead of me. So grab a copy go beat up some parrots and bugs and see what the future of Pokemon holds in store for all of us.