Pokemon Sun & Moon hands-on: a potent and well timed reminder that Pokemon is a lot greater than Go

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This could be the Pokemon recreation to correctly drag me again into the fold.


With the wild success of Pokemon Go, it’d be simple to suppose… properly, that’s that. That’s the way forward for Pokemon; apps and bite-sized video games for a ludicrously broad viewers, its core ideas stripped right down to the bones. Pokemon Go is fundamental, however it’s additionally respectable. That’s the way it’s captured such a big viewers. I lived and breathed Pokemon Go for a short while, producing web page after web page right here on the positioning – however a bit time with Pokemon Sun & Moon was a pointy reminder and wake-up name. This is what Pokemon is admittedly all about.

“This entry has grabbed me more thoroughly in its opening hours than any other Pokemon game in years.”

Whenever I’m protecting a collection with such an infinite lineage I really feel the necessity to set up the place I stand with it, so: I bear in mind getting my copy of Pokemon Blue vividly. It was a vacation current (to maintain me quiet, little doubt). I fell in love with that recreation. I performed it religiously, and the identical was true for Gold and Silver, my favorite entry within the collection.

Over subsequent years my curiosity waned. I accomplished the next two generations and the remake of Red, however by the point we reached Black & White I fell into what’s been a rut for a number of video games now: Buy them, take pleasure in across the first half of the sport, lose curiosity. This was true for Black/White, X/Y, and even the remakes of Gold/Silver and Ruby/Sapphire, video games I initially liked.

With that famous, right here’s my headline takeaway from two hours with Pokemon Sun & Moon: This entry has grabbed me extra completely in its opening hours than another Pokemon recreation in years. I can’t wait to play extra. Let’s discuss why.


The theme for my time with Pokemon Sun & Moon is acquainted however not. So the sport opens in fact with the standard spiel and gender alternative from this recreation’s Professor, as an example, however it additionally opens with a full-on cutscene that feels in contrast to something the Pokemon collection has ever actually tried earlier than.

I’m forbidden from discussing particulars of the scene, however it appears to drop loads of mysterious hints at a bigger plot than ‘become a Pokemon Master’. Over the years Pokemon has gone extra down this path with Pokemon being tied into the world’s creation fable and all types, however that is the primary time it’s felt intrinsic to the sport from minute one.

The cutscenes betray a usually improved sense of fashion and presentation throughout the board. Again, the video games have steadily tended in direction of this look however this marks the tip of the extra chibi-style characters that the collection began with. What now we have as a substitute now look extra like typical anime characters, however with that elevated sense of element comes a capability to inform tales extra by way of animation and the like.

All that is personified within the resolution to now continuously have trainers standing behind their Pokemon whereas in battle: the characters are actually detailed sufficient of their design that they belong there. To get reductive about it, the characters now look extra like they do within the Pokemon anime, and that’s no dangerous factor.

It’s all concerning the little touches. When you get to a degree the place you’re about to be within the line of sight of a rival coach the display screen narrows with black borders prime and backside to warn you – it’s virtually Metal Gear esque. The areas really feel like they open up extra shortly than earlier video games too, making skirting round rivals simpler.


When you catch a Pokemon you’re given a Pokedex share not only for your complete land of Alola but additionally for every of the sport’s islands, permitting you to extra precisely monitor when you’ve caught something in a given space. When a Pokemon evolves it reveals their evolution path on display screen, letting you recognize that you simply’ve both topped out the evolution path or have one other thriller evolution to go.

Another contact, a favorite, is how when you’ve found a Pokemon’s strengths and weaknesses your strikes are marked in the event that they’ll be efficient or not in your opponent within the same-as-ever turn-based battle menu. It’s simply simpler.

“When I imagine what the console Pokemon game I dreamt about around the Gamecube era would’ve looked like, the image in my mind is remarkably similar to Sun & Moon.”

There’s plenty of little quality-of-life enhancements like this. They make a world of distinction. For lack of a greater time period I’d describe my impression of Pokemon for a very long time as stodgy; it caught to the tempo specified by the unique virtually uncompromisingly, and that typically made the video games a bit sluggish and plodding by fashionable requirements. X & Y took steps away from this, however Sun & Moon really feel just like the fruits of this intent.

Everything appears higher, strikes extra slickly and feels extra… properly, fashionable. When I think about what the console Pokemon recreation I dreamt about across the Gamecube period would’ve regarded like, the picture in my thoughts is remarkably much like Sun & Moon. There’s a way of scale and spectacle right here that feels invigorating, and whereas that is one thing that X & Y shot for, once more it feels extra achieved right here.

There’s all this, however then on the similar time there’s a lot that’s acquainted. There’s nonetheless that low-pitched thud noise everytime you stroll into one thing and might’t stroll additional, and that unusual Game Boy sound impact while you enter and exit buildings.


As with X & Y this recreation feels assured sufficient to not should lean on its new Pokemon too closely as properly. There’s loads of newcomers within the opening hours, however each acquainted and new variations of classics are featured prominently additionally. I’m an enormous fan of the brand new starters – I picked firey cat Litten, as a result of I’m satisfied bloody everyone goes to select the Owl-like Rowlet, and I’m ever the insurgent.

In this sense it seems like the proper combine, and in these early hours the sport makes a robust case for being the proper recreation for Pokemon’s 20th. It feels new and completely different but additionally comfy and acquainted. As a semi-lapsed fan I’m very enthusiastic about persevering with this story. This could be the proper timing, what with all these lapsed followers feasting on Pokemon Go’s nostalgia for the unique 151.

The greatest change is by not new info, however Pokemon Gyms are gone: there’s no Pokemon League to talk of within the land of Alola. Instead, the sport units up a extra natural coming-of-age journey of discovery that critically shakes up the collection’ pacing. In this Sun & Moon may resemble a extra conventional RPG, particularly if its plot escalates.

“In these early hours the game makes a strong case for being the perfect game for Pokemon’s 20th. It feels new and different but also comfortable and familiar.”

There’s loads else I appreciated, however this preview is getting lengthy. The new Hawaii-inspired locale of Alola appears a enjoyable and completely different place tonally, and the localization and plotting appears enjoyable and simply the correct degree of self-aware, from a ‘my body is ready’ reference right down to the sport acknowledging how one character retains bursting into homes unannounced.

Players will have the ability to check out a slice of what I performed come October 18, when a demo will hit the Nintendo eShop. I feel folks might be impressed – after years of nonetheless being a Pokemon fan however not feeling significantly strongly concerning the new video games, I’ve been grabbed as soon as extra.

2016 has been a banner 12 months for Pokemon due to Pokemon Go alone, however I perceive from mates within the realize it’s additionally been a very good 20th 12 months for the anime, card recreation and different retailers of the collection. The most attention-grabbing factor about my hands-on time with Sun & Moon is that it clearly stands an opportunity of being one of the best and most enjoyable slice of Pokemon this 12 months. In this 12 months particularly, that’s price one thing.

We’ve acquired extra on Pokemon Sun & Moon on our dedicated hub page, plus our Pokedex page which lists all of the newly-added Pokemon this time round. Pokemon Sun & Pokemon Moon are due out in Europe on November 23, whereas Americans will get their arms on the sport a bit earlier on the 18th. If you may’t wait to attempt the sport for your self, a demo will hit Nintendo eShop subsequent week on October 18.