Pokemon Sun

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Perhaps the most approachable games in the series yet, Pokemon Sun and moon contain traditional elements that allow players to jump in and feel right at home and serve as a perfect entry point for anyone new to the world of Pokemon. Wether you’ve been a fan all along, a newbie or if you’ve put your quest to be the very best—like no one ever was—on hold, Pokemon Sun and Moon have something for every type of fan and gamer, casual or serious. Welcome to Alola.

The way the player navigate and explore this brave new world is more Legend of Zelda than Pokemon and that’s a good thing. Gone are the days of gyms and badges, instead you’re completing challenges and solving puzzles across four island. Sun and moon are all about exploring islands, trials (which replace gyms essentially) and side quests. As a result, the games have a much more open world and free-roaming feel to them. It’s different and a welcome change. Nintendo didn’t need to risk tempering with a successful formula, but Soon and Moon are better for it.

The mix of Pokemon included in the game is perhaps the best thus far. Sun and moon presents a perfect mix of old, middle of the road and new. With 2016 marking the 20th anniversary of the franchise, it made sense to include classic Pokemon as well as fresh pocket monsters to keep it interesting. To be fair, some of the new Pokemon in some of the last few generations have been meh, Sun and Moon is an improvement on both quality and creativity. The Alola Pokemon are a nice touch as well, offering a different take on beloved Pokemon, some of them genuinely cool.

The environments are visually impressive on the 3DS—even in battles—and more complex than any previous portable Pokemon title yet. They don’t merely improve on past titles, Sun and Moon is on a whole other level of Pokemon games. Environments are rich and varied, houses look spectacular and the islands are like going a small getaway. I easily lose tracks of time doing side quests and visiting every square inch of the game. Even the houses, shops and various buildings are a joy to visit now with intricate and beautiful layouts. Sun and Moon also stand out by feeling and looking much more 3D than its predecessors.

The mechanics for the most part have stayed put. Combat still functions in the same way, with the addition of Z-Moves that offer a more visually compelling experience, at least initially.

A few more additions/changes

-4 player battle royale had to be one of the best and wildest additions to Sun and Moon. It’s madness and tons of fun.

-Customization options are large than ever before ranging from clothes to haircuts and everything in between.

-You can take photos of wild Pokemon which adds a fun element to the game reminiscent of Pokemon Snap.

-New, updated Pokedex that will talk to you. Improved Pokemon management/storage.

-Interactivity with Pokemon had been heightened by caring, cleaning, feeding etc.

-Team Skull replaces Team Rocket, Galactic etc.

-Movement is much more natural and less d-pad direction-oriented, games makes great use of analog and running.

-Opportunity to transfer Pokemons from Red, Blue and Yellow, more compatibility to come.

-Festival plaza provides a more interactive online experience than ever before.

-Fishing is much more restricted and limited. It used to be if there’s water you can fish but that’s changed.

As with every new Pokemon games in the franchise, Sun and Moon have differences that make them unique from each other. Most notably night and day. Sun mimics the 24 hour cycle while Moon is forwarded 12 hours which means it will have night during day and day during night. Some challenges and activities vary also.

There’s always something to do, somewhere to go; it’s busy game. Longtime fans and hardcore gamers will also be happy to know these new entries in the franchise are more difficult than the last few. That said, it is not so difficult that it’ll make you give up either.

The sheer joy Pokemon fans will get from playing Sun and Moon is worth the price of admission. It’s new, it’s classic, it’s different, it’s like relieving your childhood all over again and it’s glorious. A beautiful and very ambitious entry in the Pokemon cannon-t.skylar