Pokemon Sun and Moon is now available in North America and Japan, with a European release following soon after. Even at this early stage of its release, the newest entries in the long-running Pokemon gaming franchise have begun raking in the accolades, and they have not shown any signs of slowing down. With a likable cast of characters, a new lineup of monsters to catch, and a fresh, new take on the classic Pokemon quest, Sun and Moon is arguably among the best games in the franchise.
It has become so successful that even gaming website Eurogamer, which is known for its conservative and objective stance in its reviews, gave the new Nintendo 3DS game a very rare "Essential" rating. As much as Pokemon Sun and Moon is groundbreaking, however, the games still have some notable areas for improvement. Here is a brief discussion about what's best in the games, as well as what's not so great. Here are three reasons why Pokemon Sun and Moon is awesome, and two reasons why it's not.
Why Pokemon Sun and Moon is AwesomeOne of the best things about Pokemon Sun and Moon is its fresh take on the franchise. While new characters, a new region, and a vast lineup of new monsters to catch are pretty much traditional for each game that is released, Sun and Moon's additions feel well thought out. New mechanics, such as the introduction of "Ride Pokemon," which takes the place of the tedious "Hidden Moves" of previous titles, have been well received by critics and gamers alike. The addition of Alola forms for classic Pokemon and a colorful, 3D world that is a significant step-up from Pokemon X and Y have also been welcomed very well.
Sun and Moon's take on the traditional Pokemon quest have also received accolades from gamers and critics alike, with the newly-introduced Island Challenge being considered as one of the best features of the games so far. In traditional Pokemon games, the area where the story takes place is usually represented by a massive landmass with eight Pokemon gyms and the iconic Elite Four. Sun and Moon has opted out of this pattern, introducing four notable islands, each with its own Captain, or Kahuna, Trial Challenges and a powerful Totem Pokemon to defeat instead. The system requires some getting used to, but it is totally worth it.
Lastly, Pokemon Sun and Moon is pretty much the most player-centric games in the entire franchise. Pokemon X and Y was noted for having a pretty friendly learning curve, but Sun and Moon outdoes its predecessor in numerous levels. In its review of the game, tech website Ars Technica noted that Experience Share items are acquired earlier than usual in the game, and rewards for quests and battles are many. Even the Pokedex has become a lot friendlier, giving players significant hints and objective markers for each quest. While the handholding seems to be overdone at times, it is nice to see the franchise attempting to reach out to new gamers that have never touched a Pokemon game before.
Why Pokemon Sun and Moon is Not So GreatAlas, there are some things that Sun and Moon has not been able to deliver. While the games are vibrant, fresh, and notable entries in the Pokemon franchise, it has one particularly big weakness: its plot. Pokemon games have featured linear and simple stories for a while now, but it hasn't always been that way. Longtime Pokemon fans remember Pokemon Gold and Silver from 1999, which were the first titles in the franchise to be released in color. Introducing Generation 2 monsters, Pokemon Gold and Silver became iconic among avid fans of the franchise due to its compelling plot, which involved unlocking a completely different region with different gyms and another Elite Four and culminating in a final battle against Red, the main character from the first batch of Pokemon games. It might sound like nitpicking, but it would have made Sun and Moon so much better if it had a story that involved some surprising twists and turns.
Another notable flaw of Pokemon Sun and Moon is its graphics. In today's tech landscape, where even mobile titles get premium-grade graphics, the notable framerate drops during intense sequences in Pokemon Sun and Moon get downright distracting. This doesn't mean to say that Pokemon Sun and Moon has bad graphics. If any, this issue seems to stem from the graphical capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS itself. However, compared with the rumored upcoming version of Sun and Moon for the Nintendo Switch, which is also a portable title, by the way, Pokemon Sun and Moon's current 3DS iteration seems appears very rough.
The VerdictWhile Pokemon Sun and Moon has notable flaws and limitations, the games are nonetheless novel enough to warrant a purchase from both avid Pokemon fans and newcomers to the franchise alike. With its friendly learning curve and its novel take on the Pokemon world, Sun and Moon are each titles that must definitely grace the shelves of any Pokemon gamer out there. Considering the dry spell that has plagued Pokemon games lately, Sun and Moon is a definitive, welcome addition to the long-running franchise.
Just to set expectations, though. The Pokemon franchise's tagline, "Gotta Catch Them All," has long been deemed to be practically impossible. With Sun and Moon's Alola forms, mega evolutions, and the like, the total number of monsters in the franchise now number close to a thousand. Thus, for newcomers, at least, it is best to just enjoy Pokemon Sun and Moon without any pressure.[Featured Image by BagoGames|Flickr|Cropped and Resized|CC BY-SA 2.0]