…Ah, the 7th Gen.
If not for my Pokemon Bank Subscriptions–which I renewed for another year in February–I might have waited until mid-April to buy Sun. As those of you who bought Sun or Moon (or both) when it was released back in November (or perhaps got for Christmas) probably know, the games were meant to be the exclaimation point for 2016’s year-long celebration of all things Pokemon. The 7th Gen games do the series proud. Unlike the 5th to 6th Gen transition, the 6th to 7th Gen transition is nearly seamless. That said, there are quite a few shortcomings. Unlike non-Pokemon fans and Pokemon fans alike, I’m not gonna rubber stamp my review of Sun and Moon.
Here’s what Sun and Moon got right:
- Seamless Poke Bank Integration: MUCH better than the hot mess that was the 5th to 6th gen transition. Of course, it helps Poke Bank had already been online for 3 years. Nintendo waited 3 months to add compatability with the 1st Gen games on purpose to allow things to calm down a bit first.
- Transfers to the 7th Gen from the 6th are one-way: Once a Pokemon has been transferred to Sun or Moon, it can never return to the 6th gen. Pokemon who were caught in or sent to Sun/Moon will be highlighted if you use Poke Bank with a 6th Gen game inserted. It’s reminiscient of Pokemon Stadiun 2 in which you could transfer Pokemom between the 1st two gens. In short, Pokemon from Gens 5 through 7 can all be stored in Poke Bank this way.
- 1st Gen Compatility: Once upon a time, I managed to fill up all 12 boxes in Pokemon Yellow back in 1998. Those who own the eShop versions of Pokemon Red, Blue and/or Yellow can transfer the Pokemon in Box 1 to Poke Bank using the Poke Transporter App. The process works the same as transferring from the 5th Gen. If you have 2 or more 1st Gen Pokemon games in which you received the Pokedex, you can pick the one you want to move Pokemon from. 1st Gen Pokemon transferred to Poke Bank can only be sent to Sun or Moon (and UltraSun or UltraMoon when they’re released), though. Of course, Pokemon like Magnemite and Clefairy were different types back then. They will take on their new types during the transfer. Pokemon transferred from the 1st Gen will always have their hidden ability so that’s a huge incentive there!
- Alolan Pokemon: One of the games’ main trademark features is the introduction of region-exclusive versions of some 1st Gen Pokemon. The Alolan versions are different types and are a way to keep the game from getting stale. Note that you can only get the Alolan versions of Raichu, Marrowak and Exeggutor in Sun/Moon. If you want their standard forms, you will need to transfer them from the 1st or 6th Gens. You will also need to use an Everstone if you want to breed a standard version of an Alolan Pokemon.
- Ultra Beasts: Mysterious and crazy-powerful creatures start to appear in Alola during the Postgame. What are they? Are they Pokemon? The concept is ground-breaking and opens the door to more Pokemon being added through non-traditional means.
- Alolan Guardians: Each island of Alola has its own guardian. Unlike past games, the Guardian Pokemon of Alola play a prominent role in the game’s storyline. The one you meet at the beginning of the game challenges you at the end of the main story.
- Z-Moves: Of course, this was heavily advertised. You can use Z-moves to inflict super-crazy damage. There is a Z-Crystal for each type and some Pokemon have their own Z-Crystal. In an obvious cash grab move, there are toys you can buy in stores but it’s mostly for kids whose parents have deep pockets. LOL.
- Solgaleo/Lunala: The cover Legendaries of Sun and Moon. These Majestic Legendaries are an integral part of the main story towards the end of the game. It is interesting to note that Cosmog is Solgaleo/Lunala’s pre-evolution. Cosmog evolves into Cosmoem at level 43, which in turn will evolve into Solgaleo in Sun or Lunala in Moon at level 54. During the postgame, it will be possible for you to get a 2nd Solgaleo in Sun or Lunala in Moon.
- Grand Trials + New Pokemon League: When the game begins, there is no Pokemon League in Alola. Professor Kukui decides to found one a little over halfway through the main story and guess what? YOU will be the 1st Champion of Alola!
- Kanto’s Red and Blue make a cameo appearance: During the postgame, you will encounter Red and Blue from their namesake Pokemon games in Alola. Turns out they were called in to be the top trainers of the Battle Tree in Alola (same as the Battle Tower, Battle Subway and similar facilities in older games). When you first meet them, you will be given the choice of one of them to battle on the spot. Both trainers are crazy-strong and it stands to reason given they’re both Champions of Kanto. Oh and yes, Blue does all the talking.
- Team Skull: Last but certainly not least, hands down they are easily the coolest “Evil” team ever. Team Skull is all about that life. Unlike past Teams, they’re not about stealing Pokemon (Rocket), Environmental Terrorism (Magma/Aqua) or taking over the world (Galactic, Plasma and Flare). They’re all about being HARD. The backstory for Team Skull actually makes you feel sorry for them: The members of Team Skull are all trainers who tried the Alolan Grand Trials and either failed or gave up. Guzma, the leader of Team Skull has the skills to be a Trial Captain or arguably a Kahuna for example. After you clear the main story, you can retun to their stronghold and buy a Team Skull tank. Team Skull, like Team Aqua/Magma doesn’t disband at the end of the game.
…Those are the big things I feel the 7th Gen got right.
Now, here are the things I feel The Pokemon Company dropped the ball:
- Mega Evolution: You know, the main feature of the 6th Gen Games. In the 7th Gen, it’s not even mentioned until the postgame. I was ok with that given all the new features introduced in the 7th Gens. That wasn’t what bothered me: What bothered me was about a third of the known Mega Stones being gated behind the Battle Tree’s Battle Point (BP) system. The only Pokemon you can Mega Evolve when you get the Keystone is Rayquayza since it only requires the move Dragon Descent to Mega Evolve. Oh and you get a free Alakazite with your Keystone, too. Nintendo announced this past December the remaining missing Mega Stones will be distributed via promotions and tournaments. What this means for those of us who have the 6th Gen games is we will not have immediate access to Mega Evolution. As of right now, I will not transfer any of the Pokemon I currently have that can Mega Evolve from the 6th gen to the 7th Gen. I don’t like the randomness of Battle Tower/Subway/Tree-type facilities used to force replay value to the postgame. That feels like a punishment to me to have to get Mega Stones I already got in the 6th Gen all over again. An acceptible compromise would be to allow players to transfer their Mega Stones to the 7th Gen from the 6th Gen.
- Totem Pokemon: I’ll be blunt: I hate the idea and hope it’s never used again. Not only do they always call in reinforcements but they start the battle with stat buffs and hit hard. In fact, any one of them can easily sweep your whole team even if you hold the type advantage. This means you’ll want to make sure you overlevel not just one pokemon but your whole team. Mimikyu is easily the worst because of its Disguise Ability (first hit against it causes no damage): I actually lost to it twice while playing Moon (Popplio was my started in Moon, Litten in Sun). The Haunter and Gengar it keeps summoning make it hard to get the offense going unless you bring in overleveled Pokemon. Fortunately for me, I could power level Pokemon by trading them to Sun (I bought both games two months apart and beat Sun first) or importing Pokemon from the 1st or 6th Gens. Someone who couldn’t do either…I could see them rage-quit at that point. Remember: Totem Pokemon Battles are 1 on 2 or more with you being the one. Now remember what I said before about Totem Pokemon being buffed. Yep.
- Wild Pokemon Reinforcements: Not gonna lie, I actually like the idea. It makes leveling Pokemon a bit easier since you get double the EXP (or more if more reinforcements arrive). My problem is the 2 on 1 handicap. Totem Battles are technically wild Pokemon encounters and this is where most my problem lies. The other is the fact that you can’t use a Poke Ball until one of the Pokemon is fainted. The problem here is the wild Pokemon could summon a fresh Pokemon just when you’ve gotten its health down enough to throw a Poke Ball, forcing you to deal with the backup. This becomes a challenge if either the backup or the target Pokemon has a support move with which to buff the new partner (Helping Hand anyone?). This means using recovery items you didn’t plan on using to deal with the new arrival. I think Nintendo should have given players the ability to turn this off. The unavoidable problem: There are certain Pokemon you can ONLY get via Reinforcements. This means stalling and wasting PP and HP until you successfully lure out the Pokemon you’re looking for.
- Forced Tapu Koko Battle: After you clear the main game and watch the credits for the first time, you are forced into a wild Pokemon battle with Tapu Koko (Fairy/Electric), one of the Guardian Dieties of Alola. The obvious problem: Unless you knew in advance, you’d be unprepared for this fight though if you down it you can rechallenge the next time you beat the Elite Four. Tapu Koko is level 60 but is powerful enough to fight prettymuch anything including Ground Types. Nature’s Madness, which all the Guardian Dieties know Halves the target’s HP so using a team of 100 means nothing. LOL. It’s fast and hits like a truck. If you have the Master Ball, this would be one battle to consider using it. Or not since you have the other 3 “Tapu” Pokemon you can challenge any time after clearing the main story.
- Faster on the New Nintendo 3DS: Like Super Smash Bros. 3DS, the games load slower on the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS variants due to the older hardware. It WILL work on the older handhelds but the game’s startup and battles a slowed a bit. I replaced by of my 3DS consoles with New Nintendo 3DS consoles in part for this reason. Expect Nintendo to continue to make their games this way to effectively push folks to upgrade to the New Nintendo 3DS.
…I actually thought I posted this review MONTHS ago. LOL. Overall I give Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon an 8/10. It goes without saying The Pokemon Company has been cranking out new games yearly these days: The 7th and 6th Gen games were all released no more than 18 months apart from each other and that excludes the spinoff, mobile and virtual console games.
Speaking of new Pokemon games:
Nintendo announced the Meta Sequels are coming this November. Here’s what’s known about them so far:
- Alolan variants of Johto Pokemon: Not a surprise given the original Pokemon Gold and Silver are being released on the Virtual Console on September 22. Presumably Gold and Silver will be compatible with Sun and Moon also.
- “A Different Story”: Nintendo cryptically announced the game takes place during the events of Sun/Moon but will tell a different story at the same time. Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2 were like this but there was a 3 year gap between them and the events of Black and White so…yeah. We probably won’t know much more than that until the games are released.
- Solgaleo and Lunala’s new forms: Not much is known other than their new forms clearly have something to do with the Legendary Pokemon Necrozma. It reminds me of Kyuurem’s Reshiram and Zekrom variants.
- The Kanto Region: Apparently, the Alolan Trainer is going to Kanto to presumably challenge the Pokemon League there. My guess is it will be like Gold and Silver where you will go there after clearing the main story. Assuming that’s the case, UltraSun and UltraMoon will be twice as long as the original Sun and Moon.
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