Pokémon Sun and Moon Nintendo 3DS Review

Pokémon Sun and Moon is a leap forward the franchise that refines established norms into brilliant new concepts

By Grayshadow, Posted 21 Nov 2016

Pokémon Sun and Moon is the latest iteration in the 20-year old franchise that makes some significant changes to the established formula. The game remains loyal to its core story, catch-em-all and evil organisation, but new mechanics help boost the efficiently mundane tasks.

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Pokémon Sun and Moon deviates from the eight badge concept that has been part of the Pokémon handheld games since Red and Blue. Now players find themselves on the Alola islands. This new region of the Pokémon universe replaces gym battles with 4 trials. These trials have players taking part in various challenges leading up to a battle with a powerful Pokémon called a Totem Pokémon. Despite having only 4 trials the game doesn’t lack in content, instead, more emphasis has been put on exploring each island instead of following a linear path to the next major battle as in previous Pokémon games.

Mega Evolutions were first introduced in Pokémon X and Y, allowing Pokémon to surpass their final evolution form for a single battle. In Pokémon Sun and Moon a new ability called Z-move powered by Z-crystals earned by completing trials. These powerful moves add another layer of strategy, allowing you to perform strong attacks distinct to specific Pokémon.

At first, these Z-crystals are presented as special items but become more common as the game progresses, unlike Mega Evolution stones. The animations for these Z-moves are impressive, but the inability to skip the long sequences can becoming vexing at times and encouraged me to avoid using the attack altogether to avoid it. 

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Pokémon Sun and Moon easily surpasses the previous games in visuals and gameplay. The Hawaii-like islands of Alola are littered with colourful visuals and lush environments. Trains and backgrounds have been updated, removed at the circle pads where Pokémon usually stand and opposing trainers can be seen giving orders to their Pokémon. The map is now displayed on the 3DS’ bottom screen for easy access, but it doesn’t show what Pokémon are in the area. You still need to go to another screen to access the Pokédex for that.

Pokémon in the Alola region is different from previous games. In addition to new Pokémon to capture some original Pokémon have adapted new Alola versions such as an Ice-type Ninetails and a Dragon-type Exeggutor. Wild Pokémon can now call for help when in danger, calling the same Pokémon to fight alongside. This can become frustrating since Pokémon can keep calling for help and since you’re unable to catch Pokémon when there’s two on the field you’ll be forced to constantly eliminate the aid.

The battling system remains loyal to the same rock-paper-scissor system since 1996. Players can now still what moves are non-effective, effective, and super-effective against Pokémon they’ve captured. A quick Pokéball system allows players to quickly select Pokéballs and the deposit system has become user-friendly. Players can now trade with NPCs straight from the PC, manually deposit Pokémon into specific boxes, search for Pokémon in your PC, and create multiple teams. Held items can be switched from the main menu or from the PC, allowing you to change held items from deposit Pokémon. All these adjustments are small but when added up make for a much more streamlined experience.

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The biggest and requested change is the HM system. A vexing system that forced players to keep Pokémon in your party with specific moves has been altered for the better, with Ride Pokémon taking the place of HM moves. Instead of using Rock Smash, Surf, or any other environmental move players simply switch to that specific Ride Pokémon. Tauros, which  can smash through rocks, and Lapras surfing are some of the Pokémon you can ride. These Ride Pokémon aren’t only limited to previous HM moves, for example, Stoutland has replaced the Item Finder making finding items less of a chore. Best of all some Ride Pokémon offer a boost in travelling speed, but not all can fit through enclosed spaces.

The gameplay and visuals of Pokémon Sun and Moon are great improvements, unfortunately, the story doesn’t share the same quality. As in previous games expect to fight an evil organisation, this time it's called Team Skull, and capture a legendary Pokémon to save the world. If you’ve played a Pokémon game you can expect what will transpire on your journey to becoming a Pokémon Master.

Expect major frame-rate issues if you’re playing on the older model 3DS consoles. During battles that exceeding two Pokémon on the screen, my console began to show a dip in the frame-rate. This was especially problematic during the Battle Royal matches, where 4 Pokémon fight at once. The game never crashed but the notable slowdown did hamper the experience.

Pokémon Sun and Moon,Nintendo,NoobFeed,Game Freak,

Pokémon Sun and Moon is a fantastic instalment in the long-running franchise from Game Freak. The new interfaces, visuals, and removal of the HM system are smart choices that eliminate a lot of the frustrations of past games. Trials are entertaining replacements for gym battles and break up the flow from the established 8-gym concept, allowing for a refreshing take on the Pokémon formula. The story follows the same pattern of past games but overall gameplay improvements overshadow this. Pokémon Sun and Moon is a leap forward the franchise that refines established norms into brilliant new concepts.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Game Freak
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date:

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