Game Review: Pokemon Sun & Moon

pokemon-sun-moon-trailer-gameplayGame reviews aren’t something I’ve taken the opportunity to venture on with Graphic Policy, but I do consider myself a gamer in every sense of the word. In 2016 the Pokémon Franchise celebrated a remarkable 20 Twenty Year milestone, and I am happy that my first game review is an opportunity to chime in that celebration. Pokémon’s latest installment Sun & Moon is marked with sustained freshness, polished gameplay, and fresh mechanics, that have frequently changed the strategic dynamic. I.e. mega evolutions, z-crystal moves, regional variants.

With its rich lore, with intergenerational ties, and more recently multiversal implications/migration, the seventh generation brings a level of “meta” to the game that we haven’t seen since Generation 1’s glitch Pokémon Missingno. which unintentionally pierced the veil between fantasy and reality. With Pokémon Sun & Moon and the recent OR/AS  it is now canonically established that individual game versions and former generations are self-contained worlds/dimensions, which now experience intergenerational migration (both Pokémon and People) as of Generation VII. I noticed this when discovering the presence of a  version exclusive pokémon,(Restricted to my version) near a monument that seemingly allows travel to another “universe” Upon reflection this made sense as what is called the “Ultra Wormholes” in this game was explicitly referred to as a “Link Cable” in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. It’s these little touches that really shows how layered the franchise has become and makes me appreciate it more, doubly so when such elements aren’t heavily announced and left for the player to discover.

Gen VII’s offering seem to me, to be as a truce between the so called “Gen Oners” and more recent fans to the franchise.The regional variants offer a fresh new take on many beloved gen one favourites. This was a welcome compromise with respect to not adding as many new creatures comparable to prior generations. All of this praise aside, there are some critiques that I have, but they are nitpicks at best and borne from my deep love for the game.

Critique 1 – The current game’s lack of a national pokedex. It has been a  growing fear of mine that the meta-quest of “Catching them all” has become a Sisyphean task and may be de-emphasized or pushed to the wayside entirely eventually. This fear was confirmed to some degree with the lack of a national dex, omitting the full pokedex listing of every pokémon in the series. Where this may come as some relief to some, to me it somewhat betrays the core goal and mantra of the series “gotta catch them all”

Critique 2 – “Too little water!” If ORAS committed the infamously parodied sin of Too Much Water (sorry IGN). I argue that the Alola Region commits the sin of too little of it. The choice to overhaul and remove the HM system is a double edge sword. On one hand It frees up your pokémon move repertoire choices, and eliminates the need for “HM slaves “but it also restricts your exploration. Having just experienced the immersive freedom of the Hoenn remakes where you can surf, dive and travel up waterfalls. Alola by contrast feels a bit limited. Especially so considering its beautiful environments and vistas that just beckon at you to be explored intimately.

All this said, Gen VII is still a strong offering to a franchise that is not going anywhere soon. The creature designs of the current generation are also a marked improvement from what we’ve seen in recent installments.  My personal favourites are the Rockruff and Stufful evolutionary lines . This is a good sign letting us know that the game creators are listening to the fans.

7 generations and 20 years strong  The sky is the limit for the franchise and it looks as though that is where it is indeed heading.  There have been rumours that we will see a third version of this generation titled “Pokemon Stars” as a launch title for the upcoming Nintendo Switch. (to be honest I think the title “Eclipse” would have made much more sense)  with all of the cosmic/interdimensional themes, that have been popping up in the franchise lately this makes sense.

Final Thoughts

I Really love the Lovecraftian designs of the Ultra Beasts

Game Freak really missed out on an opportunity and should have revealed Missingno as an Ultrabeast. It would have connected Gen VII organically to the events of Gen 1 in a way that fits with the current mythos magnificently.