Pokemon Moon Early Impressions

November 21, 2016

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon and the changes they promise to bring to the overall formula of the series. Gyms are gone, replaced with Island Challenges and Kahunas, older Pokemon have been redesigned and HMs are complete gone. While I certainly haven’t finished the game yet, the 9 hours I’ve put into Pokemon Moon over the last two days have given me a good glimpse into the new formula for Pokemon Sun and Moon and validate my early excitement.

The changes from past Pokemon games are apparent from the beginning, as a small cutscene plays out, setting the scene for the beginning of the story and your journey. Gone are your rivals of old, instead replaced with friends who seek to grow as trainers alongside you as you progress through the Island Challenges. The focus seems squarely on friendship and happiness, as opposed to the old focus on conflict and being the best. These might seem like small differences, but they feel fresh and interesting after two decades of the same Pokemon formula.


Another apparent change is the massive variety of Pokemon I’ve already been able to find and catch in the opening areas. In the past, each area only held a small number of Pokemon, not leveraging the large number of Pokemon introduced in the series. Despite having not left the first island, which seems to be half the size of the remaining three, I already have 35 different Pokemon registered in my Pokedex. Better yet, once released into Route 1 I was able to complete fill my team with 6 different Pokemon within 20 minutes. It means I’ve already had to make some hard decisions about which Pokemon to have in my team, but it’s a nice problem to have.

Area design in Alola is somewhat different than in past Pokemon games, with cities and towns now including areas within them where tall grass grows and Pokemon can be caught. It gives cities a purpose beyond the story drivers and store holders that they were in the past. Different patches of tall grass can even have different Pokemon than a patch of grass only a short walk away, which promotes checking every nook and cranny for different Pokemon. Everything looks nicer as well, with more detail and geometry in the world. Pokemon models are cleaner and nicer than in the past, however the low resolution of everything does mean that aliasing is always obvious. The frame rate issues seen in Pokemon X and Y seem to be gone, with no real noticeable drops during gameplay. Z-Moves and the Poke-Finder have been introduced, but haven’t featured prominently yet, so it’s hard to comment on those, but early signs point to Z-Moves having the potential to quickly change the tide of a battle.


The biggest positive of my relatively short time with Pokemon Moon so far has been the music, which is nothing short of incredible. Featuring a level of complexity and range of instruments not seen in previous Pokemon games, the score is upbeat and a pleasure to listen to. Battle music has gone from being a gradual annoyance to being one of the highlights of the game and the field music is varied and interesting. If the score keeps to this high standard throughout the game, then this will be one of, if not the best, game scores of the year.

Overall, my early impressions of Pokemon Moon have been incredibly positive. There are more Pokemon available earlier than in the past, the world of Alola looks incredible, the music is wonderful and the focus on friendship instead of superiority is nice to see. While I’ll need to wait until the end of the game before making my final judgement, so far Pokemon Moon is my favourite Pokemon game since Pokemon Gold and Silver.