Pokemon Sun/Moon Are The Most Exciting Pokemon Games Since Gold/Silver
Before you read any further, I want to make sure that you’re aware that all the way through this article I’m going to be writing huge spoilers about Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. While this might seem obvious in an article about why I think Pokémon Sun and Moon are the most exciting Pokémon games since Pokémon Gold and Silver came out, I want to be clear about it. I’ll be talking about game structures, new Pokémon and a whole lot more, and in case you’re avoiding specific parts of Pokémon news, I want you to be forewarned.
I have absolutely no recollection of how I came to know about Pokémon Blue when I was a kid; all I remember now is the all-consuming want I had for it. It was coming up to my 8th birthday and I knew that both myself and my Gameboy Pocket needed Pokémon Blue to function. Imagine both my elation and disappointment on Christmas Day (this is also my birthday. No it’s not as bad as people think) when I opened a present to find none other than Pokémon. Red. I don’t remember complaining aloud (I was always appreciative of all gifts I received), but inside I couldn’t believe that Mum had gotten it so wrong. Nevertheless, I dutifully ran to find my Gameboy, plugged Pokémon Red into the cartridge slot and inadvertently began to shape what would become a massive part of my life.
I didn’t realise the significance of what was happening at the time, both in how Pokémon would become an incredibly large part of my life and how it would shape some of my situations in the future. Like how I would use Pokémon as an icebreaker when I first began speaking with my now-wife. No matter the highs and lows of life, Pokémon has always been there, a constant in an ever-changing reality as I slowly grew up.
Such was my love for Pokémon, that a few birthdays later my nan would buy not just Pokémon Gold for me, but also Pokémon Silver. Also, she totally got me Final Fantasy IX as well. Best. Birthday/Christmas. Ever. I was a little bit older now and with Pokémon Gold and Silver, Pokémon had seemingly grown up a little with me. The world was bigger, the Pokémon looked better, my favourite Pokémon was created (Cyndaquil) and you could breed Pokémon now. My tiny mind was blown by just how many things had changed, improved and introduced. I thought about the endless possibilities of the franchise and the games, but would slowly come to realise over many years that this is where the innovation would largely stop. I have never stopped loving Pokémon, but it’s hard to argue the fact that not much has really changed since then. Sure, there have been some changes, like more endgame content and the Mega-evolutions, but the series really did become stagnant. While I never stopped playing and enjoying Pokémon, I became content with not finishing them because I knew I was just going to see the same thing again.
That is, until rumours began swirling about massive sweeping changes and innovations coming with Pokémon Sun and Moon. I didn’t really trust many of the rumours, but they just kept coming again and again from different sources. No gyms? No way. Creating alternate Alola-specific typings for existing Pokémon? You’re dreaming. Boss Pokémon and weird-mysterious Digimon-esque creatures? Nup, not happening. Then the confirmations started happening and my world was turned upside down. After years of stagnation, Pokémon was changing and I felt an excitement I hadn’t in years.
The biggest change is to the general formula of the game, gone are the 8 gym battles and badges before an Elite Four showcase event. Instead, Alola is made of four islands, each with an Island Challenge that has a fearsome Totem Pokémon at the end. These Totem Pokémon are super-powered Pokémon that can summon other Pokémon to provide assistance to them in battle. Additionally, there are also four Island Kahuna’s, the leaders of each island. Selected by Deity Pokémon, the Kahuna’s are there to be your final challenge after clearing an Island Challenge. While neither of these are truly ground breaking ideas in gaming, they mark the first time that Pokémon has moved away from the standard formula that has been used for the past 20 years.
Not only has the game’s challenge design changed, but a number of core systems are changing as well. HMs are completely gone, meaning that you can now carry a full team of six Pokémon instead of reserving a slot for a HM slave. You can also now ride Pokémon during certain points of Pokémon Sun and Moon. Finally, my wish to fly on the back of a Charizard is being granted! There are also brand new moves being introduced called Z-Moves. Similar to the Mega-evolution system introduced in Pokémon X and Y, Z-Moves are something you can only use once per battle. Unlike Mega-evolutions, Z-moves are something any Pokémon can use. Think of them like Goku’s Spirit Bomb in Dragonball Z, you can’t use it often but it’s flashy as hell and packs a massive punch. I’m excited to be able to make my Snorlax wake up, before charging straight at my enemies and turning them into a pancake.
Along with the new moves and systems, Gamefreak are bringing back some of my favourite Pokémon and working to make them new and fresh. Vulpix is here, but is now an Ice-type and Marowak has turned into a fire-spinning lord of destruction. The combination of new typings and similar-yet-different designs evokes both a sense of nostalgia and discovery. Suddenly, Pokémon I had stopped paying attention to are back again in a way that makes them interesting again. On top of Alolan forms of old Pokémon, Gamefreak have brought some of the most interesting Pokémon I have seen in some time. These are led by Mimikyu and Type:NULL. Mimikyu is a ghost-type Pokémon that just wants people to love it, but looking at it causes people to become ill, so it has fashioned a Pikachu costume for itself to try and win their affection. It’s both heartbreaking and incredibly endearing. Type:NULL, on the other hand, is a synthetically created Chimera-styled Pokémon that was brought to being as a weapon to rival the power of the god-like mythical Pokémon. Realising it was too powerful, it was fitted with a helmet that prevents it from utilising its full power. The backstories, as well as their designs, have captured my attention in a way that has been missing for years. Throw all of these in with the mysterious Ultra Beasts and my curiosity is genuinely piqued.
I haven’t seen this much change in a Pokémon game since all those years ago when my 10-year-old self sat down to play Pokémon Gold and Silver for the first time. Pokémon has never left my gaming curriculum, but this is the first time since then that I have felt genuine excitement and curiosity coming up to release. There is no doubt at all in my mind that Pokémon Sun and Moon are absolutely the most exciting Pokémon games since Pokémon Gold and Silver.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon release for Nintendo 3DS on November 18.