Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: November 18
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: The Pokemon Company
Pokemon Sun and Moon places players in a new, tropical environment that varies greatly from the settings we’ve see in the past. What it doesn’t really do, however, is change the template of Pokemon’s storyline. Hey, if it ain’t broke…
That said, players will take on the role of a young trainer who has dreams to be the very best that no one ever was. With burning passion, undying determination, and some rather questionable parenting, players are allowed to embark on a journey to explore the vast region and challenge some of the most skilled trainers out there. As always, there is a group of no good goons who step in the player’s way and introduce a challenge even greater than becoming champion—saving the future of mankind and Pokemon alike. Regardless of which version players select, they will find themselves at odds with a group called Team Skull while they also make the chilling discovery of Ultra Beasts that could potentially wipe countless Pokemon and people off the face of the Earth.
Any avid Pokemon gamer will pick up their choice of Sun or Moon (or both) and find the mechanics of the game very familiar. The Pokemon formula is still the same at its very core—Players will explore the region looking for Pokemon to add to their roster, capture them by properly utilizing the best Poke Balls and items for a given situation, train them up to be the very best Pokemon they can be, and then duke it out with the region’s best trainers as well as a mysterious gang of bad guys who are causing trouble throughout the lands.
There are, however, some key changes that both new and returning Pokemon trainers should be aware of. The mega evolution concept players saw in Pokemon X and Y is taken a step further in Sun and Moon through the use of Z moves that can only be used once during a battle. Players must obtain a Z-Ring and the corresponding Z-Stone for their Pokemon of choice in order to activate a powerful attack. The Z-move changes depending on the Pokemon’s type, and some Pokemon even have a unique Z-Move all their own.
Veteran trainers will also be happy to see that it is no longer necessary for them to hold on to a certain Pokemon just because they need a certain HM, such as Cut or Surf, to navigate the region. Pokemon Sun and Moon will give players the ability to call on Pokemon to help them fly, swim, dive or otherwise get where they need to go. This not only frees up space for a more powerful or useful move, but it also means players can focus on the Pokemon the truly want instead of settling for the sake of getting an HM they need. Keeping in line with the theme of adding extra convenience to players, a key feature has been added to the battle interface. If you have battled with the opposing Pokemon before, your move set will actually indicate which moves are more effective against your opponent and which ones are less likely to do any real damage.
Gym battles, which have been replaced by the trials of the island challenge, will also see a bit of a change. Players will have to make their way through trial challenges and battles with Totem Pokemon rather than tediously grinding their way through a maze of mediocre trainers who serve no significant purpose other than to wear you out before you get to the real battle that lies ahead.
Lastly, if you’re debating between the Sun and Moon versions, here’s a roundup of all the spoiler-free differences between the two games.