I'm not going to lie. As big a Pokémon fan as I've been for most of my life since Red and Blue debuted in the United States, I was not very hyped for Sun and Moon. The series really lost my rabid attention with X and Y when they introduced Mega Evolutions. When I read about the Z-moves in Sun and Moon, I was NOT excited. When I read about the Alola form Pokémon, I was not excited. But I've been a dedicated fan for years and years, so I gave it a shot. I am not disappointed.
One of the first things to note about Pokémon Sun and Moon is that while the core gameplay remains true to form, the set-up of the game is very different than in previous iterations. The first six generations of Pokémon games all followed an identical format - battle eight gyms to get badges, battle Pokémon League, get bitches. In Sun and Moon, there's a similar format, but it's not identical. Gone are the eight gyms. Now you have to travel across the four islands of Alola and complete the island trials, each island culminating in the island's grand trial against the island kahuna. Each of these battles (along with a few non-trial events throughout the game) grant you a Z-crystal for a certain type, allowing you to perform Z-moves of that type when given to a Pokémon to hold. After you finish all of the island trials, THEN you fight the newly created Alola Pokémon League and get bitches.
Of course, though, the reason people play the new Pokémon is always for the new Pokémon, and I'm extremely satisfied in that regard with this game. I've not seen all of them, and I've only caught one of the legendaries as of right now, but from my playthrough of the storyline, there are actually some pretty cool Pokémon. They've done a lot to improve the deficit of Normal type match-ups (by which I mean Pokémon that are Normal type and some other type). Whereas before it was almost impossible to find a Normal type Pokémon that wasn't either pure Normal or Normal and Flying, there are a fair handful now that are Normal and some other type, and that's a welcome addition in my book. The Alola form Pokémon also ended up being a lot cooler than I had expected, and they really grew on me. To my knowledge, it's only Gen I Pokémon that have an Alola form, but it's stuff like Sandslash being Ice and Steel instead of Ground, Meowth being Normal and Dark instead of Normal, Vuplix being Ice instead of Fire, Raichu being Electric and Fairy instead of Electric, Geodude being Rock and Electric instead of Rock and Ground, etc. I thought it was going to make the game exceptionally obnoxious, and while I can't say there's no merit to the argument that it's a lazy cop-out for adding actual new Pokémon, it gives old favorites a breathe of new life, and it really grew on me. My Alola Sandslash and Alola Golem stayed on my team all the way up through the Elite Four. It's also worth noting, I think, that there's a Pokémon that looks JUST like Donald Trump.
So....let's talk about Z-moves. I still hate them. I still think they're shit. I do, however, hate them less than Mega Evolutions, and at least in the main game (I haven't done any of the post-game stuff), they don't really show up in Sun and Moon. Z-moves are basically to moves what Mega Evolutions are to evolutions - extremely powerful moves that you can use once per battle. Like with the items that allow a Pokémon to Mega Evolve, there are specific items that a Pokémon must be holding in order to use a Z-move of that type. Because it's a one-and-done move, and a trainer can only use one Z-move per battle (not one Z-move per Pokémon per battle), it doesn't feel nearly as game-breaking as Mega Evolutions (those could get OP fast), but I still think it's an overall detriment to the game. What's not a detriment to the game, however, is riding Pokémon. You know how you can surf on most Water type Pokémon in all of the older games? Well, they took that and turned it up to 11. There are now specific Pokémon that you can ride (you don't have to have caught these Pokémon; they get registered to your magic pager or whatever and appear from the aether when called). You've got the standard Lapras for riding across the water for example, but you can call Charizard in place of Fly, Machamp in place of Strength, Tauros in place of Rock Break, etc. Yay, no more need for HM slaves!
I'm going to end this by mentioning my two favorite additions for Sun and Moon, and one of them is going to seem rather silly to most - skin tone. Sun and Moon allows you to choose the skin tone of your character. For most players, that's a bit of a moot point since the average gamer in America (along with the average person) is white, so the default model fairly closes matches the most prevalent skin tone. That isn't the only skin tone, though, and it's nice to see Game Freak acknowledge that and provide variations to let players of other races more closely identify with their character model. It's not that I thought "OMFG THEY'RE SO RACIST" for now allowing that variation before, but it's certainly a welcome and appropriate addition in my opinion. My absolute favorite addition is Poke Pelago. That's an island where you can have your Pokémon do various thing in real time while you're battling, sleeping, or even playing other 3DS games because it's based on your system's system clock, not game time. You can have them search for items in a cave (best way to get evolution stones), grow berries, or - and this is my favorite - work out on exercise equipment. With the exercise equipment part of that, you can choose what "drink" they use, and that determines the effects, from gaining exp to gain EVs. I've always like the competitive battling in Pokémon, but EV training was always a pain in the ass. Now I can have my Pokémon train themselves and just swap them out every two days. It's great!
There are numerous other features and additions that I didn't mention, but that's a pretty basic overview of what stuck out to me as most noteworthy from this new generation. In my opinion, despite my gripes with and loathing for Mega Evolutions and Z-moves, this is still the best Pokémon game to date. It's a great entry point to the series for new players, and it changes the formula just enough to keep veteran players interested while not changing it so much that stops feeling like Pokémon. If you've ever been into Pokémon in the past, I think that you'll thoroughly enjoy this game. Except the new Pokedex. God damn, that thing is annoying as shit.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.