Everyone’s talking about Final Fantasy XV right now, and as much as I might get to that at a later date, I’m still taking my time with Pokemon Sun. I’ve noticed a few interesting tid bits during my first 16 or so hours into the game, some that are both a positive and a negative step towards the future of the series.
The Pokeball Shortcut
Previous games have begun to include a shortcut option during Pokemon battles, reducing the time it takes to throw a Pokeball or use a potion. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire had a ‘use previously used item’ option, but Sun and Moon takes it a step further by pairing Pokeballs directly to a particular button on the console, allowing you to choose between them all a lot faster than going through the old menu. It’s a nice touch, though I wish there were a way to decide ‘what’ is paired to that button, either Pokeballs or potions, etc.
Years ago, the PC was a mysterious system that allowed players to save captured Pokemon to a computer automatically, though it took a few steps to unlock the system way back in Pokemon Red/Blue. Later games allowed you to search and sort through Pokemon, but it was still a little clunky and littered with an unnecessary menu system. Flash forward to Sun and Moon where, as soon as you load up the very first PC you see, you’ll be taken directly to a menu that allows you to move and sort through one, easy to use menu. No mess, no fuss.
There’s also a few added options when you capture Pokemon and have a full party, which are worthy additions, but you still need to have an open slot in your party to receive eggs or special event Pokemon. It would have been nice to allow players the opportunity to upload through to the PC in the same way as capturing Pokemon when in such situations, again saving the hassle of finding an upload point beforehand.
No Gyms … Yet
It’s refreshing to play a Pokemon game that doesn’t completely follow the same pattern as everything that came before it. True, you’re still going from one location to the next and fighting particular Pokemon or Trainers, but instead of fighting in gyms you’re taking on challenges instead. They aren’t entirely difficult, at least the first few haven’t been, but it nicely breaks things up a little and in terms of the story, it makes perfect sense. This isn’t so much a trainer wanting to be the best, but a trainer following in the traditions of the island.
Thank God, No HM’s
The biggest change is, of course, the removal of the HM system. In its place, you’re given a device that summons Pokemon to ram through rocks, swim across oceans and dig for clues, meaning you can train your Pokemon the way you want without using up valuable moves for HM’s. It’s a great idea, though it still needs a tiny bit of work, considering the Pokemon you’re riding don’t become involved in Pokemon battles if you come across random ones in the wild. It would be nice, for example, if you’re still riding Lapras during a battle and can use a single move along with your chosen Pokemon. That would have been a nice touch.
Everything Is Handed To You … Everything
The biggest gripe I have, if I can all it that, is how easy Pokemon Sun and Moon have been so far. This is especially the case in the early going when just about everything you used to work for, whether they be Pokeballs or potions, and so on. It’s tradition for Pokemon games to guide you along the story path and provide bonuses along the way, but whatever happened to saving up money for a bike, or searching the wilderness for hidden items that, these days, are far more obviously out in the open. It’s not a broken system, but it’s certainly a lot kinder to players than it used to be.
It’s A Slow Burner
You can tell a lot of effort has gone into not only the remodelled Pokemon, but the lore and storytelling surrounding the strange islands you find yourself on. But it takes a fairly long time to get into it the meat of the game, once you eventually get your first Pokemon and pass the first challenge. For many younger children, this won’t be too much of a problem, but let’s face it. There’s a lot of Pokemon fans who have grown up with the series and now, heading into their 20’s or 30’s, know all the possible mechanics you can think of. An option to skip all the small talk and keep the tutorials as just that would be a welcome option to the older generations out there.
Is It Switch Ready?
Rumour has it there will be a third game in this new series specifically for the Switch next year. Right now I’m calling it ‘Eclipse’, but it’ll probably be nicknamed Stars or something like that. We may know by the time the Nintendo Switch presentation in January appears, but it does make sense. There’s some visual clues, some character models seem rather blurred because of the 3DS’ limitations but would surely look smooth as silk on the bigger console. Time will tell.