If you’re one of the millions of people who grew up in the thick of the Pokemon phenomenon’s advent, you’re likely to be more excited for the debut of Pokemon Sun and Moon than you are for Call of Duty this year. Couple that childhood nostalgia with the PokemonGo craze that swept over casual gamers this summer, and there are more eyes on Pokemon Sun and Moon than any other Pokemon game in recent memory.
Make no mistake, these games may look like they're for kids, but there's a lot more below its anime-looking surface. Whether you’re amped up for the next installment or looking to make the jump from Go to the classic style Pokemon experience, here’s why Sun and Moon blows PokemonGo out of the water.
There’s An Actual Plot
PokemonGo let players loose in a world with the sole goal to “Catch Them All,” and that may have led to the app’s user exodus after the novelty wore off. Pokemon Sun and Moon captivates because there’s actually a plot that hits on universally loved themes like being new in town or encountering a mysterious woman who seems to be toting a contraband pokemon. There’s both intrigue and excitement, much more than we can say for PokemonGo even on its best day.
A Whole New World
Sun and Moon’s world of Alola, Pokemon’s own version of Hawaii, is a sizable world to explore. That exploration is a signature of the series and doesn’t actually require you to physically move from your couch if you’re not into the whole “video games as exercise” trickery of PokemonGo. Still, Pokemon games have always been a mainstay of Nintendo’s portable consoles and Sun and Moon does offer trading among players if you do choose to get out into the world.
Exploring the islands of Alola will have you encountering wild pokemon and other trainers and those encounters will focus on pitting your pokemon against others in battle. Sun and Moon builds on the traditional pokemon battle system in two ways; it re-implements the Mega Evolution dynamic from Pokemon X and Y and it adds the single-use Z-Moves where pokemon and their trainers combine for an extra powerful attack.
Buffing Your Pokemon
PokemonGo’s evolution system was entirely based on catching multiple iterations of the pokemon you already have and, presumably, grinding them up into some kind of pill that would be fed to their brethren for boosts. Sun and Moon opts against that, using more luck of the draw in picking up more powerful ‘mon and trading away the weaker ones. There’s more strategy in Sun and Moon as a result, leaving less to chance and, more importantly, requiring less frustrating grinding.
Pokemon Sun and Moon introduces a handful of new pokemon to catch and, among them, are new legendaries. Bound to be highly regarded, the two that grace the covers of this generation, Solgaleo and Lunala, are badass new additions but there are sure to be plenty of other, new legendary pokemon tucked away in Sun and Moon.
PokemonGo did its best with the iPhone and Android hardware it debuted on, but real Pokemon games come on dedicated portable gaming hardware like the Nintendo 3DS, and that means graphic optimization. Animated sequences don’t just make battling more fun, they give Sun and Moon a chance to flesh out its story in a more captivating way.
Sun and Moon, like many RPGs, has significant depth in all of its aspects. Training and battling your pokemon, building up your trainer, collecting items to enhance the experience and weaving your way through the plot to go toe to toe with Team Skull (Sun and Moon’s enemy du jour). Expect to dump days into Sun and Moon when all is said and done because catching them all in a game this deep doesn’t happen overnight.
Like almost all the classic Pokemon games, the seventh generation comes split in two parts, each sharing roughly the same plot but boasting different pokemon available within it and, most notably, each with its own distinguishing features. Sun and Moon handles that difference in two ways—first, each respective game uses its namesake to set the environment with Sun taking place... you guessed it... in the daytime and Moon taking place at night. Those settings lead to the second difference which is that each game has a focus on pokemon that thrive either in the day or night. If you want to catch them all, you’ll need both games, but choosing the one that suits you best is definitely a good start.