By Zac Gardiner
Pokémon has evolved a lot since its original titles launched in 1998 for the Gameboy, a time lost relic of a bygone age. Since then Pokémon has become a cultural phenomenon and its core game series, have somewhat become their own sub-genre of video game. The art style and gameplay is so instantly recognizable that it’s gone on to inspire TV shows, movies, and other video games of a similar nature including the later installments in the Final Fantasy Series.
The latest additions to the infamous series, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, introduce some big changes for a Pokémon title which has often been criticized for releasing the same game over and over to anything that has come before. The art style itself is a complete change from earlier games which had previously made use of a “chibi style”, which is Japanese slang for a short person, but also for a certain well established “cutesy” art style, in which everything is drawn small and simplistically.
The Pokémon designs started out originally very simplistic in style and content, mainly due to the hardware available but have now begun experimenting with more detailed, and often more humanoid designs. With Pokémon Sun and Moon being released on the 3DS, there’s a lot for Nintendo to play with when it comes to adding to its huge roster of Pokémon, which with Sun and Moon, has now reached over 800.
The gameplay itself is typical of the series, however Nintendo have added enough other features to keep the creativity of the games flowing and continue to generate huge fan interest. In Sun and Moon’s case, this comes in the form of ‘Z moves’ for certain Pokémon, special attacks specific to each Pokémon and an updated Pokémon Bank and Global Trade Network, to help make catching them all still feel fresh nearly 20 years into the franchise.
The settings of the Pokémon games are incredibly varied, there’s been Japanese-esque settings, North America based, French and with Sun and Moon, a Hawaiian-based game. Each is filled with its own lore and a unique style and evil team, or teams, set on generally ruining everyone’s day. Pokémon Sun and Moon both feature the same evil protagonist, Team Skull, who “steal other people’s Pokémon, mess up trial sites, and delight in all kinds of evil deeds.” They’re nothing ground breaking, but they serve their purpose in the games typically Pokémon narrative.
The game does play with that narrative a little more than past titles though. Although it’s the same old “move from point A to point B, fighting all the way and growing stronger with each battle”, Nintendo have tried to add some real story content. There’s a far more action-packed opening to this installment, and even an appearance from a certain “legendary Pokémon” in the first hour of gameplay. For a Pokémon title this is practically Shakespearean. Rather than the usual eight gyms featured in a Pokémon title, Sun and Moon instead feature different trials all around the new region, Alola, which mark key points of progression through your journey to become ‘Pokémon Master’.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are yet another strong addition to the Pokémon series. Although the game has only been out a few days, what I’ve experience so far has been incredibly fun. New Pokémon have great designs, with the game mixing a combination of classic Pokémon, with new additions flawlessly. Sun and Moon prove that there is still life in the Pokémon franchise even after it’s near two decades of existence, we’re not sure if it will survive for another two, but for now, it’s worth picking up.