Who remembers the days of yore, where we, as children, would search far and wide hunting every nook and cranny for Pokémon, battling other trainers, aiming to become the Pokémon region champion? Well I certainly do!
Every year, a new Pokémon game appears, and to be quite frank not all are good, however when they’re good, boy are they amazing! However, it seems as if our beloved franchise might be about to crumble into nothing but a trademarked name…The reasons behind this are simple; Sun and Moon, to me, are not core Pokémon games, but more like a spin off or even an experiment into what GameFreak’s audience wants; however, in past games it has felt that way, for example Pokémon X & Y delved into the world of a fully 3D environment, to even being able to move diagonally, but alas the story was bland and was incredibly short (I managed to become region champion in just 2 days! Some might of even completed it earlier); this is due to the massively under-levelled Trainers, and even the region champion, Diantha, who only had 4 Pokémon, was pitiful to fight against for the thrilling conclusion to the story.
To me, this was very disappointing, and I’m getting the same feeling from when I played X & Y when I watch the numerous trailers for Sun and Moon; disappointment and embarrassment. Pokémon is now turning more into a guilty pleasure and a game in which you don’t want to admit to playing, let alone complete the story or Pokedex – Speaking of which, I have completed within Alpha Sapphire, but although Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were only ‘remakes’ they managed to create bigger and bolder designs for Mega Evolutions (My favourite being either Mega Swampert or Mega Rayquaza), however even though these are only Mega Evolutions, to me the designs are much sleeker and I guess more mature than they are in Sun and Moon.
Why though? Why are the designs so basic and uninspired? I’m not saying every single one of the 721 Pokémon (Excluding the new ones to be introduced) are perfect and brilliant, I mean look at Luvdisc or even Klefki, a heart fish and a set of keys? Seriously? But if you look at these new designs we notice a pattern, a common theme of a circus troupe, and that’s exactly what this whole game is based around. When you think of the word Aloha what do you associate it with? Sunny skies, tikka torches, bright beautiful tropical islands? Well I guess Sun and Moon does portray bright colours, but in a comical way, in a way that appeals to the much younger generation; this isn’t inherently a bad thing but for us diehard fans or even casual fans, this new art direction, doesn’t really appeal to us. The UI, from what we have seen looks very bold and bright but is also very childish and looks as if it will be distracting, which isn’t a good thing. It’s not all doom and gloom for Pokémon trainers, however, for we have the battle royale (*cue fanfare*)! Sounds awesome right?
Well I guess in some respects yes, instead of 1 v 1 (which is usually traditional in Pokémon games) we now have 4 v 4, a free for all – 1 v 1 v 1 v 1 – This is something new us trainers have been dying for, but when you break it down and find out exactly what happens in a Royale match, it turns out that if pre planned, two/three players can gang up on an unspecting victim and annihilate that poor persons Pokémon. This can lead to some controversial moments in the competitive scene in the near future.
Now on to my main gripe with this game… Z Moves… Who actually thought this was a good idea? Sure, the animation is nice, but all it is in the end of the day is a weaker form of Mega Evolutions, that to be quite honest with you, isn’t needed. It is a one-time use in battle to unleash a powerful move against your opponent, and just like the Mega Evolution, you need your Pokémon to hold a ‘Z-Crystal’ and for your character to be wearing a ‘Z-Ring’ (Seems our characters are getting blinged out with all this jewellery!).
Let’s think back to Generation 4 for a minute – Imagine if they did a remake of Pokémon Platinum, and Cynthia, the Sinnoh Region Champion, sent out her Garchomp; let’s say for example that her Garchomp is level 60-65 and Mega Evolved, and you’ve sent out your level 50-55 Swirlix (Remember that Fairy Types do x2 the amount of damage to Dragon Types natively), and you use a Z-Move. Boom. You win. Garchomp faints in one turn, and Cynthia is defeated. A previously legendarily difficult battle is reduced to a piece of cake.
It’s as if the game wants you to beat it quickly! If you use a Z-move against a Pokémon that you can do x2 the amount of damage to, you win. The opposing Pokémon faints. End off. But let’s be clear; I am not bashing the idea of Z-moves, I just think it might break the game a little or even make it incredibly easy. Balancing these moves will be massively challenging and can destroy the competitive side of Pokémon if left as it is.
On the subject of competitive play, remember in ORAS when they introduce QR Codes so you can unlock people’s Secret Bases? That completely destroyed the game, from levelling up Pokémon extremely fast (From using Blissey bases) to obtaining hacked Pokémon (I should know, I was guilty of doing this as well admittedly!). Pokémon with perfect stats and Pokerus were everywhere, which meant within the competitive scene it was almost impossible to even play legitimately, let alone to tell which Pokémon were legitimate or not. You had to result to dirty tactics, and now with the new information about Bottlecaps (Items that raise your Pokémon’s stats known as EV’s), this single item could potentially be game-breaking, as people could find a way of hacking in dozens upon dozens of Bottlecaps.
The concept of having induvial islands in a region seems refreshing, and in all honesty sounds beautiful to me, but the designs of the new starter Pokémon, Rowlet, Litten and Popplio (Which confirmed to have links in with alchemy due to the symbols on their designs, and even ties to the friendlier team (At least we believe), Team Aether), to even the new mystery Pokémon called Ultra Beasts, including ‘UB01’ and ‘Type Null’, don’t really appeal to me, nor does it excite me – It feels more like a rehash of existing Pokémon, for example, the legendary Solgaleo seems to be a mix of both Entei and Reshiram (Who are also both legendary Pokémon and even stand in a similar position) and even Lunaala to an extent looks like Noivern.
Over the years, GameFreak and Nintendo are still trying to produce new and exciting Pokémon games, especially with the competition over in Japan with Yokai Watch; however it seems that GameFreak are trying too hard to be new and fresh, and instead, they are moving away from what Pokémon was, to a much easier, kid friendly (both graphically and gameplay wise) game, and to me as a lifelong Pokémon fan, it is disappointing to say the least.
Obviously though, this in the end of the day is just my opinion, and nothing else; who’s to say that I’m not wrong and this could infact be the greatest generation of Pokemon to grace our handhelds? Only time will tell with the game’s November release. Feel free to let us know your opinions, thoughts or concerns down in the comments below!