Pokémon Sun/Moon, a Break Away from Tradition

So having recently beaten the main story of Pokémon’s Moon version, I figured I’d write a bit about its significant differences from the usual “formula” in Pokémon games, and whether they help or hurt the player experience. Obviously if you haven’t played it yet, this post will contain semi-spoilers.

One of the most notable changes made in this game is the absence of gyms, gym leaders, and badges. In their place, each island has a number of captains, each having their respective trials with a special, buffed “totem” pokémon. Once you defeat all of the captains on an island, you can challenge the island’s “kahuna” and then move to the next island upon triumphing. A more detailed explanation can be found here. Overall I actually really like this paradigm shift. While it feels awkward at first, after some progression, the player can easily adjust to the flow of the game.

Another large difference is the absence of “HMs”, abilities that you teach your pokémon that has utility outside of battle (i.e. fly to cities quickly, surf over water). Instead, they have “Ride Pokémon” that you unlock as you progress. The primary benefit of this is it frees up your pokémons’ move slots to not need HMs, therefore eliminating the need to have a pokémon that’s only in your party because it can know 4 HMs. While this sounds lovely, it’s never explained whose Tauros you’re riding or why it’s letting you ride it to begin with. It also somewhat removes some of the bond a player might feel toward their pokémon. Flying on a wild, or even someone else’s Charizard doesn’t feel the same as flying around with one you raised. As a side tangent, I feel the need to praise Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire’s feature to fly freely on Latios/Latias. While it wasn’t as fast or efficient as using the Fly HM, it was one of the most memorable features I’ve ever experienced playing any Pokémon game. It also really gave you a better sense of the world you were playing in, instead of just looking at a flat, 2D map.

While not as dramatic as the previous two differences, one final feature I wanted to put a spotlight on is the introduction of “Alolan forms” for pokémon. Months before the game was even released, people were very excited at the sight of even one new Alolan pokémon. Alolan forms also allowed for the creation of “new” pokémon without having to resort to using things found on one’s desk like a keyring or cables tied together with zipties for inspiration.

All-in-all, I’d say that the Sun/Moon versions are excellent. The only real grievances I can think of are caused by the designers experimenting with new ideas, and even then, those new ideas have their own positives. There’s more to be said about the games’ changes, but I’m going to keep this post focused on these 3 points for the sake of brevity. I’ll likely make another post about the game in the future once I’ve seen more of the end-game content.

As a more opinionated note: Rowlet is absoultely the best starter.

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