Pokémon Sun and Moon shakes up the Pokémon formula


Photo Courtesy of The Pokémon Company

Pokémon Sun and Moon have a different plot and pace than the other games in the franchise, but they are welcome changes for the series.

There, in front of the screen, millions of kids every will face face the hardest decision of their gaming lives. This choice will change the sway of their game, and will be the topic of choice on the playground. Popplio, Litten, or Rowlet?  Water, fire, or grass?

The Pokémon franchise turned 20 years old in 2016, and its developer, Game Freak, decided to celebrate by releasing Pokémon Sun and Moon, the 7th generation in a long line of  Pokémon titles. While the 6th generation games were a disappointment to many gamers, Pokémon returns with a new layout of the classic game, reinvigorating the series. 

Sun and Moon’s world is terrorized by Team Skull, a ragtag group of young thugs who attempt to rap their way into unorganized evil.

— Olivia Rossman

The first thing many gamers noticed when they opened their copy of Pokémon Sun and Moon was the graphics. While the last generation was the first to switch to 3D rendering, Sun and Moon are the first that use an accurate 3D-scale to represent the universe. In earlier games, tiny Pokémon could be as tall as trees and humans as tall as skyscrapers, but this game uses modeling that more accurately represents how the universe is supposed to look. Not only that, but instead of the chibi-ish style that the games are used to taking, Sun and Moon does away with the eight-directional running and replaces the graphics of the characters and Pokémon alike to give them a more mature, realistic feel. 

One of the biggest changes that Sun and Moon made was the end of the standard eight gym storyline that has been used in all previous games. Instead of traveling to different cities to find type-specific gyms to defeat and earn badges from, players find themselves immersed in a trial-system that encourages creativity and problem-solving along with a standard Pokémon battle. This change gives the games a fresh coat of paint, even if the fighting style and overall aesthetic stay the same. While the older players won’t be alienated by the changes, the newer players will be able to quickly become immersed in the Pokémon universe.

Another change the franchise saw was a new storyline. Instead of the cut-and-dry story of an evil team trying to take over the world, Sun and Moon’s world is terrorized by Team Skull, a ragtag group of young thugs who attempt to rap their way into unorganized evil.  Despite their lack of clear motive, the new take on the classic villain was a fantastic creative choice by the game directors. 

Overall, Sun and Moon may be the best Pokémon games in a decade.  They are fresh spin on the series with updated graphics and appeal to classic players that make it the perfect game to rejoin the series or start anew.