I’ve now had “Pokemon Sun” for over a week and only recently made it to the third of four islands that make up the game’s region of Alola. While others have beaten the main game at this point, I’ve chosen to play at a casual pace while also making sure to continue collecting Pokemon for my living Pokedex. Today, I want to talk about a few things I like and dislike about the game. Of course, I won’t be discussing specific plot beats, trainer battles, or generally things not shown in the trailers as I know there are people who won’t have either it or “Pokemon Moon” until at least Christmas or later.
One thing I enjoy is the tone and atmosphere presented here. The tropical, friendly setting is pleasing to the eyes and I’m glad Game Freak took inspiration from Hawaii for both it and some of the newer Pokemon as well. The story is also presented in this cinematic way that, oddly enough, has me invested in it. Maybe it’s the tone of it, or the characters involved, but I haven’t actually cared about a Pokemon game’s story like this since at least “Pokemon White.” There’s even a sense of progression in your journey thanks to the cinematic feel that I didn’t notice as much in the previous games.
I’ve enjoyed many of the little tweaks made to old standbys as well, such as breeding Pokemon being a bit less of a pain and gaining experience from battling being not quite as simple as I felt it was in “Pokemon X.” This game actually feels like a challenge from time to time, and I can only imagine how tough it might be if you preferred to keep the Exp. Share off completely. I like how the AI in battles actually seems strategic this time around, and it makes it all the more important to plan out your team and what moves they should have to help you progress. I also love how they streamlined the PC in this game, and the new Rotom Dex is quirky but cute. I even prefer this gen’s “Pokemon Refresh” to last gen’s “Pokemon Amie.” Not only does it let me continue to take care of my Pokemon, but it’s extremely useful post-battle. It’s helped me out more than once and I find myself going back to it way more than I ever did with “Amie.”
I have been a little iffy on the inclusion of this generation’s new “Z-Moves”, however. I do like using them myself occasionally, even if you are limited to one per battle. But I also think they’re a bit overpowered and give the player a crazy advantage. For example, I was able to destroy a Pokemon that had used the move Protect just by using a Z-Move. That’s pretty insane and has only made me decide to use them lightly as a challenge to myself. There’s another side to Z-Moves that I won’t mention here due to spoilers, but I think it can also be a bit unfair as well.
The one thing I can say I almost completely dislike is the Festival Plaza. This area is where you go to have battles with people, either locally or online, and also make local/GTS/Wonder trades as well. I’m not a fan of the lack of customization on messages this time around (mostly because I follow GTS giveaways sometimes), but they did fix some problems with finding the Pokemon you want. Of course, people will still try to trade weaker Pokemon for legendaries, but that can’t be helped. I haven’t bothered to try battling online yet, but there IS a handy option to keep people from requesting that of you (which happened to me often in X and Alpha Sapphire). As for the rest of the Plaza, I’m just not a fan of it. The interactivity feels a bit lackluster without the PSS screen and the game tends to lag a bit whenever lots of people are in your Plaza.
All in all, though, I think “Pokemon Sun” might just be my favorite game of the 3DS ones so far. While I have a soft spot for “Pokemon X” getting me back into these games in a big way, and I learned to appreciate Gen 3’s Hoenn far more in “Alpha Sapphire”, I feel that “Pokemon Sun” improves on most of the stuff I had problems with in either game. If there’s one feature I wish they’d brought back, and maybe hopefully will some day, it would be the Dex Nav. Despite its absence and my dislike for Festival Plaza, I can only see this game continuing a trend of improvements for future Pokemon titles. Now I just have to try to wait patiently for the new PokeBank to be unleashed in January.