Game: Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Rating: E for Everyone Cost: $39.99
Pokémon held significant sway over my childhood. I recall seeing the anime for the first time, before rushing to school and touting its brilliance to anyone who would listen. I begged for the game for my ninth birthday, and can still feel the excitement of placing it in my Gameboy. Many other 90s children had similar experiences, that’s why—all these years later— Pokémon still clings to the child in all of us. Now, the family friendly, critter-capturing craze is back with the release of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, much to the delight of adults and children alike.
Just like the Anime
Pokémon has many, many enjoyable aspects, from the addictive need to “Catch ‘em all” to the sense of adventure when exploring the fantastical world. Despite all its strong points, narrative has never been among them. Don’t get me wrong, the games’ stories were never particularly weak or strong, they never needed to be. However, with an upcoming cartoon set in Sun and Moon’s region—Alola—the story has been overhauled this time around. Character models look like they jumped right out of the show, with a cel-shaded appearance. The camera now swoops in close and zooms overhead during cut-scenes, creating a cinematic aspect never before seen in a Pokémon game. The storyline grips you from the outset. You play as a new resident in Alola, a Hawaii-esque territory with a framework unlike previous entries in the series. Instead of collecting gym badges in order to show your Pokémon mastery, you must complete a sequence of trials. There is much more to the story than the aforementioned information, but in order to keep things spoiler free, I will let you discover what those things are.
I Choose You
While the graphics and features have evolved since the million-dollar franchise first graced our screens in 1996, the gameplay has remained relatively the same. If you have ever played a Pokémon game you will know what to expect here. Many of the creatures learn moves and evolve at the same levels as they always have. For those just returning from a Mars expedition or emerging from under a rock, these games task you with catching and training animals that exhibit various special abilities. Some may use fire while others may use water attacks. I believe these games can teach young children the value and humanity of caring for other living beings, while also coaching them on problem solving skills. Some new features include Pokémon refresh, a mode in which you clean up your virtual pets with an array of beauty supplies, like brushes and tweezers, allowing you to cure your creature of any ill status effects and improve on your relationship. The ability to easily understand the effectiveness of an attack without having to Google it or search through a strategy guide has also been added. Clothing such as hats, pants, and shirts can even be customized, pleasing all you fashionistas out there.
Virtual Pets Come to Life
Pokémon fans have gotten used to limited graphics since the vast majority of these games appear on handheld consoles. When I think of Pokémon, I evoke memories of barely-detailed figures from a bird’s eye view. This never felt inept; it was just what I was used to. Now one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences has come to life with beautifully rendered graphics thanks to the power of the 3DS. The environments are overflowing with gorgeous elements, from crashing waves, bustling city landscapes, dark caves, and small towns—there is always something to see. The time of day also makes a difference. Sun and Moon syncs with your DS’ internal clock, so if you are playing at dusk it will be twilight in the game world too, making things appear slightly different with the chance of catching Pokémon that only emerge at night. (Note: Moon users will have the clock offset by 12 hours, meaning you will have to reset your DS’ clock if you would like the game to represent the real world time.) Seeing the Pokémon themselves is perhaps the most impressive aspect of all. In the past one had to imagine the intricate particulars of one’s most beloved handheld creature, now they are realized in stunning detail— their movement: gracious. Their sounds: lively and cheerful. This is truly childhood remastered.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are the perfect games for children, adults, newcomers, and returning veterans. It is a staple in Nintendo’s hit lineup and continues to prove its worth as a timeless classic.