I haven’t played a Pokemon game since Sapphire, so it’s been a while. I mainly decided to pick up Pokemon Moon since a friend was getting Sun and wanted someone to trade with. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the changes to the game. The Island Challenge feels just different enough from battling gym leaders to make the game feel new, and it felt more like an adventure with a story than other games.

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The game starts off with you moving to Alola. There’s a fair bit of plot at the beginning, but you end up choosing a starter pokemon and going off on your Island Challenge. You travel all over Alola, fighting captains on each island and then fighting the Kahuna. So in essence, it’s like battling gym leaders in that you still end up fighting a leader to get a stamp in your trainer passport. It’s different in that the captains give you quests to do before you fight either them or a totem pokemon. This is the part that makes the game feel different from previous games. The quests all involve pokemon battling of course, but you also do other things, like take pictures or find things for them. It’s only a little change, but it was enough to feel different. One you finish with the captains, you fight the Kahuna, which is like the gym leader.

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The game is quite linear still, in that you have to fight all the captains in a particular order. You can never get lost as after you finish one battle you’ll be pushed into the next plot point. There’s also a marker on the map telling you where to go next. It does feel more like a story of adventure than previous games though, and there’s quite a lot of dialogue and story going on. I quite liked the change. Other changes include using special Ride Pokemon to surf/fly/break through stuff rather than HMs. The game also looks quite good. I haven’t played any of the most recent Pokemon games, so I don’t know what they looked like, but Pokemon Moon looks great. Some of the locations are really nice, and its all bright and colourful.

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As well as the Island Challenge, you also have Poke Pelago, Festival Plaza, and some other quests to do. People you talk to will ask you to catch various pokemon and get them in your pokedex. You’ll get quite a bit more money for this than for winning battles (though money was never an issue… perhaps I didn’t buy enough clothes). Festival Plaza I didn’t use much, but you can go there and do quests to get special coins to use in the shops at the plaza. At Poke Pelago you get access to pokemon beans to feed to your pokemon. You can also develop the pelago islands to allow your poke-slaves to mine for items for you, run a berry plantation, exercise, or use a hot spring. You use the pokemon beans to increase the affection of your pokemon. After a fight, you’ll sometimes get the option to use ‘pokemon refresh’. This involves cleaning your pokemon, or healing its status effects and feeding it, all to increase its affection. As affection goes up, you’ll get bonuses in battle, such as avoiding attacks. I quite liked this feature, as it didn’t take too long, and it made me feel better about abducting pokemon and forcing them to fight.

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In terms of downsides, the game was very easy, and in some cases a bit slow. It took a while to start up on my 3DS, however I think this is an issue with the older versions, and its faster on the newer ones. Moving through the menus took a couple seconds longer than it should have. It wasn’t much, but it was annoying when moving from pokemon to the bag and there was a noticeable delay. Other little things irritated me, such as whenever you get an item it tells you where you put it. This was mainly an issue with berries:

You find a so-and-so berry.

You put the berry in your berry pocket.

There are more berries beneath the tree!

You find a so-and-so berry.

You put the berry in your berry pocket.

There are more berries beneath the tree!

Repeat 3 more times.

It made me not want to pick up berries, particuarly as I didn’t really use them since the game was so easy. I never spent time training or looking for pokemon (mostly because it didn’t feel like there were many new pokemon – not from previous games- in each area), but I still managed to be 5 – 10 levels higher than everyone else. This made most battles pretty ridiculous, and I never actually lost until I got to the Elite Four Champion (won on my second try!). This was a bit disappointing, actually. I’m used to the gym leaders and the Elite Four in particular being a serious challenge, and having to think about my team, maybe train a bit. Not so in this game. I moved through the game much quicker than previous Pokemon games, and never really had a challenge with it.

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All in all, I have mixed feelings about the game. I really enjoyed how it looked, and I liked the Island Challenge and story. I was disappointed in how easy the main game was, and by the number of new pokemon. I didn’t expect to be running into so many rattatas and zubats. At least, many of the older pokemon are ‘regional variants’ and are different in apperance and/or type. I think if it had been a bit harder, I would have enjoyed it much more. How much you enjoy this game will probably depend on how you feel about seeing lots of old pokemon, and how important a challenge is to you. I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it was even just a little bit harder.

 

 

 

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