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Posted on Feb 2nd 2017 at 12:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Pokemon, 3DS, Pokemon Sun, Pokemon Moon, RPG, Catch em All, Family Gaming

I'm not a huge Pokemon fanatic. I have dabbled in the series on and off since Blue and Red though. I've beaten and enjoyed Pokemon Blue, Diamond, Y, Snap, Trozei, and Stadium. I've played several others like Gale of Darkness, Mystery Dungeon and the more recent Pokemon Go, and found myself satisfied with the experiences. Heck I've even occasionally enjoy a few games of the Pokemon TCG.

My son is now 8 years old and is in prime Pokemon territory. After hearing some good things, I decided to get us a joint Christmas present of the Pokemon Sun/Moon double pack (which has both versions of the game). It took a few weeks after Christmas to get some attention from either of us as we were pre-occupied with Lego, comic books, and life for a while. However, we finally decided to jump in and I've had a very interesting experience playing through this game alongside my son.

My son decided right away that Moon looked cooler and so that meant that I would get to play through Sun. That was totally fine with me. While I was busy attending to my infant daughter, he started up the game one night and asked if I wanted to join him. The answer was "yes, but I'm gonna need about an hour before I'm ready. You go ahead and start and I'll try and catch up." It was great that he had a headstart as he took an uncomfortably long time choosing his initial starter Pokemon out of the 3 offerings. He wanted to make absolutely sure that he picked the best one. After asking many silly questions and staring at his 3DS, he decided to go with Popplio (the water type). I quickly chose Rowlet (Grass Type) and caught up in no time.

I was expecting the usual Pokemon formula of getting 8 gym badges, defeating whatever ridiculous "team" inhabited this area, challenging the Pokemon League's finest, and finally trying to catch them all. They made some minor changes to this formula, but it is essentially still the same. This time around there are four islands that make up the area. Instead of gym badges, trainers go on their "Island Challenge" and try to defeat specific trainers throughout these islands and are rewarded with Z-Stones which signify that you passed their test and are used as an item that unlocks powerful new moves for your Pokemon that share a type with that stone. To those unfamiliar, there are now 16 different types of Pokemon. That means 16 Z-Stones/challenges. A few of the stones you can simply find, but not until very late in the game, and the rest you have to win battles for. Due to the shear number of stones, I found this task pretty tedious very early.

The "team" in Sun/Moon is Team Skull. Even though I havn't played about half of the games in the main series, I'm very confident in saying that Team Skull is without a doubt the least interesting and most annoying team in all of Pokemon history. It seems to consist entirely of street gang members who act like stereo-typical 90's rappers. My son picked up on my disdain for them and often quotes or acts like them if he wants to get a rise out of me; he then laughs when he sees how uncomfortable it makes me... Beyond just being annoying, they really don't seem relevant to the story and could have easily been replaced by something far more interesting. You eventually uncover a behind-the-scenes corporation that uses them as pawns, but it doesn't make it any better.


The Pokemon League doesn't initially exist on these islands, but eventually one is established and it's pretty straightforward compared to past Pokemon games. Nothing new here.

And finally, "catching them all" has become quite the chore. Firstly the fishing, oh god, the fishing... In past Pokemon titles, you start with a crappy Old Rod that can only catch Magickarp and Goldeens and eventually you upgrade to a Good and Great Rod which open up the Pokemon available to you. You could also fish anywhere there was a body of water. This time around, you're limited to a single rod for the whole game, and you have to find specific fishing spots to use it......and 90% of the time you're just going to see Magickarps. For a game that takes place in a tropical island setting, they really screwed up the fishing bad. It is just terrible and feels like a step back in every way. Without leaving and area repeatedly until you get a "rippling water" effect over a specific fishing spot you want to fish at, you have a 1% chance (not an exaggeration) of catching the "rare" Pokemon for that spot. The rippling water raises that percentage to 5%-10%, but you either have to save and keep reloading or leave the area until the water respawns to keep that percentage.....stupid.

SOS battles are needed to catch many of the Pokemon in this game. That means using items or attacking a wild Pokemon until they get desperate enough to call for help from another nearby Pokemon, usually not the one you want it to call. Some of the Pokemon in the game can only be caught using this method and the in game Pokedex and NPCs don't tell you this. Some even require specific weather states to be in effect during the SOS in order for that Pokemon to even have a chance of appearing. In most cases, how to achieve these SOS Pokémon is never stated in the game.

Evolving Pokemon has also become a nightmare when going for a full Pokedex. Building friendship is one of the most boring parts of the game that involves you feeding, grooming, rubbing their tummy, and spending time with your Pokemon. Some Pokemon need to be holding specific items when levelling up or they must be traded to evolve. Some only evolve in specific places in the game while they are leveling up. Some can only be hatched through a convoluted breeding process. Only certain genders of some Pokemon evolve. Some only evolve by being given stones or being traded (this goes back to the first games in the series). I even have one Pokemon who I can't figure out how to evolve at all!! In the older games, you can learn about the unique methods of evolving certain Pokemon by talking to NPCs and reading books you find in houses. In Sun/Moon I guess they assume players should know this stuff, since they tell you very little. You are basically left to just figure it out. This is a terrible design and has been extremely frustrating several times over.

So after reading words like: frustrating, nightmare, tedious, annoying you must think I hate these games. I'm actually having a blast!!! Now don't get me wrong, if I was playing this by myself like I have most of the other games in the series, I think I'd have trashed it long ago. But this is my son's first time playing through a game in the main series. He doesn't have all of these pre-conceived notions of what Pokemon should be. This is Pokemon to him. When he gets stuck on a battle, I can trade him a few characters to help him through that battle. When he catches a Pokemon for his Pokedex before I do, he gets a chance to gloat before he trades it to me for something he hasn't caught yet. When he spends the time building his friendship and evolving a Pokemon that I haven't had the patience to do, I get to congratulate him.

Last weekend he was sick and stayed home with me and we both play a TON of Pokemon in our pajamas and finished the main story of the game. He was so thrilled to have beaten it and was just beaming for the rest of the day. A few days later when he was comparing his game to his cousins, he was able to join in discussions that he was previously left out of because he hadn't gotten very far.

Even though the main game is done, we are helping each other catch all the Pokemon available in the game (somewhere around 300). Each day we try to get 1 or 2 more and then trade them to each other. He is having so much fun that it's rubbing off on me and I'm enjoying spending time with him and the game because that means we have one more thing to talk about on the ride to school each day. While I wouldn't recommend anyone rush out to purchase a copy, I'm happy to share this "mess" with my son each day.

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I felt the same way about the fishing, so I just ended up trading on GTS to get the fish I needed.  I am glad that the Pokebank now works with the game. so i just moved over all the pokemon I had in the bank to the game, to get the pokedex happy.
Nice review!  I had a similar experience with my son in terms of Pokémon GO.  I've never been a Pokémon fan, but my son and I really got into it together when it came out.  Of course, the excitement wore off for both of us after several months and we no longer play. However, I don't regret the experience and the fun we had together.
Good review and I agree with some of the points made in the article like how silly and useless team Skull is and how it had zero effect to the main story in the game.

Now i do have to disagree with a bunch of your complaints about the game. First the fishing. I personally couldn't be happier that they got rid of the stupid three different types of rods to fish and gave me one that im able to fish anything at anytime. I also enjoyed having the specific fishing spots cause i knew it was right then and there that I had to fish to be able to catch whatever Pokemon I was looking for. And yes, the 1, 5 and 10% chance to catch the Pokemon you wanted were really annoying but honestly, not that hard to do with a little patience.

While I agree that evolving Pokemon by making them friendlier towards you is a pain in the ass, I believe you honestly "played it wrong" by "feeding, grooming, rubbing their tummy, and spending time" as you stated. The fact is you didn't need to do any of that to evolve them. All you needed to do was keep that Pokemon in your party and battle with and not have it faint to raise it's happiness up and it would evolve eventually.

I never bothered to "catch them all" but while playing Pokemon Sun I actually enjoyed the process and even dabbled into the whole Pokemon breeding which literally is just catch two pokemon of the same species (male and female) or  one Pokemon and a Ditto and bring it to the nursery. Walk some 200 steps and go back to get your egg. Again, annoying but not that hard.

The holding of certain items by Pokemon or being traded, or having to be at a specific location to be able to evolve are another nuisance but like you mentioned before, have been present in older iterations of the game. Also, there is literally ONE pokemon (Salandit) that requires it to be female to be able to evolve. Don't even get me started on SOS battles, they really are a pain! I hated them.

All in all, you didn't mention one of the more interesting points (to me at least) about Pokemon Sun/Moon; How dark it got at the end of the game. I never expected a Pokemon game to have a Mother being that cruel and mean to her own children and others, where in other Pokemon games everyone is always super happy and nice to each other. Would have been interesting to know how you and your son reacted to that part of the story. Did he even realize what was going on, or just played through?

How about the fact that there is so much hand holding and talking in this game? You can't go five feet without some NPC informing you about a bunch of stuff you have no interest in. I just wanted to play the game, not read a book! Haha

Anyways, I'm not hating on you or the article at all, just had a different point of view and thought I'd share it here. Thanks

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