By Sean Reis
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Another adventure awaits in the “Pokémon” franchise’s latest game “Pokémon Sun and Moon,” and there’s no time to waste if you “want be the very best, like no one ever was.”
In the seventh generation of the series, “Pokémon Sun and Moon” is a four-island journey across the Hawaiian-inspired Alola region. This may be one of the best “Pokémon” games to come out in over a decade, and no, “Pokémon Go” doesn’t count.
The sixth generation, “X and Y,” was a strong attempt to revive the franchise, but “Sun and Moon” gives “Pokémon” fans the chance to return to their roots with a change of pace from previous titles.
Familiar faces such as Pikachu, Eevee and Magikarp, along with Alolan versions of Pokémon, will greet you as you begin your adventure. I specifically enjoyed playing with the Alolan form of Pikachu’s final evolution, Raichu, which features a new twist on the powerful evolution that I rarely used in past games. Pokémon, like Grimer and Muk, each have Alolan forms that, again, encouraged me to catch these Pokémon for battle, despite rarely using these Pokémon in past titles.
“X and Y” had included other generations of Pokémon with similar reasoning, however, “Sun and Moon” does so in a way that the classic Pokémon blend well with the Pokémon that are native to the new region. Pikachu and friends pick up the slack from their “Sun and Moon” colleagues, who don’t quite reach the creative standards that previous “Pokémon” generations have required.
Not to say that the Alolan Pokédex was not filled with cool, new Pokémon to catch, but many clearly took more thought than others. The new fan favorite Mimikyu was well-designed by the “Sun and Moon” team, while Klefki — the Pokémon that resembles a keyring — was not.
Besides the Alolan Pokémon, “Sun and Moon” has the richest plot — excluding the first three generations, which will forever hold a special place in my heart. With a beginning reminiscent of the third generation, the story starts after you move to Alola with your mother. It seems simple, but embarking on a new adventure with a similar background story for the character serves as a nostalgic vehicle for fans of the classic titles.
In Alola, you’re also welcomed by other dynamic characters, such as Lillie, Gladion and Acerola. The vast majority of the non-playable characters (NPC) who you meet on your adventure feature dense and well-written lore that adds to the game overall. Though this may not be the case for every NPC you meet on your travels — especially your one-dimensional rival Hau — these characters help drive the story as you progress from island to island by defeating several trials on each. Started in “Sun and Moon,” this trial system has replaced the gyms found in previous generations.
Among the many odd extras that the seventh generation decided to add, such as Festival Plaza or Pokémon Pelago, “Sun and Moon” would have been incomplete and less successful without a team of Pokémon thieves to stop your fun. Although the “Sun and Moon” successors to the original Team Rocket may not be my favorite team to fight, Team Skull did make for humorous competition on my adventure.
Overall, “Pokémon Sun and Moon” has been the best “Pokémon” experience in years, and I highly recommend it to all fans of the franchise, young and old.