Today’s post is a special one since this is a part of the Pokémon Creator’s Catch Collaboration that was organized by NekoJonez and features posts from 12 bloggers altogether. We all came together to write about the Pokémon series in our own special ways. Make sure to check out the hub by clicking the link above, or the image below that will take you to everyone’s post, and thank you to everyone who helped and contributed to the project.

When I first heard about Pokémon Sun and Moon, I got excited. There is a certain level of joy that a new Pokémon generation brings. There are the new Pokémon to discover, the locale of the new region, and if the series will continue to give us hot professors (I will get there). Not only did Sun and Moon deliver on those aspects, the series gave birth to a new concept that would have changed the flow of the games if they had executed it properly. Sun and Moon would be the first games in the series to ditch traditional Pokémon gyms, and instead focus on trials. This was big news since the premise of a mainline Pokémon game was to defeat gym leaders to collect badges in order to become Pokémon Master. I liked the idea of this. I am always in favor when a long running series decides to change its core mechanics and try to do something new. Would this new mechanic change the way we view future entries in the series? Well….

I will come upfront and say it. I do not like Sun and Moon (and Ultra Sun and Moon as well). To me, playing it from beginning to end feels like an insult to anyone who has played a Pokémon game before. Before you say it, I will say it since I believe in it as well. Pokémon is not a game meant for people who have played it since Red and Blue. Pokémon is supposed to be an easy RPG marketed for kids, but has deep mechanics that older players can have fun playing them as well. Every time a new generation of the games come out, I always hear the complaints that the stories are not deep or dark enough for an older audience. That would be a dumb move for Game Freak to do since they want to appeal to a younger audience since they are a huge part of the target audience. As long as there are young people in the world, Game Freak will make the games appealing and accessible for them.

With that being said, if I was a small child who somehow played all the previous versions, even I would know that these games are just….boring. I think Game Freak went way overboard in dumbing down the challenge and activities that you can do in the game. Some of the decisions were not bad ones. They just lack a certain…oomp I guess to make this generation stand out. Game Freak took a big risk in changing up the formula, but felt cautious at the same time that new things feel half attempted.

So. I’m going to go over what I felt were the good and bad designs of these games. Some of the issues I have with the game may not sound bad to others, or just sound like a general complaint that I have with the game. We can all agree to disagree, so I hope my points sound valid enough to why I don’t like it.  

Region – Aloha (Good)

As a region, I think it is an excellent one to have. So far in the series we have regions where most places were connected to one another with one or two islands (five in Ruby/Sapphire if you include the Battle Frontier) floating out in the ocean. With Aloha, there are four main islands that have their own characteristics to them. I kinda wish there were more to the islands than just two to three towns and then areas that just happen to be trial areas. Let the islands speak for themselves and show what makes each of them different and unique from the others. Other than that, I love the tropical setting and themes that the islands set up for the region as a whole.

Starter Pokemon (Good)

There are always hit and misses when it comes to the starter Pokémon in each generation. I honestly believe the Sun and Moon have some of the best starters that everyone likes.

Rowlet

Forever S tier. Look at this dank boi! I may be biased since owls are my favorite animal, but look at this guy! The bowtie, the friendly eyes, the attitude of a potato! I love this little dude and it is a constant struggle between him and Bulbasaur as my top favorite. I wish his second form, Datrix, was more interesting. I’m not a fan of this design, but I see what they were going for. It’s a price to pay since Decidueye elevates it back up. A solid design of an archer and his wings that make it look like a cloak. Obviously, my favorite out of the starters.

Litten

Litten isn’t bad. Just a little fire cat that somehow reminds me of my own cats. There have been other cat Pokémon before Litten, so its inclusion doesn’t do much for me. Likewise, Torracat is just….meh. I like its little bell, but it looks more like an asshole cat. Incineroar….ok. I appreciate that it is not a fire/fighting type, but I think it would work better with its design. I like that it is a wrestler, but other than that, eh. It sorta comes out of nowhere in the evolution line, so it confuses me as to why the cat suddenly is a wrestler now. If Torracat had some type of design to hint as to where the evolution was going, then it would bother me so much.

Popplio

I know there are a lot of Popplio fans, but I am back and forth with this one. It doesn’t really do much for me. I would pick it over Litten since it feels more unique. Brionne has more personality I feel. Out of the other second forms, I think Brionne is the better one. I actually like Primarina’s design more than I thought I was. It’s a weird seal mermaid thing and I think the evolution line flows all the way through with this one. 

Your Character (Bad)

I know that your character is supposed to be a blank slate, but that stupid blank state infuriates me in this game. There are moments in the story where something serious is happening, and the camera shows your character with this big ol’ dumb smile on your face. I know that it is an unfair point to bring up, but all the other characters are capable of showing expressions, so don’t be lazy and not give it to the playable character. I do appreciate that this version allows you to customize your character from skin tone and clothing for the very first time.

Rival (Good)

Originally I thought Hau was one of the weakest rivals to have, but the good boy made me have a change of heart when I was looking more into his character. Hau is a good boy, but not rival material. I believe he was the first “not threatening” rival introduced in the series. He has determination to become a strong trainer like his grandpa, but he doesn’t try to outshine you throughout your journey. He’s just a happy sunshine boy that doesn’t let anything get him down, until you come along. I know it is just a fan theory for now, but a lot of people believe that you are the mean rival this time around. Your journey with Hau makes him have doubts in himself at different parts of the story, but he resolves to believe in himself and his Pokémon rather than seek out great power. It is almost like how in the first game Professor Oak tells your rival that the only reason you won is due to the trust you have in your Pokémon. Does this work in Hau’s favor? No since at the end of the day he is just a pushover like all the other trainers in this game.

Professor (Good)

I actually like Kukui for the type of person and researcher he is. For the first time, we see someone who is interested in the moves and power of Pokémon. Kind of an out there topic to study, but when you consider no one has been studying how destructive a Pokémon’s potential can be, then I can see why someone’s field of study might be so. I also know he’s research ties into one of the gimmicks in this game (more on that later), but it is still better than just “I research Pokémon” open-ended answer other professors have given.

Trails (Bad)

Ok. You can fight me on this. The trial system in Sun and Moon is boring, uninteresting, lazy, too simple, and does not feel as good as challenging a gym leader. 

When I heard about trials, I was thinking along the lines of older titles where you had to solve some type of puzzle in order to challenge the gym leader. Those felt like a test to see if you were ready/worthy of challenging the gym leader for the gym badge. These trails don’t feel challenging or rewarding when you beat them. Some trials require you to just go to reach a goal or complete a simple task. Afterwards, you have to fight a totem Pokémon, a normal Pokémon with higher stats than normal. Totem Pokémon can call in backup to help with the fight, but if you come prepared (which isn’t hard) then some of them feel like an annoying obstacle rather than a challenge. Here are the exciting challenges you can look forward to do:

Trail #1 (Normal): Find three Pokémon, beat them up, and then challenge the totem Pokémon, Gumshoos or Raticate.

Trail #2 (Water): Fish. Fight Wishiwashi. 

Trail #3 (Fire): Play “What’s different in picture number 2?” Fight Salazzle.

Trail #4 (Grass): Find items in the forest. Watch out for random Grass Pokémon. Fight Lurantis.

Trail #5 (Electric): Answer my riddles three. Fight Vikavolt.

Trail #6 (Ghost): Play a water down version of Pokémon Snap for about three minutes. Fight Mimikyu.

Trail #7 (Dragon) Walk up to a podium and fight Kommo-o. No challenge.

Sigh. Ultra Sun and Moon changes the challenges up just a little bit. Instead of fishing, you have to lead a group of Wishiwashi to their destination, but it is still a simple process. You can avoid all fights in the forest trial if you choose the right ingredient. The electric trial is changed completely to a puzzle where you have to connect Charjabugs. There is also a new trial exclusive to Ultra Sun and Moon where you have to go and beat all the trial leaders. It would be a fun challenge, if they put up a fight. The last trail leader doesn’t even fight you because they see how pointless it all was. Overall, Ahola’s challenges feel like a joke. I know the islands are supposed to be peaceful with not a lot of challenges going on, but they talk about making Aloha more than just a tourist site and a place where Pokémon trainers can test their might. I just can’t help but to feel that their peaceful lives makes them the weakest trainers compared to the other regions. Which is a shame because there are some really powerful trainers out there. 

Kahunas (Good and Bad)

In my opinion, these are the strongest trainers on the islands; which is why they are the kahunas. That being said, they don’t provide a real challenge even when they go “all-out.” Each kahuna acts as a final test on each island where you have to challenge them to a battle to complete the Grand Trial. They are essentially the Elite Four of Aloha and each have swagger to them. Unlike the trail leaders, you can see the experience that they carry and why they are leaders. Defeating them is the real trial of the island challenge, and beating them originally meant that you completed the trial. There is one thing that this generation did that I kinda appreciated.

Pokémon League (Good)

I may be going into spoiler territory with this next part. If you would like to experience this part of the game on your own, then skip this section.

While on your grocery list of island trials to do, you come across construction happening on Mt. Lanakila. Professor Kukui (of all people) explains that they are currently building the region’s first Pokémon League. Prior to the story, Aloha never had a Pokémon League due to just being a tourist destination. He desired to create the League to show the world that Aloha has amazing trainers and powerful moves. You get to see a new beginning for the region that you don’t really see in the other games, and for some reason that resonated with me. I will touch back on this point towards the end of this post.

Once you finish your journey, the Pokémon League completes its construction and is ready for its first challenger, you. You face off against the island’s Kahunas once more with the exception of Namu. After you defeat them, you go up against…Professor Kukui? They finally bring back an old idea from the original concept and have you face the Pokémon Professor as the “final” challenger. It is actually interesting to have this outcome, but you see it coming a mile away if you are paying attention. And like always, once you defeat him, you become the official Pokémon Champion of Aloha. Only this time, the game recognizes this fact. If you go back to the Pokémon League after becoming the champion, the Elite Four will challenge you to make sure their champion hasn’t gotten weak. After you defeat them, you get to sit on your throne and challenge whoever dares to try and take your title. The person you face off will be random, so you won’t be able to predict what team you will be facing off against. This mechanic is one thing that Sun and Moon got right. It always felt weird re-challenging the previous champion after you beat them the first time. You are the champion now, so why are they still there? This is a mechanic I would like to see them keep (they kinda did it for Sword and Shield) as it fits an annoying mechanic of the series.

“Evil Group” – Team Skull (Good and Bad)

Eh. As evil teams go, they are harmless. I do like their design and personas as they are a bunch of goofs and not trying to cause catastrophic damage and genocide using ancient Pokémon. Nah. These guys just have a bumping theme song and try to make a living. Visiting Po Town did make me feel sorry for the group, and you get to learn more of why they follow Guzma around. It makes for a nice redemption moment toward the endgame, but if I’m rating them as an organization as a whole, then they are pretty low on my list. If you are wondering who the real threat is, then just start the game and you can put two and two together.

New Pokémon and Gimmicks (Good and Bad)

Finally! I can stop talking about the “story” and focus on what other new things this generation bought with it. To save time since this post is already one of the longest I’ve ever done, I’m not going to go over every single new Pokémon. I will instead just talk about the 10 that stand out to me the most. They may not be my favorite out of the bunch, but they did get some reaction out of me.

 Charjabug

This was an interesting Pokémon that kinda dropped when it evolved into Vikavolt. I like the idea of people powering their devices with this weird bug that can store electricity. The Battery ability is also good to have with a team that specializes in Special Attacks.

Crabrawler

I hate this Glass Joe looking mofo. I had one in my first playthrough of the game thinking it would be amazing later on in the game, but then I learned how you can only evolve at a certain place late in the game and then I just gave up on it. It’s evolution Crabominable is not impressive to me either.

Wishiwashi

At first, I did not care for this Pokémon or its gimmick. After having one on my team in Ultra Sun, I can say that this Pokémon is a powerhouse. It’s ability Schooling brings tons of these little guys together to make one ferocious fish. This skyrockets Wishiwashi’s stats through the roof minus its HP and speed. The effect will remain as long as its HP remains above 25%. When it is low on HP, it will change forms back into its pathetic weak form. I like the risk and reward for this little powerhouse, and its shortcomings can be easily fixed with the right setup.

Toxapex

I had a mean Toxapex in my first playthrough. Just give it Toxic, Baneful Bunker, Venoshock, and Recover for a slow and painful death. You can substitute Toxic for another move that would help dealing with Steel and other Poison types.

Salazzle

I hate how this Pokémon looks and poses. Please make it stop.

Stufful/Beware

What a cute concept of a Pokémon. Everyone loves having a Stufful because it looks like a stuffed animal, so naturally, you would want to hug and cuddle it. Well Stufful either likes this or hates it, but it can’t hug you back with its little arms. So when it evolves into Bewear, it turns into a hugging killing machine. Beware over cuddling your stuffed animals. They might one day wish to return the favor.

Comfey

I get the whole theme of Comfey, but why? There are some designs that I look at and give a chuckle, but for some reason I feel like Comfey is just pushing the line of creative, lazy, and just doing something because it fits the region.

Sandygast/Palossand

Did I immediately seek this Pokémon when I first saw it? You betcha butt I did. This is one of those stupid designs that I love to bits. It is a haunted SANDCASTLE! It took real guts to create this Pokémon and think people would fall for it. Jokes on them, this is now one of my favorite Pokémon of all time.

Mimikyu

I like the story and lore behind Mimikyu. It does make me wonder though, do all Mimikyu wish to be adored by Pikachu? Surely one of them would like to be a Charizard since it is constantly popular. It might have been cool to see different variants who disguise themselves as other starter Pokémon.

Dhelmise

I would have used Dhelmise if I didn’t already have a Ghost/Grass Pokémon on my team. Ghost Pokémon have a lot of creative freedom to them since they can possess any object. The idea of spirits from ships that sank is haunting and makes you think why they didn’t appear on the wrecked ship in Ruby/Sapphire.

Legendary Pokémon (Bad)

Unpopular opinion. I don’t really care for the legendary Pokémon in this generation. With the exception of Lunala, they just seem bland to me. The Tapu Pokémon have a better connection to the region than Solgaleo and Lunala, but other than that have little interest to me.

Aloha Forms (Good and Bad)

This generation introduced a new concept that I’m surprised didn’t happen sooner, region variant forms of older Pokémon. Certain Pokémon who live in Aloha have different appearances and typings compared to their Kantonian forms. The game only sticks with Pokémon that come from the Kanto region, but expand a little bit more in Sword and Shield. I like this idea, but some designs felt they just did it because they had the idea for a while and went with it. Pokémon that benefit from this are Executor who looks like a coconut tree and turns into a Grass/Dragon type. Vulpix and Sandshrew turn into Ice types and gain an additional typing when they evolve. The weakest ones in my opinion are Rattata, Raticate, Diglett, Dugtrio, Meowth, Persion, Grimer, and Muk. I felt like they were given a silly design and nothing to really justify the cause of their change. The real travesty however is how dirty they did my mon Raichu. I like the idea of finally having a “surfing Pikachu,” and I’m happy they incorporated it into Raichu’s long tail. The design though…just…it’s not for me. I used it in my full playthrough of Sun, but the design kills me some days.

Ultra Beast (Meh)

The last type of Pokémon introduced are Ultra Beast, Pokémon from another dimension. I don’t know where the line of Pokémon and aliens are, but you can’t call something a Pokémon just because you don’t know what else they could be. The fact that you need special balls to catch them effectively means that they may be more than your common Pokémon roaming around. Some of them are good and can have crazy typings, but they mostly served as bonus “legendary” Pokémon to capture during the endgame.

Z-Moves (Bad)

Now to special gimmicks. X and Y introduced Mega Evolution and I for one liked that concept. How would Sun and Moon evolve on that concept? By not including Mega Evolution until the post game, and instead introduce a new McGuffin, Z-Moves. You see, when you complete a trial, instead of getting a shiny badge to show off, you instead get a Z-Crystal. Giving a Z-Crystal to a Pokémon lets it pull off a super move that has a ton of power behind it.

Here is my problem with Z-Crystals. Depending on the Pokémon you have holding it and the situation of the battle, the payoff to use the move isn’t worth it in most battles. Z-Moves can only be done once per battle by one Pokémon only. So if your whole team is holding a different Z-Crystal, only one of them can use it and the rest of your team could have had a better held item on them. Adding to that, the attack power and type of move (physical or special) of the Z-Move is dependent on the move that your Pokémon knows. It is hard for me to explain in simple words, but take the Normal type Z-Move, Breakneck Blitz, for example. As long as the Pokémon holding the Normal Z-Crystal has a Normal-type move, they can use Breakneck Blitz. Depending on the attack power and type of move that it is, it will have a different result of how much damage it will do. Z-Moves start with a power level of 100, and go up by 20 starting with the base move’s power of 60 (60 = 120, 70 = 140, 80 = 160, etc.) Going back to the damage calculations (I know math I’m sorry but this is important), if your Pokémon is better suited for Special Attacks and not Physical, then using a Physical Z-Move is almost pointless since you don’t benefit for using it at its greatest potential. Also if you don’t have any Power Points (PP) to use that move regularly, then you can’t use the Z-Move version of it. You need to have at least 1 PP of that base move to use the Z-Move. The Bulbapedia page that I used for reference for this part explains it all better, but it is much more of a read than I can explain.

With Mega Stones, you were losing the Pokémon benefitting from a better held item, but the payoff was better with the Pokémon’s stats increasing and potentially gaining a new type to turn the tides. Z-Moves are pointless if your team is strong enough to carry on their own with their current move set and appropriate held items to get through tough battles; which I already established that there aren’t that many challenging battles in this game. If Z-Moves gave you a stat boost after using the move, then I could see why it would be worth using more often. You can change some stat boost moves into a stat affecting Z-Move, but you would still need to have an appropriate base move to use it. It just got to a point where having access to a Z-Move felt pointless and not much of a game changer like Mega Evolution or even Gigamaxing in Sword and Shield.

S.O.S Mechanic (Good)

The last aspect of the game that I want to talk about is the S.O.S mechanic. Sun and Moon added another concept that I’m surprised it took them this long to come up with. If random encounters weren’t annoying enough already, wild Pokémon can now call for backup if they need help. This can successfully call another Pokémon from its family to come and help, or its pleas will be ignored. And yes, the Pokémon can do this as many times as it wants in a wild encounter. As annoying as this sounds, why do I like it? Two reasons. The first is that if you can keep the chain going, you have a better chance of finding a Pokémon with higher IVs or a hidden ability if you are that kind of player. This also increases the rate at which a shiny version may appear. The second reason is my favorite reason. There are certain Pokémon that only appear using this mechanic. Their encounter rate is low during these encounters, so you may be waiting around for a while. The payoff is worth it in my eyes. When I heard it was possible to obtain a Salamence on the first island using this mechanic below level 10, you know I spent over an hour trying to summon that S.O.B. I carried that Salamence throughout my entire journey mostly as a giant flex. There are other powerful Pokémon that you can get early if you have the patience to get through the process.

Final Thoughts

There are surprisingly some good things that I like about this generation. However, the negatives are pretty big to me, and that brings my overall rating of the game down. This game might have worked better for me if it was a spinoff game. You come to an island resort where you participate in these non-gym battles and get rewards for completing them. The “conflict” in the game also felt forced at some points and shows that no one is really evil in the end. My frustrations aside, some may like the change of pace a bit and the lower difficulty to just enjoy the Pokémon experience. If that is your M.O., go for it then. If I had to give these games some kind of rating, I would say that these games are a beach vacation with your over organized family/friends. Some people enjoy the beach. Its not for everyone, but those who like going to the beach are going to go to enjoy it. It’s when that one participant forces everyone to manage their fun at the beach so they can enjoy other “fun” activities that isn’t the beach. You want to relax and enjoy the beach, but you can’t because now you’re being dragged to laser tag where an eight-year old is having a birthday party. You go because you have to go, but instead of relaxing, you are now playing a mundane game of tag with a bunch of kids everywhere (who provide no challenge whatsoever). If you are looking for a relaxing vacation with new Pokémon and a whole region to explore, then this is a good trip to take. In my opinion, this is the weakest mainline Pokémon game in the series for having some good ideas, but not making them fun or engaging as other challenges.

Once again, thank you to everyone who contributed to the Pokémon Creator’s Catch and make sure that you give the other articles and videos and read/view!