Pokémon has always been a franchise that is stocked full of high quality games. It’s hard to recall a single main game that wasn’t absolutely amazing and that’s probably because one doesn’t exist. These games are 9 star worthy and Sun is no exception. While I do prefer Y, Sun adds a lot of interesting mechanics and even challenges the notion of what a Pokémon is by adding in a bunch of aliens and monsters much like Deoxys.
The game starts off with a bang as we see a girl running away from a group of villains. Just as she is about to be defeated she manages to warp away just in the nick of time. We then cut away to the main character, Terry. He has moves to Alola and has decided to take the Island Challenge which is essentially this game’s version of the Gym Leader system. Nobody ever said the quest would be easy and our young hero knows it, but that has never stopped him before. Along the way he will have to deal with many villains and global threats but Terry is determined to take them down to prove that he is the best.
The gameplay is classic turn based combat at its best. To this day Pokémon is known as the best at this system and it’s easy to see why. The turns are fairly quick with almost nonexistent loading times and the game has a lot of depth even though you only get 4 attack options. A new feature for this game is also the ability to use wild Pokémon to get around instead of using HMs to teach your Pokémon these skills. It’s a pretty nice change since you effectively don’t need to waste a spot anymore.
Let’s talk a bit about the cast. I have to say that Hau is easily the worst rival of the series and possibly the franchise. Purely as a rival at least since this guy never even comes close to getting on Terry’s level. Almost as bad is the fact that he doesn’t care and seems to be content staying in second despite some half hearted dialogue that implies the opposite. As far as I am concerned Hau is just a bit of a miss and may have a shot at being the weakest character in the game. Not physically but in terms of character.
Lillie is a fun heroine and it’s nice to have one that learns about the importance of battling. At first she is certainly not a fan of it but by the end she has decided to start training in this style of combat. With or without the character shift her character already has more personality than many other such characters.
The main villain is also a very solid character and potentially the best villain yet. She has a solid design at the end and her ambitions are pretty decent. She is rather psychotic and doesn’t realize how evil she is but the justifications help make her a fun villain to root against since she is so in denial of what is happening. I do think the anime dropped the ball on this one.
Since Hau couldn’t cut it as a rival the game gives us a second one who is more of a match for Terry. Gladion has a pretty good theme and his Pokémon is interesting since it looks very unique. It definitely appears to be man made right from the start so of course you will start to wonder how this kid got one. He gets a big role in the climax and was one of the low key standouts of the game.
Then we have the leader of team Skull who never really gets to do a whole lot. Guzma could have been cut out of the game and not much would have changed. His team in general just wasn’t that good. I suppose it makes some sense that they would seem rather directionless since they were more of a red herring than anything else but it would have been nice if they could have been at least a little formidable. Instead they were a joke right from the start.
Going back to the man made Pokémon, this game definitely toyed around with the idea of different kinds of a Pokémon more than any of the other games. We had monsters who looked like Digimon from space and that helped to mix things up a bit. The Alola forms of the old Pokémon are nice but only when they are supplementary like in this game. I wouldn’t want them to take the place of a new generation or anything like that.
The graphics are the best that we’ve seen from Pokémon or at least the most cinematic. Now we can get full cutscenes throughout the game to ramp up the intensity. It does make the reused character animations a little more noticeable though as each character can only pull off one real animation and then keeps on doing it for a while. Our rival Hau likes to just grin for ages and ages. That’s definitely in character though.
Unfortunately this game probably has the weakest soundtrack among the main Pokémon games. In particular team Skull’s theme is just terrible and the main Alola theme is well below average as well. After seeing the incredible soundtrack of Pokémon Y it really feels like a step back. Most of the themes are still reasonable remixes but they are brought down by the first two themes.
The game will probably last you at least 30 hours and then you still have the post game to deal with. It’s one of the longer Pokémon post games in the franchise with a lot of new Pokémon to catch in the form of the aliens that escaped. It even acts like an extra story in a sense and then you can go to the battle tower and challenge all kinds of opponents. Assuming you also want to collect all of the Pokémon, you are certainly going to be here for quite a while.
Overall, Pokemon Sun is definitely a blast. While the new style of taking on Island challenges isn’t quite as fun as the normal gym leader system, it works well enough. It’s a decent gimmick but naturally not one that you would want to repeat for the next big installment. At the end of the day the gameplay is as great as always and that’s the most important thing. The game has a ton of content to get through and feels like a AAA game all the way through. I’d highly recommend checking it out.