Don’t go into the tall grass alone! But seriously, this is the first part of a progressive review of Pokémon Sun. I won’t reveal anything major, but expect to see a name drop here and there.
I was excited for Pokémon in 1998. It hooked me immediately and I don’t know why; I was just drawn to it. I loved the idea of adventuring around catching fantasy creatures. My parents weren’t big believers in video games though, so I could only play the games when I was lucky enough to borrow a Game Boy from a friend. Fortunately, the card game was just as intriguing. It got me in trouble at school quite a few times though. I still proudly claim to be the reason that Pokémon cards were banned from my middle school! Long story short, I’ve played all the games, dragged my parents to see the first movie in theaters, played the card game at Books-A-Million on Saturday mornings, and irreparably attached the title “That Pokémon Guy” to my reputation for all times past, present, and future.
The lead up to Pokémon Sun & Moon brought all those feelings and memories flooding back. Well, I say ‘flooding back;’ more like “stoked the fires of a long dormant addiction.” Demos were datamined. Information was leaked. Speculations were speculated upon, and every other Pokémon related YouTube video claimed to have solved some hinted at mystery for the upcoming games. I was hooked all over again. New designs and typings for classic Pokémon, the return of player customization, the highly anticipated removal of HM’s. Seriously, how were Sun Moon ever going to be bad Pokémon games?
Let’s just skip the, admittedly, long introduction and get to the part where you’re gifted your very first Pokémon by Kahuna Hala. In Pokémon Sun & Moon each of the four islands of Alola are protected by the top trainer, known as a Kahuna. Hala, the Kahuna of Mele Mele Island, your new home in the game, gives you a choice: Rowlet, Litten, or Popl – Rowlet. I choose Rowlet. Give me my bow tie owl so I can name it Flecha (Spanish for ‘arrow’). I generally pick the grass starter (personal preference is all), and Rowlet was my choice from day one. After meeting my new super best friends, Hau, Lillie, and Professor Kukui, my newest Pokémon journey began for true!
I’ve never been so excited to try and catch each Pokémon as with Sun & Moon. I love the vibrant designs of the new creatures and the reimagined looks of the Alolan variants. My first capture was a Pikipek. It evolves into a pissed ocf looking toucan called Toucannon (awesome), so I nicknamed it Fruit Loop (adorable). Pretty soon, I’d picked up a bunch of the early game creatures, given them clever and adorable nicknames, and was on my way for starting my Gym Ch – Island Challenge. Some of my special mention Pokémon were a Pichu (Zappy McSurf), a Crabrawler (Crab Zingano), a Yungoos (Mr. President, as per internet tradition), and a shiny Wingull I lovingly named Pepper. The last of these was a legitimate surprise. I’d never caught a wild shiny Pokémon before (excepting the red Gyrados from Gold & Silver) in all 18 years of my playing Pokémon. I ran into Pepper within the first ten minutes of the game, and I haven’t seen another shiny since!
After some level grinding, exploring, and more creature capturing, I was ready for Mele Mele Island’s challenges. Ilima, Mele Mele Island’s lone captain set me the task of defeating a Totem Gumshoos in exchange for the Normal type Z-crystal. After clearing the challenge (which was more than just a Pokémon battle, but as I said, I’m keeping the spoilers to a minimum), I was ready for a showdown with Kahuna Hala. Hala had some Fighting type Pokémon ready for me, but once they were dispatched I was awarded with a Fighting type Z-crystal, and a Tauros to ride around and smash boulders with. The latter of these gifts opened up some new areas on the map. After some extended exploring and catching a Rockruff I named Hozer Bozers (little Game Grumps reference for ya), I was ready to set sail for Akala Island.
Pokémon Sun & Moon deliver on all of the hype. Plain and simple. Mele Mele Island serves as a wonderful introduction to an amazing Pokémon experience. We’re given a very story driven game right from the beginning. The cast of characters each bring something special to the game, and nobody feels as though they’ve been shoehorned into the story. The removal of the traditional gyms and HM’s is a delightful departure from a longstanding formula. Multiple mini-challenges keep things fresh while you’re making your way from town to town. All in all, Pokémon Sun has kept its promises. As a long time fan, I am delighted to be exploring a new region with new Pokémon, and new companions.
How’s your adventure through Alola going? Who did you choose as your starter? Do you miss the gyms? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and stay tuned for part two of our progressive review!