When we last left off, we had just departed Melemele Island with our friends Lillie and Hau in tow. We’d successfully cleared some Island Challenges, captured some new Pokémon BFFs, and even put some Team Skull thugs in their places. But now, with heads full of adventure, we’re on course to the second of Alola’s four islands – Akala Island.
I made landfall in Heahea City. Surprisingly, I was greeted by Sinna and Dexio – Prof. Sycamore’s assistants from Pokémon X and Y. After the customary battle, they gave me the Zygarde Cube – a tool used for collecting bits of the legendary Pokémon, Zygarde, another hold over from X and Y. I love side quests, and collecting Zygarde cells and cores throughout Alola was something I was very much looking forward to doing. But, apart from scouring the map for pieces of Zygarde, I had some Island Challenges to clear. Akala has three challenges plus a grand challenge to conquer. Island captains Lana, Kiawe, and Mallow – familiar faces in the new Pokémon Sun & Moon anime – had more creative challenges for me to complete.
It wouldn’t be a Pokémon article without a team upgrade though, would it? I’d evolved my Rowlet, Flecha, into the dandy looking Dartix, and my Pikipek, Fruit Loop, into a Trumbeak. By way of party additions, I caught an Alolan Diglett that I named Three Jasons (he/they are seriously one of my favorite things ever), a Magby (Duck Face), an Alolan Grimer (Weird Ditto), and a female Salandit (Salamanda). Apart from getting better everyday at nicknaming Pokémon, I was having a blast discovering new species and regional variants, but by the end of Akala Island, I’d pretty much settled on my party for the rest of the game.
As far as the Island Challenges go, Akala’s captains didn’t disappoint. In Brooklet Hill, Lana had me hunting down nuisance Water Pokémon. After defeating a few of them (they’re all Wishiwashi), I’d had an awesome showdown with a Totem Wishiwashi. I’m a big fan of the Schooling ability that Wishiwashi have, and the very intimidating appearance of it School form. Seriously, that’s a pissed off lookin’ fish. After cleaning up Lana’s challenge, I got a Water type Z crystal, and a new Lapras to surf around on.
The next stop on my Island Challenge journey was Wela Volcano Park for Kiawe’s challenge. Kiawe had a dance and battle themed challenge waiting for me, but before I got there, the game introduced me to Battle Royale. This new feature allows four trainers to battle all at the same time. I really like this added feature, and have vowed to win at least one Battle Royale some day. I am truly horrible at Battle Royale. I’m not afraid to admit it, but I’m not proud of it. I struggled through the required match between Prof. Kukui, Hau, Gladion (a Team Skull member), and myself, and then it was off to Wela Volcano Park.
Kiawe’s challenge centered around identifying the differences between certain dances performed by his Alolan Marowak. This is repeated a few times with Pokémon battles in between. Eventually, a Totem Salazzle shows up to test your mettle. I’m not gonna lie. Totem Salazzle whipped me good the first time through. I managed to squeeze out a victory eventually, and with my new Fire type Z crystal, I was ready for the third challenge on Akala Island – an ingredient hunt in the Lush Jungle.
Mallow, Akala Island’s third captain, is a chef in the game. Her challenge involves using a new Ride Pokémon to search for hidden ingredients to make a dish that will attract Lush Jungle’s totem Pokémon. The Ride Pokémon in question, a Stoutland, is Sun & Moon’s version of the Item Finder/Dowsing Rod. It’s a bit of a process finding hidden items this way as you can’t search and run at the same time, but it gets the job done. Long story short, I found the stuff, Mallow made the food, and a Totem Lurantis showed up for a battle. After clearing the challenge (luckily, this one only took me one shot), I only needed to clear the Grand Trial to move on to the next island.
After arriving at Akala Outskirts, I was challenged to a battle by Plumeria, a Team Skull admin. Apparently, she didn’t take to kindly to me defeating all of her grunts in battle. That was all well and good, so I beat her too. Team Skull is great, by the way. Apart from Team Rocket, they’re my favorite Pokémon villain. They’re funny, entertaining, and don’t have any real motivations other than being thugs, slackers, or general ne’er-do-wells. Seeing a Skull grunt throw gang signs while walking away from me after losing a Pokémon battle is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a game in a long time! But enough about that, back to my Island Challenge.
Olivia, owner of a jewelry shop in Konikoni City, and Akala Island’s Kahuna, is a Rock Type expert. It’s a pretty straight forward battle. My Flecha made super quick work of it all, and I was rewarded with the Rock Type Z Crystal. After being showered with accolades from my digital best friends for life, I made my way to Hano Grand Resort. Oncer there, I met Fava, a higher up in the Aether Foundation, a Pokémon conservation group (?) based in Alola. My next destination was now Aether Paradise, HQ of the Aether Foundation.
Poké Sun has me hooked. Everything from beating up on Team Skull, to catching new Pokémon, to clearing the Island Challenges feels new and fresh. Using Ride Pokémon to search and explore is probably the best replacement for HMs that we could have hoped for. The game’s story, centered largely around Lillie and her Pokémon, Cosmog, builds slowly and is one of the better written stories in a Pokémon game to date. After having cleared two of Alola’s four islands, Pokémon Sun continues to impress. I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the game!
How’s your Island Challenge coming? What’s impressed you about the game? Got any favorite Pokémon that I haven’t mentioned? Let us know what you think in the comments below and stay tuned for part three, coming soon!