Throughout this entire year, Game Freak has rewarded its fans for making it one of the biggest franchises in the world for 20 years. With rewards, mystery gifts, competitions, new merchandise, the unrelenting paradoxical love/hate relationship that is Pokémon GO (and now Plus) it has been quite the year for the little Japanese critters.
But now to round off the anniversary, we see what will be the 7th generation of Pokémon games, starting with Sun and Moon, introducing at least another 40 new monsters for our battling enjoyment.
But that’s not all!
For years the Pokémon franchise has been accused of not giving us anything new to sink our teeth into, mostly by those who regularly gush over the freshest releases of FIFA or Call of Duty. So y’know, far be it from me to get snarky about it. But I will go as far to point out how this could be what the Pokémon fanbase has been craving for a long time.
As I write this I have, this very afternoon, taken the time to download the Sun/Moon demo and play in all of its entirety, making me keener for November than good ol’ Hilary C. While it continues to bring the patented series of brand new creatures and challenges we’ve always known and loved, there are some key differences of Sun/Moon that could really set itself apart.
Firstly, the most noticeable thing is how it looks and feels. The graphics are gorgeous and vivid, bringing out the paradise setting that you begin your adventure in. Secondly, the movement and presentation of your character is far more fluid, stepping away from the miniscule block avatars of my youth. These two factors immediately grab you, ensnaring you in a new world that boasts larger 3D environments that make the whole experience seem like a foray into platform gaming, in much the same way Sonic the Hedgehog made its natural transition to that format. Because of this, the once simple dialogue, action and battle scenes are given the kind of rich cinematic quality we feel they’ve richly deserved since the start.
Now as the name would suggest, Sun and Moon will be having a few factors of gameplay in relation with the time of day. This isn’t a particularly new theme, having brought it in for evolution purposes in the game, but now thanks to a much more immediate online presence in this gaming vein, events can now be held depending on specific dates and times, all of which can continually bring something of value to players, whether they’re experienced or more fresh-faced than I was when I had my first pint. It didn’t last long I can assure you.
For years how you would mark your progress through a Pokémon game is by collecting badges in a fairly formulaic way with challenges, puzzles and ever increasing adversity along the way. However, sources (such as they are, this isn’t Watergate) have revealed that along with this usual fairly beloved process, we’ll be seeing original events such as Pokémon racing, scavenger hunts, photography challenges (using the 3DS’s real camera) and a few more I’m sure they’ve yet to reveal. The point is, that with the vastly improved graphics and gameplay, these new kind of events can really push the boundary of traditional handheld gaming.
Lastly, we don’t just see how the world you’re travelling has now taken a turn for the tropical but to emphasize this point, even the Pokémon have had a little make-over. I mean just check out this Dugtrio. Just look at it! Isn’t it glorious?!
But Dugtrio isn’t the only critter to get a sharp innovative look. Along with an addition of at least 40 brand new Pocket-monsters, a great reason for this isn’t just because of a different world setting but also down to something known to the 7th generation as Z-moves. This won’t be something too overwhelming for those who were familiar with the previous generation’s updated battling elements, such as the introduction of Mega evolutions. Just like these, Z-moves have been introduced to bring fresh strategy to battling which (let’s face it) is the core of the whole Pokémon franchise.
At first I had only a fleeting look to the Z-move and what it would really add to the game and initially I wasn’t particularly blown away, mostly because it involved checking out a Rattata going through its emo phase.
But after a closer look, not to mention my own walkthrough of the demo, I can say with certainty that whether you are a serious player or in it for the fun, the Z-move is a strong credible addition. It’s basically a 5th move of badass proportions. For a start, players have wanted the impossibility of a 5th move for the longest time, but to have it delivered in such a visually stunning package was the unexpected bonus none of us hoped to receive.
In the demo, you’re given a Pikachu as part of a task who happens to have a Z-move, called ‘Gigavolt Havoc’. I defy you to find any kind of mental image that doesn’t physically combust at the mere mention of it with a name like ‘Gigavolt Havoc.’ (Seriously, I wish I could go back to ‘90’s and start a band with the same name). For those super die-hard fans out there, the demo also starts you out with a Greninja, which turns into a special ‘Ash-Greninja’ in honour of the same one in the anime. You’re welcome. No praise necessary, just doing my civic duty.
From the three brand new starters you receive at the start of your adventure, to all the qualities listed above and more, there’s no doubt that 20 years on Pokémon is still a titanic force to be reckoned with, rounding out 2016 with a (I would say ‘a bang but I can now say) ‘Gigavolt Havoc’. In any way I hope this special preview review has helped sway what I knew what could never be a difficult position. All the same if you have any thoughts, opinions or insights you would care to share please feel free to get in touch with @npcityradio or me personally @ThatSamWest. Until then, gotta catch ‘em all!