By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to First Impressions, a brand new article series about upcoming video games, television shows, or other media. Each article will focus on previews, demos, or first episodes and give you, our reader, an idea of what you can expect and whether you should spend your time and/or money down the road.
Let's kick off our first installment with our first impressions of the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon!
A Brief Introduction to Pokemon
For those of you who have been living under a rock, Pokemon is a Japanese video game franchise that hit the scene in America back in the mid 90s with the Gameboy titles Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. Since then, the series has seen a number of games across all the iterations of Nintendo's handheld, countless anime series, dozens of animated movies, a successful card game, and the mobile game craze Pokemon Go.
The concept of Pokemon is to go out into the world and attempt to capture wild animals known as Pokemon (or Pocket Monsters). Not only are you going around subjugating all the animals you can, but you're also training your Pokemon to fight against other trainers, a rival, evil organizations like Team Rocket, and leaders of gyms. Each game has interesting locales to explore, individuals to challenge, and new Pokemon to befriend.
Sun & Moon Demo Impressions
The Pokemon Sun and Moon demo was released on October 18th. Like the demo that was released for Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, players not only get a glimpse of what they can expect in the new release, but they can rack up some free items and Pokemon and transfer them to the full version of the game, which hits stores on November 18th.
As had been hyped, you start the demo with a level 35 Greninja. This just isn't any Greninja, though. As had been hyped, you find out that this Pokemon was given to your young protagonist by someone else to use. Even though the letter stating this doesn't include a name, we know that it comes from Ash Ketchum, the main character from the Pokemon anime. This Greninja comes with the ability Battle Bond, which turns Greninja into a strengthened form when it defeats an opponent. The form that he takes is known as Ash-Greninja, and its abilities, look, and animations all change for the better.
There really wasn't as much to the demo as I would have expected. You get your first look at the Alola Region in two major areas. The first is a town known as Hau'oli City. It's got several shops to visit, people to talk to, and Pokemon wandering around. There is a sense of life to the town, yet it also feels somewhat unsatisfying. For example, the Pokemart inside the Pokemon Center isn't accessible. The Pokemon Center is the only place that really allows any interaction. That being said, I do like the visual aspects of healing your Pokemon in this version.
The second zone is known as Ten Carat Hill. Here you have a few things to do, including fighting wild Pokemon in grassy areas, areas hidden behind large rocks that can be broken by a charging Pokemon that you can ride, trainers to challenge, and a cave to explore and complete a quest. It's fun for a while, but once you complete everything there is to do, you don't have any real reason to load up the game again aside from meeting up with NPCs at specified days to collect more items to send over to the full game.
One of the coolest part of getting to play through these demos is seeing some of the new Pokemon in action. Just about every patch of grass in the demo has one of these three Pokemon wandering around. These are obviously the Pokemon you'll run into at the start of the game, level up to around 15 or 20 and then get rid of for some actually good Pokemon.
The first one pictured if my favorite of the three, Rockruff. He's an adorable rock type Pokemon that will eventually be able to evolve into one of two wolf forms depending on the version of the game that you own. The Moon version is actually a pretty awesome looking werewolf while the Sun version is more of a traditional direwolf.
The second is a normal/flying type called Pikipek. I like the sort of woodpecker look on this one. We don't know if this one will evolve, but I'd assume he has two evolutions as we've seen with Pokemon like Pidgey and Starly.
The Donald Trump looking one is Yungoos. I'm assuming he'll be out new Ratatta-sort of entry. This normal type Pokemon evolves into a completely Trump-esque creature Gumshoos. I'll be passing on this one.
The demo did show off a few interesting changes to the game and battle system. The first thing to note is that the movement in this game is now completely unrestricted. As the games have evolved, movement has gone from the four directional options to a psuedo-free range of movement. Now you can use the thumbsticks to go in any direction.
The dual screens of the 3DS, as shown above, have been changed somewhat during battles. You can click on either your Pokemon or your opponents on the lower screen and get some basic information, such as their types and any status bonuses or weaknesses. As a guy that forgets constantly the different types of all the million Pokemon, this is a huge plus. Having the visual reminder of the number of times I've used moves like Sand Attack or Growl is also a nice touch.
One other change that I noticed comes when you select your moves. Once you battle a certain Pokemon, it tells you whether a move is effective, not effective, or super effective. This may piss off some hardcore players, but for someone that can't memorize the ridiculous type chart, it's really a good change! I imagine that they'll remove that from competitive cooperative battles or at least give players the option to turn it off.
I know that I missed some aspects of the demo, but I feel like everyone should go check it out for themselves. If you're a fan of the world of Pokemon, you won't be disappointed. The demo provides a small taste of what the final product will be, and I feel that it could be one of the most enjoyable experiences in the history of the franchise. If you're new to the game, give it a shot! It seems like they've put a lot of time and love into this game, and I don't think it will disappoint.
Get Pokemon Sun and/or Moon when they launch on November 18th, 2016!
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