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In life, there is nothing sweeter than the sharing of experience. We as humans actively seek companionship from others as a trade for our own for more than basic primal needs to belong. There is a joy that comes with sharing that simply cannot be explained, but it is a necessary element of happy and healthy living. Pokemon was first conceived with this in mind: Satoshi Tajiri built Pocket Monsters on a foundation made up of interactivity. Swapping weird and wonderful creatures with friends new and old is the foundation on which Pokemon was constructed, and to see such a base concept come so far speaks volumes about the human mentality.

Twenty years later and Pokemon is far more than what it once was, breaking through the proverbial ceiling and reaching higher into the stratosphere than anyone thought possible, and yet with this latest iteration we’re delivered something humble in essence. Even this far removed from the original games, Pokemon fans are still sharing experiences with one another, trading from across the globe and battling like never before. No matter how much this series has developed over time, nothing can erase it’s humble beginnings even in the series’ seventh generation.

Thanks to Nintendo of Australia we at SnapThirty have been given the chance to, once again, partake on the adventure of a lifetime, this time travelling across the Alola Region as we develop our skills, clear trials, and thwart the looming crisis. This is Pokemon Sun and Moon!

Welcome to the World of Pokémon!

Are you ready to become a Pokémon Trainer?
Trade and battle with friends all over the world!

Train your Pokémon for battle!
Discover Pokémon and fill your Pokédex.
Care for your Pokémon and help them grow.
Adventure awaits in the Alola region! – Game Freak

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Arguably one of the more significant changes with the release of Sun and Moon is it’s heavy story. Heavy not only in tone but in the way in which it plays out: Unlike previous Pokemon titles, your journey does not simply regard being the best Trainer you can be. Instead, it is a subtle mix between that and the turmoil stirring within the new region which just so happens to involve yourself, and those you’ve recently come to call your friends. Your “rite of passage” and the destruction of the known world weave together like the strands of a double helix with every step you take being one towards development on both sides. Alola is one of my personal favourite modern Pokemon regions, and to clash with it’s dazzling sights are the nefarious intentions that sit just below it’s surface. “Light cannot exist without the dark“, the Alolan landscape, both physically and mentally, is a true testament to that.

Each of the characters featured within the new games play host to realistic personalities, flaws included. This, in turn, leaves room for the kind of growth and development that a modern day RPG such as this truly needs to aid in the unfolding of it’s story. Game Freak, thankfully, taps into the potential hidden within each of the game’s seemingly one-dimensional characters and allows it to shine bright as your company throughout this journey grow more and more likable with every step you take. This is a wondrous parallel to your evolving party of Pokemon, and a humbling reminder that there is always room to grow, big or small. It is this element that I believe previous generations could not master, but it looks as though it has been achieved within Sun and Moon.

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Regardless of your background with Pokemon games, the learning curve of Sun and Moon is only a slight one. This allows both new and veteran players to almost instantly settle in to the new region and the altered gameplay mechanics that come alongside it. In a shocking twist; Gyms and Hidden Machines have been removed from the game, but replaced by slightly different mechanics that actually allow for a more enjoyable experience. These changes, amongst all the others, come as quite a shock to many simply because they have remained mostly the same since the beginning, but I felt as though the modification and addition of classic mechanics have helped to breath new life into a long line of video games that I began to feel as though were becoming stale.

Even minor changes, like the system that now details how effective certain moves will be against opposing Pokemon, have brought about a dynamic shift that, despite it’s difference, still allows Sun and Moon to feel overtly Pokemon. With every new Pokemon title comes updated mechanics, and while previous games have surprised us with new developments, none have changed the layout so severely without losing Pokemon’s irreplaceable essence. Sun and Moon have found a way to pull that off without a single blemish. It truly feels as though I’m experiencing Pokemon for the very first time…again, and it is thanks mostly to the refreshing nature of Sun and Moon’s alternative gamplay style.

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Game Freak has taken everything they have learned from developing Nintendo 3DS games and have moulded it into a visual experience like no other with Sun and Moon. While many of the new Pokemon take some getting used to, their well-polished models make their strange designs significantly easier to enjoy and appreciate. The same can be said about Trainer models, all of which feature brand-new designs. The environment, above all else, is by far the most awe-inspiring visual element of Pokemon Sun and Moon. With a great deal of help from the game’s cinematic camera, the region of Alola truly does glisten with beauty. The only real downside here is that the game does not take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS‘ signature element; the 3D. Regardless, it is still an aesthetically pleasing experience from the opening scene to the closing credits.

There has been no Pokemon game that did not feature a masterfully-produced soundtrack, and the streak has not been broken with Pokemon Sun and Moon. Shifting from cultural basis, Alola is a region based upon that of Hawaii and therefor features quite a different feel from previous games. Alongside tracks that you may recognise from older titles, Sun and Moon features a soundtrack mostly made up on songs that are tropical in spirit which represents the setting greatly. There’s also quite a sense of diversity in this Generation, with the regions antagonist group, Team Skull, bringing with them few urban tracks that perfectly represent the disconnect from their environment while also reflecting their visual presence.

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Pokemon Sun and Moon takes necessary steps back for it to ultimately take huge leaps forward. The modern age calls for modern equivalents, of which Pokemon has happily conformed to with it’s more recent predecessors, but with Sun and Moon it is obvious that Game Freak have chosen a more simplistic layout with levels upon levels of hidden depth that players, if they so choose, can uncover of their own accord while, on the base level, these games can also be enjoyed in a mostly uncomplicated way. Game Freak discovered a way to remind us older players of our childhoods while allowing the room for younger players to make memories of their own, one day looking back on their time with Sun and Moon much in the same way we do Red and Blue.

This duo of video games not only stand as one of the better titles in the Pokemon series, but also across the board as modern turn-based role-playing games. We as fans have grown alongside Game Freak as they have grown alongside us. This is a company that understands the power of whimsy, hope, and positivity, delivering it to us as young children and now as adults who can share these experiences alongside a younger generation of Trainer. They have mastered the art of compelling game development over their twenty years in the business, and Pokemon Sun and Moon truly does feel like the culmination of two decades filled with blood, sweat, and tears. It is the pinnacle of Pokemon excellence, through and through.

Grade: A+

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