Pokémon Sun & Moon did things right. The return of customization was welcomed with open arms, mm, finally, I can make myself adorable again. There was a lot less customization than in X & Y , but at least I could wear something nice. Those non-chibi models were also improved from their few appearances in Gen VI, where you could only see them in battles, and in a couple ORAS cutscenes. Gee, they were ugly back then.
The difficulty was also increased from Gen VI, and though I still hadn’t lost a single battle, at least I had to use some healing items. I mean, I never had to *buy* healing items, since the game kept giving me free potions and revives, but at least I used them. Z-Moves were another fun addition. It’s like Mega Evolving your moves, though it really didn’t feel nearly as great as Mega Evolution was.
HMs have been removed from the game, and are replaced with “Ride Pokémon.” I’m indifferent. They didn’t enhance my experience at all, and they weren’t particularly fun to use, but I also don’t have any HM slaves now. The feature could be improved, or we could go back to HMs, and either way I wouldn’t feel much. Gyms were also replaced with Captains, Kahunas, and Totem Pokémon, and I really don’t care. The “challenges” were pretty drab, but it’s a change, which is neat.
However, Sun & Moon did many, many things wrong.
The whole world is bland. In each Pokémon game, there are experiences you can only have in that game, maybe some features or mini-games that never returned in future titles. Contests, food-making, photography, secret bases, casinos, Battle Frontiers and their equivalents, but Sun & Moon have very little to set them apart. Battle Royals are barely an innovation, and besides the Battle Tree, that’s really the only side content I can think of right now. Are there seriously only TWO side activities, one of which is post-game content? There is nothing else to do but follow the story.
Let me rant about those Battle Royals. Remember the Pokéathlon in HeartGold and SoulSilver? You could spend ages in it, leave, and then come back and spend even more time, with still more content to unlock. The same went for all of the contests in Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova. But here, no, you 100% the Battle Royal in a matter of minutes. It\'s the most pathetic side content yet.
That story is a pain to go through. The cutscenes in Sun & Moon are what ruin the game the most. As you enter a route you’re forced through some of the worst dialogue in a Pokémon game, with the absolute worst cast of Hau, Lillie, and Kukui, and as you leave that route you’re forced to interact with them yet again. They just won’t shut up, they turn the game into this never-ending tutorial. It’s also annoying to see a personality projected onto *my* character, who in previous games was a slate for me to create my own persona. Forcing my character into friendly animations and acts of bravery ruins my personal projection onto the character.
But for all the (annoying) life injected into this central cast, the world is seemingly dead. NPCs DON’T. MOVE. Not the ones that you can interact with, at least. Sure, there are a *few* trainers that will move in their set path, but once you interact with them even once, they will never walk again. You leave and return to the route, they’re just steady. In cities, randomly generated NPCs will walk by as well, but they’re incapable of saying little more than “hi.” Any truly interactive NPC has no scripts whatsoever, they’re just dead, motionless statues.
This is the most soulless, lifeless Pokémon game I’ve ever played. It’s okay as a game, it really is okay, but as a core Pokémon title it is the absolute worst. Never has a Pokémon game felt so linear, lacked so much life and interaction. The improvements are minimal, and only really fix recent problems that weren’t present in any games before Gen VI. It’s the definition of two steps forward and fourteen steps back. What a disappointment.
Score: 5.0 (Average!)