The year of 2016 has been a good year for gamers. So many great games came out this year that it honestly had me debating for days on which one would get the glorious title of my “Game of the Year.” But, I ultimately had to pick one and my pick is Pokémon Sun and Moon.
“What, why that game when there are “better” AAA games that came out this year?” I can hear some of you saying through the screen with my super powers. And I can understand where some of you guys are coming from. Why not Battlefield 1? Why not Doom? Why not Zoidberg?! Well my carbon-based lifeform friend, sit back and I will tell you why I chose this game over all the rest.
I was looking for a few key features in my pick for Game of the Year. What I wanted was a game that had me excited for its release date, one that really made me feel like a kid again and a game that really didn’t mind if you only had half an hour to play. Now I know that there are more dynamic games out there that came out this year and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that they aren’t interesting or great games. Hell, I played Horde mode on Gears of War 4 with my best friend and I spent close to 4 hours just trying get to round 50. And when we finally did, we ended up giving each other a slow motion jumping high-five. But to be honest, that game didn’t make me feel like a kid again, it didn’t have me in awe of the world around me. Pokémon Sun and Moon did that for me.
At first glance it looks like Sun and Moon will be a carbon copy of its predecessors, and it’s true that it does have a similar feel to it but this incarnation of Pokémon has so much more to offer. Being based off Hawaii, the Alolan region has a tropical feel that had me in love with it the moment I set foot outside of my house (in the video game). The addition of hearing random Pokémon cries as you walk around is a small feature but one that adds so much life to the world itself. I couldn’t wait to see what more they had added and improved on this time around.
One of the familiar features that has been improved was the fighting move screen that now reminds players what each move does and will also let you know the effectiveness of the move on the opposing Pokémon. Which is a great feature that will aid newcomers into learning the basic tactics of battling and even reminding us old timers what is good against what. The HM moves are now gone this time around (thank goodness!) and are replaced with Pokémon riding which means I no longer need an HM slave taking up a spot on my team. I know that seems like a small feature but, oh man, does it mean so much to me. Riding on different Pokémon almost whenever you want to tackle different problems (rocky terrain, giant boulders in the way, etc.) that this region throws at you. This new system makes exploring the Alola region so much more interesting, in fact that is my main way of travel throughout my gameplay. Walking?! Pfffft, why do that when I can ride this giant Stoutland (dog Pokémon) and find hidden items?
But what really made a difference in this not being a carbon copy of the prior Pokémon games is the introduction of island trials which has now replaced the Gym system. It is no longer “come into my building and beat up my lackeys until you eventually beat me to advance the story” but a new interesting mini game that has me doing different things like a scavenger hunt, memorizing dance moves, or playing Pokémon snap.. I mean taking pictures of Pokémon to lure out the “Totem” Pokémon which challenges you to see what you’re made of. This time around I didn’t/couldn’t just button mash my way through the trials, I had to think of what I was doing. Not only that but I found that almost each trial had me changing my party so I could overcome the challenge that stood before me. Upon beating the trials you earn your very own Z-crystal that makes your Pokémon (as long as they have a move with the same type as the crystal) unleash a devastating move that completely destroys (or faints) the opposing Pokémon. I love being able to do these Z-moves and it’s a great animation that goes along with it. Not only does the trainer have to move in order for the Z move to activate (ghost being my favorite) but seeing the animation of the Pokémon pulling off the move always looks incredible.
I found myself playing Sun and Moon for hours with a twinkle in my eye seeing all the new Pokémon for the first time, and even seeing old Pokémon in a new Alolan form. I felt a rush of excitement every time one of my new Pokémon was evolving, wondering what they would evolve into and knowing they would be stronger. But the feature that I love the most in this generation is the Pokédex. The fact that a Rotom (which is an electric/ghost Pokémon that lives in electronics) is living in the Pokédex is such a fun and unique idea but even more than that are the Pokémon descriptions this generation had to offer. I always loved finding the darker Pokédex entries that the past generations had to offer and man, do they give you a lot this time around. Not only that but there is the addition of mega-evolutions entries that honestly had my mouth on the floor when I read them. I’m not going to spoil anything here but you need to read the entries this generation, they are amazingly dark.
There is so much more that this new generation has brought to the table but I think I have gushed enough. All I can say is from the beautiful designs of the Pokémon, the characters and the overall world, to the new features and additions. Pokémon Sun and Moon is hands down my pick for Game of the Year. I would highly recommend this to any new comer and veteran.