First Look – Pokémon Sun and Moon: Special Demo Version

It has been a very exciting year for the evergreen franchise that is Pokémon. Between celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original games and screwing Ash out of yet another Pokémon League victory, there has been a LOT of info dumps about the new games, Sun & Moon. With the demo now out and available for all to partake in, I’ve decided to give it a go around and take in the first look of Generation 7 of the Pokémon games. And to add this experience, I’ve added footage from the demo, shot guerilla-style, in this piece.

Right off the bat, this is not going to be the same formulaic Pokémon game that we’ve all come to expect, over the past six generations. The overall feel and presentation has undergone quite the improvement, and the scale of characters to surroundings has finally, after such a long time, been fixed to be more representative of a real in-game world, and no longer does the character feel like they’re just a sprite in an overworld. To start the demo, you have a Greninja, set at level 36 with the moves Night Slash, Double Team, Aerial Ace, and Water Shuriken, a perfect assortment for the battles you’ll have in the game. The characters of Hau, the friendly rival, as well as Professor Kukui, are introduced in the demo, for familiarity once the players get their hands on the full games. There are a few Team Skull battles, one with a grunt and one with an Admin, one lone Trainer battle, a few wild battles in tall grass, and lastly, an island trial. Greninja will be able to handle the bulk of it, save for the last battle, where you’ll be using Kukui’s Pikachu with its special Z-Move, Gigavolt Havoc.

Now, the new Z-Move mechanic is an interesting one, serving as a quasi-extension of the Mega Evolution mechanic introduced in the Gen 6 games. Bulbapedia explains Z-Moves thusly: “There are two different kinds of Z-Moves: Z-Moves that power up a move depending on its type and can be used by any Pokémon, and special Z-Moves that can only be used by specific Pokémon. The Z-Move that a Pokémon can perform depends on the Z-Crystal it holds.” Much like with Mega Evolution, Z-Moves require the player to have a special accessory, the Z-Ring, and corresponding Z-Crystals for each Pokémon. Yeah, it’s a gimmick, but a gimmick that can do one-hit KOs is alright by me. What makes the Greninja in the demo so unique is its Battle Bond ability, which, during battle and when it KOs an opponent, activates and turns into “Ash-Greninja,” which, if you follow the anime, isn’t as exciting as it should’ve been. Still, a free Greninja that you can transfer over to the main game? I’m cool with it.

The demo, itself, isn’t overly long, the main bulk of the demo can be finished in about 25 minutes, but it does present a great sampling of what to expect in the full game. The UI has improved, the character models have stronger definition, and as a whole, it takes full advantage of the 3DS hardware capabilities, despite the lack of stereoscopic 3D. But I’m certain that won’t be too big a deal-breaker. The music in the game may just be the best of any main-series Pokémon game, especially the Team Skull music. There are also events that can be set off after a certain amount of days playing the demo, so check back in, every now and then, to see what kind of free goodies you can get out of it. This will not be the Pokémon of old, nor will it be in the same tradition of collecting 8 badges and fighting the League for the title of Champion. I, for one, am very interested in seeing how all of the trials in the game will come into play during the endgame, and beyond, and you all can expect more from me about this bold new adventure within the Pokémon universe with an expansive review of Pokémon Sun & Moon, later this fall. It’s going to be a very vast undertaking, but it is one that I am very excited to partake in.

Pokémon Sun & Moon will be available for Nintendo 3DS on November 18, worldwide, except for Europe, where it will be available on November 23.

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