And by that I mean Pokemon Sun and Moon. But you knew that already. I mean, what else could S&M possibly stand for, right?
So, yeah. The 7th generation of the Pokemon core series came out last month, to considerable success. I played it for the better part of the last few weeks myself. Having already completed the main story and most of the post-game content, I decided that it's time for me to share my (spoiler-free!) impressions.
Basically, this is the best Pokemon game I've ever played. That's not to say it's perfect, but it came pretty close in my book, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Let's break it down, shall we?
-Story and characterization: I think this is the first Pokemon game that actually made a serious effort in making the characters you meet memorable. In the past, gym leaders and the such were confined to their small, self-contained gyms, and the extent of your character's interaction with them was essentially limited to battling them once, claiming their gym badge, moving on and forgetting they even existed. In S&M, however, the gym leader equivalents actually appear several times over the course of the game, and are way more involved in the progression of the game's storyline. In my opinion, this alone makes for a richer and more interesting experience than what past entries had to offer. So, yeah. I really liked S&M's colorful cast of characters. And I fondly remember every single one of them.
-Music: Pokemon games usually feature a great soundtrack, and these new entries are no exception. There's a lot of good stuff here. In fact, I'm listening to the soundtrack right now, as I'm typing this!
-The world: Alola is a fun place to explore. There are lots of sights to see and environments to navigate. The game is visually quite impressive, despite the admittedly aging hardware running it. The fact that the developers finally ditched the old grid-based movement system and gave all characters more realistic human proportions only makes it all better and adds to the immersion factor in my opinion.
-Ride Pokemon: The long awaited replacement of the old and outdated HM system of previous generations. Finally, "HM slaves" are no more. It was about time!
-Festival Plaza: Sure, it's a side thing that can be ignored for the most part, but considering on-line play is tied to it, I feel like it still needs to be said: the Festival Plaza is slow, clunky, grindy, and just plain unfun. An experiment gone wrong. It just feels like an underdeveloped idea that needed more time in the oven.
-Framerates: This game pushes the 3DS hardware to its limits, and that becomes particularly evident pretty much anytime there's more than two pokemon on the battlefield. And let's not even speak about the Battle Royal. You can almost count the frames on those!
-The main character's facial expressions: Or rather, the lack thereof. Your main character can't emote. 99.9% of the time it's just this blank, borderline lifeless stare with a goofy smile plastered on. Even when the world around them is crumbling. Geez, show some emotion! Frankly, it can get somewhat distracting at times, particularly in the more dramatic scenes.
-...And that's pretty much it, I think!
Overall, this was a solid entry (the best one yet, if you ask me) in the Pokemon series. Sure, it's heavy on story and cutscenes, but I didn't mind it. I enjoyed these characters and their interactions a lot, and I would certainly not mind seeing them again in a possible sequel.