Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pokémon Moon (2016)

Genre: RPG | Players: 1-4 | Developer: Game Freak

"It is only when the balance of old and new is just right that you can create something original."

Are you listening, Toei? Unlike the demo, which skewed heavily towards Gen 1 (probably for the sake of players returning via Pokémon Go -_-), Moon actually abides by this mantra, to the letter. I’d argue that the mix is about 90:10, in favor of entirely new content. Instead of challenging gyms, you’re tasked with completing various trials. These activities vary and increase in creativity and appropriateness as the game progresses. Don’t get annoyed if the first one feels disappointing, like it did to me. After every trial on a given island is complete, you’ll face off with its kahuna, in the standard manner. In both instances, you’ll be awarded with their associated Z-Crystals, which allow your pokes to use Z-moves. If one of your pokes has a move of the matching type, they can equip the crystal and perform a corresponding special move, once per battle. Just as Mega Evolution grants a power-up form, a Z-move is essentially a hissatsu. Yes, one of the event pokémon IS an homage to Kamen Rider Ichigo and his unique Z-move is a Rider Kick!!! Many status moves can also be utilized as such for status related effects.

I’m not entirely sure how some folks flew through the game as fast as they did, given that the main storyline took me just over 140 hours to complete. I admit some of that time was a result of stopping to train up new pokes. I wanted to try out a good number of them! I’ll tell you right now, at the end of the series (Lockstin REPRESENT), I have found my favorite set of starters. That’s so fitting for me! A large chunk of the Alola dex is absolutely stellar. I even like most of the Alolan forms for Kanto pokémon. I only briefly used a Grimer, but that’s because I wanted to mostly use new pokes for my first run. I even used the GTS to get one that’s only available via an Island Scan. You can scan QR codes and build up to being able to encounter some that aren’t normally available in the wild, by default. This includes the Johto starters and the pre-evolution of my beloved Roserade.

Though, while I'll be able to bring my Mawile from Y over, it cannot arrive holding its Mega Stone, which is also completely absent from Alola. I’m made to suffer for the sake of keeping things balanced for competitive players. That’s bullshit. I came to like Mega Evolution once I had conceptualized it as a power-up form. I.e., it's fine that it's temporary.

There are some ½ health mechanics in play for a handful of new and “returning” pokes and while I feel they ruin the Wimpod line and Wishiwashi, I quite like it when it comes to Zygarde. This is because it works in reverse. After you find all 100 of his cells and cores, via a classic squee-worthy collection quest, he can assume his Complete Forme when he reaches ½ health, whereas the others escape and become useless, respectively. Plus, you can Dragon Dance every turn while you’re waiting to be whittled down. Also also, your HP is restored at the end of the battle. I adore Zygarde. Can you tell?

If you’re planning on using a Grubbin or a Crabrawler, know that they cannot fully evolve until almost the end of the game. This is different than not being able to get a poke at all until then, and the payoff WAS worth bringing a Charjabug with me across four islands.

Other new features include Poké Pelago, which mainly allows you to collect evolution stones and poké beans, which replace the puffs in X and Y. The mini-games of Amié were removed to streamline Pokémon Refresh, which now takes place in front of a background matching where you currently are, making it feel much more organic. You can also take pictures at designated spots if you’re a fan of Pokémon Snap. Poké Ride is a new system to replace HMs. While I am proud to be a distributor and love how that makes all of my pokes feel even more special, I have to admit that this was done exceedingly well. It maintains the spirit of everyone having a role to play in our exploration and progression, because the instantly summoned Ride pokémon feel like my own. The choices are incredibly sound and I already had characters associated with the vast majority of them. Because of Ride, I have a team of 13. Yes, 13. 

I want to mention that you should purchase a large number of pokéballs before doing the last thing in the story, and have a non-damaging status move on one member of your team. Trust me on this. As a final mechanics note, know that when pokémon feel they are in danger, they can call in reinforcements and this is helpful for leveling, getting pokes not otherwise available, and shiny hunting, as the chances increase as the chain does. It also makes it so you can get pokes with maxed IVs, but forget that sort of thing. Focus on the story!

It’s fantastic, on the whole, and several aspects just make MUCH more sense in Moon as compared to Sun. Development is intensely poured into one character in particular and I’m so sincerely fine with that, given that she’s now my favorite character in the entire franchise. Cause and effect, yo~ As with Y, my privilege as the playable character makes me feel like a douche, but unlike the previous generation, this one allows for a very concrete head-canon via the last image in the credits. 

One that makes everything perfect.

5 Chances to Go Out on the Highest of Notes out of 5

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