It’s exactly one month before the official Nov. 18th North American release of the new seventh generation Pokémon games Sun and Moon and Nintendo has a special surprise for us, a special demo!! As if the slew of recent Sun and Moon leaks and reveals weren’t enough to wet your appetites for Gen 7, the new demo is here to hold you over until the official release!
Right now you can download the demo from the Nintendo eShop for free! All players who download the demo will be able to obtain a special Pokémon that can be transferred over to the either Sun and Moon upon their release in November. The special Pokémon, Ash’s Greninja is modeled after the Pokémon owned by the anime only protagonist, Ash Ketchum. But, that’s just one of the many perks the demo has to offer and I’m going to cover them all in this special Pokémon Sun and Moon demo review!!
*Update [10/19]: I want to give a shoutout to Phya, she definitely helped me out with the 3DS screencap issue, I’ll definitely be using it for future 3DS game reviews!!
After moving to the Alola region from Kanto, the player, named Sun, receives a strange letter welcoming them to Alola, the letter also mentions that the sender left the player with a special Greninja to help them out on their Pokémon journey. After reading the letter, the player’s mother informs the player that there is to be a special announcement at City Hall, so the pair make their way to the venue for the announcement! While there the player meets a young man named Hau, who takes the player on a tour of the town, but before you can get far the villainous team, Team Skull shows up to engage Sun and Hau in a Pokémon battle. After defeating the grunts Sun is asked to participate in a Pokémon Trial that involves taking pictures of and battling four special Dragon-type Pokémon, 2 Jangmo-o and 2 Hakamo-o. After encountering the first three Pokémon, Sun encounters the last Hakamo-o, the Totem Pokémon of Ten Carat Cave. The demo ends after the Trial is complete and the Totem Pokémon is defeated… there’s also a battle with the Team Skull Admin, Pulmeria followed by an extended trailer for the upcoming Sun and Moon games.
The battle mechanics are similar to that of the previous 3DS Pokémon games, with a few minor aesthetic changes, namely the removal of the 3D feature that was added in Pokémon X and Y (thank God)! The top screen is reserved for the battle playing field and features animated sprites of the player and the opposing trainer (in this case the Team Skull Grunt) as well as animated sprites of the battle Pokémon. The top screen utilizes various camera angles that focus in on each of the participating Pokémon and Trainers, while also giving the player a birds eye view of the battlefield and the surrounding area. The background area is pretty much just a detailed rendering of the shops and buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Pokémon battle, which remains relatively static throughout the battle sequence.
The menu items are the same: Fight, Pokémon, Bag, Run, so not much to write home about there. The biggest change to the battle menu comes from the Fight tab. Now trainers can check out Pokémon stats of opposing Pokémon by clicking on their sprites on the bottom touch screen. Now players can see just how effective status moves are with a helpful gauge. Also in addition to the status gauge feature, players can now see the effectiveness of Pokémon moves on opposing Pokémon upon all subsequent encounters with that specific Pokémon.
The Setting – Hau’oli City and Beyond
After defeating the Team Skull Grunts, the player and Sun explore a few of the locations around Hau’oli City. I am in love with the Alola region, from the scenery to the music, everything about the design screams tropical paradise. Even the cities are bursting with life, from the multiple pokemon scattered around Hau’oli City to the unique palm trees planted along the roadsides, Alola is a sight to behold. While many of the buildings are your average brick or stone structures, the interiors are all decorated in warm tribal patterned furniture and decor.
- City Hall: Is the large building at the center of Hau’oli City and it looks just like you’d expect a government building to look. There is a large waiting area full of NPCs and in the back there is a counter with a receptionist NPC. The player and his mom initially go there to update their address information and to hear a “special” announcement.
- Shops: So it appears that there are a number of other shops in Hau’oli City; there’s the Malasada Shop that sells tasty treats, unfortunately you can’t buy anything there in the demo. There’s also an Apparel Shop and a Grooming Shop (unsure if it’s for Pokemon or people yet) but, both locations are inaccessible in the demo.
- Alola Tourist Bureau: This building is full of NPCs that love talking about how great the Alola region is. There is even some that talk about the other Alolan islands.
- Police Station: Seems like a normal police station. There is a NPC police officer standing outside of the building and an office sitting behind the desk once you eter the station. There’e is nothing to do inside other than talking to the Cop NPC and interacting with a statue of the station mascot, an imposing Granbull using Scary Face.
- Pokémon Center: Looks like the combination Pokémon Center/PokéMart locations introduced in Pokémon X and Y are here to stay, but with an added bonus, there is also a mini coffee shop! However because this is a demo, only the Pokémon center feature is available and it’s the same as in the other main series games; talk to the nurse behind the counter and hand over your Pokémon for healing. Pokémon sprites are briefly displayed on the giant screen behind the counter during the healing process, after being healed the Pokémon are handed back to the player good as new!
- Hau’oli City Marina: To the southeast of the city is the Marina, which looks similar to the warehouse areas in the previous Pokémon games (ie. the one in Black and White). There are a few NPCs walking around the Marina, but the main attraction of the marina is the Ferry Terminal. Players can use the Ferry Terminal to travel to other locations in the Alola region by boat, however at this time the Ferry is still under construction and cannot be used. But, there are a few NPCs players can interract with…silverlinings…
- Ten Carat Hill: To the north of the city is a grassy knoll where Trainers go to take part in Alolan Pokémon Trials. At Ten Carat Hill the player can encounter wild Pokémon in grassy patches and battle Trainer NPC. In order to gain access to this area the player must speak with an older gentleman stationed at the hill’s entrance.
- Ten Carat Cave: After making their way through Ten Carat Hill, players will enter a cave where they will encounter Professor Kukui which will in turn trigger the Hau’oli Pokémon Trial.
- Mahalo Trail: After talking with a female NPC in Hau’oli City, she agrees to take you to a place where you can grow closer to your Pokémon. The Mahalo Trail is just that, a winding mountain trail, the path way is riddled with large boulders so the player will have to use Tauro to get to the top. Other than the female NPC there is one other character at this location, who gives you a special item for clearing the path.
So I’m not going to lie, I was a little upset that the player customization features weren’t included in the demo, but what are you gonna do *shrugs*. Overall the character designs are nice and aside from the unnaturally pale protagonist, I really liked that most of the NPCs were given a sun kissed glow. Alola is an island region, so I appreciated the additional detail.
The new friend/rival character Hau, seems pretty cool, but I can’t help but get the feeling that he’s going to be more of a friend rather than a rival like what happened in Pokémon X and Y. Is it really too much to ask to have a solid rival like in the old days?
But the character that really got my blood pumping was Professor Kukui! I dunno what’s going on down at Game Freak, but I sincerely hope they keep it up, because these last few Pokémon Professors have been drop dead gorgeous. Hello, new papi!!
We also get a sneak peek at the new villainous group Team Skull and let me tell you, those guys look like a bunch of boy band rejects and what’s the deal with the synchronized dance moves? I just couldn’t take those guys seriously, not with those dance moves. However, I did like Plumeria, she reminded me of the Punk Girl Trainers from X and Y!
New Features in Pokémon Sun and Moon
In past Pokémon titles it was difficult to distinguish normal NPCs from Pokémon Trainer NPCs, which has lead to more than one accidental Pokémon battle… Well worry no more, in the Sun in Moon demo, there is finally a way to tell the difference between regular NPCs and Trainers!! When approaching an Trainer NPC the screen will darken slightly around the edges as if narrowing in on the competition. It’s a subtle touch, that the developers added to the game and I like it.
The Z-Ring, Z-Crystals, and Z-Moves
Much like the Mega Stones and Bracelet from X and Y, players in Sun and Moon can obtain a special Z- Ring, that when coupled with a special Z-Crystal will allow certain Pokémon to unlock special high powered attacks called Z-Moves. These moves can only be used once during battle so be sure to choose when to use them wisely. During the Island Trial, the player is given Professor Kukui’s Pikachu which is able to use the Z-Move Gigavolt Havoc…and while the move looks really cool, I’m still not completely sold on the whole Z-Move concept…
Once players gains access to Ten Carat Hill, you will encounter some areas blocked off by huge sturdy boulders, in order to access to these areas the player must call call on special Pokémon (in the demo it’s a Tauros) to break down the obstacles. In order to call on these special, you’ll have to get the Ride Pager from Professor Kukui. This is similar to the Pokémon riding feature in X and Y, so I’m not really sold on this feature either. Maybe there will be more opportunities to utilize this feature once the full versions of Sun and Moon are released, but for now I’m kind of meh about it…but, I will admit that the Pokémon Riding track suit is pretty cool looking…
Pokémon Catch Challenge
It’s exactly what it sounds like, after talking to a guy on Ten Carat Hill, you are given a set number of Pokéballs (16 Poké Balls, 3 Heal Balls, and 1 Great Ball)and tasked with catching as many Pokémon as you can. It’s kind of like a mix between the Safari Zone from the previous generations and the Bug Catching Contest from gen II, you even get an item prize at the end too…
During Island Trials players are required to perform certain tasks, in the case of the demo, Sun just has to take pictures of four Pokémon in Ten Carat Cave with the Poké Finder. During the trial the play explores Ten Carat Cave, snapping pictures of 2 Jangmo-o and 2 Hakamo-o, culminating in a battle with the local Totem Pokémon Hakamo-o. Unlike the other Pokemon, the Totem Pokemon has special abilities that set it apart from the rest so this won’t be an easy battle. During the demo the Totem Pokémon Hakamo-o has the ability to call upon other Pokémon to aid it in battle… I really like the idea of Island Challenges and Totem Pokémon, but I’m still going to miss the old Pokémon Gym system.
So, this wound up being much longer than I originally intended, so I’ll try to keep this brief… The Pokémon Sun and Moon demo has a whole host of features for players to discover and quite a few unique locations to explore, and this was just my first playthrough. After talking with a few of the NPCs scattered around Hau’oli, there are many more secrets to unlock in the demo in the days leading up to the Nov. 18th release of Sun and Moon! Rest assured, I will definitely write more on the demo as I uncover more details during my subsequent playthroughs!
As a whole I was impressed with the demo and I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy of Pokémon Moon when it’s released here in the States! In meantime that’s all I have for you guys, but stay tuned for more demo updates as I get further into the game!!