After months of waiting the world has finally been given the opportunity to journey to the Alola region, while the major demo itself is relatively short it does leave a lasting impression of the games new concepts as well as slight changes to the typical formula.
The special Pokemon Sun and Moon demo starts us out in Hau’oli City with the “story” having us just moved from Kanto and having received a Greninja as a partner Pokemon from somebody. This brief narrative presented through the demo is not actual canon for your future Alolan journey, rather it offers a brief chance to introduce players to the region, and present a major feature from the full game. Shortly after beginning we get to meet Professor Kukui who asks us if we want to take on a Trial which is the core component of the major demo.
This demo had us play out a Trial in a small cave asking us to use the new Poke Finder item to find and photograph a selection of Pokemon, this was nothing to strenuous but did offer an opportunity to explore a major mechanic. During this trial we also got to have our first proper look at totem Pokemon, with the final creature being one of this species, the battle was certainly interesting offering a diverse although easy battle with the main Pokemon and a Rockruff it summoned.
This battle also allowed us our first opportunity to explore the Battle Bond ability of our partner Greninja allowing him to turn into Ash Greninja, on the whole this seemed pretty pointless but was an interesting little addition. It never seemed to do much or offer any real improvement besides a slightly cooler looking version of Greninja and seemed more like they were trying to incorporate an element from the anime where they could.
Following this we also got to try out Z-moves using a Pikachu that we were lent for the Trial, this came in the form of a battle with a Team Skull Admin who essentially was there to allow us to use this feature. Again this is underwhelming and really just seemed like a silly addition to the game to allow for a heavy hitting attack, surely it was not necessary and I fail to be sold on the idea the lengthy cutscene and pose just seem dumb to me, while also seeming a bit cheap.
Following the battle with Team Skull we are made to believe that the demo is over, we get to see a brand new trailer which shows a wide variety of things and are then quickly booted out to the menu screen. Although it is not actually over, now we are set free to wander the area of Ten Caret Hill which we visited for the previous Trial, here we can battle a selection of trainers with the end goal being to get an item, although this does give us a chance to actually face a tough battle and feel a bit more underpowered.
Ten Caret Hill also offers the Pokemon Catching Challenge which by getting three or more Pokemon you can win a nugget for the full game, the biggest issue with this is that the Pokemon you catch are only for this tiny area where the challenge takes place although at the very least it gave us a chance to go and try a couple of Alola Pokemon. Getting to try out Pokemon like Yungoos, Pikipek, as well as Rockruff was great and it get me excited to try them out properly in my full Alolan adventure, I just wish that I had slightly more freedom to explore with this group of Pokemon and try them out further in the full area.
Another feature we got given access to was the Poke Ride feature and this has been very much improved upon from what we saw in X and Y, from the look of things this Poke Ride feature looks to do away with the dreaded HM’s as the Tauros we rode demonstrated its keen ability for smashing through giant boulders. It was also interesting to see that we could ride these Pokemon both in the field and in town which is really unique although it begs the question of whether this will be the case in the full game. Also I wonder how early we will get access to this feature, it seems to speed up travel but I hope it is more sparring then it seems, unlimited use of this feature would ruin the novelty as well as the fun of on foot exploration. Only time will tell, but hopefully it is not as free as it seems.
One other feature that caught my eye was the “improvement” to the battle system, it seems the game are becoming easier as they try to help newcomers learn the somewhat complex combat system. With Sun and Moon after meeting a Pokemon for the second time we get told which moves we have are super effective, not very effective, or just standard effective. For unfamiliar newcomers this is interesting and helpful, but I hope this is something that can be turned off, I feel like this is too easy and ruins the fun of memorizing strengths and weaknesses, with a simple look you can see the best option removing some of the strategy.
There isn’t really much to this demo besides exploring some of these interesting new features and trialing some of the new Pokemon, but besides this there is a reason to keep coming back to this over the coming month. There are multiple characters who show up after the main mission is complete who tell us to see them in a certain amount of days from one to twenty four, my guess is that we will get items for seeing these certain people but this does offer an element of surprise and a reason to come back to Alola with this demo. Its small but it’s a nice treat.
Before playing this I was already sold on Sun and Moon but for those that weren’t yet this might just grab their interest, it shows enough without spoiling the main story and it gives enough to get excited. Some of the new gameplay material that was seen in this demo I honestly didn’t find appealing but the Alola region itself is exciting and I find myself eager to keep exploring the demo to see what secrets it hides. I doubt I will find any but I can say one thing Sun and Moon definitely has my attention and there is enough here to show the formula changes, revisions, and mysteries that I am captivated. Pokemon Sun and Moon can not come quick enough.