Hands On: Pokemon Sun and Moon Special Demo!

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Demo day has finally arrived! After some expected sluggishness on the eShop, I finally booted up the game, and I’m loving what I’m seeing so far. This will be my fourth Pokemon game, following Red, Yellow, and X, and from what I’ve read so far, there are so many little changes that it’s really shaping up to be a fresh approach in the Pokemon franchise.

I only got back into the series last year with X/Y, and already I’m feeling a scratch on that nostalgic itch from playing for about 15 minutes. The art style looks terrific – I’m really digging the escape from the chibi art-form. Not to imply I’m not a fan anyway, but with World of Final Fantasy being my “next up” game on the Vita, I’m going to be looking at a lot of miniature big-headed characters in my future. This is a nice change. Although the absence of 3D in the demo is a bummer, it was expected after the terrible performance of the previous games. With even more polygons going into each battle with the inclusion of the trainer, it would have ran terribly even on the “New” hardware.

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But on to the adventure!

Right off the bat, you’re given a Greninja. This pleases me. There’s little to no introduction, but long story short you’re the new kid in a town called Alola!

One of the first things I noticed is that the music seems to be a little more… complex? Maybe that isn’t the ideal word, but I’m hearing more instruments in the tunes, specifically in the battle music. I’m wearing some high quality noise-canceling headphones so maybe that’s why, but it sounds a little more chaotic than I remember. This is more an observation than a criticism. The chaotic nature of Pokemon games and battles specifically is part of the allure for me. The tropical music is very refreshing, however!

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The baddies in this game are Team Skull, and upon seeing them frolicking towards me for the first time I found myself cracking up at the sheer ridiculousness of the “crip walk” they had going on. I can only imagine a boardroom filled with Nintendo and Gamefreak executives trying to convince each other that this is normal gang behavior. But that is Pokemon for you, the game series that takes itself seriously until it doesn’t. There’s a lighthearted feel to how these games approach “bad guys,” and I love it. They’re big tough guys, until they lose a Pokemon battle, and then they just run away like kids.

Moving into the Pokemon Center, I’m happy to see that the whole healing process has been streamlined. It just feels a lot snappier, but then again the last installment I played was Yellow. There’s a lot less going on inside, I didn’t see a clothing store or anything, but of course this is the demo so it might not be final.

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You are then thrust into the typical Pokemon formalities, consisting of meeting the professor who looks more like he spends more time surfing than in a laboratory, you are sent to Ten Carat Hill, where you must undergo a trial to “improve your skills as a trainer and get closer to your Pokemon.” Running into some random encounters here, the overhaul of the bottom screen really shines. Three big changes stand out, here:

  1. It will keep track of move effectiveness. Upon finishing the demo, it appears this is on a “learned” basis, where after you’ve used a moved against a specific Pokemon, it will keep track of whether or not it was Effective, Super Effective, or Not Effective. So, if you don’t know the Type of Pokemon you are battling against, this will help you choose the best attack.
  2. You can press L+A and have a move description appear. This is great, if you’re forgetful like me and forget what moves do. When I came back to Pokemon in Gen VI, I realized I had no idea what most moves did, as the names can be a little vague. This is a real life saver!
  3. Buffs or debuffs are represented with little icons. Tapping into them on the bottom screen lets you view exactly your stat changes. This is terrific!

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Next, on to a part that I’m pretty excited about – the Poke Finder! The Poke Finder is essentially a camera that’s used for, what else, taking pictures of Pokemon. So far the purpose of doing this is unknown to me, so I’ll assume until further notice that it’s just a part of the trial and possibly a little mini-game to enjoy on the side.

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The last part of the demo is a pretty cool battle where you get to check out the Z-Move! Greninja turns into Ash-Greninja and unleashes some pretty badass attacks. A pretty simple 2-move fight, but that’s generally to be expected in a Pokemon demo. The leader of Team Skull shows up and it’s a.. not so epic battle, but it’s just a little taste of the fun to come.

Overall, this demo took me about 45 minutes, while I was also writing about it. Good use of a lunch break and definitely served it’s purpose: to get us all in the mood for a new installment of Pokemon.

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