There is a lot to like about Pokemon Sun and Moon, and most of these things are new developments for the now 20-year-old series. I'll do what I can to cover every incredible aspect of the game, but the main focus will, of course, be on the big new additions.
First off, the biggest and boldest change to the Pokemon series is the absence of gyms. Rather, in Alola, the region where Pokemon Sun and Moon take place, trainers take on the Island Challenge. Rather than moving through the region and defeating eight gyms and their leaders, trainers now progress through the islands and must complete various tasks required for the trial. These tasks range from gathering cooking ingredients to snapping pictures of Pokemon to spotting the difference in a dance routine. After completing these tasks, often a Totem Pokemon will face the trainer, followed by the Trial Leader. The thing about the Alola Island Challenge is that it is actually integrated with exploring the island and it helps you to familiarize with the people who inhabit them. This new take on the old formula really livens up the adventure and makes moving through the region feel like more of an adventure than with the gym format.
But, of course, there is always the ultimate challenge of the Pokemon League. Of course Pokemon couldn't ditch that staple, so you actually get to witness the birth of the Alolan Pokemon League and compete to be the first ever champion of Alola.
Now, for the bad guys. The Pokemon "bad guy" teams throughout the years tend to stay pretty much the same. They dress alike, have badass battle music, and have some sinister intentions. Team Skull is no different in this case, but the thing that really gets me about Team Skull is the comic relief that they provide to the game. Every move of a Team Skull grunt is over exaggerated in a style that you can't help but laugh at them and their uselessness. As for the part they play in the story, I very much liked the way that Team Skull, the Aether Foundation, and Gladion all interacted with each other. Three separate entities all working towards one goal that is very similar. Overall, Team Skull is a laughably bad team that I very much enjoyed defeating.
The Pokemon, of course. There are very few of them. Only 80 new Pokemon made it into this generation, and this number is padded by the new additions of Alolan forms. First generation Pokemon that have adapted to the Alolan climate and have thus changed their typing and looks, yet are still the same Pokemon. Notable Alolan forms include Persian, Golem, and of course, Exeggutor. The Pokemon design for the Alolan forms is pretty cool, and although some would say that these retyped and redesigned Pokemon is a way for Pokemon to stop thinking creatively for new Pokemon, I would say its a happy medium. As for the new seventh generation Pokemon, they are overall well designed. An overall nicely designed generation. The legendary Pokemon look great, as do the starters, and there aren't any really, really horrible ones. A good victory altogether.
Now, for some odds and ends. The Pokedex this generation is actually a Rotom that has inhabited a Pokedex and is thus dubbed the RotomDex. This new take on the Pokedex is so hilariously awesome in so many different ways. I love the phrases he says when you catch a Pokemon, like "hot diggity you're on fire, partner" or some other crazy shit.
The characters are pretty cool and I absolutely love your "rival" Hau to pieces. He's not some snobby douche who you've known for years and chooses the type that is super effective to your starter. He instead goes for the type that is not very effective to your partner. Props, Hau. The Trial Leader and Kahunas are all pretty badass, and I want to stress again how awesome the whole trials system is, getting to meet all of these people and battle them and mature throughout the process. That's really cool to me.
Pokemon Amie is gone, kind of, for Pokemon Refresh. It's pretty much the same system as before, you can pet your Pokemon and feed them little snacks, but now you can also heal them of status conditions after battle which is really convenient and wicked cool.
Poke Pelago is by far and away the coolest new addition to the series. Poke Pelago is a series of islands that the Pokemon of your PC inhabit so they can perform various tasks. For example, while I am out adventuring, I can throw my Golbat and Munchlax into Poke Pelago to raise their friendship level with me. Really cool.
Another welcome feature is the Festival Plaza, which I kind of see as almost like the mall in Pokemon Black and White. People arrive in it either via local wireless or by internet, and there are shops there that provide services from raising friendship to lottery to various other services. My favorite part of the Plaza are the missions. Any player with plaza tickets can host their own mission with friends, but also available are massive global missions, the first of which is to catch 100 million Pokemon as a global Pokemon community. This is so cool to me because it's awesome to think that the whole world is working together for one common goal. That's so damn neat.
Overall, there is a lot going on in Pokemon Sun and Moon, and that is absolutely not a bad thing. The one point that bothered me a little bit was the overload of nostalgia the game tried to shove down the player's throat. And this is partly thanks to every single Alolan form Pokemon being from the first 150, but also just the Pokemon in the region are overloaded with Kantoan Pokemon. I did what I always did in Pokemon games, the first Pokemon I encountered with different typing, I added to my team in order to defeat the Elite Four. Well after getting to the end of the game and looking back at my team, I was a little disappointing to only see one generation seven Pokemon there: my starter. My team at the end of the game consisted of:
And yeah, I only had five Pokemon, I was saving the last slot for Alolan Exeggutor but it didn't work out. That's okay. But seriously, at one point in my journey, I was traveling with four of the first 150. It's not a huge takeaway, but I would have loved to see the earlier routes more densely populated with seventh generation Pokemon rather than Growlithes and Slowpokes. But seriously, that is my only only only complaint about this gem of a game. (Might come back later for more, stay posted, updates will come in at the top)