Pokémon Sun and Moon

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  • Pokémon Sun
  • Pokémon Moon
Pokemon Sun Boxart.jpg
North American packaging artwork for Pokémon Sun, depicting the Legendary Pokémon Solgaleo
Developer(s) Game Freak
Publisher(s) The Pokémon Company
Nintendo
Director(s) Shigeru Ohmori
Producer(s) Junichi Masuda
Shin Uwai
Takato Utsunomiya
Hitoshi Yamagami
Shinya Takahashi
Designer(s) Shigeru Ohmori
Programmer(s) Sosuke Tamada
Artist(s) Takao Unno
Writer(s) Toshinobu Matsumiya
Suguru Nakatsui
Kenji Matsushima
Masafumi Nukita
Composer(s) Minako Adachi
Go Ichinose
Junichi Masuda
Hitomi Sato
Tomoaki Oga
Hideaki Kuroda
Series Pokémon
Platform(s) Nintendo 3DS
Release
  • WW: November 18, 2016
  • EU: November 23, 2016
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon[a] are role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS. They are the first installments in the seventh generation of Pokémon games. First announced in February 2016 through a special Nintendo Direct, both Sun and Moon were released worldwide in November 2016, commemorating the franchise's 20th anniversary. Two follow-up games, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon, were released for the 3DS in November 2017.

As with previous installments, each game follows the journey of a young Pokémon trainer as they train Pokémon. This time, the game takes place in the Alola region—based on Hawaii—with the object of the game being to thwart the schemes of Team Skull, and later the Aether Foundation, all while attempting to challenge various Pokémon trainers of gradually increasing difficulty. Sun and Moon introduced 81 new Pokémon species, and includes new features such as Alolan forms of previous generation Pokémon, powerful moves known as Z-Moves, new, powerful creatures known as Ultra Beasts, updated battle and training mechanics, and improved polygonal 3D graphics. The games also adopted the previously introduced battle mechanic known as Mega Evolution, which was first introduced in Pokémon X and Y. Although Sun and Moon are mostly independent of each other, both feature largely the same plot, and while either can be played separately, trading Pokémon between the two games is allowed and necessary to complete the Pokédex, just like in previous installments.

The games received generally favorable reviews from critics, who welcomed the change from the formula used by prior Pokémon games and praised the gameplay of Sun and Moon while criticizing their poor storyline and lack of content beyond the primary plot. Upon release, the games sold over 10 million copies worldwide within a week, becoming one of the fastest selling games in Nintendo's history. With over 16 million copies sold worldwide by the end of 2017, Sun and Moon are the third-best-selling Nintendo 3DS titles, after Mario Kart 7 and their predecessors, Pokémon X and Y.

Gameplay[edit]

Pokémon Sun and Moon are role-playing video games with adventure elements, based in the fictional Alola region (loosely based on Hawaii), presented in a third-person, overhead perspective. The player controls a young trainer who goes on a quest to catch and train creatures known as Pokémon, and win battles against other trainers. By defeating enemy Pokémon in turn-based battles, the player's Pokémon gains experience, allowing them to level up and increase their battle statistics, learn new battle techniques, and in some cases, evolve into more powerful Pokémon. Players can capture wild Pokémon, found during random encounters, by weakening them in battle and catching them with Poké Balls, allowing them to be added to their party. Players are also able to battle and trade Pokémon with other human players using the Nintendo 3DS' connectivity features. Like in previous games in the series, certain Pokémon are only obtainable in either Sun or Moon, with players encouraged to trade with others in order to obtain all Pokémon from both versions.

Features[edit]

The bottom screen in Sun and Moon is occupied by a Rotom, showing a map of the player's location. The red flag indicates a story waypoint.

Pokémon Sun and Moon, like their predecessors, are presented in fully three dimensional (3D) polygonal graphics, allowing for more interactivity with the overworld and more dynamic action during battles. However, the character models in Sun and Moon possess more realistic proportions compared to chibi-styled models used in X and Y or Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.[1] Players are also able to customize their Pokémon trainer's appearance, choosing gender, skin tone and hair color at the start of the game, and can later acquire outfits and accessories to change their character's appearance. Joining the previous generations of Pokémon are all new species, such as the new Starter Pokémon; Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio, and the Pokémon that are, within the fictional Pokémon world, described as Legendary, namely Solgaleo and Lunala.[2][3]

Concept art shown during the initial announcement of the games indicated that Pokémon Centers and Poké Marts would receive updates to their respective designs. IGN and Kotaku noted an abundance of vehicles in the concept art, including a fire engine, a pickup truck, and an ambulance, some of them ridden in by Pokémon.[4][5] Pokémon Sun and Moon is the first entry in the series to be available in Chinese, both Simplified and Traditional, along with English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Korean, for a total of nine playable languages.[6] In a video centered on the games on May 10, 2016, the games' starter Pokémon were revealed as Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio. The packaging artwork for each title was also unveiled, depicting the Legendary Pokémon, named Solgaleo and Lunala.[7] A later video revealed certain Pokémon having different forms to adapt to the climate of Alola, changing appearance, typing, and abilities, known as "regional variants".[8] Throughout the game, the player utilizes a Rotom-possessed Pokédex, which gives a minimap for the player containing markers for story objectives in the 3DS touchscreen.[9]

On August 1, 2016, a new type of move known as Z-Moves was announced as a powerful move that can only be used once during battle.[10] On September 6, 2016, a new feature was revealed, the "Poké Finder" allows players to take photos of their Pokémon, similar to Pokémon Snap.[11][12] In addition, the two games' clocks are set 12 hours apart from each other, with Sun operating on the 3DS' time and Moon operating 12 hours ahead.[13] It was also revealed the two games would feature creatures known as "Ultra Beasts".[14] Character customization as previously seen in X and Y returns in Sun and Moon. A new "Pokémon Refresh" feature, which allows players to care for and feed their Pokémon was also announced.[15] Mega Evolution, a game mechanic first introduced in X and Y, returns in Sun and Moon.[16] During a Nintendo financial briefing on October 27, 2016, a Pokémon League was announced allowing users access to the Battle Tree, which allows them to battle or team up with past Pokémon Champions.[17] A Festival Plaza, which allows players to go online and trade or battle with other players, was also introduced.[18] From the Festival Plaza players could participate in "Global Missions", where players from across the world work towards a set target (such as catching 100 million Pokémon collectively).[19]

Compatibility[edit]

Pokémon Sun and Moon are compatible with Pokémon Bank, an online Pokémon storage system introduced during the previous generation of Pokémon games.[20] In a special Pokémon Direct on February 26, 2016, Tsunekazu Ishihara from The Pokémon Company announced that Pokémon caught in the Virtual Console versions of Red, Blue, and Yellow are transferable to Sun and Moon via Pokémon Bank. Pokémon caught in X, Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are also transferable.[21] Compatibility for Pokémon Bank became available on January 24, 2017.[15][22] Tomy also released a peripheral interactive toy resembling a Z-Ring, which synchronizes with the use of Z-moves in the games.[23]

Plot[edit]

Setting[edit]

The Alola Region comprises several islands of varying sizes; from left to right: Exeggutor Island, Poni Island, Melemele Island, Akala Island, and Ula'ula Island. The white structure just south of Melemele is the very large floating structure Aether Paradise.
The Alola Region was heavily inspired by Hawaii, with Game Freak staff visiting the islands to conduct research for the game.

The games take place on the tropical islands of the Alola region, composed entirely of islands. Joe Skrebels of IGN describes it as "Pokémon's take on Hawaii".[24] During an interview at E3 2016, Shigeru Ohmori noted that Game Freak staff took trips to Hawaii to conduct research for Sun and Moon.[25]

The leading scientist in the Alola region is Professor Kukui, whose name comes from the kukui, also known as the candlenut, the Hawaiian state tree, continuing the trend of Pokémon professors being named after trees. Team Skull is the name of the villainous group for Alola.[26][27] The Aether Foundation is an organization which studies Ultra Beasts, mysterious creatures from another dimension.[28] Professor Oak does not appear in Sun and Moon, his cousin Samson Oak taking his place.[29]

Story[edit]

The player starts off as a youngster moving from Kanto to Alola's Melemele Island with their mother. After meeting Lillie and rescuing her special Pokémon Nebby, they obtain a starter Pokémon from local Professor Kukui and embark on the island challenge, a coming-of-age custom spanning trials across Alola, along with local youngster Hau. Unlike in previous games, trials involve battles with powered-up Pokémon followed by battles with each island's Kahuna upon completion of an island's trials. Throughout this the player encountered Team Skull, a gang of misfits whose members include their leader Guzma and enforcer Gladion, and the Aether Foundation, an organization aiming to shelter Pokémon from various threats.

During a visit to Aether Foundation's base Aether Paradise (a very large floating structure), a mysterious Ultra Beast emerged from a wormhole and retreated before it could be defeated or captured. Later, after the player defeated Team Skull at their base, Gladion revealed that Team Skull had been working for Aether Foundation, kidnapping Nebby to use its powers in summoning Ultra Beasts. The player proceeded to battle through Aether Paradise with Hau and Gladion's help, eventually defeating Aether president Lusamine, who is revealed to be Gladion and Lillie's mother. Regardless, Lusamine and Guzma managed to open an Ultra Wormhole, transporting them to Ultra Space (the Ultra Beasts' dimension) and evolving Nebby into a cocoon-like form while unleashing Ultra Beasts on Alola's islands, forcing the island Kahunas and guardian deities to fight them.

Proceeding to the final island, the player and Lillie perform a ritual to evolve Nebby into its final form (Solgaleo or Lunala depending on the version) at the island's Altar.[b] With Nebby's newfound power, the player and Lillie traveled to Ultra Space and encountered Lusamine, taken over by the Ultra Beast they fought earlier. After defeating the hybrid, the player returned to Alola and ascends Mount Lanakila where they fight the newly-formed Alola Pokémon League Elite Four. In the last match, they defeat Kukui to become Alola's first Pokémon League champion. In the credits, the player battles Melemele's guardian deity Tapu Koko after a celebration, with Lillie and Lusamine departing Alola for Kanto the following day.

After becoming the champion, the player is contacted by two members of the International Police: Anabel (who was head of the Battle Tower in Pokémon Emerald) and Looker. The player assisted the two with handling wild Ultra Beasts that Lusamine let loose into Alola in a series of quests.[c] Following the final quest, Looker revealed that he saw another Ultra Beast, although Anabel dismissed this. If the player then travels to Ten Carat Hill, they will encounter Necrozma, which is said to be highly reminiscent of the Ultra Beasts.

Development[edit]

In an interview with TIME, game director Shigeru Ohmori stated that the choice of Sun and Moon as title was inspired by the two celestial bodies’ metaphorical representation of human relationships.[30] Hawaii was chosen as the basis for the game’s region following the title’s determination, due to its clear nights and plentiful sunshine.[31] The development started immediately after Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire was completed and Ohmori kept his game director position. Since the games were to be released on the franchise’s 20th anniversary, Sun and Moon was developed comparatively from scratch with the application of more radical changes than its predecessor.[30] Separately, he also mentioned that the games intended to place more emphasis on the Pokémon and the nature of the games, in addition to the player’s interactions with them.[32]

The first Pokémon of the seventh generation to be designed was Jangmo-o. Regarding the various other designs of the generation, Ohmori mentioned that “[f]or the 20th anniversary, we wanted to have a lot of special surprises… we wanted a funny element”.[33] Pokémon from Red and Blue were the only ones to receive Alola forms—according to Ohmori, this was as a special surprise for long-time players and simply due to the older Pokémon being more recognizable.[34] Following the trend between newer generations of the main series, designers of Sun and Moon focused on the motions on the full 3D models from X and Y in order to create livelier creatures.[31]

Despite the successes of Pokémon Go, the developers stated that it did not affect the development of Sun and Moon, although it did improve public awareness of the franchise in general and that they were working to develop interactivity between the app and the main series.[34] Ohmori added that during the development of Sun and Moon they "completely redesigned the system, and actually ended up pushing the 3DS even further to what [they] thought was the most [they] could draw out of it."[35] With a team of around 120, the games took about three years to develop, comparable with other new-generation games.[36] Later on, Kazumasa Iwao, who was responsible for the battle systems in Sun and Moon, was recruited as director for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.[37]

Music[edit]

According to composer Junichi Masuda, who also was the producer, the soundtracks used in Sun and Moon were based off traditional Hawaiian music styles. However, while it utilizes their core rhythms, Alola's music utilized "completely different" melodies while still invoking a tropical island feel.[30] On November 30, 2016 the Nintendo 3DS Pokémon Sun and Moon Super Music Complete,[d] a four-disk soundtrack containing 169 songs (160 from the games and 9 special) was released in Japan, with an international release of the soundtrack on iTunes at the same date as Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon: Super Music Collection.[38][39]

Promotion and release[edit]

On February 25, 2016, the existence of the two games was leaked when Nintendo's trademarks for them were found on the website of the European Union Intellectual Property Office.[40] IGN pointed towards the recent introduction of a new Pokémon, Magearna, as indication the two games would be revealed.[41] The games were officially announced the following day in a Nintendo Direct presentation that also commemorated the franchise's 20th anniversary.[42] The games launched with support for nine languages.[21] On May 10, more information on the game was released through a new trailer, including new Pokémon, box art, and release dates. Pokémon Sun and Moon released in Japan, North America, and Australia on November 18, 2016, and in Europe on November 23, 2016.[43] A comic based on Pokémon Sun and Moon launched alongside an edition of CoroCoro magazine on September 15, 2016.[44] Early purchasers of the games received a special Munchlax holding Snorlium Z, enabling it to use an exclusive Z-Move unique to Snorlax, Munchlax's evolution, via wireless event distribution with their game.[45] A Japanese trailer was unveiled on September 8, 2016.[46] A Pokémon Sun and Moon-themed New Nintendo 3DS XL was released on October 28, 2016.[47]

Similar to Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, a special demo was released on October 18, 2016.[48] On October 27, 2016 during Nintendo's Financial Briefing, the demo was downloaded more than 3.5 million times, being the most popular and fastest "selling" demo in 3DS history.[49] Pokémon Sun and Moon are the most pre-ordered games in Nintendo's history.[50] The games were also the most anticipated 3DS releases in 2016, according to Nielsen Game Rank.[51]

Days before the games' release, the games' files were leaked over the internet, giving software pirates access to the full game, including online functions before the release. Nintendo took action against those who used the internet features afterward, banning those involved from not only using the online features of the game (even if playing the genuine release), but also from accessing other 3DS online services, such as the eShop and Miiverse.[52] According to Nintendo of America, Sun and Moon are also the fastest-selling titles in Nintendo's history.[53]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic87/100[54][55]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid9/10 [59]
Famitsu38/40[56]
Game Informer8.5/10 (Moon)[57]
GameSpot8/10[64]
GameZone9.5/10 [60]
IGN9/10[58]
Nintendo Life10/10 [63]
Nintendo World Report8/10 (Moon)[62]
Polygon8.5/10[61]

Critical response[edit]

Pokémon Sun and Moon received a score of 87/100 on Metacritic based on 84 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[54][55] This placed Sun and Moon as the 5th and 6th highest-rated 3DS games in 2016, and the 19th and 20th on the console of all time.[65][66] The move from the gym system received widespread praise from critics, some of whom saw the change as a major step towards future developments of the franchise.[59][62]

Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the pair a 38/40 rating, lower than the 39/40 received by their predecessors X and Y.[56] Video game review site IGN gave the game a 9/10, and said that the games "switch up the formula to create an engaging adventure that improves on its predecessors."[58] Nintendo Life called them the best Pokémon games ever produced, commenting that "every inch of Alola feels naturally formed and wonderfully organic" and praising GameFreak for managing "to carefully balance the inclusion of new mechanics without totally ruining things for the most hardcore fans".[67] Chris Tapsell of Eurogamer called the games "the best generation in more than a decade". The games earned an "essential" ranking from the site.[68]

The games, however, received criticism for their story, with Justin Haywald of GameSpot remarking that the games' story was "boring" and eventually came "to an abrupt, unfulfilling conclusion" despite Sun and Moon excelling in terms of their core gameplay,[64] while Polygon criticized the game's linear gameplay and lack of content beyond the primary storyline although the games had "the most memorable Pokémon journey in years".[61]

Sales[edit]

As of March 31, 2018, Sun and Moon has sold 16.10 million copies, ranking them as the third-best-selling Nintendo 3DS titles behind both Mario Kart 7 and Pokémon X and Y.[69] During a GameStop Q3 earnings conference call, Pokémon Sun and Moon was said to have the most pre-orders for any video game in the last five years.[70] It is GameStop's best-selling game of 2016, outselling Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.[71] On its first day of release, Pokémon Sun and Moon shipped 10 million units worldwide.[72] The games sold over 1.9 million copies in Japan in its first three days on the market and are Nintendo's biggest game launch of all time in Europe, with the United Kingdom and France launches selling 368,000 and 450,000 copies respectively within a week out of the continent's 1.5 million sales.[73][74][75] The European sales rose past the 2 million mark within the following week.[76] In North America, the games sold over 3.7 million units in less than two weeks after initial release, climbing to 4.5 million by mid-January.[77][78]

Follow-up versions[edit]

On June 6, 2017, two follow-up games for the 3DS Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, were announced during a Nintendo Direct presentation.[79] The games were released exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS on November 17, 2017 as the last of the franchise's handheld games, featured an alternate storyline set in Sun and Moon's world, and also featured Pokémon and locations not available in the original games.[79][not in citation given] The version mascots, Solgaleo and Lunala, return with new forms adorned with black armor resembling the legendary Pokémon Necrozma.[80] Later, it was revealed that these are actually new forms for Necrozma, known as "Dusk Mane" or "Dawn Wings", achieved through absorbing either of the two legendaries, in a similar fashion to Black/White Kyurem and Lusamine's mutated form. Amongst other new Pokémon, three new Ultra Beasts have been confirmed to appear - known initially as UB Assembly, UB Burst[e] and UB Adhesive.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pokémon Sun and Moon (ポケットモンスター サン・ムーン, Poketto Monsutā San・Mūn, "Pocket Monsters: Sun & Moon")
  2. ^ Nebby evolves into Solgaleo at the Altar of the Sunne in Sun, while in Moon it evolves into Lunala at the Altar of the Moone
  3. ^ Ultra Beasts featured are Buzzwole and Kartana in Sun, with Pheromosa and Celesteela in Moon
  4. ^ Nintendo 3DS Pokémon Sun and Moon Super Music Complete (ニンテンドー3DS ポケモン サン・ムーン スーパーミュージック・コンプリート, Nintendō 3 Dī Esu Pokémon San · Mūn Sūpā Myūjikku Konpūrito)
  5. ^ UB Assembly only appears in Ultra Moon while UB Burst only appears in Ultra Sun

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