So I have been playing Pokémon Moon for the past week and two, long enough for me to formulate a basic opinion. And that opinion?
It’s still Pokémon, but with much of the fun ripped out. Yes, it’s still playable and downright enjoyable at times, but Game Freak and TPCi have taken many of the elements that made X&Y so good and replaced them with annoying gimmicks.
The first and most important- the gyms are gone. In their place are simplistic tasks collectively known as the Island Challenge. Complete them and you will face a “Totem Pokémon”, followed undoubtedly by a five minute long cutscene where you are given a Z-Crystal that can power moves of a certain type up to ridiculous levels. The cutscenes are tedious and unskippable, sometimes occurring just for the hell of it, but it’s nothing as annoying as the mechanic that should have at the very least stayed with Totem battles.
The SOS Battle mechanic allows most wild Pokémon to summon help. It’s as annoying as it sounds, especially when you’re trying to catch ’em all. Whittled a Pikachu down to 1HP and are ready to catch it the next turn? Too bad, here comes another Pikachu and you can’t put your ball to good use as the game considers it “too confusing”! I am not kidding! And speaking of too confusing, proof aside from the Island Challenge that the game is aimed at kids who have been spunking away their older siblings’ data on Go and not us veteran players who have given almost twenty years to the franchise is the little “super effective” or “not very effective” label below moves on the bottom screen.
That you can’t turn off.
Even as an eight year old I quickly gleaned that Ember is not very effective against Brock’s Onix. It just seems unecessary even for absolute beginners, who should be given the full Pokémon experience to begin with. I first saw this in the demo and figured there would be a way to turn it off in the final version, but nooooo.
And the annoyance gets even worse with one of the main selling points- the Rotom Pokédex. It won’t shut up! “Bzzt, you should go to such-and-such nexzzzt”. Even when you have been informed you need to go to such-and-such by the LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO TWO SECONDS BEFORE! At least the flag telling you where you need to go is somewhat helpful. Even when you’re trying to view your latest catch it has to butt in. I’ve seen it been compared to Gilbert Gottfried on more than one occassion, except it doesn’t do the Aristocrats routine. I don’t think TPCi would allow that anyway. It makes Tierno, the dull, annoying fat kid from X&Y, seem like a brilliant character in comparison. Next time, Game Freak, give it us the option to turn it off.
All these gameplay changes to cater for the next generation are only serving to turn off the veterans. And it’s not looking too substantial from where I am, having just beat Mallow’s challenge (which sees you collecting INGREDIENTS- really, Game Freak?). If you’re new and want the traditional experience, get X or Y on the cheap. Otherwise, only bother if you’re a completist. Hopefully the rumoured third version for Switch, Stars, goes back to the original and best mechanic.