As someone who has played every entry in the Pokémon series, Pokémon Sun and Moon was one of my most anticipated games of this year. Despite a few bumps in the road, Sun and Moon manage to deliver an overall great Pokémon experience for veterans, as well as ease new players into the ever expanding world.
While Pokémon games in the past have normally followed a similar formula, Sun and Moon decides to shake things up. Instead of the normal quest for gym badges, we are introduced to a new quest called The Island Challenge. While very similar in structure to the journey of former games, the Island Challenge deviates and takes the focus off of battling, and decides to make every individual trial it's own thing, and it surprisingly works. While the new quest line structure may seem blasphemous to longtime fans, having a remix to the well known formula is a great way for Sun and Moon to feel fresh and new.
Another big change to the Pokémon formula is the removal of the long time HM system. In previous games, moves had to have been taught to Pokémon to traverse areas of the over-world, often taking away move slots of Pokémon that could benefit from an extra attack. Sun and Moon change this by introducing a system called Poke Ride, which allows players to call upon a sort of “rental” Pokémon to do the job that previously would be done by your party Pokémon. It's a nice addition, as it allows players to focus on teaching Pokémon moves that benefit them in battle, and not relying on making sure you have moves to get from place to place.
While they may seem like minor changes when compared to the larger implementations mentioned above, the changes in the user interface (UI) are some of my favorite additions to the games. A cleaned up battle interface allows you to access the items and information you need, without having to dig through pointless menus. Poke balls have their own button, it's easier to keep track of the status of your Pokémon, and information on type matchups are some of the best additions to the series I have seen in a while.
Pokémon Sun and Moon are not without their faults though. Despite the freshness of the overall campaign, the overall story elements leave much to be desired. While story has never been the main focus in the Pokémon series, the attempt at a deeper story in this game was very flat and full of characters that I either found uninteresting, or just overall bad. You can tell Game Freak took the time to try and deliver a more narrative focused game, but this overall leads the story elements to overstay their welcome, and make them feel too drawn out, and sometimes slow.
Overall, I love Pokémon Sun and Moon. Pokémon to me has always been about the collection and fun of the Pokémon and their battles, so a flat story doesn't throw me off too much. The game's focus on collection, trading, and battling is as strong as its been in years, and the little improvements on the formula make for a great surprise for this veteran Pokémon player.