Pokémon Go caught the world off guard. The anticipation for the first Pok-iOS app was obviously high before release, but to guess that many expected the sheer enormity of its success is unlikely. What could be quickly gleaned from Pokémon Go was it made a lot of people insanely excited for the latest core entry, Sun and Moon. While the launch of the seventh generation of games has had a few niggles, it’s clear fans are still absolutely rabid over everything about Pokémon — the positive and the negative.
Pokémon Go aside, you could probably have guessed what kind of reception Sun and Moon was going to get just from the social media response to its starter Pokémon. When Nintendo introduced the three companions players would choose from back in May, the internet responded with overwhelming, troll-caliber derision over poor seal-esque critter, Popplio.
Compared to the cat-like Litten and the rotund owl Rowlet, the little thing was so swiftly and harshly — and unfairly rejected — that anti-defamation groups sprung up in days of the announcement. Thankfully for Popplio, countless trainers-in-waiting were so dismayed by the inexplicable hate they pledged to choose the Pokémon out of humanitarian concern, but the bigger point is, no one rioted when X and Y debuted their starters. If nothing else, the hype for Sun and Moon felt telling.
A similar reaction happened when Nintendo introduced the macabre “fake Pikachu” Mimikyu, which fans instantly took to over the thing’s supposedly tragic backstory as an unloved Pokémon wanting nothing more than to be adored just like the series’s mascot. That more or less blew up in everyone’s face, as Mimikyu’s rag exterior apparently hides a malevolent being of pure darkness, and it in fact hates Pikachu. You’ve got to give it to the designers at Game Freak — their dark sense of humor never fails to amuse.
Specific Pokémon aside, colloquially it seems the majority of players love both the new Alolan monsters as well as the region’s variants of classic species like the amazing surfer bro Dugtrio. The general consensus around Sun and Moon is that it’s the second best in the series. Aside from being a harder and more narrative engaging outing than X and Y, tweaks to the design, a better selection of Pokémon, and a catchy soundtrack are among the aspects of Sun and Moon fans seem to be the most pleased with.
One thing that’s being universally derided — aside from Nintendo being overzealous in their anti-piracy practices — is Pokémon calling for help in the midst of battle. Sun and Moon has what are referred to as SOS battles, where Pokémon can call for aid from another monster, forcing a two-on-one battle against whatever fighter you’ve chosen.
Though the game tries to justify this with a handful of perks, and by increasing the likelihood of encountering a rare, “shiny” Pokémon variant, in practice it’s laughably unbalanced. For one, Pokémon can call for help and attack in a single turn, and more to the point, you can’t throw a Pokéball while fighting two Pokémon, making weakened, ready-to-be-captured monsters a huge liability.
As a result, it’s not hard to find countless horror stories on forums of players spending upwards of 30 to 40 minutes in a single battle, attempting to capture a single Pokémon endlessly spamming fresh calls for assistance. Whether Nintendo might step in and patch the problem, a likely solution in 2016 with almost any major game series across the industry, remains to be seen.
In any case, with the rumored Switch port of the game likely seeing a release next year, and with the 3DS edition having outperformed Infinite Warfare at GameStop, it’s doubtful Sun and Moon players’ passions are going to recede any time soon. Rest assured, countless more Pokémon are lurking in as-of-yet unmade new environs, just waiting to eventually be caught. Now where’s that full-on Pokémon Snap sequel?