The first thing I learned when stepping into the new region of Alola for the first time was a simple, but important detail. When people greet each other, they say “Alola.” Today, I got to say Alola to the Pokémon Sun & Moon demo, and now that I’ve gotten a little taste, I can’t wait to jump into the full game.

It was evident from the very start of the demo that Sun & Moon will finally be a breath of fresh air for the Pokémon franchise. For too many years it seemed Pokémon games were following the exact same pattern with almost no extreme innovations from entry to entry. It’s now been three years since the last original entries, Pokémon X and Y, and from what I’ve seen in the demo, the time Pokémon spent in the workshop was spent very well.

First of all, the game is beautiful. Stepping out of my house and into Hau’oli City for the first time was a very exciting experience. The demo experimented with camera angles that have never been seen before in cutscenes, and it helped bring the world to life. The music also gives off a relaxing, tropical vibe while running around Hau’oli, providing some tracks that already feel very memorable. Moving on from the beauty of the town, there is a lot to love about the battle scenes. The trainer is visibly standing behind the fighters throughout the entire battle. It’s a nice touch that made me feel like I’m a bigger part of the battle, and I hope it’s a feature that returns in future titles. Also, the entire background of the battle almost perfectly reflected my surroundings in the city.

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Hau’oli City is the largest hometown the Pokémon series has ever seen. Most starting towns have about three houses, a Pokémon lab, maybe a lake, and that’s about it. Hau’oli is much more than that. While many areas were off-limits for the demo, there are enough of buildings in Hau’oli that it’s reasonable to believe people actually could survive in the city. There’s a clothing shop, restaurants, the Pokémon Center and even a travel agency. Hau’oli is also brimming with life, in the form of humans and Pokémon. It gives off the vibe that Alola is a place where Pokémon and humans are treated as equals, all living in paradise together.

Team Skull

Where there are Pokémon, however, there are people trying to do harm with them. Meet Team Skull: the new baddies in Sun and Moon. While the two or three grunts I encountered during my playtime didn’t have the most personality in their dialogue, their animations made them very memorable. Basically, they are hip hop gangsters that like to beat up kids and take their Pokémon. The animations of all the characters in the demo are great. In fact, if you spin the circle pad really fast, your character will perform a little dance move.

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New features

After I was done exploring every nook and cranny of the city, I headed out to the first trial. This trial required me to take pictures of four different Pokémon in a cave. After I snapped the photo, I would have to fight off the agitated creature. I understand that the trial is very basic compared to what might come down the road, but it felt far too simple. The trials will be a welcome change for the series, however, as the gym system was beginning to grow stale. Another fun new feature was riding the back of a Tauros, which allowed me to fly down the streets of Hau’oli. I loved having the ability to utilize Pokémon that aren’t in my party.

The demo also allowed me to use a Z-Move for the very first time. While the animation was well done and exciting, I’m hoping Z-Moves don’t become a choose-to-win type move. There’s a limit of one use per battle, but it still felt overpowered.

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Final thoughts

If the demo is any indication, Pokémon Sun & Moon will be a game that oozes charm. The animations of the people I interacted with were more intricate than I’ve ever seen in a Pokémon game. The music in the demo was really catchy, and it was an absolute joy running through Hau’oli City. The dialogue, which has felt a bit odd since X and Y came out, feels right again. Over the last few years I’ve fallen out of love with the Pokémon franchise, but it looks like Sun & Moon could rope me right back in. The demo made me feel like a little kid again, and I can’t wait until I get to say Alola to Alola once more.

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Written by Logan Plant

Logan loves voicing his opinions just as much as writing them. When he isn’t gaming or writing, Logan’s probably recording a podcast or chatting on the radio. Video game journalism is his passion, and he hopes to cover video games for years to come.

Logan Plant

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