When a game is an overall poor experience, the faults that surround it tend to get swept away in the waves of bad game design. However, when a game is well received and has a lot of love from the fans who support it, a dozen bad eggs become something to be overlooked in the general experience. It has been almost half a year since Pokemon Sun and Moon were released for the Nintendo 3DS and, if you are a fan of the series on the same level as myself, than you are probably on your third or fourth playthrough as we speak. Sun and Moon have revolutionized the gameplay of the series, while still keeping true to the games roots. Pokémon battles look more real than they ever have and the graphics are a huge step up from even the last generation of games.
I am not here to say that the following issues are all huge faults of the game, but they are certain aspects that didn't quite meet the expectations that the trailers provided. Sometimes it is a difficult task to say bad things about the things you love, but if you truly want them to get better on the next go around, they have to be said. Pokémon Sun and Moon are not perfect games. Though they are difficult games to put down once you pick them up, they come will a list of flaws that sometimes drag the player down and make them say, “Why did they choose to do this?” So from the perspective of a fan of the series who has loved every game for different reasons, let us look at some of the aspects that just seemed to fire like a rifle throughout the game -- and ended up missing the target.
15 A Slow Start
Pokémon tutorial stages are notorious for their length and often dry moments and Sun and Moon do not fix this issue. Rather, they emphasize it. This generation of games showed off what Pokémon games can do with an in-depth storyline and the gameplay is riddled with beautiful cutscenes. However, tutorials and long draws of dialogue mix poorer than water and gasoline. The Pokémon tutorial sections usually introduce the main character, the rival character, the professor, and the starters the player must choose from, all in a relatively short amount of time.
But Sun and Moon see the player moving back and forth between towns more than once, in a guided section of the game that leaves players yearning to pick their starter Pokémon. I’ll admit, watching my character pick up his new Rowlet for the first time was truly heartwarming, but having to sit through what felt like hours of dialogue did not make it worth it.
14 Trials Fall A Bit Stale
With the removal of the Pokémon Gyms, a staple of the series, fans were more than worried what the alternative would be. I will be the first to say that I had high hopes for what would become of the Totem Pokémon concept. We expected the trials to require more strategy, where you were unable to expect what the next type of Pokémon would be. What we got in the end was a re-skin of the gym formula. Different word, same idea.
Though the trials appeared to have different tasks, they did not ask anything of the player other than to battle a few of the same types of Pokémon, sometimes the same exact Pokémon over and over again. The trials always culminated in fighting a Totem Pokémon that, looking fierce, was usually nothing more than the final evolution of an already fought Pokémon. The trials became so repetitive that in-game NPCs commented themselves on the mundane tasks.
13 Ultra Beasts Are Ultra Undersold
Ultra Beasts were one of the most anticipated parts of the Sun and Moon plot. When characters in the game would talk about them, a mysterious aura began to surround them. Their strange figures looked like something out of an H.P Lovecraft story. I figured that they would change how fans of the series thought about Pokémon entirely.
Yet, when it came right down to it, the main storyline of the game seemed to tease the player with one or two battles with the beasts, until they were altogether abandoned as an important part of the storyline by the end. Instead, the Ultra Beasts became nothing more than a side mission, a round-em-up to keep the player occupied during the post game. Even the newest of fans introduced to the series could spot that Ultra Beasts were left to feel like nothing more than an afterthought that Game Freak added at the last minute to keep things fresh.
12 Hau Did He Become So Dull?
There are not many feelings that you get as the player in this game that are close to the determination to defeat your rival and become a Pokémon master, like in the older games. In the original Pokémon Red and Blue, your rival quickly became the guy to beat within the first few minutes. He was immature, rude, and did not represent the values you were taught to believe when respecting Pokémon. Still, he was always one step ahead of you.
The newest generation's version of this rival found itself in Hau. In a game where there are plenty of characters that learn their lesson throughout the story, Hau falls flat on his face as the most one-dimensional character of them all. He always seems to be failing at even the simplest of tasks and does not do much of anything for the overall story. By the time the story wraps up, he becomes nothing more than that character that is always looking for malasada.
11 Reversed Day/Night Cycle For Moon Players
I understand that this point may sound like nitpicking, but I assure you, Moon users get the short end of the deal here. While it isn’t a game-breaking thing, it is a feature that serves no practical use. If you do not know, Pokémon Moon has a reversed day/night cycle. If you are playing the game when you first get out of bed, then it is probably the break of midnight in the game.
At first, I was fascinated by the idea that the game’s time cycle was inversed, but as I got further in the game, I came to the realization that it did nothing to help the overall gameplay, expect make it easier to catch Pokémon found at night and make it harder on the player to find certain daytime exclusives. Sure, you could just change the timer in the settings of the 3DS, but when a player is forced to do such a thing, it can get really annoying, really fast. This feature of the game just goes to show you that when something sounds good on paper, it may not necessarily work when put to the test.
10 Reduced Customization
Pokémon X and Y saw the introduction of trainer customization. Players were finally given the opportunity to change their clothing and hairstyle, getting that much closer to the ideal Pokémon trainer that we all see in ours heads. Many fans were pleased to hear that trainer customization would be returning to Pokémon Sun and Moon.
The customization fell short, however, as fans seemed displeased with the limited amounts of variety the game offers. While it was easily understood that the developers were looking to go with a more touristy style of clothing for the games, the overall selection was scant and left fans wanting more. Developers did include the ability to take off your hat, lipsticks for girl characters, and more hairstyles, but this did not keep many fans pleased with the final result.
9 The Lusamine Battle
Spoiler alert for any of you that have not yet played the game yet, but one of the last boss battles featured in the game is a battle with Lusamine, the president of the Aether Foundation. The fight brings you into another dimension called Ultra Space, where Ultra Beasts surround you in darkness. The battle culminates when Lusamine herself fuses with one of these Ultra Beasts to become a large monstrous creature that looks like something straight out of the Metroid series.
However, the battle itself is a simple rematch with Lusamine’s Pokémon, only at a higher level. I don’t mean to discredit the fight itself. It is a good challenge, but not really what a lot of fans were looking for. Lusamine’s transformation teased at something new. Perhaps a fight with Lusamine herself or something else. Regardless, Game Freak missed an opportunity to do something special with this battle.
8 Wonky Changes in Speed
Double battles make up a fair amount of the gameplay in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Likewise, one of the new features introduced in this generation, The Battle Royal, puts four trainers into the ring at once to strive and score points by knocking out another trainer’s Pokémon. It is certainly one of the best minigames offered in the series (certainly better than the slow progression of the Pokémon pageants).
Sadly, it may be frustrating for those who own the original 3DS model, as everyone who has played the game has seen the noticeable slowdown that has resulted from the game's extensive software. Whenever more than two Pokémon are on the screen, battles seem to take twice as long to commence. I remember the first time I went through a double battle, it took at least ten seconds after choosing my move for the turn to start. For a game that focuses so much immersing the player in the Pokémon battles, this was a fairly loud hiccup.
7 Removing the “Wild Pokemon by Route” Feature
One of the most utilized features in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire was the Pokédex’s ability to track the types of wild Pokémon found in any given location throughout the game. This allowed the player to keep track of how many Pokémon they had left to catch on certain routes and reduced the risk of the player wandering through the tall grass, wondering if there were any new Pokémon left to catch.
Sun and Moon offered just over 300 Pokémon to catch altogether, not including the different forms. This is well over the average amount for most games in the series and many of these Pokémon can only be caught in one or two areas throughout the game. Needless to say, we would have liked to have seen just how Game Freak could have expanded on this quality feature from Sun and Moon’s predecessor, but unfortunately, we were left without it altogether.
6 The Call-For-Help Blunder
I will be the first to admit, the S.O.S feature is not all that bad at first. The new feature allows for wild Pokémon to call for help in the midst of battle. It makes wild Pokémon battles just a bit closer to reality and, in some cases, such as being able to catch a Mareanie only by first finding a Corsola, it makes the Pokédex entries for certain Pokémon all the more accurate.
What makes the S.O.S feature troublesome is that calling out for help does not count as the wild Pokémon’s turn. In some cases, certain Pokémon can only be caught when they are called as a helper. Because you are not able to catch a Pokémon when two wild Pokémon are on the screen at the same time, it can take forever to catch even some of the lowest level critters. Sometimes you just want to catch a level 2 Caterpie!
5 Gone Fishing
Fishing is one of those things in Pokémon that has always worked relatively well. It’s simple, you go up to any body of water, cast your line, hit A as soon as you see the prompt appear on the screen, and go in for the catch. Pokémon Sun and Moon saw this changed however, as you can now only fish in specified locations. These locations are marked by small rocks, sometimes with surfacing bubbles.
They are not hard to find and that is not where many people found complaint. Rather, fans were annoyed with the limitations of having to fish in specific spots. Often enough, some Pokémon can only be found on one route. Most routes have a designated spot where bubbles can be found, which means the player is then forced to go off screen and back to the water every time that want to have another go at catching a single Pokémon.
4 Lackluster Photography
Fans who grew up playing Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo 64 have long been awaiting some form of sequel to the cult classic. We were close to seeing that with the PokéFinder feature in Pokémon Sun and Moon, however the picture taking mini game seemed to fall short of what we wanted, as it was nothing more than an occasional disturbance.
First off, photos can only be taken in certain spots in the game. They are not labeled on the map, so players have to actively seek them out if they want. When players do find them, they are treated with only seeing one Pokémon doing a couple of poses. Players are offered points for how well the pictures come out, but these do nothing more than provide upgrades for the camera that should have been offered from the get go and do not offer anything to the game as a whole.
3 Mega Evolutions Are Left Behind
When the concept of Z-Moves were first announced, some fans remarked at how similar they were in style to Mega Evolutions, another concept introduced in the previous generation. We waited in anticipation to see how Z-Moves would fare in relevance to Mega Evolutions in the core gameplay.
But it seemed that Mega Evolutions were nothing more than another afterthought for the developers. You do not hear much of anything about Mega Stones throughout the main storyline and it is not until the after game, when players make it to the Battle Tree, that they finally find Mega Stones once again. You can buy them in the shop at the Battle Tree, but besides here, they do not play much of a role in the game at all. There are only a handful of Pokémon that can Mega evolve to begin with and some fans were disappointed with the fact that, if they were going to implement Mega Evolutions at all, that they would not add much in the way off anything new.
2 The Ignored Island Scan
When Pokémon Sun and Moon first came out, it was about a week before I was aware that the island scan was even a feature. I would not be surprised if some players still do not know. The Island Scan is a small feature that allows the player to use their 3DS to scan QR codes of different Pokémon. If you are lucky enough to get 10 QR codes to scan, then, depending on the day of the week and which of the four islands you are on, you get the chance to catch a Pokémon from one of the older generations.
While it seems like an awesome feature, it becomes nothing more than a chore, as players can only catch one Pokémon a day and, due to the rigid structure, they may not even know what Pokémon they are going to get. If there is anything that makes this seem more than forgotten, that it is that the Pokémon caught through the island scan are not even given a Pokédex entry.
1 The Blank Face Of Death
Do you see this face? Well then you better get used to it, because it is not going anywhere. It has been said time and time again, but Pokémon Sun and Moon are among the most animated entries into the series. The game is riddled with cutscenes that catch the player's eye and truly bring emotion into the story. Is there anyway that developers can quickly put out such a flame before it is even lit? Yes!
Throughout most of the cutscenes, the player’s trainer is near emotionless, with only a stark smile slapped across their face. In older entries, this was not a big issue, as the graphics could not show distinct emotion. However, in this game, the main characters never-ending smile bring grave unease to the player, as even during the most tense of moments in the storyline do they just keep that stupid smile on their face.