The wait is finally over for all of the Pokemon fans in the world (myself included). Game Freak has promised for months now that the latest entries in the Pokemon franchise, Pokémon Sun and Moon, would be fresh new additions to the game’s history. They promised that there would be different mechanics, a stronger story, and a new progression system to round everything out into what some regard as the best games in the series. But have they delivered on their promises?
Pokémon Sun and Moon are easily the most different and unique titles in the series to date. Ditching the traditional “collect eight gym badges formula,” there’s plenty of new things to keep those who are tired of the structure coming back this time around. As a matter of fact, as someone who felt this way, I had never been more excited for these games and actually purchased my copy during a midnight release.
However, because these games are such a different step for the series, there are several new mechanics to keep in mind as you try to catch ’em all in every island. I’ve made a lot of mistakes during my playthrough of the game due to my expectations from previous entries. Thankfully for all of you, I’ve learned from those mistakes and compiled a handy list of 15 tricks you need to know about the Alola Region. By the time you’re done, you’ll have an excellent idea of what to expect and how to be the best like no one has ever been before!
15. Salandit Evolution
This is the one problem I see a lot of new trainers running into. You see, every time I play a Pokemon game, I always look at the new Pokemon ahead of time so I know exactly who I want for my team (keep in my mind, I avoid using Pokemon from previous generations). One of the chosen few that made it into my selection was the poisonous raptor Pokemon, Salazzle. It just looks so freaking cool, plus its Corrosion ability allows it to poison steel and poison types (which are normally immune). Because of this, I caught its previous evolution, Salandit, the first chance I got and stuck him on my team. After training him up to the proper level to evolve, I was shocked to figure out that he wasn’t evolving. I sat in front of my 3DS for a good ten minutes trying to figure out why. Then I remembered Kiawe’s trial where he said something about Salazzle being a “she.” After some research of my own, I discovered that the only Salandits that evolve are the female ones. Furthermore, out of all of the Salandit you encounter, only 12.5% of them will be female. Basically, if you want a Salazzle, it may take you quite some time.
14. The Shiny Charm
In every Pokemon game I’ve ever played, I always took it upon myself to hunt for as many shinies as I could after I beat the main story and caught all of the Legendaries. As such, one of the most coveted items for me was the Shiny Charm. For those of you unaware, it was a key item that significantly increased your odds of finding a shiny Pokemon in the wild. However, the requirement for obtaining such an item is very extreme and nearly impossible to attain. You have to complete the National Pokedex, or in other words, catch every Pokemon that has ever existed. Naturally, this task only gets more difficult with each generation having nearly 100 new creatures to collect. I outright decided to not even attempt this with Sun and Moon. Much to my pleasure, though, Game Freak has heard my plea. Instead of completing the National Dex, all you have to do is complete the Alola Pokedex to get the Shiny Charm. Just catch every wild Pokemon, fill that sucker out, and you get increased chances of finding a shiny Pokemon. Yes, please.
13. Move Effectiveness In Battle
I’ll be the first person to tell you that Pokemon can be quite complicated at times. The type matchups alone can be daunting to remember in and of themselves- which type is super effective against another or vice versa. Then you have to keep in mind EVs, Natures, Hidden Abilities, and so much more. It gets overwhelming pretty easily. Luckily for us casual players, Game Freak has taken note of this as well. This time around, they have a handy battle interface that not only tells you what a move does, but lists its power and accuracy. It also lists which moves will be super effective, regularly effective, or not effective to whatever Pokemon you’re battling against. However, this particular feature does not come standard in the game. In order to access this feature, you must have already caught the Pokemon you’re facing. If you’re up against an entirely new Pokemon, or an Ultra Beast for that matter, you’ll go in blind in that aspect. Although, if you’re familiar with typing, that won’t be a huge issue to you. That said, it gives one more reason to fill out that Pokedex.
12. You Can Now Build the Team You Want
7.8- too much water. Am I right? Regardless of how you feel about IGN’s infamous review of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, you cannot deny that there is some validity to their comments. The Hoenn region, and many other regions, have an awfully large amount of HMs to use in the world. With HMs, that means you always needed to have a water type, and a flying type to make sure you could get where you needed to go. Then you had to always leave a move slot open for said HMs. It was a grueling and painful process that led some to have designated “HM slaves.” Thankfully, this feature is now killed and dead in the water. There are no HMs in Pokemon Sun and Moon. Replacing them are instead Pokemon that you can ride and call anytime you want. Faced with an expanse of water? Just phone in for a Lapras. Need to go back to a previous town? Call up your Charizard. It’s one of the best upgrades in the Pokemon formula, and needs to become a staple for the future of the series. It leaves you to put whatever Pokemon on your team that you want. I do not have a water type in my roster, and it’s never felt so refreshing.
11. Maximize Your Z Moves
Among other additions, one of the most marketed ones in Pokemon Sun and Moon was the addition of “Z Moves.” They function similarly to a Mega Evolution, but alter moves instead of the Pokemon themselves. All you have to do is get the proper stone, give it to your Pokemon of choice, and unleash the raw power. Make no mistake, though, the Z Moves are not guided by Pokemon type, but move type instead. For example, you can use a Normalium Z on a Grass type Pokemon like Rowlet, so long as it has a Normal type move at its disposal. Then, depending on which move your Pokemon has, you’ll have a few options with your Z Move. On my team, my former Dartrix had Razor Leaf and Synthesis at its disposal. If I activated the Grassium Z, I would have an option of two moves: Bloom Doom and Z Synthesis. Based on the situation, I would activate one of them, and hopefully turn the tide. As you beat each island challenge, you will collect more Z Crystals that in turn give you access to more Z Moves.
10. Add A Mega Evolution
With the many announcements leading up to the release of Sun and Moon, there was a lot of speculation as to whether Mega Evolutions would make their return, or just be gimmicks linked with Gen VI. Luckily, they are back this time around and still pose a prominent threat in the metagame. However, Game Freak has introduced no new Mega Evolutions this time around, and we are instead stuck with all of the ones we already know. This is probably due to the fact that they are experimenting with Z Moves, Alola forms, and Ultra Beasts. Nonetheless, it is nice to know that all of those Megas we spent so much time collecting in X and Y aren’t going to waste. Furthermore, if you are missing a few Mega Stones, the Battle Tree (which is available after you beat the game) has a reward system that will allow you to get some of those elusive stones you were missing at the start. You can also Mega Evolve a Pokemon and have a different Pokemon use a Z Move in the same battle, so choose wisely.
9. Alola Pokedex QR Codes
There must be something about that Shiny Charm that makes Game Freak want everyone to have it, because there is yet another way to fill out your Pokedex, and a much faster way at that. When you boot up Sun or Moon and get to the main menu, you will be faced with the option of a QR Scanner. Using the camera mounted on the 3DS, it will allow you to scan various QR codes that will have functions within the game. The biggest function available right now are QR codes for the Alola Pokedex. This makes it easy to register those version-exclusive Pokemon as well as the starter evolution lines that you didn’t pick for yourself. However, keep in mind that the QR codes “officially released” are not for the entire Alola Pokedex, although codes for the remainder of the Pokedex can easily be accessed online. They are instead only for all of the new Gen VII Pokemon, save for the Ultra Beasts and Type: Null. Also, once you register a Pokemon on the Pokedex, you have the option to access its QR code to allow for a friend to scan it to register that Pokemon on their Pokedex. If you’re playing the game with some buddies, you’ll fill out that Pokedex in no time at all!
8. S.O.S. Battles
Once you get to the first battle with a Totem Pokemon, you’ll notice that it will call on an ally to assist it during the fight. After you inevitably beat this creature, wild Pokemon battles will be altered just a bit. Once the Pokemon you’re battling goes below 50% of its health, it will attempt to call upon an ally to make things a bit more complicated for you. If the ally is successfully called (it doesn’t always work), it shakes things up a bit. First of all, you will not be able to throw a Poke Ball until one of the Pokemon is knocked out, and that can be very aggravating if you’re not prepared. Also, these SOS Battles can be used to chain for Pokemon with better EVs, IVs, Hidden Abilities, and an increased chance of it being shiny. You simply have to keep knocking out the ally Pokemon, and the damaged Pokemon will keep calling more. Just build up your chain, and you’ll have a much better chance of getting that competitive team you want. This is probably the most ingenious way to get even the most casual players started in the metagame.
7. Explore Every Nook and Cranny
Like most Pokemon games, Sun and Moon have plenty of new items and secrets to discover so that you can be the best you’ve ever been. As such, you are heavily encouraged throughout the game to explore every crack and crevice to make sure you find that extra TM or even a Pokemon you wouldn’t discover elsewhere (for those of you that want a Crabrawler, I would suggest digging in the berry piles). What makes this task easier is that you do not need HMs this time around. Instead the ride Pokemon are there to get the job done, so no more going back to the PC to get the right team together. Furthermore, exploring will also benefit you when trying to obtain the Legendary Pokemon Zygarde. There are 100 cells of this monster hidden all around the Alola Region, and depending on how many you have, you will be able to regenerate them into different Zygardes. There are 10%, 50%, and 100% forms, respectively. Naturally, if you collect all of the Zygarde cells, you will get the best Zygarde available, with an ability that will allow it to change to a powerful form while in battle.
6. Alolan Jobs
One of the best things about Pokemon Sun and Moon is the atmosphere these games portray. For the first time since I’ve started on my Pokemon journey, I felt like Alola is a living, breathing world with moving parts and an ecosystem. Part of the reason for this is all the little touches Game Freak put to add that extra depth to the games. One of these additions are Alolan jobs (that’s not what they’re called, that’s just a name I gave them). And believe me, they’re not as boring as they sound. There are several people throughout the Alola Region who will ask for a particular task to be done and will pay you quite reasonably for it. Some people will ask for information on a particular Pokemon, so you need to catch it and register it in your Pokedex to show them. Another task is throwing the Pyukumuku that wash up on shore back to the ocean. They’re all quick tasks and don’t stall the game to a halt. They help you move forward and give you some extra ways to earn money if you don’t want to worry about your party’s health at the time.
5. The Games Are More Difficult (So Stock Up)
Pokemon games aren’t exactly known for their difficulty, and I had absolutely no trouble during my playthrough of Omega Ruby. That said, I wasn’t expecting any more challenges coming into Pokemon Sun. However, I am pleased to say that I was surprised by the upped difficulty in these games. I actually found myself losing battles and having to rush back to the Pokemon Center, and effectively purchasing a plethora of potions and full heals (something I never did in past games). The new Totem Pokemon are much harder than your average wild Pokemon and serve as an excellent alternative to boss battles. The Totem Salazzle actually gave me a decent run for my money. Furthermore, the Kahunas of each island are no pushovers either- each posing enough challenge that I actually had to think and use strategy in order to defeat them. Then there are the Ultra Beasts. Probably the best boss battles Pokemon has had to offer since Pokemon Coliseum, the Ultra Beasts are essentially powered up Legendary Pokemon. Top that off with a stat boost they receive at the beginning of your fight with them, and you’re faced with a tough game indeed.
4. Pokemon Refresh
When Pokemon X and Y introduced Pokemon Amie, it was sort of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s always nice to be face to face with a full sprite of your partners, being able to pet, feed, and play small games with them. On the other hand, there was no point to Pokemon Amie. Sure you could increase their happiness in order for them to do just a tad better in battle, but the overall costs outweighed the benefits. However, Pokemon Amie was a beloved mode by kids and more casual players, so Game Freak chose to include a version of it in Sun and Moon. Thankfully, this new mode, dubbed Pokemon Refresh, is an expanded version of Pokemon Amie with enough functionality to keep players interested in it. For example, every time you finish a battle, you have the option of opening up Pokemon Refresh for your Pokemon to clean it off, feed it, or heal a status ailment. As you take care of your Pokemon and increase its happiness, it will also perform better in battle. The benefit isn’t quite enough to be a gamebreaker, but still significant enough to make a difference.
3. Poke Pelago
One of the best feelings as a young child playing Pokemon was hunting down all of the Legendaries and catching them for my collection. However, after I caught them, I didn’t do anything with most of them. They simply sat in my PC as a glorified trophy collection that I progressively brought over to each new Pokemon game. For two decades, there has been nothing to do with the Pokemon I’ve collected so far. Now with Pokemon Sun and Moon, there is. There is a little island archipelago called Poke Pelago in the Alola Region. You use the Pokemon stored in your PC to roam the island and search for new items and new Pokemon that want to join you. Each island has a largely different effect on the things you find with your Pokemon. One of them is the best for collecting Poke Beans, which you feed to your partners in Pokemon Refresh, another island allows you to grow different berries to use in-game, another sends your Pokemon on a mission in which they can return with potentially rare items like evolution stones. The possibilities are massive, and Poke Pelago is a feature you should strongly consider using throughout your journey.
2. Partake In The Battle Tree
Throughout the Pokemon games, Game Freak has come up with many ways to keep you battling even after you beat the main story. Often times, these modes are modeled after competitive battling, locking your Pokemon at a particular level, forcing you to use strategy over raw power. In Pokemon Sun and Moon, this tradition continues, but it seems like they’re really celebrating their 20th anniversary this time around. After you complete the main story, you are granted access to the Battle Tree, where you will fight trainers from all over the Alola Region. However, once you complete 20 consecutive battles, you will be challenged by a familiar face from previous games, such as Cynthia from Diamond and Pearl or Wally from Ruby and Sapphire, leading up to an epic battle with Red and Blue from Red and Blue. As you get higher streaks, you will be rewarded with decent items for your team, and as you battle more, you will gain points which you can then spend on rare items (metagame items or evolution items) and mega stones. Pretty worth it if you ask me!
1. Island Scan
Nintendo has been horribly guilty of trying to utilize gimmicky features in new ways that don’t really bring anything to the table. Fortunately, with the camera app in Sun and Moon, they’ve really left this trope behind. I already talked about how you can scan QR codes to register more Pokemon in your Pokedex, but there’s another, more interesting feature that the Scanner offers. As you scan more QR codes, you will gain points, and after you gain 100, you will be able to use the Island Scanner. By using this feature, you can scan whatever island you’re on for a specific Pokemon… however, these Pokemon will not be from the Alola Region, and they’re not dumb things like a Sentret either. You can obtain the Johto and Unova starters using this method. Once you find a Pokemon with the scanner, you are given a certain amount of time to catch it until it disappears. Each day offers a new Pokemon to catch, ensuring that you will have no lack of new creatures to collect. Another thing to note about these Pokemon is that they will carry one of their exclusive Egg Moves; something which could only be obtained by specialty breeding.