My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#4 Pokémon Sun and Moon
I would categorize my Pokémon interest levels over the last twenty years as “off and on.” My current “on” phase has now been going strong for years, however.
I was incredibly excited for Pokémon X and Y back in 2013, and played through all of Pokémon Black and White just months before its release. X and Y definitely made my Game of the Year list that year, and I’m here to tell you that Sun and Moon may just be the best Pokémon game I’ve played yet.
While each main Pokémon title takes place in a new region, none are more fully realized and more captivating than Sun and Moon‘s Alola Islands. Level designs are far less linear and more interesting as you explore each of the four main islands.
Gone are the standard town-to-town journeys and progressive Gym battles. Now you fight Island Captains and Totem Pokémon, all of whom are well-integrated into the story. For the first time the region feels like a real place within this charming universe, and you’ll find people living, working, and playing alongside their Pokémon.
Tons of fun new systems have been added. Take pictures of Pokémon in a limited mini-game version of Pokémon Snap called Poké Finder. Heal your Pokémon’s status ailments with the new and improved Pokémon Refresh. Gain ridable Pokémon that open up new areas of the world – and free you of having to dump all those HMs like Surf and Fly into your team.
The tried and true combat systems have also been given some much-needed improvements. Like being able to quickly see exactly how stats and abilities have been altered during a fight, and which moves are effective against an opponent.
I found the new Z-Moves not quite as impressive as X and Y‘s Mega Evolutions. They’re tied to specific types (or a few select Pokémon) but you can only use one per battle, and they take up the precious Held Item spot. Still they make for a good sense of progress as you collect them and defeat increasingly stronger teams and totem Pokémon.
Now in its seventh generation, Pokémon Sun and Moon represents a first real shake-up of the traditional formula – and it’s all for the best. They keep everything that makes the series so endearing while improving on everything else. If you’ve been sleeping on the series or waiting for a chance to jump back in, Pokémon Sun and Moon is definitely the way to go.