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Creative Expression – The Crossroads

(Eh.. I kinda gave up midway on this featured image)

 

Good morning. Technically, I wrote this on the 1st of April.. but, to make sure people wouldn’t mistake this for a April Fools’ joke, I’ve decided to make it public today!

 

 

Creativity. That was something I used to say more proudly that I had within myself. Though I used to draw more often, create characters easily and develop entire worlds and stories out of thin air; refining those along the years.. I can’t say that’s the case currently.

It’s to no surprise for those that follow my content and posts, as little as that number actually is since I do not create content that resonates with a more visible audience. What I’ve always created publicly has been based on things that I enjoy or concern me.. rather than generating content for the sake of pleasing and attracting a larger gathering of followers or subscribers.

There has been no direction to the things I post nowadays. No obvious goal or motive behind my channels, website and social media. What was once an attempt to make my own art, stories and characters public for everyone to enjoy; has dissolved itself to posts about politics, silly things that I find amusing and sharing my own predicaments. There has been no art, no drawings, no stories to tell. Only opinions, from a voice that should probably just stay silent and allow the “grown ups to do the talking” while cheer-leading from behind the voices of reason. With likes, shares, subscriptions, comments and so on.

 

I should know better by now, as someone of my own age, to not behave this carelessly online on my public accounts. I should had kept myself to drawing and sharing stories. Again, that was the original idea when I created the pseudonym “SapphyDe90”. To focus on art, to be genuine yet kind. I guess the “art” and “kindness” got lost somewhere, leaving only the brutal honesty to the public. Unfiltered.. for most part. Lax. Perhaps naive, which is something that goes against what I am in reality.. though it is true that I can act quite childish. Personally, I don’t mind being childish on some aspects, as long I’m mature where it actually matters.

 

More and more I’ve thought to myself what to do with this pseudonym. I’ve been less motivated to draw as time passes by. Yet I’ve been felling the pressure to express my creativity somehow. It pains me that, at the age of 26 (nearly 27), I’m here thinking about what I want to do when “I grow up”. In this case, what type of artist I want to be. Again. I thought I had that set on stone, I was doing well with my art style. My stories and universes were, in my humble biased opinion, well developed and it’s a shame I never shared not even a single one to a wider audience, in a more complete sense! But, alas, people know that I’m changing. It’s a long process, that I’m quite enjoying the results that have been surprising me. But this is not the post to talk about my transition..

 

It irks me that I haven’t found myself time to properly think about what direction I want to take. How to express my creativity. I look at the time, as it flicks by. Appointments, work, resting, feeling like the worst person ever for rarely paying attention to my friends as of late. I come home, hardly feeling like doing anything productive at all. No time to think about the future.. except the treatment or the job that I have. Sometimes thinking that I should probably take time to do that one thing or another that is also important; which I do end up doing, occupying more of my time and continuing to postpone any actual attempt to find a new way to express myself.

But where is the time to think about how to express my creativity? This has been one of the most important aspects of my life, to expose my stories, settings and characters to the world; to make people feel and to make them think. To watch and smile when I see people coming up with their own interpretations. Perhaps even broaden a few minds. To also learn from the criticism, to learn more about myself and others.

 

It’s true, I’m an introvert. I’ve always been more of a listener rather than someone that talks and, while I do enjoy being with my friends, social gatherings drain me rather than invigorating. Since I’m a listener and an observer in nature, environments that produce a lot of stimuli tend to tire me easily.. given that I pay attention to every detail and really think about those details, unlike extroverts. And when there’s too many things going on, it’s no wonder that I get often lost thinking about everything around me. Which is why my definition of resting is.. not engaging with anyone and do my own thing for a while. As such, I spend most of my time soul-searching!

I dwell with emotions rather than facts, though I do appreciate (quite a lot) those that can provide facts. With facts provided by trustworthy sources, I tend to interprete how those facts affect society and the people around me. Psychology and emotions.. the human mind fascinates me and I feel that my role in society is to provide some form of guidance and emotional support. To look at society, or part of it, take note of these patterns and think abstractly about what is the passion and emotions behind the actions and words of groups and individuals. It’s not about what people stand for, say or do. But why are they acting that way? What is really going on, what do they fear, what do they actually believe?

While facts are necessary, and I do hold facts above any type of belief, I feel that the best way to tackle the issues in society is to appeal to the passions and emotions of the individuals interested in listening to the aid that I can provide. Instead of being blunt and talk about the issues and facts, I would rather express my concerns and opinions publicly by the use of symbolism, storytelling and art. What if’s, fiction, abstract. Characters, groups, universes that reflect the emotions and passions that are relatable to our own reality, daily life and current events.

That’s the type of artist I am and has been dormant of late.

 

 

When I was a child, I wanted to be an Obstetrician. Yes, I know. I was a child that, when people used to ask what I wanted to be in adulthood, I would say “I want to be a doctor that delivers babies”. Considering everything, it makes sense why I would say such a specific, yet silly thing.

I don’t think the passion behind it changed at all.. it simply took another path to reach the same goal. To nurture. When I look at everything that I’ve done and continue to passionately talk about, it becomes clearer. Why an Obstetrician? Why storytelling? Why art? Why did I chose to draw cartoons? Because I probably realized, at a really young age, that I couldn’t have children of my own.. at least the way I’ve always desired. Perhaps, before undergoing this treatment I’m currently in; drawing, storytelling and becoming an obstetrician was my way to make manifest my desire to be a mother. To teach, to love, to help someone grow and become a better person.

 

Perhaps the question is not how will I express my creativity.. but how can I nurture others? And it becomes clearer!

I don’t want to make hasty decisions. I really want to continue my treatment and reach a point that I know I’m emotionally and psychologically settled enough to decide how will I do just that. When I asked that question to myself, a few ideas came to mind. But I’m not on estrogen yet.. it’s best to wait and decide once everything becomes even more obvious.

 

 

Thank you for reading this, dear reader and here’s an advise.. analise your desires and passions, your motivations and feelings. If you have never done that honestly and with time, consider doing it.. you’ll be surprised~

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Review – Pokémon Moon

 

Good day everyone!

This is obviously a very professional review and completely non biased (and not just a Pokémon fan since Pokémon Red and Blue back when she was 8 years old in 1998 and that hasn’t stopped playing these games).

I personally should do more of these types of reviews on certain games that I play just for the fun of it. As someone who has been playing games for more than 20 years and is kinda of a geek, it’s normal that one starts to develop a critical approach when dealing with this type of entertainment. Rarely falling for the hypes (unless we are talking about our go-to favorite franchises. We have nostalgic feelings too, you know?) and harsh on most “triple A games”.

 

With that out of the way, it’s time to review the first entry of the Pokémon’s 7th Generation games and lore. I know, the game has been out since November but hey, I was busy animating and only now had the time to properly finish and digest what I played and read! I kept myself spoiled free and away from the main websites that tend to spoil anyone that even dares to visit them. The only information I knew was based on the official reveal trailers from Nintendo and the Pokémon youtube channel.

This new generation introduced two versions (like every new generation games), Sun and Moon. As tradition, I always get the closest to the Blue version of the choices presented. Blue, Silver, Sapphire, Diamond, Black, X and now Moon. Besides Yellow, Emerald, LeafGreen, Platinum, SoulSilver, Black 2 and Alpha Sapphire. Therefore, most of my review will be based on the Moon version’s perspective.

 

 

The Region

When someone learns about a new Pokémon game, one is immediately interested in a few aspects: The new Pokémon, the location and what new mechanics will it introduce.

 

Pokémon Sun and Moon introduce you to the Alola Region which is, as you guessed it, inspired by Hawaii and their landscape and culture. So one can expect a tropical tourist trap type of region where every small village treats everyone has cousins. Jungle, beaches, islands, palm trees, colored flowers and patterns. This region has four main islands (or five, if you want to count the artificial island created by the Aether Foundation). Personally, I have no issues with this source of inspiration. Though we already had a tropical region based on the southern island of Japan (Hoenn) with plenty of water and a few regions, I guess we never had a tropical environment outside of Japanese culture. However, the region does show that some islands have the capacity to hold a desert, rugged mountains, valleys.. and even a large snowy mountain. Which is faithful to the source of inspiration! So I can say that their presentation is loyal and pleasant.

 

Of course, the region is not only composed of landscapes. There’s also the people and the new Pokémon to talk about.

The people and the culture varies greatly. The game explains that there are plenty of people from Kanto and Johto mixed in with the population. It does explain the tremendous amount of Johto themed cities and towns. And it is loyal to the large asian demographic/immigration in Hawaii, since Kanto and Johto are based on Japanese locations and culture. To me personally, I find the amount of connections they’ve created between those two regions and Alola to be overwhelming. For example, the last town you visit in the second island is based on Johto culture. Then, after a few events, you get to the third island’s main city. Once you get there, you find out that the main city from the third island.. is also Johto themed. Not that those two locations are bad but I feel that one major town or city would be enough to represent that, unlike two locations on two different islands. Besides of course, the million of Johto and Kanto tourist trainers you battle. And the fact that you, yourself, the player and your mother, are Kanto immigrants.

Fortunately, there was plenty of Alola native culture exposed as well. Specially in the first island and most of the trials you have to face and Kahunas. And during those moments, it did felt like you were playing a Pokémon game set in Alola.

 

But yes, there were times it did not felt like you were playing in a region based on Hawaii. Either because of the towns and cities presented or because of the good amount of characters that weren’t even native to that region. Which gives me mixed feelings of both satisfaction and skepticism since it does make you wonder if they really were trying to underline the number of immigrants and tourists in Hawaii.. or because they wanted to pull the nostalgic strings of those who have been playing these games for a while and the rare Pokémon Go “genwunners” that decided to give the real Pokémon games a chance after abandoning ship when Pokémon Gold and Silver were introduced because the “new Pokémon are bad”.

Speaking of new Pokémon…

 

The new Pokémon

It’s clear that this new generation introduced a fair number of new mechanics with the introduction of their new Pokémon. There are now 801 Pokémon. If you add the 18 Alola forms to already existing Pokémon (which, to be fair, it should count as an entire new Pokémon), there are 819. Which means there are 79 (or 97) new Pokémon. But if you take away the 19 pseudo-legendaries and legendaries, it makes it 60 (or 78) regular Pokémon. Which really, isn’t a lot. But it’s a small useful number.

List of new Pokémon

List of Alola Forms

 

Before we get to the competitive part, let’s obviously mention their appearance first. Starting with the starters (haha…) we are introduced to the typical grass, fire and water trio to choose from. Obviously, I picked the grass owl. What this generation surprised a few people, was the end result. The owl becomes an archer with a Grass and Ghost typing, losing the Flying type. The fire feline was standing on all fours, making all the fans anxious for a final evolution where the Pokémon doesn’t suddenly stand on their two feet and becoming a fighting type. Fortunately, their wish is half granted and the feline stands tall on their two feet.. but doesn’t become a Fighting type. It becomes a Fire and Dark type, even though some of their moves resemble those of an “evil half bald genie” and a wrestler. Lastly, the sea lion manages to become a mermaid and gain the Fairy typing together with their Water type.

Personally, I dislike the feline’s final evolution. Okay with the sea lion. The owl was fine, but it will never be a Noctowl. But yes, a Rowlet is indeed cuter than a Hoothoot.

 

For the rest of the regular Pokémon, I have nothing but praise to most of them. The typical first flying wild type Pokémon is adorable and the final evolution is thematic to the region. The typical rodent first wild critter has an hilarious appearance that, though I know Game Freak (Nintendo) inspired themselves on the famous Japanese detective mangas of old, the timing was more than appropriate to point out how much this looks like Donald Trump. The typical first wild bug type Pokémon is surprisingly useful and unique in appearance, though getting that final evolution is.. painfully hard and unnecessary (this is unfortunately a recurring theme that I will critique).

The two main non-starter grass type Pokémon also look incredible, which made me sad that I already had Rowlet. Toxapex however, falls short in appearance.. though it is a useful Pokémon with a sinister Pokédex entry (they basically kill these for breakfast). The water spiders just look odd and unappealing, though we can’t deny their Special Defense. Stufful and Bewear look silly and, to be honest, I was expecting them to have an obscure typing, together with their Normal type. Like Ghost or Dark type, since they do look like a stuffed bear that is possessed. They are Fighting type somehow. The object based Pokémon are just as bizarre and unnecessary as any other though, again, they can be used competitively. Komala is also a cute (I like Koalas after all) and useful Pokémon that, for some reason, lacks an evolution.

Turtonator is disappointing, but useful in battle I guess. Bruxish is just a fail concept and, though it has good offensive moves, that’s pretty much where it ends in usefulness. Togedemaru is, surprisingly, a useful Pikachu clone (every generation has these too) that has joined my team in Pokémon Moon.

Mimikyu is a fantastic and amusing easter egg based on all the bad bootleg merchandises that sell on Pikachu’s popularity. But not only that, it’s also a useful Pokémon competitively!

Drampa reminds me of that one character from the Neverending Stories series, which makes me smile for two seconds and then realize how.. uninteresting they look in my opinion. The Fightying and Dragon type Pokémon have a rather unique typing. Besides that and their usefulness, their appearance looks like a creature created in Spore by one of those that place bone– I MEAN, scales everywhere to make it look like a highly detailed sentient dragon of sorts. That works when you are trying to make a house of cards or a sculpture made of toothpicks. But that fighting dragon looks like they tried to make a dragon out of the same copy pasted scales. Some might like it, I’m not a big fan of it.

There are other Pokémon but these are the ones that I’ve decided to talk about.

 

Next up it’s the Alola Forms from the Kanto Pokémon. Because nostalgia sells. I do wonder why they didn’t made Johto Alola Forms (since there’s both Kanto and Johto immigrants) but then I am reminded that there’s already enough Johto in this Region. Besides this slight bait, the Alola forms are the most hilarious things I’ve seen being done to the original Kanto Pokémon. Every single one of them is just that funny! They gave a mustache to Rattata and made Raticate fatter. They made Raichu a Psychic Electric type surfer, which the concept itself is already funny and the design is adorable. Sandshrew and Sandslash moved to Antarctica and made an igloo. Vulpix and Ninetails watched Frozen and they never moved on since then. Diglett and Dugtrio are Californian surfers that are still weak to water. Meowth and Persian just went from sassy to Garfield. Geodude, Graveler and Golem were tired of being Ground type and still getting zapped by Pikachu in the anime that they decided to embrace the Electricity. Grimer and Muk showed their true colors, despise still being toxic waste. Exeggutor is… … a Dragon, to put it nicely and not point out the obvious joke. And lastly, Lavender’s Town Marowak, which is nothing to laugh about.

 

And lastly, the pseudo-legendaries and legendaries. And this game has quite a few.

We have the Type: Null and Silvally. There only exists three in the world and only two were presented in the games. Man made, they were created to fight Ultra Beasts (we’ll talk about these really soon). Resembling a chimera, these share the same qualities has Arceus. As in, they can change their typing according to the Memory Disk equipped and they have access to a large move set. It’s clear that this pseudo-legendary is connected to Sinnoh. It’s a curious concept and I’ll await to see what happened to the third missing one.

The Four Tapus that are guardians for both the humans and Pokémon in Alola. Each Tapu is a protector of a specific island and they are the ones that elect a Kahuna. They also enjoy a good fight and challenge each others now and then, which inspired humans to do the same in that region with their own Pokémon. The concept is fine, though not something that has never been done by any other trio of legendaries. Of course, the exception here being that these are four, not three.

The main Legendaries: Solgaleo (for Pokémon Sun) and Lunala (for Pokémon Moon). The lion Pokémon could had been inspired on the Alchemy image of a green lion eating the sun, thus the reason why Solgaleo is a Steel type given that the Sun, in Alchemy, is associated with Gold. And the lion itself is made of metallic components. While the bat Pokémon is inspired by Hawaiian mythology and their extinct bat species, also nicknamed “Ghost Bat” that still exists in Australia. Also, curious fact. While Sun is associated with Gold in Alchemy, the Moon is associated with Silver. Gold and Silver. Johto. These two are fairly interesting (mostly because of their source of inspiration rather than what is presented in the games) and their pre-evolutions are just adorable! Oh and impressively heavy.

And lastly.. the Ultra Beasts:

The Ultra Beasts are pretty much creatures who cannot be fully described as Pokémon. They do not belong in the main dimension and are, in fact, alien and strange. They originate from Ultra Space and arrive to the main dimension by the use of Ultra Wormholes. Is it interesting? Do I enjoy this idea? Personally? I think it’s a weak and dull plot line to justify the addition of more legendary Pokémon and to give the main characters and antagonists something to worry about or capture. I’m not that attracted to the idea of adding these strange creatures to the games and their designs, though I understand what they are aiming for (as in, the concept of being strange and weird, alien), most are still quite horrendous. With the exception of Nihilego, which is the only Ultra Beast that I’m fairly okay with the design.

There are other two legendaries, Necrozma and Magearna. There is almost no lore surrounding these two so, therefore, I’ll refrain from commenting too much. Though it is clear that the first one is based of a prism and it is said that it is a very old Ultra Beast that has been stuck on the planet for a while, thus no longer an Ultra Beast and just a “normal” legendary. The last one has yet to appear in the games but it already had a presence in a Pokémon movie. But since I haven’t searched about it, I’ll allow the games to explain it to me once the moment comes.

 

Overall, there are some good designs among the new Pokémon, while also having a few mediocre additions. Competitively, these have changed things quite a bit. But for the better? We’ll see with time. But it’s clear that Game Freak (Nintendo) has made a few mistakes. Such as Eevee’s Z-move. Though we’ll talk more about Z-moves later.

 

The People

A region is not only composed of landscape and Pokémon. There’s also the people and the culture.

Though mostly has already been explained and commented about, there’s also the need to talk about a few specific characters that appear through the games.

 

As briefly mentioned, there are the four Kahunas. Chosen by the Tapu of each island, they also serve has a protector and guide to the natives and tourists that cross their island:

There’s Hala, from the first island and also the grandfather from your friend and rival Hau. He’s a sumo wrestler enthusiast and the one that teaches you about the island challenge. Also about the Tapus. Basically, he’s the one that exposes the goal for your character, together with the professor from this game.

Olivia, from the second island. She’s single and the game doesn’t hesitate to make subtle hints about it. Specially in her own room and while searching for every item in there. It’s amazing how much you can fit in a 7+ rated game. You know, the same way you find out the dirty jokes from your childhood cartoon. Trust me. They are there. Besides the jokes, she’s interested in rocks and precious stones. Again, the hints are there and having a trainer interested in rocks, archaeology and precious stones is not something new. That’s pretty much every Rock type Gym Leader ever. Underwhelming.

Nanu, the overall favorite to most Pokémon fans as far as I’m aware. He lives by himself with his nest of Alola form Meowth’s. The only Police officer near the town ruled by Team Skull, on the third island. A Dark type user, fitting the type of police officer he seems to be through out the game. Also Acerola’s uncle. Or so she calls him.

Lastly, Hapu. Recently given the title of Kahuna on the last island. She appears to you, for the first time, in the second island. To be used as an adviser and helper in certain occasions. And also as a tool to provide information about the setting and lore. Obviously, she was also used as a way to show players how Tapus choose their Kahunas. She’s always seen riding her Mudsdale, which gives the early tip that she’s going to be a Ground type user.

 

There’s also the Trial Captains which, as somehow self explained, they are responsible for the trainers’ trials. Unlike every other Pokémon game, there are no Gym Leaders. Thus your way to prove to others that you are a good trainer is by undergoing the island challenge. The island challenge is composed of trials, handed by the Trial Captains. When a trainer passes the trials within an island, they are qualified to face the Kahuna on that specific island. Repeat the same process to the other islands and now you are qualified for the Final Trial, which means facing the four Kahunas again in order to become an Island Challenge Champion.

A trial is composed of a small fun quest that may require fighting smaller and weak Pokémon or answering simple quizzes.. and a final battle against a Totem Pokémon. A Totem Pokémon is a Pokémon that is above those from the same species (as in, they are boosted beyond normal on a certain aspect). They may call other Pokémon to join the battle. So, basically, a trial is an elaborate gym puzzle that may or not exist.. and a final battle against the Gym Leader. In this case, a powerful Pokémon that may, or not, call their friends to join the battle. A true Gym Leader would be a Kahuna, though I’m confident enough to say that a trial can be considered a minor gym too.

When you reach the third island, the Professor declares that he’s making a Pokémon League and that the Kahunas are going to be the Elite Four. Which was kinda surprising, though the original Alola Final Trial declared in the game already sounded like an Elite Four, since you had to battle the four Kahunas at their best in a row. So, all in all, it seems irrelevant.. except making it seem more pompous. And, to be honest, it was probably a terrible excuse made by the Professor so that he could have a shot at being the champion. I guess Guzma wasn’t that far off after all!

 

The supporting cast is composed by Professor (Kukui), friend and rival Hau and “the mysterious” Lillie and her rescued companion pre-evolution legendary Cosmog.

The Professor is far more present in this game than any other previous game in the series. He’s basically the adult supervisor that appears quite often. That is, until he becomes too busy building his Pokémon League. I still prefer Professor Sycamore in X and Y.

Hau personally annoys me a little. He is the second character that smiles the most, if you count our own mostly silent character that has a perpetual smile. Does that count has a resting bitch face or a sadist? Well, Hau has his reasons as to why he always try to be happy. But sometimes it’s too soon, Hau. Too soon.

Lillie, on the other hand, is written as a stereotypical child that can’t do much on her own and doesn’t like seeing Pokémon fighting or getting hurt, except when you do it. She enjoys shopping on every town or city you visit and she’s the one that hands you the make up kit, so that you can put contact lenses and change lipstick. And also presenting to you the stores where you can buy clothing for your own character. This is not a new feature but I’m more than glad that they have kept this. I’ll talk more about her later when we reach the point that I’ll be critiquing the plot. Her character evolution is properly represented though it can get exhausting watching her insecurity for several hours and her constant interruptions to stutter about what she actually has in mind but is unsure if that’s what she actually wants to say or do. Seriously, it happens too much. But once the plot is at its peak, she becomes a pleasant character that you can’t help but root for her. But before that? Eh..

 

Then we have, of course, the two major groups and factions. This is where this game shines and deserves most of its praise. The characters in these two groups are endearing and it shows that Game Freak (Nintendo) have been improving with their storytelling! I’ll try to leave the plot for later but.. we do need to talk about the two groups to make it easier once we get there.

 

Team Skull

Every Pokémon game needs a Team for the protagonists to foil their plans. This is just tradition. We had Team Rocket, Team Aqua, Team Magma, Team Galactic, Team Plasma, Team Flare..  and now we have Team Skull.

Team Rocket was basically inspired by the Mafia. Making money, having influential power and stealing those Pokémon for profit. Team Aqua were incredibly dumb and naive eco-terrorists that wanted more water in the world while Team Magma were their just as dumb counterparts that wanted more land. Team Galactic raised the bar and said that wanted to restart the universe. Team Plasma tried to be rational and asked the moral questions about the fact that humans have been capturing Pokémon and using them for battles while, in truth, they just wanted to steal all the Pokémon and use that has a means to maintain power over their region. Team Flare wanted to remake the world, by killing everyone and everything, since it was corrupted and no longer beautiful.

So, we had a few over the top Teams. So what does Game Freak (Nintendo) decides to do this time? A parody of themselves. Team Skull. Low life thugs and rapping gangster wannabes that do wild gestures, squad and cause fights over the most pitiful things. They just want to cause trouble, to call for attention and to be bad. Of course, this Team was a wide success across Pokémon fans. It’s fantastic when a franchise mocks itself this way!

 

The Grunts call themselves Grunts (literally), giving themselves names like Grunt A and B (again, literally). They are completely unorganized.. but they are smarter than every Grunt in the other teams. Because these Grunts.. are no numskulls and they sometimes know that it is pointless to fight you, since you are stronger than them. Their raps are incredibly cheesy yet funny. They bicker between themselves about how they are wearing each others’ clothes and that they should start labeling their clothes with their names (even though they are all literally named Grunts). Their bosses know that their Grunts are idiots and treat them as such. It is just.. a laugh. This is fan service done right for all ages!

 

Their boss is no one else than “ya’ boy, Guzma”, as Guzma presents himself as. He is the kind of man that solves everything with a punch or, in short, violence. He has a inferiority complex that hides his insecurities of being someone who was not able to become a Trial Captain. Which is the theme of this Team. All of the members are rejects or people who never finished their Trials. The obvious real life equivalent of dropping out of school. So this leader simply lashes his pain onto society in the most petty of ways, by starting fights for no good reason.

 

Lastly, Guzma’s helper Plumeria. She tries to keep the Grunts together, even though she knows they are dumb. As she explains herself, she’s like a big sister to all those numskulls. Though she knows they are fools, she finds it endearing and cute, like a younger sibling. She takes care of them and treats them like family. The most mature and humane character from this Team.

 

Team Skull’s base of operation is Po Town, on the third island. That town is theirs and it is just as a mess as one would imagine!

 

Aether Foundation

Of course, not everything is a parody and the Aether foundation is not presented as such. Their goals personally remind me of Team Flare, with the ability to be cunning has a Team Plasma member.

Their base of operations is located in the artificial island named Aether Paradise which they, themselves with Lusamine’s wealth, have bought and built.

They do not have a “Team” in their name so it’s fairly easy to dismiss them as having any sort of sinister goals. Of course, if you are a Pokémon fan.. you knew these people were probably up to something. And the biggest clue was the fact that the introduction to the game show a few of their employees chasing our dear friend Lillie as she ran away with the Cosmog she liberated from them.

So you do know they are up to something. Though they can be extremely convincing, given that they serve their public goals of preserving the Pokémon in need or close to extinction. So, they goals seem noble. They also have scientists in their ranks so it’s fair to assume that they do a good amount of research. Their true goal and experiments are later revealed in the plot but, for now, let us talk about their members.

 

Lusamine is the foundation’s president and my favorite character from this game. Do not be fooled by her appearance, she is over 40 years old and a giant! Why she still uses high heels is a mystery to be solved. She is Lillie‘s and Gladion‘s mother. She is obsessed with beauty and perfection. Her silhouette is her goal to preserve and take care of every Pokémon. To be a mother to them. However, her obsession goes too far.

 

Wicke is the assistant branch chief of the Foundation. Much like Plumeria from Team Skull, she’s the most humane of this group. Though she is overall caring and nicer to everyone. The only member from the foundation that disagrees with Lusamine’s goals and the one that Lusamine’s children trust the most. Later, she’s the only one from the Foundation that works with the International Police to atone for the mistakes made by it.

 

Lastly, Faba, Branch Chief and, has he calls himself “Aether Paradise’s last line of defense”. If his frail appearance adorned with luxury isn’t enough to give hints, he has a large ego. Always talking about himself so highly, it’s more than obvious that he enjoys maintaining a high position in the foundation. A weasel when it comes to obtaining the things he wants, tricking people and manipulating others. Lying and pleasing his superiors to get the advantage and, perhaps, a promotion.

 

The Story

Obviously, I’m not going to go into incredible detail about the story itself. Most of the characters have been talked about for the exception of one another.

 

Our character moves in with their mother to Alola. They are from Kanto and quickly are introduced to the natives of that region. You meet Lillie, the Professor and Hau. Lillie is easy to expose Cosmog, even though she tries to hide it from most strangers. Her efficient method of hiding Cosmog is by stuffing it in her bag. And it can get a bit annoying every time that she somehow manages to let Cosmog free from her bag just to complain he’s out of the bag and needs to hide.

But when you met Cosmog and Lillie, they both lead you to a bridge, since Cosmog is oddly attracted to the Ruins in Alola, were the Tapu’s reside and can be summoned. Cosmog, Lillie and our character get easily into trouble but are saved by the Tapu. Suddenly, you are chosen by Tapu Koko to have one of its Sparkling Stones, which later is used by the local Kahuna to create a Z-Ring. The Z-Ring is a mechanic that we’ll talk later and it is quite ridiculous.

From there, you earn a Island Challenge Amulet, to show everyone that sees you that you are attempting to do every Trial Challenge in Alola. It is the beginning of your regular and typical Alola Trainer adventure with the Professor, Hau and Lillie.

 

Team Skull is later presented as the misfits that they are and the Foundation has well. Everyone is, rightfully so, against Team Skull and the Foundation is everyone’s favorite. Eventually, you visit Aether Paradise and you randomly encounter a Ultra Wormhole.. because this is normal and could happen to anyone? It is a rare occurrence and a legend that is told and researched about but you just happened to see it together with Hau and the Foundation’s president. Lucky you, you battle the Ultra Beast Nihilego. Lusamine declares her passion for that Ultra Beast out loud and we all now learn that she’s interested in the Ultra Beasts. Nothing more happens on that department, except explaining what happened in Aether Paradise to the Professor and the others… and you move on with your island challenge. That was weird, and random, and coincidental!

 

After a few encounters with Team Skull, you also learn about Gladion. He’s a teen that has been traveling with Team Skull. He owns a Type: Null and he later expresses his disapproval for the Foundation. He also doesn’t enjoy being with Team Skull but then I give him a second glance and look at his nihilistic attitude.. and I conclude that he’s in that stage in life that he pretends he doesn’t enjoy a lot of things in life. But since this is a game, it’s obvious that this teen’s disapproval for both factions is justified. He does have a pseudo-legendary Pokémon so he must know something we don’t know. However, his disapproval for the Foundation is based on their obsession with Ultra Beasts and that is a clue you’ve already noticed. He also tells you to protect Cosmog at all costs.

 

Eventually, you reach the third island, the Professor gets busy with the idea of opening a Pokémon League there, meet Guzma for the first time, learn that both were never able to become Trial Captains… and Lillie and Cosmog are kidnapped by Team Skull. Plumeria says that they are not the only ones that steal Pokémon. The plot thickens and you reach Po Town to find both Lillie and Cosmog. You do not find them there but, instead, you get to have a great time with Team Skull. Gladion appears again and tells you that he knows where they are, thus your raid to the Aether Foundation’s artifical island begins together with Gladion and Hau. The Aether Foundation is on alert and starts battling you immediately. You later find Team Skull with them too, working together.

You find information about the Ultra Beasts research, their connection with Cosmog and also about Type: Null’s purpose.

But it is only when you find Lusamine that you learn about her Foundation’s plan. To preserve everything that the President finds to be beautiful, which somehow resembles the motives from Team Flare back in Kalos Region, minus the destruction of everything. That Lillie and Gladion are her children and that Lillie took Cosmog away from her and Gladion took one of the Type: Null’s with him. Thus they were no longer beautiful and no longer her children. She found the Ultra Beast you fought the other day in Aether Paradise to be beautiful and thus she wants to capture it. Cosmog is used to open a Ultra Wormhole and off Lusamine and Guzma go to Ultra Space! With the apparent sacrifice made by Cosmog to do so. It also opened other Ultra Wormholes across the Region which allowed more and different types of Ultra Beasts to arrive to the world confused and furious.

 

Without the ability to create a new Wormhole, You and Lillie decide to find a way to do so to rescue her mother and Guzma while, at the same time, find a way to understand why Cosmog changed form and appears to be dead. You learn about the Sun and Moon Flutes and their connection to the Wormholes and how you need both to summon the Legendary Pokémon that can open Ultra Wormholes (and how they never made the connection with Cosmog by now is beyond me). You are given the Flute, that is opposite to the version of the game that you have, by Gladion. The other flute, corresponding to the version that you own, is located on the fourth and last island, on a smaller connected island called Exeggutor Island. Why that island in specific? Wish I knew because there was nothing special there besides the Alola Exeggutor’s and the Flute was widely exposed.

Of course, Lillie goes through some changes since the last events that have made her lost her mother and having her hear that she was no longer her daughter. She becomes more determined, though still holding some obvious insecurities that, by that time, were driving me insane because the game would focus on those every 15-30 minutes.

 

Fortunately, everything changes when you reach the Altar of the Sunne or Moone, depending on your version. You both play each flute on the right spot and, surprise, the new form Cosmog adopted was nothing more than an evolution and now it’s going to evolve again to the Legendary Pokémon on the cover of your game. The Legendary opens the wormhole and both reach to Ultra Space. There, they are greeted by a mourning and confused Guzma who informs us that we are all stupid for going there. How he also felt true fear for the first time when he tried to capture a Nihilego by.. punching. He informs that the Pokémon has the ability to possess Pokémon and humans, he himself was at one time. That they’ll probably never going to leave and how Lusamine is beyond resoning. Just a few meters away, you see Lusamine calmly watching plenty of Nihilego’s doing their own.. awkward creepy dance. She informs about how beautiful Nihilego’s are and how she no longer needs anything else.

A great dialogue happens between Lusamine and Lillie and that’s when Pokémon stretches that +7 rating far and wide. Pokémon fans who saw this for the very first time were incredibly surprised (including myself) and that’s when things became even more interesting than they already were. Basically, she fused with Nihilego and became a mixture of Pokémon and human.

Yes, this is still Pokémon, welcome to the future of the franchise! I think they are finally realizing the audience they have and I couldn’t be happier with these type of surprises on their plots. The only major disappointment is that you don’t battle.. THAT. But, somehow, you still battle her possessed Pokémon which is still amazing (because the Pokémon do look like they are possessed). After you defeat her team, she decides to attack you herself but is interrupted by the Legendary Pokémon on the cover of your game. Nihilego removes itself from Lusamine and the toxic influences of that Pokémon start to wear off her conscience. Frail, she asks Lillie how she suddenly became so beautiful.

 

You eventually leave Ultra Space and go back to the Altar which, at that time and given how everything’s solved, then decide to go to the Pokémon League and continue your Trial by facing the Elite Four.. after capturing the Legendary on the cover of your game that wishes to join you, of course! Congratulations, you are now the official and first Champion to ever exist in Alola, thus you don’t have to face a Champion. Except for the Professor who decides to challenge you for the title after you obtained it. But you’re the protagonist so you win, defend your title and he accepts it. Though personally, I think he made all of that just so he could try and become the Champion himself.. since it is revealed that he once tried to face the Elite Four in Kanto and failed against Lance. Either way, small mysteries.

Once you become the first Champion in Alola, you come back to the first island where you supposedly still live with your mother and throw a festival where the local Kahuna lives. With heavy drinking, fireworks, all the Trial Captains are there, the Kahunas too, all your friends are there and it’s all just a predictable finale.. or is it? Lillie pulls you to the side and tells you that you should thank the local Tapu, given that the guardian was the one that gave you the Z-ring. You go to the ruins, do a small prayer and you face the Tapu. Of course, any legit Pokémon trainer will just capture this one so now you just doomed an island by capturing a Guardian. It’s okay, it’s our secret since no one ever mentions that encounter. Stop thinking so much, it’s just a game!

Lastly, the game ends with Lillie saying that she’s leaving to Kanto with her mother. To start her own Pokémon adventure after being inspired by you and to meet Professor Bill. Yes, remember Red and Blue? I do! They travel there because they have heard that Bill knows how to fuse people with Pokémon and how to fully remove the fusion between those. Yes. That very machine on the back of the room which Bill uses to return to normal. From your game nearly 20 years ago when you were probably still in elementary school. That’s why they are going to Kanto, to fully remove the traces from the Ultra beast from Lusamine; since those have yet to fully be removed so that she finally be free to love her children like a mother would.

 

 

In conclusion, what is there to say about the story and the lore provided? I find that there were things that were unnecessary. As said earlier, there were aspects and the constant underline of personality traits that I found annoying to deal with on a few characters. Mainly the supporting ones. Team Skull is a major success and the Aether Foundation isn’t that far behind either, though it is clear that it’s Lusamine that makes the faction appealing and not the grunts and/or the other employee’s. The Kahuna’s and Trial Captains have their ups and downs and there’s nothing worthy to critique or applaud. It’s different from having Gym Leaders, so there’s that to appreciate just this once. They are a thing that exist and some have more spotlight than others. Obviously, the ones in the spotlight will be more exposed and developed (for the better or worse) while others will be forgotten with time.

 

These games tried to also provide the necessary tools for new players to understand the game, while also going a step further and explain things that were never before explained in a Pokémon game.. that always existed and was only known by those that did their own independent research outside of the games! That is a plus but it did make it feel like the game was longer for those that already knew. And it can get quite long and exhausting, specially when you have been playing these games since the beginning.

And you may say “Well, the new players and the children that play this game”. I can say that this game finally tried to make attempts to wander away from only focusing on the younger demographic, if the story and quite strong mature themed hints are anything to go by. In fact, they have been trying that for a good number of years but, this time, they didn’t shy away from making stronger references. If Pokémon Go and the Generations Anime Episodes have showed us and Game Freak (Nintendo) is that those that enjoy Pokémon are now part of an older demographic. They may attract a child or another but nowadays, it’s not their stable source of income. Instead, people from my generation and teens are, which explains completely the theme of this story and some of the characters while others still maintain the classical tropes known since the beginning of this franchise.. Plus, no child is going to understand some of the things mentioned in this game. Like Johto, Kanto, Lance, Unova, the cameos from very old games (I’m talking Red and Blue old). And these things are important if one is to have a finer grasp of what is going on. It is a game that connects all the main titles of the series, as Game Freak (Nintendo) has been promising since the reveal.

Are there flaws in this story? A few, though they are tied more to some very specific characters rather than the plot itself. The plot itself is mostly fine the way it is, with the exception of having those small random rare coincidences that just happen to appear when you were passing by that very same moment because you are the protagonist.

 

However, any small improvement should be praised and Game Freak (Nintendo) have been trying quite hard to improve their storytelling. If only they did that with the anime.. but I doubt it. The anime is indeed targeted for children and, I guess, a good introduction for Pokémon rather than games like these with the plots they currently have.

 

The Gameplay

The gameplay in Pokémon hasn’t suffered that many changes since the previous generation when it comes to battling. Though there are a few obvious differences that will affect the competitive scene.

There’s no point in talking about a few differences in HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed from a few of the older Pokémon. Or a few changes on certain abilities and also about how Paralysis and Burned conditions have been altered by just an insignificant amount.

The version differences between Sun and Moon are that both are 12 hours set apart. While Pokémon works on a 24 hour system and when it’s day in real life, it’s day in Pokémon and vise versa. Pokémon Sun and Moon take it a step further and make it so that, during the day, Pokémon Sun is also day but in Pokémon Moon, it’s night. When it’s night, Pokémon Sun is also night but in Pokémon Moon, it’s day. And, like any version difference, the Pokémon are different and the story changes a little to reflect the Legendary on the cover of your version.

 

Instead, let’s mention the big elephant in the room, Z-Moves (which require a Z-Ring). What are Z-Moves? Z-Moves are powerful moves that you can only use once per battle and require the Pokémon to hold the required Z-Crystal (that represent a generic Pokémon Type that works on most Pokémon that share the same Type or are completely unique and only work on one Pokémon). So, in short, there are a few Z-Moves and every Pokémon has access to at least one. Remember Mega-Evolutions? This is pretty much the same type of addition to the franchise, except it’s only a single turn overpowered move. Don’t worry, they haven’t forgot about Mega-Evolutions. They are still there, for the better or worst.

How do you activate a Z-Move? Your trainer does an Hawaiian inspired dance that has been passed down by generations of Alolan Kahunas and trainers. Every Z-Crystal has their own dance associated to activate it. As long you also have your Z-Ring on your wrist.. or else you will look like an idiot. Yes. It is as silly has it sounds and, when I learned about it, I felt the same thing when I heard about Mega-Evolutions in X and Y. Now Mega-Banette is my favorite mega-evolution but that’s besides the point! It would had been better if they kept adding new Mega-Evolutions but, instead of keeping up with their first dumb idea, they decide to add a much more disappointing one. Mega-Evolutions were already a tough concept to swallow but Z-Moves made me laugh at Game Freak (Nintendo) first, then sigh lowly and resign to the idea that this is yet another factor that I have to endure in this franchise from now on. Nothing is perfect and sacred, we move on.

 

One of my major complains with this generation is how they’ve changed the appearance rate of certain wild Pokémon that aren’t even that special or unique. It became much harder to capture certain average Pokémon. And even harder to catch the more useful ones. To have an idea, I went to serebii.net to have a look at the available Pokémon in the region. To form a team for my story mode adventure. I’ve learn which locations they appeared, wrote it on a notepad and did nothing more but play the game blindly until the right route appeared.

My original idea was DecidueyeRibombeeToxapexKangaskhanGoodra and Togedemaru. Nothing too fancy competitively, but a fun team nonetheless that even had a Kangaskhan to Mega-Evolve if that came later on the game. When I reached the point that I was located in the place that Serebii informed that one could catch a Kangaskhan (I already had Decidueye and Ribombee.. or any of the previous evolutions, can’t remember), I walked on the grass for nearly an hour and didn’t saw a single Kangaskhan. I started to wonder and went to Serebii again. Apparently, it had a 1% chance of appearing. I was.. quite surprised but continued anyway. Eventually it appeared and I captured it. Though not before randomly finding a shiny Magby first! But then I got curious and searched about the rest of the team I had in mind:

  • Mareanie (Toxapex pre-evolution) can only be found on S.O.S battles (which is another nuisance in this game that I’ll talk about soon), with 5% apperance rate.. from a Pokémon that only appears 5% of the time when fishing in two specific areas. So, it is a 5% chance from a 5% chance by… fishing. Why? The Pokémon isn’t even that good to justify all this work (I mean, it’s still good but really Game Freak (Nintendo)?)!
  • Goomy (Goodra’s first evolution) can only be found in very specific areas when it rains.. during S.O.S battles. With a 25% chance. Weather changes happen at random in this game unless you have a Pokémon like Pelipper with Drizzle (that automatically summons rain at the beginning of the battle). And still, it needs to be an S.O.S battle and a 25% chance. The other 75% chance are occupied by Castform.. and nobody wants that. Goodra is a good Pokémon but still! You need to capture a Wingull (Pelipper’s pre-evolution), evolve it into a Pelipper, go to a specific jungle (for example. There is another place you could go but requires the same strategy), waste items to force an S.O.S battle (or wait for it to happen on its own, which is tedius) and STILL have a 1/4th chance of Goomy appearing and not a ridiculous Castform! I’m sorry but no thanks. I’m going to look for another Pokémon.

When I realized this, I had to make a quick decision and waste a few hours figuring out my team. Every time I saw a Pokémon that I liked and was useful for the team, there were convoluted ways to capture it. Lastly, after a few hours wasted, I settled with DecidueyeRibombeeKangaskhanTogedemaru, Umbreon (because I was playing Pokémon Moon and I thought it was thematic) and Starmie (and I only evolved my Staryu at level 53. So that was painful).

This is a recurring theme in this game with plenty of Pokémon. There were always Pokémon that were hard to capture in every game and that is fine. But Alola is another level of pointless hunt for average Pokémon that were never before that hard to find in other games. And while Alola has a vast list of Pokémon, it lacks a National Dex and, therefore, the game is left with not many Pokémon in the wild to capture! And those that are okay and you probably want.. they are hard to find.

 

Speaking of hard, S.O.S battles may very well be a good tool to find wild Pokémon with perfect IV’s but it is a painful mechanic for those who are average players. S.O.S battles can be activated by the use of an item called Adrenaline Orb or by.. waiting for it to happen, if it happens. The concept is simple. You battle a wild Pokémon and the wild Pokémon can ask for help from other wild Pokémon. And suddenly, you are in a battle of two Pokémon against one of yours. This can be triggered several times in the same battle. And a battle that was once between you and a single wild Pokémon can end up in a battle against 2 or 5. Or, if you are specifically hunting for a very specific Pokémon, the number can be endless since you want to continue battling to try your luck in the roulette! Oh and you can’t capture a Pokémon unless they are alone. So be sure to clean the battlefield before capturing the one you want!

Call me lazy but I miss my Alpha Sapphire / Omega Ruby when it comes to capturing a Pokémon and the vast list of Pokémon.

 

There’s also Hyper Training, which is a feature that substituted the previous generation’s Super Training (very creative names there, Game Freak (Nintendo)). Unlike Super Training, which you trained your Pokémon’s EV values, now you can control your Pokémon IV values instead! That sounds amazing at first, since those values could never be altered and were only perfectly obtained by mass breeding your Pokémon and sending the rejects to the nether. And yes. This is the sad and dark truth about competitive battling. Forced breeding and incest to get the perfect combination or IV’s, abilities, nature (personality) and moves (and sometimes even gender, if that matters for the Pokémon in question). While the children rot in the box or are send back to the wilds without their parents. Or are traded away by other inbreeds on the internet on a digital slot machine. It’s just a game, stop thinking too much.

Either way, Hyper Training is a wonderful idea that is poorly executed. Because you need a very specific item that is rare in order to do so.. every time you want to perfect a single IV attribute. And every Pokémon has six of those. So, therefore, is it really worth it to do that? Probably only once.. to your Ditto. You know, the Pokémon that everyone uses for mass breeding with any other Pokémon species. If the Ditto has perfect 6 IV’s, it becomes easier to breed. But by the time it takes to get those rare items, you already gave up and decided to abuse the already dull method of mass spamming those S.O.S battles against a wild Ditto to summon even more Dittos until a shiny one appears!

 

Oh and let’s not dwell on how harsh they have been with the new Pokémon and their method of evolution. Again, they made it extremely hard to evolve certain Pokémon for no apparent good reason. The evolutions are nice and sometimes useful but they are not that good to justify the absurdity! The token first Bug type wild Pokémon in the game, Grubbin. That evolves into a Charjabug at level 20.. only evolves into a Vikavolt when it levels up on a very specific spot in the game, on the last island. So, you are stuck with Charjabug for most of the game until quite late at game when you are already in your level 50’s! Now, that’s acceptable in some cases but this is the Butterfree, BeedrillLedianAriadosBeautiflyDustoxMothimScolipede and Vivillon.. of Alola! And the hardest on that list is Scolipede, at level 30. And Scolipede is amazingly useful competitively. Not saying that Vikavolt is inferior (it is also quite good) but you made it so that we now have to evolve it when our team is around level 50. It’s ridiculous and not the only example. There’s also Crabominable, that is much worst, that only evolves.. near the Pokémon League. Salazzle, which uses almost the same method as Vespiquen..

Though I admit. It’s still not as bad as the evolution method with Inkay to Malamar, which requires you to hold your console upside down when leveling up any level as long it is above level 30. Yes, we’ll never forget this special trinket in X and Y that no one would ever figure out unless using google.

 

Outside of the competitive and battling scene, we have the return of Pokémon Amie under the name of Pokémon Refresh. If you enjoy petting your virtual pets with your Nintendo 3DS Stylus, this is your lucky day. Pet it, feed it beans and your Pokémon will do a few neat tricks during battle at random. Critical hits, dodges, recovering from certain Status effects and also enduring a killing blow by keeping themselves alive with 1 HP. Because they love you, obviously. And not because you are the only source of Pokémon Beans (which we’ll talk later). At the end of each battle, you can also activate the Pokémon Refresh Care. It’s as cheesy as it sounds and mostly useful when you are doing your own story mode and want to get rid of a Status effect without using an item. Else, it’s just an annoying pop up.

There’s nothing to say about this feature since it’s not obligatory to use it. It’s fun for the first 5-10 minutes and then it gets dull quickly.

 

Another pointless fun feature is the Poké Finder. Which is a small nod to the Nintendo 64 Pokémon Snap fans (I didn’t had a Nintendo 64, so no comments). Your Pokédex Rotom (yeah, forgot to mention that. Your Pokédex is possessed by a talking Rotom), besides being a Pokédex with a Map and that talks to you, can also take photos in a few selected locations. You take photos of the local Pokémon by using the 3DS’s capability of capturing movement of the console (thus simulating horribly the idea that you are holding a camera) and the goal is to publish those on some form of Pokémon Social Media and gain Thumbs Up. Sometimes you get a few funny comments but the whole concept itself, though cute, is very random oriented. And that’s one of the problems with this game in general in terms of gameplay and, to be honest, this feature isn’t that bad but not something that excites me.

 

There’s also the Poké Ride, which is a feature that everyone agrees that is good for the franchise. Did you hated HM’s? To have those moves that did things in the overworld like Cutting bushes, Surfing, Flying, Strength and so on? Game Freak (Nintendo) said no more! Poké Ride substitutes that and allows you to summon a Pokémon (that doesn’t take space from your 6 slot team) that does what the HM’s used to do. There are a few and they are given along the game. However, can we all agree that the Machamp’s method was a bad choice? Just.. why Japan? A piggyback ride would make more sense!

 

The Pokémon Trainer Customization aspects from X and Y are back in Alola and they haven’t changed, except there’s different clothes, thematic to the region, that you can buy and wear. Good! Though next time, please expand the choices even more if you could. Thank you!

There’s also the Poké Pelago, which is, to put it short, an Archipelago of small islands where the Pokémon in your boxes aid you finding items, collect beans (that you can use to lure wild Pokémon to your islands and into your box without a fight.. or to feed your Pokémon in Pokémon Refresh), do a few mini games and so on. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a mere distraction from the game that will be forgotten in the next games.

 

And the last feature I’m going to talk about, the Festival Plaza. To tell the truth, I haven’t done much in it. Because it’s quite dull. When taught how to use it in the game, it felt dull. When I used it at the end of the game, it felt dull. It’s such a ridiculously unnecessary feature that resembles the Join Avenue in White 2 / Black 2 in the 5th Generation. And I didn’t used it that much back then and I doubt I will now! Though I’ve heard that it is a good method of getting more of those rare items that allow you to Hyper Train.. which is horrible. I’ll pass.

I’ll only be using the Festival Plaza to do the things I’ve been doing online in Pokémon: Battling and Trading with friends and complete strangers.

 

Besides these features, you have the Battle Royal. Where the Professor pretends to be a Mexican Wrestler in his free time on a four way battle. Four trainers, four Pokémon, all against all. It is an interesting concept that allows you to entertain on those dull moments in the game. But I have yet to master it, I keep losing! Then there’s the Battle Tree. Which works like the Battle Maison in the other games, except they give the nostalgic Easter Eggs from White 2 / Black 2’s Pokémon World Tournament. As in, sometimes you battle the important characters and powerful trainers from every other previous games and regions. Including the now adult Blue and Red. Yes, the nostalgia is here, much like a lot of the other things in this game.

 

New features aside, Pokémon Sun and Moon are much harder games than the previous ones. The trainers are smart, their teams are not easy and even the single Type users have counters to those they are weak to. So do not think this is an easy game, even with Exp. Share (this thing is back). The Totem Pokémon can be harsh if you are not prepared. The Elite Four is also one of the hardest we’ve ever had. The Ultra Beasts are also a challenge.

It could be all that.. or the fact that it’s hard to get certain Pokémon and your team is relatively weaker to previous generations. I have yet to decide if that’s the case.

 

The Music

Of course, we can’t finish a review without talking about the music.

 

The music in Pokémon Sun and Moon was okay and, obviously, thematic. The main theme from the game was repeated a few times along the way and, when you reach the Pokémon League and defend your title, the theme plays again. Because the main theme from the game.. is your theme. And it’s the Champion’s theme. Because you are the Champion defending your title. It’s small things like this that makes the game special. And again, in the credits, together with what’s showing on the screen, it does tie the game nicely to the main theme again.

It’s also clear that they have tried several times to use parts on their music that are reminiscent to other earlier Pokémon games. Which is fine, no complains there. It’s a perfectly viable choice, given the number of immigrants and tourists in Alola.

 

When the game tries to be sinister, it knows how to expose the right feelings with their music. For example, exposing Lusamine for the first time and not knowing she’s the antagonist. Up until the point you actually have to face her while she’s in her fused form. Or when you have to enter the haunted super market (no, your headphones are fine).

And who could forget the parody themselves, Team Skull? And facing Guzma? Or about the alien and strange feelings that facing an Ultra Beast invoke?

Obviously, also the fan service when they remixed Blue’s Encounter theme and the battle theme when facing Red? And when facing Blue (even though this one was straight out copied from Pokémon X and Y)? (Original Encounter Rival and Original Red/Champion Battle, Original Blue/Champion Battle for easier comparison).

Lastly, my personal favorite, Lillie’s theme.

 

Is this selection of OST’s that Game Freak (Nintendo) developed for Pokémon Sun and Moon the best? It’s a matter of opinion. For me, the 5th and 6th Gen offered more. We have the Sycamore amazingly stereotypical French theme in X and Y. We have the Champion theme in X and Y. We have the extremely bizarre Generic Legendary Battle theme on Black and White, that simulate perfectly the heart beats you feel when facing a Legendary Pokémon and want to capture it.. and fail.. and try again, and the thing is strong and killing you (The music’s bad for your health but that”s what makes it good. It’s not pleasant but it is accurate). Team Plasma’s battle theme from Black and White. N’s final battle, in Black and White. Colress battle theme in White 2 and Black 2 (that makes a return in Sun and Moon). And who could forget that strange moment when you enter Elesa’s Gym/Runaway hybrid (in White 2 and Black 2) and you hear this at the beginning when you have to deal with one of her models? Or the treatment on the Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby when they updated their music, such as the Gym Battle Theme and Elite Four? The Contest Hall (and still my favorite Pokémon mini game)? And the Boutique song on X and Y that you hear when shopping for clothing? And lastly, the song you hear when you meet the original Alien Pokémon, Deoxys?

There are more examples, even outside of those two previous generations. The eternal and tear jerking nostalgic theme, New Bark Town will always remain close as my personal “trainer’s hometown” theme. Yes, I know this last link is purely based on nostalgia but I never said I was fully unbiased!

 

For me, if someone points out the music from Pokémon Sun and Moon, the ones I’ll remember the most are Lillie’s theme and Team Skull’s encounter.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Pokémon Sun and Moon offered nostalgia, wrapped in a sense that they are trying to improve on their stories, connecting old games and regions together and trying to reach a more mature audience and taking a few risks.

Their catering to nostalgia isn’t strange. They have done that several times along the years. With their remakes, with the small cameos from previous characters and plots. But never have they done it to such a scale as this game. After some thought, it does make sense from a selling point!

Pokémon Go, for the better or worst, brought to light the old fans from this franchise. The so called “genwunners” (derogatory term used to those who can’t shut up about how Red and Blue were the best games ever and that they only count the original 150 Pokémon as the true ones and everything else is garbage and silly) exposed their colors and expressed with their money and app store that they enjoy Kanto very much.

Of course, Game Freak (Nintendo) are not fools and if they were to listen to those types of people, the franchise would stagnate quickly. Pokémon needs new regions, new concepts, new minigames. New regions means new habitats. New habitats means new Pokémon, because that’s how nature works. But they also experimented with the so called “Alola Forms” of previous Pokémon (which, in this case, they only have done that to Kanto Pokémon). Is it something that they will expand in the future? By adding new Forms to the new regions to come? From Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and so on? Because if so, it would be interesting and it could slow down the addition of entire new species of Pokémon. Working with the species that already exist is not that bad of an idea as long they don’t stop creating new Pokémon all together.

 

The story was done well. There were moments that were amusing, clever, fun for all ages but also subtle mature themes and complex relationships between the characters involved. The way the story was told could very well be read by a child and the child would move on and have a faint idea of what it meant (or not care at all. Most likely not care at all) while the older demographic can clearly understand what’s exactly going on without having elaborated speeches or characters exposing their thoughts into detail and with nuance.

We can easily fill the blanks and conclude that the family dynamic between Lusamine and her children is complicated. We can hold the abstract ideas of beauty that she spouts in the game and understand the feelings a parent has when their child grows up and lead their own decisions that, sometimes, goes against their own. It is easy when a child is young and listens to everything a parent has to say. But once they grow up and form their own personality, they may rebel against their parents.

We can see how Lillie reacts and has to endure the fact that her own mother is disowning her and her brother. How, at the end, when Lusamine finally told her she found Lillie to be beautiful by asking the question; how Lillie felt to be told that by her mother after all that happened.

The message is simple, yet complex enough to entertain the thought while playing the game. I say that they did a really good job on this aspect. Not a fan of the Ultra Beasts but, considering the story, I am willing to forgive those horrible designed Legendary Beasts.

 

The gameplay changes were quite unnecessary. While the difficulty of the battles was more than welcome, the rarity and convoluted way of capturing and evolving some of the most well known Pokémon is, quite frankly, one of the lowest points in this game. The competitive scene has now to endure the Z-Moves, together with the Mega-Evolutions. Not only that but, as most fans already know, some of the Z-Moves are simply too much. Again, I’ll point out to the novel idea behind the Eevee Z-Move. It is broken, much like a Mega-Rayquaza.

Poké Ride needs to stay in the series. It’s a perfect feature that finally eliminates the HM moves from the series. No one’s going to miss those. Thank you! The Trainer Customization is also a feature that they kept from X and Y. Good, continue to keep it for every new game and always keep expanding it with more choices!

Hyper Training is great, needs more work because the execution has been done poorly. Get rid of the Bottle Caps or make those easier to earn, or else I’ll have to go back to breeding. And, unlike Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, there’s no eternal loop to hatch those eggs faster. I won’t be making a lot of teams. I’ll be lucky if I’ll ever be motivated enough to create a single competitive one!

In short, plenty of ups and downs, not the strongest compared to other games in the past. And I’m not even going to dwell on the lag that I’ve been having on battles on my 3DS when there’s more than two Pokémon in the screen! And don’t excuse yourselves because my 3DS is older. A 3DS is a 3DS. The cover said it would work on any 3DS. Then my 3DS should had worked fine. But, while I was able to play the game, the game was slow. This is not something you used to do, Game Freak (Nintendo). This is a new flaw and I hope it doesn’t repeat in the future. More graphics for the sake of graphics was never Nintendo’s motto!

 

Was this a good game overall? It was okay. Was it the best? At a few things, but not really. There were better games in the past for sure. But Alola was definitely better than Kalos, though not by it’s music overall. The story was the best thing while the low points were a few of the additions to the gameplay. And the nostalgia was fine, just please try not to be too stuck in the past. I saw too much Kanto and Johto in there!

 

 


 

Anyway, thank you for reading this enormous review, but I hope that you’ve enjoyed the detailed interpretation and personal biases in favor and against it! I won’t be doing these all the time and only when I feel that a game deserves some time to be fully explored. And trust me, there haven’t been a lot of those nowadays.

Fortunately, I think it will change this year. There are a few games that I’m expecting.

 

I’ll see you soon!

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Short Story: The flaws of the Flawless Twins

short-story-theflaws-01

 

Eh, lazy pictures aside, this is a small story.

 

Inside the cleanest and purest of rooms painted in white, with a floor just as indistinguishable, no door and window can be seen within. Such a mysterious wide, intimidating and spacious cliche on which ears and eyes cannot listen or wonder the uncomfortable truth. The Flawless Twins live within, rarely dwelling with what’s outside of a room that, though specifically white, changes colors, much like a chameleon.

Lilibeth, the girl that kept a mirror close to her heart, wielding a hair brush ever so carefully. Like a doll, pale with a clear determination to cover it with a blush so exaggerated that has made people turn their heads in wonder how detached from reality have fashion magnates gotten. Her choice of garments only underlined such notion; with a white victorian dress, that was embroided with light pink details, and stockings. Her eyeliner was extremely thick, fake long eyelashes, glossy dark red lipstick.

Clarabeth, the sophisticated that held a tablet at all times. Her eyes were those of a judge. It was rare to see a smile on those lips and, if she did, it only meant she was about to join a debate on which she already knew exactly that the outcome was in her favor. A fine adviser and supporter of those who are broken. A nightmare when voicing her actual opinions, which were many and kept within.

 

Lily and Clara were twins, sisters. Flawless with plenty of flaws. Inseparable, yet they often disagreed with one another.

“Lily, hurry up. We have to go. People are waiting for us.”

“Yes, I know! Stop yelling, I’m still brushing my hair..”

“I’m not yelling! Except, you know, now!”

“.. I should wear something different today.”

“You’re hopeless. We both know you’ll regret whatever you wear anyway. Isn’t that why you keep a mirror close?”

“I keep it close to check on my makeup and hair, not because of my dress!”

“People have said plenty of times that you look beautiful anyway. You’re stressing the both of us.”

“I.. I know but..”

“You don’t believe them, I know.”

“You don’t either.”

“I mean, I think a lot of people are misguided but, considering everything, you are beau–“

“Don’t patronize me. I didn’t slept well last night, worried sick about tonight!”

“There’s a difference between getting yourself ready and decent for a social gathering.. then there’s you wasting more time getting ready than the actual event itself.”

“You know what? We’re not going. I’ve changed my mind.”

“Oh. Cmon now, Lily. You’ll be fine, stop being selfish and self-centered for once!”

“People gaze at me oddly anyway, no matter what I do!”

“That’s because you wear those dresses all the time, as if you were going to a cosplay. Of course people will look.”

“I thought people looked at me because, as they say, I’m beautiful. See? This is why I don’t believe when people call me that.”

“Beauty is more than just appearance, darling. If you invest yourself in just your own appearance, you’re nothing more than just a pretty yet disappointing face.”

“I’m not doing this for others, I’m doing this for myself too..”

“How insecure of you.”

Both sisters were perfectionists, to a fault. Incomplete, flawed yet never enjoying such truth and striving to change those same inconveniences. But beyond being harsh on themselves, they were able to be judgmental towards others in silence. Keeping a list of their own mistakes and others, they believed that everyone should always try their best to cover those same flaws and to become better people in the process. Either if those are superficial or deep rooted in one’s core personality and intellect. They could never understand others who didn’t worked as hard in life to make themselves better just the same way as the sisters.

“Clara, you have been quiet this whole day. What’s wrong?”

“.. Weren’t you paying attention? You know, except for your mirror.”

“You make it seem that I’m some sort of narcissist… Either way, what do you mean?”

“The way they talked, the things they have said. They are wrong and.. cruel.”

“Oh. That. Well, if you knew they were being ignorant, why didn’t you said anything?”

“… B-because I know they would be offended.”

“That doesn’t make sense. Are they not our friends? How can you expect people to understand you if you keep quiet about everything?”

“I don’t keep myself quiet about everything! You know me, you know I enjoy a good exchange of ideas in a respectful manner.”

“Yeah, I know. You keep judging me all the time.”

“Because you deserve it.”

“And they don’t? Why?”

“.. I.. Because.. W-well, I care for their feelings.”

“And you don’t care about mine? Thanks a lot, Clara!”

“Of course I do!”

“Then what’s the difference?”

“The difference is that I know you won’t reject and judge me if I talk. You will never leave me, sister. They, however, they don’t really care about me.. about us.”

“They certainly do care. They have expressed their worries and admiration towards you in the past. They think you are kind.”

“I know but..”

“You don’t believe them, I know.”

“How can someone like me if they don’t really get the opportunity to know me?”

“Isn’t that your own fault for not expressing yourself anyway?”

“I guess but..”

“They do care about you. They have putted up with the fact that you keep that tablet close. It just gives the impression that you don’t want to be there, you know?”

“I do want to be there. I just..”

“Just what? We already had this talk before. I know you see yourself has an outcast with ideals that can be seen as controversial at times. With peculiar tastes, alien and bizarre to the mainstream.”

“No one likes to feel rejected. Though I do envy them.”

“Envy..?”

“I mean, their ideals and what they find amusing is, by all means, widely accepted so it’s easy for them to befriend each others.”

“Ugh.. that’s such an awful way to look at things.”

“How so?”

“Because it makes yourself distance from others. It also makes you look uninterested and judgmental.”

“I care for what other people think, that’s why I spare their feelings.”

“There will always be people that won’t like you. Isn’t it better to just express yourself and allow the people that don’t like you to just move on? While keeping those that genuinely like you?”

“If I did that, I would be alone”

“Don’t be dramatic. It’s better to be genuine than living an illusion.”

“Look who’s talking..”

“Quiet!”

“You know what? I don’t think we’re going anywhere next week.”

“Fine, be that way.”

“What way?”

“Insecure.”

In a white room, days passed without seeing a familiar and friendly face except their own. Once in a while, having the opportunity to walk out of those four walls to bright up their own souls and skin. The difference between a girl and a woman, they were obviously still too young and incomplete to be considered mature. Lacking confidence, like a toddler who needs the company of her own parents to comfort her and build the confidence she needs to become independent. Insecure. Flawed.

 

Flaws make perfectionists uncomfortable. Who wants to be judged for their own flaws that they simply cannot help themselves? A double edged sword, certainly! Wouldn’t life be easier if those flaws weren’t there to begin with? Certainly. But is there anyone that is perfect in every way?

Nobody is perfect, everything is flawed. Those that strive for perfection are like a pet on a treadmill aiming to get the carrot that they will never achieve. The treadmill always spinning around, much like the excuses, arguments and vicious cycle of aiming for a new appearance or change in one’s personality to better achieve the image one has built upon themselves to reach that high pedestal of what is the new and improved “me”. And once achieved, again you notice the flaws that you have gained with this change. And you try to change again, and you find new flaws. And you try again.. and again.. and again. Running on the treadmill, make those paws work. And you look around, see others move on with their lives, without using a treadmill or caring to better themselves that much.. and all you’re left is with envy of those who have embraced their flaws and have, ironically, became better than you. Became mature.

You know you can walk away from the treadmill. It’s not that hard to walk away from that treadmill. But that carrot, it’s there. You were lead to believe one way or another that the carrot was able to be reached and that you could only find true happiness if you nibble it. And you look at those that you envy, telling yourself that life isn’t fair.

Congratulations, you have become neurotic. Flawed by pretending that you can achieve a state on which you will become mostly flawless or contempt with one self, while wishing for no one to find out how flawed you really are.

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