After hours and hours of binge playing, I have finally beaten Pokemon Moon. It feels like the longest Pokemon game I played, but I never let that stop me from continuing forward. For the first time I felt as committed to it as I was back in the glory days with Ruby and Pearl. Often at times whenever I beat the League I would quickly run out of things to do. Hell, I once said I was going to go legendary hunting in Omega Ruby but I procrastinated because there was so much to do in the game itself that it just became too much for me.
I feel like Sun and Moon is a fresh start in the franchise that is different from your traditional story: become the strongest Trainer by beating all the Gym Leaders and the League, stop an evil team that wants to do X this that will impact the region in X certain way. (X being referred to insert whatever it is from previous games that the evil team plans on doing)
So, here I’m going to share my thoughts on the story in the Alola region, and since I own Moon it’ll be based off of that one. Spoilers ahead so I’ll warn you, do not keep reading if you haven’t beat the game yet!
So you could just think about it as a Pokemon story with tons more depth than what we’re used to. Usually it’s the simplicity in what I have described above, along with a few epic parts that get you excited on the edge of your chair or bed. What I really love about Moon/Sun is the different approach.
First things first, you move to the Alola region inspired by the Hawaiian islands and embark on taking the island challenges on all four islands to become the champion. Each island has trials where you battle totem Pokemon which are powerful wild Pokemon raised by trial captains specifically for the purpose to be fought by trial-goers. I must admit that this is an interesting approach than what we’re used to, and instead of battling Trainers we battle wild Pokemon and do certain tasks to summon the totem Pokemon. Some of my favourite approaches towards summoning them are when Kiawe asks you to spot the difference between the dance routines of the three Marowaks, and when Acerola has you snap shots of Ghost Pokemon in an abandoned department store.
Before I go to talk about the story itself and the characters, I want to quickly go over what I think about the game play.
I love how the battles have been set out so no more non-moving portraits in Trainer battles and stuff. The Z-Powers are pretty cool, but just like Mega Evolution they will come in large numbers and eventually get overrused. The Mega Evolution worked in X and Y, but when it came to the reboots of Ruby and Sapphire, the amount of stones used for that purpose doubled significantly. Pretty soon every Pokemon in your boxes and party will be holding one and you’ll be overstocked on these other items: berries, items that boost the power of moves, etc. that are left unused. We are so prone to wanting to see the awesomeness of Z-Powers and Mega Evolution that we jump at the chance to use it when the opportunity presents itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I like these new features but sometimes I miss the glory days where we just gave them items that we felt were best from the Quick Claw to the Sitrus Berry.
Anyway, moving on.
So, what’s to love about these games? Well, the story has richly developed characters, the most important and most developed being the young girl Lillie.
We’re meant to know right away that she is the major part of the story’s plot when we see what happens to her before we begin our journey. In a way, she is a very timid and shy girl at first, but when you play through the game and eventually reach the end, you’ll see how much she has changed. She becomes a much stronger person by the time you put an end to the conflict that relates to why she was fleeing with the mysterious Pokemon in the first place. Any character that you can see how much they’ve changed between the beginning and the end of the plot is what I call a great character.
Speaking of which: when we meet the little Pokemon Cosmog who she refers to as Nebby, I was automatically thinking, you will be mine someday. And needless to say, I was right. In fact, Nebby was already attached to me by the time I got to Akala island!
|For example….”I don’t wanna go back in the bag! I wanna go with Emily!”
It is later revealed why Lillie keeps Nebby hidden in her bag all the time, but before I jump into that I would like to talk about another character I like which is Hau.
Hau serves as your rival in this game, and no Pokemon game is complete without one Trainer who wants to compete with you. I didn’t mind the one we get in Sinnoh, the one in SoulSilver had a personality that was too jerky, and Calem in the Kalos region, he was okay but at the same time I found him to be too formal. Like, remember when he asks to meet up with you in one of Lumiose’s many cafes for the request to compete with you? Okay buddy, you don’t need to get fancy, let’s just battle when we feel like seeing who’s the strongest, no need to arrange the whole damn thing. I guess I just say that because I’m not a serious competitor.
Anyway, what I like about Hau is that he is totally laid-back, and cares about beating his grandpa the most who is the kahuna of Melemele. Whenever I defeat him, he doesn’t take it seriously, he just smiles and promises to catch up to me. (he never does, but oh well, I still prefer him over the super serious competitor)
So, now I’m going to talk about the story, well like I said, I like how the Alola region works differently than the other regions in the Pokemon universe, but one thing that also makes this game’s story stand out is also the way the conflict is initiated. We are meant to think that Team Skull are once again the main bad guys that we have to deal with. But the truth is, they seem like the dumbest out of all the other teams. They walk funny, talk like gangsters, and at first it seems like they just want to steal Pokemon like the others but there’s one thing I remember about the previous teams from Magma to Plasma.
|Bunch of idiots
The teams like Magma for instance would always brag about their goals, and as you progress through the game, eventually everything becomes clearer what they really want to do. Not Team Skull, they seem to be slacking off stealing Pokemon and battling you whenever you get in their way, whether it be the Grunts, Plumeria or the boss Guzma. Then we get Gladion who seems like he is an unofficial member of the faction; however, I got suspicious and what was really going on in terms of the conflict when he spoke about Cosmog having to be protected at all costs, and when we learn about the Aether Foundation. Now, that brings me to the main event of my thoughts about why I love the story’s conflict in this game so much….
The Aether Foundation is another faction in the game, which is different for a change since we usually only get one. I was seeing people part of it around Melemele and Akala from time to time and they would ask me if I could catch a certain Pokemon for them so they could study it. At first I just shrugged it off and decided to do it when I felt like it. I didn’t know who these guys were, but I still had the intention that Team Skull was the real threat. But then, after defeating Olivia we are invited to visit the company’s headquarters; an artificial island called the Aether Paradise, which is revealed to be what is like a Pokemon version of your typical animal shelter; a place for Pokemon that have been abandoned and abused. At the same time there’s unknown research being done there which we learn about on our next visit.
|She doesn’t look over 40, she looks like she’s 25, but that’s anime for you….
Meet Lusamine, the president of the Aether Foundation, at first she seems like a kind woman who wants to care for Pokemon in need, until this happens….
|When I first saw this thing, the first thing I thought about was Lillie, very suspicious.
We learn from Kukui’s wife that there is a thing such as Ultra Beasts that live in another dimension. As soon as I saw Lusamine’s face, I realized I couldn’t trust her, even before Nihilego emerged from the wormhole, there was something very off-putting about her like she wanted Pokemon in her care whether they wanted it or not. Possessive don’t you think?
So, things seem really complex how we have both these factions, well who would’ve thunk that they were secretly working together? Team Skull has been a diversion for us the whole time which is revealed when we go to save a single Yungoos in Po Town, only to find out that Lillie has been kidnapped and taken to the Aether Paradise.
See, Gladion was right to be suspicious this whole time about Nebby’s protection. But, once we learn that the Aether foundation has been doing research on its ability to open wormholes where the Ultra Beasts live: That was no surprise, but what was a surprise was that Lillie and Gladion are the children of Lusamine. The moment Lusamine reveals that she has been taking Pokemon into her care and preserving a few in cryo when she gets bored of them, she’s insane. But her true intentions are to be in the world of her dreams filled with the Ultra Beasts, and most notably with Nihilego. She doesn’t give a damn about what would happen to Nebby if the wormhole were to be opened once again.
When she goes into the wormhole with Guzma, this is where I was impressed with Lillie’s character. I first at thought that it was over, but when she sees me the next day, I knew I was wrong. It was far from over. Lillie changes her appearance and becomes much more confident in herself vowing to save Nebby and her mother with the aid of the legendary Pokemon. (I will use Lunala since Moon is the version I own)
The whole journey we have with Lillie across Poni island to the altar of Moone is so deep when Lillie opens up to you and overcomes her fears. In a way, it makes me like her even more.
When we finally ascend to the altar to play those flutes, I could not bring myself to put the game down for a break anytime soon when Nebby evolved into Lunala.
In previous games, the legendary Pokemon had no role prior to the main plot until the evil faction tries to use it to achieve their goal. But, this is also what I love about this game’s story. The legendary Pokemon was with us all along and in a way, it’s like it has character development, like how it gets attached to us right away and seems to disobey Lillie from time to time. Now, we enter Ultra Space and I was honestly expecting it to be floating around like, you know, space, but instead it was like a dark creepy cave with a bunch of Nihilego roaming.
Poor Guzma, I felt bad for him when he chooses to venture there with Lusamine, he’s so traumatized. But Lusamine, oh God, when Lillie confronts her mother in Ultra Space, you really realize how insane she has been driven due to Nihilego’s possession of her. Later it is revealed by Gladion that she became obsessed with the Ultra Beasts vowing to love and care for them when her husband vanished into Ultra Space and never returned, and perhaps her encounter with Nihilego worsened her condition.
So, in a flesh Lusamine is the true evil mastermind in the story’s conflict, but what makes her stand out from the previous antagonists of the game is that what she desires, is for personal gain rather than something that would impact others like creating a new world. She wants to claim ownership of anything that captivates her no matter what it is. Think of her as like some crazy collector who only wants something or someone if they are worthy of her love. Nihilego (and possibly the other Ultra Beasts) she only deems fit for that due to its control over her mind. Hence to prove that she cares about no one but herself….
|You know you’re totally crazy when you turn into a jellyfish monster
That’s right, she merges with Nihilego and we have to battle her again. It seems like a slight rip-off that we don’t get to fight her directly but I would have been okay with that since her Clefable was a pain in the neck in this battle.
After that, everything becomes so intense when Lunala protects you and Lillie from Lusamine’s rage and she returns to normal. That emotional moment between her and Lillie put tears in my eyes.
“Lillie……when did you start becoming beautiful?”
So, it’s safe to say Lusamine eventually recovers and redeems herself in the end even though we never see her after that. Sometimes I feel bad for her too and wish I could see her again after I beat the League but I guess Lillie’s last words about her were enough for me to believe it.
And hey, Lunala got to join my party (finally!) after we returned to Alola so perfect timing as I prepare for the League!
I think I’ve yapped long enough about the story and covered pretty much everything I’ve wanted to talk about, so one last thing I’d like to say that I like about this game. The music is definitely unique when it comes to the battles.
We are so used to the fast paced battle music, but when we battle opponents like Guzma and Lusamine it’s a different theme. If I like a certain melody in a game or movie, I can sometimes pick up what the feeling is behind the melody. I really enjoy Lusamine’s battle themes, so when you first battle her in the Aether Paradise the music sounds like when you come to the realization that she is the true antagonist. Then the music when you battle her in Ultra Space is where it sounds like you know she has gone too far with her obsession with the Ultra Beasts.
Call that one of my hidden talents, and if I decide to do a weekly song feature using scores from OSTs in movies and video games I will definitely talk about what they sound like.
And that concludes my thoughts on Sun/Moon’s story. What’s next for me? Well, as I have said before, completing Zygarde is one of them, but I really don’t want to overuse the Z-crystals or Mega Evolution. I might also replay one of my older games too. I had so much fun writing this and actually managed to get more than half of it done in one night while listening to my playlist of favourite Pokemon music. This makes me want to do this again for the previous games I have played, so I will most likely announce that later.
Until then, I’m going to continue with some other planned stuff.