Alola, my dear PUCLonians, and welcome to Gen VII! Pokémon Sun and Moon are here, and they are glorious. Everything looks and feels amazing, I keep squeeing at nearly ultrasonic levels, and I can barely put the game down. But I simply had to share my hype with you all, and in particular, I want to focus on a few little things, some of which I think might even have been missed by some of you. Sun and Moon are incredibly detailed games, and I’m not talking about the graphical aspect (although there are lots of great touches in the look of things, as well). What I mean is that there are a thousand tiny gems hidden in every nook and cranny of these games, and even while I’m (maybe) about halfway through them, I can bring you my Top 5 tiny details in Sun and Moon!
Please note that, of course, this article will have a few little spoilers for the games, and it specifically heavily spoils the intro, so if you’re not at least one or two hours in (hi, rest of Europe), DO NOT READ IT. I don’t want to ruin a couple of delightful scenes for you.
Number 5: Does the male Ace Trainer wear a hearing aid?
Now, I’m leaving this at the bottom of the pile because I am not 100% sure about this. But I am a huge proponent of representation in media, of all sorts. I believe it is incredibly important and I get mad whenever it is disregarded as such (which is way too often). So the first time I battled a male Ace Trainer, and I was enjoying how colorful he looked, I was very pleasantly surprised to notice a blue… something hooked over his ear.
I was just pleasantly surprised to see how hot he looked, but I realize he’s more Captain America and you’re more of an Iron Man girl.
I so am, Whimsicott. Anyway, I wasn’t able to procure a picture of it (or of anything else, the games haven’t been out long enough and spoilers lurk behind every corner, so apologies for the rather stark-looking article), but the next time you meet this class of Trainer, look closely at the blue device on the left side of his head. It does not look like a hair barrette or a bluetooth headset. It does, however, look exactly like a hearing aid. If that’s what it is, I think it’s awesome… especially since he’s not just any Trainer, he’s an Ace Trainer!
I’d comment on social stuff and all that, but I’m still not over the Iron Man pun you snuck in there. You’re getting sneaky and I approve.
Thank you, Whimsicott. I learned from the best.
Number 4: Poké Balls, Poké Balls Everywhere!
And I don’t just mean that everyone hands you Poké Balls like they’re raining, because with all the amazing Pokémon you can catch, it would have been a crime not to shower us in Poké Balls. I mean that each Trainer you face in the games uses different Poké Balls, and they are even holding the correct ones in their pre-battle picture. That kind of attention to detail is astounding.
It’s all so real! As real as me!
Maybe more! Fishermen have Lure Balls (they’re blue, Thatch!) and even their fishing rods have a Lure Ball pattern on them. Breeders use Friend Balls, because so many baby Pokémon evolve with Friendship. Team Skull uses Nest Balls, which are specifically called out in the game as being made for weak Pokémon! I got a good laugh out of that one. And, as Thatch pointed out in our live launch show, yes, some of these are Kurt’s Poké Balls! Which, as was pointed out in the chat during said show, means there are Moon Balls in Pokémon Moon. I haven’t been able to obtain these Poké Balls yet, so I am not completely sure we get to use them too, but it would be an enormous travesty if they showed them to us so blatantly and then didn’t deliver, so I have hope.
Well… that kind of happened in X and Y.
I know! But they were just on a shelf, nobody was actually using them. So… fingers crossed.
Number 3: You Are the Chosen One… By Your Starter, That Is
The intro to Sun and Moon is amazing. Just plain amazing. I’ll talk more about it shortly, but it really set the pace for a game that cares about its plot and characters. And that definitely includes the Pokémon, on a level that I think is completely unprecedented. Even my beloved Gen V, with its (fake, but still thought-provoking) Pokémon Rights plot, did not delve nearly as much into each Pokémon’s feelings and motivations. Most Pokémon are strongly defined by how they relate to each other and to humans; you get to constantly care for your Pokémon in Pokémon Refresh (which is the best ever, OMG), and even the poor ‘mons you previously left in a box to collect dust forever now have something to do in the Poké Pelago.
As a Pokémon, let me tell you, all of this is incredibly appreciated.
But the earliest and clearest detail that shows this approach off is the fact that not only do you choose your Starter, but your Starter also has to choose you. I had sometimes wondered about it, like Snag and many others thought of the third Starter that gets left behind in so many games: if I pick Charmander, is Squirtle OK with being Gary/Blue/Jerkface’s Pokémon? What about Silver’s Starter, who gets straight-up stolen (read, kidnapped) by our rival? But in Sun and Moon, my Rowlet, Victor, got a chance to take a long, nice look at me before choosing to jump into my arms. And I found that to be absolutely precious.
It was. It really was. By the way, I guess if I have to choose a human… you’ll do.
Whimsicott… that’s… I…
Oh, for Arceus’s sake, here, take a Kleenex.
Number 2: Your Character Finally Has a Personality
No, we still don’t get to say much, although our word count is miles above Red’s, and every single dialogue option either has gold in it or in the NPC’s reactions to what you say. Dissing Team Skull grunts by pretending they’re so insignificant that you never remember them is especially fun, and I love that he game acknowledges that you can totally tell at first glance who the Masked Royal really is. (I laughed SO hard when I saw him and read his first line of dialogue. SO hard.) But in all previous games, all I could infer about the character I was playing was “reportedly incredibly good at Pokémon”, and that was pretty much it. Which I guess is fine, as the player character is supposed to be a bit of a blank slate on which you can project yourself.
I mean, you did go around and squee to everyone in your house that you made your character look just like you, so yeah, don’t try to tell us you don’t appreciate that.
But I did notice (and love) a trait that the game makes sure your character expresses at every possible turn: you are very, very brave. In the intro, you, an eleven years old child without a Pokémon, cross a rickety wooden bridge over a chasm to protect Nebby the Cosmog from a bunch of pecking Spearow, with your body. The game repeatedly stops your progress as the bridge sways and creaks, and you have to start running again every time, as if to give you several chances to go back and to make you fully realize what you’re doing. When the bridge is destroyed, you are only saved from certain death by Tapu Koko, but you never show any doubt about helping Lillie and Nebby again and again later on.
Your character is definitely not as afraid of heights as you are.
Oh, boy, I’d have been stuck ten seconds into the story, game over, goodbye, it’s been fun. Thankfully I just had to push the Circle Pad. Anyway, you are also repeatedly asked to pet big, uncontrolled, jumpy Tauros, and you choose to do it every time (again, having to manually do it to let it really sink in). So yes, your character is extremely brave, and the game wants to make sure that you notice, and I love it. It feels like I finally deserve it when NPCs are praising me left and right. And when Rotom calls me “clever girl”. Speaking of which…
Number 1: Your Rotom Pokédex Definitely Has a Sassy Nature
I know some people find it annoying. I do. Thatch made it sound like it’s frigging Navi. But I love the Pokédex. Every time it speaks, I chuckle, and sometimes, I guffaw out loud for a solid minute. Some of it is in the Pokédex entries: Jushiro and I have started an exchange program where he sends me the best ones from Moon and I send him the best ones from Sun. I can’t wait to evolve my Cottonee (THERE ARE WILD COTTONEE EARLY GAME I BROKE MY FAMILY’S EARDRUMS AND IT WAS WORTH IT) and see what the sassmaster has to say about Whimsicott, but let me share my two favorites of those we’ve found so far.
Drifloon, from Pokémon Sun: “Stories go that it grabs the hands of small children and drags them away to the afterlife. It dislikes heavy children.”
HAHAHAHAHA! Oh, that’s a classic!
You’re evil Whimsicott. But yes, it is. And check this one out:
Magikarp, from Pokémon Moon: “Its reckless leaps make it easy pickings for predators. On the bright side, many Pokémon enjoy longer life spans, thanks to Magikarp.”
And you said I was evil…
Right? The Rotom Dex is such a little bit- er… bitcoin. He also makes a lot of passive aggressive jokes about you getting salt, humid air into its circuitry, or dropping it into the water, and, in several blink-and-you’ll-miss-it instances of totally not caring that it’s talking to an eleven-year-old, calls Ilima a “dreamboat” and asks you if you think a lady from the Aether Foundation “noticed me”. I just can’t get enough of Rotom’s sass. It’s fantastic.
Do you have any little details from Sun and Moon that made you squee, laugh or emit other loud sounds? I’m sure I’ve missed a ton, so if they’re not too spoilery, please drop them in the comments! I’ll love reading them… but now I really need to get back to my Island Challenge, and to my quest of finally finding a bloody Sun Stone in bloody Pokémon Sun so I can evolve my Cottonee. Seriously, you’d think that would be the very first item you’re handed, but I’m like thirty hours in and I have yet to see one. Darn you, Game Freak. Darn your smart, wonderful, trolling self.
See you next time,
The Fluffiest Whimsicott
ETA: I have the sneaking suspicion that the Moon in the game’s night sky is always in the same phase as the current one in the real world. If that’s the case, Game Freak WINS. At EVERYTHING. Even if I still want my Sun Stone.
ETA2: OMG I WAS RIGHT! The moon changed phase! And I even have a Whimsicott now. Game Freak owns my soul for eternity.