Game of the Year 2016 #5: Pokemon Sun and Moon

Pokemon Sun and Moon brought new life to the franchise's main titles with a plethora of small, yet important changes.


Jason Faulkner: I think Pokemon Sun and Moon made changes to the narrative that made it more engaging for adults while still leaving the subject manner at a level where children can enjoy the game too. I was actually surprised at just how much The Pokemon Company had deviated from the standard formula with getting rid of gym leaders and delineating the quest.

Steve Watts: Yeah, the way the quests work is a pretty minor change on the whole, but it makes the whole experience feel a lot different. I think that's because we're very accustomed to a certain Pokemon formula, so a main-series title that doesn't have us traveling to take down X gym leaders to get badges is pretty significant. This new system of island challenges also gives them a lot more flexibility to design unique quests, so each one feels unique.

Brittany Vincent: Pokemon Sun and Moon were exciting additions to the long-running list of Pokemon games released over the years, and while I'll always prefer Red and Blue to any of the newer titles, Sun and Moon brought with it a plethora of changes and interesting new augments that I discovered made the game feel new again for me, despite what I thought I already knew about the game. Of course a wealth of new Pokemon didn't hurt, either. Although perhaps my favorite part of the entire game was my character putting her hands on her knees and looking down to interact with the friendly Meowth her mother was so fond of. Little touches like that are extremely important to me in games.

Jason: I really like the Alola Forms. I think they were a really interesting way to breath new life into first-gen Pokemon. I always thought there should be regional differences in Pokemon so this is hopefully something they keep.

Steve: Yeah, the Alola Forms is a really tiny way of differentiating it, but it has a big impact in making this one feel new and fresh. Plus like you said, Jason, it only makes sense and helps express these creatures as living things that have evolved according to their surroundings. And on the subject of those surroundings, how great is the Alola region? I just love spending time in this lush landscape, and it's such a marked change from Pokemon settings in the past. It impacts everything from the look of the characters (who are often Pacific-Islanders) to the way everyone dresses. It's really a delight.

Jason: I think we can all agree that the changes Game Freak have made to Pokemon in Sun and Moon have revitalized the gameplay a lot. It's weird how even though at its core Pokemon Sun and Moon play much the same as the main titles have for 20 years, but the little tweaks and attention to detail make it feel completely fresh and news. I can't wait to see what Game Freak brings to the Nintendo Switch if the Pokemon Stars rumor is true.

2016 Game of the Year Countdown: 

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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