Pokémon Sun & Moon: Best new features

Pokémon Sun & Moon: Best new features

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are finally released in Europe. Critics call this the best Pokémon in years and that’s mostly because a lot has changed. Here’s some of the most important new features in Pokémon Sun & Moon.

22-11-2016  -  by Thijs Kaagman

As you can see from our Review Roundup, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are some of the very best in the Pokémon series. Unanimously, critics praise the new features and mechanics for the games. Bothersome mechanics like HM’s got replaced and 20-year-old features like Gym Leaders have been tossed in the Alolan ocean as well.

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Island challenge

Let’s start off with those Gym Leaders. In every single main-line Pokémon game (we’re not counting Stadium, Mystery Dungeon, etc.) you had to travel to several cities and defeat their Gym Leader. Every Gym had its own type/speciality and once you beat them all you could go on to challenge the Elite Four. That stuff got old, so instead Pokémon Sun and Moon introduce Island Challenges.

As an 11-year-old Pokémon Trainer on Alola, you’ll have to travel to all four major islands and complete various trials. These aren’t limited to Pokémon battles; you’ll have to find certain items, certain Pokémon or take a test of knowledge. If you leave or faint during the challenge, you’ll have to start at the beginning.

At the end of the challenge, you’ll fight a Totem Pokémon in an SOS Battle. A Totem Pokémon is a Pokémon that is bigger and stronger than others of its species. And because it’s a SOS Battle (another new feature in Sun & Moon), it can call in the help of other Pokémon. After each trial, you’ll face the Island Kahuna in a Grand Trial. Only if you manage to defeat this strong trainer, you can move on to the next island.


Z-Moves

By completing Island Challenges, you’ll also earn yourself Z-Crystals. These are items that you can give to certain Pokémon, after which they’ll be able to perform Z-Moves (once per fight). Some Z-Crystals are designed for one specific Pokémon, but most of them correspond to one of the 18 types (Grass, Fire, Fighting, etc.).

A Z-Move is an extra powerful, upgraded move. Just like the two different kinds of Crystals, there’s two types of Z-Moves that you can use; there’s one for each of the 18 types and there are Z-Moves that are specific to a certain Pokémon. An Electrium Z crystal will allow your Pikachu to perform a Gigavolt Havoc attack, while the Pikanium Z will allow it to perform the Catastropika attack.

Pokémon Refresh

After fighting a poison, grass, electric or fire type Pokémon, chances are one of your Pokémon will be afflicted with a status effect like poison, paralysis or burn. But instead of using an item to cure them of this effect, you can click the ‘Care’ button on your bottom screen just before the end of the battle. This will launch the new Pokémon Refresh feature right after the fight. Here you can use pliers and a cotton swab to brush away that nasty burn or poison effect.

HM’s

TM’s are a nice way to unlock some powerful moves that your Pokémon would otherwise not learn. HM’s however, were a cumbersome experience. You needed these powers to make your way through the game by cutting down trees or smashing/moving rocks that were in your way or by crossing rivers and oceans with surf. But the HM-moves could not be unlearned and most of them weren’t particularly powerful. Some players would carry around one Pokémon that could learn several of these HM’s, to avoid using them on the Pokémon they would actually use in battles.

Pokémon Sun & Moon gets rid of that outdated mechanic. Instead, you’ll get several Pokémon that can help you get around. Lapras will help you cross large swaths of water, Tauros will charge through rocks and Charizard will fly you to different locations, for example. These Pokémon won’t take up any space in your team and you can even map them to the directional buttons on your 3DS for easy access.


QR codes

Once you get going in the story mode of Sun & Moon, you’ll unlock a QR-scanner. You can use this tool to scan QR-codes for all the Pokémon that are in the game. This will add them to your Pokédex as ‘seen’ (you won’t actually catch them) which means you can find out their location and see some of their strengths and weaknesses.

Every day, you can scan 10 QR-codes to unlock an Island Scan. This will spawn a rare Pokémon somewhere on the island that you’re currently on and you’ll have exactly 1 hour to catch it. Defeat it or wait too long and it’s gone and you’ll have to wait until the next day to spawn a new one. The spawned Pokémon will be around the same level as the rest of the creatures on the island, so make sure you have some level-appropriate Pokémon in your team. You don’t want to smack that level 10 Charmander in the face with a level 60 Blastoise. Also, be aware that it can spawn in an area that you might not be able to reach yet if you haven’t unlocked the entire island!

Imgur already has a list of 472 QR-codes for every Pokémon in the Alola Pokédex and their Shiny equivalent.

Festival Plaza

Festival Plaza is where trainers from all over the world come together. This is where you’ll meet players you’ve battled or traded with, or friends from your 3DS friendslist. Together, you can participate in lotteries, do some quizzes or go on a Pokémon catching mission. Engaging on Festival Plaza will earn you coins, which you can use to unlock new features or buy items.

But most importantly, this is your central hub for all your online Pokémon action. Whether you want to trade Pokémon or annihilate your friends with your level 100 perfect IV/EV Charizard; this is the place to it.


Are you convinced yet that Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon offer enough variety to the old mechanics to give it a shot? We sell the game right here on Startselect. Make your choice below and you’ll be ready to download the game in minutes!

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