It’s here! I can’t believe that it’s finally here! I’m writing this from work, where I’ve given myself time to have a play (It’s ok, I’m a journalist by trade so this could technically be classed as work…) and after an agonizing morning of waiting for it to become available, I’m finally beginning to feel fulfilled. So, it’s not quite the full version, but I never expected it to be. But despite this, it’s still given me an interesting outlook on what Alola is all about, and what to expect from my new adventure next month.
Now I have to start by pointing out that this is a pretty substantial demo, introducing a number of interesting new features. The great thing about Pokemon demos is that they tell their own story, rather than simply being a copy-paste of a part of the full game. I remember being blown away when I first played the demo for ORAS, and this time round things weren’t much different.
The demo opens with you, the protagonist, receiving a letter at your new home in the Alola region. Turns out you’ve been left the gift of Ash Greninja, which is a very nice gesture if I do say so myself. We then get a kind of montage of scenes from the lovely-looking coastal town, before registering your residence. The music is rather cheery, and we get to move around pretty quickly. It would seem the movement animations and character proportions are more accurate in these new games, moving away from the cuter style of X and Y.
While your first run-through is short, this demo is still jam-packed with action, introducing you to the local villains, Team Skull, almost from the off, and allowing you the chance to try out a battle with your new Greninja. As well as playing through the story, there are also optional areas to find and battle wild pokemon around the town. I managed to meet Yungoos, Pikachu and Pikipek before I decided to go ahead and move on through the game.
The graphics on Carat Hill, where your first trial begins, show a vast visual improvement, with the tall grass and interactable items such as rock smash rocks blending much more seemlessly into the background. During this trial you get to take Pokemon Snap-style photographs of new dragon-type pokemon, face off against your first totem pokemon, and try out Pikachu’s new Z-power, all new features for Sun and Moon.
When you revisit the demo you do get a bit of different gameplay to experience, which is a nice touch, making the huge amount of memory blocks required seem more worth your while. This time round you can take part in a pokemon catching challenge (though by this point Yungoos and Pikipek are starting to get a bit old anyway, and it’s not like you get to keep the pokemon you do catch), take on a trainer battling trial (ooh, look. It’s Pikipek… again!) and all the while ride a Tauros to access new areas. I’ll also be interested to see what the other extra missions that some of the NPCs have offered me on days 1, 5, 18 and 24.
From what I’ve read and experienced myself so far, I’d say this game is shaping up to be the most different and unique of them all. I don’t think we’ve seen the introduction so many new gameplay and story elements since Ruby and Sapphire were released for the Gameboy Advance.
However, as the series has progressed, the games have been seeming slighly easier, and you appear to get a lot more help than I initially expected this time round. Z-moves are powerful, and I get told which moves are super-effective against which pokemon too, making battling a breeze. I’m just hoping there are some tough opponents, and/or there is a way to turn off such hints and guides. As a seasoned player, this is what I’d expect, but at least this way it makes things more accessible to the newcomer, which is great.
All in all, the demo hasn’t made me particularly any more excited for the new games. I think it’s more the fact that I always embrace a new pokemon adventure that I am looking forward to it so much. I wish we got to see more different pokemon, even if it was the old familiar ones, but I do respect that they probably don’t want to give too much away just yet. Aside from the blatant repetitiveness and simplistic difficulty level, there are still some interesting new features on offer and the attention to aesthetic detail is pretty top notch. I guess we’ll just see what the full version has to offer next month, and the rewards I’ve earned to transfer will create a nice little starting bonus come November too…