Pokémon Sun and Moon

Pokémon Sun and Moon

20 Years Strong

It goes without saying that one of the biggest video game franchises ever is Pokémon, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. It’s captured the hearts and minds of so many gamers, both young and old, including myself from a young age. Pokémon has an incredibly special place in my heart, and it makes me so happy to know it’s as big and as better as it’s ever been. Pokémon Sun and Moon aren’t just brand new entries into the series, they’re a celebration of the past 20 years of Pokémon, with new changes causing much-needed evolution, but still nodding back to the games that came before them. Pokémon Sun and Moon are just as good as they were hyped up to be, and you have no idea how happy it makes me to say that.

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The new starts in Sun and Moon in my opinion, are fairly average, although some of the evolutions are very cool.

The Alola Region

Sun and Moon’s story is a fairly run of the mill Pokémon story line, but it is unique in terms of its characters and themes. Once again, you play as a trainer who’s recently moved to the Alola Region, a set of 4 islands surrounded by ocean. The Hawaiian theme Alola is based on is refreshing, new, and an exciting change in terms of environment for Pokémon, but more on that later. The story is fairly one-note, following your Trainer on their journey to complete the Island Challenge, which is Alola’s version of collecting Gym Badges. Without spoiling too much, you get involved with a number of characters, the Aether Foundation and Team Skull. There are some legitimately dark ideas in Sun and Moon’s plot, and I found it refreshing even though it’s all simply implied rather than directly told. Sun and Moon heavily revolves around family and community, and does an excellent job of displaying so. There’s something very unified about Alola and its people, everyone knows about the Island Challenges, and each and every trainer feels like they’re really part of the world. Sun and Moon also has some of the best characters the series has seen in my opinion. There are a few that are incredibly interesting such as Lillie, Gladion, and Lusamine, and they’re definitely characters that I always enjoyed seeing throughout my 20 hour journey. Sun and Moon doesn’t reach the heights that Black and White 2 did, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s a fun, likeable, simple storyline that has some implications that hopefully provoke further discussion within the Pokémon community. Sun and Moon feel truly unique from a narrative perspective (among many others) and Gamefreak should be commended for that. 

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Trainers can once again be fully customised, including hair, clothes and more.

The Island Challenge

Sun and Moon don’t differentiate much from other games in the series in terms of gameplay, but the overall structure of the game has been fundamentally changed. Gyms are now a thing of the past, and in their place are Island Trials. Each Island has a number of trials for trainers to attempt, and what they consist of varies from taking photos of Pokémon, to more traditionally finding and taking down Pokémon in the area. It’s very different from the established formula, but all the trials are unique and entertaining, making for a very welcome change. the turn-based battle system is still much the same as previous games, with a few minor tweaks and additions that make it easier to use and keep track of. Status buffs can now be viewed from the bottom screen, and if a Pokémon is registered in your Pokédex, you can how moves effect that particular Pokémon. Speaking of which, the new Rotomdex (yes a Rotom inside of your Pokédex) has seen some new additions making it easier to navigate and use. You can now see which island and route specific Pokémon can be found in, it also just generally looks better, and there’s a genuine satisfaction to have a page filled out in the Dex. And trust me when I say this, there are plenty of Pokémon to find and catch in Sun and Moon. Whether it be the Alolan forms of first generation Pokémon, or brand new ones, there’s plenty here to catch and find and it goes without saying that most of the designs for the new Pokémon are pretty well done albeit the odd Drampa. HMs have thankfully been done away with, and have now been replaced by the Pokémon Ride Pager, allowing trainers to instantaneously access a Charizard to fly on, or a Lapras to surf on, it’s a simple change, but a much-needed one. Alola as a region is always interesting to explore, and 30 hours in I’m still finding items and hidden areas throughout. Sun and Moon’s difficulty is nothing compared to the older games, but it’s certainly not as easy as X and Y, which was a nice change, with some of the late game battles taking some genuine thought and preparation in order to succeed. Legendaries and the brand new Ultra-Beasts can be found throughout Alola, making for some great post-game content, with more awaiting the player past the credits. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Sun and Moon, it’s the same battle system we know and love, in the most polished state it’s ever been, and the changes to structure are both new and refreshing. 

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The new Alolan forms are vastly different from their original counter parts.

Smooth Seas

Pokémon Sun and Moon, from my experience at least, excel technically albeit one or two minor hiccups. First off, the game looks incredible, one of the best on the 3DS. I played on a New 3DS XL and I was genuinely impressed by how good the game looks. Character models are detailed, environments are open and incredible to look at, and this is all while the game runs at 60 FPS all the time, except for one occasion. I experienced heavy frame drops when taking photos in-game with the Rotomdex. It didn’t hinder my experience terribly, but it is definitely worth noting. It is also worth noting that the standard 3DS has frame drops during double battles, but that won’t affect my opinion on the game, due to my experience being on the New 3DS, where this problem is non-existent.

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The version exclusive legendaries are Solgaleo and Lunala.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Pokémon Sun and Moon is worthy as both a celebration of 20 years of Pokémon, and simply as a mainline entry in general. It’s a love letter to fans of the series, while welcoming new ones, with a simple yet enjoyable story, the most polished battle system yet, a brand new structure, and strong technical production values. Sun and Moon is an excellent entry into the franchise, easily one of the best, and I cannot recommend enough to anyone who owns a Nintendo 3DS. Pokémon is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever.

Positives

-Simple, yet enjoyable story with some interesting implications

-Likeable characters

-The best battle system yet

-Small but effective changes, making the formula that much better

-New and inventive structure, making for a fresh experience

-Looks beautiful for 3DS standards, and runs smoothly most of the time

Negatives

-Rare frame drops

Thanks for reading guys, up next is Final Fantasy XV! I’m super happy with Sun and Moon, I’m definitely glad it lived up to the hype, or at least my hype. Thanks again, Harry.

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Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates

The Choice is Yours

Sticking to the roots of its series, Fire Emblem Fates makes a conscious effort to push the franchise in a new direction. Fates magically caters towards Fire Emblem veterans, newbies and those who got into the franchise with 2012’s fantastic Fire Emblem Awakening. Fates consists of three full length games; Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation (Even though Revelation is considered a DLC). I’ll be splitting up specific components of the review into three parts, in order to give my opinion on that specific component for the respective version.

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Xander is the Crown Prince of Nohr and one of the siblings the protagonist grows up with.

Hoshido, Nohr or Neither?

Fates is set in a land that is ruled by two rivalled kingdoms; Hoshido and Nohr. Hoshido works towards peace, and is generally a lot more happier and alive than Nohr is. Nohr is much darker, and are extremely violent in nature, especially towards Hoshidans. The first 6 chapters of Fire Emblem Fates are the same no matter what version you own. The story of Fates follows Corrin (or the name you prefer), a child of Nohr royalty. Corrin grew up in Nohr with his/her (i’ll be saying his because my Corrin was male) Nohrian siblings, and their father, King Garon. Garon sends Corrin on missions to prove Corrin’s strength and loyalty for Nohr, but after a mission goes awry, Corrin is taken hostage by Hoshido, who are the enemy of Nohr in the war that’s currently taking place. Corrin is told that he is actually Hoshidan royalty, and that he was kidnapped by Nohrian forces as a young child, meaning that King Garon and his children aren’t Corrin’s real family. Corrin meets a mysterious girl named Azura, who unveils to Corrin that she was Nohr royalty, but was kidnapped by Hoshido. After a string of events (that I don’t want to spoil) Corrin is forced to choose a side. Siding with Hoshido is the Birthright path, siding with Nohr is the Conquest path, and choosing neither is the Revelation path. All paths are extremely unique and different, each path with its own ending and plot. Fates as a complete package has a fantastic storyline, and here’s why!

Birthright

The Birthright pathway follows Corrin and his siblings as they try to win the war for Hoshido, deal with King Garon, and usher in an era of peace between the rival kingdoms. Birthright’s cast of characters is definitely the weakest of the three paths. Birthright only has one real standout character, Takumi. All the rest feel underdeveloped and very basic, and there were even a few I completely forgot were there due to minimal input in the story. All deaths in the storyline were impactful, and one in particular resulted in me shedding a tear or two, which definitely isn’t a bad thing in a Fire Emblem game. Birthright’s ending is definitely satisfying, and it’s by no means a bad storyline, in fact, it’s far from it, but in my opinion it’s definitely the weakest of the three pathways.

Conquest

Choosing to side with Nohr results in the Conquest pathway. Conquest follows Corrin’s decision to stay loyal to Nohr, and fight for them in the war alongside the false siblings you grew up with. Corrin attempts to overthrow Hoshido with his own, more merciful methods than Nohr’s current ones. I’d love to share more, but I won’t in order to avoid any potential spoilers. I found Conquest’s cast of characters to be much more lovable and likeable. I eventually cared for each and every character in Conquest and the deaths effected me quite a bit too, however, one death did feel a bit too forced. I was extremely satisfied with Conquest’s characters, plot, and ending after finishing Birthright, and it’s definitely the stronger story out of the two.

Revelation

Revelation is the third and final path of Fates. I say final because it’s highly recommended that you play Birthright and Conquest before taking on Revelation, and I couldn’t agree with that recommendation more. Revelation is the path Corrin takes if he decides to side with neither Kingdom. Revelation follows Corrin’s attempt to unite the two kingdoms in order to bring peace. The plot gets a lot thicker than that, but I really don’t want to spoil anything. Revelation melds characters from Birthright and Conquest to create the cast. Siblings from Hoshido and Nohr are prominent in this pathway of the game, which is fantastic because it takes the best from both sides. Characters like Camilla, Elise, Takumi and Azura are what make Revelation’s story the best of the three, with an incredibly satisfying, complete ending. Revelation also has impactful deaths, and a plot twist you won’t see coming.

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Corrin (Male and Female) and Azura

A Conquest of Turn Based Strategy

Fire Emblem is well known for its difficulty as a turn based strategy RPG, and Fates is no exception. Birthright is considered the easiest, then Revelation, with Conquest being the hardest of the three. Fates’s gameplay isn’t terribly different from Awakening’s, and that is very much a good thing. The combat works off of the Weapon Triangle, which is now colour coded, making it easier to remember which is which. This of course influences which units you use and where you use them. Fates is filled with jump for joy, luck based moments, and they feel as good as ever here. While not in combat, you can build and improve your very own castle. You can build and upgrade structures, such as armouries, an arena, and a prison. You also get the opportunity to improve your castle defences against streetpass invaders, and you can attempt to seize castles too. Amiibo support is present, and it’s honestly really cool. The first time you tap any Amiibo, they show up at your castle and give you an item. The second time, they give you an accessory based on the Amiibo. The third time allows you to battle them and claim them as a unit for your army. Fates manages to improve on the gameplay of Awakening, even when it seemed perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless.

Birthright

Birthright might be the easiest of the three, but don’t consider it a push over. Some of the later chapters proved to be quite difficult, with multiple attempts required to complete. However the difficulty is never unfair, and that goes for all three pathways. The one problem I have with Birthright’s gameplay, is that mission objectives aren’t all that varied. There are a few that stand out, but for the most part it’s rout the enemy or kill the boss.

Conquest

Conquest is no doubt the hardest pathway in Fates. Gold and experience is extremely limited, unlike Birthright. Conquest caters more towards those looking for a core Fire Emblem experience, much like the older games. People are going to have trouble finishing Conquest, much like I did, but it’s definitely well worth it. Conquest is a lot more varied with its objectives opposed to Birthright. It constantly changes between rout the enemy, seize, hold the zone for X amount of turns, and more. It’s refreshing, and always varied.

Revelation

In my opinion, Revelation’s difficulty was perfect, and this is coming from someone who got into Fire Emblem through Awakening. Revelation somehow finds a perfect middle ground, with the difficulty similar to the last and early stages of Birthright and Conquest respectively. Much like Conquest, Revelation varies in objectives, such as seize, rout the enemy, find and kill the boss, and more. Revelations has 1 or 2 objectives less than Conquest, but definitely more than Birthright, making it the strongest path for Fates in my opinion. However, I cannot stress to you enough, that you really should complete Birthright or Conquest if not both, simply to avoid spoilers, and to better understand and appreciate the story.

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This is the Before Awakening DLC. It’s currently free on the Eshop, and is definitely worth a download if you’re curious about what happened before the events of Awakening.

A Technical Revelation

Fire Emblem Fates has a charm that no other 3DS game does (apart from awakening). Maps are varied, unit sprites are cute, unique and identifiable and this is all while it looks very pretty. Much like Awakening, Fates has fully animated cutscenes, and while they are few and far between, they’re a treat to experience. Much unlike Awakening, is that Fates is always running at 60 FPS, making for a smooth experience for the whole journey.

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This is what Fates’s cutscenes look like. Impressive huh?!

Verdict: 9.5/10

Fire Emblem Fates is an amazing tactical RPG, and it’s a fantastic entry point into the series, even if Awakening is a little better. There’s a lot to love about Fates, and I can definitely see myself playing it in the future, and it’s definitely one of the best in the series. Fire Emblem Fates is a must have for any 3DS owner, even if you don’t like tactical RPGs, it’s worth a try.

Positives

-Fantastic story

-Tons of content

-Fun and addictive strategy gameplay

-Perfect difficulties

-Strong technical performance

Negatives

-Birthright doesn’t have enough varied objectives

Thanks for reading guys, just so you know, that final verdict is for Fates as a whole package. Up next is Overwatch which will be up tonight or tomorrow, then Mirror’s Edge Catalyst! -Harry

Bravely Second: End Layer

Bravely Second: End Layer

A Long Awaited Return to Luxendarc 

Bravely Second: End Layer is a turn based JRPG with a very unique combat system and is the sequel to 2012’s fantastic 3DS exclusive JRPG, Bravely Default. Second is a direct followup to Default, set some years after the events that devastated Luxendarc. Bravely Second improves on the formula in every way, and the bravely default system we’ve come to know and love has been untouched. Bravely Second makes enough changes and tweaks to make it well worth playing, especially if you’re a fan of Bravely Default or JRPGs in general.

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The Three Cavaliers. From left to right, Janne, Yew and Nikolai.

A Tale that Spans Time and Space

Bravely Second’s story takes place two and a half years after the events of Default. The game starts off by recapping all the key events of Default, meaning you don’t have to play the first game to understand what’s going on here. The basic plot is that the Kaiser Oblivion attacks the Crystal Orthodoxy and kidnaps Agnes to fulfill his plans. I don’t want to get anymore in depth than I already have. Much like Default, the main cast of characters all form the party one at a time and for their own reasons. The new party consists of two new characters, Yew and Magnolia and two from Default, Tiz and Edea. I really liked Yew and Magnolia as new characters. I felt both of them were unique and interesting characters that I legitimately cared about. All the cut scenes are voice acted, but there is a downside to this that i’ll get to later. The story has plenty of plot twists throughout, and all of them surprised me. I know a lot of reviews said it was a predictable plot, and sometimes it is, but more often than not it managed to surprise me. That being said these twists didn’t affect me nearly as much as the major twist in Default did. All in all, a fantastic story but just falls short of Default’s, however I am interested to see where the story goes from here. In 31 hours, I cleared the main game and did about half of the side-quests, and once you finish the main story, new game plus is unlocked straight away, carrying everything over.

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The artwork and concept art is beautiful.

Default, Default, Default, Brave, Brave, Brave

If you’ve played Bravely Default, you’ll be right at home. There a few tweaks to the combat system so it stays mostly the same, which trust me, is for the better. For those who aren’t familiar with Bravely’s combat system, it’s a fairly standard turn-based party battle system, but with one unique and significant mechanic called Bravely Default. The Default command allows that party member to assume a defensive stance, which significantly decreases damage. Defaulting stores one BP or Bravely Points. These Bravely Points can be used to activate the Brave command, which allows the party member to to use one more command for every Bravely Point used. This means you have to use your Bravely Points effectively to get through battles, particularly in the harder difficulty modes. Most fights can be cleared quickly with full use of BP, but boss fights require a lot more thinking and strategy. Also making a return is Bravely Second, which allows you to freeze time and take a free turn. The resource for Bravely Second, SP regenerates 8 hours per point and can be bought through the e-shop. All the Asterisks (jobs) are back and there are also some new ones too. Some of the new Asterisks are really unique and interesting and I didn’t ever find myself not wanting to try one out. In one way or another, all the features of Default are present in Second. Fort-Lune acts as Norende did in Default (rebuilding the town which gives you various benefits), Yew’s Diary acts as D’s Journal and etc. The map is fairly similar to Default, but with some new areas, making it bigger overall. The one problem that I had with Bravely Second’s game play was that it felt a bit too much like Default, which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing, I just would’ve liked to see some new mechanics being implemented.

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This is concept art for Al-Khampis, a school that also functions as a city.

Timeless Style

Bravely Second looks beautiful. I absolutely love the art style, hand drawn backgrounds and character design, sharing the same style as Default. The soundtrack is absolutely astounding, I constantly found myself humming along to the battle theme and would always recite the victory chime before finishing off the last enemy in a battle. As I said before, all the cut scenes are fully voice acted in English, the only problem I had with this was that more often than not the voice acting annoyed me much like they did in Default. Admittedly some of the voice acting was enjoyable, but it was few and far in between.

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The art book that comes with the collectors edition is fantastic, and well worth getting.

Verdict: 9/10

In my opinion, Bravely Second is one of the best 3DS you can get for the system. It’s a fantastic, deep JRPG that I would recommedn to anyone who played Default, or is just a fan of JRPGs in general. Although it has a few faults, I cannot recommend this game enough to 3DS owners who are looking for a game to sink their teeth into.

Positives

-Fantastic combat system

-Interesting characters and story

-Art style

-Soundtrack

Negatives

-Most voice acting is annoying

-Could be a little more change

Thanks for reading guys, sorry this one took so long, it was quite a hulk of a game for me to get through.

UPDATE: I’m currently progressing through Twilight Princess HD now and will hopefully have a review up for it by next Saturday. Dark Souls III has also been added to the list of games i’ll be reviewing.