It is a good time to be a Pokémon fan as the franchise is as popular as ever with the Pokémon anime series ending its best season ever, re-releases of old games on virtual consoles and the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokémon.

This all leads up to the big release of Game Freak’s Pokémon Sun and Moon, which is the seventh generation of the Nintendo 3DS game series. The release was highly anticipated among 3DS owners. While past games saw improvements to the battle system, storyline, regions and graphics, the structures basically stayed the same. Sun and Moon however offers a new Pokémon game experience like no other.

It all starts off with your character moving to the new Alola region, which is based on Hawaii. The region is made up of four major islands with volcanoes and beaches to match the Hawaiian theme. And of course, with a new region comes new Pokémon, new moves and new regional variants. There are 81 new Pokémon to add to the already growing 802 Pokémon list, and these new Pokémon reflect the Hawaiian theme. A brand new set of 80 new moves such as Incineroar’s Malicious Moonsault has been added to accommodate the new Pokémon. Regional Variants have been added to spice up the game as older Pokémon with a twist are added to the Pokedex. These variant Pokémon are assigned as different types and boast new designs, moves and stats, making them stronger than their original forms. The new legendaries Solgaleo and Lunala are improvements to past legendaries with their new design and move set.

The characters breathe new life into the game as their personalities have depth, encouraging players to devote more time to get to know them.

The storyline of Sun and Moon is very well told and helps to guide you through the game. The characters breathe new life into the game as their personalities have depth, encouraging players to devote more time to get to know them. Lucimine, a very surprising character, initially appears to be on the good side and is the president of a foundation that is supposed to protect Pokémon. But as the story develops, players will discover that she is obsessed about a certain type of Pokémon called Ultra Beasts and would do anything to get them. In actuality, she is the one with the coldest heart. The theme to this story is focused on family, friends and community.

The graphics in the game have come a long way since the time when characters were mere two dimensional figures. Now, characters are three dimensional detailed figures with active motion. The best new addition to game play would be the overpowered special moves that every Pokémon can use called Z-Moves. These moves are activated using Z power from Z crystals that you obtain from defeating trials on the islands. This addition enhances the game play, changes the way battles are played and helps players get a headstart in battle.

Sun and Moon is actually two separate games, similar to previous generations of the game. The main difference between the two versions is the set of Pokémon that players encounter in the game. However, players can trade Pokémon between game versions so which game they end up playing first is not usually a big issue.

In the gameplay department, some players say the hardest part is the new addition of trials in place of gym battles. The trials feature higher level Pokémon with boosted stats, making them hard to defeat. But once you succeed, you are rewarded with a Z-crystal that can give a special addition to your Pokémon’s move set. Also, the AI in the game is way harder to beat and the Pokémon are overall smarter and more advanced in battle, using better moves and switching out of battle to try to get the upper hand. Multiplayer battles are a lot more competitive as all Pokémon are set to the same level.

In all, this game has everything you would want in a Pokémon game. The graphics are way better, new Pokémon and moves have been added, and the gym system has been changed to trials. But most of all for Hawaii players, the whole game is based on Hawaii, giving it a local feel. If there’s one thing that could be better, it is the the story (or game) length. Overall, Game Freak did an amazing job and I hope their success continues with future generations of the game.