The Pokemon formula gets further refinements.
Pokemon Sun/Moon is going to have boss battles, but I didn't make it that far in my recent demo with the game.
Pokemon has remained a formulaic game over the years. It continues to get better with minor tweaks and refinements, but you can distill the experience down to "catch Pokemon, get badges." But after spending a little over an hour going through the very beginning of the game, Pokemon already feels like a different game.
The familiar core is still there--meet the professor, get a starter Pokemon, go through a school to learn the basics. But when you move, you're no longer tied to the grid-based movement of every previous main Pokemon game--you can now walk around in every direction freely. Gym Leaders are replaced by a more robust item collection and boss battle system. It's the Pokemon experience we've had for the last 15 years, but slanted and improved.
The "quality of life" improvements alone already make the game feel more rewarding. After you battle a Pokemon the first time and then meet them again, battle menu tells you which moves are effective, not effective, and super effective. With a roster of Pokemon that now spans well over 700, that's a small detail that feels incredibly helpful. The map isn't just an item that you can pull up to see where you're at in a vague sense; Sun/Moon finally implements it as a minimap and gives you arrows pointing to your next set of goals. As someone who has taken frequent breaks from almost every game at some point, and then come back totally confused as to where I'm supposed to be, that option is a godsend.
And finally, Sun/Moon just looks better. Characters and Pokemon seem more colorful, lively, and animated. The Hawaii-inspired world bursts with the greens and blues of the islands. And cutscenes are crafted with more care than just a static camera fixed above the scene.
If you're on the fence about getting back into Pokemon, Nintendo has already announced a Sun/Moon demo is on the way starting Oct 18, so you'll be able to try it out yourself before the game's full release on November 8.
While we weren't able to capture any gameplay of the experience, Nintendo provided the following screenshots. Here's a set showing off the female trainer and the starters:
And another set of the same images, but with the male trainer swapped in:
And finally here's a look at the battles and the first Totem boss: