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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Playing the Pokémon Sun and Moon Special Demo Version!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Little did I know the part before the page break would be the best part of the experience.

Remember when I was groaning about the Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon SPECIAL DEMO that was announced two weeks ago, that nonsensically will feature Ash-Greninja? Well, that future-tense is now present-tense, and that Special Demo Version is now released! According to Nintendo's official website (where you can download the Special Demo Version, along with the Nintendo eShop on your Nintendo 3DS), it gets its own set of italics as a full-fledged, separate product.

Well, I'm downloading it now. It's 3058 blocks (apparently about 382 MB, if you care), and free, of course. The icon is this cool-looking Poké Ball that has its top part split between red and blue. It took me only 5 minutes to download!

Super-cool Pokémon Sun & Moon Special Demo Version icon on my
super-cool, FREE Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Spirit of Justice
3DS Home menu theme for downloading the Apollo Justice: Asinine Attorney DLC

You not only can transfer Ash-Greninja to your full copy of Pokémon Sun or Pokémon Moon, but also other stuff, when you buy it when it comes out in a month. What kind of stuff? Well, I'll find out when I play the demo! Which I'll start doing right now, and the rest of this article will be my reactions to it.

Well, first we get a suspicious letter in the mail without a return address. It has a Poké Ball in it, with Ash-Greninja inside. This probably means Ash sucks at sending letters. I wonder how he knows our protagonist, named Sun. Why Sun? Why not Moon? Then, Sun goes and meets up with Mom, and we quickly discover what a bad name Sun is.

Alola Mom greeting hello Pokémon Sun Moon special demo
“Alola, Sun!” She's really saying “Son”, but now it's his whole damn name.
So it's like... everyone talks like they're Doc Louis.

Meanwhile, the Alolan native Hau doesn't greet me with “Alola”, but he instead says “Hey” like a normal person. I have no doubt that Mom tried to do research on Alolan culture while on the boat and is now using what she read on an Alolan guidebook written decades ago to try to fit in. Well, it seems like everyone knows she and her Sun are Kanto transplants, and there's nothing she can do about it.

It's around this time I get full control over Sun, and I immediately notice the Directional Pad (D-Pad) doesn't do anything. You can only move with the Circle Pad. This is a dramatic change from the other Pokémon series games, which all allow D-Pad support. It's what I prefer to use on the 3DS, especially since I feel like the Circle Pad will fall off whenever I use it. It's happened to me before on my old 3DS!

Anyway, now we encounter hysterically-motioning Team Skull grunts, and I spent a whole minute watching their arms move around. That's a long time, if you think about it. I want a .gif of that. The chosen grunt sends out a Yungoos, and Sun's/Ash's Greninja overpowers them. Greninja actually one-hit knocked out the Team Skull Yungoos!

Greninja versus Team Skull Yungoos Pokémon Sun Moon Special Demo
This fight is RIGGED. It's a rigged system, folks!

Hau is all happy we won, and I liked the music for the Team Skull encounter theme and the battle theme. Now he wants to walk with me around, and I decide to ditch him and explore town. Sun saw many, many Machamp and Slowpoke, and that's about it. There was a ferry terminal, but the ferry hasn't been built yet. There was a police station, but they didn't seem interested in the Team Skull appearance. There were many storekeepers standing outside of their store doors, not allowing anyone to get inside and shop. I'm betting that the local economy here really sucks, and it's all from this attitude of refusing my patronage. Why did Mom move into such a depressed area? What was wrong with Kanto?

So, to the Pokémon Center! That's where Hau is, and he told everyone in the entire city that I HAD to be there, or else I wouldn't be allowed to do anything else. What a jerk. He thinks he's my tour guide, huh?

And then I realised... Hau is the Alolan forme of Ahlbi Ur'gaid from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Spirit of Justice. Of course! How could I not see it before?

Your Friend Hau Alolan forme of Ahlbi Ur'gaid Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice Pokémon Sun Moon same pose hands behind head smiling
On the left: Hau, Sun's tour guide and forced friend.
On the right: Ahlbi Ur'gaid, Phoenix Wright's tour guide and forced friend.

Just look at that picture. Literally the same pose. They're basically the same age. Their hair knot is even the same colour. (Consider that there even IS a hair knot for both.) Same role. And they are both totally annoying and I want nothing to do with either.

Hau introduces me to Professor Kukui, who introduces himself as a masochist. He brings Sun to Ten Carat Hill, where the onslaught of wild Pikipek begins. Eventually, Kukui offers a trial of taking pictures of Jangmo-o and Hakamo-o, and offers Sun his Pikachu. And then we finally get the long-awaited Rotom, in the form of the photo-taking Poké Finder. (Photo Finder.)

Professor Kukui penguin hand Pokémon Sun Moon Ten Carat Hill photo finder trial Jangmo-o Hakamo-o
Since I didn't give a visual example of penguin hands for yesterday's article, here you go.

After fighting off and photographing Jangmo-o and Hakamo-o, Sun encounters... TOTEM HAKAMO-O. Which has its own boss music that is really awesome. I'm very happy with that. Pikachu beat the Rockruff minion, but faints to Totem Hakamo-o. (But not before Static activated.) Greninja swoops in and cleans up!

Kukui shows up and gives Sun a Z-Ring and Z-Crystal... and then that Hau dufus comes in, being chased by those Team Skull grunts from before! And with them is their “big sis”, Plumeria. The camera does ugly stuff by zooming in closely and showing all of the pixels on her model, ensuring that no one would consider her a waifu. (And I already didn't!)

Kukui eggs me on to use Pikachu's Z-Move, Gigavolt Havoc. (For some unexplained reason, Pikachu is revived.) I refuse, and just use one Slam and two Iron Tail to defeat Plumeria's Golbat. Hau is happy that Sun won, saying, and I quote, “You drew out the power of the Pokémon and showed us the best moves you could, yeah!”

Sun specifically did NOT do that.

The demo ends, but then starting it again brings you to Kukui congratulating Sun in front of the Pokémon Center. Sun can now ride on Tauros and smash things! However, instead of doing that, he's lead back to Ten Carat Hill where we undergo a Pokémon Catching Challenge.

And this is, by far, the worst part of the demo. You get 16 Poké Balls, 1 Great Ball, and 3 Heal Balls and try to capture as many wild Pokémon as you can. The majority of the Pokémon encountered are Pikipek, with a few Rockruff. There are rare Yungoos, and I encountered only four Yungoos in all my time, and only managed to catch two of those since Greninja tends to OHKO wild Pokémon. According to Vortexica and another guy I talked to, there are also wild Pikachu here. I didn't see any.

After a very long time, I used up all of the capturing devices. It was long and boring. I meticulously released Pikipek to make room for more, or just tossed them back to “nature”. For some reason, there's one menu option to see the stats of a newly captured Pikipek, and another menu option to see the stats of your existing party Pikipek. Why can't you view and compare these all within one menu?

Anyway, I caught 16 Pokémon total, and waltzed over to the host of the challenge. He congratulated me and said I caught more than he did. Then, he said because I caught more than THREE, Sun gets a Nugget that he can transfer over! ...And that's it. The bar to clear was THREE. I spent a ton of time catching SIXTEEN. ...Oh, and all of those captured Pokémon got released back to the wild. All of that for NOTHING.

At that point, I was pissed off, and went to fight any trainer I can. Some Ace Trainer named Sheri actually blacked out Greninja with her Pikachu, and Sun had to run to the Pokémon Center in tears. (That battle was the first time I saw the Battle Bond ability in action, and Ash-Greninja. Pretty underwhelming, and Protean is likely the better ability for Greninja.) He then encountered a mysterious old man.

Pokémon Sun Moon Special Demo Version mysterious old man Stardust
...And that old man was the last thing Sun ever saw.

I recommend you don't even download and play the demo, because the Special Demo Version lowered my hype and idealism of Pokémon Moon. And it gave me haunting memories of the massive waste of time the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire special demo was. According to my Activity Log, I played the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Special Demo Version for 1:58 over two sessions, and I just now played the Pokémon Sun and Moon Special Demo Version for 2:03 over one session. There wasn't more content in the latter, though: Because 47 minutes of that was from the STUPID CATCHING GAME. UGH. (The other time went by from poking Rotom on the touch screen, and assaulting the police with Tauros's dash.)

By the way: Doesn't it go against the whole story and lesson of Ash-Greninja if he can just be mailed to strangers and act like a sort of mercenary? Both on Ash's part for just getting rid of Ash-Greninja, and Greninja's part for having a close bond to a stranger. (But in the form of his previous owner?)

Ludwig still plans to buy Pokémon Moon, but he will note that it was the combination of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire being remakes, and their demo sucking, that made him never purchase one of those. Did your experience with the demo line up with Ludwig's, or were you much more optimistic?

Ludwig totally hates Hau a year later and wrote an article about how he wants him dead.


  1. When I got the letter, for a moment I honestly thought it was a misspelling from a parent addressing the protagonist as "Son," and then I remembered the name of the game.

    I knew Hau reminded me of someone. I kept thinking it was Young Eraqus, but now I see the Ahlbi similarities. I find Hau adorable, though. Absurdly happy about everything. (*huge smile on his face as he explains how he had to run for his life from Team Skull*)

    Like the ORAS demo, you'll get more items to transfer if you return and talk to certain characters on certain days.

    Also, what did you think of the camera angles in the city? I really would have preferred the usual top-down view.

    1. The name of the game is Special Demo Version, so they should've named the kid Demo. It SOUNDS as Alolan/ethnic as Hau or Kukui, and it doesn't take favouritism.

      Does that mean you don't find Ahlbi adorable? ('cause you shouldn't.)
      I'm wondering why Hau has varied facial expressions, and all Sun does is that one totally-out-of-place smile.

      I came back to the dude who said to talk to him tomorrow and got some Pretty Wings and then turned it off. ...It's already not worth it.

      I didn't take issue with the camera angles. I ASSUME they angle it that much so you can properly control Tauros.

    2. Although if the protagonist is supposed to be from Kanto, he probably shouldn't have a name that sounds Alolan.

      Ahlbi's okay, but I wouldn't say adorable.
      Hmm... maybe they didn't give the protagonist a lot of facial expressions because of customization in the full game? Or... something.

      Some players made a list of the dates to return for other items.

      I kept wondering if a second stick would let me change the camera angle. I really wanted to rotate it in the city. xD

    3. Mom wanted to assimilate into Alola so bad, she named her son a certain way many years in advance.
      (..."Sun" is supposed to be a Kanto name? Oh well, it goes along with "Seel" and "Misty".)

      But other games have facial expressions for customisable characters just fine. It's the whole point of facial rigging.

      Well, good for them. Screw that. It's not like the real game is going to have a deficit of items.

      I still want to use the D-pad to move.

  2. Yeah, I played the demo a bit. Plan to delete it and don't care for Greninja.

    I decided to join Team Litten instead. I plan to name the player character in Sun/Moon after the name I planned for my child and Litten will be named after my real life cat and I hope I can reset easily for a female one because that is the gender of my real life cat. Here's hoping my baby and cat will bond in real life. Not sure if I want to evolve past Torracat though. Someone is willing to give me a Popplio, so if you want you can give me a Rowlet so I can still be somewhat Team Rowlet.

    1. We'll have to see what breeding options look like if you want a Rowlet baby.
      (I don't think we're even 3DS friends... I don't really know who I'm 3DS friends with, since the last time I did stuff with 3DS multiplayer was 2013 with Kid Icarus: Uprising.)

      Either way, it's at least the first time I've ever actually used a Greninja before in an RPG. (There's Super Smash Bros., and that one Mission in Pokémon Rumble World.) It's overrated.

    2. Everyone should have known Greninja would lose in the anime. It is a ninja after all. That Charizard was either a pirate or barbarian.

      So would you rather be stuck with Charizard or Greninja?

    3. I'd rather be stuck with Greninja, despite your attempt to frame the decision that way.


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