Demos have come an awfully long way over the years, even to the point where these bite-sized chunks can be considered full games in their own right; you only have to look at the Bravely series to know what we’re talking about. So it was no surprise when Nintendo announced the arrival of a demo for the upcoming Pokémon Sun & Moon, but will it heighten hype levels?
Naturally we’re going to go into detail on what happens in the demo, so consider this your spoiler alert.
Straight away, having played the full game recently, the demo feels a bit out of place. Much like previous demos before it, it supposedly takes place before the events of the full title in a way in which it simply can’t. Thankfully we’re not pedantic enough to really care about the chronology for the demo of a game featuring fantastical creatures that defy countless physical laws, so let’s move on.
You’re gifted a Greninja by an anonymous letter-writer whom you carry around for the duration of the demo. Unfortunately, due to all the Poké Marts being “out of stock” and not being handed any Poké Balls by any characters, this is the only permanent member of your party.
You’re treated to the usual ‘welcome to this region’ speech that you receive from most Pokémon games – before being guided around the various elements – that any long-time fan is probably sick to death of hearing. We understand that for new players these have to be explained, but an option to skip would be greatly appreciated nonetheless.
Once the tutorial has worn off you’re asked if you want to take on a Trial in a nearby cave, which you heartily accept unless you downloaded the game and got this far somehow by accident. This Trial is very different to the one we indulged in during our preview, as you’re required to use the Poké Finder to take photographs of two Jangmo-o and two Hakamo-o. As you photograph each one you startle it and have to engage it in the old-fashioned combat established back in Kanto.
The final Hakamo-o isn’t of the ordinary variety, and turns out instead to be the Trial’s Totem Pokémon. You have a quick battle alongside your largely overpowered Greninja and the battle comes to an end. What is nice, however, is that this is the first time you’ll see Ash Greninja in the flesh thanks to its Battle Bond ability, which causes it to transform into this new self after causing an enemy monster to faint. Finally getting to see this beast in action is a really lovely feeling, but its ability becomes defunct at the end of the match, so you won’t see much of it – which is a shame.
That’s not the only new slice of action you’ll get either; throughout the entire Trial Professor Kukui allows you to use his prized Pikachu, and upon completing the Trial he’ll also give you a Z-Ring and Z-Stone which you can use in a brief battle against Team Skull Admin Plumeria.
Once you’ve sent Pulmeria packing you’re gifted with a flashy video advertising the full game, which caused us initially to think that the entire demo was over. It wasn’t, but there really isn’t a lot more to do after this promotion.
Once you plunge back into the game you can try your hand at a few other bits and pieces. Most pleasingly you’re able to ride around the back of a Tauros and smash through rocks in a glorious overhaul of the woefully outdated TM system. It functions very similarly to Soar from Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, only with no cutscene to slow you down – which is seriously welcome.
Using this new-fangled ability you can find a new Pokémon catching contest, which tasks you with catching as many Pokémon as possible, if you can believe it. It’s a bit bare-bones and you don’t actually get to keep any of the Pokémon you find, so beyond showing how catching works it’s not really worth your time. If you catch enough you do get a Nugget which you can transfer to the main game, but it’s still a bit ‘meh’.
Continuing on your Tauros adventure you can head out to a very small area of rocks that require retribution in the form of smashing them to dust. Once you’ve smashed your way to the top in all of about six seconds, a curious man hands you some Stardust for use in the main game.
If you fancy more Stardust you can always return to just outside of the Trial cave and battle a load of Trainers, culminating in what is probably the toughest fight the demo has to offer. You’re slapped across the face with a bit more Stardust and that’s your lot; there’s nothing left to do in the demo beyond grinding your way through weak foes to power up your Greninja.
That’s not to say that’ll always be the case though; various NPCs talk about various things happening in a certain number of days, ranging from five to 24 at the time of writing. It’s entirely possible that these will open up new things for you to do which would be extremely welcome and a clever way to draw people back in again and again leading up to release.
In short what we have here is nothing exemplary, but also not bad by any means. It’s very similar in terms of scope as the previous Pokémon demos Game Freak has given us, and it is a chance to get a good luck at the Alola region, try out some mechanics and get a taste of the updates in this new generation.
The QR code above will allow you to pick up this demo from 18th October onwards.