At this point I’m almost done the second part of the Island Challenge, but today I’d like to focus on three new features in Pokémon Sun and Moon: The Festival Plaza and the Poké Pelago . I’ll try to promise that there will be no spoilers, but I quite honestly feel like the things I talk about in the Festival Plaza won’t ruin the experience for you at all.
First thing’s first: what the hell is up with the Festival Plaza? After playing with it for a few hours there are some parts that I’ve come to enjoy, but the whole damn thing reads like the Korean fan translation of a Pokémon ROM hack. I’m starting to familiarize myself with how it works now, but when I started it was almost incomprehensible.
The Festival Plaza is the intermediary between online connectivity and offline play. From here you can battle foes and trade with friends, as well as engage in a number of activities with ‘visitors’ (people you’ve interacted with online at some point). The majority of your interactions with other players come in the form of pre-chosen phrases, so you’ll find players greeting you with random non sequiturs such as ‘I want money’ and ‘This is a great photo op!’. You can accumulate Festival Coins by interacting with your guests, and these can be used at various shops in the Festival Plaza. Some of the shops increase the base stats of your Pokémon, others boost their friendliness, others can be used to dye pieces of clothing you have purchased. The main issue with these shops are their completely random names. There’s a fortune-telling booth called ‘Johto Tent *’ (even though the booth itself has nothing to do with the Johto region), a dye house called ‘Team Green *’, and a food stall called ‘Friendship Parlor *’. Sometimes a guest will ask you to direct them to a specific place, and the naming scheme makes it difficult to tell one from the other when selecting them from a list. Unless you spend enough time familiarizing yourself with the names of the different booths (which could have WAY better names), you’ll have some trouble any time you need to use Festival Plaza’s facilities. At one point I was asked which booth I would like to replace with ‘Trick Room ***’, and I had no clue which building was which because it only gives you a list of stupid, random names that barely indicate what type of building you’re replacing. I’ve found the Festival Plaza moderately useful for modifying the stats of my Pokémon, but most of it is barely intelligible and incredibly frustrating to navigate.
The Poké Pelago, on the other hand, makes way more sense and is a great addition to the game. The Poké Pelago are a group of islands in the middle of Alola where the Pokémon in your Box (those not in your party) can go to play. There are a number of different islands, each with a different in-game benefit. For example, the first island hosts a gigantic beanstalk from which Poké Beans (the food you can give to your Pokémon in Pokémon Refresh) grow. Every day you can shake it to get more Poké Beans, and occasionally wild Pokémon will be drawn to the island. If they decide to stay, they’ll be added to your list of caught Pokémon. Convenient! I won’t spoil the other islands, but they can be developed further and further the more Poké Beans you have and the more Pokémon you have in your boxes. It’s some extra incentive to ‘Catch ‘em all’!
That’s all I’m going to get into in this section! I’ll see you next time (or down below past the spoilers tag, if you prefer).
At the time of writing this, I’ve beaten the first two of three Trials on Akala Island. I ended up getting rid of my Alolan Meowth as soon as it evolved, because I couldn’t stand looking at its big, stupid face. It’s the only Pokémon I’ve encountered so far that I actively hate. It just looks so DUMB, ARGH. I’ve replaced it with a Mudbray, which is absolutely adorable. I love the way it shows its teeth when it’s happy with you. It also has some great stats and attacks.
After beating the Water Trial I gained access to a Lapras that helps me surf atop the water, but I feel like there haven’t been many opportunities to use it. I backtracked to Melemele Island for a few goodies, but in general the game definitely feels more linear than I expected it to be. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given how interesting the story has been, and Pokémon has never been particularly open-ended. It’s also pretty annoying that whenever I fish I still only ever seem to get Magikarp. I’m sure I’ll have more to say next time when I have more perspective.