Amidst the most stressful part of the semester, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon were released.

How exactly am I supposed to tell my parents that my subpar grades at the end of the semester were because I spent too many hours playing the new installment of Pokémon instead of studying or doing my homework?

Just kidding … maybe. My grades aren’t too threatened yet.

But like all the previous games in the franchise, Pokémon Sun (the version I bought) draws me into the captivating, imaginary world of these fantastic little creatures.

Kicking off the game in the best way possible, the starter Pokémon are all amazing. But I simply couldn’t choose anyone other than Rowlett. It’s just too cute.

Sun and Moon take place in the region of Alola, which is based in Hawaii. It’s made up of four islands that players travel through and collect this game’s version of gym badges, called Z-crystals. These crystals exist for each Pokémon type and allow players’ Pokémon to use a special, powerful move.

The games forgo Pokémon gyms altogether, something that’s never been done before. Instead, Sun and Moon have the “Island Challenge” where the trainer goes through a series of trials that involve fighting “Totem Pokémon,” which are unusually strong.

Each of the four islands also has a “kahuna” the trainer needs to battle, just one way the game incorporates Hawaiian culture. In Hawaii, “kahuna” means a “wise man or shaman.” In Sun and Moon, they take the place of gym leaders.

In some ways, like the absence of gyms, Sun and Moon are drastically different than every other game. I found these differences to be a nice change of pace. It shows that, just like Pokémon themselves, the franchise can evolve.

In the end, though, Sun and Moon still contain that classic experience of playing a Pokémon game, an experience I will never grow tired of.

I, like many college students, grew up with the Pokémon franchise. I remember playing one of  the earliest games, Pokémon Red, on a Game Boy Advance when I was no more than four or five with my two older brothers. Pokémon Silver followed suit. Then, Pokémon Ruby on the Game Boy Advance SP a few years later. My brothers and I would spend countless hours on our Game Boys, training our teams to perfection, meticulously collecting gym badges and finally becoming the Pokémon champions.

Some kids outgrew it or simply lost interest in Pokémon. Not me. I continued playing every game that came out, always excited to catch new Pokémon and explore new worlds.

For my brothers and me, Pokémon wasn’t just a game—it was magic. Before the world was wireless, the only way to trade Pokémon in games was to connect a cable to two Game Boys. As children, we would pinch the cable between our fingers while the trade was taking place, claiming we could “feel” the Poké Balls passing through the cable. Of course, that’s impossible. But to us, the games were brought to life in that moment.

Twenty years and 720 Pokémon later, the Pokémon games are more alive than ever. Over the summer, Pokémon Go launched an advent of real-life Pokémon trainers. Now, Sun and Moon are continuing the legacy of Pokémon beautifully.

As I continue my Pokémon adventure in Sun, I will be reminded of the magic of Pokémon. When I was a child, Pokémon was one of the best ways to spend free time and bond with my brothers.

Today, not much has changed. Playing Pokémon Sun over the past few days has provided a relaxing escape from the stressful end of the semester. My brothers, both living in Pennsylvania, are also playing the games. Instead of playing in the same room like when we were younger, we talk and joke about the game via a group chat. We can’t “feel” our text messages bouncing off cell towers just like we can’t “feel” Pokémon being traded. Nevertheless, Pokémon has always been, and will most likely continue to be, part of our lives. And that’s pretty magical.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of BagoGames’s Flickr Account.

Rosie Kean is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at vrosekean@gmail.com

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