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Way back when Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 came out, I likened Pokemon to an MMORPG, and argued that features like the Pokemon Bank are crucial to that feeling.
My reasoning went like this: Pokemon is built on its thriving online community. It has a reasonable amount of continuity from game-to-game. It doesn't have direct co-op, but it does have a kind of asymmetrical co-op in which you can work with your friends toward a greater goal.
As a case in point, I recently complained on Twitter that I had forgotten about a Hoopa giveaway, making it difficult to achieve my goal of catching all of the legendaries (I've long since given up on truly Catching 'Em All, but I do like to try and get all the legendary monsters if possible). Someone immediately offered to trade with me, and an hour later I had a Hoopa of my very own. The Pokemon community is generous like that.
Key to this community is Pokemon's aforementioned sense of continuity. Rather than wiping everything and forcing you to start over with each successive game, Pokemon allows you to carry over your monsters from previous games using apps like the Pokemon Transporter and the Pokemon Bank. As I've often joked in this space and elsewhere, many of my monsters are older than the game's target audience. Some of my oldest Pokemon, like my prized Flareon, go all the way back to Pokemon Fire Red—the first generation remake released back in 2004.
This continuity leaves you with the sense that you're part of a broader world, and that your actions have consequences. Some monsters aren't available out of the box, making them more valuable on services like the Global Transfer Network. Shiny hunters explicitly search for certain IDs that offer a clue to the game where they were caught. And, of course, there's the sense of attachment you develop with your monsters as you ship them from game to game, which makes them feel more real than a mere collection of data.
The flipside of this attachment is that I often find it hard to enjoy Pokemon games right out of the box. Pokemon Sun and Moon is the first Pokemon in a long time where I've legitimately enjoyed the story and cared about the characters; but once I was done, I was inclined to put it aside. Much as I like Toucannon and Incineroar, they feel like rentals to me. Like so many monsters before them, they will go into a box and disappear now that Pokemon Bank is out.
In their place I will bring out Infernape, Greninja, Haxorus, Jolteon, and other favorites from years past. With their help, I'll start putting more thought into how I want to tackle Pokemon Sun's postgame. Then the real fun can begin.
More than most games, the enjoyment you derive from Pokemon depends on what you want from it. Do you want to be a competitive battler? A collector? A completionist? There's generally something for everyone in Pokemon.
As a fairly casual battler, my goals are threefold:
- Catch all the legendary monsters: As I mentioned before, I like to try and collect all of the legendary monsters from each generation. I have quite a few rare ones, with my crown jewels including a Japanese Celebi I received during the Ruby/Sapphire era and a Jirachi I got from the Pokemon Colosseum preorder disc. There are so many now that they fill two boxes, and Sun and Moon adds in Solgaleo, Lunala, the Tapus, and Ultra Beasts. That's a lot of monsters! Suffice it to say, I'm going to be pretty busy.
- Get ribbons for my Flareon: Flareon is my precious. He's won contests in both Emerald and Omega Ruby and Sapphire; starred in movies, and earned practically every ribbon under the sun. Sadly, there aren't many opportunities to earn new awards in Sun and Moon, but I can still take him through the Elite Four to earn an Alola Championship ribbon. He's such a good Flareon, yes he is!
- Catch and train up any Alola Pokemon that strike my fancy: I usually try and train up a signture team for each generation. Back in the days of Diamond and Pearl, for example, I had a U-turn team with Flygon, Infernape, Celebi, Heatran—still one of my favorite teams ever. To be honest, I'm still getting my feet wet with this generation, but thus far I've learned that the Tapus and Mimikyu are really, really good. It may be a bit before I finalize a team concept, but at the very least I want to train up Mimikyu.
After that, it's all kind of up in the air. I usually make an effort to at least get all of the starters, and as a fan of the Join Avenue, the Festival Plaza is definitely of interest to me. There's also the Battle Tree, which I will inevitably have to grind through to get Battle Points for the various mega evolution items. All of this will be enough to keep me busy for quite a while—maybe up until the rumored release of Pokemon Stars on the Switch.
The biggest question on my mind is whether I want to make an investment in competing in the Pokemon VGCs. It would be a daunting challenge, not the least because it would require me to learn a whole new metagame. But as a self-proclaimed Pokemon Master, the VGCs are kind of the last mountain for me to climb. I would relish the challenge.
Regardless, now that Pokemon Bank is here, I'm back in on Sun and Moon in a big way. The only question is how long I will end up sticking around.