The Island Trials of Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon are the dominant custom in the Alola Region, serving as a rite of passage for the young Pokemon Trainers of each and every island. They replace the concept of gyms and instead the Trials reflect the Trainers themselves and act as a flowing natural element to a Pokemon system that is generally quite rigid and established.
These Island Trials serve as a refreshing take on the old gym style, and while I did and continue to enjoy Pokemon Gyms, the Island Trials are a glimpse at what Pokemon can become when not restricted by countless calls of nostalgia and a rigid pattern.
In the previous Pokemon games we have seen much of a culture that prides itself on taking care of and battling powerful monsters but within Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, the Island Trials themselves seem to delve to a greater degree in a regions culture.
With the Island Trials, it showcases how a particular region is influenced by its environment and how culture develops. This rite of passage enables Trainers from this region to grow and garner an increased appreciation for the Alola Region as well as its Pokemon, especially the Guardian Pokemon.
Flows With The Story
Within this new instalment of the Pokemon franchise, Nintendo has decided to introduce a more resolute and definite story that players can follow rather than the broad goal of catching them all and conquering the Pokemon League. In many ways this story is a brilliant adaptation because it adds some new dialogue and cutscenes to the way Trainers would normally progress.
However the Island Trials fits in to this story like a glove, serving to extend the Alolan culture as I have stated above, as well as ensuring that the lower Trials are the first to be conquered that give access to the next island. In all essence, the Trials are the main staple of this Pokemon storied adventure and allows Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon to showcase every aspect of battle and Pokemon leadership that is present on the islands (talking about Trial Captains and Kahunas).
The Island Trials also serve as a way for the new Pokemon of the Alola Region to be introduced, albeit in powerful and relentless iterations. The Totem Pokemon are always some form of a new Pokemon that has not been seen before, or only seen in trailers. This way, Alolan Trainers are able to find and battle against Pokemon they may wish to add to their collections and so give them a starting point for their hunt.
Compounding on this, the locations of the Totem Pokemon are generally in the Trial sites so it is a matter of time, patience and luck that you add them to your teams. This allows you to find a spree of cool and unique Pokemon without too much difficulty and without looking at an online guide.
They Are Different And Challenging
The most important addition that these Trials have brought is the fact that they are interesting, and challenging that ultimately allows them to be more enjoyable in the long run. The Island Challenges are a series of, well minigames, that are not the same formula each time. It is not simply a battle. Whether it is attempting to capture photos of mysterious Pokemon or collecting ingredients for a special broth, each Island Trial has something new for your Trainers to do. But fear not, when the Totem Pokemon arrives you will get your battle.
On top of this the Trials actually have a challenging component to them in the form of the Totem Pokemon. The Totem Pokemon, while being quite powerful in that progression of the game also has the ability to summon another allied Pokemon to increase the odds to 2:1 in favour of them. These allies serve to assist the Totem as well as hinder your progress. And if you do n0t have a Pokemon that is super effective against the Totem you may have a bad time.
You also cannot leave a Trial which is another component of the challenge – you have to be prepared when you enter the area of the Trial. In direct comparison to the gyms you are not able to retreat after a certain encounter to visit a Pokemon Centre and heal up. You are in it for the long haul. Ensure you have all the supplies you could possibly need.
While I will always have a special place in my heart for the gyms of the Pokemon franchise, the Island Trials are a unique and quite awesome new take on the journey a Trainer takes with their Pokemon, delving into culture and mixing up the same formula. Hopefully Pokemon will continue to do game twisting things like this in the iterations to come.