Before Pokemon Sun and Moon’s release, I compiled a list of my favourite five from the Pokemon that had been announced at that point. One month after release, I have had more than enough time to play through the game and get to know all the amazing Pokemon the Alola region brings with it. So here I am again, to give you my final opinion on the ten best new Pokemon from Sun and Moon. Keep in mind however, that Alolan forms do not qualify for this list.
Coming off the mess that was Delphox, the fire type starters have returned to good form with the introduction of Incineroar. Incineroar’s design is very interesting. It’s not just based on a wrestler, but specifically a ‘Heel’ wrestler (these are the “bad guys” of the wrestling world). This means that not only is Incineroar large and intimidating, but it’s a dirty fighter, even sometimes attacking the opposing trainer (according to the pokedex). Pokemon has been made based on other fighting styles like Sumo, Boxing and even Luchalibre wrestling, but Incineroar’s dark fighting style makes its brand of fighting unique in the Pokemon world.
For competitive battlers, Incineroar has even more charm. Sporting a high attack stat, decent defence stats and a great moveset, Incineroar is a threat on the battlefield. It not only has access to notoriously good moves like Earthquake, Flare Blitz and the newly enhanced Leech Life, but Incineroar is also packing a signature move and Z-move that help increase its usefulness as well as provide a great deal of personality. The only thing holding Incineroar back is its low speed.
Lunala was at the bottom of my previous list, and once again I had to put it on the lower end. But this time, it’s joined by its Sun counterpart Solgaleo. For the first time in the series’ history, the two legendary Pokemon evolve from a common Pokemon; Cosmog. Throughout Sun and Moon, you are accompanied by a character known as Lillie, who carries around the mysterious Cosmog in her bag. Near the end of the story, Cosmog evolves into the corresponding legendary of your game. Unlike previous legendaries who merely appear as powerful deities for you to catch at will. Solgaleo and Lunala are familiar to you. Even before you eventually catch them, you get to form a bond with them not dissimilar to your starter Pokemon. This is a welcome change to the usual legendary formula. And of course, they come with all the power and majesty that we’ve grown to expect form legendary Pokemon.
One of the few Pokemon who wasn’t announced before Sun and Moon’s release, Araquanid made for a great surprise. Just before the second island trial, you are given the ability to surf on Lapras. If you explore the trial site with your new Lapras, you may just run into a Dewpider like I did. Train it up to level 22 and the amazing Araquanid will be yours.
Araquanid is the third spider Pokemon we’ve gotten thus far, and I think it blows Ariados and Galvantula out of the water. Araquanid is based on water spiders, and its head is constantly surrounded by a water bubble, giving it a distinctly alien look. Besides having an incredibly good design, Araquanid brings with it an amazing new ability; Water Bubble. With Water Bubble, Araquanid doesn’t get just one passive bonus, but three. Not only does it take less damage from fire moves, but its water type moves are doubled in power, and it cannot be burned. This makes Araquanid a deadly physical attacker, as water bubble boosts its move Liquidation to ridiculous levels, and prevents opponents from lowering its attack power with burns. Factor in Araquanid’s decent bulk and amazing special defence, and you have a Pokemon who (despite its speed) can take hits and dish out damage very well. I personally used an Araquanid on my main team, and it has become undoubtedly one of my favourite Pokemon. Sadly, for Araquanid though, there is another new Bug/Water type that steals all its spotlight. More on that soon.
As amazing as Mimikyu is, it couldn’t quite hold on to its top spot from the previous list. Leading up to Sun and Moon’s release, Nintendo did quite a bit to hype up Mimikyu. Even then, it was plain to see that its interesting design and saddening backstory would make it one of the most popular Pokemon of the seventh generation. Even during the game, Mimikyu gets an opportunity to shine, as the totem Pokemon of the ghost type trial. With all its stats boosted and its ability allowing it to take one free hit of any power, totem Mimikyu was one of, if not the most challenging totem in the whole game. Not to mention, the environment around Mimikyu’s totem battle was perfectly set up, with haunted supermarket and secret Pikachu shrine included.
Even better for Mimikyu, is its appearance in the anime. Unlike the sweet, lovable creature it is in the games, Team Rocket’s Mimikyu is a hateful, selfish Pokemon with a vendetta against Pikachu. It’s honestly fun to watch the anime Mimikyu relentlessly attack Pikachu, and adds another side to this already great new Pokemon.
- Tapu Koko
Another Pokemon returning from the previous list, Tapu Koko just barely misses out on the top 5. On the last list, I questioned how Tapu Koko’s new ability would affect competitive battling, and now we have the answer; by making it one of the strongest new Pokemon. Tapu Koko’s great speed and attack stats gives it the basic tools for being a great sweeper, but its ability makes things even better. By setting up electric terrain whenever it enters battle, Tapu Koko can make its electric moves much stronger, and even prevent itself from falling asleep due to popular moves like spore. As a bonus, sending out Tapu Koko can help you counter the other island guardians by replacing their terrains with your own. Although they can always pull the same trick on you, so look out for that.
Tapu Koko also serves a small role in the story of Sun and Moon, helping save the player near the beginning, as well as participating in a short battle against the Ultra Beasts. Sadly, I do wish Tapu Koko and the other guardians had played a bigger role. Even though we never see them much in the story, anyone who battles with others in Sun and Moon will be seeing a lot of Tapu Koko and the other guardians.
On my previous list, I placed Salandit very high. It’s brand-new typing, great design and interesting ability gave Salandit a lot of potential, and all we were waiting for was its evolution. Salazzle didn’t disappoint. Salazzle is a textbook example of a good evolution. It takes everything that made Salandit great and builds on it. The dark colour scheme, the sly expression, the distinctly reptilian look; all these traits of Salandit are in full force in Salazzle. Sadly, Salazzle may be one of the hardest Pokemon to obtain in Sun and Moon. You see, only female Salandit can evolve into Salazzle, and the odds of encountering a female is a discouraging 12.5%. But once you find a female Salandit, it’s all up hill from there.
On my journey through Alola, Salazzle was an irreplaceable member of my team. Excelling most in speed and special attack, Salazzle can serve as an excellent sweeper, with its ability to go fast and hit almost everything hard. And thanks to Corrosion, Salazzle can even help wear down any bulky poison types that may be giving you sleepless nights. Its usefulness in the competitive Pokemon scene is yet to be seen, but whether or not it shows up in many tournaments, Salazzle will always be one of the best Pokemon the Alola region has to offer.
Every generation brings with it a special breed of Pokemon. These are known by fans as the Psuedo-legendaries. Psuedo-legendaries have earned that name through their almost legendary tier stats, and their difficulty to evolve; all of them being three stage evolutions and evolving at high levels. And standing amongst the likes of Metagross, Garchomp and Goodra is Alola’s own Kommo-o.
As Alola’s Psuedo-legendary, Kommo-o has some frightening power in its hands, with very good stats across the board. And while its unique Dragon/Fighting type makes it food for fairy types, access to moves like dragon dance, dragon claw, and sky uppercut means that Kommo-o will be hitting almost everything with a lot of force. It also doesn’t hurt that it looks like an Aztec warrior dragon.
When the starters were originally unveiled, Rowlet was undoubtedly the most popular option. While Torracat may have stolen some people from team Rowlet, Decidueye brought them all back. Decidueye is by far my favourite grass type starter, and my favourite starter in Alola. Looking at Decidueye’s hood of feathers and cloak-like wings, you can’t help but wonder why it took so long for Game Freak to make a Pokemon that revolved around archery. Using its wings as bows and feathers as arrows, Decidueye is Pokemon’s own Green Arrow. Honestly, Decidueye scores this high mostly due to just how good its design is.
Besides being the best looking of the starters, Decidueye is also the fastest of them. That plus its strength in both forms of attack make Decidueye a very useful Pokemon. And if that isn’t enough, its signature move spirit shackle allows it to trap opposing Pokemon while Decidueye is alive. This way, if you catch an unassuming Primarina or Swampert with it, they’re going to be having a bad time.
Possibly the hardest new Pokemon to obtain, Toxapex is a very interesting Pokémon. To find its pre-evolution Mareanie, you had to first find a Corsola (which has a 20% chance of appearing in very specific spots), and then wait for it to call for help with the new SOS system. If you’re lucky, Corsola will call down a Mareanie, and give you a chance to grab it. Once caught, train Mareanie to level 38 to get yourself the amazing Toxapex.
During my playthrough of Pokemon Sun, my Toxapex was single-handedly the most valuable member of my team. Toxapex sports whopping 152 and 142 defence and special defence, making it a very hard tank to kill. Even better for it, Its Water/Poison typing makes it impossible to wear it down with poison (unless it’s facing a Salazzle), and gives it a lot of useful type resistances. It doesn’t stop there, though. Toxapex has access to the abilities Merciless and Regenerator. While the former gives it a 100% critical hit chance against poisoned Pokemon, the latter allows it to gain nearly half its health back by switching out. Toxapex also gets a new move known as Baneful Bunker, which not only acts as a substitute for Protect but poisons any Pokemon that makes contact with it, allowing it to take advantage of Merciless. And the cherry on top of Toxapex is that it can easily recover its own health using the move Recover. With all this in mind, Toxapex is an incredible threat. My Toxapex single-handedly won me more battles than I can count, and due to this Toxapex was almost my number one pick for this list. But there is one Pokemon I think outshines it.
The signature Pokemon of Team Skull’s leader Guzma, Golisopod is a Pokemon that nobody will be forgetting anytime soon. Evolving from the pathetic Wimpod like how Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, Golisopod becomes a monster once it evolves, and there’s nobody better than Guzma to show you why. By the time you face Guzma for the first time, most players would never have seen a Golisopod. There’s only one very specific place that Wimpod can be caught, and anyone not interested in speaking to NPCs and fully exploring their environment would easily have missed it. So, when Guzma’s intimidating theme begins to play and this beast drops out of its poke ball, players are in for a fun surprise.
Golisopod is equipped with a brand-new move known as First Impression. This move is already strong at base 90 power, but it gets further boosted by the same type attack bonus (aka STAB), and always hits first. Unless you had the good sense to send out a Pokemon that can take hits very well, Golisopod will most likely kill your first Pokemon in one hit. A frightening first impression indeed. And from there Guzma’s Golisopod can whittle down your team with strong moves like Razor Shell. But if you manage to get Golisopod down to half its health, its ability will force it to switch out, giving it the opportunity to come back and hit you with another First impression later in the battle. Even when I knew it was coming, Golisopod had me on the edge of my seat every time Guzma sent it into battle. And if you have a Golisopod of your own, you can equip it with even more priority moves like Aqua jet and Sucker Punch to make up for its poor speed. But speedy or not, Goliopod’s monstrous attack stat and bulky defensive stats make it extremely hard to deal with if you don’t come prepared.
Golisopod’s position as Guzma’s ace Pokemon gives it the perfect opportunity to make sure that every player leaves Sun and Moon with the image of Golisopod in their head. And for making the best First Impression of any new Pokemon I have ever seen, Golisopod claims the top spot as the best Pokemon in Sun and Moon.
For the second generation in a row, Game Freak has chosen to populate their new region with a smaller number of Pokemon, and once again they have proven that quality is definitely better than quantity. The Pokemon of the Alola region has some of the most interesting designs the series has ever seen and bring with them a lot of new and interesting abilities and moves to shake up Pokemon’s competitive meta-game. Whether they made it on the list or not, all of Alola’s Pokemon are deserving of praise and adoration.