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What’s the difference between Pokémon Sun and Moon?

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Deciding which version to pick up is the first battle

The Pokémon Company

There’s another pair of Pokémon games out, which means it’s time to decide which one to get. Pokémon Sun and Moon have a minute set of differences, but they may be enough to tip players over from one to another.

The cover stars

Here’s the most obvious change from Sun to Moon. Sun has Solgaleo on the box; that’s the steel/psychic-type legendary exclusive to the game. Moon features Lunala, a psychic/ghost-type found just in that game.

If your preference is for orange-y color schemes and feline Pokémon, grab Sun. If you like gigantic bats and the colors blue and purple, Moon’s your choice.

The Pokémon Company

Exclusive Pokémon

Every Pokémon game has a set of 10 or so Pokémon that can’t be found in the other, simultaneously released version. People with early copies already crafted these lists for us of which Pokémon (and Ultra Beasts, the new legendaries) are found only in Sun and only in Moon; check out this tweet below for a quick look.

Whichever list strikes more of your fancy is probably the one you should get.

Time difference

Sun follows a real-time schedule when it comes to lighting the Alola region. If you’re playing the afternoon, the game will be bright and sunny. If you’re playing under the covers in the middle of the night, the game knows it and gets fairly dark. (Maybe it doesn’t know the under the covers part.)

Moon, on the other hand, is time-shifted. Its version of the Alola region is 12 hours ahead of whatever time it is in the real world, so regular daytime players will have to grow used to playing in the evening if they want to see some sunlight in the game.

Island challenge trials

Sun and Moon are story-heavy, and their stories are even more closely related than older generations. Don’t expect a huge change between the two when it comes to the plot, but some of the island challenge trials — which replace the typical eight gyms — have some differences.

We’ll be sure to have more on those once we play a bit more of both versions of the game, but for now, we know that the boss-like totem Pokémon of certain trials can differ between Sun and Moon. This isn’t really that big of a deal, though; it’s not like one is more challenging over the other.

That’s ... kind of it!

These games really don’t deviate from each other very much. Such is the nature of Pokémon, but it’s especially true this generation. Both feature the same gripping (for a Pokémon game!) story and excellent battle mechanics, and the majority of the now 800-plus Pokémon can be obtained in either version.

Whichever you choose, you’re in for a good time. We really dug the seventh pair of Pokémon adventures in our review.