Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, two of the most anticipated games of this year, are finally here. Our reviewer praised the game highly for its new mechanics and its strengthening of Pokémon fundamentals.

However, if you've just gotten the game, you might be a bit confused about what's going on. Perhaps you're a Pokémon GO player whose first foray into the franchise proper is Sun or Moon. Fear not; after several hours of initial play, we're here to give you a variety of tips for making the early stages of your adventure a success.

Select the Right Version for You

If you're ready to jump into Sun or Moon but are unsure of the differences between the versions, know that you can't really go wrong with either one. The biggest difference is the exclusive Pokémon. Each version has about 20 monsters you won't find in the other. Have a look at those exclusives and see which ones you prefer.

Aside from that, Moon is special because the in-game time is 12 hours ahead of your real time. This means that playing at 8 PM results in the game time being 8 AM. If you're only able to play at night, you might prefer Moon so you're not constantly playing at night in-game.

These are the two major points to consider; the games are mostly identical otherwise.

Search for Hidden Items

As you battle trainers, you'll earn money for winning. This enables you to buy useful items in Poké Marts, but you can get all sorts of goodies for free instead. For one, the locals (people and Pokémon!) are friendly and will hand out all sorts of items if you just talk to them.

Keep an eye out for side paths. These often lead to Poké Balls, which represent items you can collect in the field. Easier ones might contain common items like Paralyze Heals, while well-hidden items could be technical machines (TMs) or move-strengthening items your Pokémon can hold.

There are also hidden items all around the world. Often inside shrubs and rocks, these contain Nuggets and other valuable trinkets. Keep an eye out for suspicious flora and press A on anything that seems out of place.

Once you get access to the Ride Pokémon Stoutland, you can find hidden items while riding him. Hold B, and he'll sniff around. You'll see an exclamation point when you're near something.

Know Your Type Matchups

Pokémon veterans should have no issues knowing which types are strong against which, and some of them are obvious to anyone (Water beats Fire). However, there are lots of type matchups that might not be clear at first (Fighting isn't effective against Fairy, for instance).

If you're new to the series, have a look at a move calculator to find what's effective and ineffective against certain types. Sun and Moon also give you a hint about this. Once you've fought a particular type of Pokémon once, you'll see how effective your Pokémon's moves will be against it next time you fight.

Knowing these matchups will help you build a stronger team that's ready to take on any opponent.

Consider Increasing the Challenge

During one of our playthroughs of Moon, we picked Popplio, the Water starter, and were amazed at how easy the game felt. We were consistently ~ten levels above all opponents. Because this game provides so many breaks for new players, consider adjusting these to make things tougher for yourself.

You'll gain the Experience Share item early on. Enabling this provides EXP for all your Pokémon, even if they don't participate in a battle. This certainly helps reduce grinding, but also lets you power up a team of six even with only one fighting. Consider carrying a smaller team or turning the EXP Share off.

Another feature that makes the going easier is the Pokémon Refresh, which we'll discuss in a bit. This new features is available at any time, and you'll receive a prompt to use it after a battle where your Pokémon was hit with a status effect like Sleep.

Instead of having to spend money on Awakenings or Burn Heals, you can simply use the medicine feature of Pokémon Refresh to heal any status effects for free. This makes healing items only necessary during battles. To increase the challenge, avoid using the free heals.

Become Close to Your Pokémon

As a Trainer in Alola, you'd be wise to spend time with your Pokémon to make them more affectionate towards you. Using the Pokémon Refresh feature from the menu, you can pet them or feed them Poké Beans to make them happy. Be sure to visit the cafe, located in every Pokémon Center, once a day to get more free beans.

You'll also find some items that make Pokémon friendlier towards you. The Soothe Bell speeds up the friend-making process, and several berries have a similar effect. The benefits to becoming close to your team are many — they gain boosted experience, may dodge attacks, and perform critical hits more often in battle.

To check how close you are with a team member, just pull open the Pokémon Refresh feature. Be sure to use it after battles when you see the prompt, as this will allow you to clean dirt and other junk off your Pokémon.

Utilise Traded Pokémon

Aside from trading online, there are also several friendly townspeople in the game that want to trade Pokémon with you. They usually appear in Pokémon Centers, and ask you to trade a Pokémon from that route for one you might not have seen yet. You should take advantage of these if their types complement your team.

Traded Pokémon gain a 50% EXP boost, so they'll always grow faster than those you caught alone. Just remember that once traded Pokémon reach a certain level, they won't obey you unless you have stamps from clearing Grand Trials.

Keep the 3D Off

While the visuals of Sun and Moon are great for the most part, it's a shame there's no 3D in most of the adventure. The only exception to this is the Poké Finder mode, which lets you snap simple pictures of Pokémon in specific areas. It's not a terribly exciting feature to begin with, so you might as well just leave your 3D slider off. This will conserve battery life, too.

Use Alternate Poké Balls / Catch Lots of Pokémon

Most Pokémon players know about the typical Poké Ball and its superior versions (Great Ball and Ultra Ball). Using these typically requires you to whittle down a wild Pokémon's health for the best chance at catching it, which runs the risk of you making it faint by accident. There are lots of alternative Poké Balls in Sun and Moon that you should try out.

Dive Balls are better at catching Pokémon that live underwater. Nest Balls are great at catching low-level wilds. One of the best is the Quick Ball, which has a better success rate when used at the start of a battle. When you see a Pokémon you want to catch, throw a Quick Ball right away and you'll have a pretty good chance of nabbing it without any work!

Use these special Poké Balls to catch lots of Pokémon. You certainly won't bring every one into your team (you should be selective about that), but having more Pokémon in your PC boxes carries benefits. You'll find scientists around Alola that reward you for catching a certain amount of Pokémon.

Later in the game,you'll also gain access to the Pokémon Pelago, a sort of mini-game that lets all your standby Pokémon work to develop islands. The more Pokémon you have, the more Poké Beans berries will grow, and new wild Pokémon will come to your islands.

Utilise Held Items

There are lots of items in Sun and Moon, especially if you're picking up hidden goodies in the field. Each Pokémon can hold onto one item, and mastering these can be just as important as choosing members of your team.

First, know that Pokémon can't use man-made items like Potions or Paralyze Heals, so don't bother having them hold one of those. Berries are a good choice early on, but as you continue to play you'll find items that boost moves of a certain type, double your money from battles, or have other neat effects.

As you beat the trials of Alola, you'll also earn Z-Crystals, which let a Pokémon perform a boosted move of a certain type once per battle. Keep an eye on which items your team members are holding, and don't be afraid to mix them up.

On a related note, your Bag has an extra category called Free Space. This is a general space where you can place any items you choose — press A on an item and choose Move to Free Space to relocate it. Since the Items category contains a ton of different types of gear, try dedicating your Free Space to items that Pokémon can hold. There are lots of them!

Take Some Notes

As you travel around Alola, you'll find some spots where you can't progress at the moment. Maybe there's a huge block you can't move, or a spot where you can see an item that's unreachable. You'll also meet people who ask you to catch a certain Pokémon for them, among other sidequests.

While the game provides a marker for your next objective, it doesn't keep track of these sidequests in any way. Thus, consider keeping a notepad or notes app on your phone around. Simply jotting down the location of quests from people will help you keep everything straight. If you don't, it's easy to forget who asked you to do what, and where it was.

Go Catch 'em All!

With these ten tips, any budding Trainers will be well on their way to completing their Island Challenge. Keep a close relationship with your Pokémon, balance your team, and use items well. No matter which starter you pick, you can't go wrong if you follow this advice!

Now get out there, and explore the islands of Alola with your Pokémon!