Pokémon Sun vs Moon: Which game should you get?

When it came to the 7th generation Sun and Moon, I never considered the perks of the Sun version versus the Moon version. I simply took the copy of Sun that my cousin had since I was financially constrained at the time. Even when the respective Ultras came out, I went with Ultra Sun because I was more curious to see how the story had developed from the original.

As such, I never got to objectively compare Sun and Moon, or the Ultras for that matter. Even based on the different forums I read; players had subjective opinions about which version was better. So, I decided to find a copy of Pokémon Moon to finally put an end to the question I had for so long, which version was truly worth it?

Recently, I was lucky enough to meet a fellow player who had the Moon version and wanted a copy of Sun. After finally playing both versions, I have come up with this article, to contribute to the debate, based on my experience playing both Gen 7 games. Therefore, if you’ve been going back and forth over which version is the best or which one you should get, this article is for you.

Pokémon Sun vs Moon – How They Compare

Let’s start with a summary of how the two games compare before we dive into the details:


Pokémon Sun

Pokémon Moon

Game Mechanics

  • Everything happens during the day
  • Time is synchronized with the 3DS
  • Everything happens during the night
  • Time is 12 hours ahead of the Nintendo 3Ds

Version Exclusive Pokémon

  • Alolan Vulpix/Alolan Ninetales
  • Cottonee/Whimsicott
  • Cranidos/Rampardos
  • Rufflet/Braviary
  • Tirtouga/Carracosta
  • Turtonator
  • Passimian
  • Midday Lycanroc
  • Alolan Sandshrew/Alolan Sandslash
  • Archen/Archeops
  • Petilil/Lilligant
  • Shieldon/Bastiodon
  • Vullaby/Mandibuzz
  • Oranguru
  • Midnight Lycanroc
  • Drampa

Legendary Pokémon

  • Solgaleo
  • Lunala


  • Buzzwole
  • Kartana
  • Pheromosa
  • Celesteela

What are the differences between Pokémon Sun vs Moon?

Pokémon Moon
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. Image source: Nintendo

Like every dual version, Pokémon Sun and Moon share many similarities, having the same core mechanics and whatnot. But in the spirit of Pokémon traditions, they also have certain differences that set them apart. The differences I managed to notice were as follows:

Game Mechanics and Features

Compared to other generations, Sun and Moon presented unique features. The main one is, the Island trials which replaced the Gyms you’re used to seeing in other generations. So instead of battling against Gym leaders and their teams, I had to go against Totem Pokémon, which I thought was a refreshing change. Additionally, I appreciated the tropical aesthetic of Alola, the region Sun and Moon was based in whose design was inspired by Hawaii.

But when it came to the differences between the two versions, one of the game mechanics that stood out was the time difference. True to their names, Sun’s story was set to occur during the day, whereas Moon occurred during the night. Because of that, I noticed while Sun’s time was synchronized to my Nintendo 3DS, Moon was 12 hours ahead. So, if it was 8 AM in Sun, then it would be 8 PM in Moon.

Because of the time difference, there were other variations in the game, such as what Pokémon can be evolved at what time and not to mention the overall aesthetic of the respective games. In Sun, there was always bright daylight, while in Moon it was always dark, like in the middle of the night.

An additional variation was in the Island trials. I found some were exclusive to one version or the other. In the Melemele Island trial, the Totem Pokémon you face differs. In the Sun version, I faced Gumshoos while in Moon I fought Raticate.

Overall, in this category, I would say both games tie, since the slight changes in mechanics and features, may change the overall aesthetic of the game and not really affect the actual gameplay experience. The choice between which is better will depend on whether you’re a night owl or an early bird. If you are the former then the aesthetics of the Moon version will appeal to you more, and if you are the latter then Sun will appeal to you more.

Version Exclusive Pokémon

Pokémon Sun 
Pokémon Moon. Image source: Nintendo

Another major difference between the two games is what type of Pokémon you can catch in each version. Like other generations, I found that there were some Pokémon that were only available in Sun while others were only available in the Moon version. There were also some Pokémon who were in both but varied in terms of the forms they evolved into.

For example, Rockruff can be captured in both versions, but depending on the time of day you evolve it, it can take two forms. In Sun, the evolution happened during the day and it turned into Midday Lycanroc, and in Moon, it happened during the night so it evolved into Midnight Lycanroc.

Other than that, I thought each version had a great choice of exclusive Pokémon. If I were to compare their stats, the opposing exclusives from each version have the same base total stat, so they are equally powerful. They may differ in typing but, choosing which type is better is purely based on your preference. I will say however, that except for Vulpix (and Ninetales) in the Sun version and Shieldon (plus evolution) in the Moon version, I thought most of the Moon exclusives had better designs, I also preferred the typing variety in Moon.

Therefore, if I had to choose, after playing Moon, I would say it had better exclusives. However, that is based on my biased opinion. The final choice will depend on your preference and the type of team you want to build.

Legendary Pokémon

Pokémon Sun vs Moon
Pokémon Solgaleo. Image source: Pinterest

Finally, aside from the exclusive Pokémon, there were also some differences in the legendary Pokémon in either version. Starting with the main legendaries, Solgaleo in Sun, and Lunala in Moon. Both legendaries were gotten from evolving Cosmog either during the day or at night to give you the respective forms.

I liked Lunala’s design better, but I felt Solgaleo’s type combo was more preferable. It was great for a defensive playstyle, not to mention Psychic-Steel types generally have 2 weaknesses but are resistant to 9 types. In my humble opinion, these are better odds to have compared to Lunala’s Psychic/Ghost-type.

As such I would say Sun, had the better legendary Pokémon in my opinion, when it came to typing, but Lunala’s design was much more appealing to me.

Final Verdict: So, Which is better? – Pokémon Sun or Moon

After finally playing both Sun and Moon, I believe both versions have their perks. In Moon, I loved the sprites and artwork plus the selection of exclusives based on their typing. I, however, can’t say I was a fan of the dark theme. I guess you can say I’m more of an early bird than a night owl. With that said, I did prefer Sun’s overall aesthetic and the fact that it offered Solgaleo as the better Pokémon.

Seeing that I started playing Sun first, it still remains my favorite, although that’s based on my preference. You can choose which version is better based on whether you like the night, or day theme, and also which version has most of the Pokémon you are interested in capturing including the legendries and Ultra beasts.

FAQ Section

Who is more popular Pokémon Moon or Pokémon Sun?

Depending on who you ask and based on different forums, both versions seem to have their fair share of fans. It’s been over a decade and both versions are still among the best-selling generational games.

Which one is more successful, Pokémon Moon or Pokémon Sun?

Based on the sales records as reported by Bulbapedia, Pokémon Sun seems to have been more successful than Pokémon Moon. According to the report, as of March 2023, both versions had sold a total of 16.3 million copies worldwide. But within the first week of their release in Japan, Pokémon Sun had already outsold Pokémon Moon by 24,450 copies, and by January 2021, the former had outsold the latter by 125,839 total copies.

Is Pokémon Moon easier to play than Pokémon Sun?

The objective answer is no. Considering both versions share the same core mechanics with only slight variations, ideally, they should be equally as challenging. So, whether one is easier or not, will depend on your level of skill as a player.

Can you replace Pokémon Moon with Pokémon Sun?

The two games are almost the same aside from a few variations that give each version a slightly unique experience. While it may not be clear as to whether you can physically replace Pokémon Moon with Pokémon Sun, you can transfer Pokémon from one version to another. Alternatively, if you find a player willing to trade (like in my case) this works too.

Which is the better game between Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon?

It depends on who you ask. The games have identical mechanics, so the experience of playing each version should largely be the same save for a few variations which would depend on personal preference and subjective opinion.

Should I play Pokémon Moon before or after Pokémon Sun?

Pokémon Moon and Sun are dual versions, not sequels or prequels to the other. Therefore, it doesn’t matter which order you play them. Compared with the Ultra versions, however, then you may want to play the originals first before going to the Ultras (not mandatory though).

Which game is longer between Pokémon Moon and Pokémon Sun?

Both games ideally take the same time to complete. It would depend on your pace and skill level to determine how long you take to complete the game. Generally, for both versions, it should take you an average of 33 hours to complete the main objectives and about 139 hours to achieve 100% completion.

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