'Pokemon Ultra Sun' and 'Ultra Moon' Review: A Refined Version of a Year-Old Game
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the definitive version of a game released just 12 months [...]
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the definitive version of a game released just 12 months ago.
The newest Pokemon games broke a lot of longstanding traditions in the franchise. It's the first pair of games to introduce new Pokemon in the middle of a "generation" of games. It's also neither a sequel, nor really a true "third" game in the tradition of Pokemon Yellow or Pokemon Emerald, but it still feels very similar.
That's because, at its core, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are basically the same games as Pokemon Sun and Moon...only better. There's a new storyline and more Pokemon and a better post-game features, all of which should make Pokemon fans happy. But if you played through Pokemon Sun and Moon last year, you'll get a major case of deja vu. All of Pokemon Ultra Sun's version-exclusive Pokemon are the same, all of the islands are the same, and even the characters are the same with just a few exceptions. There's just more to enjoy in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and some of the game's most frustrating issues have been polished over.
Maybe that's what it's so hard for me to recommend Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon to someone who already paid full price for last year's Pokemon game. You'll probably have a better experience playing Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon...but you're still going to feel a bit jilted for paying for and spending hundreds of hours on last year's games.
A Brand New Story
The biggest difference between Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon and its predecessors is a brand new storyline. While Pokemon Sun and Moon focused on the mystery of Ultra Space and the Aether Foundation's attempt to reach it, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is all about the mysterious Necrozma, a Pokemon that arrived from Ultra Space thousands of years ago.
Necrozma and its origins are at the heart of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but the game doesn't really deviate from Pokemon Sun and Moon until about halfway through the game. Once you reach the Aether Foundation, the game takes a hard left turn and basically turns into an entirely different experience. Pokemon Sun and Moon players will appreciate the changes, but they might be a bit frustrated that it takes a while to get too.
While the main storyline takes a while to shift, players of the last Pokemon games should immediately notice the abundance in new side quests. These side quests don't add anything huge to the game, but they make the Alola region feel a lot more whole and in depth. Again, this is something that only Pokemon Sun and Moon players will appreciate, but these little side stories and quests made all the difference for me in making the game feel different and new prior to the big Necrozma revelations halfway through the game.prevnext
A Beefed Up Postgame
Once players slog through the main storyline (which becomes a string of surprisingly difficult boss battles towards the end), they'll immediately get tossed into the post-game content, which might be the most enjoyable part for long time Pokemon fans. The post-game concerns a cross-dimensional takeover by Team Rainbow Rocket, which includes the main villains from all of the past Pokemon games.
Even better, Giovanni, Archie, Maxie, and the other villains come from worlds where they actually succeeded in their plans because the player character wasn't around to stop them. That means that you'll get to face these fearsome foes at the height of their powers...which includes a Legendary Pokemon on each of their teams.
Game Freak mentioned that Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon was meant as a final goodbye to the Nintendo 3DS before the Pokemon franchise migrates to the Nintendo Switch. Battling the Pokemon baddies of old sure feels like a fitting capstone before the franchise makes its next evolution on a household console.
Other aspects of the postgame has gotten a big boost as well. Players can hunt for more Legendary Pokemon and Ultra Beasts via trips into Ultra Space. There's a new Battle Agency feature that competitive and high level players will enjoy, and the Battle Tree makes a return for players who want to battle Red, Blue, and other characters from previous years. All of these are big improvements over Pokemon Sun and Moon's postgame, which was a bit of a disappointment.prevnext
The Final Verdict
It's really hard for me to make a final decision on Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Many players think that the game's biggest changes could have been downloadable content, something that the Pokemon franchise has understandably avoided for years. Considering there's a ton of subtle changes to Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, I can't see how these changes could have been incorporated as DLC, and it's a disservice to simply say that these additions and changes are tacked on to an existing game.
Really - Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is like a new house built from the same pieces and material as the house that came before it. The new house looks similar, but it has newer and better features and a couple of extra rooms. You'll immediately notice the similarities, but after living in that new house, you could never see yourself going back to the old one.
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon renders Pokemon Sun and Moon obsolete - and that's both a good and bad thing. You'll wonder why stores are even selling Pokemon Sun and Moon anymore . You'll also ask yourself why the Pokemon Company made Pokemon Sun and Moon in the first place if they were just going to release a far better version that won't get near as much attention just a year later.
WWG's Score: 4 / 5prev