The “third” model of Pokémon video games is normally an inevitability by custom. Like Yellow, Crystal, Emerald and Platinum earlier than it, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon acts as a form of “remix” of final 12 months’s Pokémon Sun and Moon. Touted as an “enhanced” model of these earlier video games, I discovered the time period “definitive” to be extra applicable. While I discovered my time with the video games to be satisfying, it was due extra to some minor disappointments I harbored with the unique Sun and Moon.
That’s to not say that the core Sun and Moon video games weren’t gratifying. The Generation VII video games represented a landmark for the hand held collection, that includes 3D motion within the surroundings and quite a few quality-of-life adjustments and additions that made your complete “gotta catch ‘em all” expertise simpler and streamlined. For instance, as within the unique video games, not are HM slaves required due to the useful new Poké Ride function. And smaller adjustments are retained, just like the function to immediately add captured Pokémon to your already full social gathering. The battle person interface nonetheless permits gamers to maintain monitor of standing results to Pokémon on the sector, and reminds gamers whether or not or not sure strikes are efficient in opposition to opponents. Of course, adjustments just like the Exp. Share merchandise making use of to your complete social gathering arguably made the sport too straightforward in a manner.
At first look, all of Ultra’s additions and “enhancements” to the unique sport seem like fairly minor. Initially I had the sense that developer Game Freak was “filling in gaps” with content material or concepts that won’t have made the ultimate minimize with Sun and Moon. “Totem Stickers” present the participant with a scavenger hunt all through the sport, present in random spots throughout the islands of Alola. Early on you’re launched to a brand new Ride Pokémon, Mantine, which lets you surf by the water. Unlike the opposite browsing Pokémon, Lapras and Sharpedo, Mantine actually lets the participant surf and carry out tips on waves. Additionally, this has the sensible use of browsing between islands, one thing that was simply achieved by a much less enjoyable and brief flying or boat animation within the unique video games.
Your lovely pal, the sentient Rotom Pokédex, has a neat little function with the Roto Lotto, letting the participant win sure talents—the prospect to make use of a Z-Power once more, for instance. I typically forgot about this small new function, although, and uncared for to make use of these throughout battle. Similar to the Battle Tower, Battle Frontier and Battle Factory in earlier “third versions,” the Battle Agency throughout the returning on-line Festival Plaza permits gamers to hire absurdly highly effective Pokémon and do battle in opposition to opponents.
But the time period “remix” stored popping into my head—some adjustments gave the impression to be for change’s sake, to showcase that this was certainly “different.” The sport tries to persuade the participant of this from the very starting, altering the situation by which the protagonist meets the three most important starter Pokémon (they spring into motion to save lots of poor, defenseless you in a wild Pokémon encounter). There are moments like this all through your complete sport—a change within the Elite Four roster for instance, or different outcomes to important story moments. Or perhaps with small interactions, with the sport now permitting the participant to work together with cute little pocket monsters on the sector and play a sport of peek-a-boo with them. I bear in mind being led to the realm by which you first find out about Mantine Surf and going “huh, I don’t remember this in the old game,” however not a lot “wow, this is all brand new and cool!” Much of the music within the sport, most notably the coach battle music, is actually remixed, and like earlier “third” variations, some aesthetic adjustments to the sport’s UI are included, in case it wasn’t apparent sufficient that it is a completely different sport.
While I could appear a bit of arduous on the smoke-and-mirror adjustments that Ultra brings, some vital additions actually did elevate the unique video games for me. While I beloved my playthrough of Sun, I felt among the larger concepts and ideas by no means actually got here to fruition, and really felt fairly unfinished. I beloved the Hawaii-themed new area of Alola and the themes of custom and spirituality that got here with it—which is why I discovered the sci-fi feeling of the Ultra Beasts and the machinations of the mysterious Aether Foundation to be an interesting juxtaposition that I hoped the video games would discover.
Unfortunately, regardless of some attention-grabbing characters and memorable story moments surrounding them, the highly-advertised Ultra Beasts had been nothing greater than a post-story chore for the participant to do within the unique Sun and Moon. These undoubtedly cool Pokémon designs had been finally wasted, and I couldn’t inform if Game Freak had no thought what to do with them or in the event that they ran out of time to additional develop them. The similar feeling utilized to the “third” Legendary of Necrozma, who was the participant’s last “chore” within the unique video games and had no correct backstory or rationalization connected to it, regardless of the Pokémon’s obvious significance.
I feared that Necrozma would have a destiny just like that of Zygarde, the “third” Legendary of X and Y—to the shock of the fanbase, there was no such “Z” model to flesh the monster out. But Necrozma will get its due, even that includes on the covers of those Ultra video games. To fill in these gaps that I witnessed within the unique video games, Ultra provides a complete lot of “Ultra” lore. If the Aether Foundation and the genuinely entertaining Team Skull dimwits weren’t sufficient, Ultra has yet one more faction within the Ultra Recon Squad. The participant will encounter a pair of squad members from this mysterious group at numerous factors within the sport’s story (one other case of, “hey look, something new or different!”), with the pair of characters differing primarily based on the model you play. As I performed Ultra Moon, I encountered characters Soliera and a literal mustache-twirler Phyco. Like Team Skull, these characters had their very own foolish and bodily quirks which can be positive to make the participant giggle out loud.
And the theme of “Ultra” simply retains on going, with the Ultra Wormhole from the unique video games being expanded in its story and play performance. The participant can journey the duvet Legendary Pokémon (Solgaleo or Lunala) by Ultra Space and journey by a wide range of parallel dimensions to seek out Pokémon that in any other case wouldn’t be discovered within the Alola area. Eventually, gamers will discover their manner into the Ultra Megalopolis, host of the enigmatic Ultra Recon Squad and tied with Necrozma within the sport’s story. Through these “Ultra” additions, the sport expands on the unique’s story in a manner that provides new info and surprises, even to those that have performed by Sun and Moon. Without spoiling something key to the plot, I’ll say that this helped to fix the issues I had with the unique video games’ story shortcomings.
But a lot of the novelty comes within the again half of the sport. While I appreciated Sun and Moon altering the system by changing Gym Leaders with Island Trials, the trials themselves felt as straightforward as they did within the originals, regardless of some small adjustments and additions. However the post-game remains to be fairly spectacular, permitting the gamers to catch primarily each Legendary (not Mythical, sadly) Pokémon within the franchise’s historical past—it’s pure fan service that hearkens again to the post-game of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and fan service that continues with the introduction of Team Rainbow Rocket. Led by Team Rocket chief Giovanni, this villainous group consists of characters from all the “evil teams” of Pokémon previous.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon typically seems like a cease hole to distract followers till the inevitable Nintendo Switch mainline Pokémon sport. Still, as a “director’s cut” or a “take two” of the unique video games, these Ultra revisions actually do hit the mark, and straight deal with some narrative and mechanical flaws that Sun and Moon had. For those who missed out on the unique video games, these definitive variations are important. And for Pokémon followers who might have been upset by among the unique video games’ shortcomings, they are going to definitely not thoughts taking part in by this memorable journey as soon as once more, even only for a handful of latest goodies.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon had been developed by Game Freak and printed by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo. The model performed for this overview was Ultra Moon. The video games can be found for the Nintendo 3DS household of techniques.
Chris Compendio is a Paste intern who’s starting to expire of house for his many Pokémon sport cartridges. Follow him on Twitter @Compenderizer.