Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided by Nintendo for the purpose of review.
In 2016, Nintendo & the Pokémon Company announced the 7th generation with Pokémon Sun & Moon. They were well received but suffered a bit of criticism for its underwhelming plot. A few months later, they announced that players would return to Alola for another adventure in the form of Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. It’s fitting that they are also the last Pokémon games on Nintendo’s series of handhelds. Do these two games help the series go out with a bang or with a whimper?
Let’s begin with the plot. The plot is similar to that of Pokémon Sun & Moon but with a few noticeable differences. One being that the main focus is on Necrozma, as the game’s antagonist. You play the role of a Pokémon Trainer who arrives in Alola and begins their island challenge. As they travel through the region, you face many challenges including opposition with the likes of Team Skull and the Aether Foundation. It all culminates with Necrozma, fusing with the legendary Pokémon and absorbing the world’s light and you traveling to a world named Ultra Megalopolis to fight for the fate of the world. It’s a much better story compared to the previous version and it does give players a desire to see it through to the end.
Another change is the Ultra Recon Squad, a group of individuals who are from a world where their light was taken from them. They have a role in the plot and at times they battle the trainer. Depending on what version, you’ll encounter a different duo with one of them battling you. I find them interesting but I also feel that they deserve more development as characters since once their story ends, there isn’t much.
The game is similar to Sun & Moon but is more tweaked. For starters the presentation is a step up. Many familiar locations now have improved visuals and changes, some of them containing brand new areas. Even the HUDs have been given an update and it makes sense since things are taken to the next level. The character modes are similar to Sun & Moon but I feel they have improved. Heck, everything about these games is a big step-up. The music is good. Many of the songs are remixed to show that things are quite different now, while others are reprised from the previous game. They also include a few new tracks that are really good, to the point where they are just catchy.
Gameplay is similar to Sun & Moon. You start off as a new trainer, you get your starter Pokémon and you travel on a journey to get stronger. You also have to capture Pokémon and train them so they can be stronger. That’s pretty much all there is. Many of the gameplay mechanics that were in Sun & Moon are present in this game such as the Island Challenges, Z-Powered Moves, Ride Pager, etc. If you played Sun & Moon, you’ll feel right at home with this. There are a lot more to do in this game. Some get replaced in favor of other activities that make it less of a grind, such as the Totem Stickers. Collecting them will give you access to Totem versions of various Pokémon. There are more Pokémon to catch with each game having some Pokémon exclusive to that version. On top of that, there are some new mini-games. For example, Mantine Surf where you are on top of a Mantine and you have to build up energy within so you can perform tricks and getting a high score. It’s pretty fun and you get rewarded if you do well enough. There’s the Ultra Warp Ride where you get to ride on a legendary Pokémon such as Solgaleo and you collect energy so you can go really far to reach a world where rare Pokémon can be found. In some cases, you can even find legendaries from previous generations and this adds a lot of time to the game’s overall length.
Speaking of length, Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon completely destroy what Sun & Moon has. In total, the game will take you around 20 hours if you just want to beat the game. But if you plan on putting 100% into it, it takes even longer with the post-game content taking a huge majority. Yes. One of the problems that Sun & Moon had was the lack of post-game content. Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon fixed it by offering a lot to do after all is said and done such as Episode RR and the Ultra Warp Ride. You are getting a lot for a $40 game and it’s worth it.
If I were to find any negatives with Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, it’d be the following. First is the lack of a National Pokedex. Considering that Ultra Warp Ride allows you to catch Pokémon from previous generations, the lack of it really hurts it and the only way you can obtain its data is via Pokémon Bank. Another fault is Ultra Megalopolis. It was hyped as an alternate world where Necrozma took the light and plunging it to darkness. But what we got is a letdown. I wished there was a way to explore the place and see what it’s like and how the people are affected but I think Nintendo & The Pokémon Company kind of dropped the ball on it. Also it’s recommended for players to experience the game on a New Nintendo 3DS or New 2DS hardware. Regular 3DS/2DS handhelds can cause the game to chug considerably in the frame rate department, especially in battles. It’s another nitpick but what can you do since these games push the 3DS to their limits in the graphics.
I like to think of Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon as upgrades to Sun & Moon. The games are still fun to play but they offer so much more in terms of activities. You have similar gameplay but the game puts more focus on its story and I feel it was an improvement. Nintendo & The Pokémon Company put out all the stops to make this be a game that players won’t forget. Sure it has its issues and they did learn from their mistakes. In the end, it’s a game that serves as a tribute to more than 20 years of catching pocket monsters. If you never got to play Sun & Moon when they came out, pick this up. It’s pure satisfaction.
I give Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon a 9 out of 10. It’s worth the full price.