Pokemon Sun and Moon was a welcomed change of pace from the norms of Pokemon. With a darker story, new takes on beloved monsters and a number of other changes, it made for an experience fans needed to see. That is, until Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon were revealed. With a promise to deliver a new experience, more content and fix previous mistakes, is it worth another run through or is it a quick enhanced rerelease?
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon are like adventuring down a road you’ve already taken. Similar to how Bruce Wayne almost, if not always, ends up being Batman under the same circumstances, there is a sense of repetition that makes the story underwhelming as a returning player. The idea is the same as before, pick your Pokemon, leave home, defeat your rival, work with Lillie and protect Nebby from harm.
For the first couple of parts the story is essentially the same story. The events play out relatively the same way, making it feel tedious for anyone who wants to see the changes. Sadly, not enough is changed to make the story worth revisiting, making it feel more like post game DLC than anything else. The new post game stuff is interesting, especially if you’re a Pokemon fan, though it’s hard to say if there is enough of a hook for returning fans.
In fact, some of the biggest changes were made with newcomers in mind. One thing that made Pokemon Sun and Moon hard to get into was the pacing, which is better this time around. Maybe not perfect but an amount that is easier to tolerate. Especially given fans should be more than familiar with the basics of Pokemon.
Like previous games, every Pokemon has up to four attacks, develops certain attacks at a specific level and can learn additional moves through TMs. The best tactic is to have a well rounded team, though through smart moves and outwitting your opponent, it’s more than possible to finish, at least the story, with your favorites, over some kind of dream team.
Similar to the originals, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon benefits from a bunch of welcomed changes. For instance, gyms have been replaced with trials, allowing for a more varied and well paced adventure. From there, HMs were removed in favor of having the ability to constantly cut, fly, surf and what have you without relying on HM mules. It’s honestly one of the most welcome changes to the series and is done in a way that makes the experience closer to what is portrayed in anime/manga.
Sadly, some of the originals problems persist too. Team Skull is as annoying as ever, making them one of the least interesting and fun criminal groups to deal with. Some of this has to do with them having far less interesting end goals than Giovanni’s Team Rocket and other groups. The difficulty is also still on the low end, meaning it isn’t terribly difficult to overwhelm AI, even if you have an objectively bad team.
Also, if you were hoping to have a single version where it’s possible to catch them all, you’re out of luck. Not only does Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon retain their exclusives, they both have new exclusives to chase after. These include the return of many beloved legendary Pokemon, including Ho-Oh and Lugia, Latias and Latios, with even Groudon and Kyogre making the cut. This can make it hard to pick the right experience, though their addition is quite welcome.
In addition to that, Team Rainbow Rocket, the new criminal organization lead by Giovanni, bring a lot to the table. While some of the charm is one last hurrah for Pokemon, it’s nice to see the world continue to adapt, grow and evolve, not unlike the thrill of seeing what previous protagonists are up to. But, sadly, this is limited to post game, meaning you need to re-experience everything to check it out.
In the end, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon is essentially a somewhat needed update with some extra content. If you go in expecting a new journey or a different adventure you’ll likely leave disappointed, but that doesn’t stop it from being worthwhile. If you can bring yourself to redo the story, the post game content is something fans will enjoy, especially with previous antagonists trying yet again to succeed. Sure it can be rough at times and some of the practices, such as the two versions, is a little dated, it’s still a solid adventure for returning fans and a must for 3DS owners who didn’t play the originals.
[Editor’s Note: Pokemon Ultra Moon was reviewed on 3DS platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]