Reviewed on 3DS, copy supplied by publisher.
Prior to playing I was a bit confused as to what Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were and their relation to the original Sun and Moon. Was it a “third” game of the seventh generation of main Pokémon titles, like Yellow, Emerald, Platinum – which were enhanced versions of the main pair of games – or was it a direct sequel set on the same world map like Black 2 and White 2? Turns out these are enhanced versions of Sun and Moon, but Game Freak decided to release two games instead of one, because money.
I find the existence of these games very frustrating. I played Pokémon Moon last year, and I practically played that game again in Ultra Sun. Nearly all of the new content comes late in the game (about 20+ hours in), or post-game.
The main adventure is largely a New Game + of Sun/Moon. Once again, you’re a young trainer who moves into the Hawaii-inspired Alola region. Gym battles from the previous generations have been replaced with trials – where the player must complete a challenge before taking on a statistically enhanced totem pokémon. Once all trials across all four islands in the game have been completed, the Elite Four trainers must be challenged to become the Pokémon Champion.
While the player is doing the usual capturing of wild pokémon and battling other trainers to level up, a plot involving the mysterious pokémon nicknamed Nebby unfolds. It sees the player encountering criminal syndicate Team Skull, the Aether Foundation and other characters with different motives.
The new additions include characters such as the Ultra Recon Squad, odd balls from another dimension, and Team Rainbow Rocket, whose appearance takes the form of a post-game quest where villains from past games return.
Other changes include a much higher difficulty (Sun and Moon were way too easy, so this is welcome), updated trials, many more pokémon to catch, and a few new pokémon created for these games. There’s two new mini-games – one sees the player surfing on a Mantine – and another allows the player to capture rare and legendary pokémon from other dimensions by travelling through a wormhole.
For those who missed out on Pokémon Sun and Moon, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are a must-purchase, and even more so for the few gamers who haven’t played a Pokémon game. Those who did play Sun/Moon? Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are products out of time. It should have been DLC content, plain and simple. If another title was released this way, it would have been rightly criticised as a cash grab.
For example, the second part of the Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC recently came out, featuring post-game content, new features, new story elements and a hard mode, which is similar to what’s included in this new version of Sun and Moon, and it isn’t an entirely new game.
Players who want to experience the new stuff will have to pay for a full priced title and then essentially slog through the same game again just to get to it. It makes the usual frustrations of random encounters, long tutorials, slow starts and those opening battle animations much, much worse.