Since the inception of the Pokémon series, the initial releases of the mainline games have been followed up by an improved and deluxe variant. Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are no different and these new Ultra incarnations build on those games in almost every way.
From a narrative standpoint, these new Ultra games don’t really deviate much from the original Sun and Moon story, at least not initially. You are still the young protagonist starting a new life in Alola and coming across Nebby as well as the various Ultra Beasts but the end-game is different and bigger now.
For the Pokémon uninitiated, the premise of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon is much like the previous games and has you arrive in Alola, get assigned your own pet Pokémon and then proceed to battle with it across the variety of islands in the region.
The more your Pokémon fights, the stronger it gets. You can also capture other Pokémon you encounter and build up a deck of feisty creatures that can help you to become the best Pokémon trainer in Alola. Pokémon also evolve into different forms the more their level increases.
Like with Sun and Moon, I went with Litten again as my starting Pokémon and for the most part, the new Ultra versions start off in the same way. Admittedly there are lots of little modifications along the way, from the changing of a Wii U to a Switch in your bedroom and the new Ultra Recon Squad, but broadly the Ultra games start off quite similarly.
That said, it’s clear that the Ultra versions have been tweaked and improved across the board and that is definitely welcomed. Such as how you get introduced to the starting Pokémon even earlier and the new areas added to familiar locations. So while the changes seem small on their own, they all add up to something substantial.
This is also not to say that the Ultra games don’t have any new content, as they really do. From the inclusion a new Mantine mini-game and a new Battle Agency online mode, not to mention the whole new end game, there is a lot of new stuff available in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon.
However, the biggest changes and additions happen more towards the end of the game, such as the ability to battle with loads of Legendary Pokémon and the inclusion of Team Rainbow Rocket, which is sort of like a nostalgic greatest hits of all the villains from previous games in the series.
Obviously, there are differences on the Legendary Pokémon you can encounter depending on the version you are playing, as well as other Pokémon too for that matter, but the sheer quantity of Pokémon to go up against and capture is a big step up.
The inevitable and somewhat misplaced criticism that can be leveled at these new Ultra games is that they are just a rehash of Sun and Moon. To be honest, even on the surface that appraisal is an inaccurate one. While Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon follow the same story as the previous games set in Alola, there is a lot more available here and on the whole the game is generally improved with it.
If anything, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon in part make the previous versions feel a bit redundant, as these games feel far more definitive when it comes to all they have to offer.
This does not undermine the fact that Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon were already great games, as they clearly still are, but if you missed out on those games then these new Ultra variants are definitely something you should consider playing instead.
Overall, it comes down to this; should you buy Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon if you already bought and played through Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. The answer is an emphatic yes. There is a lot of new content in these Ultra versions to warrant an all-new playthrough, not to mention the swathes of improvements and other changes to the games. Considering how good Sun and Moon were, these new Ultra versions improve upon those games noticeably.
Considering that these are the last major Pokémon games on the 3DS, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon have certainly embraced that fact with a palpable vigor. So even if you unlocked all there was from the Alola region in the previous games, these Ultra iterations have even more tucked away for you to discover.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: The Pokémon Company, Nintendo
Released: November 17th 2017
Price: $39.99 (each)
Disclosure: Nintendo sent me copies of both Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon for the purposes of this review.
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