Pokémon Ultra Sun And Moon Review: New Features Make Up For Muddled Story

8
  • 3DS
  • RPG
2017-11-17
pokemon ultra sun moon necrozma
Necrozma will play a huge role in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Nintendo/Game Freak

I always get excited whenever a new main Pokémon game is released, but admittedly the Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon reveal didn’t give me the same joy as previous games.

That changed as more information and footage was released, and the “alternate” take on your journey to Alola intrigued me so I was happy to jump back into my Island Trials again. But ultimately there is a distinct lack of intrigue and newness from Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

Granted, these were always meant to be the “enhanced” versions of Sun and Moon. So  a lot of the features and story would be the same, but the way they teased the differences and the implementation of the new Ultra Beasts really had me wanting more.

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are games that Pokémon fans should pick up, and will likely enjoy, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn casual fans another trip through Alola may be a bit much.

STORY

The story of these games are VERY similar to Sun and Moon in that your trainer just moved to the Alola Region and learn about the culture as you go on your island challenge.

You catch Pokémon and battle trainers on your way to becoming the Alola Pokémon League Champion. There are minor changes to things like the Totem Pokémon or the Pokémon you encounter, but the biggest change is how the  story revolves around Necrozma, the almost forgotten Legendary Pokémon of Sun and Moon.

While it’s great to get more lore about this Pokémon, the way Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon handles it is a very slow burn. It’s teased early with the introduction of Ultra Recon Squad, who appear here and there with to give information on how Necrozma and Cosmog fit into the story.

Guzzlord-threatening-to-eat-Nanu pokemon ultra sun moon
Guzzlord and the Ultra Beasts threaten Alola Photo: The Pokemon Company

But you don’t get a payoff until almost the very end of your Island Challenge when you go to stop Lusamine at Aether Paradise. This is where the story really diverges from the original but even then, your journey to Ultra Necropolis and battle with Necrozma are short and unsatisfying.

Ultra Sun And Moon makes big changes to characters and their motivations, too. . Lusamine’s are the most perplexing. She went from being someone who became obsessed with using the Ultra Beasts power to protect all Pokémon to wanting to take Necrozma’s power for herself? To save her husband? It’s not very clear.he fact that the Ultra Recon Squad, who are ultimately the good guys in this story, aligned themselves with her makes it all the more confusing.

This also sets back Lillie’s character. Lillie’s arc in Sun and Moon was beautiful. She gained the strength and confidence to not only stand up to her mother but to become her own person. In Ultra Sun and Moon, while she does gain more confidence as we go, there’s no payoff to any of this in the main story. She ultimately sympathizes with her mother and all the great dialogue between the two of them happens off-screen.

ultra necrozma pokemon ultra sun and moon
Necrozma's new form in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon. Photo: Pokemon Company

On the flip-side, Hau is a more compelling character. He struggles with ot becoming as strong as your character, and it really shows. Gladion and Guzma are given a more favorable light but ultimately get minor changes that could have been used in Sun and Moon.

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon touts an “alternate” story of Alola, but the games fail to execute on keeping things the same and changing them just enough to make it feel fresh.

NEW FEATURES

While the story of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is somewhat of a mess, the new features are the saving grace.

Welcome additions like the Move Tutor, Rotom Dex upgrades, Battle Agency and new areas to explore really help Ultra Sun and Moon feel like new experiences. The new Pokémon added to the Alola Dex made it fun to construct a team I didn’t use in my first journey through Alola.

Having more interaction between Rotom and the trainer is a nice touch, and the Roto Loto can really help trainers on the journey. They’ll need it. The difficulty level of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is really high, even higher than Sun and Moon.

mantine surf2 pokemon ultra sun and moon
Mantine Surf is a brand new Ride Pokemon for Ultra Sun and Moon Photo: GameFreak

The AI is much smarter, and implements strategies not present in the first games. You’ll really be digging into your bag on your journey this time around. Minigames like the Mantine Surf and the Ultra Wormhole transport offer a nice way to interact with the region and the Pokémon.

The postgame of Ultra Sun and Moon is top notch. Team Rainbow Rocket adds a longer, better story than in Sun and Moon’s postgame. We really get to see Guzma and Lillie transform into fully fledged characters, and it’s great. I wish the main story had more moments like those.

Also, for trainers like me who want to breed and train new Pokémon long after the story is done Ultra Sun and Moon makes it simpler with Move Tutors and Rotom Items that make it easier to breed. Shiny Hunters will also get a kick out of this game, as the Ultra Wormhole yields a ton of shiny Pokémon and Legendary Pokémon.

The new Ultra Beasts are welcome additions to the overall Pokémon franchise but the lack of new Alola forms is a bit disappointing. I know these enhanced versions don’t typically give new Pokémon but bringing in new UBs but not Alola forms seems a bit shortsighted.

VERDICT

GameFreak brought in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon to tell a new story in the Alola Region. The lore behind Necrozma and the Ultra Beasts is a fun ride but fails in that it’s not fully committed to changing the narrative. While there are minor changes to the story (and it is fun to look for them) it becomes a slog.They are too minor to make an impact until the end of your journey.

I enjoyed my Ultra Sun and Moon journey, but if you’re not a hardcore Pokémon player you may not want to go through another playthrough.

New features like Move Tutors, and the implementation of side quests and minigames helps flesh out Alola, which is still gorgeous.. There’s a great postgame with Team Rainbow Rocket,and the difficulty level will give even veteran players a challenge.Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon don’t go all-in on the “alternate” story of Alola the way they probably should have, but it’s still an enjoyable game for most Pokémon fans.  

REVIEW SUMMARY
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
8
Pokémon Ultra Sun & Moon Review: New Features Make Up For Muddled Story
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon's new features and additions ultimately make this a worthy game for Pokémon fans despite the story's pitfalls.
  • Difficulty is challenging
  • Post game is great
  • New features and additions are welcome
  • Story is muddled
  • Not enough changes
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