Sun and Moon vs. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
You’ll notice that almost everything from Pokémon Sun and Moon are here — almost all the Pokémon you could catch in Sun are available in Ultra Sun, as with Moon to Ultra Moon. A large chunk of the story is largely similar, and the general aesthetic, the locations you visit, the soundtrack will immediately feel familiar and the people you meet in the story are almost all there, too. If you preferred sequels like Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2, however, you’ll find yourself disappointed.
A lot of the criticisms levied against Sun and Moon are still applicable to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Festival Plaza returns, and remains as the primary way to communicate with other players. It continues, however, to place a lot of useful features behind a poorly-conceived system of progression. At the very least, the Festival Coins you can earn have increased to make it easier to level up the plaza or buy things, but this small upgrade doesn’t fix the plaza’s reliance on unpredictable mechanics such as which shop you can obtain when the plaza levels up, or what shop you can get when you ask someone. If you were a fan of the convenience and accessibility of the Player Search System in the sixth-generation games, little has been done to the game’s communication features to make it functionally equivalent.
The Battle Tree is back, and it’s supplemented with the Battle Agency, but if you wanted other battle facilities in which you could embark on a symbol-collecting quest like the Battle Frontier, that void won’t be filled here. The Battle Tree’s rule on special Pokémon has been relaxed, so you can now test your mettle with your own well-bred legendary Pokémon. If you don’t consider the Battle Tree to be worth the slog even still, Mantine Surf remains the quickest way to amass Battle Points.
Hyper Training still requires your Pokémon to be Level 100, and training your Pokémon to get them to that level is a bit less of a slog — Lucky Eggs can be found on wild Blissey, who also yield heaps of experience points as always. Couple it with the Rotom Pokédex’s Roto Exp. Points power and you’ll be able to reap the additional experience points from that.
The game also features a few simple improvements that enhance the experience for everyone. We’ve mentioned that some Pokémon can be evolved earlier as the areas required to evolve them have changed.
- Many of the refinements from Sun and Moon, plus several more, give these games a more complete experience.
- Several changes to the games, including small sidequests, give players some extra things to do.
- Mantine Surf and Ultra Warp Ride are enjoyable ways to get Battle Points or find rare Pokémon, respectively.
- It’s really cute being able to interact with some Pokémon in the field.
- Battle Agency fills part of the void for not having a Battle Frontier.
- The game effectively has two Victory Roads now, both tolerable due to Ride Pokémon.
- Multiplayer content is still locked to Festival Plaza.
- The Rotom Pokédex can become as inquisitive and overbearing as Clippy.
- A lot of the cool new content comes only after slogging through a similar early-game to Sun and Moon.
- The 3DS shows its age with these titles, especially the original-generation 3DS models.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon are very similar to their source games — these games boast additional improvements but nothing significantly differentiating them from Sun and Moon. They do offer something for everyone, though — whether Game Freak has gone far enough or not may be subjective. For competitive players, the new moves available may open up more possibilities. For those seeking story, it’s not all-new, but there are some significant changes to it, but they’re halfway through the adventure. For those who like collecting Pokémon, these games provide opportunities for catching ’em all, and offer a few new Pokémon too. For the biggest fans of Pokémon, there’s little reason to add these games to your collection. But if you aren’t a fan of the changes Sun and Moon brought to the series, there’s little these games would do to tide you over.
These games are also the last of the series for the Nintendo 3DS — and being one of the “third games” might mean they don’t have the same wow factor as Sun and Moon had. With the next series of Pokémon games coming to the Nintendo Switch, players might be looking forward to what these games, running on a superior platform with its better hardware, could bring to the table. Since that’s still a while away, though, if you’re still looking for great Pokémon games to play in the meantime, don’t skip these games, as they have plenty of things to offer.
A big thanks to Nintendo Australia for providing Pokémon Ultra Sun for review.
Edited by BadSheep and bobandbill.