Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon Review

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Pokémon is back on the Nintendo 3DS with Ultra versions of the last two games. Find out what we thought in our Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon Review!

Release Date November 17, 2017
Genre RPG
Platforms 3DS
Developer Game Freak
Price $39.99 US
ESRB Rating Everyone
Players 1 Player

 

The Pokémon series has been around for a long time and each generation of games seem to improve on the successful formula started over 20 years ago. It’s amazing to see how this franchise has changed over that time and continued to stay relevant. That trend continues with Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. These two games may not be monumental leaps forward, but they definitely do enough to keep hardcore Pokémon fans interested in the series.

What I really love when I booted up Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is how nice and concise the user interface is. Everything is easy to access and you’re never wondering how to get to a certain item or going through a bunch of screens to save. It’s all right there in front of you. I even acquired my started Pokémon fairly quickly and started exploring Melemele Island shortly after. Then, there were the dreaded tutorials.

Now, tutorials are part of most games, but if you’ve been playing Pokémon for years, they aren’t really necessary. There’s no way to tell the game that you already know the basics and it is a bit tedious to go through those tutorials yet again at the beginning of the game. With that being said, there are a lot of new things to learn in Ultra Sun and Moon like surfing on a Mantine and the new Battle Agency at the Festival Plaza. What I appreciated was how concise these tutorials are. They don’t go on forever, but they do give you plenty of information on how to perform every task. I think that’s what has contributed to this series’ longevity, it’s easily accessible to those young and old.

Doing tricks and surfing with a Mantine was a good diversion from the actual game. It allows you to earn BP, or Beach Points, which are interchangeable with Battle Points. These points can be traded in for rare items and helpful items. The great thing about Beach Points is that you can earn around 10 per each 5-minute instance of Mantine Surf versus 1 Battle Point for each battle won.

Those first couple gameplay additions are great, but there’s another one that’s even better. You can explore different pocket dimensions through Ultra Wormholes. This requires you to ride a Legendary Pokémon through space to search out these Ultra Wormholes. You can find new Pokémon like Quagsire or even ultra-rare Legendary Pokémon. I loved being able to do this and it was always a surprise to see what kind of Pokémon popped up while exploring. I never expected to see something like this when I first played Pokémon Red version all those years ago.

The story in Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon is a similar story to Sun & Moon. There aren’t many distinctive qualities for the Ultra versions other than a few appearances from the Ultra Recon Squad who come from a completely different dimension. This changes later in the game, but it takes a long time to get to that point. The good thing is, once you reach that turning point, the similarities of the first part of the game feel worth it. The game also becomes a great deal more challenging at this point with a powerful new boss which is a great thing because these games have been fairly easy to complete for years. 

There are more than 100 new Pokémon available in the Alola Region and this larger variety enhanced the gameplay for me even though the story was similar for the most part. None of the new Pokémon are available until just before the Elite Four, but there are reasons for that that I won’t spoil here. The version exclusives are the same as in the original games so exclusive Pokémon from Sun are still only available in Ultra Sun and vice versa. You can even start leveling up some Pokémon in Sun and Moon in preparation for the Ultra versions because you can trade directly from those original games. It’s a nice touch and gives you a leg up if you played those versions and have some good Pokémon to trade.

The end of the game allows you to capture Ultra Beast Pokémon and Legendary Pokémon. There’s a generous amount of content to explore post-credits and I really feel like this is a game that will keep you busy for weeks on end or more depending on how much you want to get out of it. The whole game world is full of life with NPCs having their own little stories and you being able to interact with random Pokémon in different ways like playing Peek-A-Boo for instance. You’re never forced to talk to anyone of these characters of Pokémon, but it’s always interesting to see what you find out and learn when you do.

If this was the final Pokémon game on 3DS (and I think it may well be), the series went out on the system on a good note. I originally didn’t see why Ultra versions of Sun and Moon were necessary, but there were enough additions to warrant a purchase in my eyes. These are the definitive Pokémon games on the 3DS and I’d recommend them to any fans of the series. I’ll be playing these games for a long time after this review.

*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Nintendo for review purposes*