A new year and a new Pokémon game has arrived asking us us to catch em all… again. Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are the revamped versions of last year’s Pokémon Sun & Moon and they’re here to bring us back to Alola, reminding us why we loved this island Pokémon paradise so much the first time.
Normally for a revamp of a Pokémon title we are waiting at least a couple of years. But in the case of Pokémon Sun and Moon I have to admit, playing the same game basically a year later feels a little out of place. To be honest I’m still happily working my way through Pokémon Moon collecting things I’ve missed and finishing off those last few gaps in my Pokédex. So for me to be playing Pokémon Ultra Sun right now, it kind of feels like I’m going to be starting the same game all over again. But with open eyes I pushed on.
In case you’ve been living under a Boldore for the last year and didn’t pick up the previous titles Pokémon Sun or Moon then here’s the low down. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon is very much like its predecessor in that it’s a new generation of Pokémon game. Gone are the gym battles with trainers for badges and fame, instead you make your way across the islands of Alola fighting in a series of trials to obtain Z Crystals to unleash the power of your Pokémon’s Z moves, a new and powerful moveset.
But it’s not all a battle to be won here in this new revamped region . Thanks to the addition of the new content found in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon, there’s now a variety of additional tasks, Pokémon and added storyline to be enjoyed that weren’t previously available in last year’s game. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here…
Like all good Pokémon adventure you must start at the beginning, now that you know the basics (again) let’s move on. When it came time to choose my Pokémon pal this time I changed things up. Always a fan of grass types I originally choose Rowlet as my starter in Pokémon Moon, however in Pokémon Ultra Sun I opted to choose Litten and naturally I named him Dex-Starr!
Starting out on our Alola adventure it wasn’t long before I was given my revamped Rotom Pokédex. Although Rotom functions much like before your new and improved Rotom Pokédex now has a few bonus features. You will now get Roto Loto which is available after you reach the Route 2 Pokémon Center. Essentially its a lotto spin where you play at random intervals (every 20 minutes or so) to receive various different Roto prizes. After we picked up our swanky new Rotom Pokédex, it wasn’t long before Dex-Starr and I were quickly making short work of our first trial and were soon leaving Melemele Island, only this time around we didn’t leave via boat!
“I was starting to feel a bit like John McClane at Christmas, adventuring down that all too familiar road…”
After playing for quite some time I was dissapointed by lack of new content. I mean sure there were some small variations in the main story, a few new and welcomed additions like the upgraded Rotom Pokédex but for the most part it all felt rather repetitive. To be honest, I was starting to feel a bit like John McClane at Christmas, adventuring down that all too familiar road. Pick your Pokémon, travel Alola, protect Nebby, help Lillie and defeat the big bad. That was right up until it finally stopped being familiar. But was it all too late in the game for poor Dex-Starr and me?
Although having said that I did appreciate the highly showcased Mantine surfing. It’s one of the new big additions to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon and I have to say actually one of my highlights. Reminiscent of the surfing Pikachu minigame of Pokémon Yellow it brings back many fond memories and is a welcome new addition to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon.
Whilst unfortunately the bulk of the difference to storyline is end game and the real show stopper content can be found there, Dex-Starr and my capable team of Pokémon still managed to enjoy enough of the game to keep going through its repetitiveness. And its not all doom and gloom getting to that end game content either, another moment of great joy for me came when I stumbled across Pikachu Valley. Yes you heard me correctly, it’s the valley of the Pikachus!
This is exactly what you’d expect it to be and as lovingly creepy as you’d expect it to be as well. The entire valley is filled with adorable Pikachu all who want nothing more than your undivided attention. Despite being a great place to visit whilst on your Alola adventure there is also some goodies to be found here. A special event Pikachu wearing Ash’s movie hat can be obtained by scanning the QR code provided below and you can collect your adorable new teammate from a delivery person who will be waiting for you beside the Pika caravan. Apart from being adorable, your new Pikachu is also particularly powerful thanks to his special Z power move, however you’ll need to obtain his PIKACHUM20 Z Crystal from a Pikachu who is standing next to a woman by the river.
Speaking of that woman, you should also take the time to talk to her and answer the Pikachu quiz, by doing so you’ll obtain special Pikachu items to deck out your Pokémon trainer.
One of the other new additions is the “Ultra Recon Squad”. A group of aliens who will follow you around and aid to speed up the plot of the previous Sun and Moon titles by introducing you to some of the darker twists the game takes a little earlier. Then there’s also the introduction of a familiar face in Giovanni, the enigmatic face of Team Rocket, who is leading “Team Rainbow Rocket” here in Alola and has quite the formidable team of underlings.
Finally I need to touch on the new “Photo Club” feature which honestly is a brilliant addition and one I’ve spent way too many hours on. Offering you the ability to pose with your Pokémon and then decorate it with frames and stickers all aiding to your Pokémon bond and friendship levels. Had this game been on the Nintendo Switch I’d be sharing my pictures like some selfie obsessed teenager right now. Sadly taking a screenshot on my 3DS requires more effort than catching a legendary Pokémon.
Take charge of your destiny!
Like I said earlier, this is more of a remake than an upgrade. And it’s no lie that Nintendo and Game Freak have quite a history of releasing revamped versions of their already pre-established Pokémon games in the hopes that we as fans of the franchise will eagerly throw our Pokéballs at them.
In the end Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon honestly shines as a game, for first time players that is, not so much those returning to the Alola Region. And I think that’s what Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon was primarily designed for. For newcomers and dedicated fans more than the casual gamer. Either way I’m a dedicated enough fan to have enjoyed my time back in the Alola Region even with these minor issues and I’ll continue to attempt to be the very best, like no one ever was!