The Old Made New: A Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Review

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The Old Made New: A Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Review

Sean Commons, Writer and Pokemon Trainer

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Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures have been releasing Pokemon games on a regular basis for years now, starting with Pokemon Red, Green, and Blue and spanning across multiple generations of Nintendo’s handheld, portable consoles. Since 1996, Pokemon has become a very solid and recognizable franchise that many, young and old, have either grown-up with or still play. Pokemon is a series that spans multiple different regions with over 800 creatures to capture, train, battle, trade, and collect. This puts forth a large variety of options for what a player can spend their time doing or in finding things that match their aesthetics, personality, and other styles. Though the gameplay has remained largely the same with every installment, the additions of the new regions and Pokemon with every installment keep the series fresh, often accompanied by new mechanics. Sometimes however, the series releases a remake of previous installments in its near yearly release slot, or more commonly, a third version of the current generation of Pokemon games. This can be seen with Pokemon Crystal, Pokemon Emerald, and Pokemon Platinum, Minor changes to their respective dual generation releases occurred by combining aspects, such as normally version exclusive pokemon, as well as new additions of their own. Recently however, The Pokemon Company, the joint company between Pokemon’s three owner companies, has edged away from this third version practice. With generations after the Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum generation, the franchise has experimented with different types of follow-ups. With Pokemon Black and Pokemon White, direct sequels were made to continue with the story rather than to provide a player an almost identical experience, while Pokemon X and Pokemon Y had no direct follow-up at all. This caused confusion amongst fans as to what the franchise’s plan was, as it seemed very linear and predictable in the past years. This question was even more prominent after the release of Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon last year, which was followed with an extremely large amount of silence as to what games were coming next. Whether the series was truly ending, or if the player base was being punished for early hacking and leaking of the game via the Nintendo eShop, no one was certain, but it proved to make many fans nervous for the games future. With time however, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon were announced, which, coupled with the extreme lack of information until right around the game’s launch, left fans in a speculative confusion. Were these games a sequel? Were they a new replacement to third versions? If so, why are there two versions? Ultimately, most were left thinking the games as sequels, just as they did with Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2, as little information was available to determine much change other than a steady flow of new additions. With the game now released, many may be very mixed on how they feel about the final product.

The single most important thing to note about these games is that they are not sequels. They function much more like third version games, but split to have their own version exclusives. This means that for a large portion of the game, the story remains largely the same, until around the end where there are new twists, turns, and post-story content are added along with new characters, new settings and places to explore, and, for the first time in a follow-up game in the same generation, new Pokemon in the form of the dreaded Ultra Beasts, which are mysterious beings from an unknown realm that serve as a large plot point in both these and the previous games. In these games, however, a new, even larger threat arises in Necrozma, an ancient beast that wishes to escape its realm and steal the light of the Alola region’s legendary Pokemon.  Without spoiling too much, this provides an interesting alternative story that doesn’t require knowing the previous story to try something new, with even a few surprises for long time fans or nostalgic players present in the post game. Other differences from the previous titles include the addition and alteration of trials, the main challenge of progression for both game duos, the addition of totem stickers to get Pokemon like the ones used as bosses, a surfing mechanic on a Mantine for gaining high scores like an arcade game, and the addition of even more older generation Pokemon, both normal and legendary for those willing to try and find where their secret areas are. New battle methods also exist with the inclusion of the battle agency, which allows the player to rent a Pokemon and competitively battle with it to their heart’s content. Overall, while Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon serve better as secondary versions of the original Sun and Moon, they provide a lot of new content that new and old players can enjoy.

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