Last year, we got Pokemon Sun and Moon, which was Game Freak's first major attempt to shake up the formula on a series that was getting stale. Whether or not the changes that Sun and Moon made were successful depends on who you talk to, but for better or worse Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon pushes these changes further. While this makes Generation VII's 'third versions' the definitive way to venture into Alola, but is it worth revisiting the region if you've already completed the Island Challenge?
First off, the Ultra games are not sequels to Sun and Moon—the story of Ultra Sun and Moon are 'alternate' versions of the one told in the original. Players still meet many of the same characters and complete the Island Challenge, collecting Z-Crystals along the way. What Ultra Moon (the version I played through first) does is expand on the plotline from the original games involving Ultra Beasts and alternate dimensions. You'll meet new characters and learn more the Ultra Wormholes throughout the course of the game, so these updates aren’t relegated to the end-game, either.
Simply put, aside from the condensed opening and a few other shorted scenes, there is just more to Ultra Moon, plot-wise. For those that got frustrated with the number of story scenes in Sun and Moon are not going to enjoy the plot additions to the Ultra titles, because it's ultimately going to amount to the player having to stop and read text boxes more often. Scenes still aren't quickly skippable, so gameplay focused Pokemon Masters have been warned. Personally, as someone who enjoyed the focus on plot in Sun and Moon, the additions to Ultra Sun and Moon are welcome, as it helps to flesh out the Alola region.
Gameplay wise, Ultra Moon is largely the same from its predecessor. Quality of life updates like the game telling you type match-ups and more are still there, though unlike most Pokemon third versions, there's not much more in gameplay or UI improvements this time around. Aside from the new Mantine Surf and the collectible Totem Stickers (that you redeem for giant Totem Pokemon), all of the updates to the Ultra games are plot and content related.
There is a bunch of new post-game content in Ultra Moon as well, with the introduction of Ultra Wormholes to jump through. While Sun and Moon's post-game was not as sparse as X and Y's offerings, it was still easy to work through it all quickly. Now, with the Ultra Wormholes, players will have more to do and plenty of older Legendaries to catch, as well as a nice shot of nostalgia for series fans.
One thing to mention about Ultra Sun & Moon, in particular, is the difficulty. Pokemon games are typically skew on the easy side, barring exceptions like the convoluted method of upping the difficulty of Black 2 and White 2. Originally I thought it was because of an old team makeup, but I ran into some tough battles throughout the course of Ultra Moon, and there's an importance on really understanding type match-ups and physical attacks versus special attacks. I still wouldn't say that Ultra Moon is a difficult game—almost all Trainer battles are missing full teams, and Z-Powers can still decimate—but it's nice to not completely steamroll through the game.
There's no doubt about it: Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the definitive Generation VII Pokemon experience. But if you've already become Alola's first Champion, it may be a little hard to justify the purchase of an Ultra game, depending on your priorities. If you thought the plot of Sun and Moon got in the way of the rest of the game, you're likely not going to enjoy all the added scenes in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. For everyone else though, the fleshed out plot, new content, and more will be enough to justify this purchase. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are the perfect swan songs for the Pokemon series on the 3DS.
Versions tested: Nintendo 3DS
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.