It’s been just a few days over a week since the release of Game Freak’s 3DS swan song, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. Pokémon Ultra Sun is good – if you’re wondering whether or not it sucks, I’m here to tell you what I’ve played of the game has been fun and I don’t see it beginning to tank anytime soon.
While I never bothered with either Pokémon Sun or Moon, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve experienced of Pokémon’s seventh generation and its Alola region. Having dawdled around the Alola region’s Melemele and Akala Islands, I have yet to see everything Alola has to offer, but I really want to see more of Alola.
Melemele Island, the first island available for exploration in Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, is jam-packed with Pokémon both old and new. The inhabitants of Melemele Island offer a number of sub-quests. There is an abundant variety of time-specific events scattered across the island for the player to find, and you can even take time out from your journey to pet friendly Pokémon you happen across.
The Alola region and its different inhabitants all look beautiful on 3DS hardware old enough to qualify for a senior discount. Really! This game looks great. I’ve read about players playing on either original 3DSs or 2DSs experiencing low graphical fidelity in places, but I’ve been playing with a New 3DS and haven’t seen any dips in the frame rate.
As far as improvements over previous iterations go, Pokémon Ultra Sun does well to try something new with the structure and story, but it isn’t enough. While the traditional gyms and Elite Four have been left by the wayside in favour of a new trial system, it all seems trite. Although I’ve only participated in one trial I feel so far the trial system works and at other times it just seems like an ill fit for the Pokémon series.
Pokémon’s seventh generation places a lot of emphasis on story and character relationships, but the characters often fall short. The trial captains and kahunas I’ve run into are interesting characters but they haven’t been compelling, and the rival is far too friendly to inspire any rivalry. However, Gladion and Lillie are both compelling enough characters to make me wonder where the story goes. While it’s clear Pokémon writers aren’t trying to write the next Shenmue, it would serve their more story-focused game well to include more dynamic characters than those present.
If you’ve already played Sun & Moon, I’ve heard there isn’t much different here outside of new features like wormhole travelling, mantine surfing, and a few new story beats. The postgame is said to be chock full of features new to Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, but I have yet to reach this. Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are more expansions than they are sequels to Sun and Moon.
The difficulty of Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon isn’t anything too challenging but it’s no pushover like X & Y. You’ll encounter trainers on routes not afraid to use full restores on their Pokémon, but most route trainers use only one.
Despite not offering much of anything new to the series, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are great Pokémon games. Gamers with a soft spot for the games will find plenty here to enjoy. If you’ve never played Pokémon before but you’ve always been curious, Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon are great entry points into the series.