Console(s): Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon generated a very mixed reaction. Unlike previous sequel games, these games got massive coverage online- magazine coverage, numerous articles, official trailers and small reveals, and it even got data-mined and leaked before release. It was the topic of every Pokemon forum and page. Some people were massively hyped and the rest were hating on the games because they were not getting a Sinnoh remake.
I myself was skeptical. The original Sun/Moon games were not all that impressive to me. The entire game seemed like a chore before things started getting good at the end. I personally felt the original games waited way too long to introduce any real plot…and I did not see where a real sequel could be made out of Alola.
Even the new features were lack-luster until they started releasing things appealing to long-time fans such as Rainbow Rocket. But, I have finally beaten the game after several hours/ post-game and all. And I am now here to give an honest opinion of what I thought of US/UM.
- A New Story Set in an Alternate Timeline:
—Pokemon US/UM is not so much a sequel as it is an alternate timeline of events. Much like the multi-verse theory was introduced in ORAS’ Episode Delta, this is an Alola where the story is very similar but with a twist. Turns out that in this Alola, a dangerous creature is coming for the light of the Z-Crystals. An imprisoned Pokemon referred to as “The Blinding One” will soon break free and seek the light that it once lost. It has been corrupted.
Unbeknownst to you and your friends, you will be drawn into the timeline of events- you will become to Chosen One to stop Necrozma from stealing Alola’s Light.
- Changes from the original game:
—At first glance, it might seem that the only changes to the original games are in the visuals. But as you go further into the game, there are an abundance of differences to be enjoyed. The way you get your first Pokemon is different, saving Nebby is different. Yes, visuals are a lot more detailed and therefore slightly different as well.
The story is a lot deeper now and is fed to you a lot sooner. There is a sense of a bigger and more sinister plot leading you into eventually saving the world from “The Blinding One”. The story felt a lot more urgent as you go along, battling the Ultra Recon Squad and wondering if they are friend or foe. There was also changes into how the events at the Aether Foundation played out.
But one of the bigger differences (outside of all the new mechanics) was the new character development. Characters that showed little-to-no personal growth throughout your journey now evolve. You see their personal progression from start-to-finish making the whole thing seem more realistic. It gives us a view into their world making some characters more lovable than in the previous games. This new story also explains more of Alola’s past and where Z-crystals came from. Even your trials are slightly different with some new Totem Pokemon to make it all the more interesting to play through. Strange as it may seem, despite it still being on the same map, this game was able to offer a unique experience from the previous versions.
I will admit that there are a lot of scenes that were recycled for this game…but those can be easily overlooked.
- The New Mechanics:
—Pokemon US/UM added in a bunch of new things for players to enjoy. Some of these features were just small features that did not really affect anything in-game (such as the random Pokemon scattered about that you could play peek-a-boo with), but some actually added a new level of depth to the games.
Mantine surfing was one of the bigger differences and it added a fun new challenge to Alola while moving between Islands. Even the Roto Loto added a new mechanic to the gameplay similar to O-powers in Pokemon X/Y.
But I think people were most interested in Pikachu Valley. This was one feature I was looking forward to and it was one of the things I was actually most disappointed in. Is it adorable? Yes…it is actually super cute. But as for the purpose? There really is none. You get some Pikachu clothing, you can get a Pikashunium-Z here (under the right circumstances), and you can play Peek-a-boo. Also there is a spot for the Z-Finder…but that really is it. So, if you were expecting more, then, I am sorry to disappoint you.
I think one of the bigger features though was the change of collectibles. No longer are we running around trying to collect Zygarde’s cells, but now we are picking up Totem Stickers posted all over the world. And you know what? This actually makes more sense!!!! From the first island, we see one of the Captains posting up these Totem Stickers, and, he explains that trial goers collect them as sort of a tradition. We then find these stickers scattered all over the place as we complete our Island Challenge, and, after collecting so many of these things, we are gifted a Totem Pokemon from Samson Oak.
There are multiple Totem Pokemon to be collected, and they are version exclusive. I think there was a miscommunication when it came to the debut of this feature because, the way the trailer made it sound…if you collect enough stickers you could select one of your own Pokemon to become a Totem Pokemon…but this proved to be false. We are given special Totem Pokemon instead…but some of them are still pretty cool.
My favorite new feature however is the new Alola PhotoClub! But I go into that down below. There are also changes in the Festival Plaza! You can now change the theme of your plaza after a certain rank is achieved (same with the plaza name). Also, the new Battle Agency is located in the festival plaza where you rent out powerful Pokemon to fight against friends. This is not a feature I was very interested in, but for some people it might be something extra and fun to try.
- Roto Loto!
—You can now make friends with the Rotom inside your Pokedex! Now it does so much more than show you the map and occasionally give witty commentary! But in all seriousness, the Roto-Loto is something bringing back O-powers from X/Y. Being friends with Rotom means that every once in awhile you can spin the wheel for some pretty amazing power-ups that can help you on your adventure.
Some of these power-ups include: hatching power, catch increase, encounter increase, power boosts, HP and PP restores, and even prize money.
My friend personally liked the “bargain” power so that things in the shops cost less. Also, when you are friends with Rotom and you have already used your Z-power, sometimes Rotom will restore it so you can use it a 2nd time in battle! This really saved my butt a time or two.
The only downside is that sometimes Rotom will use a random power in the weirdest places where they are basically useless. Also, Rotom talks a lot more now which often got in the way of my map. It is something that can be overlooked but, it can also get annoying. Think of Rotom as being right on the tail of being the new Navi. He likes to suggest healing your Pokemon and even saving right after you just saved your game. But other than that, the return of O-powers in the form of Roto Loto was a really nice addition to the games.
- Mantine Surfing:
—Mantine Surfing was one of the most advertised of the newest features to grace Alola…and it was actually really amazing! It’s a fun new way to travel between the islands if you choose to do so. Each island has its own beach where you surf to try and get the high score. You can do tricks to earn more points and bonuses if you can stick the landing!
You surf up and down the waves while avoiding Tentacool, Rocks, Wailmer, Wailord, and even charging Sharpedos! You can gain more speed to jump even higher for even bigger combos! And, if you beat the high score on every island, you get your very own surfing Pikachu! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!! A SURFING PIKACHU!
So it’s not only a nice throwback to the Anime, but a nice throwback to Yellow Version as well. I think it’s fun for those that wanna do more than just take the ferry between islands (or fly), and it offers a nice incentive while being something challenging and new. Not to mention surfing earns you BP (beach points) which you can use to learn new Pokemon moves, and/or buy really good items like stat boosting items or even Rare Candy!
- Alola Photo Club!
—This was one of the new features that I immediately became addicted to: The Alola Photo Club! It’s something extra that does not change the game in any way, but it allows you to take cute or cool pictures with your Pokemon and then decorate them with stickers. You can take commemorative photos for completing trials, grand trials, becoming the Pokemon League Champion, your Pokemon leveling up, or even them evolving!
You get to pick your pose, and your Pokemon can sort of pose as well (you can switch between their battle animations and their Pokemon refresh animations). I personally did a picture every time a party member evolved and when I completed a grand trial. I did not get everyone, but that’s okay.
The photos are saved to your SD card and can then be shared on social media. Also, if you make your photos public, people can view them via the Festival Plaza. While I did think it was lacking a little in customization, I have seen people do amazing things with their photos. New frames and stickers are unlocked by completing certain tasks in the game. It was something extra but I adored it. I love using it to show how far myself and my Pokemon had come during the game.
- Traveling through Ultra Space:
—Another feature that had people super excited was getting to ride into Ultra Space. Riding on the back of a Legendary Pokemon was nothing new. This was a mechanic first brought about in ORAS, but they have perfected it in US/UM. While riding on the back of Solgaleo or Lunala, you can fly through orbs to pick up speed while dodging obstacles…all the while picking carefully which wormhole you wish to enter.
White ones take you into the lair of an Ultra Beast…and the more a wormhole is glowing, the more of a chance you have to run into a Legendary Pokemon! These are Legendaries from all previous games! Even as I write this, I have found Mewtwo and Regice…while my friend has found Raikou, Moltres, and Reshiram.
There is even a specific method to shiny farming in Ultra Space! Granted, I myself am not sure what that method is…but plenty of people have been finding shiny pokemon in Ultra Space and sharing them online. There is even a specific wormhole which gives a 7% chance to a shiny spawning. So, if you love hunting shiny pokemon, then this feature is for you. Like Mantine Surfing, this feature is just something extra. It is only used for the storyline one time, and after that it is just used for the sake of getting rare Pokemon and more Ultra Beasts. But, it is something that was well received and was actually a lot of fun.
- The End!
—The story in US/UM is a lot different with the World being in danger not because of Ultra Beasts, but because of a singular entity known as “The Blinding One”. Necrozma was once a being that spread its light all across Ultra Space. But, the people from UltraMegapolis tried to control this Pokemon and its light. Necrozma went insane, and shrouded their world in darkness. In fear of this rampaging Pokemon, they tried binding it in a tower…but soon, it will break free.
In an effort to save Alola from a similar fate, the Ultra Recon Squad is working with the Aether Foundation to develop the technology to stop Necrozma. That is where the story starts to melt over from the original games. The difference is that this time, Nebby is being used to open a wormhole so that Lusamine and Guzma can stop Necrozma…not because Lusamine just wants to control the Ultra Beasts for her own weird desires. Still, she was not strong enough to stop Necrozma…and at the altar of the Moone, herself and Guzma get spat out of an Ultra Wormhole, wounded and scared. That is when Necrozma appears, swallows up the Legendary Pokemon, and the real battle begins.
So, you fight Necrozma in stages: first in its Dusk form, and then in its Ultra Form when you chase it through Ultra Space. After beating Necrozma, it releases the Legendary Pokemon and the light is restored to Alola. That is when you (the player) go to Mt.Lanikala to finish your Island Challenge, and you defeat the Elite 4 to become the first-ever Champion to Alola.
The ending was a lot more epic than in previous games. The boss battle with Necrozma was a lot more intense than fighting a possessed Lusamine. I did hate that they changed Lusamine’s character…as she was not as dark in this version. But, I suppose it was nice that we didn’t have to hate her entirely and she showed some character development…especially when it came to repairing the bond with her children. There was a real sense of accomplishment with this ending which was something I could really appreciate (as it had been lacking in the previous game).
But the cutscenes afterwards were pretty normal and just recycled…but it was still a nice ending that paved the way nicely for post-game.
—Lemme just say that post-game was epic!!!! Once you defeat the Pokemon League, you wake up back in your house when Hau shows up. The Ultra Recon Squad needs your help capturing an Ultra Beast they have found lurking about. Seems almost like a throwback to the original game’s post-game with Looker and the International Police. So, you go and catch the Ultra Beast and come back home. That’s when Sophocles runs to your house, scared and out of breath. It seems the Festival Plaza has been overrun…and when you log in, you find that the castle has been changed into a looming structure with the Rainbow Rocket Logo.
So you go and fight off Team Rainbow Rocket using the new Battle Agency. They get kicked from Festival Plaza and everything is back to normal. Right?
Wrong! Suddenly your attention is drawn towards the TV.
Lusamine is making a statement on behalf of the Aether Foundation about Necrozma and the events that unfolded. But, right as she says that there is no longer any danger, an ultra wormhole opens in the sky and her press conference is overrun by Team Rainbow Rocket goons. It’s not too much longer until Lilly is at your door telling you she is going to fight Team Rainbow Rocket as their Leader has taken her Mother hostage.
But I won’t go into too much detail. You basically travel to the Aether Foundation where it is obvious that Team Rainbow Rocket is in control. You fight your way to the mansion and then must complete 4 puzzles before you can access the secret room. It is here you encounter villains from every game that has ever existed. Team Magma, Team Aqua, Team Flare, Team Galactic, and even Team Plasma. All the Leaders here have come from a world where the villainy succeeded. And at the core of it all is Giovanni…the mastermind behind creating Team Rainbow Rocket.
So you battle through everyone and after beating Giovanni, the Aether Foundation goes back to normal and he goes back to his own world.
Unfortunately that’s where it ends. It seems to give the hint that there is more…but nothing else ever comes about. It had a very anti-climactic ending for all the trouble it took getting to the final boss, but it was still amazing. Some people were sad that the mission with Looker was not there…but instead they placed him and his boss in the Battle Tree for you to fight later.
But again, this was a major throwback with a lot of intense battles, puzzle solving, and amazing tone set by the new Team Rainbow Rocket mansion. It was an amazing tribute to 20 years of Pokemon and I don’t think they could have done a better job with it! It really made playing through the entire game worth it just to get to this point.
—I couldn’t really add these to “new mechanics” but there were a few little details that I thought should be mentioned as perks for these new games. While no new Pokemon have come to Alola (outside of some new Ultra Beasts), more Pokemon from older generations are now available in the game. This allows more variety when building your teams! Also, there is the new “Dusk Form Lycanroc” which can only evolve from a special Rockruff that you MUST get before January 2018.
There is also a new Z-move for Lycanroc which looks absolutely amazing! Also, for those that downloaded Gold/Silver to their 3DS or 2DS…there is a special Celebi available via Mystery Gift. So these were a few small extras added into the game.
There is one new Trial to be done in the game and there are slight differences in the trials themselves- so this is another extra thing to be looking out for.
It may come off as a shock, but I LOVED THESE GAMES! Sure, it still had a slow beginning to everything, but even with the small pieces of story being given to you, there was just something more appealing about it all. The new features even complimented the game rather than feeling like something they just shoved in there last-minute.
These were the games that Sun/Moon should have been the first time-around!!!! Even the post game had me baffled, in awe, and just loving the experience overall. Even traveling to get Legendaries and exploring new worlds was a lot more interesting than what I originally expected.
I loved all the throwbacks and little Easter Eggs left in the game…really showing how far Pokemon has come in the last 20 years. As mentioned in an earlier blog: this game is saying farewell to the 3DS era, and I think with all the throwbacks to Pokemon Gyms, Kanto in general, Team Rocket, and even the old music…they did a really amazing job at that.
Yes, there were parts in the story that were a bit lack-luster since they changed some things around…I will admit I kinda miss the more sinister and psychotic Lusamine; but even with that, the rest of the story makes up for what was taken away.
Do certain problems still exist in these games? Sure they do. Multi-battles still lag way too much and there is still way too much dialogue…but they shortened dialogue where it really mattered, they added in less multi-battles, and there were various other improvements as well. I feel like this game took hated characters and really gave them more development too. Even people like Hau (whom I despised) show a lot more serious growth in these games that almost made me feel like he was now worthy to be a ‘rival’ of sorts.
But tell me what YOU think! Did you buy the games? What are your thoughts on the changes? Do you like the original games or the new ones better? As always, feel free to leave me your thoughts and opinions in the comment-section down below.
Thank you all so much for reading! As always, I will see you all in the next blog! 😉