Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon Review

In what is likely to be the final core title to exist on the DS family handhelds, Game Freak has wrapped up the DS Pokémon franchise in a way that only Game Freak could – making me wish that there was just a little bit more. I’m Nevaul M and this is my review for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

Just for some background, Pokémon USUM is an alternate story to last year’s Pokémon Sun and Moon. These reimagined stories are a staple in the Pokémon franchise as each core versions are followed by sequels that change the stories to revolve around the generation’s third legendary mascot (Pokémon Emerald and Platinum versions for instance). This installment revolves around Necrozma, the stealer of light and adds a handful of interesting features, so lets get into it.

The Story

Pokémon has never given us an amazing story and frankly, the story isn’t why any of us buy the games in the first place. That said, Pokémon USUM’s story is surprisingly good, relative to the rest of the franchise. It is the standard Pokémon story; a misguided individual seeks to take over the world only to have their plan thwarted by an 11 year old with some super-powered pets. Basic yes, but I actually enjoyed the story quite a bit. It deviates from the original Sun and Moon story at roughly its half way point and this was a very welcomed change, as Lusamine (head of the Aether Foundation) and Guzma (leader of Team Skull) were pretty boring villains in the original games. Game Freak fixed this issue beautifully by shifting the focus to the actual Pokémon involved in the game’s conflict. The story is essentially a carbon copy of Pokémon Emerald, which I’m not mad at because as far as I’m concerned, still to this day is the best story in the franchise and leagues better than what we got last year with Sun and Moon. In short, don’t expect anything new with the story, but in this case, that isn’t a bad thing.

The Gameplay

In a word, USUM’s gameplay can only be described as inconsistent. At some points I was having the most fun I’ve ever had playing the game, while at others I was having the least amount of fun I’ve ever had playing the game. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon confirm that taking out Gym Battles for Island Trials was a huge mistake. The Totem Pokémon Battles that players have to win are boring and quickly become old. The worst part about it is that the AI in these battles doesn’t look to have been tested as these battles pretty much always come down to the AI trying to stall you out instead of attacking (there is legitimately on Totem battle where the Pokémon just spammed protecting moves and refused to attack). I sincerely hope that this style of battle dies with the DS Pokémon games. If not for the other major battles that take place during the main story, this could have easily been the worst battling experience in recent memory.

Now with all of that said, let me mention the post-game, because that’s where Pokémon games really get fun. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have the BEST POST-GAME STORY IN ANY CORE POKEMON TITLE. Let me repeat that again. POKEMON ULTRA SUN AND ULTRA MOON HAVE THE BEST POST-GAME IN ANY CORE POKEMON TITLE. Teased just a few days before the release of the game, the Team Rainbow Rocket post-game episode is simply amazing. Bringing back some familiar faces, players engage in a handful of intense battles that could each serve as final battles in their own games. With each battle that went by, I thought to myself “they can’t top this”, and then boom, they did. This game’s post-game content is worth full price on its own and made up for the rather average main game content.

The Ultra Wormhole feature also adds a new dynamic in encountering the loads of legendary Pokémon available to catch and as a long time Pokémon player was great to see. Recently obtaining legendary Pokémon came down to entering an event code into your system and receiving a legendary Pokémon with little effort, but the Ultra Wormhole feature forces players to work for their legendary encounters. Not only does this add to the amount of time that you have to invest in the game, it also makes finding and capturing legendary Pokémon feel satisfying.

The Graphics

Since the move to 3D with Pokémon X and Y, the presentation of Pokémon games has been praised to nearly no end, and for good reason. USUM continue this trend as the games present us with a bunch of beautiful new environments showcasing a wide variety of vibrant colours which makes you want to never put you DS down. Much of the game’s UI has been updated into a flashier version of its previous self. That said there are still performance issues that should have been fixed. The most jarring being the horrendous frame dips during double battles. If more than 2 things are moving at a time the framerate takes a hit. And God forbid a Pokémon uses a move like hail, rain dance or sunny day, as that’ll turn your game into a slideshow. Given that double battles add to the gameplay experience it would have been great to make them run smoothly but unfortunately, this is where the game falls flat.

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are solid installments in the Pokémon and as the twilight nears for Pokémon Games on the DS family, Game Freak ought to be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

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Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are solid installments in the Pokémon and as the twilight nears for Pokémon Games on the DS family, Game Freak ought to be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

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