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More of the Same? - Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Review

Home > More of the Same? - Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Review

Originally published on Pokeball Insider.

Pokemon Ultra Sun Ultra Moon Review

A year ago, Game Freak presented us with change. Pokémon Sun and Moon changed the general formula of obtaining badges and had a newer style of character focused storytelling. It was different enough without being completely alienating. But now a younger team has come forth with an alternate timeline taking the events of Sun and Moon in a new direction. Do their efforts with Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon go above ultra? Or have they squandered a perfect opportunity?

Platforms: 3DS [Reviewed]
Developer: Game Freak, Nintendo
Release: November 17, 2017
MSRP: $39.99

First and foremost, it should be made abundantly clear that most of the content from Sun and Moon remains unchanged. You’re still on the island challenge, you’re still taking on trials and you’re still going through the same motions. The changes are certainly nice, but if you’re not interested in retreading your steps from a different perspective then this isn’t the game for you, sadly.

It would have been nice if there were different trials with different captains to change the pace, but everyone from the originals are here and accounted for. However, the changes that have been made are actually superb. It plays on expectations, shifting the events just enough to subvert what you may have anticipated.

Pokemon Ultra Sun Ultra Moon Review

The opening hours have been streamlined noticeably; you get your first Pokémon literally minutes into the game. Small quality of life additions have been made, such as the save button now being mapped to Y on the menu. There are new distractions such as the Photo Club which can pass the time effectively, but aren’t a driving force for the games. However, the mess that was the Festival Plaza hasn’t been changed one bit, and it’s a shame that Generation VI’s PSS system still isn’t present.

The biggest downfall though would have to be the decision to make it a split release. The mascot Pokémon, Necrozma, really did not need two forms, as the plot makes it a moot point in the end anyway. All other version differences are the usual fare, different Pokémon for each edition.

Pokemon Ultra Sun Ultra Moon Review

The biggest change to the games is actually the latter third, as the games take a radically different direction as the plot thickens. The entire last island, whilst identical in design, diverts majorly with a completely different sequence of events and, would you believe it, a brand new trial not present in Sun and Moon. The story isn’t all perfect, as the motivations behind the once-villain of the prior game are muddied and don’t really mean anything anymore. The bigger picture ends up overshadowing prior development, but at the same time the more subtle plot points from Sun and Moon are brought up instead of being tucked away where they might not be discovered.

All in all, it’s still the same great experience, but it’s whether or not you’re willing to sit through content you’ve already done once before. If so, you’re rewarded with some fantastic set pieces and a greatly different endgame; not to mention the post-game episode that brings team villains from the past back for one last show.


  • Plenty of new content to discover
  • Changed story with new focus
  • Wonderful post-game content


  • Largely unaltered from Sun and Moon
  • No justification for split release




Great games are generally good buying decisions and are recommended for those with an interest in the genre. There might be a few flaws that detract from the gameplay, stories, controls, presentations, or value, but the game is still an enjoyable experience that justifies a full playthrough.

Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

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