Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon launched today, and you may be looking for USgamer's review. The truth is that my second trip through Alola has proven to be slow going for me. I'm trying to burn through the main campaign as fast as I can to get to the endgame content, but at the back of my mind I keep thinking, "I've done all this before."
Of course, having playing through all of Pokemon's "third versions" at one point or another, I'm aware that this is nothing new. With the exception of Pokemon X/Y, every generation has received a special updated version with a host of high-level content. And to reach that content, you have to make it through the campaign.
Normally, this isn't too bad because there's a decent little gap between the original launch version and the updated release. Pokemon Emerald launched two years after the initial games, as did Pokemon Platinum. Both saw remakes launch in the year in-between, which helped break things up a bit. They also had the advantage of being simpler, which made simple additions like animated sprites really pop.
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon has no such additions to its presentation (unless you count the souped up music); and having played through the originals just last year, I've been beset with a sense of deja vu. I'm always in a bit of a rush to finish off the story, but it's been worse than usual this year. It's been tough to get motivated enough to want to continue.
Nevertheless, I've been chugging along with my Rowlet (now a Dartrix) plus Fletchinder, Slowpoke, Flaffy, and a random Eevee. It's a team of random spare parts, but it's been sufficient for me to muddle my way past the powerful Totem Pokemon, which have been changed up in this version. I'm currently biding my time until I hit the level where I can officially trade my team over (unfortunately, Pokemon Bank isn't yet compatible with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon).
I've certainly seen some differences. As I already mentioned, the Totem Pokemon are now different, serving to refresh one of the best elements of the original game's story. The main character is stalked by characters that Nadia likes to call "the Daft Punk people," which look like robots and seemingly hail from the Ultra Dimension. They've yet to do much outside of make amusing observations, though I've had to fight them on a couple occasions.
Probably the most striking addition is the Mantine Surfing, which really serves to highlight the graphical improvements just from Pokemon X and Y. Riding on the back a Mantine, you try to move up the waves to max out your speed, which puts you in the position to do tricks. It's a basic but fun approximation of SSX and other snowboarding games, and even better, it rewards valuable BP—points that you need to buy valuable items for competitive play.
Other than that, the story is much the same, which isn't entirely a bad thing. I adored Pokemon Sun and Moon's story when it came out last year, lauding it for the way that it changed up the tired gym battle format and introduced an almost Stephen King-like vibe with the Ultra Beasts. On Axe of the Blood God, Nadia and I named it our favorite RPG of 2016. It had a verve and sense of style I've rarely seen in a Pokemon game.
My only real problem with Pokemon Sun and Moon was that the endgame content was a tiny bit lacking, featuring only the usual Battle Tower and a postgame sidequest. This is what Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is meant to remedy. But, of course, one has to get to that point first
Coming out so soon after the original release, it will be interesting to see how many people share my perspective, and how many people end up buying it regardless. Pokemon remains popular to this day in part because it's secretly one of those dreaded "platforms" that you hear about so much these days—an everlasting RPG that thrives on community interaction. For its loyal fanbase, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is basically the equivalent of an expansion in an MMORPG, bringing with it new solo content, items, moves, and of course, monsters.
But only Pokemon can get away with selling you the same campaign twice. And at full price to boot! It's a neat trick in the age of DLC.
In any case, I don't know if I'm going to have a full review for you (sorry, Mike), but I do plan to share additional thoughts as I work my through to the postgame over the weekend. In the meantime, I feel comfortable in saying that Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is more or less like every third version: an expansion geared to high-level players who don't mind double dipping.
I'll let you know what I think when I finally get to the good stuff.
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