A formula for twenty-one years, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are the enhanced versions of 2016’s Pokémon Sun and Moon in the vein of games like Pokémon Crystal and Platinum. The enhanced versions have always been versions with better content and more to do, but never truly felt like a necessary purchase for anyone outside of the most hardcore fans or the holdouts for the first entries into the new generation. But with all that being said, Pokémon USUM look to be the first enhanced versions that are must own for anyone and everyone.
The amount of new content that we’ve been shown is staggering. The games tell an alternate story that is completely changed from the story of Sun and Moon. Game Freak has stated we’ll see new buildings, landscapes, and areas that were never in SuMo. The biggest change is the addition of Ultra Wormholes. Traveling on the back of Solgaleo or Lunala, the wormholes leads to countless new areas to explore including the strange and vast Ultra Megalopolis controlled by the Ultra Recon Squad. Their goals and purposes are unknown. The games are also seeing the return of Team Rocket, or as they’re known in this game: Team Rainbow Rocket. The difference between Kanto’s Team Rocket and Alola’s Team Rainbow Rocket goes beyond the name though. For the first time ever, all six major villains from past games are working together to form the most treacherous faction seen to date in a Pokémon game. What role Team Skull will play in this is unknown. However, it was revealed Guzma will work beside the player instead of against them, so the dynamic is certainly different this time around. Finally, we’ll be seeing the Island Challenges return, including a brand new trial from Captain Mina who was didn’t get her own trial in the original titles.
Some extra additions include a brand new Poké Ride, Mantine Surf. Not only does Mantine allow you to surf between the islands of Alola, you also get to perform tricks on the waves while you do so, earning points that can be traded into the newly added move tutors for moves that were unavailable for learning in SuMo. The Rotom Dex is also getting an upgrade, bringing back O-Powers (now known as Roto Loto). Roto Loto allows you to earn items for boosts like sped up hatching times, extra prize money, extra experience points, among many other helpful boosts for gameplay. You also get the special Z-Rotom Power, which when called upon gives you the option to use a second Z-Move in battle instead of just one. The Alola Photo Club has been added, allowing you to pose with your Pokémon in a variety of poses and environments. After you take the photo you can edit them with frames and stickers for extra personalization and share them around using the various features. Using the photo club increases affection in the same way that Pokémon Refresh does, so if you don’t like the refresh feature this is a welcome alternative to gaining the benefits that came from using it. Finally, a brand new facility has been added into the Festival Plaza: The Battle Agency. If you remember the Battle Factory from Pokémon Emerald/Platinum/HeartGold/SoulSilver, this is largely the same with some added social features. Battling players will allow you to increase your rank and earn some rare items including the highly useful and extremely elusive Gold Bottle Caps. In order to increase your pool of rentals, you have to interact with players in your plaza frequently and regularly. The more people you talk to, the better the rentals become.
On top of all the new areas, USUM are doing something that has never been done in a generation before: The addition of brand new Pokémon to a regional Dex. Three new Ultra Beasts have been revealed (Adhesive, Burst, and Assembly) and will seemingly play a substantial role in the games, although that has yet to be revealed or seen. The amount of Pokémon has also been increased to over four hundred Pokémon available to capture in the regional Pokédex alone. Expanding upon new Pokémon, a welcomed feature from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire makes a return in USUM. Every legendary Pokémon will appear in the new games (albeit with exclusives to each game) for you to encounter and catch through the previously mentioned Ultra Wormholes. Mythicals are still off limits (Mew, Celebi, and Arceus, among others, are still locked to events only sadly). Included with the increased Dex count, new Pokémon, and extra legends comes brand new Z-Moves as well. Pokémon like Kommo-o and Mimikyu have received brand new exclusive Z-Moves, as well as Lycanroc, Solgaleo, Lunala, and the new Necrozma forms as well. You can also acquire your very own Totem Pokémon this time around. There are three totem Pokémon available. There’s Totem Sized Gumshoos, Totem Sized Lurantis (Ultra Sun exclusive), and Totem Sized Salazzle (Ultra Moon exclusive). In order to obtain these special Pokémon for your team, you must search the land high and low for Totem Stickers.
This is certainly a metric ton of new content, but will be enough to truly place Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon as the best games on the system to date? Will this truly be the culmination of Game Freak’s work on the 3DS before the move to the Switch? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, there’s no shortage of things to do on our return to the island region of Alola.