The next pair of Pokemon games, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, have released on 3DS, marking the series' final installments for Nintendo's dual-screen handheld. The titles are based on last year's Sun and Moon versions but tell an "alternate" story that revolves around the mysterious Legendary Pokemon Necrozma. While the core adventure remains the same across both versions, each game has some some distinct elements, so you may be unsure of which to pick up. We break down the biggest differences between the two versions below to help you decide which one to play. For more, you can also check out our Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon review and breakdown of the new Pokemon (and everything else) in Ultra Sun and Moon.
Which Version Should You Get?
We recently had the opportunity to interview the developers of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and one of the topics they weighed in on is which version players should pick up. "In essence there's no real problem with whichever one you buy, you're going to get a really good experience of Pokemon," said Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon director Kazumasa Iwao.
"But one point users might want to consider is that the Pokedex in Pokemon Ultra Sun is based on the Pokedex in Pokemon Sun and the same for Ultra Moon and Moon. So if something the players are really looking for is Pokedex completion, they might find it better to go for the opposite version this time round in order to help complete their Pokedex. So if they bought Pokemon Sun, they might want to choose Pokemon Ultra Moon this time."
However, those who care more about the games' narrative may want to consider sticking with the same version this time. As producer Shigeru Ohmori explained, "[I]f you're looking for a story-based experience then those who played Pokemon Sun may want to go for Ultra Sun as there are some small details that remain consistent throughout the two that might appeal to people looking for a story-based game."
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon tell the same story and feature the same cast of major characters, but there are some slight differences between the two titles that will make the experience unique depending on the version you choose to play. As in the original Sun and Moon, the two games are set 12 hours apart. Ultra Sun will reflect the time that is set in your 3DS clock, while Ultra Moon will be 12 hours ahead--meaning if you play during the day, it will be night in the game.
Additionally, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon introduce a mysterious new group called the Ultra Recon Squad. This team arrives in Alola through an Ultra Wormhole and has some sort of connection to the Ultra Beasts; in one trailer, the group can be seen commanding the new Ultra Beast, UB-Adhesive. You'll encounter different members of the Ultra Recon Squad depending on which version you play. In Ultra Sun, players will cross paths with Dulse and Zossie; in Ultra Moon, players will meet Phyco and Soliera.
As with every pair of Pokemon titles, the primary difference between Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the kinds of Pokemon you can encounter in each version. While both games feature most of the same monsters, each one is also home to a handful of exclusive Pokemon that cannot be captured in the other version. Below you'll find a list of all the version-exclusive Pokemon that have been confirmed so far:
Ultra Sun-Exclusive Pokemon
- Alolan Vulpix
- Alolan Ninetales
- Lurantis (Totem-sized)
Ultra Moon-Exclusive Pokemon
- Alolan Sandshrew
- Alolan Sandslash
- Salazzle (Totem-sized)
The Alola region is also home to a diverse array of Legendary Pokemon, and thanks to the appearance of Ultra Wormholes in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, players will be able to encounter Legendaries from past regions, as well. Every single Legendary Pokemon from previous gens returns in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, though as is the case with regular Pokemon, some can only be encountered in a specific version. Here's the list of all the version-exclusive Legendaries that appear in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
Ultra Sun-Exclusive Legendaries
- Dusk Mane Necrozma
Ultra Moon-Exclusive Legendaries
- Dawn Wings Necrozma
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon release for 3DS on November 17. Along with an expanded storyline, the games introduce many new features and characters, including a new surfing game and Team Rainbow Rocket, a villainous supergroup comprised of the leaders from past teams. Players who purchase either title by January 10, 2018 will receive a free gift: a special Rockruff that evolves into the new Dusk Form Lycanroc.