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Pokemon Ultra Sun And Ultra Moon Review

  • First Released Nov 17, 2017
  • Reviewed Nov 14, 2017
  • 3DS
  • 3DS

Happy returns.

Neither sequels nor remakes, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon take a mostly simple approach to updating 2016's Sun and Moon. Much of the previous games has been left untouched--the story once again takes place on the tropical island region of Alola and focuses on the Island Challenge, which differs slightly from the series' typical Gym Badge-based progression. But some key story details have changed, keeping things surprising for returning players even if the story itself is basic RPG fare. Most notably, there are small quality-of-life improvements and charming touches that make an already enjoyable Pokemon game a more endearing experience regardless of your skill level.

The original Sun and Moon brought new Pokemon, a break from the Gym formula, and a number of updates that make the seventh generation (Ultra Sun and Moon included) the most approachable and prettiest Pokemon games yet. With an overwhelming roster of monsters to catch, Sun and Moon's UI improvements made it easier to battle without an encyclopedic knowledge of every Pokemon, as well as train your prize fighters for the competitive metagame. But if you fell somewhere between newcomer and meta player, a mediocre story and pacing issues may have been disappointing.

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Ultra Sun and Moon immediately streamline the originals' slow start. As a newcomer to Alola, you quickly get your first Pokemon and are initiated into the Island Challenge, a series of trials that Alolan Pokemon trainers undergo to prove themselves. Instead of meeting all the characters and going through a few cutscenes before picking your starter Pokemon, this time around you get to pick a starter right away and then go through the introductory story beats. The result is an opening that doesn't hold your hand in the same way it did before--though it still has the obligatory Pokemon-catching tutorial, among others--and lets you wander more freely, a welcome change for both returning and new players.

Even before the first trial, you'll have the opportunity to catch some pretty good Pokemon covering a variety of types and needs, including Pichu, Gastly, and Rockruff, meaning you can build a useful team early on without going too far out of your way. And you won't have to spend much, if any, time grinding to make it through the Island Challenge as long as you battle any trainers you encounter on your journey.

Some of the trials are slightly different this time, like the one where you have to find a series of ingredients to make a stew, which adds a more puzzle-like element to stave off the fetch quest feel. Most notably, though, the battles against the powerful Totem Pokemon seem a little more sophisticated; the ally Pokemon that join these extra-powerful opponents in battle will sometimes use doubles support moves like Sunny Day to throw a wrench in your plans, and the added challenge is more satisfying to overcome.

Other than the trial tweaks, the next 15 or so hours--roughly the first three islands--are essentially the same as Sun and Moon, but new, small details break up the stretches of repetition. Your Rotom Pokedex asks you questions and makes adorable faces as you get to know it (though it can be a little too chatty at times). You'll occasionally find a Pokemon in the world that just wants to play with you, and you can do things like play peek-a-boo and even walk through a meadow of playful Pikachu. There are also more side quests to take on, and though they're rather small requests like catching a specific Pokemon or finding a few Pokemon that are hiding in a particular area, they reward thorough exploration and provide fun distractions in between trials. Talking to everyone, too, has its benefits; there are tons of new silly and cute interactions to be had that add even more personality to Alola and its inhabitants.

While all of the best parts of Sun and Moon are present and accounted for and things in general get off to a quicker start, Ultra Sun and Moon's story remains underwhelming. And with the introduction of a new sort-of-antagonist in the robotic, mysterious Ultra Recon Squad duo, there's almost too much going on--especially since there's already two antagonist groups in Alola as is. By the time you've confronted Team Skull and are immediately thrown into a confrontation at the returning Aether Paradise, you'll probably wish you could just get back to your Island Challenge and become the Champion already.

Though they aren't very different from their predecessors, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon make enough changes to stand apart as the definitive version of the seventh generation games. An overly complicated story is offset by charming details that bring even more life to the most vibrant Pokemon region to date, and small fixes iron out the shakier parts of the original journey. If you make it through Alola a second (or even first) time, you'll be rewarded with a fun-filled and uplifting Pokemon adventure with its own share of spoilery surprises in store.

Back To Top
The Good
Streamlined introduction benefits new and returning trainers alike
Charming new details give more personality to the region of Alola
Plenty of twists and surprises
The Bad
Changes to the story only complicate an already lackluster plot
Adding yet another antagonist needlessly complicates the final act
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kallie finished Ultra Sun and Moon in just over 30 hours and is ready to start training competitive Pokemon. GameSpot was provided a complimentary copy of the game for review.
50 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

The most important change to the story is that one of the villains is now much less of a psycho.

Apparently, that villain's rather outrageously selfish motivation in the original story and very harsh statements to some other characters are a turn-off to quite a lot of people. It's like "gotta catch'em all" taken to an awful extent.

Some changes to that villain's otherwise hideous facial expressions and changes to dialogue lines made that villain character much more... palatable. The main plot changes from that of an obsessive-compulsive villain to one about an antagonist that would do whatever it takes to prevent a disaster.

Avatar image for firerapid99

Well, I played both pokemon sun and moon and then again i also played pokemon ultra sun and moon. Tbh, for me, the original pokemon sun and moon were better than these later released versions. And this has happened with all of the Pokemon games so far, i mean the first releases are always the best ones and the later released ones aren't much interesting.

Anyways, the best game of all time would always be the original Pokemon that were released for Gameboy. I don't mean 3ds isn't good or Pokemon on other consoles are bad but you know brings back the good ol' memories that will be cherished forever.

And yeah it seems 3ds emulator (Citra had been released for the PC ) and seems to be evolving everyday(getting better and better) and also 3ds emulator for android has been released just recently. It seems it's still under development or something but the emulator is great so far. Check out-

3ds emulator android apk

Avatar image for firerapid99

@firerapid99: :)

Avatar image for Redsyrup

Anyone know if this is in 3D? I know the original wasn't. Wish Nin10do would clearly mark their game packaging and products website. Also wish reviewers and gaming websites would clearly say 'yes' or 'no'. It seems like Nin10do is trying to hide what games are in 3D these days.

Avatar image for GreyFox2117

@Redsyrup: Well the first Pokemon Sun and Moon were not 3D because the game pushed the 3DS hardware so much that they could not add the 3D functionality because then the game would not run properly. So I would assume this version would be the same because it is using the same game engine just with more content. Also Nintendo is trying to stir away from the 3D functionality because most customers do not care for 3D so advertising or mentioning if it is 3D has no huge market purpose. Also I think it has to deal with a patent issue that Nintendo faced for the 3D technology so to avoid paying royalties or legal issues they probably do not want to mention anything of 3D, but i am not too sure about that.

Avatar image for ArabrockermanX

8/10 is a bit high for a complete rehash only 1 year after release =.=

Avatar image for Chico86_basic

@ArabrockermanX: If you would mind read the review first then maybe you could tell it's not a complete rehash?

Avatar image for ArabrockermanX


"Though they aren't very different from their predecessors, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon make enough changes to stand apart as the definitive version of the seventh generation games."

You're right, its a directors cut edition branded as a new game.

Avatar image for pcgameboy

Usually the second version of the games original version (Pokemon Moon/Sun) don't score as well, since it doesn't change as much. Game is good though, but maybe not enough change for some. I can't wait to see Switch Pokemon though.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ab3d29749ec4

@pcgameboy: Same although i'm still getting this just because i had enough free playtest games to trade in or sell. It's the only game honestly that i'm holding onto my 3DS especially for Pokebank since i lost everything when i didn't have a Pokemon game simply to re up my subscription stupid system that you need a 3DS Pokemon game just to re up.

Avatar image for stelios

These will be the first Pokémon games I skip. I just can't find a reason to purchase it, having already completed both Sun and Moon. The additions are simply not enough.

Avatar image for MigGui

@stelios: I find it somewhat disturbing that you completed “both sun and moon”. Aren’t they absolutely the same game?

Avatar image for stelios

@MigGui: Disturbing is a strong word. Have you never played a game more than once? I usually play Pokémon games more than once and even similar versions for the legendary and post game exclusive Pokémon.

However i grew tired of it and while I still love Pokémon, I don't have it in me currently to play through the same game a third time for a handful of changes.

If I tell you how many times I played through the entirety of the Witcher 3, now that's disturbing!

Avatar image for MigGui

@stelios: Yeah, it is a strong word, probably not the best one. But one thing is to replay a game, another thing is to buy it twice haha

I did almost the same thing as you, but instead of buying both Sun and Moon, I bought Moon, and Ultra Sun.

And don't remember me about the Witcher, I loved the first one, but didn't ever have time to play the other two :(

Avatar image for stelios

@MigGui: You are right; I'm a fool like that sometimes, buying the same game twice or even trice. For example I own the entirety of Dark Souls series both on console and PC. I also have the witcher 3 for PC, pro and X. When I really love a game I don't find it bad to support the developers as much as I can, even more so considering these games do not come with micro transactions and feature top of the line expansion content. I tend to support these practices, while I shy away from money grabbing publishers.

How do you find Ultra sun? the more the time passes, the more I start to change my mind and I might actually get out and grab ultra moon for the collection.

Avatar image for MigGui

@stelios: I have just finished the first island, the only changes are two crazy persons appearing sometimes, mantine surfing and a lot more previous gen pokemon on tall grass. My party currently is brionne, growlithe, zorua, alakazam, magnemite, hawlucha. It seems there are more changes later on.

Avatar image for stelios

@MigGui: I see, well I hope you have a great time with the game. You have also a solid party being so early in the game, well done.

Guess most of the changes are late/post game then, as the review also describes. Still on the fence but eventually i'll play it, just to get the handful new ultra beasts and complete my pokedex. Sigh, i'm such a nerd!

Avatar image for stevo302

I was pretty much done with pokemon after this. The gym replacements were rubbish, story and cut scenes heavyhanded, and the whole game was just much of a muchness, regardless of the changes they thought they were bringing.

This needs to be really rehashed and rebuilt. Time for them to bring a Pokemon adventure onto the console, with a lot more freedom and innovation. This has been stagnating on handheld for far too long.

Avatar image for MigGui

@stevo302: Nintendo heard you, since this is the last handheld Pokémon main game ever. But yes, it is about time they change to more powerful consoles so that they can actually evolve the formula, or even add multiple worlds and a different progress system

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@stevo302: Whatever, hated Gen 5 & 6, prefer 7th. Newcomers dont care about stagnation, cause its new. But to each their own, no fact here, just opinion. See how the Switch Pokemon ends up being, hopefully they dont bring back the triple battles (why people enjoyed that crap I'll never know).

Avatar image for KahnArtizt

Ever since I finished Moon last year, I've been playing the Virtual console games and managed to complete the Pokedex on Yellow. I was hoping to have completed Gold/SIlver's dex by now but life happened. Still can't wait to transfer my Mew, Mewtwo, and other assorted legendaries to Ultra Sun this weekend!

Avatar image for Blk_Mage_Ctype

I'm a little confused at how the game's plot can be simultaneously "underwhelming" and "overly complicated" but overall this was a good review that gave me at least a general idea of what to expect.

Thankfully, I enjoyed Pokemon Moon so much that Ultra Moon being more or less an improved version of the game with QoL changes and some new story elements is good enough for me. I'm also very pleased to hear that US/UM allows the player to explore a bit more freely, as one of my largest criticisms of the previous game was just how much it railroaded the player. One of these days, I really hope that Gamefreak makes a more open-world style Pokemon game which allows the player to freely explore the region without any roadblocks in which the levels of wild Pokemon and Trainers scales with the player. *fingers crossed for Pokemon Switch*

Avatar image for alterzero

This 7th generation is the worst so far since they removed Triple Battles in favor of the much inferior Battle Royale!.

It's finally time for me to take a break in the Pokemon world, will come back when things get good again or whenever Triple Battles return!.

Avatar image for GreyFox2117

@alterzero: Well they probably removed triple battles because they probably saw that people did not like it, but that is based on whatever survey they did that showed them this. Also they probably added Battle Royale because they wanted to see if customers would like this new battle mode. All companies experiment with new ideas and if they get enough people disliking it then they will change that idea. In all honesty adding Battle Royale and removing a Triple Battles is not a big change to Pokemon because the basic idea of turn base battles is still there. If they removed it and used another battle system like moving your Pokemon around could be considered as a big change and then you will see a big lash if the new system sucks.

Avatar image for KahnArtizt

@alterzero: Really? That's your only complaint? Pretty minor if you ask me.

Avatar image for jessie82

little sad how they will probably never combine regions like they did with kanto/johto in gold/silver/crystal and then heartgold and soulsilver.. i dream for the day we get a game with every single region in it and every single pokemon as 8 badges a league and the badguy of the region isnt enough

Avatar image for ArabrockermanX

@jessie82: Ya hear this Nintendo? Make it happen for the Switch Pokemon games next year and I'll buy my first Pokemon game in over a decade.

Avatar image for marbertdimanlig

@videogameninja:I agree. Cause we're doing the same thing with the same formula and we absolutely love it. Still waiting for that Soul Silver and Heart Gold remake!

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

Should've just been DLC for the original games

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

Feels like they've used up all their best ideas for Pokemon after the diamond and pearl gen ended 2006 to 2010. Some real abominations starting to creep out of the pokemon artists minds.

Professor Oak to this day remains the true villain of the franchise... 150 he said...catch them all he said. No big deal he said. Then Kanto is like "We found over 100 the left of us!" I refuse to believe Oak didn't know about these magical continents that keep appearing every time the Pokemon company needs a new anime/game.

Avatar image for GreyFox2117

@gamingdevil800: I think the new big step Pokemon should go into is a action based battle system, like controlling your pokemon around the field, kinda like Pokken but that would be really hard to implement.

Avatar image for Bowser05

@gamingdevil800: That's a complete matter of opinion. Gen 5, to me, was the most complete experience, with the best balance of features, the most new pokemon and the best new pokemon. It was after THAT that I felt like the series started to go stagnant.

Avatar image for cboye18

@gamingdevil800: Not to mention how they streamlined so many mechanics and features, to the point that they badly diminished the challenge of the games.

It started with Black and White gen, but X and Y completely ruined the fun.

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@cboye18: Haven't played one by myself properly since Platinum. Did they remove the grind? Always felt like the games had the perfect formula but could of benefited from a graphical boost if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Avatar image for cboye18

@gamingdevil800: They actually done the opposite from my experience. Even with 6 pokemon in my team and ExP share turned off, I seemed to be overleveled all the time. And that's without grinding, otherwise you just break the game for yourself.

To make matters worse, trainers/ gym leaders use less amount of pokemon than before and they tend to stall battles if they are winning (I tested this out multiple times). None can give me a proper challenge; it's frustrating as hell.

Then you have things they streamlined like removing the in-world effect of poison, way too many items are being handed to you instead of you finding them during exploration, NPC's all across the map heal your party completely so little point in carrying healing items (gone are the little risks you take during exploration), caves just teleport you from location A to B instead of being explorable etc etc.

I used to love the franchise, but the recent games focus far more on ways of collecting Pokemon and multiplayer rather than the RPG mechanics and single player adventure. Diamond and Pearl were for me the last great pokemon games IMO.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@cboye18: see i only like pokemon FOR collecting, story, and rpgs elements mean shit to me, hate 5th gen, 6th gen - triple battles was ass, prefer X&Y, oh well see how the Switch version ends up being down the road - to each their own. I play Pokemon for multiplayer not for exploring some cave, other games do that better (exploration in a large over-world) Pokemon has never had that as a key-strength, but I guess the game is what you make it - no hate here, just I dont want the same thing from a Pokemon game as you do, new comers would prefer the modern approach, even if its more streamlined, to you thats "making matters worse" to others, not so much. But to me the only one worth playing is X&Y period. I dont need to try out (or go back in time/back-track with previous gen's) to compare a few aspects I dont like...not at this point, wouldnt be worth it. Esp with a console version (which may shake things up a bit).

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@cboye18: "Then you have things they streamlined like removing the in-world effect of poison"


The Actual


Avatar image for Zelda-Elite

@cboye18: I agree with all of this so much. I last played black 2 and I just can't play further because of the complete lack of challenge. Spamming your mega evolution every battle seems almost like an instant win every time as well.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a26032528a9b

7/10. Too much ultrasosity.

Avatar image for KenderDragon

-Doctor, I've got the "Gotta catch'em all" syndrom.

- Sadly, it's incurable.

I’ve started playing Pokémon with the Red Version. Now that I’m an adult and that I’ve infected my two kids (and wife, but she won’t admit it), it’s three times the price again. Take all my money Game Freak! =’(

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

@KenderDragon: Impossible if you really had "Gotta catch'em all" syndrom you would still be a 10 year old kid losing every major pokemon battle and losing at life in general.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0

@gamingdevil800: we all lose at life, we all die - so thats really not something to be upset about, however if I was still a 10 year old loosing every battle that would suck donkey nuts.

Avatar image for KenderDragon

@gamingdevil800: lol

Avatar image for kuninushi

Does the game have a hard mode?

Avatar image for KenderDragon

@kuninushi: Probably not, but you can try the Nuzlocke Challenge :

Avatar image for videogameninja

Quite possibly the most addicting franchise in all of gaming history.


Avatar image for plug313

I'm so excited. my preload is ready!

I disagree with your points on the story though, I personally loved the Sun and Moon story.

Pokemon Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon More Info

  • First Released Nov 17, 2017
    • 3DS
    Average Rating26 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Pokemon Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon
    Developed by:
    Game Freak
    Published by:
    Management, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Mild Cartoon Violence