Nearly a year after the launch of Pokémon Sun and Moon, we’re getting two brand new additions to the story. Named Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, these releases are doing something a little different to the traditional third game in the generation - like Pokémon Emerald to Sapphire and Ruby for example, or Platinum to Diamond and Pearl. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are taking the same area used in Sun and Moon, known as Alola, and telling a totally different story that builds on that of the base games. That means new Pokémon to catch and train, new people to meet and even a few more gameplay features. I got the chance to speak to Shigeru Ohmori, director on the first Sun and Moon and Kazumasa Iwao, who’s making his directorial debut with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon about all the exciting new additions.
1. An easy way to access new worlds
Probably the most unique feature coming to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is something that will take you away from the tropical climes of Alola entirely.
“We’ve got the Ultra Warp Ride feature this time around where you can ride on Lunala and Solgaleo and go through the Ultra Wormholes to visit the worlds on the other sides of them,” explains Iwao. “There are the worlds where the Ultra Beasts came from, as you’ll have seen in Sun and Moon, as well as the new Ultra Beasts. But we’ve also got some new totally different areas that you’ve never seen before as well.”
The Ultra Beasts were introduced in Sun and Moon, but until now we’ve had little idea of where they’ve come from, so it’s easy to see the appeal of this new feature. Apparently, travelling through an Ultra Wormhole will also introduce you to another city called Ultra Megalopolis, which is shrouded in darkness after the Ultra Beast Necrozma stole all the light.
2. A story all about Necrozma
Of course, this all ties into the biggest theme of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s new story - Necrozma. This new Ultra Beast is stealing the show for the new pair of games, and even takes over the Legendaries from Sun and Moon - Lunala and Solgaleo.
“Necrozma has come to control and absorb Lunala or Solgaleo’s body itself,” explains Iwao. “By doing so it’s taken on new powers and new abilities, and it can now use these unique moves of Solgaleo and Lunala, which are Moongeist Beam and Sunsteel Strike. It also gains the ability to learn some new moves of its own by absorbing the powers of Solgaleo and Lunala, so they’ll feel quite different to the Solgaleo and Lunala that players know from Sun and Moon.”
Watch our review for Pokémon Sun and Moon
But don’t worry, there are some familiarities too for those who have already sunk hundreds of hours into Sun and Moon. “You’ll see some returning characters from Sun and Moon, including Hau and Lillie, but you’ll see a whole new side of them as you progress through the story of this game,” says Ohmori.
3. There’s an entire valley dedicated to Pikachu
Any Pikachu fans like me might have spotted the strange clubhouse in the first reveal trailer for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Well, it turns out it’s not just some kind of Pikachu caravan you’ll see in these new games - there’s a whole valley dedicated to the little yellow mouse. “There are a lot of things you can do in Pikachu Valley and events with Pikachu. You can get some different outfits and other things. It’s just really cool,” says Iwao. And I totally agree.
4. Alola is more alive than ever
Some speculated that the moment in the original reveal trailer for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon where a Wingull flies above the player is a sign that your Pokémon would follow you around, like Pikachu did way back in Pokémon Yellow. Unfortunately, that’s not actually the case - that’s news straight from Iwao - but it is an indicator that GameFreak is making sure Alola feels more realistic than ever.
“In Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon there are actually more scenes that you’ll encounter throughout the course of the game that feature that let you see a little more of the interaction between people and Pokémon.”
The story will seemingly follow these themes too, as aside from the Necrozma storyline, Ohmori states that there are “over 100 smaller events that you’ll encounter in the game that give you another view into Alola and everyone that’s living there.”
5. Some brand new gameplay features
But it’s not all about new Pokémon and a fresh storyline - Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are also introducing a couple more new gameplay features, alongside Ultra Warp Ride that is.
Firstly, you’ve got the Mantine Surf feature, which takes the traditional surf feature (where you’re riding on the back of a Pokémon with the right HM) and turns it into a sport. You’ll be able to compete for high scores by doing tricks as well as letting Mantine help you get from one island to another.
“We’ve also got the Alolan Photo club, which is where you can take photos of Pokémon you’re adventuring with,” adds Ohmori. “You can turn those photos into decorations that you can share with other players in the Festival Plaza.” It definitely sounds a lot more involved than the restricted PokéFinder of Sun and Moon, which is limited to specific areas and doesn’t actually let you do anything with the photos that you do take.
There are also new Z-Moves to discover. These special moves first appeared in the original Sun and Moon, but were limited to the Pokémon that you had unique Z-Ring stones for, including Pikachu and the trio of starter Pokémon in the game - Popplio, Rowlet and Litten.
“The new forms of Necrozma that you see on the [cover art], those two new forms as well as the base fusion form of Solgaleo and Lunala, they all have new Z-Moves that they can use,” explains Iwao. “Then there is a new special Z-Move for Kommo-o and the newly added Dusk form of Lycanroc.”