Loading...

December 6, 2017
Katherine Wright
New Game Plus / Features

It seems like just a few months ago that I was last wandering through the islands of Alola, feeding beans to my Meganium and reading my friends’ responses in Festival Plaza. Compared to the usual Pokémon formula of releasing a third version well after the release of a new generation, it feels surreal to already be playing a new Pokémon title only a year after the release of the originals. Given their naming scheme, you might be expecting Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon to be a sequel title similar to Black and White 2, though they’re more of a ‘remix’ of the originals, akin to Pokémon Emerald and Platinum. As a result, the games fit into a strange place compared to the rest of the series, with several changes that aren’t bad but certainly don’t feel like a necessity.

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon introduce new features to the Alola experience, such as the simple yet enjoyable Mantine Surf and the Alola Photo Club, which is effectively a virtual photo booth for you and your Pokémon. Even though they don’t add anything to the core gameplay, showing off your Photo Booth pictures to friends is heaps of fun, and Mantine Surf provides a new way to obtain Battle Points for rare items. Totem Stickers invite the player on a fun and challenging scavenger hunt across Alola’s multiple islands, allowing you to receive Totem Pokémon: Larger, stronger variations of the ‘boss’ Pokémon you fight at the end of each Island Trial.

The mechanics of Pokémon catching and battling haven’t changed, but new encounter rates and appearances mean that there are a lot of fun opportunities to make a new team as you go. One of the things I found most enjoyable in Ultra Sun was catching and raising a team of Pokémon I’d never even thought about using before, thanks the addition of some unusual Pokémon available at the start of the game (like Smoochum and Delibird, two Pokémon that I doubt anybody would be excited about except me). The difficulty of trainer battles is roughly the same as Sun and Moon, so not overly demanding; though if you’re looking for a challenge, I enjoyed the added difficulty of playing with the EXP Share turned off entirely.

Like in Sun and Moon, your character sets out on an adventure through Alola to complete the Island Trial, helping friends and catching new Pokémon along the way. In the Ultra versions though, the start of your journey is sped up a bit, and you receive your first Pokémon sooner than you did in Sun and Moon. This is an especially welcome change for fans who didn’t enjoy the pacing of Sun and Moon’s introduction, though the linear progression of story and tutorial cutscenes still makes the overall pace of the game feel very slow to start. The more subtle differences to the game’s story help to keep it interesting enough, with characters appearing at different times and story events taking place differently, culminating in a significantly different ending (but I won’t spoil any of that here!). Other differences include dialogue changes and side quests, which were the two things I liked the most; they added freshness to a region where I felt that I’d already done and seen everything.

Unfortunately, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon still don’t address a number of Sun and Moon’s significant issues, namely the linear nature of the game’s plot and the lack of postgame story. Aside from breeding competitive Pokémon and filling the Pokedex, I was disappointed in how little there was left to do in a region that had so much potential, especially when compared to the Delta Episode in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and the Battle Frontier in Emerald. I loved the bizarre designs of Alolan Pokémon such as Dugtrio and Persian, and it’s a shame we didn’t receive more new forms in the Ultra versions.

I felt that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon missed an opportunity to become the definitive versions of this generation, instead falling short of what they could have achieved as either third versions or sequels. Though an improved third version is what Pokémon players have come to expect over the years, it’s hard to justify two fully-priced, new titles for additions that felt like they could have been DLC. While similar remakes such as Platinum and Emerald were acceptable even five or ten years ago, the possibilities of today’s downloadable content mean that a lot of gamers would expect more for the price point, including myself. I also felt that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon should have been consolidated into one version; four games for a single region feels seriously excessive, especially since there are no groundbreaking differences between them. Despite all this, the core gameplay is still enjoyable, whether you’ll be battling, catching or spending hours prodding and feeding them in the Poke Amie function (not that a serious trainer like myself would ever spend their time doing that).

If you really enjoyed the original Alola experience, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon provides an an opportunity to go through the adventure again, and it will tide you over until the series’ inevitable Switch entry arrives. If you weren’t a fan, the minor changes to gameplay and story don’t warrant enough of a difference to replay the story. Otherwise, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are a pleasant, if inessential, way to experience Alola again from a new perspective.



November 21, 2017

On my recent plane flights to and from Japan, I had a lot of spare time to play Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions for the 3DS, a remake of the original Gameboy Advance game. Originally released in 2003, Superstar Saga was released to high praise from critics and fans, cementing itself as a classic in the Gameboy Advance’s repertoire. Given the game’s success and popularity, the 3DS version has some big shoes to fill. Does the remake maintain the unique appeal of the original, whilst also finding ways to update the game for a modern audience? Is it a good way to exp...

October 4, 2017

When I was young, I was a massive fan of monsters, dinosaurs, and other cool-looking spiky creatures; basically, anything that looked tough and cool. Though my enthusiasm for wicked dragons and weird creatures has waned a bit over the years, I felt a resurgence of childhood glee when I discovered the premise of Monster Hunter Stories. Your personalised character is a fledgling Rider, hailing from a small village where monsters aren’t hunted but instead befriended, trained and used to defend in combat. It’s a significant departure from other Monster Hunter titles, although you’ll recognis...

September 26, 2017

Thanks to Nintendo Australia, I had the chance to play Super Mario Odyssey, the newest 3D Mario platformer and his first ‘solo’ outing onto the Switch, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I got my hands on. Odyssey definitely has its own style, but it still feels familiar to an experienced 3D Mario gamer. I quickly found myself long jumping and ground pounding easily on the Joy-Con. While I don’t actually own a Switch, Odyssey is really making me question how much I have in my wallet (plus with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 coming, I’m gonna have to buy one soon, aren’t I?). The demo ...

August 29, 2017

When it was first announced that Hey! Pikmin would be a drastic departure from the Pikmin series’ regular, 3D puzzle-strategy gameplay, many fans felt some trepidation over how it would turn out. I can confidently assure you there’s nothing to worry about here; though different from the previous instalments’ gameplay style, Hey Pikmin manages to develop and bring its own unique character to the Pikmin franchise. If you’ve never played a Pikmin game before, don’t stress: The plot is straightforward and simple enough for even newcomers to enjoy the premise, and being a spin-off, the ga...

August 18, 2017

Miitopia is a new addition to Nintendo’s line of games featuring its Mii avatars. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s never made a Mii before, whether on their own console or playing Wii Sports on the family Wii over a decade ago (feel old yet?). Most recently on the 3DS, the Miis appeared in Tomodachi Life, which offered the opportunity to put the Miis of real and fictional people into hilarious and unexpected situations together; Miitopia follows on from this. Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to put four of your best friends together as characters in an RPG? Perhaps e...

August 9, 2017

Samus Aran’s place in the Nintendo lexicon is well known: the protagonist of the Metroid  series has appeared in many genres, but basically invented the side scrolling exploration platformer. While in later years we saw her appear in first person and whatever Other M counts as, there’s a reason “Metroidvania” is still used as a descriptor for many games released even today. So with that in mind, it was an interesting experience to play Metroid: Samus Returns, the ground up remake of the overlooked GameBoy sequel to the NES classic. Firstly, let’s just clear up what you want to know...

June 29, 2017

Ever Oasis is an action-adventure RPG game developed by Japanese developers Grezzo for the Nintendo 3DS. You may or may not have heard of Grezzo, but they’re the people responsible for developing several notable titles for 3DS, including the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time remakes for 3DS, as well as the more recent title Triforce Heroes. Ever Oasis is a brand new IP from the developers, led by director/producer Koichi Ishii, creator of the legendary Mana series. Ever Oasis is firmly rooted in the action-RPG genre, but with added life-sim elements. You, a Seedling with...

June 26, 2017

I finally finished Rise Of The Tomb Raider. It took me a while to get into the game but by the end I’d say it is up there with the recent Deus Ex games for quality and experience. Being spoilt by Human Revolution and Mankind Divided, I would have liked more stealth in the most recent Tomb Raider games. I think that would suit the character better. Lara would be ridiculously strong from all that climbing but she is still up against paid mercenaries so hand to hand or close combat should be a last resort. Dragging guys into the bushes and killing them was fun but made me miss the way Huma...

June 14, 2017

Nintendo has traditionally taken up the final press conference slot, though its showcases have recently been anything but. In this spirit, we are going to mix things up this time and bring on TWO of our contributors, Christos and Katherine, to run you through this year’s announcements.  Hey there everyone, my name’s Christos, or 8BitWalugi, a new member of New Game Plus team. Along with Katherine, or Kaphrin, also a new collaborator with the NG+ crew, we’re going to give you the lowdown on Nintendo’s E3 Spotlight and share our thoughts on some of the games showed off during the 2...

June 13, 2017

Opening the theme-park decorated “Bethesdaland” press briefing, Global VP of PR and Marketing Pete Hinds walked out on stage and promised a showcase that would be “an experience at E3 unlike anything else.” What followed was a 40 minute trailer supercut in essence that put Bethesda’s upcoming projects front and centre, highlighting how bizarre and unique (for better or worse) these games and initiatives have the potential to be. Fortunately, what lacked was a great deal of cringe, and unfortunately, this is likely what was being referred to as “unlike an...

Show More Blogs
Latest Videos
Latest Photos & Events