Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
|Release||November 17, 2017|
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon[a] are role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS. The games were released worldwide on 17 November 2017. Announced in June 2017, the titles are enhanced versions of Pokémon Sun and Moon with a modified storyline, similar to previous "upper versions" like Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum. The games are the second installments in the seventh generation of the main Pokémon RPGs for the Nintendo 3DS.
The games are set in the Hawaii-based Alola region with an alternate storyline and introduce several new characters, Pokémon, forms, and gameplay features. As with previous titles in the series, the game follows a young trainer in a Pokémon-training journey across the region. The games feature new forms of the Legendary Pokémon Necrozma as version mascots.[b]
The game received positive reception, with critics praising the additional features included over Sun and Moon. By the end of 2017, the game had sold over seven million copies worldwide.
Similar to previous games in the series, the games are role-playing video games with adventure elements. While set in an alternate Alola region, the mechanics and graphics remain largely the same as Pokémon Sun and Moon, with the primary differences being its modified storyline now including the Ultra Recon Squad. The player character designs are different with the first games, though they remain customizable. "Global Missions", where players across the world work towards a collective goal, also made a return.
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon introduce new Ultra Beasts: Stakataka, Blacephalon[c] and Poipole (which evolves into Naganadel). In addition, there are new forms for the Legendary Pokémon Necrozma, dubbed "Dusk Mane" and "Dawn Wings" forms, which are achieved by absorbing Legendary Pokémon Solgaleo and Lunala, respectively (similar to Black/White Kyurem from Black 2 and White 2 and Lusamine's mutated form from the original Sun and Moon). These forms act as cover mascots for the games. Also, a new Lycanroc form, Dusk Lycanroc, is added. Players can now travel around the Alola Region to collect Totem Stickers, which allow the player to receive a Totem Pokemon. Three new activities are added: Mantine Surf, which allows the player to surf across the region's seas; Alola Photo Club, which allows the player to take pictures of their player character with Pokémon in various poses; and Ultra Warp Ride, which allows the player to travel through varying Ultra Wormholes and encounter Ultra Beasts in their own worlds, as well as finding Legendary Pokémon from every game in the Pokémon franchise, and an increased chance for shiny pokemon to appear. New Z-Moves are available for multiple Pokémon, including Solgaleo, Lunala, Lycanroc and Mimikyu and Necrozma. A new upgrade to the Rotom Pokédex adds Roto-Loto, which allows the player to use boosts (akin to O-Powers from the previous generation), and Z-Rotom Power, which allows the player to use Z-Moves a maximum of twice per battle.
The game puts an emphasis on the Legendary Pokémon Necrozma which, in these versions, takes Lusamine's place as the primary antagonist of the games. Similar to the original versions, the game is set in the Alola region, based on the Hawaii islands. Although largely the same, the new games feature additional buildings and locations in comparison to the first installments. Multiple main characters featured in Sun and Moon, such as Lusamine and her children, return in the game with significant changes. A new group, the Ultra Recon Squad, is introduced with differing characters in the two games. Ultra Megalopolis, a vast city where Necrozma has robbed all of its light sources, is located within Ultra Space and is accessible through the Ultra Wormholes.
Another antagonist group, Team Rainbow Rocket, is featured within a post-game story and includes all of the antagonist group leaders of the previous installments in the series, ranging from Giovanni (Pokémon Red and Blue) to Lysandre (Pokémon X and Y). Legendary Pokémon from previous generations are also included.
Similar to Sun and Moon, the player character is an eleven-year-old moving to Melemele Island in Alola with their mother. During their travels in Alola following the region's traditional island challenges, they complete trials which involve battles with powerful Pokémon (known as Totem Pokémon) and have numerous encounters with a villainous group known as Team Skull (led by a man named Guzma), a more charitable one known as the Aether Foundation (led by a woman named Lusamine), and a group called the Ultra Recon Squad, who came from a different dimension, the Ultra Megalopolis, where Necrozma has stolen its light. Much of the story revolves around two Legendary Pokémon: a Cosmog, nicknamed Nebby, who evolves into a Solgaleo (in Ultra Sun) or Lunala (in Ultra Moon); and Necrozma, who attempts to seize the light from Alola.
During the climax, Lusamine uses Nebby to create a wormhole to the Ultra Megalopolis, where she and Guzma attempt to fight Necrozma for the sake of the Ultra Recon Squad. However, they fail and are thrown back into their dimension later on in the story, with Necrozma following them. Necrozma fights Nebby, now a Solgaleo in Ultra Sun or Lunala in Ultra Moon, and wins. Necrozma then absorbs the Legendary Pokémon, becoming its Dusk Mane or Dawn Wings forms in the respective versions, and unleashes the Ultra Beasts upon Alola before fighting the player. After the player defeats it, Necrozma escapes into the Ultra Megalopolis, taking the world's light with it while the player, with the help of the Ultra Recon Squad, travels on a Lunala in Ultra Sun or Solgaleo in Ultra Moon through Ultra Space to reach the Ultra Megalopolis. There, the player battles Necrozma, this time in its true form (Ultra Necrozma), for the fate of the world and to rescue Nebby. The player defeats it once more, bringing light back to Alola.
As with traditional Pokémon games, the player has rivals: Hau, a friendly boy who joins the player during his journey, and Gladion, the estranged son of Lusamine. After completing these trials, the player proceeds to battle a newly established Elite Four and later defeats Hau to become Alola's first Pokémon League Champion.
In the post-game, the player encounters Team Rainbow Rocket, a dimensionally displaced group based on Team Rocket from Red, Blue, and Yellow. The aforementioned group seizes control of the Aether Foundation's headquarters and takes Lusamine hostage. The player stages a counterattack alongside a reformed Guzma, Lillie (who had been Nebby's caretaker before its evolution), and former Team Plasma leader Colress. Battling through villainous team leaders from the past games (Maxie and Archie from Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald; Cyrus from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, Lysandre from X and Y, and Ghetsis from Black, White, Black 2, and White 2), the player finally encounters Giovanni, who leads Team Rainbow Rocket and has a Mewtwo at his disposal. After the player's victory, Giovanni vanishes, wondering "what new world shall [he] unleash [his] evil schemes upon".
Shigeru Ohmori, one of the game's producers, stated that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were worked on by younger staff members while veterans worked on the upcoming Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch, although some more experienced members, such as Shigeki Morimoto were assigned to it. He also stated that Game Freak was treating Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon as the "culmination of our work with the 3DS system". The development team of 80 was approximately half that of Pokémon Sun and Moon despite Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon having a script twice as long as Sun and Moon. In a separate interview, Ohmori also described an idea to develop the Ultra installments formed late during the development of Sun and Moon, with the titles intended to take advantage of the momentum gained by the Pokémon series following the massively successful release of the mobile game Pokémon Go. Game director Kazumasa Iwao was in charge of the battle systems in Sun and Moon.
In the post-game, the game included a tribute to former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, mentioning his part in the development of Gold and Silver. The game received its first patch in December 2017, fixing several bugs.
Promotion and release
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were revealed in a Pokémon Direct on 6 June 2017. Initial clerical errors in the Pokémon website showed that the games' release date for the Nintendo Switch were "TBA", although The Pokémon Company later clarified that the games were exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS.
Similar with its predecessor, the game's files were leaked in the internet before its official release, allowing software pirates to play the full game and data miners to find previously unannounced information including a new form for Necrozma, a new Ultra Beast, a new Mythical Pokémon and more.
Less than a week before the game’s release, the mobile game Pokémon Go released an update which enables its players to customize their ingame avatars in the style of player characters from Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, marking the first time the app had been used to promote a main series game.
Ultra Sun and Moon received "generally favorable" reviews according to review aggregator Metacritic. Casey Defreitas in her IGN review remarked that the games were "full of smart improvements". Other reviewers made similar points, with Kallie Plagge at GameSpot noting that despite similarities with Sun and Moon, "Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon make enough changes to stand apart as the definitive version of the seventh generation games". On the other hand, Allegra Frank of Polygon criticized that the aforementioned changes were only present at the end, with the bulk of the gameplay being the same as its predecessor.
Following release, the two games sold 1.2 million physical copies (excluding digital copies purchased from the Nintendo eShop) within the first three days in Japan. By the end of the year, the two games have sold over 2 million copies in Japan alone, making it the best-selling video game in the country for 2017. Sales from Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon allowed the cumulative sales of the franchise to exceed the 300 million copies milestone. According to Amazon, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were their seventh-best selling video game (or 25th for Ultra Sun and 28th for Ultra Moon, when other video game-related products and console variations are accounted for) in 2017. As of September 30, 2018, total sales reached 7.96 million copies, making it the ninth–best selling 3DS game of all time.
- Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon (ポケットモンスター ウルトラサン・ウルトラムーン Poketto Monsutā Urutora San・Urutora Mūn, "Pocket Monsters: Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon")
- Known as Dusk Mane Necrozma and Dawn Wings Necrozma, respectively fusions with the Pokémon Solgaleo featuring in Ultra Sun and Lunala featuring in Ultra Moon.
- Stakataka only appears in Ultra Moon while Blacephalon only appears in Ultra Sun
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