What is Pokemon Ultra Moon?
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon are enhanced remakes of the original Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon games for the Nintendo 3DS, which feature new Pokemon to collect, new bad guys to battle, and a few new extras to get stuck into, wrapped up in a fairly identical story. Playing as a kid about to embark on their coming of age 'Island Challenge', you travel around the Alola region's four islands and take on various trials to prove your worth as a Pokemon Trainer, battling, collecting and raising the titular Pokemon creatures as you go. It's this addictive blend of collecting, raising and battling, coupled with an emphasis on exploration, that has made Pokemon as enduring a game as it is, with each iteration adding more and more creatures to discover.
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How do you play Pokemon Ultra Moon?
From the moment the Pokemon Professor gives you your first Pokemon - a choice of the grass owl Rowlet, a fiery kitten Litten, or the goofy water-type seal Popplio - your journey into the world of Pokemon begins. With your Pokemon partner at your side, you'll battle many 'mon along the way in the series' trademark turn-based battles, with you and your opponents taking it in turns to attack, defend and use items. Different Pokemon have different types, attacks, strengths and weaknesses, so you'll want to cover as many bases as you can when putting together your travelling team of six Pokemon. Getting new Pokemon is a simple matter of encountering a wild Pokemon while exploring, weakening it in battle and hurling a Pokeball at it, before crossing your fingers for a successful capture. The caught Pokemon is then yours to add to your team, and is one more notch on your way to catching them all.
Setting out on a journey across the Alola region's islands, a large part of Pokemon is about exploring, finding your way through the various caves, forests and towns, talking to the locals and taking on Alola's Island Challenges. Each consisting of a few small 'trials', you'll be battling Pokemon, helping search for lost items, and even taking a short quiz as you try to prove yourself as a Pokemon trainer. Before you're able to progress to the next island, you'll also need to battle (and beat) each region's Kahuna - an esteemed Pokemon trainer and local leader - before you can continue your journey. Figuring out where to head next, exploring random caves and searching the wilderness for interesting Pokemon is all part and parcel of your little adventure as you work towards becoming the Island Challenge Champion.
How easy is Pokemon Ultra Moon to pick up and play?
With its simple battles, and easy to understand concept, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are among the most accessible role playing games out there. Helpful characters will talk you through the basics of catching, raising and battling Pokemon, amongst other things, so even newcomers should be able to learn the ropes without too much effort. When defeated in battle, fallen Pokemon merely 'faint', and can be revived and healed at the nearest Pokemon Centres, which are located in most towns - there's no such thing as death here, and you're able to dust yourself off and try again at any battle you lose at along the way. While its sometimes a little tricky to figure out where to go and what to do next during the course of your journey, the upgraded Rotom Pokedex does have a handy GPS built in, which will show you the way to your next objective.
For the youngest of players, a solid reading ability here is a requirement, as while the games may be easy to pick up and play, they're also full of reading. With nothing in the way of voice acting, and some fairly lengthy story segments (not to mention tutorials) to get through, there's a lot of reading to be done in each adventure.
- "Hey, I've got an idea for you, Sarah. If you head through the village and up the hill, you can visit the ruins that belong to Tapu Koko. That's our island's guardian deity, yeah. Why don't you go and introduce yourself?"
- "Yo yo yo! Pretty strong, ain't you? Then go right ahead. I'm no numskull. I don't fight battles I can't win!
- "While you're in the air, move the Circle Pad in any direction to spin and twist. You'll add more points to your score if you do! If you can chain together several of these spins during the same aerial, you can pull off a bold move that will earn you a high score!"
As with most games in the much-loved Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are pretty tame in terms of mature content - there's no blood and gore, no sexual content and no bad language whatsoever. Characters battle with each other through the use of their Pokemon creatures, which punch, throw thunderbolts, and pelt their enemies with magical spells, in highly stylised, cartoon-y fights. Attacks are accompanied by impact sounds and bright flashes of light - when defeated, Pokemon faint, fall over and disappear into their Pokeballs, unable to battle any longer. By taking said Pokemon to a nearby Pokemon Centre, you can heal it back up, right as rain and ready for battle once more.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS