Whoever came up with “paired” games is most likely in the Nintendo hall of fame by now. More than 20 years ago, Nintendo and developer GameFreak unleashed a gaming juggernaut, in two distinct flavours. Called Pokémon Red and Blue, this formula of complementary games would go on to define the series and Nintendo’s increasingly deep pockets.
The core idea was simple: Each version would be mechanically the same, with minor differences and exclusives in each partner game. That would ensure that players traded with one another to complete their pokedex. Trust me, completing that damn catalogue is an obsession, it’s all-consuming and Nintendo has hooked me every single time with a new release.
Anyway! Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is out this week. Which version is the best? Here’s a breakdown on the differences between them.
Just like with previous games, you’ll only find a small selection of Pokémon in the game of your choice. Here’s what each version has to offer:
- Alolan Vulpix
- Alolan Ninetales
- Lurantis (Totem-sized)
- Alolan Sandshrew
- Alolan Sandslash
- Salazzle (Totem-sized)
Pokémon’s top-tier legendaries are also locked to certain versions of the game, albeit there are a LOT more legendaries from previous generations to encounter.
The strange new pocket monsters from another reality look weirder than fake eyebrows, with Ultra Sun and Moon introducing two new additions to their mighty roster:
Cover art Legendary Pokémon
I think it’s safe to say that most people choose their version of Pokemon based on which cover legendary appeals to them the most. What began with Ho-Oh and Lugia in the generation II days continues once again with Solgaleo and Lunala, as these two legendaries also exhibit brand new forms in the Sun and Moon sequels:
Every Pokémon game has had that one ultra-rare legendary critter, whose power dwarfs that of even the cover titans of each generation. For the Sun and Moon generation, Necrozma was that Pokémon. A Psychic-type composed of dark crystals, Necrozma has two new version exclusive forms for players to grab:
Dusk Mane Necrozma
Dawn Wings Necrozma
Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon may have the same narrative, but it unfolds in a manner that is set 12 hours apart from each other. While Ultra Sun will always cycle in day and night according to your clock, Ultra Moon will always be 12 hours ahead and presumably this will mean that you embark on your journey mostly at night.
Which also means different Pokémon will inhabit the wilds. You’ll also interact with a new group in the Alolan region, called the Ultra Recon Squad. Having some sort of connection to the new Ultra-Beasts that come from a dimension outside of the time and space of the usual Pokémon universe, players will cross paths with members of this mysterious new group.
Ultra Sun players will tangle with Dulse and Zossie, while Ultra Moon fans get to meet Phyco and Soliera.
And that’s it really! Beyond those differences, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are still the same core games at heart. There’s still the Island Trials to tackle, still new characters to meet and still a new incarnation of Team Rocket to tangle with that pays homage to leaders of past villainous organisations from the Pokémon history books.
It all kicks off on November 17 for the final core Pokémon game on the Nintendo 3DS. What a wild ride it has been.
Last Updated: November 14, 2017