It’s not uncommon for Pokémon games to get remakes.
I mean, we were all rooting for a Hoenn remake for years, and when it finally did happen (only 11 years later), it was cause for celebration.
Today, though, Pokémon Moon is just one day shy of a year old, and it already has a remake. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon hit the shelves today—and although it’s really close to the original and unlikely to feature massive graphical updates or anything, it’s still cause for excitement.
I’m in a bit of an awkward position because I won’t be able to play them just yet; there’s an ongoing rule where I’m not allowed to buy anything for myself basically from Halloween to Boxing Day because birthday and Christmas.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t get excited.
This generation has been a big shift for the franchise—in many ways, it’s setting the stage for the next generation. And here’s why.
A whole new world
Pokémon regions tend to be geographically diverse, but not overly consistent. For example, if you look at the Hoenn region in Alpha Sapphire, there are all kinds of ecological systems, from mountain ranges to deep seas and deserts.
They also include a variety of cultures; HeartGold, for example, has everything from a traditionally Asian city to small European villages and American metropolises.
The regions themselves generally don’t have many overarching defining features, though. For the most part, they don’t have a theme, or any clues that places them at a specific location in the world.
Sun and Moon mixed that up a little.
Sure, there are a variety of ecological systems across the islands, but there was a coherent overall theme of the tropics. Every town you visited had a similar culture, and overall, it made the map a much more believable adventure.
Unique Alolan Pokémon
Although most games introduced new collections to the Pokédex as you traveled, there weren’t many region-specific variations.
In fact, I think the closest the game ever got before was to introduce location-specific evolutions for Eevee, Leafeon and Glaceon, who needed to be near specific rocks that were only in certain games in order to evolve.
Alola did give us a few new Pokémon, but its biggest selling feature was that it introduced localized variations on existing Pokémon.
I still need to get my hands on an Alolan Vulpix, but I like the idea of taking the classics and giving them a new twist to challenge legacy players, as opposed to just creating new Pokémon that would get roasted for being garbage (nothing personal, Trubbish).
Because isn’t it more fun to play with an elemental fox than a sentient bag of rubbish?
This special boost for Pokémon replaced the undeniably OP game mechanic of Mega Stones, and gave the game a unique twist without changing the gameplay too much.
I have to admit I was sad about this feature.
As someone who spends a lot of time grinding to raise the perfect little Pokémon eggs, I liked being able to mega-evolve my Pokémon to one-hit just about anything.
While the Z-Power was designed to serve that same purpose, I found it wasn’t as effective because it didn’t raise any stats.
I especially loved Lucario (basic, I know), and I always wished there was one for Dragonite too, especially after the introduction of Fairy type turned it into an oversized temper tantrum rather than an effective battler.
That’s probably part of why I willfully neglected Z-Powers. They’re type-specific and you only get one per type, which makes it tedious for a player who rotates their battle party regularly to get the full effect.
The best is yet to come?
There are several things I’m looking forward to in these new games.
Thing 1: We’re getting a different side of the same story.
Generally, I’m a big fan of the double-sided story. Chalk it up to a lifetime spent studying stories and literature, but I never believe that one side is always right and one side is always wrong.
I like the idea that the story is going to be very similar, but cover a different aspect that we didn’t really get into because we were too busy being distracted by an evil mastermind mother and her obsession with otherworldly tentacle monsters.
Thing 2: This is reportedly the last instalment of the Pokémon games for Nintendo’s 3DS system.
In many ways, that makes it the end of an era, effectively bookending the set that started with Pearl and Diamond in 2006.
Personally, I’m hoping to find some good Easter eggs and a solid taste of the eccentricity that Pokémon has come to be known for.
Thing 3: It’s setting the stage for Pokémon games to move to the Switch.
Yes, this is going to be the last version for the 3DS, but let’s be real here for a second. Pokémon as a franchise is not going to die off.
The fact that the games are no longer going to be on the 3DS just means that they’re probably moving to a more robust system: the Switch. It’s going to be a whole new ball game (yes, I went there), and I can’t help but be excited about what’s to come!