The latest Pokémon Direct was a little underwhelming to put it politely. With predictions of a game dubbed Pokémon Stars coming to the Nintendo Switch fluttering around social media, to be left with remakes of Sun and Moon on the 3DS a year later didn’t send a thunderbolt across Alola. Without much footage shown, what Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be is so far a mystery, however likely it is that we’re looking at an uninspiring, slightly larcenous move by Nintendo to maintain the life support of the 3DS. So to make Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon a success, what expectations should we have?
The Story of Necrozma
Within many of the Pokémon games, there’s always that third legendary whose story is revealed after the games. In Pokémon X and Y, we had Zygarde whose different forms depended on the cells it had absorbed. This was first shown in the animé, before being a feature in Pokémon Sun and Moon, the generation after.
Judging by the promotional images available for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, there’s a high chance that Necrozma has a link with Solgaleo and Lunala, even the possibility of fusion, which we haven’t seen since Pokémon Black and White when Kyurem fused with either Zekrom or Reshirem. Curiously, with the background we already know, Necrozma being a member of the Cosmog family shouldn’t be out of the question. On the back of Necrozma is a star, which is the missing link between much of the Cosmog lineage. The word ‘necro’ itself means death, insinuating that Necrozma is a reference to a dead star or a black dwarf. In this incidence, Necrozma completes the life cycle of the star, starting from its birth as Cosmog; a cosmic smog.
Its Pokédex entry hints at Necrozma’s violent and eruptive nature, in contrast to Solgaleo and Lunala’s benevolent disposition. Each generation of Pokémon utilizes a balance between the legendaries, and a balance has yet to be truly revealed in Sun and Moon. Necrozma has a unique story to tell, and for the sake of balance and a deeper understanding of Alola, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon must have Necrozma at the center of the story.
Back to Kanto
The final scene of Sun and Moon had Lillie take her journey to Kanto, leaving you behind. The links between Kanto and Alola are evident, from the Alolan forms to the player growing up in the region. Much of Sun and Moon relied on the nostalgia that Pokémon Go had built up the months before, reminding the older players of their original journey in Kanto.
The moment you didn’t travel with Lillie to Kanto was devastating. In many ways, the story of Kanto was never complete. Team Rocket was never defeated and still existed in Johto, waiting for Giovanni’s return. Plus, the genetic engineering taking place didn’t dig as deep as it could have, and with the possibility of fusion with Necrozma, there’s certainly room to revisit Kanto, and Mewtwo itself. Darwinism was at the heart of Sun and Moon, and it was at the heart of Red and Blue too. Just like Gold and Silver, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon need a Kanto end game.
The Gym Challenge
You’d be forgiven for not noticing some peculiar empty squares, roughly the size of the standard buildings in Pokémon. More peculiar, there was eight of them, one in each of the towns and cities across Alola. Coincidence? Maybe, but it was revealed that Alola was developing its own Pokémon League in the game itself, and from what we know from previous games, a Pokémon League needs a gym challenge.
The trials were fun, and to some extent, it was nice to do something new in a Pokémon game. However, it would be a lie to suggest gyms weren’t missed. There’s something special about challenging a gym leader, who’s renowned in his or her town for having much strength and wisdom in regards to Pokémon battles. In many ways, totem pokémon belonged in a game outside of the main series. They served as a challenge, but not to the rigid format of a gym battle. The achievement of obtaining a Z-crystal never felt as illustrious as earning a gym badge. The change was fun, but should never be made permanent.
In the acknowledgment of Alola creating its own Pokémon League, it’s obvious that the trial captains should become the next gym leaders, with the island kahunas already becoming the elite four of the region. If Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are to be set after Sun and Moon, then it’s quite obvious this should be its format.
Further into Ultra Space
The extra-dimension was a unique first for Pokémon, something it could have done in previous games where Pokémon were known to come from space. It represents an opportunity to explore past the Pokémon World, and into the Pokémon Universe. When traveling through the Ultra Wormhole and to an alien world, you realize there’s an opportunity to expand on this and further the possibilities of Pokémon.
Through the Wormhole were other Ultra Beasts that Sun and Moon hadn’t revealed, and it seems Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is geared up for further Ultra Beasts. It would be quite odd to name the games with ‘ultra’ in the title and not further its very concept. However, Nintendo likes to tease us, and there’s the very likelihood that Ultra Beasts won’t even feature.
This would obviously be a mistake. Ultra Beasts were the most exciting aspect of Pokémon Sun and Moon, and the expansion of the concept, along with additional creatures to invade Alola would be an exciting prospect. There’s also the opportunity to expand upon Pokémon such as Elgyem and Beheeyem, which are extraterrestrial Pokémon that have never received the boost they so desperately need. If the Pokémon World is going into space, there’s a great opportunity to strengthen some of the existing Pokémon who could become part of the Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon story.
With all these possibilities, the reaction to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon has been lukewarm, and rightly so. Nintendo has a lot of work to do to convince Pokémon fans that the next installment in generation seven is a unique experience, and is worth handing their money over to experience it.