Enlarge / New stories, like the one involving the Pokémon-absorbing Necrozma, arrive very late in these new versions. (credit: Pokémon)

The 3DS ought to be winding down by now. The Switch is far from a complete failure, at least for the time being, and Nintendo has already begun to push its biggest and brightest franchises onto the new hardware. Pokémon, the international catch-and-battle craze that solely justified my owning three different Game Boys as a child, isn’t far behind (especially if you count spinoffs).

That’s why Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon feel so odd. The series is no stranger to remakes, but these new ones come just one year after vanilla Sun and Moon graced the same hardware, not the more standard two, or three, or even 10 years apart. That’s not to mention that Nintendo has a perfectly good, new game system without any traditional Pokémon games that could have hosted a remake. You’d think Ultra would be a better fit because not only is its new content new, but its old content is new as well.

And make no mistake: Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are one-year-old games with some new stuff thrown in. They have a whole heaping helping of new stuff, to be fair, but, foundationally, the games are the same as their predecessors. You start as a child newly moved to the islands of Alola, Pokémon’s equivalent of Hawaii, and set off on an adventure to best each landmass’ Pokémon-centric trials. These replace Gym battles from the last two-plus decades’ worth of Pokémon games and shake things up considerably but not so much that fans won’t recognize the trials for what they are.

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