I hate winter. I hate winter with all the power of my soul and then some, a feature made worse by the four winters I spent as a California girl (with a New England upbringing and a New York City future). I have a nasty case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the hilariously aptly acronymed SAD, which basically makes me feel like shit during the long, cold, dark winter months.
Why am I telling you this? Because the tropical, happy, warm Pokemon Ultra Sun has been a very nice pick-me up in the last few days, particularly after we entered daylight savings time and it gets dark way too goddamned early.
It is essentially the same excellent game as last year’s Pokemon Sun and Moon (as ever, the two iterations of the game are near identical, with a few different legendary pokemon and story cues). Last year, I played Moon and loved it, with a very sweet little companion Popplio to keep me company. This time around, I’m playing the Sun version ( Ultra Sun), with an adorable Litten, setting fire to all my enemies.
The game takes place on the fictional Alola Islands—basically a very touristy vision of Hawaii, as Waypoint columnist Rob Rath dived into last year—a warm, sunny, friendly place. People wear Hawaiian shirts and greet you with “cousin!” Professor Kukui still runs around in board shorts and a lab coat, abs out in all their glory, chilling with Pokemon in his surfside lab.
There are pretty sunsets and gleaming ocean shots and a generally pleasing palette everywhere you look. This is a comforting, warm place to visit, and, as usual, a fun place to be.
The gameplay is essentially the same light and fluffy JRPG that Pokemon has been since the X and Y revisions, with hundreds of critters to catch and battle. Ultra Sun boasts 100+ new creatures from last year’s iteration, and no, I haven’t even come close to catching them all yet. I’m not sure if I will, but hey, I appreciate that they’re in there, waiting in the tall grass. Well, the legendaries are usually in more exciting places than that, and their wild designs and actual challenge in catching them defines the late game for me.
I’m hoping to get there, with Ultra Sun. I’m glad to have this game by my side for the crappy cold months, when I need a little taste of Alola in my life. Maybe I’ll even get a Rowlet this time around.