Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon launch next month, just a year after their predecessors, Sun and Moon. Sequels are nothing new to the Pokemon franchise, of course: starting with 1998's Pokemon Yellow, every pair of games in the series has received a third "upper" version, each of them bringing small improvements and changes to the base games' story.
That trend continued with Pokemon Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum, before Black / White and Sun / Moon were each succeeded by two sequels--Black 2 / White 2 and Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon. Now, in an interview with GameSpot, developer Game Freak has explained why it has decided to go that route with its latest games, rather than the single enhanced version it used to opt for.
"This time around there are differences in the story between the two versions that lead us to a split," said Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon's director, Kazumasa Iwao. "But one particularly appealing aspect for us in creating two different upper versions is that we can get many more different Pokemon and characters into the story and into the game itself. If you try and force all of that into a single upper version then the relationships between characters and their interactions they have can start to get a little bit confused and a bit disjointed, whereas if we separate them into two versions we can really focus in and make sure there's a strong core to the story. Splitting into two versions allows us to draw the most from the characters in the game, and hopefully players will enjoy that."
As for which of Ultra Sun or Ultra Moon you should buy, Iwao said it depends on what you want to get out of the game. He explained: "One point users might want to consider is that the Pokedex in Pokemon Ultra Sun is based on the Pokedex in Pokemon Sun and the same for Ultra Moon and Moon. So if something the players are really looking for is Pokedex completion, they might find it better to go for the opposite version this time round in order to help complete their Pokedex."
However, it's not quite that simple. Ultra Sun and Moon producer Shigeru Ohmori went on to say there is some advantage to choosing the same version you chose last time round: "Equally if you're looking for a story-based experience then those who played Pokemon Sun may want to go for Ultra Sun as there are some small details that remain consistent throughout the two that might appeal to people looking for a story-based game."
Elsewhere in our interview, Game Freak shared why Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon aren't coming to Nintendo Switch and explained how the upcoming games are helping the development of Pokemon for Switch. The 3DS games launch on November 17, featuring an "alternate" story and some new Pokemon. If you're still playing last year's games, however, you can check out all the free Pokemon and items you can get in Pokemon Sun and Moon right now.