We already know Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are the last Nintendo 3DS entries in the series. Game Freak is also working on a Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch. This means these two games are an end of an era. After years of Nintendo handhelds getting entries, it seems like it is moving to a whole new level. But something that really helps with this transition is a new post-game element present in these two games. By bringing these villains and this additional experience in, it feels like Game Freak has given us a chance to say goodbye to all of these villains we have faced on Nintendo handhelds again.
Editor’s note: there will be spoilers for the Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Team Rainbow Rocket storyline below.
The Team Rainbow Rocket storyline in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is an actual questline in the game. This isn’t like a Battle Tree or Battle Maison affair. We have an actual storyline with other characters getting involved. Once you are the Alola Region’s champion, you learn the Aether Foundation and Festival Plaza have been infiltrated by Team Rainbow Rocket. This is a group that came through an Ultra Wormhole, called by Rocket’s ideology and determination. It is up to you to investigate and find out what is going on with the help of characters like Lillie, Wicke, Sophicles, and Guzma.
Heading into the Aether Foundation headquarters feels like going into a traditional Team Rocket (or other team, frankly) dungeon. You have an idea of the layout already, due to previous experience with the area, but now Team Rainbow Rocket grunts are littered about. There’s that nefarious air from them that Team Skull and even the other Ether Foundation minions seemed to lack. Especially when you eventually reach the “castle” that has materialized as a result of their appearance and influence. There are actual puzzles to try and think through, to get through this new area. There are even callbacks to previous Pokémon games, such as having an item end up actually being an Electrode in disguise. Having a group we can consider truly evil to vanquish is a good rallying point.
Lillie and Guzma’s improved roles in this Team Rainbow Rocket storyline is also encouraging. She is acting as an actual trainer here. She assists you when handling grunts, saying she will actually step up and help hold people off. I mean, we even take part in double battles with her against people like Faba and one of his remaining, loyal Aether Foundation lackeys. It is an empowering moment for her and I felt it was satisfying for me too, since it felt like Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon had us helping her grow into a stronger person. And as for Guzma, it is a chance for him to make good. He lost everything during the course of the game. But now that Team Rainbow Rocket is here, he has a chance to show he isn’t the bad guy. We fight alongside him too, giving us a chance to connect with someone who has always seemed a little misunderstood.
It even gives us a chance to think about the “what ifs.” These other people we are facing, people like Archie, Cyrus, Ghetsis, Lysandre, and Maxie, all won in their worlds. They have the legendary Pokémon they were attempting to steal or subdue in their respective adventures. Given how “ultimate” Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are supposed to be, it seems fitting to close it out with our avatar from this game being capable of beating all of the best villains when others have failed. Seeing Team Rainbow Rocket attempt to conquer all worlds with all villains’ and Ultra Beasts’ power and fall because of the player’s influence could be considered quite a power trip.
It’s almost like having this ultimate bad guy brigade is a good way to say goodbye to all of the past games. We’re seeing all of these villains again, as well as those games’ key legendary Pokémon. We’re getting a chance to wipe them out one last time, perhaps as a way to put an end to any and all influence they may have. We even get a new dungeon to explore and a chance to see two of the best characters from the Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon lines as heroes. I felt it was a fond farewell.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are available on the Nintendo 3DS.