Eclectic fashion sense aside, something undeniably struck me like an Aerial Ace directly to the brain cells as I began to finish up my second replay of Pokémon Ultra Moon at the beginning of the national quarantine. The Rainbow Rocket saga elucidated to me that the creators of Pokémon consistently employ an astounding execution of multiverse theory as compared to other franchises; even beyond video games. This is a bold statement considering the history of mass media and the amount of time to perfect theatrical depictions of the profound scientific concept, but trust your boy.
What is multiverse theory in a nutshell? Multiverse theory is a scientific theory that discusses the possibility of alternate dimensions that exist parallel to ours, containing similar, if not practically congruent concepts such as venues, individual people, and individual personalities. The addictingly sociological, psychological and scientific tie-ins of multiverse theory is the fact that even though the obvious parallels exist, simply ONE event can create an entirely different timeline. There’s a timeline where you stayed with the love of your life and a timeline where you never even met them due to the time of a specific day in the alternate universe when you chose to go somewhere else for lunch instead. There’s a timeline where you stopped getting into anime and “nerd” material after elementary school and an alternate timeline where you continued the weeb life because a certain someone was there for the journey with you, marketing it in ways you couldn’t see if experiencing alone. There’s a timeline where cases of a virus in the most powerful nation in history rose to astronomical levels due to a incompetent government and ignorant actions of the public vs an alternate timeline of where the nation’s government in flawless conjunction healthcare system does everything in its power immediately to curb the problem while the public themselves take every precautionary step possible, causing cases to dwindle in only a few weeks. But you get the point!
Many large franchises have tackled multiverse theory with some franchises such as Marvel scrapping the entire common perception of what the concept entails. GameFreak, Nintendo and their partners did an excellent job with simplifying how different events can completely change a timeline while allowing gamers to fully understand the concept through seemingly infinite levels of exploration.
Why is it important that video games have this element? I wrote in 2017 nearing the time of Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon’s release about the importance of studying large franchises’ execution of world building if one is to build their own business, series, etc. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is an alternate timeline of Pokémon Sun and Moon version in which the legendary Pokémon Necrozma is more featured throughout the story of the alternate timeline, making cameos from the very beginning of the newer games through the latter parts of the games. The plot is the same in general, with the mere heightening of Necrozma’s presence affecting key changes in the gameplay. These are not all of the changes, but the most relevant in my opinion that display great intention in remixing storytelling to optimize gameplay for fans of the series:
In the timeline of Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, Necrozma’s origins are explored in depth by the Ultra Recon squad in addition to the Alola Region’s written legend. The Ultra Recon Squad seeks counsel from anyone in your world because, in theirs, Necrozma has stolen their world’s light forever, causing them to have pale skin and have to wear suits to survive. Tragic, really.
Necrozma’s presence in your world is exacerbated by Lusamine’s problematic research in bringing the Ultra Beasts of other dimensions to your own world for her own selfish, twisted reasons. In this timeline, instead of seeking Ultra Beasts, she primarily seeks Necrozma because the Ultra Recon Squad came to YOUR timeline specifically and educated her about Necrozma.
Instead of being possessed by Nihilego when she and Guzma travel through the Ultra Wormhole as in the plot of Sun/Moon, Necrozma kicks their asses, consequently giving Necrozma a pathway to your world.
Necrozma itself summons the Ultra Beast invasion upon your world instead of Lusamine’s actions in the original Sun/Moon. In your timeline, your world gets your game’s new Ultra Beast exclusive (Blacephalon for Ultra Sun, Stakataka for Ultra Moon) instead of the Ultra Beasts exclusives of Sun and Moon (Buzzwole and Pheromosa respectively).
In your timeline of Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, you battle a different slew of Totem Pokémon as compared to Sun and Moon.
In your timeline of Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, the eccentric Fairy type “Trial Captain” that you battle in the Vast Poni Canyon of Sun/Moon actually has a trial in your timeline, prompting a delightful challenge to obtain the Rainbow Flower and challenge your favorite captains with higher level Pokémon, something not able to be done in Sun/Moon.
Professor Kukui decides not to battle you for the seat to become Champion of Alola. Instead, in one last epic battle reminiscent of the rival battle in the original Red/Blue/Green versions, you are challenged by Hau in your first attempt at the throne.
The Ultra Recon Squad asks for your assistance in capturing the new version exclusive Ultra Beasts in Poni Grove, reminiscent of the entire post-game activity of the same vein for Sun/Moon.
Later on your trek to the Battle Tree, you meet Anabel and Looker, in a much more positive and innocent light than Sun/Moon. Here, the tragic story of Anabel being a Faller is not explored, with the Ultra Beasts no longer targeting her as they did in the post-game of Sun/Moon.
In the post-game of Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, Faba of Aether Paradise prompts the entire Rainbow Rocket incident, in which he brings the leaders of the villain organizations from past Pokémon generations into one super villainous team lead by Giovanni. This post-game side story is not only amazing because the villains are from their original games in how they originally appeared, but they are EACH taken from a timeline in which they obtain their respective main objective. The battles are epic, containing remixed versions of their boss themes from their original games, with you being able to battle their classic roster INCLUDING their coordinating legendary Pokémon.
My favorite part of this grand retelling that utilizes multiverse theory in a super clever way is the Ultra Wormhole traveling post-game experience. Not only is the mini-game arguably the best mini-game for mainline games in Pokémon History, but essentially, every portal is literally a portal to a different dimension. Thus, even if you enter wormholes of similar color time and time again, they are technically NOT the same dimension. Also, since there is only one-of-one legendaries in select wormholes, this means that you are literally entering a different dimension where you are capturing the Pokémon of that unique dimension. This is literally one of the most fascinatingly executed parts of multiverse theory.
This isn’t the first time Pokémon has attempted and successfully executed re-tellings using multiverse theory. In my past article, I briefly explained them steadily building the concept up cohesively up through Generation 6.
All of this goes to show that when executing a concept in whatever media/product you are building, cohesiveness and research can make it a longstanding success through the tests of time.