Jim the Editor asks:

I thought you were going to talk about something similar to what you said in the celesteela article…

…oh yeah

right, we were going to use that space question as an excuse to go off on that tangent about Ultra Space that I didn’t do in the Celesteela thing

bollocks

See, this is why I keep him around.

Right, let’s talk about that now. So the thing about Ultra Space that I think is a bit weird is that it’s… not altogether clear what it actually is.

When we travel through Ultra Space to visit other worlds with Lunala and Solgaleo in Ultra Smoon, we’re given figures for how far we’ve travelled in “light years” – which, as we learned from Jr. Trainer Liam of the Pewter City Gym, “isn’t time; it measures distance!” The implication is that we’re travelling, via the medium of Ultra Space, to other locations in our universe, which can be related back to Alola in terms of linear distance (generally a distance of a couple of thousand light years, which is a lot further than humanity is ever likely to travel in the foreseeable future, but still pretty local on a galactic scale). And that… kind of makes sense, because that’s what a “wormhole” does in theoretical physics; it links two points in real space (or… it is two points in real space bent together, or… I think there’s a metaphor with a bowling ball and a tarp… look, I’m not a physicist, okay?). But on the other hand, it sometimes seems like the worlds of Ultra Space are supposed to be parallel universes; in Sun and Moon, we can visit what looks like an alternate Alola (seemingly the Alola of the game opposite to ours, since the time of day is reversed) to receive a second Cosmog. Besides that, we know from Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby that Pokémon does seem to believe in parallel universes, and conceives of the different versions of the game as existing alongside each other that way (which was certainly an explanation for something that didn’t really need explaining, but off they went and explained it anyway). And then there’s Guzzlord’s world, which… well. We’ll talk about that when we do Guzzlord. Just to make things even more confusing, I’ve also seen it suggested, although I don’t know if I buy this, that the different worlds of Ultra Space all represent Alola at different points in time, from the primordial sea of Nihilego to a desolate far future inhabited by Pheromosa. Probably the most persuasive argument against this is that, if it’s what the designers intended, it would have made sense for them to make fossil Pokémon available in Ultra Space (also, the “distances” of the different worlds from Alola don’t seem to match up with the presumed timeline). Worlds we can visit that are inhabited by ordinary Pokémon are probably more suited to a parallel universe or time travel theory, but can still make sense if we’re travelling to other planets, because we know that Ultra Wormholes have been opening in Alola for a long time – long enough for Pokémon from our world to have stumbled through them and, by sheer luck, found planets they could “colonise.”

Any of these possibilities would have major implications for everything we encounter in Ultra Space. Are the humans of Ultra Megalopolis a civilisation that was split off from the humans of Earth thousands of years ago and have since evolved independently on a distant planet? Are they an alternate version of humanity’s potential development, the culmination of a history that diverged from ours long ago due to the intervention of Necrozma in a place that was almost, but not quite, Alola? Or are they humanity’s future, after we’ve spread to other planets and developed more advanced technology to cope with life in the void? What about Necrozma itself, or Lunala and Solgaleo – are they dimension-hoppers, time-travellers, or just spacefarers? The Ultra Beasts might come from other planets, but not be truly “alien,” if they’re actually descended from Pokémon that were exiled to those worlds in ancient times (or vice versa…). They might be the product of parallel evolutionary destinies that Pokémon could have experienced in other universes – but those universes can cross-pollinate, reintroducing extinct lineages to each other, or splattering unique mutations across the multiverse. And they might be creatures of Alola’s past or future, but… well, come on, do I really have to spell out the kind of butterfly effect shenanigans we might cause by interfering in distant parts of the timeline?

To make matters worse, Ultra Beasts exist now – they’re on the list of Pokémon that we have to catch in order to complete the Pokédex, and there they will be for the rest of time. That means that every future generation of games has to somehow work Ultra Space in, but Game Freak probably isn’t going to want to elaborate on Ultra Space any further or do anything interesting with it – new generations will have new concepts that the designers want to explore. In short, Ultra Space is confusing, it’s very hard to know exactly how it’s confusing, and it’s not going anywhere.

3 thoughts on “Jim the Editor asks:

  1. While I agree Game Freak likely won’t elaborate on Ultra Space anytime soon (if ever), part of me still hopes the studio will sit still long enough to deepen old lore instead of continue making new lore. I mean, in some distant future Smoon remakes are plausible, and (just like how ORAS expand on RSE’s lore) they might shed light on a bit more… of course, by then we’ll be several alternate universes away from this one but… honestly, I would be ecstatic if they spent more time on this all. Theory crafting is fun but… I don’t know, I actually like Ultra Beasts but think they need more fleshing out, they just raise so many questions with no answers, and not silly questions like, “what does Diglett look like underground?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe the distance in light years refers to how far away the parallel universe is from theirs in a fourth direction outside of the three spatial dimensions?

    Like

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