Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: The Pokemon Company, Nintendo
Release Date: November 21th 2014
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Over a year ago, the whole world was awed as Game Freak brought Pokemon X and Y to the store shelves. Aside from the new region to explore and new Pokemon to catch, we were blown away as we played our first ever 3D Pokemon adventure, played with Pokemon with Pokemon Amie and Super Training, and enjoyed Mega-Evolving our Kanto starters! And now, Game Freak decided to fulfill one of our biggest desires since Heart Gold and Soul Silver. Giving us a remastered 3D adventure in Hoenn.
Generally, remakes are a mixed bag in general. There are some great remakes, while there are some that don’t quite bring out the same magic as the earlier iterations did. However, Pokemon is an exception as Game Freak has a great track record of remaking previous Pokemon games. At least so far anyway. Fire Red/Leaf Green versions were pretty decent aside from some limitations that were from hardware. Heart Gold/Soul Silver were really solid remakes as they were able to bring more to the table than Fire Red/Leaf Green did. Now, what about Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire?
If you have actually played Ruby or Sapphire, then you could expect the same plot and beats to be included in the remastered adventure with the exception of Mega Evolution integrated into the story. Which means Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire will feature the same version-exclusive baddie teams, Team Magma and Team Aqua (respectively), attempting to try and to use the respective legendary Pokemon, Groudon and Kyorge, to take over the Hoenn region. Another thing to expect from the latest entry in the Pokemon series is the inclusion of most of the features that X and Y had (ie Battle Maison, Pokemon Amie, more Mega Evolutions, etc.). Nothing was done to change that, but honestly, does it need to be?
Aside from the mechanics from the more recent generations integrated into this remake, you could also expect the aesthetics to be redone in accordance to the modern Pokemon standards. The music in the game didn’t get retouched too much, as all of the tunes from Ruby/Sapphire are very familiar with some modifications. However, the differences weren’t too shabby. The modified exploring tunes got a bit more mellow and the modified battle themes sounded slightly more epic. They also added some extra tunes from it’s exclusive content (more on that later) as well as from more recent generations to accommodate…ummm, certain Pokemon. The most obvious aesthetic change of course was the transistion from 2D to 3D. The graphics got a major uplift in comparison previous iteration of Ruby and Sapphire, but compared to the graphics in X/Y, it’s pretty much the same more or less.
In addition to the aesthetic modifications to Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, there are some new features that were brought into Omega Ruby/Sapphire as well as modifications of certain mechanics in Ruby and Sapphire.
Brand new to Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, the player gets Area Nav not too long after the player obtains their starter. Area Nav is a fun feature for finding different pokemon, as it allows players to discover what Pokemon dwells in tall grass or in water on any given route. Any Pokemon that they have encountered will be silhouetted, while the caught Pokemon will be shown in full color. It was also brought in to help players encounter rare Pokemon as well as Pokemon with rare abilities/attacks. The encounter with these rare pokemon can be triggered by slightly tilting your joystick, moving your character slowly into the pokemon sticking out of the grass. With this, you could also discover Pokemon that is not part of Hoenn Pokedex before obtaining the National Pokedex. In terms of searching for Pokemon exclusive for the Regional Pokedex, am I the only guy who needed this feature from the very beginning??
The only exclusive feature in Ruby/Sapphire being brought back into the remastered adventure is the Secret Bases, and they have become better than ever! Game Freak decided to add more locations to give Secret Base fans more options to set up their bases. Aside from decorating your base with pictures, Pokemon dolls, and other objects, you can also invite other players to be part of your base. You could arrange them all around your base to your liking to make it like a Pokemon Gym. You could go into other players’ bases and fight other trainers inside their bases as well. During my playthrough of the game, I was able to climb into bases of other players that I have encountered via Wonder Trade after they have set it up and I didn’t really need to be close in physical proximity of them to do so thanks to the modern internet. Just the accessibility of the internet alone made Secret Bases much more fun to play around with.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire has brought quite a bit of new features as well as returning features, but they are all pretty minor. There are a couple of them that are worth mentioning though. After going through most of the campaign, you gain the ability to soar on a Pokemon freely over the Hoenn region at any time. Even though it’s more convenient to have a HM fly slave fly you from Town A to Town B, it is essential in certain cases as soaring can give you access to certain areas you couldn’t access through any other means. And plus, it’s a pleasant view flying over Hoenn. Lastly, to add a little more to Pokemon Contests, Game Freak decided to bring Cosplay Pikachu, which you could dress the main Pokemon mascot into different costumes. Even though Pikachu can look cool, smart, or cute depending on their costumes, they can serve for battling purposes as well. Each costume can give Pikachu a certain move depending on the costume, which means Pikachu in Lucha Libre costume can execute Flying Press in Nacho Libre style!
Exclusive to Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, the game has a new aspect added to the main campaign called the Delta Episode. The story of this episode takes place after defeating the Pokemon League champion. This tells the story of the asteroid that was set on course to crash into the Hoenn region ties in to events that occurred 3000 years ago. The actual purpose of including this episode is unclear (maybe a teaser for Emerald remake or perhaps tying in Mega Evolution mystery). However, the Delta episode is a nice refresher to all Pokemon fans alike as it adds on a good amount of content after the main campaign as well as the story being brand new. This adds on at least a few hours to the game, but hey, you get to be in space! Which is pretty cool right?
Is this just another trip down nostalgia lane for hardcore Ruby/Sapphire fans? Maybe it is. Does it have the same formula as the previous games? Well, it’s expected at this point, but there’s more to it than that. It is just a great game that can stand on it’s own two feet. It is apparent that Game Freak knows how to appeal to hardcore Pokemon players and casual Pokemon players. And it shows in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. Even though that the classic mechanics and the gameplay are used over and over, they are just as pure as ever, and Game Freak knows how to keep things fresh without making any Pokemon game stale. Like every other main entry in the Pokemon series, this game is worth picking it up. Of course, you’d have to pick your favorite version.
Oh and one more thing, with pairing up with X and Y, it is actually possible to catch them all. Yes. You heard that right. You could catch ALL of them. And if there is a Legendary Pokemon or two that you didn’t get, I’m sure that they’ll roll out with an online event to fix that! Happy hunting everyone!