One of my earliest and fondest memories of the last twelve years of my video gaming history was booting up my special edition Gameboy Advance SP for the first time and playing Pokémon Emerald on it back in 2004. At the time, the triumphs and struggles I faced in that game were unparalleled to any other I had ever played: From defeating the diverse leaders of the game’s enemy teams, Team Magma and Aqua, Maxie and Archie to facing off against Glacia, the third Elite Four member and Ice type Pokémon user with five members of my extremely under-levelled team and a very over-powered level 70 Rayquaza. Those of you with some amount of knowledge regarding Pokémon type match-ups (specifically Ice vs Dragon types), you know how well that went down…
For some of us, these memories of the Hoenn region are but far-away remembrances…Until now. Back in May of last year, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were both first revealed to the masses through an announcement trailer on the official Pokémon YouTube channel and I, for one, was going a little bit mad with excitement the whole day after I saw that trailer…Although, I had exams in the very same month, so that excitement was short-lived. Then, it was November and it was upon us: Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS, 2DS and New 3DS. But did these games live up to their hype and match or even excel at the feeling I felt back in the days of playing Emerald? Let’s find out.
Let’s be honest here, Pokémon’s gameplay at its core has never really changed. However, back in Pokémon X & Y, an overhaul of how a singular item worked changed the difficulty of that game for me from slightly challenging to quite literally a cakewalk. That item is the Exp. Share which has made Pokémon a lot easier ever since its change…and not in a good way. Basically, the item was changed so that instead of the original design of making one Pokémon hold the item and that Pokémon gaining a large percent of the experience from every battle. Now, the item can simply be turned on and off and every Pokémon in your party will gain the same amount (or even boosted if they are under-levelled) of experience as the original Pokémon would have gotten alone. Sadly, this change has carried over to these games so if you’re looking for a challenge, you should either turn off the Exp Share or just look elsewhere entirely.
The visuals of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are something to be gawked at to say the least. The visuals haven’t changed from X & Y since both sets of game run on the exact same engine but even after playing through Y and Omega Ruby twice each, the visuals are something which still look stunning for a 3DS game. To think that three years ago, the Pokémon games were still in mostly 2D astounds me after playing through the sixth-generation games. However, if you’re expecting to shocked by any visual changes from X & Y, don’t be, because they aren’t there.
The music of Pokémon games are something which I have always adored and the music in these games are no different especially when comparing them to the music of the original games, Ruby and Sapphire. Some of the older themes, such as Deoxys’ and the champion’s battle themes sent chills down my spine when I first heard them and are currently residing in my iTunes library along with every other piece of music in the game because it’s all just that damn good. The usage of the trumpets which made the music of Ruby and Sapphire so famous have sadly been replaced by more digital sounds but they definitely live up to the trumpets original performances.
Whilst playing through Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, I only encountered a single bug; a bug which was also quite prominent in X & Y which doesn’t seem to have been dealt with between the two sets of games. This bug basically makes the framerate of the game become essentially cut in half when the 3D is on and more than one Pokémon is on-screen. It’s not an issue that a large percent of players will have to deal with, since most 3DS users just keep the 3D off anyway but for those of us who do like the 3D on, like myself, it is a little bit annoying having the game run at half speed due to it…Other than that, I haven’t found anything that broke the game in anyway so good job there, Game Freak!
Overall, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are excellent remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. The music is everything I had hoped for and more, the games were as good looking as I though, the game was a bit too easy but the I encounter all but one bug so that makes up for it. If you’re looking for a new experience in the Pokémon series, then I’d suggest going elsewhere however if you’re looking to play another version of the same game you’ve been playing for the last 15 years, then Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are perfect for you.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are available for the New Nintendo 3DS for £39.99 from the Nintendo eShop.