Written by: J.H. Longman
The year was 2002 and Japan had just saw the release of Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire, the third instalment in the series and games that got its international release in 2003. With these games, like those before it, came new Pokemon we had never seen before, new means of evolution and a whole new region, complete with another set of gyms waiting to be beaten and badges earned. There was even double battles and despite releasing at a time when Pokemon was losing popularity, the games was the best-selling games on the Game Boy Advance, so it only made sense the game would make a comeback.
Now part of the sixth generation, Sapphire and Ruby were re-released for the 3DS in 2014, releasing exactly 12 years after the original games came out in Japan and although the story, initial Pokemon and setting are still the same, there are a whole load of added content, such as newer mechanics which have been carried over from Pokemon X & Y. Mechanics such as: Mega Evolution, super training, so you don’t just have to battle relentlessly to train anymore as there is a punching bag for you to vent off your aggression on and more. Then of course there is also the Player Search System, Pokémon-Amie (a mode where you can actually pet your Pokemon, really making it a virtual pet and a nice personal touch that only strengthens the pull of the game), and the inclusion of Fairy type. But it doesn’t just stop there because there is also an added side-quest, which will see the player adding in an attempt to stop a meteor from crashing into the planet.
Now as for the story, that is something I am sure we all know, provided you’ve played at least one Pokemon game, a young hero who begins an amazing journey that will see him battle trainers, catch Pokemon and try to prevent a criminal organisation from trying to take over the world, but what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn’t give its story the paragraph write up? The journey starts with our trainer, be him male or female, depending on which gender we choose, in the back of a truck, moving to Littleroot Town, which is a questionable move since your character’s Dad is the gym leader in Petalburg, which is two towns away from where you’re moving to. It’s not long before you unpack and settle in before the world of Pokemon pulls you to it, when you wind up saving the Pokemon Professor from a wild Poochyena, using one of his own starter Pokemon.
Crisis averted and Professor Birch in one peace, he asks you to meet him at his lab, where he presents to you the Pokemon you used in battle as thanks for saving him and sends you off to go find your friend/rival for the duration of this game. When you do finally reach him/her, the two of you will battle and then they’ll say about returning to the lab, where a Pokedex awaits you and your quest can truly begin. As with any Pokemon game, the premise is simple, beat all eight gyms so that you can prove yourself worthy of taking on the Elite Four and being titled the Pokemon Champion and to quite literally catch them all to complete and fill out the Pokedex, which means catching, evolving, trading between games for further evolotuons and to get Pokemons are exclusive to the game opposite the one you’re playing and the other games in the series. It’s a long journey, but hey, if being a Pokemon Master was easy, the world would be full of them.
My adventure however, didn’t start with me in the back of a van, but actually when I was browsing through the eshop and I saw the demo there, and with a burrowed brow and a “hmmm,” I decided to take a chance and give it a try, so naturally I met Steven and he was asking me for my help. Before I knew it we were in a double battle and the Swampert I chose was mega evolving and for me, Swampert was just one of the coolest Pokemons I had ever seen in the series, so to see him evolve into something cooler, I was hooked and I kept playing the demo, and the thing, or feature I really enjoyed about it, was the option to be able to transfer the mega evolving Glailie I caught and the items I had earned when I played through the demo more than once, so naturally I took a leap and got my very own copy of Alpha Sapphire and I may not be battling the Elite Four this very moment, but I am getting there.
Admittedly we are getting a lot of remakes from Game Freak and Nintendo and at times, this game can feel a lot like a remake, especially since it is one, but with stunning visuals that are better than those we saw in X & Y, inclusion of newer characters, mega evolving, new mechanics and the tastefully done improved writing, it actually feels a lot like a newer game and the déjà vu of playing an old game, it just feels a whole lot more like nostalgia and young or old, this is a game gamers of any age can pick up on and put down.
And now it’s time to turn my cap round, pick a Pokemon and get this battle started! N0, wait a minute, it’s time for Pros & Cons: (I choose you)
-All new stunning visuals which include changes made to the actual Pokemons, especially the ones who all posses mega evolution forms.
-All new mechanics: Super Training, Player Search System, Pokémon-Amie and Fairy type.
-Bonus side quest, which involves Rayquaza.
-Smooth gameplay and a longevity that is sure to keep players coming back.
-Using the DexNav to find Pokemon and sneaking up to them, be they hiding in thick grass or splashing about in the water, as well as the DexNav being handle for telling you what Pokemon you have already caught in your current area and the ones that have yet to be caught.
-Inclusion of newer moves and evolutions.
-Plenty of Nostalgia.
-Taking on five wild Oddish in a battle and using rock slide to kill them all.
-Physically being able to fly over Hoenn.
-Enough added to it to feel like a newer game, but no matter how good a paintjob, a remake is still a remake.
-Could have really done with newer gym battles, featuring different line-ups of Pokemon and maybe even a couple different gym leaders, just to make it feel like the game is set a few years on, helping the ties to Unova and Kalos.
-Although battles and the Pokedex supports the 3D aspect of the game, the overworld doesn’t.
-The game easily lives up to expectations, but given everything it has going for it, there just feels like there is something seriously missing from it.
Well you’ve heard the Pros and Cons and now it is time for the result. Coming in at an intense, visually stunning 3D battle that scores an 8.5/10.0 super effective Hydro cannon, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby did not fail to live up to expectation and for anyone who hasn’t made the leap to gen six of Pokemon, you surely have a tough decision before you as choosing between X & Y and OR & AS is not an easy decision, much like picking your starter. Whatever you choose though, it will certainly be a Pokemon adventure you weren’t expecting.
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.