Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire ReviewJustin Ling
It's been about twelve years since Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire was first released in Japan and the first of the franchise's main series to debut on the Gameboy Advance. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is a return to Hoenn and one that not only brings back all sorts of good memories but also a lot of new things to enjoy. The remakes are on the Nintendo 3DS, meaning that the world of Hoenn can be brought to life like never before, creating a place that is both familiar yet filled with breathtaking new sights for players who enjoyed the original games.
Most of the game's story is the same as the original games: you are a kid who saves Professor Birch from a wild Pokemon and is allowed to keep one of three starting Pokemon to start you off on the journey to become Champion. As you continue your journey, you find yourself at odds with either Team Magma or Team Aqua depending on what version you play; Team Magma seeks to expand the continents for the sake of human progress while Team Aqua wants to expand the seas so that Pokemon will have more places to live. Both seek the power of either Groudon or Kyogre to accomplish their goals. There is also an extra postgame story known as the "Delta Episode" which focuses on finding a way to stop a meteor from crashing into the planet while also dealing with a mysterious individual named Zinnia.
There are several new features for both old players and new players to enjoy. There is a PokeNav system that allows for all sorts of convenience. AreaNav allows players to see where berries have been planted, when trainers can be fought in rematches, lets you fly to previously visited areas or routes provided you have a Pokemon with Fly and the badge that lets you use Fly on the field, and where Super Secret Bases pop up. The DexNav system allows players to find Pokemon they have already caught, with each find upping the chances of the next one having special qualities such as moves normally not learned, Hidden Abilities, and higher stats. BuzzNav serves as the StreetPass function, giving players newsfeed on what other players are doing. Another new feature is the Eon Flute which allows you to fly around on either Latios or Latias even if they are not in your party, not only allowing you to move around Hoenn more easily but also allowing you to find Mirage Spots where other legendary Pokemon hide. The Eon Flute isn't available until right before you challenge the eighth gym, however.
There are also several returning features not only from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire but also Pokemon X and Y. Pokemon Amie and Super Training are back and the bonuses that they offer are still the same: Pokemon Amie provides bonuses in battle such as increased experience gain and the ability to shrug off status effects depending on how much your Pokemon likes you and Super Training allows players to train their Pokemon to increase their base stats. Mega Evolutions are still present with several more Pokemon getting Mega Evolutions and more Mega Evolution Stones being available before the post-game starts, unlike Pokemon X and Y. The game also introduces Primal Reversion for the mascot Pokemon Groudon and Kyogre, giving them new abilities and a major power boost. Pokemon Contests have made a comeback and have been tweaked a little; improved graphics mean that the Contests are more appealing to look at and Mega Evolutions can also be used for major appeal as well. Also, making Pokeblocks is now a lot less tedious compared to the original games.
There are still a few flaws to the game, however. Some of the Mega Evolution Stones can be very tedious to get, particularly the one that requires players to win all Contests at the highest difficulties or the one that requires players to collect 1000 flags from Super Secret Bases. Certain items such as Plates can be very hard to find since they are located underwater and players cannot use the Item Finder underwater, meaning they have to make guesses on where items are hidden. This game also has a lot of non-event legendary Pokemon to capture, but some of them are version exclusives and others require two other legendaries to be caught before they appear, the two legendaries often being exclusive to a single version. This means that players will either have to trade for the other legendary, transfer a legendary from a previous game, or own both versions of this game. It can be a little tedious for some players, but it ultimately isn't that big of a problem.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are fantastic remakes that bring both the familiar and the new and blend them together seamlessly. Old fans will enjoy seeing how a world they were once familiar with has changed with the times yet still retains enough of the original version that it never feels as though one has stepped into a whole new world. New fans will enjoy an expansive world rich in variety and beauty, both from the Pokemon and the environment. Whether you are returning to Hoenn or just arriving, this game is one that no Pokmon fan should pass up.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.