Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire for Nintendo 3DS
Ok, I know that a lot of people were clamouring for this game, but to be honest I never really liked Ruby and Sapphire that much. I remember my childhood disappointment well when many of the brilliant developments from Gold and Silver were thrown out the window for this game. Gone was the day/night cycle, the keeping track of the days of the week which felt so new and exciting at the time, gone was the return to a previous region. Ruby and Sapphire was a big step backwards for the series despite having some great Pokémon designs and the arguably the best legendaries that the series has ever had. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire rescue the originals as one of the most generous remakes I’ve ever played. So much is added and changed so as to make them almost feel like new games.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire follows your standard collect gym badges then fight Elite Four plot, with the obligatory evil team being Team Magma or Team Aqua for Ruby and Sapphire respectively. Each team seeks to resurrect Groudon/Kyogre to increase the landmass of the Earth/cover the Earth with water, causing massive destruction to Hoenn in the process. It’s not exactly interesting, but that is made up for the brand-new Delta Episode which takes place at the conclusion of the game which contains interesting links to X & Y, the origin of Mega Evolution and even suggests a Zelda-esque alternate universe Pokémon timeline. I’m not exactly claiming that the storyline is good in the new Pokémon, but it does suggest that Game Freak are beginning to take seriously the importance of story. It’s no coincidence that the most recent three releases, Black & White, X & Y and Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire have the best stories of any Pokémon game to date.
There’s never much to say about the core gameplay of Pokémon, if you’ve played Ruby & Sapphire or X & Y you’ll be in familiar territory and if you’ve played both you’ll be in extremely familiar territory. There are obviously no new Pokémon, but there are new mega-evolutions, some of which are very cool and some which are very silly. My Mega-Altaria was my favourite as it grew a beard made of clouds. There are some welcome additions, such as the ability to sneak up on rustling Pokémon and a greater ability to see which Pokémon can be found in each area. The ability to actually manually fly on the back of a Latios or Latias fulfils a childhood fantasy of mine which harked all the way back to Red & Blue. As has become the case in recent Pokémon games, I tend not to bother with a lot of the content. Yes, there are contests and berries and Pokeblocks and all these things but for me the core gameplay of Pokémon is enough. Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire has, in my opinion, the best end-game and side quests of any Pokémon game to date, with the aforementioned Delta Episode being the best element. Only a year after X & Y I’m not that fussed about dipping into it all, but this is a game which will give you spectacular value for money.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire continue in the visual style of X & Y, making it look incredibly different from the 2D grid of the originals. There’s less show-offy 3D stuff, with the general design being slightly more conservative than X & Y, but probably better for it. I remember trying to navigate Luminose City; there’s nothing as bad as that here. The soundtrack of Ruby & Sapphire has never stood out to me, but it’s all admirably upgraded for the new version.
As I’ve said earlier, I never have much to say about Pokémon games. Ruby and Sapphire isn’t a favourite and this game hasn’t necessarily converted me, but I will say that it is probably one of the best remakes I’ve ever played. There’s just so much here that it can be a little overwhelming. I will say that I need more than a year between Pokémon games to get properly into them, so Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were more of a fun diversion for me than a full blown obsession, but I still enjoyed it a lot.