Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the updated remakes of the original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire on the GBA, with a bit of extra content thrown in for good measure. The question was, however, were these remakes a gem, like the originals, or not?
Story (potential spoiler warning from this point onwards)
This game starts off as most Pokémon games do, with you receiving your first Pokémon and setting off on the gym challenge, having to defeat the eight gyms across the Hoenn region and then taking on the Elite Four in order to become the Pokémon Master. Along with this, you also have to catch all the Pokémon and complete the Pokédex.
Along the way, you encounter your rival team (Aqua in Sapphire and Magma in Ruby), who are fighting in order to reshape and change the world according to their vision – Aqua want to increase the seas in the world, Magma want to increase the landmass. There’s probably an Aesop on climate change in this game somewhere, if you look into the plot in depth.
There is different dialogue and changes in the game depending on which game you play, as well as changes according to which gender you choose your character to be, which is a nice touch, especially when compared to the Pokémon games from previous years where there was very little change in dialogue, regardless of gender and etc.
After you have completed the main game and beaten the Elite Four for the first time, the game does decide to throw a large amount of plot on you, which is completely new content, although bits like the existence of the Draconids felt like it was pulled out of nowhere (seriously, where did they come from?). A few new characters are introduced at this point, and you also get the chance to catch a couple of Legendary Pokémon (such as Rayquaza and Deoxys) in this additional episode. I would have liked more content like this in the game however, as it did add a lot of needed plot to the game. Maybe if more of these episodes had unlocked as you completed them maybe?
Much as I adored the OST from the original Ruby and Sapphire, I am going to say something I don’t often say here. I think the remakes did an improvement on the original game’s soundtrack. Much of the OST in the remakes is very similar to that of the original, but with far more depth to it. There were also a lot of very decent remixes (see the Lilycove theme and the New Mauville theme). I also liked how they brought back the original Legendary Beast theme from Crystal for the fight against Raikou, Suicune and Entei. I had a real nostalgia blast when I heard that playing at the start of the fight.
Other improvements were made on most of the battle themes, especially for the fight against Wally where he now gets a dedicated theme tune. However, I have to admit, I wasn’t too happy with the changes they made the enemy grunt theme music; I think the original was far better.
Other bits and pieces such as the sounds Pokémon make in the over world and when you’re walking through the routes are a nice touch, and I especially like the weather effects on some of the routes, particularly during the events when the cover legendary is awakened – the drought theme is awesome.
This game is beautiful, and I would say better than the graphics from the previous 3DS Pokémon release, X and Y. Most of the areas have been simply updated from the old games, but some, such as Mauville City have been completely redesigned – and I will say it now. I did not like the redesign of Mauville. It felt quite clunky to navigate and didn’t look good.
I didn’t keep the 3D on for most of the game as I’m not particularly fond of the 3D effect, but I did switch it on for the Legendary awakening scenes and for the Rayquaza section of plot – and it did look pretty good. I just don’t think I could handle having the 3D on for the rest of the game.
There have been a few complaints that the Pokémon models look slightly washed out when compared to their earlier sprites – for example Manectric in Ruby/Sapphire is definitely a brighter blue/yellow colour than what it is in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, but I have to confess, I liked the new sprite style, I think the Pokémon look a lot better now than what they did.
Other little additions to the over world, such as flocks of bird Pokémon sitting on routes which then fly off when you approach them add to the immersive feel of the region, and I think these little graphical additions really added to the game.
Don’t seem to have many people around my way to use multiplayer with, and never really had the chance to go online with the game.
As per most Pokémon games, any challenge that this game could offer you can simply be overcome by the simple matter of grinding – and it’s argued that the provision of the EXP Share item early on in the game makes grinding far easier and quicker (saying that, I rather like the EXP Share). In the main story, there is very little in the way of challenge, even if you don’t use the EXP Share. The Delta Episode you unlock also doesn’t do much for the challenge after the main game has been completed.
There are complaints that the lack of challenge is due to the fact that Gamefreak removed the Battle Frontier facility from this game, so there is nothing to really challenge you as a trainer once the main game has been completed. There is the Battle Maison that you can unlock, however, although this relies more on extremely biased luck and prediction in the favour of the AI to provide a challenge, and it has caused me to have the odd ragequit when fighting in there. Sorry, but something out speeding with a Quick Claw activating and hitting with Sheer Cold three times in a row on isn’t a challenge, it’s damned annoying.
There are ways in which the player can create a challenge for themselves in this game, whether that’s through running a Nuzlocke, mono-type or low levelled challenge. Ultimately though, the main story part of this game does not offer much in the way of a challenge. Maybe the game could have included a “hard” mode, similar to how Black and White 2 a couple of years ago did, but I don’t think that would be necessary.
This game follows the standard formula which every other Pokémon main series game has, in which you have to raise a team of six Pokémon, with four moves each and take on the gym challenge and fight the Elite Four, although you can swap and change your Pokémon as much as you like once you’ve caught them.
One of the most common complaints about this game was that there was too much need for Surfing in the game, and too much of the game consists of water-based routes. I have to say, I didn’t find it too much of a problem, especially with the slight changes made to the surfing mechanics, with Pokémon such as Sharpedo being a lot quicker to surf on than compared to something like Wailord. I quite liked how certain Pokémon were quicker surfers than others, it seemed quite logical.
The game also introduced or updated a slew of features, which I will describe in more detail below.
The first main thing which was brought back from Ruby/Sapphire was secret bases, which you could create in certain places using the move Secret Power. In the remakes they have now become “Super-Secret Bases” created in the same way, using Secret Power, the only difference now being that you can share them online through the use of QR codes, and battle other people in their secret bases. There is still a restriction on the amount of furniture you can place in your base to decorate it, but the limit seems to have increased from the original, which is a bit better, I think.
There were a few new Mega Evolutions introduced, including those from X & Y, with new Mega Stone items for you to find scattered around the region, although on the whole I think the new Megas are a bit naff – I don’t like the idea of them, nor do I use any of them that much. Saying that, at least they give a bit of a challenge when the odd opponent in game uses one and you don’t. The game also introduced a variant on Mega Evolution, that of Primal Evolution, for the cover Legendaries. All I can say is, it made the climax fight against the cover Legend a bit of a pain. I’m not keen on Mega Evolving. Temporary evolution is best left to Digimon, I think.
One of the new features this game introduced which I really enjoy was that of the DexNav function which you get for your Pokégear. This function allows you to sneak up on Pokémon in the wild, and depending on how successful you are at sneaking, or aren’t, either the Pokémon runs away, or you go into battle with it. The more and more you use your DexNav, the better it becomes, so you run into rarer Pokémon, higher levelled ones, those with better Egg Moves, or holding better items, amongst other things. I really hope this is something which gets included in later games, as it was just fun to use as a feature.
Another new feature which I quite like is that of Soaring – after you have beaten the Elite Four for the first time, you get given an item which allows you summon either Latias or Latios, depending on which game you’re playing, and you can travel across Hoenn on these Pokémon’s backs. However, whilst flying on them, you have the potential of encountering wild bird Pokémon also flying in the sky, which means you have to keep an eye out for what’s around you when you’re flying.
Something else which is new and part of this Soaring feature is the introduction of Mirage Spots which appear occasionally when you’re on Latias/Latios. These are similar to Mirage Island in the original Ruby/Sapphire which appeared dependent on what boiled down to luck, basically. These Mirage Spots are similar, different ones appear each day you go soaring on Latias/Latios and you can get different items or different Pokémon at each one. One of the slightly annoying things however, though, is that certain TMs for a few decent moves only appear at certain Mirage Spots, and it can become slightly frustrating as it’s all luck dependent on whether you get a shot at obtaining these TMs each day.
Overall, enough was added in for these remakes to feel almost like fresh entries to the series, but still felt innovative like the older Ruby and Sapphire did, as far as new introductions to the gameplay went.
It’s a Pokémon game; I can always find a reason to replay one of those, whether it’s for a new Nuzlocke challenge, or just because.
Replay Value: 8
A very decent remake of the originals. Recommended, whether or not you’ve played these games before, they’re good fun.
Written by Karen