I played the original Pokémon Emerald Version game in 2007 at the age of nine and at the time I thought it was the best game ever. I remember playing through the game, only using my starter, Swampert to beat it and even though I was foolish at the time, I had a blast with it. Flash forward to May 7th 2014, over seven years after playing the third Generation of Pokémon, Gamefreak had confirmed Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. These games were to be remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire released on the Gameboy Advance in 2003, and I was blown away with the announcement. Although, as the days went by, I lost a bit of my hype towards the games as Super Smash Bros was coming out at around the same time. After playing through it, and experiencing Hoenn once again, do Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire live up to their original versions? Or should they have never been remade? Let’s find out.
The gameplay for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are a lot like 2013’s Pokémon X and Y. You run around in a 3D environment, catching Pokémon, and fighting countless trainers, trying to become the very best there ever was. Like Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire benefit from the 3D movement as the game feels more open running in 8 dimensions as opposed to running in four. It just feels right being able to move around Hoenn without limiting yourself to a certain amount of directions. Another form of travel was introduced into Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire which features you flying on your version’s Eon Pokémon, Latios or Latias, in an open environment. This is a lot cooler than the traditional fly mechanic because you get to see Hoenn from a sky view and you get to control to where you travel. I found this a lot more useful than the old fly mechanic because along with the open world flying, it also does not take up a slot in your Pokémon lineup, as it takes the form of an item. Making this method of travel a lot more useful than the HM for fly you get during the main story. One thing that was taken out in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire was the character customization, but it’s not really too big of a deal as it wouldn’t feel like the original Ruby and Sapphire if this mechanic was in the remakes.
The battle system is pretty much the same, consisting of a turn-based RPG battle style. Some Pokémon types are strong against others, for example, water is strong against fire, and some types are weak against others, like an electric type fighting a grass type. Another mechanic returning to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are Mega Evolutions. All mega evolutions that were in Pokémon X and Y return to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and some new ones were added too. This mechanic is still overpowered as there is no draw to using a mega Pokémon. The only draw is you can only use one per battle which doesn’t really matter since you will probably only need one during the campaign.
The campaign hasn’t really changed since the original Ruby and Sapphire versions, as the story is of the player trying to beat every gym leader, elite four member and eventually the champion to become the very best, while trying to stop either team Aqua if you’re playing Pokémon Alpha Sapphire or team Magma if you’re playing Omega Ruby. The story isn’t too in depth but usually Pokémon games don’t have too much of a story anyway. After you beat the main game, instead of having that usual feeling in Pokémon games where you don’t have anything to do, you are treated to an added short story known as the delta episode. I really enjoyed this as it features something I always wanted to do when I was a kid playing the original Pokémon Emerald. To avoid potential spoilers I won’t say what it is, but just know that it made me have to use my Masterball on it. After the delta episode, you can then do many things such as catch many legendaries, as there are a lot of legendaries not just from Hoenn in this game, rematch past gym leaders and the elite four and participate in Pokémon contests which are sort of like pagents where you show of your Pokémon’s beauty, coolness, toughness, etc. You can do most of these things before beating the game however so it’s not too exciting, but these are some of the things I did after beating the main game.
The graphics in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire did a great job at recreating Hoenn, and bringing it into 3D. The cities look more open, and it just feels really good to get a new and different view of Hoenn. The only problem with the graphics are that the frame rate while you are in 3D mode or in horde battles drop considerably. It really is a shame to see that since I feel it takes you out of the full experience of the game. The 3D part can be easily fixed as you can turn 3D mode off, but for something new like a horde battle to have frame issues is a shame. I must also comment on how everything wrong with the graphics in X and Y were not fixed in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which is kind of a shame.
The sound of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is good. It has a few good songs on the soundtrack, the Kyogre/Groudon battle theme is one that stands out in my mind when I think of the game’s soundtrack. I can say however that there were some themes that I would jam out to because it brought memories of the original games from when I was younger and to hear the remixed versions of them made me feel like that young nine-year-old, playing through one of his first adventures again. It was a great experience to feel as Pokémon Emerald was one of my favourite games and it was cool to relive that. It doesn’t compare to the music in the original mind you, but the soundtrack did its job.