In all of the Pokémon series there have always been two games in the series that have stood out, these games of course being the classic Ruby and Sapphire from the Gameboy Advance. I don’t know what it is about these games but I just always loved the games and constantly loved to revisit them. When the long awaited remakes were announced, I honestly can say this was the most excited for a Pokémon game I have been for a while, surprisingly even more then X and Y, and mainly I think it was the possibilities. By that I mean that I know that the game was not perfect and knowingly have pointed out many of the games original flaws in the past, but I can honestly say Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire address these issues, and all though not immediately present the changes are there for the better.
Ruby and Sapphire were never strong for their story, in fact they honestly didn’t really had much of a kind beyond the general means of going out on a journey with a Pokémon and stopping an idealistic group with a goal that has never quite well been thought through. The game clearly never won any prizes for excellence in storytelling, unlike other entries in the franchise, gladly Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire do step things up even slightly and tell a much better tale then the originals. Sure our main objective is still the same, with us striving to claim our ultimate goal of beating the gyms and becoming champion, while also thwarting the evil group, but the game does go a little further with the story then in the past. This comes from other characters actually being more relevant and adding more to the world with thoughts and appearances that keep more things interesting throughout, namely though this is rival characters or even the evil group having more relevance then in the past. Still the story does not carry as well as Black and White or even X and Y but still does enough to carry you happily throughout the story.
It is great to return to the Hoenn region reborn for a new generation, with a new look, some new ideas and just overall improved, mainly though it is the look of the game that has seen the biggest change with the game being completely rebuilt in the X and Y engine. However this is not originally noted with an interesting homage to the original Ruby and Sapphire in the game’s opening before giving us a look at the major graphical update that makes the Hoenn region feel more alive and active than ever before.
Also along with this we have seen a series of changes made around the Hoenn region to better fit with the changing face of the games as a whole, some for better and some for worse. One of the biggest changes is also one of my favorites with the upgrade to a more modern Mauville City, players of the original will be aware that Mauville was one of the dullest cities in the game and this remake has delivered a much more exciting town to visit and explore that ties in well with major cities in other games. Along with this I was glad of another benefit which allowed me to get taken away from off to the side areas and delivered to a nearby town to my main objective, this was only used once or twice during the story but it was nice to keep the games flow and pace going.
Sadly though this was also a negative for me with it removing the necessity of the game, the main point being one of the two major water sections is completely dodged when you are forced forward past one of the gyms, it is a shame that this decision was made because as annoying as the water routes can be it is the core Hoenn experience, sure you can go back but it isn’t the same. One of my other problems is the return of essential HMs which seem quite forced in comparison to the Black and White and X and Y games, sure this was part of the original game but I would have liked a change of sorts to this formula.
Though I was a fan of the Pokémon Center and Pokemart being separated once again as per the original game, I still don’t know why they ever put them together but I am glad they returned them to their classic nature which tied in perfectly with the original town designs. The other thing I was really happy about was the change to the experience system with Game Freak opting to carry over the experience system from X and Y instead of the annoying one from the original games which frustrated me, yet again it is a small thing but I am glad it was included and they improved upon this one of my issues.
Many of the biggest features from X and Y have returned for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and have seamlessly fitted in with the overall game, major features like Super Training and Pokémon Amie are still as unexciting as they were in X and Y but I am glad to see they have been added, even more impressive is just how naturally the systems fit in and continue to add certain capabilities to the games.
Better though was the inclusion of the Mega Evolutions, introduced, and made popular in X and Y, to this point I still don’t get a whole lot of the appeal of taking my Pokémon to the next level with Mega Evolutions. Still the idea behind Mega Evolutions played in seamlessly with the Hoenn region as a whole and the story, this most comes thanks to a selection of new Mega Pokémon which have been created exclusively for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire which work perfectly for major opponents like the champion and the bosses of the enemy team. Personally though I still feel it was too easy to collect Mega Stones for Pokémon having collected a fair portion of them during my time with the story, again this is not a bad thing, and it is just disappointing to me that I was not having any issue with finding them and that I could just randomly stumble across them.
With this game we have also seen a couple of new features added which while they aren’t essential to the overall enjoyment of the game, they are still welcome additions which change up the classic formula in a way that do provide a certain thrill or level of enjoyment to the core experience. Among the two newest features I found the sneak ability to be the most interesting and effective addition to the game, while at times annoying when accidentally used while trying to walk I found it served a much greater benefit to my enjoyment with the game by providing me the opportunity to find Pokémon with special abilities, or even special moves. This was done by finding Pokémon in grass but in a different way, you required the ability to sneak in order to quietly approach Pokémon that were popping out of the grass and once you approached them you can battle them, before this point though it was clever that you could use your Pokenav in order to see the Pokémon’s ability and also their first move as well as level. This new feature serves a great purpose for competitive players while also just being a whole lot of fun while training and just playing the game normally, it was definitely welcome.
The other new feature is the soar ability which I personally think is the lesser of the two new inclusions but serves as an interesting new inclusion with new possibilities that better upgrade old ideas. Specifically flight which for all these years has been a useful tool for getting quickly around a region but often I found it to be boring, the soar ability solves this little issue with a fully explorable sky being made available, it is a great feeling being able to soar across the beautiful Hoenn region and see it in all its magnificence. The unfortunate side is that we can only fly on one Pokémon across the region which often to me seemed like a missed opportunity, but this is quickly forgotten with being able to fly to any town or route in the region and being able to battle flying Pokémon across the sky is interesting and makes up for the limited options.
One of the best parts of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is one of the fan favourite features Secret Bases returning for this remake. For many of us secret bases were one of our favorite things about the original games with us being able to create and personalize a base the way we feel, the added bonus was also then being able to mix records with friends and visit their base and challenge them. Gladly this feature returns and is even better than before, the basic point is the same, we find a spot to build our base, decorate it and then we can visit other player’s bases with our Pokémon to battle, which is done via Streetpass with other players. It is enjoyable to battle other players in this way and I am glad they returned this feature to the game as it is a fun way to spend time with the game.
As enjoyable as it is making our way through the Hoenn region the real standout of the whole experience is the post-game, unsurprisingly this was the weakest point in the original game, which was basically a given due to the franchise’s history, but I was happy to see just how great and how much fun the game was beyond the Pokémon League. Because of spoilers I cannot go into details on the events but the game’s most interesting story is found beyond the main game, not to mention there is a good variety of things to do past the end as you aim for the top, mainly though it is the section known simply as episode Delta where you will most likely enjoy your time as you focus on the events that was quite original.
As it stands for the most part Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire do have a number of changes but one of the biggest and best I can make is that for all that has been added and changed, whether for the better or the worse, at its core this is still the classic 2003 game just better than ever and so much more beautiful. For the most part I was glad of the changes and again continue to remember why it is I fell in love with the game in the first place, and again I loved the changes like the post-game which honestly is where my fun really was in a story that was really enjoyable. I say thank you Game Freak for returning and mostly fixing one of my favourite games.