Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have arrived, much to the delight of my 8 year old daughter and in all honesty, me too. It doesn't really matter that it's barely distinguishable from the last game in the series, all that matters is that once again we have the chance to catch us some Pokemon.
Ruby and Sapphire originally came before Pokemon X and Y of course, the GBA titles were the third instalments in the Pokemon RPG series and also the best-selling Game Boy Advance games of all time. Despite this, the aim remains the same, work your way through a 40 hour + story, fight against Pokemon masters and catch as many Pokemon as you can along the way.
Before getting started it's worth mentioning that as usual, this Pokemon game has been released as a set of two slightly different titles, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. To be honest having tried out Omega before settling in with Alpha, they’re basically the same game, with the only difference being that you'll run into slightly different Pokemon along the way.
I never played the original titles so it's hard for me to compare them to the new versions, but I can tell that Nintendo has done a wonderful job. It's really hard to distinguish these titles from X and Y and that's a good thing. As for the story, this time the game is set in the Hoenn region of the Pokemon world, and the protagonist is from Littleroot Town. His father is a Pokemon trainer himself and soon into the game you'll be heading that way yourself, acquiring your first Pokemon from the town's Professor and eventually going off on an adventure with his sibling. Something you'll notice is that this doesn't feel like it used to be a GBA game, the towns are large, with plenty of shops to explore and NPC's to stop and have a chat with. The graphics also closely resemble X&Y, making Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire feel more like the next entry in the series rather than a remake.
New features added to the game, but which return from X&Y, include Pokemon Amie, Super Training and the Player Search System, all of which are added to the Pokenav Plus. Also new is the DexNav, which gives you an idea of the type of wild Pokemon, its level, ability, and any rare moves it may have when you encounter them routing around in the grass. It can even tell you if a Pokemon is in the area, although once you find it you'll need to sneak up on it, be careful though as sudden movements frighten them away.
Other things I've noticed include the Berry map and Pokeblocks, the latter of which allows your Pokemon to gain a higher level of cuteness to allow them to take part in and hopefully win talent shows. Doing at least one contest allows you to acquire a special Pikachu, which you can dress up in a variety of outfits, which change what Pikachu looks like in and out of battle and also grants it a special fourth move, which is really cool.
Throughout your adventure you'll also come across Team Magma, who seem to be hell bent on stealing vital information wherever they can and also taking you and your Pokemon out at the same time. Of course being such a great Pokemon master you'll defeat them and be rewarded for your efforts by the various NPC's you'll meet along the way. Facing up to Team Magma adds a nice little twist to your adventures I think, after all it's always nice to defeat the bad guys.
Graphically, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire looks fantastic. I love that you can see your character's reflection in the sea if you are standing at the right angle, I also love the fact that as you run through puddles the water will ripple. These effects may only a small thing, but they really are much appreciated.
Perhaps my favourite thing of all about Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire though is just playing. I love wandering through the towns and cities, meeting up with all the NPC's and battling. There's something quite satisfying about watching your Pokemon level up, learning new moves and evolving. If you name your Pokemon, which in my opinion is pretty essential, then you'll form a real bond with them, making it hard to choose the ones you'd like to take with you each time you head out on an adventure.
There is so much to explore in Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, even when you finish the game. So while I've spend hours enjoying what the game has to offer so far, I know that I'll spend much more time with it and so should you.
Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: 3DS)
+ Lots to explore
+ Looks wonderful
+ Very addictive
+ Great music
+ Excellent variety of Pokemon
- Very similar to previous games (though that could be a Pro too depending on how you feel)