RELEASED: November 28th 2014
DEVELOPED BY: Game Freak
PUBLISHED BY: The Pokémon Company
It’s been a while since I played a Pokémon game. When I was a kid, I started on Pokémon: Yellow – I had the special Pikachu Game Boy Colour and everything. I instantly fell in love with the game, having already become a huge fan of the anime series. Later, I would move on to Pokémon: Crystal, which I also thought was an amazing game. By this point, I was also a bit more savvy about how everything worked. Although I did have the chance to play Pokemon: Ruby, I missed the chance to actually own it myself – instead, I got the remake of Generation I, Pokémon: LeafGreen. Some years later, I would get Pokémon: Pearl on my Nintendo DS. I thought Pearl, which debuted in Generation IV, was a great game, but it would soon be outdone by the Generation II remakes, Pokémon: Heart Gold and Soul Silver. In my mind, that was the apex of Pokémon games, and after playing through them, I fell out of sync with the series, moving on to other things.
More recently, however, after getting back in to Pokémon GO! I decided I wanted to revist the core games. I bought myself a second-hand Nintendo 3DS XL and Pokémon: Omega Ruby alongside it, curious as to how the games had progressed since my youth.
The most obvious change is of course the fact that the Pokémon games are now in fully-fledged 3D. The sprites, over-world and Pokémon themselves have all been updated an insane amount since I last played, and as a result, Pokémon: Omega Ruby looks fantastic. Similarly, the addition of a joystick to the DS allows you to move in any direction rather than just your standard up, down, left and right. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the new circle pad is the way that you can also tip toe or jog, depending on how delicate or forceful you are, which in turn allows you to sneak-up on certain Pokémon.
Furthermore, the animations surrounding Pokémon battles is great. It really feels a lot more like trainers are actually battling their Pokémon and less like a random statistic screen with static creatures supposedly using attacks.
It’s a lot of fun, but I think most of these changes were implemented in Pokémon: X and Y, so I can’t give Omega Ruby too much credit.
The Pokémon selection for this game is pretty solid. I’ve since moved onto another game in the series, and I feel like thing’s are starting to get out of hand (but more on that when I get to said game). In Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire however, there’s a good amount – just over 200 Pokémon to search for and collect. The unfortunate thing about that for me, however, is that some Pokémon are still burdened with the fact you have to trade them before they can evolve. Again, that’s not something just attributed to this game though, so I’ll let that slide. I just wish they’d found an alternative by now (for people like me who can’t be arsed trading. Maybe I’ll come around eventually).
Although I already was familiar with most of the Pokémon in this game, having played up to Generation IV originally, there were some new twists that made this a fun experience. First off, I was unfamiliar with the region of Hoenn, which has a lot of variety to it. Kanto and Johto were cool, of course, but all the towns in those regions basically varied between small towns and big town. Here, in Hoenn, you’re treated to tree-top towns and floating towns and various other areas which really change things up.
Mega Evolution was also introduced in this Generation, and although I was skeptical at first, I soon became quite fond of Mega Evolving my Swampert to take down tougher foes. Unfortunately, a downside of this was that it contributed to this game, as a whole, feeling way too easy. You get given a new type of Exp. Share near the start of the game, which means training your individual Pokémon is pretty much unnecessary; you can just choose one Pokémon to be a tank (Swampert) and the others will rank up on his skill alone. Furthermore, there’s times when Pokémon are just given to you – which is fine, if it fits the story – but when Pokémon that should be a challenge to catch just join your party for no reason, things start to get a bit boring (Latios and Latias). Unfortunately, even when you are forced to battle rare Pokémon (like Groudon) the fact that it’s so easy to level up means that they pose no threat whatsoever. The first time I battled Groudon, my Swampert delivered a one-hit K.O. I had to close and restart in order to catch him.
Still, while the difficulty levels need some adjusting, Pokémon: Omega Ruby is a good gateway for players who haven’t played before or are coming back after some time away. The gameplay is a whole lot better than it used to be, the music is excellent, and the story itself is pretty strong. There could have been a bit more to the post-game content, but whatever, I got what I came for.
All-in-all, I give it: