Pokémon ‘Ruby’ and ‘Sapphire’ get a new shine

Dan Medeiros
Connector Staff

“Pokémon Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” are Game Freak’s second pairing of games released in the sixth generation of Pokémon, following their 2013 releases, “Pokémon X” and “Y.” “Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” are remakes of the Gameboy Advance’s “Pokémon Ruby” and “Sapphire,” bringing the 11-year-old games from their 2D sprite style to the series’ new 3D model style. “Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” have the art style of “X” and “Y,” giving the games an incredible graphic overhaul.

The soundtrack has been completely redone to match the capabilities of the 3DS compared to the Gameboy Advance’s 16-bit sound. While the music has all new arrangements, it remains faithful to the original music, especially the signature heavy use of trumpet and brass.

The games sport 20 new possible Mega Evolutions, including ones for Beedrill, Pidgeot and Metagross; all of the Mega Stones, both new and old, are obtainable in these games.

The best new addition is the DexNAV. DexNAV marks all the Pokémon you have seen and caught in an area and indicates if you have obtained them all. Once you have caught a Pokémon, you can search for that specific one. A silhouette may appear nearby, and if you can creep up to it, you can find that specific Pokémon.

The more times you encounter a Pokémon, the more likely it could be a higher level, have moves that it normally would not learn through leveling up or have a rare ability. When you are first taught about the DexNAV, you will likely get caught up creeping around through the grass hunting for rare versions of Pokémon. It can be incredibly addictive.

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A battle scene from “Pokémon Omega Ruby” between the player’s Mega Gallade and the opponent’s Absol.

The games also bring back a lot of the fun and convenient features that “X” and “Y” introduced, such as the ability to register multiple key items for easy access. Pokémon-Amie and Super Training also make a return. Super Training is especially helpful, as it allows you to raise specific stats of your Pokémon (long known as EV training) in a more convenient and transparent way than in past games.

The post-game content is rather fulfilling. There is a moderate-sized story arc called the Delta Episode that begins once you have defeated the Elite Four. The Delta Episode focuses on the legendary Pokémon Rayquaza and marks the first time legendary Deoxys can be found outside of a special event.

Pokémon Contests, which were originally introduced in the original “Ruby” and “Sapphire,” make a return and provide more fun content to those who enjoy them. The Battle Maison, found in the post-game of “X and Y” also makes an appearance; however, this brings up some letdowns.

Most pairs of Pokémon games traditionally have a third installment that adds new content and combines the pair. The remakes of “ Pokémon Heartgold” and “Soulsilver” included a lot of content from their follow-up, “Crystal.” In comparison, it is rather disappointing that “Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” remain true to the original two games and ignore most of the content changed or added in their follow-up, “Pokémon Emerald.” Namely, the lack of the challenging Battle Frontier found in the post-game of Emerald would have been a great addition. Oddly enough, characters in “Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” mention that a Battle Frontier is in the works, but all that is accessible is the Battle Maison, which is smaller and not as diverse as the Battle Frontier.

The game’s difficulty may annoy some players. “Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” are very easy games, by default. The changes made to the Exp. Share in “X” and “Y” return, allowing the Pokémon in battle to receive full experience and those out of battle to receive half. Unfortunately, your team will end up over-leveled and easily defeat everyone they face with almost no fear of losing even one Pokémon. If this is an issue, simply turn off the Exp. Share and the games will become much more challenging.

Issues from the original games still exist, such as the large number of HM moves; these are necessary for travel around the map and thus require the player to use up a good number of move slots for them. However, a large amount of the map being dedicated to water, and thus a lot of the same water Pokémon, is not as annoying as in the originals: for the most part, surfing is quicker and a tad less annoying.

“Pokémon Omega Ruby” and “Alpha Sapphire” are wonderful enhancements of their decade-old originals. The addictive nature of the Pokémon series is alive and well in this latest installment, and while the post-game content may not be as extensive as expected, there is an amazing amount of fun to be found and hours of play time to be racked up.

Final Grade: B+

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