Written by Levi Jubelt. Media by Paul Anderson.
Back in 1998 when I was but a wee lad, my life was forever changed when I was introduced to one single franchise, and that franchise was Pokémon. September 28, 1998 was the release of the original Pokémon Red and Blue games in the United States. My younger self was captivated by the gameplay, the mechanics, the creatures, and the world that I had become a part of. That love I had for Pokémon still exists to this very day and although I probably only liked the game back then because it was cool, I now realize the ingenious formula that Game Freak had developed. Every new game brings a surge of excitement within me and Pokémon Omega Ruby and Sapphire (ORAS) are no exception. ORAS are remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire games back in 2003 and the originals are by far my favorite entries in the series. That being said, I came into these remakes with high expectations and hoped they would live up to my memories of the originals. Thankfully, ORAS did live up to my memories and are solid games even if they are not quite as perfect as I remember.
The first thing you’ll notice and one of the best things about this remake is the graphics. While the original games were 2d, the remakes are in 3d due to the fact that it is on the 3ds. The games’ layout is essentially the same, but seeing it all in 3d makes ORAS feel like an entirely new game. You get to see everything from new angles that make everything feel fresh. The structure of the game is still the same as it always has been. The game is enhanced though, thanks to the modern additions to the series that came from the previous Pokémon X and Y games, specifically Mega Evolutions. Mega Evolution is a concept that allows Pokémon to undergo a temporary change and boost in power. It is fantastic to see many of this generation’s Pokémon get this mega treatment, but what stands out is how ORAS took it a step further and introduced Primal Reversion. This is a special form of evolution which reverts a Pokémon to its prehistoric form and restores its former power.
This leads to the next part of ORAS that I love and that is the lore of this gen. This game revolves around the story of two ancient Pokémon who almost destroyed the world in the past during their conflicts. One is called Groudon, who has the ability to expand continents and the other is Kyorge who has the ability to expand oceans. As the player, you explore caves, ruins, and underwater caverns, as you search for the legendary that an organization is hoping to revive. Which legendary you search for depends on which version you have. Since Groudon and Kyogre are ancient Pokémon, they alone have the ability to return to their former glory through Primal Reversion. Why this is so fantastic is that it fits with the lore and region. It isn’t something tacked onto the game. It genuinely adds to the story. This entire game has an explorer and archeologists feel to it. Ancient Pokémon, exploring ruins, creating secret bases, solving mysteries and underwater pathways all help keep this generation as one of my favorite.
There are several little additions to this game that also add to its appeal. The first is called DexNav. Basically this device shows you what Pokémon are available in an area and allows you to catch special Pokémon by sneaking up on them. The more you use it, the more it levels up and the rarer Pokémon you can find. My other favorite addition is flying. In this game, you can actually ride on a Pokémon’s back and soar through the skies. Normally you could only pick a place to go and the game warps you there. Now you can go for a leisurely stroll through the sky. This game however is not without some flaws. The first flaw is the difficulty. I remember Ruby and Sapphire being the most difficult games for me in the series. That is not the case anymore. This game seems to hold your hand way too much and doesn’t let you struggle to get better. This is mainly due to a device that lets all Pokémon level up after a battle instead of just the battling. The second flaw is the amount of legendary Pokémon that you can catch. Normally a legendary Pokémon is a one of a kind, super rare, and powerful Pokémon that you can catch. Each game typically has one or two of these that are available in game. Not ORAS though. Between the two versions, there are 32 legendary Pokémon available. These are not 32 new legendary Pokémon. They are 32 of the legendary Pokémon from previous games. This may sound awesome because you can now catch all these super rare Pokémon from the past, but that opinion fades fast. ORAS throws legendary Pokémon at you left and right and all that does is diminish their importance. They are no longer special. They are just meh. The final flaw is the omission of the Battle Frontier. The original games had post-game called the Battle Frontier where you could test your strength in a variety of challenges, while collecting points to exchange for prizes. I loved this so much because it extended the games’ life tremendously and it was incredibly fun. Since it has been left out in the remake, all I can say is bad move Game Freak, bad move.
*Original Video by Paul Anderson*