Hoenn confirmed! This Pokémon remake is the catalyst for one crazy journey.
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are a weird pair of games. While some would declare that they aren't the best in the series, my opinion wildly differs in that regard. I loved the new touches that the Game Boy Advance games added in Pokémon Contests and Double Battles. When the 3DS remakes were announced, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of revisiting something I held so dear. Then I started playing it and I quickly warmed up to the concept of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on 3DS.
The story in these 3DS remakes are familiar. As a young boy or girl from the Johto region, you and your family move to a new town called Littleroot. You go on a journey in Hoenn to fight critters in the wild to capture them, use the monsters to fight against other trainers and level your new friends up to get new abilities for them. All the improvements from Pokémon X/Y carry over to this entry, including Pokémon-Amie, Super Training, and the infamous Experience Share. That last one allows you to give your entire party experience, even if they are not part of the battle. Personally, I really like using it. The option cuts away the grinding and makes the ride a way more streamlined experience. Like before, you can turn it off if it really bugs you.
Mega Pokémon also make a comeback. There are more than ever before and some are even exclusive to Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. While I don't want to spoil them too much, I don’t like how they are distributed. Throughout the environments, you find sparkling spots on the ground that give you access to the various Mega Stones. The Mega Stones are an absolute chore to gather and it just amounts to an unpleasant fetch quest.
While that was an arduous slog, these remakes add some tweaks to how you capture Pokémon. New to the franchise is the sneak mechanic. Pokémon randomly pop up out of the grass and you have to crawl towards them to launch a surprise attack. The best part of all this are the rewards that you get for doing it. The critters have special moves and higher levels than anything else found in the surrounding area. Early on, for example, you are able to grab yourself a powerful Poochyena, which is level 5 and has the move Fire Fang as an added bonus. The DexNav on the touch sceen highlights which Pokémon are roaming the area, which makes capturing the ones you need easy.
Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire also has improved pacing. While Pokémon X/Y could be a slow burn at the early beginning, these new remakes lets you jump from place to place with very little stopping you. For the newcomer, amples hints and indicators are doled out to guide you, but you can freely ignore that if you’re more familiar with the world.
Like the original, the story in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire takes center stage and I adored the twists and turns. As you team up with your new friend May, you uncover the intentions of Team Magma or Aqua (depending on your version) and try to stop them in their tracks. Some of the cities are greatly enhanced, such as Mauville, which is now gigantic mall with various activities. The gyms are each intricately designed with challenging puzzles. Veterans of the games should be surprised by some of the tweaks, like the fact that you can get Latios/Latias a lot earlier. The dialogue also helps the story move briskly, as it is charming and fun.
Numerous side quests and activities are included in addition to the story. You can battle, trade, and share experiences with players close by and online all thanks to the PSS, which is nearly identical as it was in Pokémon X/Y. Another returning feature are the Secret Bases and here you can go all out with building a special spot filled with posters, dolls and other accessories. You can even make a QR code to share with others. The side content is way more diverse than X/Y, with more substantial post-game content than X/Y.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire look overall nicer than last year’s entries in the overworld with vibrant colors and crisp visuals. The battles are still lovely with 3D monsters popping out on your 3D screen. In general, it seems to run a whole lot smoother than before, though there is still slowdown once in a while. The 3D is also wildly inconsistent when you are walking through the game. For that reason, I never really bothered to turn the 3D effects on as they serve very little purpose. I would like it if Game Freak makes the decision finally to stick with 3D or not, because the situation now is not pushing the franchise forward. While the visuals still have some issues, the soundtrack is the real star with a wide variety of nostalgic tracks that are splendidly remixed with the musical quirks of X/Y. It is more peppy and enjoyable, delivered with sweet style.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are way better games than last year’s X/Y while also improving on the Game Boy Advance originals. Many of the features, like Pokémon-Amie, return to the game, but they managed to make extra subtle tweaks in this remake. Locations and situations have been changed up, capturing monsters is delightfully tweaked with the sneak mechanic, and the pace of the adventure is nice and brisk. While getting Mega Stones is a chore and presentation is still somewhat inconsistent, Game Freak knows once again how to pull off a remake in style.