[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When Nintendo announced a remake of arguably the fan favourite Pokemon generation, Ruby & Sapphire, a lot of us knew we’d be taking a nostalgia-filled trip down memory lane. Now, as I sit here with all 8 Gym Badges, the title of Pokemon League Champion and a play-time of just over 15 hours under my belt, I can happily say that they hit this game right on target. Thanks to recent series introductions like Mega-Evolutions, ORAS is very fresh experience, but still bears a pleasing resemblance of the game I spent so many hours playing as a child.
Hoenn is still very much as you knew it, it’s an extremely faithful recreation of the land players explored back in the GBA days. Pacifidlog town still has those wooden floaty bridges, the Dept. Store is still just as tall, and Victory Road is still just as much of a maze as it ever was. In terms of location and building placement, most of the landmarks remain in the same place and I think it is this that most helps the game resemble the originals.
Without giving too much away, the story is still very similar to that of the GBA games, in that you, as a new trainer, are tasked with a Pokedex, sent out to fill it up and train your team, inevitably beating all 8 Gyms and facing the Elite Four – encountering your version’s “Team” (Aqua/Magma) of bad guys, and probably capturing a Legendary or two along the way. What shakes up the story is the introduction of Mega-Evolution, new characters, and special characteristics of the version-specific Legendary Pokemon. Don’t cringe at the thought of Mega-Evolution linked story like I originally did – as the game progresses it actually feels like a very natural addition to the game. Unfortunately, some of the side-characters feel a little basic, simply showing up once in a while for a battle, with very similar verbal outcomes after each encounter. I might go so far as to say some of the Team Aqua characters felt more developed than your Rival, which is a shame to say.
ORAS also remains true to the originals through the retention of some of the more “unique” features that existed on the GBA, such as Secret Bases, the use of Dive, Pokeblocks & Contests and the return of the PokeNav. Some of my best memories in Pokemon history come from building my Secret Base on Route 120, and being able to rebuild my base in the exact same spot feels wonderfully sentimental, like revisiting a house you lived in years ago. The PokeNav returns with several features, my favourite being the new DexNav, which shows up a “checklist” of sorts, telling you which Pokemon are available on your current route and which you already have. It also doubles as a “special Pokemon” tracker, that is, when Pokemon with special traits appear in “move spots” (areas of grass or sea that visibly shake), it alerts you of their presence and directs you to sneak up on them in an attempt to start a battle.
Two things Pokemon games always excel in are the soundtrack and graphics. The soundtrack is the third thing to beautifully hold the resemblance to the old games, remixed & remade to sound new and modern, whilst being easily identifiable as a tune that first appeared in Ruby & Sapphire. The graphic style finds a nice middle ground between X&Y and earlier games, looking more modern and 3D, whilst maintaining that sort-of top-down square-ish look. My personal opinion is that X&Y went too far in the direction of the Colosseum/XD games from the GameCube, so this return to a more classic Pokemon look is a welcome one for me. In terms of graphic quality, I have to say it’s one of the best looking Pokemon games so far. It’s most evident in puddles of water, large environments and the rather new addition of cutscenes. Unfortunately, I did notice a drop in framerate in some of the more hectic scenes on screen – these were few and far between and really didn’t do much damage to the experience, thankfully.
Avoiding detail again as best as possible, the endgame is a little different to that of previous games. Rather than beating the Elite Four and having a rather slow and abrupt endgame, leaving you with one or two new locations and a bigger ‘Dex to fill, there is a special “bonus” story arc to pursue. I’m not going to say anything about what it entails but know that it is a very satisfying addition to the game timeline and really helps to soften the blow of “I’ve caught the main legendary, I’m the League Champion, what do I do now?”
I’m going to leave it there. Yes, there is a lot more to the game, but a lot of it is just standard Pokemon. I believe you cannot fully review a Pokemon game, because it’s design is so dependent on that personal adventure. It hinges on your personal experience with the game in question, previous games in the series, and especially so in this case, your experiences with the original version.
I think yesterday’s events best emphasise the game’s successes. I got home yesterday at midnight after a family party, I sat on my bed and booted up my copy of Alpha Sapphire. I played solidly for the next 5 hours without a single feeling of tiredness or boredom, there were no tedious moments and I honestly didn’t look at the clock once until I had achieved the story landmark I was in the middle of completing. Despite it having been ten years since I played the original version of ORAS, and being extremely familiar with the game after the hundreds of hours I spent on it, I’m left with a real sense of accomplishment, enjoyment, and full-on childlike giddiness and excitement. If you needed a reason to buy a 3DS, you now have one.
They say video games used to be about simply having fun, Pokemon ORAS has genuinely proven to me that they still can be.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]
– New additions keep it fresh
– Remains true to originals
– Satisfying amounts of water[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]
– Uncommon but noticeable frame drops
– Somewhat basic side characters
– A little more water wouldn’t do any harm, mind[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_progress_bar values=”90|Story,100|Gameplay,80|Graphics,100|Entertainment” bgcolor=”custom” units=”%” custombgcolor=”#51db1a” el_class=”square-corners”][/vc_column][/vc_row]