Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire: My impressions

Over the last several weeks, I’ve played some Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, one of the two newest installments of the Pokemon series. If you’re a Pokemon fan, you might already have at least one of these two games, so you probably don’t need a review to tell you that you’d like this game. Actually, this is less like a review and more like my own impression of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, the one that I’ve played.

So, you might be thinking of asking, “Is this the kind of game that anyone would like, even someone like Adolf Hitler?” Let me tell you something about Adolf Hitler: Adolf Hitler was a Nazi. In fact, he was the biggest Nazi of them all.

just say no

There are bound to be people out there that don’t like Pokemon ORAS (short for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which is like a tongue twister to say). However, I think it’s a pretty well-made product.

Yes, ORAS is a remake of Ruby and Sapphire, and while there’s a real element of nostalgia to it, so much was added to the experience that it could hardly be called the same experience as the originals.

For one thing, the presentation is very similar to that of Pokemon X and Y, which I don’t recall meeting very many complaints. The overworld map generally has an overhead perspective, as do caves and buildings, with some exceptions. Generally, this aspect of the presentation has improvements over X and Y, which seems natural, considering GameFreak has had more experience with dynamic perspective since it was first implemented in X and Y. Like X and Y, it’s the presentation in the battles that really shines. Each of the pokemon models are well rendered and animated, with a cel-shading effect that makes the battles look almost like the Pokemon anime. GameFreak did very well with this in X and Y, and that they took the same approach in ORAS is a decision that seems pretty sound.

Perhaps the biggest issue for Pokemon ORAS is the balance of gameplay, though this issue wasn’t nearly as severe was it was in Pokemon X and Y (where it took a long time to get the third badge, and after you did, you could get a mega pokemon, and the badges generally came in rapid succession). Much of the lack of balance with X and Y came from the fact that once a player could use mega evolutions, they could sweep most of the rest of the game with ease. In ORAS, there is a little more balance with mega evolution, but the way it was introduced was pretty odd. About midway through, the player receives a legendary pokemon that wasn’t available until the post-game in the originals, and it could mega evolve. The player doesn’t have to battle it, either. It’s not broken like either of the Mega Charizards, but it’s still a very strong pokemon.

Like the originals, though, once you capture Kyogre or Groudon, you’re set until the post-game. Pokemon ORAS takes this further, though, by allowing the player to access their newer, stronger “Primal Reversion” forms, which allow what was already a couple really strong pokemon to hammer most of what the game can throw at them.

For the most part, though, if you’ve played Pokemon before, you already have a good idea of what to expect from ORAS, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deliver an excellent experience. In fact, there are many standout aspects of ORAS compared to the originals. For one thing, there’s much more character development. It’s a little surprising, but it would seem that the main character you don’t choose (from between Brendan and May) becomes a somewhat romantic interest as the game progresses, in a manner similar to Shauna from X and Y. Characters such as Matt and Tabitha are far more interesting and well-defined (rather than being the generic Admins they were before), and Archie actually turns out to be quite an interesting character. The character of Wally is also much further explored (and he gets a pretty sweet battle tune).

Many Pokemon players consider the real meat of the game to be the post-game, when new areas become accessible, and the flow of the game is not limited by a plot. In ORAS, there is a bit of an extension which occurs after the initial victory over the champion in the form of the Delta Episode. The Delta Episode is an additional scenario which adds more to the story of the Hoenn region, mega pokemon, and Rayquaza. A lot can be said about the Delta Episode, and among those things is that there is a lot of dialogue! But there is also a lot of character development, particularly for Steven.

Pokemon ORAS is a game which seems like it was made with the fans in mind. One could imagine the following exchange having taken place between GameFreak and a Pokemon fan:

Fan: Wouldn’t it be cool if we could fly on a pokemon around a 3D map of Hoenn?
GF: I agree. Let’s call that “soaring” and put it in ORAS.
Fan: I think it would also be cool if it were easier to get a pokemon with high IVs, such as through chaining or something like that.
GF: I agree.
Fan: Wouldn’t it also be cool if hatching eggs became easier because there was a long path to ride a bike on?
GF: Why don’t we make a circular path that can be traversed by only holding down one direction on the plus control pad?
Fan: I think that it would be sweet if Rayquaza got a mega form that didn’t need a mega stone, and was much stronger than it had to be.
GF: Okay. It’ll be interesting to see what competitive communities such as Smogon do about it.
Fan: And a bunch more mega evos would be nice.
GF: Agreed.
Fan: And it would be cool if one of the event pokemon became obtainable in-game.
GF: Why don’t you play ORAS and find out which one?

Yeah, there are new mega evos, which has had a real impact on the competitive scene. Also impacting the competitive scene is a new set of move tutors. Some pokemon seriously benefit from this, such as Greninja, which gets low kick to answer Chansey, and Gunk Shot. Another nice touch is that obtaining pokemon through Dexnav allows the player to encounter pokemon that know egg moves. There are also a lot of legendary pokemon to obtain in this game. For competitive players, there’s a lot to like in ORAS. But if a person plays competitively, they’d probably want a copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, because at least until next year they are considered to be the definitive Pokemon games.

It’s obvious that a lot of effort went into Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, and the result is that they turned out excellently.

10 out of 10

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