Tag Archives: Pokemon

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

Pokemon vs. Digimon: Which came first?

I remember that in Pokemon’s early days, there was another monster battling franchise that came along and grabbed the attentions of gamers everywhere. That franchise was Digimon.

The two franchises were similar enough that it was very difficult to avoid comparing the two. Many did, many claimed that their favorite game was the better of the two, and many heated playground fights and nerd battles broke out. And heated they were.

Many introduced to Digimon after the popularity of Pokemon really took off have guessed that, because the two were so similar, Digimon had to be some Pokemon rip-off. Then some started saying that, because the Digimon Tamagotchi Pets came to America first, Pokemon had to have been a rip-off of Digimon.

If such a statement were true, it would have been outrageous! It would have meant that Pokemon, for how imaginative it seemed and for how popular it was, would have owed inspiration to some other franchise! How scandalous that would have been!

Many have accepted that to have been true, without looking much into it. Even so, Digimon faded into obscurity while Pokemon had a bit of a decline, though Pokemon would later explode into popularity again.

Does Pokemon owe it’s inspiration to Digimon, or was Digimon attempting to copy Pokemon’s popularity? Considering Digimon’s relative obscurity, one might not give it much thought. However, even today, Digimon fans continue to passionately defend it. Because of this, I decided to do some research to find an answer, and with it perhaps a resolution to so many playground battles.

Many who insist that Digimon came first point to Digimon’s earlier arrival in the United States. For many people, their introduction to Digimon was to the Digimon anime, Digimon Adventure, which aired in the States beginning August 1999, nearly a year after the debut of the Pokemon anime the previous year.

However, the first Digimon product that would see it’s debut in America was the Digimon Virtual Pet. This made it’s debut on June 26, 1997 in Japan. The exact date of it’s American debut is unknown, but it is known for sure that it arrived on American shores in the year 1997. This was the year before the Pokemon anime made it’s debut on American television, with English versions of Pokemon Red and Blue coming shortly afterward.

digimon virtual pet 1997The Tamagotchi Digimon Virtual Pet, the first Digimon product

So, a Digimon product arrived in America before Pokemon made it’s debut here. Does that mean that Digimon came first?

Not so fast. Just because a product arrived first on American shores does not mean that it “came first” in terms of originality. The question as to which franchise came first cannot be sufficiently answered unless one were to consider their global debuts. To answer the question as to which franchise truly came first, one should know which one was first to debut in any form anywhere in the world.

Both Pokemon and Digimon made their debuts in Japan. The first Digimon product was the Digimon Virtual Pet, and as mentioned above, it made it’s debut in Japan on June 26, 1997.

The first Pokemon product to be released was Pokemon Red and Green for the Game Boy on February 27, 1996. This was about 16 months before Digimon’s debut as a Tamagotchi virtual pet. In the time between the debut of the first Pokemon games and the arrival of the Digimon Tamagotchi, the Pokemon Trading Card Game made it’s debut with the Base Set and starter deck, as well as the Jungle and Fossil expansions, and thirteen episodes of the Pokemon anime were broadcast on Japanese TV.

Green_JP_boxartPokemon Green version. This came way before the Tamagotchi Digimon Virtual Pet.

So that’s it. Pokemon came first. In fact, the Pokemon Anime and Trading Card Game, two well-known facets of the Pokemon franchise, debuted before there would be a Digimon product of any sort. This matter is resolved, right?

There are some stray arguments related to this that I would like to answer, so let’s examine them.

Sometimes, a Digimon fan may claim that because Digimon was a Tamagotchi, Digimon had to have come first. That really doesn’t work, because even though Digimon was originally a Tamagotchi product, Digimon was distinct from Tamagotchi in several ways. It doesn’t work to say a product came first because it’s predecessor came before it. Besides, the Tamagotchi made it’s first debut in Japan on November 23, 1996, nearly nine months after the debut of Pokemon Red and Green. Thus, Pokemon came before Tamagotchi.

Sometimes, someone in a discussion involving Pokemon and Digimon will point out that Godzilla involved monsters fighting. Apparently, the idea in bringing this up is an attempt to defuse the argument by suggesting that they both had to have taken inspiration from something else. However, this is like comparing sea sponges to nitrous oxide. Pokemon and Digimon involve young characters making monsters battle while commanding them to use certain attacks. The Godzilla series involved giant monsters fighting each other, caring little about how many young characters they step on or blow up in the process. Pokemon and Digimon made their debut about 16 months apart, with one of them (namely Digimon) making obvious changes to emulate the success of the other.

Sometimes, I also hear that Pokemon wasn’t originally called “Pokemon”, but changed it’s name from “Pocket Monsters” in some attempt to copy Digimon. You probably see in the picture above that Pokemon Green was originally called “Pocket Monsters Green”. It’s true that Pokemon was originally called Pocket Monsters, however, it’s name wasn’t changed in an attempt to emulate Digimon in any way. Pokemon was originally a fan name for the Pocket Monsters franchise. The Japanese love nicknames and shortening names, and Pokemon was another example of how the Japanese did this. This fan name became so popular, that when Pocket Monsters made it’s American debut, Nintendo decided to call it what the Japanese called it. Pokemon wasn’t officially accepted as the name for Pocket Monsters in Japan until the debut of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, and by then, Digimon had already declined as a franchise. Besides, why would GameFreak want to change the name of their franchise to emulate a less-popular one?

EDIT: There is another argument that’s been coming up recently, that Pokemon is somehow copying Digimon with the recent addition of the mega evolution mechanic to the sixth generation games. A similarity mentioned is the temporary nature of mega evolution, which seems similar to how digimon typically revert to a previous form after a battle in which they digivolve. It seems the main reason people make this assumption is due to the use of the word “mega”. In the original Japanese version of Digimon, the mega stage was actually called “ultimate”. Later, when Digimon was released in America, the “perfect” stage was instead called “ultimate”, so when the ultimate stage was revealed, it was called “mega” instead. It would seem that the only similarity is that mega pokemon revert after a battle is over, but even then, mega pokemon weren’t the first to do this. Cherrim and Castform have been doing it for a while. It would seem that similarities between mega pokemon and mega (actually “ultimate”) digimon is coincidental. But at this point, it hardly seems relevant, considering that Digimon has very little media presence anymore, and less popular franchises are scarcely chosen for emulation. (This topic is explored further in this article.)

So, that’s it. Pokemon came first. That seemed obvious to me for a long time, but the question kept coming up on message boards, so perhaps someone could benefit from seeing it explained here.