Preview: Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire

First off, let me tell you that when Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire released on the Game Boy Advance eleven years ago, I fell in love with the franchise all over again. I had Red and Blue right before the rush took off, and I had a copy of Gold ordered at Myer (of all places!), but when Ruby and Sapphire released, I had no idea what I was expecting. Being the first set of Pokemon games on new hardware, I was absolutely blown away. Sure, Gold and Silver made advancements on the originals; but it was still the same gameplay, with a bit of added colour. And as a kid, boy were they great.

But Ruby and Sapphire represented something else for me. I was thirteen, at an age where most people I know had long left their Pokemon games behind for other things, like sports or teen dramas on TV. Not me though. No way.

That is why when hearing about the remakes, and then receiving a Club Nintendo code for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, I was transported back to 2003 again. The vivid colours of the new screen. The addition of new Pokemon. The TRUMPETS!

Where other franchises falter, Pokemon manages to keep itself fresh every year. Not just by creating a hundred or so new creatures, but by tweaking and innovating the gameplay they began with and have worked on for so long. Not changing it too much that it alienates older players, but not creating a carbon-copy of the previous installation as to bore newer audiences. The jump from a 2D plane to 3D-rendered environments is probably the biggest step that has been made, and it worked out for the better. The implementation of Mega Evolutions for some creatures has breathed life into battles, and changed the idea of just continuously introducing new monsters in every iteration. Nintendo and Game Freak really have managed to capture the market for both remakes and sequels, and renew the ageing series each time around.

The Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire demo is simplistic; your character (pre-named Orlando for the demo) arrives in Mossdeep city and meets up with Steven Stone, originally seen in Ruby and Sapphire. With Steven, Orlando travels to a small island near Mossdeep where the nefarious Team Aqua and Team Magma are searching for a Pokemon that has the ability to Mega-Evolve. Defeating these teams, the player is given the chance to catch the Pokemon Glailie, which will be available for transfer to OR/AS on the game’s release via Pokemon Link. Subsequent playthroughs allow you to unlock bonus transferrable items that can also be used in the full game.

The difficulty is quite low; being given pre-trained starters and consistently battling alongside Steven and his shiny Metagross removes most of the fun and makes the game too easy, but then again not much should be expected from a demo. No other Pokemon besides Glailie are able to be captured, and only Glailie can be transferred along with the bonus items to the full game. The majority of areas on the island of Mossdeep are not accessible or are locked off, and there are only limited characters to talk to, but some of them do change depending on the play through.

Boasting full flight and Sky Encounters with Latios and Latias, as well as Primal Reversion forms for legendary Pokemon in the games and fully-rendered 3D versions of each city, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is set to woo the hearts of old and wow the eyes of a new generation of Pokemon masters.