For more than a year now, fans of the Pokémon franchise have been eagerly waiting for a Nintendo 3DS remake of the popular 2002 Pokémon games Ruby and Sapphire. The hype grew even stronger around 2011, when Game Freak released Pokémon Black and White. That’s because fans speculated that due to the game-release pattern that Game Freak uses, the next 3DS games would naturally be the remakes of Ruby and Sapphire. The hype has even spawned several popular online memes like “Hoenn Confirmed” and “Hoenn Trumpets”. However, 2012 and 2013 were not exciting years for fans of Ruby and Sapphire, when Game Freak broke off from the cycle and released Pokémon Black and White 2 and Pokémon X and Y. But that all changed in May this year when Junichi Masuda, director of Game Freak, announced the 3DS remakes of Ruby and Sapphire.
The third generation of Pokémon is special and very nostalgic to me. When I was a kid, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were my favorite entries in the series. As all Pokémon games, the objective in this game is to explore the Pokémon universe while also slowly training your Pokémon to ultimately defeat the strongest in the game, namely the champion and the evil team bosses. I vividly remember spending days solving mysteries that would hopefully lead me to legendary Pokémon, a category of Pokémon I wasn’t sure actually existed. It was the only time in all my years playing Pokémon (since 1998) that obtaining a rare legendary Pokémon felt genuinely special. I felt that the Pokémon world was actually alive when playing those games.
As much as I was thrilled to hear that the developers at Game Freak were remaking this generation of Pokémon games, there was some fear attached to the announcement. What if I replayed the games, only to find out that Ruby and Sapphire were not as good as I had experienced before. I was afraid that it would spoil those good memories of mine, yes, my childhood. Fortunately, no such thing happened. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are solid Pokémon games for fans and newcomers alike, because of many elements that make the game shine brighter than other Pokémon games.
To start off, the major improvement of graphics from 2D to 3D is a refreshing factor. When I played the game, I felt I was back in the Hoenn region of 2002 but looking at it from a new angle. Also, like its predecessor Pokémon X and Y, the series features over 700+ Pokémon to raise, breed and collect, all with their own elemental strength and weaknesses you have to keep track of, which makes the player unlikely to get bored easily. The game also features many new plotlines to the story, such as the appearance of the primal Pokémon, Kyogre and Groudon. Mega Evolutions also make a comeback.
With all that said, I still feel some things could be improved on, such as adding the Battle frontier into the remakes. Hoenn’s Battle frontier was the most popular one among all the end-game features in the Pokémon series, and many fans including myself were disappointed that it didn’t return. However, Game Freak has hinted that they would release it as downloadable content on the Nintendo eshop at a later date.
Overall, even with all the modern improvements and new content, the game was not nearly as perfect as I’d envisioned. In my mind, I had hoped for not just better graphics but also the return of some awesome features from previous Pokémon games, such as trainer customization and the battle frontier, features which I thought should already be a staple in all Pokémon games. The game didn’t quite deliver in these aspects but I still think it’s worth playing, especially for people who wish to revisit the Hoenn of 2002. Trust me, you won’t regret it.