Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Review

Visually stimulating 3D effects, new gameplay additions and online features make it hard to resist revisiting this classic; and if you’ve never played Pokémon Ruby or Pokémon Sapphire, these are smart purchases

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on Nintendo 3DS and 2DS

All roads lead to Hoenn

Similar to movies, a variety of old school games have received welcome revivals, chief among them Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One. Nintendo, meanwhile, has something special in store for its fans with Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, remakes of the 2003 RPG hits Ruby and Sapphire, which originally debuted on the beloved Game Boy Advance. These reimagined titles were designed to take advantage of the 3DS and its counterpart, the 2DS, and while players will run into some balancing issues, it’ll be hard to resist either game, especially if you have fond memories playing the originals.

Mega Evolved graphics

The graphics are by far the most noticeable difference with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Whereas the developers at Game Freak had only 2D sprites to work with on the GBA, this time they redid the games in beautiful 3D that’s made even cooler with glasses free 3D switched on; not for the 2DS, which lacks that feature. Towns, forests, water and rocky environments look noticeably better, and there’s a chance you won’t recognize familiar locations like Rustboro City, Littleroot Town and Petalburg Woods. Of particular interest are the stars and your Pokemon Trainer’s reflection in puddles of water, the ability to fly across the entire game and the cool Pokemon special effects during battles. Suffice to say, it’s worth playing these games to see how Game Freak changed everything.

Pikachu plays dress up

New features don’t stop there. The developers boosted the cute meter to new heights with Cosplay Pikachu, where you’re able to dress up the adorable Pokemon in five outfits and make use of different abilities. Mostly cosmetic changes, but it’s only a matter of time before Rock Star Pikachu, Pikachu Belle, Pikachu Pop Star, Pikachu Ph.D and the high-flying Pikachu Libre toys appear in stores.

In addition, you can create and then customize Secret Bases. It’s essentially a chance to build your own Pokemon Gym and then invite friends via StreetPass or QR Codes. You can even set battle rules and share decorations.

One of the best additions by far, however, is the all-new DexNav App. This handy piece of software informs you which Pokemon you’ve caught in different areas, on land and water. Even better, wild Pokemon will occasionally appear, giving you the opportunity to catch them. This cuts down on capturing the same monsters, and you don’t always have to run through the tall grass, as you would in previous Pokemon games. It’s an invaluable companion.

Mega Evolutions return, with new Pokemon taking advantage of these powerful transformations. Among them, Mega Metagross, Mega Rayquaza, Mega Sableye and Mega Diancie to name a few; you’ll need to hunt for Mega Stones to make this work. Mega Rayquaza, for example, uses its Delta Stream ability to access moves like Sandstorm and Hail to devastate opponents. Mega Audino, on the other hand, adds Fairy Type to its Normal Type while gaining Fairy advantages over its adversaries. All of this amounts to exciting new twists on old characters.

You’ll also see Primal Reversions, which appear to be a step up from Mega Evolutions. Cover Pokemon Kyogre and Groudon were among the first officially creatures to take advantage of this evolution, with these Legendary critters becoming stronger than ever.

Pokemon deja vu

The biggest complaint with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire involves uneven gameplay. Their predecessors were heavily water based and Game Freak did little if anything to change that, particularly with Alpha Sapphire’s antagonists, Team Aqua, who use water Pokemon almost exclusively. This puts players who initially select a fire type Pokemon at a clear disadvantage, though at least on the positive side, they’ll be on more equal footing once they acquire a grass type Pokemon.

Beyond that, the plot and dialogue remain mostly the same. We expected this, but it’s obvious the story was written in a different time. If you know Ruby and Sapphire’s plot forwards and backwards, prepare for a rerun.

Primal conversion

To be fair, these are minor complaints for otherwise enjoyable 3DS games. Each title revisits familiar territory, but considering the visually stimulating 3D effects, new gameplay additions and online features, it’s hard to resist buying Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, or possibly both if you’re a diehard fan. You’ll want to see the made over Hoenn Region, and if you’ve never played Ruby or Sapphire, these are smart purchases. If anything, they’ll keep you busy until the next chapter in the Pokemon universe arrives, presumably in 2015.

GAME's Verdict: 8/10

The Good

  • Goodbye 2D sprites! The Hoenn Region enters the third dimension.
  • Enough new features to justify a purchase, from Cosplay Pikachu to the DexNav.
  • Online features extend the appeal.

The Bad

  • Heavy reliance on water types.
  • Plot is essentially unchanged.
SKU: Reviews-319295
Release Date: 26/11/2014