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13 years after original, new Pokémon games debut

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire for Nintendo's 3DS system were released Nov. 21.

December 3, 2014

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS were released in Japan and North America Nov. 21, the 13th anniversary of the original Japanese release. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are remakes of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, the games that first introduced the third generation of Pokémon.

Although the popularity of Pokémon was declining at the time the original games were released, they still managed to sell about 16 million copies over 13 years, and still remain one of the most popular games for its console, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. The remakes, which were announced in May had already achieved 1 million preorders by the time November started.

Pokemon-Alpha-cover-JagWireThe original games started out as any other Pokemon game, a child receives their starter Pokémon from the professor and sets off to battle eight gyms across the region on a goal to become the best trainer in the region. It includes a heavy storyline and small mini games and side quests, such as contests and trying to catch every Pokemon.

There have been high standards for the game to be as original as possible because so much has changed in the Pokémon franchise over the past 13 years, including over 250 new kinds of Pokémon, a new kind of evolution called Mega Evolution and of course, the 3D world compared to the game’s original 16-bit world.

The remakes include higher quality music, but still include the trumpets, which are unique to the third generation of Pokémon. Snippets from the old game and many of the minor characters’ names and dialogue have stayed the same. The game does not feature the Pokémon from newer generations until the player has beat the game, although there are references to the newer games. The remakes have been designed to retell the original story, excluding the parts they had to scrap from the originals due to their limited memory.

Now that the 3DS offers more memory, there is a bigger diversity and detail of sprites for buildings, people and background art and a more orchestrated soundtrack compared to its older counterparts.”

The game has included different redesigns of locations. For instance, in the originals the player had to go through a long cave in the beginning, where in the remakes the cave has an original portion that cannot be accessed until the middle of the game and you are not required to go back to the cave. The player now has to visit a new, lower portion of the game that includes ruins and cave paintings. The city of Mauville, the location of the third gym, has changed drastically, although it’s change has been foreshadowed since the original games. It is now the largest city in the Hoenn region and over half of the city is indoors and inaccessible until later in the game.

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have introduced new characters to develop new concepts and expand old ones. The player can participate in contests, a side quest that is equivalent to a Pokémon dog show. To help convince the player to take part in these mini games, the series has introduced a new character, Lisia, a celebrity that scouts out trainers to persuade them to take part in contests with her.

Because of the original limited memory for a 16-bit game, many of the characters shared the same sprites, and many songs were compressed. Now that the 3DS offers more memory, there is a bigger diversity and detail of sprites for buildings, people and background art and a more orchestrated soundtrack compared to its older counterparts.

Another new feature Omega Ruby and Sapphire offer is a feature that was introduced in the last Pokémon games that came out last year, X and Y. It’s the player search system, and it offers an easier connection with others to trade, battle,and help level up the Pokemon’s battle stats and friendship. The company has also added more features to help find rarer, stronger and better Pokémon and a more detailed map as well as the ability to rebattle non-playing characters. Although the new features are extremely useful, they are all located on the bottom screen, making it a bit crowded and hard to navigate.

Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire helped introduce younger generations that were too young to play the games that came out in the late ’90s to the Pokémon series. The remakes of the game have a strong feeling of nostalgia and adventure that the originals provided quite well, while improving character development, and relationships between characters. Pokémon fans have waited longer for Ruby and Sapphire remakes to be announced longer than any Pokémon game so far, and it will not disappoint.

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