Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire review: 9 ½ reasons to buy a remake

Overwhelmed by the power of the awakened Pokémon!

Nintendo 3DS tested version.

Eleven years ago, just like Iperio, we set out with our little Treecko for a journey through Hoenn. Our dream was to repeat the feats accomplished in Kanto and Johto, make friends with many new unknown monsters and conquer the title of Champion by defeating the local Elite Four as well. Over the course of the three adventures (RZS: Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald), we thus met many new friends and, between one Pokémon competition and another, saved the world from the threat of two new teams, Magma and Idro.

After a long wait, thanks to Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby we're teen again, we rode in the moving truck to relocate from Johto and found that world that had enchanted us on Game Boy Advance. Here are the nine reasons (and a half) why, in our opinion, Pokémon Oras is a must-play remake.

# 1: the Hoenn region

#Hoennconfirmed is the hashtag that accompanied (and still accompanies) the return of Ruby and Sapphire on Nintendo consoles. And it is no coincidence that this region has remained in the hearts of many pokéfanatici of the beginning of the millennium. The Gba allowed for the first time to have a game world not only more colorful, but also larger and more complex, with the exploration of the territory which, thanks to the MN Sub (main cause of #toomuchwater), could boast a new dimension , that of the sea depths. Then we had the Pokémon competitions, with Pokémels, and the weather variables. The third generation, in short, was memorable and left an indelible mark on the series.

Keeping faith with this fame, Alpha Sapphire (which we have played in lurgo and wide) e Omega Ruby (which, at the time of the review, we have just started) brings the player back to navigate vast seabed, but is not limited to a mere re-proposal of the map seen in 2003. All Hoenn has been redesigned for the occasion to adapt to the graphic standards of X and Y: rather sharp and clean stroke on 3DS and 2DS, a little more pixelated on XL, even if it gains readability and ease of use, especially in the touchscreen. Veterans, then, will appreciate some retro details inserted here and there, starting with the menu chip. Cities have evolved (Hoenn is the only part of the world where gambling just doesn't take off, ed), still remaining familiar to longtime players and offering new activities to those from the sixth generation. 

But, and this is one of the novelties that makes Hoenn special this time too, in Omego Ruby and Alpha Sapphire the earth takes on a verticality to be admired. Thanks to the Eon Flute and the Hypervolus (which is not a move, ed) we will be able to fly over the region on the back of our Pokémon, explore otherwise inaccessible areas, meet flying-type Pokémon and reach all points of interest in the region. The impossibility of getting to the city and standard routes not yet visited is a bit forced, but on the whole, darting in the sky looking at everything from above is definitely a great satisfaction. However, Volo remains the best choice for quick travel, as any route, cave or city can now be reached in a few seconds. We think that many, like us, will leave it for a while to enjoy the view.

# 2: the nostalgia effect

Another strong point of RZS was undoubtedly the presence of characters with a strong personality and Oras is certainly no less: Ivan, Adriano, Lyris, are just some of the Npgs you will remember with affection and who will make you forget, at the same time, poor charisma of Vera / Brendon and our alter ego. Alongside the character design, then, also stands out a great care in the creation of the puzzles, especially in gyms, which keep the player busy and distract him from the necessary grinding and casual encounters with the various Pokémon present in the game. Added to this is a newfound general difficulty of the clashes, which will represent an interesting challenge especially for newbies. We continue to consider it useful, however, to insert a difficulty selector at the beginning of the game, given that now the series also boasts numerous fully adult players, who may appreciate more demanding meetings and some forced visits to the Pokémon Center.

La history, which focuses on the confrontation between two rival teams and is fully completed only with the Delta Episode (which we will discuss later), maintains the idyllic character now typical of the series: none of the Teams fight only for their own advantage, but pretend to serve higher ideals and, once defeated, repent and find the right path. All this, however, intertwines with the story of X and Y, making the chapters released so far on 3DS a whole that is still waiting to find answers to some questions about the events of 3000 years ago. 

Il gameplay base does not present any innovation, maintaining the structure of that jrpg that the third generation had revolutionized: turn-based fights between countless monsters, with unique strengths, weaknesses, abilities and natures, able to provide an increasingly vast amount of game combinations . Variables hidden in the past, such as Evs, were "revealed" to the general public in the sixth generation, tearing open even for the little ones that veil of Maya that we, the children of the Game Boy, did not even imagine at the time. The exploratory component, as mentioned, remains marked precisely thanks to the depth offered by the territory of Hoenn, in which water, earth and sky certainly play an important role.

The overall picture closes with an excellent audio sector, truly a pleasure for the hearing: the colonna sonora of Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald has always been one of the best of the series (the Monte Pira theme song is unforgettable) and, with the new arrangement, it has been refreshed without removing absolutely anything of the original charm.

# 3: NaviDex

Despite the nature of a remake, Game Freak has decided, to our relief, to keep everything implemented in the X and Y PokéNav, from the Pss to the Poké Me & You, passing through the now indispensable Virtual Super Training. This useful tool, however, in Pokémon Oras is updated with a new, fantastic upgrade: the NaviDex. It is a radar for the advanced research of wild pokémon, which improves its effectiveness based on the number of encounters of the same species: in addition to being a valid help to understand when we have captured all the Pokémon species in a given path, the NaviDex is able to find a specific Pokémon and inform us about its level, its ability, some moves and, above all, its potential. This last parameter is able to tell us exactly how many IVs (Individual Value) a 31 has, allowing us to capture without fail Pokémon with at least three statistics with maximum value (the unit of measurement are stars, for a variable number from 0 to 3; it remains impossible to know if the specimen will have 4, 5 or 6 perfect IVs). It goes without saying how useful this is for breeding and for the creation of a team to be used online (where each coach can measure their real skills).

# 4: the new secret bases

The work done to renew the secret bases, one of the probably least successful features in the original titles. Thanks to the integration with the Internet and the StreetPass, in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire it is possible to share our home with the world and with our friends, fight against them as Npg and create real personalized homes, complete with puzzles environmental. A feature that winks at Animal Crossing fans, but which also manages to insert a creative component, which allows the most imaginative users to build real gyms, complete with traps and specific combat rules (fight in rotation, in single, reverse, etc.). Secret bases can be established in many different places and, in just over a week, we have already seen some very well done. 

# 5: Team Magma and Team Idro

Ivan, del Team Idro, and Max, del Team Magma, despite the basic do-goodness of Game Freak productions, they are two leaders with clear as well as opposing ideas. Their purposes go beyond personal gain and touch on ecological issues, partly applicable also to the real world, which however inevitably end up with extremes and go to awaken a power that they themselves are not able to control. The possibility of clashing with one or the other team in the two different "third" generation titles was at the time an extraordinary intuition to diversify the experiences in Ruby and Sapphire, as well as an excellent commercial move, which proved effective today again. Although we have seen little of the Omega Ruby versions yet, it is clear that the dynamics differ in a very similar way (excuse the pun) to what happened in the original titles, with some small self-referential additions that, completed the story in Alpha Sapphire, have really curious about the developments of the clash with Team Magma. Also in this case, the background of the characters is taken care of, with the possibility of discovering interesting details about the past of the leaders by pausing to explore their "lair".

# 6: Pikachu Cosplay

In the remakes of Ruby and Sapphire the Pokémon competitions, or the non-violent challenges of class, beauty, grace, wit and grit in the Arenas of Virtues scattered in some cities of Hoenn. The storyline dedicated to Orthilla, the star of the races, is not very compelling, but it is still a nice addition that can distract the player from the usual gyms. The general mechanism, as well as the levels of the competitions (normal, super, hyper and master), have not actually changed much. Important additions to report, however, are the possibility of making our pokémon mega evolve when the crowd reaches the maximum degree of enthusiasm and, for electricity lovers, a Pikachu cosplayer

Unless you hate Ash's trusted friend, you will hardly be able to resist the five costumes that will be made for her, which also add, among other things, specific moves for each category. Like Ash's starter, this Pikachu also cannot evolve, although the use of the Electro ball (found in a ball during the trip) can make it a decent electric pokémon to be used also for the league.

# 7: the legendary Pokémon

Once he has won the title of Hoenn Champion, Oras goes to answer those (including us) who had criticized the post-end-game of X&Y and does so, first of all, by inserting a frightening number of legendaries to capture. In the various secret areas (mirage areas) of Hoenn, in addition to the classic Groudon / Kyogre / Rayquaza that you encounter throughout the story, the solemn swordsmen, the legendary dogs, the guardians of the lakes and the trio of Kami are hidden, as well as Cresselia and Heatran. And then the Regi, Deoxys, Latios and Latias, Lugia and Ho-Oh, Dialga and Palkia, Zekrom and Reshiram. Obviously it will not be possible to have them all in a single cartridge, but we do not remember another title in the series that allowed to meet such a large number of legends.

# 8: new Mega Evolutions

As a remake, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire do not add new unpublished specimens to the Pokédex, re-proposing the "only" 719 pokèmon present in the national dex of X and Y. However, Oras remedies this deficiency with many new mega evolutions and mega stones that , added to those seen in X / Y, will quickly fill our backpack. From Steelix to Glalie, from Pidgeot to Diancie, 20 new forms have been introduced and, in total, almost 50 megastones are now available.

# 9: Delta Episode (spoiler)

After the credits, which we recommend you scroll to the end without falling into the temptation of a soft reset, theDelta episode, which is Game Freak's second response to the sixth generation longevity criticism. This unprecedented adventure, in fact, will not only allow us to meet Rayquaza and Deoxys, but will also shed new light on many events of the legends narrated in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y. The character of Lyris is then introduced, one of the best in the game at our opinion, as well as a whole new threat looming over Hoenn and the whole world. It took us about 10 hours, maybe a little less, to complete this part as well, which then allowed us to get our hands on a second generation starter and gave us free access to the Lotta Resort (island home to the Villa lotta), where we they can meet many of the characters from the main adventure, as well as an old acquaintance of ours.

# 9½: Gotta catch'em all!

Excluded events, those who own X, Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, could theoretically complete the Pokédex and it is probably the first time that such a large number of Pokémon of different generations can be captured in "only" four game cartridges. According to the official statements, it is reasonable to expect that in the coming months many event pokèmon will be distributed all over the world, to complete the Pokédex even without the use of the Poké Transfer.

Final comment

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire they are ultimately excellent remakes and it is impossible for us not to recommend their purchase. Whether you are overwhelmed by the nostalgia effect or have never crossed the seas of Hoenn, Pokémon Oras is a must see for all fans of the series, as well as a great title (if not the best) to get close for the first time. to this complex game world, often unfairly defined for children. Some technical limitations, such as the continuing frame rate problems (with or without 3D) seen in X and Y, do not undermine excellent portable production in all sectors.

For Cons 
- A jump into the past
- NaviDex, hyper flight and new mega evolutions
- Lots of activities and a new adventure for the new Champions
- 3D technical problems persist 
  Overall rating: 95 


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