Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby (Video Game Review)

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby reimagine the third generation Pokémon games originally released back in 2003. The set of game went on to become the best-selling titles on Nintendo's Gameboy Advance, and the remakes are the first remakes in the series to feature a fully explorable 3D world. The game includes all new features for the games and some new features for the series, though some content has been removed and will be a disappointment for trainers. Ultimately, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby are more of the same that Pokémaniacs will devour for hours at a time on their Nintendo 3DS.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby takes players back to the Hoenn region to do battle with the dastardly teams Aqua and Magma. The distinctive teams have been made more unique for the release, but each still plan to change the world to better suit their vision of a Pokémon filled world either with flooding the world with water or drying up all the world's ocean. The player is simply attempting to become a better trainer like their father before them on the way to an eventual showdown with the Elite 8. The narrative isn't anything fancy and is mind numbingly similar to previous installments, but it works well for pushing players forward until new and exciting post game content emerges.

Combat for the game hasn't changed much. Players will still battle against trainers in the field and in gyms in turn-based encounters with the winner taking some cash and experience points for a prize. Outside of these normal encounters, Game Freak has added an all new DexNav feature that allows players to encounter some enemies in the field and read certain stat attributes and move lists before the battle begins. Players will still need to sneak up on the enemy without being detected, and a new control allows the player to do so without too much risk of a random battle. The same control can be used even without DexNav to avoid battles and make it back to a Pokémon Center to heal a damaged party.

Another major addition for the game arrives much later in the new title. With use of the Eon Flute, players can summon a captured Latias or Latios to be summoned with the move Soar and fly around the Hoenn region unrestricted. This feature seems minor at first, but players need not have either legendary in their active party to use the move, and it also allows players to fly to specific parts of the map, such as a very specific part of a Route, rather than being restricted to waypoints with the HM move Fly. Other late game content includes the new legendary Hoopa and exploring a brand new area for the series.

Game Freak has also brought back some other features from the series. Mega evolutions return from Pokémon X & Y and are more readily available from early in the new games. More dynamic and interactive gyms are present in the game as well, and cities have been changed including one that is all contained within a massive building. Pokémon Amie, Super Training and the Player Search System have all returned as well. Super Secret Bases and Pokémon Contests return from the original Pokémon Sapphire & Ruby, though many gamers will probably wish they didn't and will look over these features almost entirely in the new release.

For all of the improvements made in Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby, there are some features that have been left out entirely. The ability to fully customize the player controlled trainer with outfits and more was a big change for Pokémon X & Y, but the feature has been left out entirely for Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby. Additionally, Pokémon Marts and Pokémon Centers have been separated in an attempt to make the original layouts of some cities seem more similar to their original inspirations at the inconvenience of the player wanting to find both services in the same location.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby has no doubt improved visually, and the new graphics are right on par with that of Pokémon X & Y. The new 3D graphics bring classic starters such as the memetastic Mudkip and the awesome Torchic to life like never before. The game's environments are even more impressive with fantastic reflections seen from water puddles and some really neat weather effects to boot. The game's action is complimented by a fine soundtrack as always, and everything added to the game's presentation, from new controls to more interactive menus, seems to make the game even better than the originals and Pokémon X & Y.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby makes some improvements for the series but has its share of disappointments as well. The game is ultimately the same Pokémon that has had fans addicted for dozens of years now, and that will be fine with most gamers. The switch to 3D was a massive change for the series with the release of Pokémon X & Y, and while the new games do not make any such significant changes for the series, they are still well worth picking up for longtime fans of the monster battling franchise. Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby are out now exclusively for Nintendo 3DS.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby are now available exclusively for Nintendo 3DS and can be purchased separately for $39.99. Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby are rated E by the ESRB for Comic Mischief & Mild Cartoon Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby website.

Game Features:
  • Online Multiplayer 1-4
  • Explore the Hoenn Region in 3D
  • New Pokémon
  • Improved DexNav Feature
  • Pokémon Bank Support

Game Information:
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo
Available exclusively for Nintendo 3DS (reviewed)
Release Date: November 21, 2014

Score: 8 out of 10
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