Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire – review
The remake is a concept ingrained in Nintendo’s DNA more deeply than many might think. The difference, however, lies in the style, in the approach that Mario’s house has towards the subject. From the re-propositions of the old classics for GBA to the various Zeldas, Nintendo seems to live the concept of remake in an innate way, as a re-proposition of an always characteristic gameplay, which becomes more precious than adapting to the times.
Same Pokémon, in a broad sense, they could be seen as the reinterpretation of the same story, in an always different and original way, always suitable for the context in which a game is released on the market and is presented. And that doesn’t mean that Pokémon for us it is always the same game sold and resold, but rather it manages to present the same theme but always in step with the times.
It is also for this reason that it is interesting to review this new chapter of the series. A real remake, as already happened with Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, which at the same time tries not to be a simple “HD” version of the original, but rather a game worthy of consideration, both for those who have played the original as for those who have never approached it. An undoubtedly ambitious goal but at least partially successful.
The alternation of day and night in the game is regulated according to the internal clock of our 3DS. Too bad there is no difference between the Pokémon encountered during the day and those encountered at night.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire they are two titles that find themselves in a rather difficult situation. On the one hand, the anvil of a chapter much appreciated by fans, on the other the hammer of an episode that, first for 3DS, managed to remind the world of what the series was capable of. First of all, a reassurance: almost all the novelties included in X and Y have been transposed and integrated in this episode, which tries as much as possible to blend them with the structure of the original title.
A striking example is the mega-evolution of certain Pokémon, which will not only return to embellish the battles but will even be integrated into the story and dialogues, which will present it to the player as if it had always been an integral part of the story. But we will not spoil you anything about the story and its new contents, also because the new features that Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire introduce are much more interesting. First of all, a new stealth mechanic and a new map management, two functions that are closely linked and almost intertwined.
The second in particular will make it much easier to explore the playing area, always indicating the routes already traveled and, in some areas, ensuring the activation of a particular navigation function. That is, we will be able to analyze the surroundings of wooded areas to identify the types of rare Pokémon present in the tall grass. The analysis function will then tell us if there is a hidden Pokémon in a given clod of grass.
These determined little creatures, once identified, will show their presence by showing their tail in the grass. It is at this point that the new stealth mechanic comes into play: by pushing the analogue only slightly in the direction of the Pokémon, our character will proceed on tiptoe, without being detected.
Mega Evolutions are perhaps the most important addition to the bestiary. They certainly add a bit of spice to the game, but we would have liked some new Pokémon as well.
If we are good enough and we go slowly enough, then it will be possible to sneak up on the hidden Pokémon and try to catch it: a little gem, this, that will allow us to catch different characters in our team than usual. Some will be difficult to find otherwise, others will know rare moves or have a peculiar appearance, and so on.
This mechanic will obviously not be a necessity but the choice will be left to the player whether to rely on it as much as possible, or whether to wander in the tall grass to proceed to more conventional capture modes. From this point of view, in fact, the game does not differ too much from its predecessor and, as has always happened, proposes the canonical gameplay of the series.
Battles, captures, encounters, are elements that have remained basically unchanged compared to the previous chapter, to the point that it will be difficult to distinguish the difference. Sure, it’s still quite impressive to see our team fight in stunning 3D, but apart from a slight graphical improvement, very little has been done to embellish the fights.
In short, Nintendo has focused much more on the outline, focusing on exploratory mechanics. And we’re not just talking about the possibility of exploring even the seabed (as already possible in the original Ruby and Sapphire), but also the way to interact with the scenery. For example, they range from gadgets to find hidden objects, to the absolute novelty of being able to choose between two different types of bicycles, each with its own peculiarities and each capable of giving us access to different secret areas. In short, we will be able to choose between a faster bike or one capable of performing spectacular stunts, revisiting the bike shop every time we decide to change between one and the other.
What really makes you turn your nose up, however, is the fact that, perhaps, some additions to the Ruby and Sapphire gameplay seem to have been made too lightly. To make room for the new map and the restyle of the new menu, functions such as Poke me & you and virtual training have been relegated to a small tab on the touch screen.
The return of group meetings is not that surprising. Although we never expected the exclusion of the character customization features.
This in practice means that we will not be able to keep an eye on the map and the Pokémon in training at the same time. Furthermore, the menu, although improved, still appears too chaotic and it is not difficult to see how some graphics have clearly been adapted from the GameBoy Advance version.
Even the Live Race mode! fails to thrill that much. The idea of feeding our Pokémon with particular Pokèmelle to develop charm and charisma and make them exhibit in beauty contests is not bad at all. A way like any other to insert a minigame that interludes the many battles. Too bad that in practice this feature is reduced to a long interactive movie, where the player will only have to choose from time to time the most “spectacular” attacks of his Pokémon, to excite the public and win the exhibition.
Positive note of this feature is that it allows, after a couple of races, to get a new rare Pokémon, Pikachu Cosplay. It is a particular female Pikachu to be dressed at will with the most disparate costumes, which we can also use in battle since each of them will be associated with a very useful special move, otherwise not usable by our Pikachu.
As already mentioned, all the additions to the title certainly embellish it but at the end of the day it seems obvious that these are almost exclusively outlines aimed at justifying the purchase of the title even by those who have already played and replayed this chapter on GBA. The problem is that they succeed not entirely and, above all, only for certain categories of people. Those who focus primarily on the game and fighting will not be particularly attracted to the novelties; Those who, on the other hand, love to dissect every chapter of Pokémon until they discover all the secrets available, will have some interesting surprises.
The bike takes on a new and fundamental role in the game: it is no longer just a means of transport but a way to access new areas.
One thing is certain, although it is a more than valid chapter in the series, it should not be faced with the idea of being in front of the sequel of X and Y: if we did so, the game would not be up to par. In fact, the novelty effect that had characterized the last chapter is lost and new additions fail to be revolutionary like the inclusion of 3D or diagonal movement. Also, unless you are particularly fond of the Hoen region and its inhabitants, the game fails to recreate the nostalgia effect of its predecessor.
This also happens because there are no really essential news. Many (if not all) of the Pokémon present in Omega and Alpha were already present in X and Y. Apart from a handful of Mega Evolutions, there are no special additions to the bestiary and, unless we transfer our old ones with the pokebanca adventure companions, we soon end up missing the variety that X and Y had accustomed us to.
To conclude, we must therefore admit that our return to the Hoen region was not without surprises. Some positive, like a map worthy of the name, others negative, such as the excessive simplicity that seems more and more to afflict the series. In short, there are ups and downs, but the level of adventure almost always points upwards.
The variety of the areas to be explored is, for example, much greater than that of the chapters that followed Ruby and Sapphire, so much so that seeing the views transposed into three dimensions and spectacularized with new shots, had a certain effect. Nevertheless, we are not facing the best chapter ever in the series but only (so to speak) an excellent game. Fans of the series will still be delighted.