In my opinion, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were always the black sheep of the Pokémon mainline entries. Sure the games added now instrumental features like running and double-battles into the field, but they didn’t feel as magical as the first two generations, and later generations were simply stronger. After a good long while, Ruby and Sapphire eventually saw the remakes people were calling for, but was it worth it?
My issues with Ruby and Sapphire were skin deep. I always found the map too open, with odd, vague instructions on where to go and, as IGN famously said, there is too much water. These issues were not ironed out for the 3DS remakes, as they are integral to the game’s design, look and feel. More than a couple of times I found myself going around in circles, unsure of what to do, taking me out of the adventure somewhat. I like the world of Generation three, and appreciate that the openness does lead to a few genuine moments of discovery, but I prefer the more compact worlds of other Generations.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire keep hold of gameplay elements of the original games. Since Ruby and Sapphire, quite a lot of subtle upgrades have been made to the Pokémon formula. You’ll miss simple things like the combined Pokémon Centres and Marts as in X and Y. The emphasis on HMs, too, is larger here than in Generations five and six, feeling like a step back in the series. After X and Y let you customise your character, not being able to in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire feels like a real let-down. What feels like a let-down, too, is the change in the game’s writing. Carrying on Generation six’s fun, friendly writing aimed at a young audience. It all feels a bit like a children’s TV show.
Thankfully, however, the best parts of Generation three remain intact. The Pokédex, for example, was always strong, with some brilliant designs. There may not be many fire types, but that isn’t an issue if you pick the wonderful Torchic as your starter. Several of the Generation’s best Pokémon have been given Mega Evolutions to boot, which add another layer of awesome to the designs. The fun story remains intact, too, with a few improvements of its own. The 3D graphics are vibrant and a whole lot of fun. The story cut-scenes are interposed with wonderful camera angles that bring the plot to life.
The core formula is as good as ever, too with battles and even the fairy type being taken straight from Generation six. It looks and plays brilliantly throughout. Even Pokémon-Amie has returned, with all its mini-games intact. Super Training returns, too, which is a nice way to get your EVs all leveled up to the max. All the extra bells and whistles (outside of character customisation) of X and Y make a welcome return here. Pokémon Contests and Secret Bases return from the original Ruby and Sapphire as well – meaning there is plenty to get on with outside of the game’s main plot.
Once you’re finished with the game, there’s even a bonus little epilogue story to get on with. It adds a neat, enjoyable extra bit of narrative to an already meaty game, all in all it took me over 40 hours to complete. Omega Ruby is a quality remake that expands upon the original release, whilst leaving a lot of it intact. Unfortunately, this means the game misses out on a lot of the more subtle changes the series has seen over the years, as well as more obvious ones.
Pokémon Omega Ruby is a quality remake. It’s a lot of fun, but small issues with the original game that remain hold back from being truly outstanding.