Hoenn Confirmed – A Look At Nintendo’s Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

Julia Biertempfel '16, Assistant Editor

For years, veteran Pokémon fans have been anxiously awaiting the reboot of two of the most popular Pokémon games of all time: Ruby and Sapphire.   They are from the third generation of Pokémon games and take place in the Hoenn region. Ruby and Sapphire are the two best-selling games for the Game Boy Advance to date, so it is no wonder Pokémon fans have wanted a remake so badly.  With many going so far as to scream “Hoenn confirmed” when even the slightest hint of the games’ remakes appears, the fans are finally getting what they have wanted ever since the Nintendo DS came out and Nintendo began remastering old Pokémon games for the new systems.

ORAS (a common acronym for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) came out on November 21st, 2014, exactly twelve years since the international release of the original Ruby and Sapphire. The new games boasted better graphics than their older counterparts; your character and his or her surroundings appear in 3D, instead of 2D like the older games.  Now, the Pokémon you saw as sprites in the old games appear in 3D and move around on the battlefield, which is a notable improvement. Cities that used to be only in 2D now appear in 3D, thanks to the 3DS’s 3D switch. The most drastic change of scenery is Mauville City, which received a complete layout change that, though confusing, is very impressive.  Along with the better graphics, all the characters have been redesigned with some subtle, and obvious, changes. The protagonists, in particular, have designs updated to match the updated visual designs. Many fans have mixed feelings about the new designs.

One of the features many are glad to see return is Secret Bases, which had been dropped in the newer games. Junichi Masuda of Game Freak, the game company that creates Pokémon games for Nintendo, remarked that the Secret Bases were the signature feature of the Hoenn region. Secret Bases are more customizable than ever, with a special secret base shop added to Fortree City. Secret Bases can be wireless, so it’s fun to visit the bases of friends (and steal their flags).  Another feature that returns is Pokémon Contests, which were introduced in the original Ruby and Sapphire games, but have been omitted from newer Pokémon games. They have no impact on the main story, but are a fun way to show off your Pokémon and compete solo or with friends.

New additions to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire that were not in the previous games include Mega Evolutions of some familiar Pokémon, including the three starter Pokémon you can choose from at the beginning of your adventure: Mudkip, Torchic, and Treeko. I personally like some of the Mega Evolution designs, but some of them look like Nintendo was grasping at ideas for designs. One of these is Mega Manetric’s design, which I have dubbed the Giza Pyramid, as the Pokémon turns it gains a large triangle on its back.

If you are a fan of games with an in-depth story, ORAS includes a more detailed story than the original games. The Team Magma vs. Team Aqua battle still remains one of the most prominent subplots in the adventure, but it has been updated to be longer and even more exciting than in past games. Characters are, for the most part, more fleshed out in ORAS. I’ll leave out spoilers, but the changes are something to look forward to.

In conclusion, I would recommend buying Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, especially if you played the original Ruby and Sapphire. The updates given to ORAS are, for the most part, fitting and a large improvement from the original games and worth the forty dollars. I myself own Omega Ruby and have racked up over sixty hours of gameplay, and I’m still not finding myself bored. So, if you’re a Pokémon fan looking for a new, beautifully created video game, either Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire may be the game for you.