If you’re a fan of Pokemon, you’ve likely already played the demo version of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Some of us at Gaming Trend recently tried out the piece of the upcoming remakes, and we’ve got some impressions to throw your way.
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire marked a turning point within my Elementary School for Pokemon. After Gold and Silver had come out, the majority of the kids in my school scoffed at Pokemon as something childish, only for them all to suddenly remember that they loved it themselves when Ruby and Sapphire came to the GBA.
That, coupled with the fact that it was the debut of some of my favorite Pokemon (shoutout to Latias and Beautifly who have accompanied me in every game since Sapphire) means I have a lot of nostalgia attached to the games, and was eager to get some time with the upcoming remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
For starters, the demo for the remakes has some of the smartest demo design that I’ve seen in a while. The demo is made up of segments specifically designed to show new features coming to the game, rather than just a vertical slice of the game proper. You’ll pick a second form of the game’s starter Pokemon that will gain required experience to evolve to its final form before you have to face the demo’s bosses at the end. Thus, you’ll get to see one of the new Mega Evolutions for Sceptile and Swampert, or Blazekin that debuted in Pokemon X and Y.
The main thing that stood out to me was that Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire feels like a perfection of Pokemon’s migration into a 3D world. This was most apparent in how much smoother the movement was without having to walk on an axis like past games. Mossdeep City has made a lovely transition to the 3DS, and what was once a flat space made to look mountainous is now obviously meant to look like an island with real geography to it.
Unfortunately, while Pokemon like Latias and Metagross that have been confirmed to have a Mega Evolution appeared, there was no opportunity to train them yourself. However, you will encounter a Glalie that is transferable to Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire once you finish the demo.
I do feel somewhat concerned that Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire may be so eager to bring the X and Y feel to the original Ruby and Sapphire that it might not be adding much of its own. The demo felt like an extension of X and Y set in the world of Hoenn rather than a movement forward for the franchise.
As a remake, the game is likely meant to be a tribute to the past, but I hope that doesn’t mean it won’t take any sort of responsibility for the series’ future.
I’ve always considered myself to be quite the Pokemon Master. In fact, I’ve “caught ‘em all” in every Pokemon generation from Red and Blue all the way to Black and White. Last year, when Nintendo released Pokemon X and Y, my anticipation was naturally through the roof.
My experience sadly left me disappointed.
Pokemon X and Y certainly weren’t bad games. Nintendo even deserves to be applauded for what were arguably the most innovative Pokemon games since the originals. Its innovation was actually its downfall for me, though. My disappointment unfortunately stemmed from the games feeling drastically different than what I had been familiar with. The experience felt like it was made much more accessible, with gameplay seemingly catered towards newcomers.
It is always a good thing when a series attempts to gain new fans, but I felt that the experience had been oversimplified. Pokemon leveled faster than ever before due to the “EXP. Share” item becoming a key item, providing massive experience points to all of your Pokemon, even if they did not participate in battle. Effort Values, or EVs for short, which leveled certain stats further and were often a secret weapon used by competitive players, were suddenly visible for the first time, allowing even newcomers to max out their skills with little effort. Even the concept of Mega Evolutions felt a little off for the series. All of this resulted in a game where I was constantly 5-10 levels higher than every opponent in the game and playing became more of a chore than a pleasure. I knew there were some great innovations here, but the game just failed to click with me.
After going hands-on with Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, I can confidently say that it feels very similar to X and Y. Everything that made last year’s Pokemon adventure so fresh has returned, bringing a fresh coat of paint to 2003’s Ruby and Sapphire. The visuals on display are identical to X and Y and every bit as impressive as they were previously. Battles look exciting and dynamic, with Pokemon vibrantly animated to seem like you’re watching an episode of the cartoon show. Outside of battles, the cities feel much grander in scale and movement no longer feels confined to a grid. The soundtrack has also been remixed, yet still feels familiar. Simply put, everything feels modern. If you’ve never played the Game Boy Advance originals, you’d be hard pressed to discover this is a remake.
The demo I played was brief, but made sure to cover all of the foundations of a good Pokemon game. Starting off in Mossdeep City, the player is free to explore the city and learn the basics of being a Pokemon Trainer. Before long, it is discovered that Team Aqua and Team Magma (two rival criminal empires) have joined forces to find a Pokemon capable of Mega Evolution. The player is given their choice of starter Pokemon and sent to stop the enemy’s evil plans.
The rest of the demo covers familiar territory. Partake in Pokemon battles, gain experience, see your Pokemon evolve, and take down your opponents. Modern advances to the series’ battle system are also on display here, including 2-on-2 battles and Mega Evolutions. Battles play out as they always have, with encouragement to choose the right Pokemon type for each opponent. Gameplay is just as smooth as it has always been, but there didn’t seem to be anything new compared with X and Y.
Unfortunately, many of the issues that I had with last year’s titles seems to have returned, as my Pokemon continued to level up quickly and at no point was there any real challenge. This could just be intentional for the demo, so as to let players sample the game without any difficulty, but it seems as though the gameplay of X and Y may be here to stay. Players who disliked those titles, or those who have grown tired of the franchise, are unlikely to find much here to change their minds. However, for gamers who still love Pokemon, or those who may have never experienced it, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are on track to provide the same enjoyable collecting and battling gameplay that the series is known for. It may not be fresh, but there’s still plenty for continuing Pokemon Masters to love here.
If you’re like me, deciding whether or not to pick up the newest Pokemon title isn’t even a question. If you aren’t like me and need a little more convincing, Nintendo wants to give you a very small taste of what you can expect from the upcoming third-gen remakes, Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire. And from I gathered after playing this demo quite a bit is that you can expect Mega evolutions. Lots and lots of Mega evolutions.
The demo wastes no time getting you into action as you’re immediately challenged by a pair of Team Aqua goons and here’s where you choose one of the 3 starting Pokemon, already in their second evolution. Now, I have a long standing tradition of always picking the fire starter and that tradition has never been broken. In this occasion, however, for solely demoing purposes I went with the water-type, Marshtomp. I’ve already gotten plenty of exposure to Blaziken and his Mega form in the previous installment so this is me checking out the other options before playing the full game in November.
As soon as battle starts, that all too familiar Poke-nostalgia comes flooding back, especially if you’re a seasoned Ruby and Sapphire player. The still trainer animations are beautifully drawn and both the Team Aqua and Magma logos in the background are much more vivid than Team Flare’s was. The newly remixed battle music kicks in and your Pokemon are ready to battle. During battle, the bottom screen on the 3DS is a lot more stylized than that of X and Y, giving it a more unique look which I really love.
Once outside of battle, you’ll quickly notice that you can move your character a lot more freely and in every direction as opposed to the sharp turns from X and Y. Quite a big improvement from X and Y. Your starter Pokemon of choice is at level 35, only one level away from its final evolution (the water/ground type Swampert for me) and as soon as you level up, you’ll be given the Pokemon’s Mega stone so you can watch it in action. I wasn’t kidding when I said Mega evolutions were the biggest attraction in this demo. Not only do you get to see your chosen Pokemon Mega evolve, only 10 minutes into the demo, you’re given a Glalie with (guess what?) a Glalitite. If that wasn’t enough, beat the demo and on your second playthrough you’ll be given all of the fully evolved starters, along with their Mega stones so you can try them all out.
The extremely short demo didn’t change any of my preconceived feelings on the game and I don’t really see it impressing anyone who was already interested in picking up the game but it does reward you with a few neat prizes the more you replay demo, including a new Mega evolution. And come November, you’ll be able to transfer the prizes you got here to the full game, not too shabby.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are coming to 3DS on November 25th. Which will you be getting and what were your thoughts on the demo? Let us know in the comments!