Stop what you’re doing and go buy Pokémon Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire right now. Think you’re just going to eat turkey and lay around with the family this Thanksgiving? Well, guess what? You can’t. You’re too busy playing Pokémon to stuff your face. Your family will obviously understand.
Released just last Friday, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, or ORAS, reimagine the Hoenn region that was first conceptualized back in 2003. This time it’s with vivid color, additional storylines, “primal evolutions” and 3D graphics. The latest generation of Pokémon successfully blends the old with the new and creates a beautiful 3D world that will instill nostalgia among players of the original versions.
The plot is more or less the same as the the original Sapphire and Ruby versions: battle Team Magma or Team Aqua (Magma for Ruby, Aqua for Sapphire) to save the world from destruction while, of course, becoming the very best Trainer in all the land. This being true, ORAS still introduces new elements while improving original ones.
Now, you can manually fly around and land wherever you desire. It’s a dream fans have had for years and one that gets me pretty emotional. You can give your Pokémon some much-needed love by petting them with the stylus (though it feels mechanical). You can have your Pokémon participate in Pokémon contests that are far less aggressive than beating up your opponent’s Pokémon until it’s unconscious. The combination of these various new elements provide solid entertainment with vets and newcomers alike.
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s most distinguishable feature is undoubtedly its courageous leap into 3D. While the standard layout of Hoenn stays consistent with the layout of the originals, traversing through the same caves, oceans, forests and mountains as I did 11 years ago felt fresh and fun once again.
Secret bases make a return with loads of additional furniture and customization options. This might’ve been my favorite feature. I found myself dedicating over an hour hunting for just the right rug to match my desk. ORAS encourages you to take pride in your “Super-Secret Bases” by allowing you to wirelessly connect with players from nearly anywhere in the world. Once they’re in your pad, you can play games such as “capture the flag” or act as your very own Gym Leader and battle.
All Pokémon fans will enjoy ORAS, but, compared to games like Black and White, ORAS might feel a little slow. The game has a small-town, “stop and smell the roses” feel. The cities are smaller and less populated, the storyline drags from time to time and though there’s still plenty to do, ORAS just isn’t as jam-packed as other games.
But despite all this, I appreciated a simplified Pokémon game less cluttered by many of the added junk of later generations. ORAS remains true to its roots and is stronger for it.
ORAS’ goals aren’t to reinvent Pokémon wholeheartedly (like X and Y did), they’re to rekindle an old flame, telling us that no matter how old we get, Pokémon is still thriving and willing to keep reimagining itself for generations to come.