Game Info:

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
Developed By: Game Freak
Published By: Nintendo
Released: November 21, 2014
Available On: 3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS, New 3DS XL
Genre: Role Playing Game
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Number of Players: 1--- offline, 2--- online 
Price: $36.76 new, $31.99 used
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In 2003, the release of the original Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire games was groundbreaking in the RPG genre. Millions of children had experienced the series for the first time when Red and Blue came around. The trio that came right after, Gold, Silver, and Crystal, appealed to this particular fan base and drew them into the series. However, Game Freak decided to do things a bit differently with Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire by adding an entirely new region, one having no connections to Kanto or Johto whatsoever, and setting an additional cast of over 100 new creatures. Secret Bases, Double Battles, and the Battle Tower made the gameplay fresh, exciting, and gave new air to the series. Nintendo’s newest Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, remakes of the 2003 releases, made a similar mark in 2014 and proves that the loyal children from over seven years ago are playing the series today.

The main story of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire feels and plays exactly as the original games; this is expected in a remake. You star as middle school trainer May or Brendon (these male and female avatars can be named to whatever you like) who has just moved into a small town called Littleroot that resides in the Hoenn region. Like all ten year olds, you are given a creature called a Pokemon from a local researcher named Professor Birch and embark on a journey in the world around you to become the Pokemon Master! The overall goal of the game is to collect information about all current 720 Pokemon in the game by filling a Pokemon encyclopedia known as a Pokedex and is done by exploring every inch, nook, and cranny of the Hoenn region. Eventually, your goals temporary change and you work to stop an evil organization (Team Magma in Omega Ruby and Team Aqua in Alpha Sapphire) from unleashing deadly Pokemon from the past that will destroy the world. Collecting gym badges and facing against the Elite Four, the best trainers of the world, becomes vital in proving your skill in Pokemon battling.

One of the greatest assets to the gameplay of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is that it is such an easy franchise to pick up. There is plenty of in-game help from supporting characters that will explain the controls, give tips on what to do, and lead you towards the main plot, which is necessary for newbees who are trying the series for the first time. However, long-time Pokemon fans may be bored by the long introduction into the series and this is usually remedied by mashing the A button through constant dialogue and text. You will never feel lost while playing Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire and this makes the game open to newcomers.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

Strong Points: Nostalgia for older players of the series, addition of New Mega Evolutions/Primal Reversions, and infinite replay value.
Weak Points: Closely resembles the same Pokemon formula used before, 3D graphics lag at intense battles, and songs are muffled by the 3DS system itself.
Moral Warnings: Some Christian denominations condemn the franchise, battling among Pokemon, some questionable dress choices of female characters.

Another notable mention to Pokemon is their addicting RPG formula that has captivated people since the series first came out. Battles are simple yet complicated, as players can decide to spam powerful attacks or consider status ailments, types and items when going up against other Pokemon. Newcomers as well as veterans can find appeal from this system. And the inclusion of Mega Evolutions, special Pokemon that have the potential to transform into stronger creatures from Mega Stones, adds new depth to battles and makes combat exciting. Most importantly, battles aren’t just typical one versus one RPG duels, but instead have great variety in the Pokemon franchise. Single Battles, Double Battles, Triple Battles and Inverse Battles are all playable during different parts of the game and makes it so that you are always on your toes, never knowing what kind you will do when you enter into a challenge from another trainer.

Hearing the soundtrack of the game, many will be taken back to their childhood of trumpet-oriented songs that fill Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Critics have varying opinions about this choice in music, as most dislike the lack of variety in genre. However, for nostalgia purposes and keeping the remakes accurate to what they are imitating, I believe that these songs add a unique flavor to the game. One personal favorite that I have is called Surf because it is heard dozens of times while traveling around the Hoenn region and I think that it well represents the feel and style for the rest of the soundtrack. Other great songs to point out would be Cave of Origin, Trick House, and Granite Cave. The only gripe that I have regarding the sound are that the speakers on the 3DS systems cannot handle the audio as well as I would like them to, and some of the songs can be noticeably muffled at certain sections. I cannot fault the soundtrack itself for this issue as it is absolutely brilliant but only the game system that plays the game. This can be usually remedied by using a pair of headphones while playing, but if you do not have some you are sadly out of luck.

Returning features from the original Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire games such as Secret Bases and Contests truly bring needed nostalgia and revive aspects that were exclusive to those games. Secret Bases are forts or small dwellings within bushes, trees, and caves from across the Hoenn region that the player can choose. Accessories can be placed inside like Pokedolls and posters that can make it personalized to the owner and these forts can be shared among people from around the world. This is a really fun feature especially if you have friends with a copy of the game because you can visit each other’s Secret Bases! Contests are a competition that is outside of the usual Pokemon battles. Instead, the player competes for showing off the style, beauty, and coolness of their creatures, appearing before a panel of three judges and a crowd of people. You choose a specific area that you want your Pokemon to specialize in and you are judged based on those qualities from the attacks that you show off. This is a nice branch away from the main plot and gives you something else to enjoy about Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 94%
Gameplay - 20/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 9/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Concerning moral warnings, one major issue is not necessarily aspects from the game, but instead how the Christian community has responded. Over the years, many different Christian denominations have banned Pokemon from their congregation, calling it evil, satanic work of the devil. If you do agree with these beliefs and do not want to engage in playing Pokemon Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, be aware that this game can go against what you know to be true. Evolution is another present theme in Pokemon that is done through training the creatures you have collected in battle. Once they reach a certain state of maturity (determined by items, levels, friendship, etc.) they will grow into a stronger creature, one within its own species. This is included in the game to exaggerate the theories of Charles Darwin, neither promoting or condemning them, so it should not be a huge issue.

Also, “violence” is a feature in the game because different Pokemon are pitted against each other in battle. This is displayed in the franchise as a friendly sport rather than a match to the death, so there should be little to no concern regarding this subject. However, occult ideas dealing with summoning creatures that possess unrealistic powers to help you is something that is present throughout the series. Other questionable content would be the bikinis that the female swimmers wear when surfing across oceans and the short dress that a character named Lisia wears, but these are not highlighted in any way. They are very light and do not have a huge presence in the game, which is a plus for those who are trying to stay away from sexual content.

Honestly, the original Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire games have had a major impact on my childhood when I was younger, so reliving those memories in the remakes for the 3DS is amazing. Even as an eighteen year old man, I can still find enjoyment with battling my friends over local wireless connection, capturing all 720 unique Pokemon, and trade creatures with fans from all over the world. Feelings of nostalgia and longing roll over me as I travel through the Hoenn region for a second time and newcomers will have the delight to explore it for the first time. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have infinite replay value and people of all ages will have no problem at all playing these games. 

Overall, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are great additions to anyone who is interested in trying out a new RPG or who has been a fan of the series since the original games. I hope that new players and veterans will enjoy the games and that it will bring as much joy as it has to me.

-Micah Marshall (neighborhoodotaku)

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