So it’s been a while since I’ve put anything up. Call it a combination of laziness, distraction, and running short on ideas. However, I did say (elsewhere) that I was going to put up a proper review of Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby (ORAS), so here goes.
Overall: 9/10 Although it already had a good base to work off of, this remake did an amazing job in a lot of ways. I find it generally hard to downrate a game that I’ve happily thrown as much time as I have at. Everything new and remade after being abandoned was generally redone impressively. In general, I wish they would have been a bit more bold, but it shouldn’t be enough to stop most from enjoying a really good Pokemon game.
Pacing: After Pokemon Black and White, and it’s borked Experience Formula, and the travesty of Pokemon X and Y’s Exp. Share, this seems like an important point for me to look at. Without the Exp. Share, the level pacing of the game was just about right. The ease of rematching trainers softened the blows of low experience wild Pokemon, and the second gym, which had probably the worst pacing issue if you weren’t turbo-grinding in the original game, was fixed up. If you went to face every trainer, there should be very few fights a decent team should brick wall against because of sheer numbers.
On the negative, I have to admit that the few instances of “Come with me” to town warp were jarring, and there’s about a half of a route that you miss out on that you would have explored in Ruby/Sapphire. Also, I cannot promise that the game will be paced right if you have the Exp. Share on (for your own sake, unless you’re trying to powerlevel through the game for the exclusives, shut it off). It also felt possible, but constrained, to make a solid team. The Hoenn Dex could have used 20-30 strategical additions that fit the feel of the region (Houndour, Magby, or Fletchling would have made a huge difference, for example). Also, please, never, NEVER, I mean NEVER again just give over a legendary. Not after such an easy quest. No, I mean it Gamefreak, Legendaries are supposed to be earned.
Storyline: Pokemon’s never been much for a storyline (get the badges, smash evil, get more badges, be the champion, catch them all), but at the very least, major events and NPCs felt like they had a solid reason to be there, and for a game that knows it’s likely to get burned through by a lot of people, they tried to give the NPCs personality. Not much more to say about that.
Soundtrack: Another thing that’s overlooked that can set the pace for Pokemon games in particular, the soundtrack wasn’t really improved on in it’s general use. For most of the routes and low-stakes battles, they got remastered to meet the requirements of the 3DS, but as you hit the Rival battles, Gym battles, Aqua/Magma admin battles, and the Champion Battle, and Wally especially, you can tell there was more care put into the themes. The end result is generally enjoyable, though I wouldn’t blame you for turning down the music after the 50th generic trainer battle, just to bring it back up for the Gym Leaders and the like.
Side Events/Quirks: I’m glad that they brought back contests and generally made them less frustrating. The Cosplay Pikachu you get in game is either very hit or miss. Either you have an adorable Pikachu in a dress, or you have an annoying rat…in a dress. Depends on how tired of Pikachu you are after so many Pokemon games.
Dexnav gets its own note, just for what it does. In X and Y, they revamped the breeding system as well as added the Friend Safari to make getting competitive Pokemon a lot less painful. In ORAS, you get the Dexnav. On the one end, it ensures that once you capture a Pokemon, that you basically can’t call that Pokemon rare, since you can search for it over and over. On the other hand, you get a system that seems rather familiar for anyone that played Gen 4 for getting more interesting versions of Pokemon. At first, I wanted to curse it after getting “Derp”, the poor Zigzagoon that lost Tackle for Charm. However, after getting a Mean Look Ralts (and nearly getting a shadow sneak one), I was a lot less annoyed at it. Basically, as you keep finding a species of Pokemon, whether in the wild, in trainer battles, or on the field as a Pokemon you can talk to, any of that species you search for has a chance at better stats, Hidden Abilities, and Egg Moves. At the end of it, if you don’t want to figure out breeding a max stat (6 IV) pokemon, you can go searching in the grass (a lot), and get yourself a reasonable Pokemon with an Egg move and a hidden ability. This ends up being the other side of the changes for competitive, lowering the entry bar, which is a good thing for Pokemon.
I hope if you already have your hands on a copy of ORAS, that you enjoy it, and if you have the spare money for it, and don’t already have it, that you consider it.