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Pokemon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire review

Katharine Byrne
10 Dec 2014
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Pokemon OR AS header
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
33
inc VAT

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are substantial remakes that push the series forward and make Pokemon fun again

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Specifications

Available formats: Nintendo 3DS

It's fair to say Ruby and Sapphire were some of the least popular entries in the handheld Pokemon series, but they have certainly had the most love lavished upon them for their 3DS remakes. Whereas previous remakes HeartGold and SoulSilver had graphical upgrades that preserved their original 2D sprite work, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire go one step further, rendering the whole of Hoenn in a 3D art style reminiscent of last year's Pokemon X and Y. They also introduce several new mechanics, making them feel like brand new instalments than a simple re-telling of a pair of eleven-year-old games.

The biggest change comes from your upgraded PokeNav Plus, which can now scan the undergrowth for 'hidden' Pokemon using the DexNav function, as well as tell you which Pokemon are in your current area. You can still run around in the grass like normal to find your favourite monsters, but you'll soon realise that there are far more valuable and interesting critters waiting to reveal themselves if you hold back and wait a while. For instance, every now and then you'll suddenly hear a cry and find one wiggling its tail or ears invitingly through the bushes, daring you to come a little closer.

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 The DexNav lets you find rare versions of fairly common Pokemon in the undergrowth

You can't just run up and nab one, though, as this will scare them away. Instead, a gentle push on the Circle Pad now lets you creep forwards, really bringing home the feeling of actively hunting down Pokemon as opposed to countless random encounters with an invisible wall of statistics. These Pokemon are often a little different than your typical run-of-the-mill 'mon, too, as they can have rare egg moves that you'd normally only be able to access by going through a rather laborious breeding process later on in the game.

You'll need to scan these Pokemon a number of times before you'll be able to see this kind of information from the outset, but eventually you'll be able to see its level, ability, whether it's holding an item, its first move, and how much potential it has in terms of stats. Also, once you've caught a particular Pokemon, you can then scan the area for them and them alone, saving you a lot of time when you want to find one with a sought-after move or ability.

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 You'll also find Pokemon you can interact with in the wild, such as a flock of Wingulls on the beach that will scatter as soon as you come near

This not only makes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire's Hoenn feel much more alive and authentic than previous Pokemon games, but it also lets players create more interesting and varied team combinations on their first playthrough. This may upset die-hard series fans, as it somewhat negates the hard work of building up and breeding your ultimate dream team across multiple playthroughs, or simply levelling them up at the end of the main story through countless Elite Four battles. Anything that opens up Pokemon's increasingly complex and time-consuming meta game to more casual players is always a good thing in our books though. 

We're also pleased to see that the stereoscopic 3D battles have addressed some of the frame rate issues that plagued X and Y. It's a shame the whole game still doesn't support 3D, but battles are noticeably smoother, with only the occasional dip in frame rate compared to the almost constant sluggishness of X and Y.

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 The Pokemon Gyms have all been revamped with X and Y-inspired graphics

Fans of the original games will be happy to know a night and day cycle returns, as its absence was keenly felt in subsequent games after it played such an integral role in Gold and Silver. However, it's only a cosmetic addition, as it still doesn't affect which Pokemon you can catch at certain times of the day.

Other components of X and Y have also made the journey to Hoenn, making Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire feel much newer and up to date than any of the previous Pokemon remakes. These include Super Training, which gives you the chance to increase the base stats of your Pokemon team through small challenges on the touchscreen, and the Player Search System, which lets you trade and battle with other players in the vicinity over local wireless.

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 Mega Evolutions are back in force, too, adding yet another layer to battles that the original games could only dream of

Mega Evolutions, first seen in Pokemon X and Y, also make an appearance. This allows certain Pokemon to temporarily evolve into new forms during battles, and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire widen the net of eligible critters even further. Unsurprisingly, Mega Evolutions play a noticeably smaller role in the main story than they did in X and Y, but we're pleased that Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire haven't been left out in this regard. Previous remakes were very much style over substance, sticking rigidly to their old conventions rather than incorporating anything new from the latest additions to the franchise. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, on the other hand, are much more balanced, bringing a much-needed graphical upgrade to these older titles as well as introducing some of the best new mechanics we've seen in the series so far.

We're sure many fans will buy Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire out of pure nostalgia, but these are easily the most substantial remakes in the series to date. They not only push the series forward with their new catching mechanics, but they also build on everything that came before, giving new and returning players alike plenty of reasons to make the journey back to Hoenn. They are by far the most successful blend of old and new we've seen this year from Nintendo.

Availability
Available formatsNintendo 3DS
System Requirements
Price including VAT£33
Supplierwww.cdkeys.com
Detailswww.nintendo.com
Product codeN/A
Hard disk space1.8GB

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