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Review

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • 3DS

Pokemon will be Pokemon.

The race to catch them all has been going on for nearly 20 years, and for better or worse, the heart and soul of the Pokemon series persists in the new 3D remakes of the two Game Boy Advance classics, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. From the modern presentation to the new mega evolutions and side content, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are greater than their progenitors, but they're still very similar to every Pokemon game that's come before. I'm OK with that, because at the end of the day, these are enjoyable games with a large number of cute combatants to capture and train, and near-infinite competitive multiplayer potential. As you delve into the world of battling other trainers, losses and close calls motivate you to search for more viable Pokemon and master the art of raising a strong and versatile team. Yes, there are some minor elements that need fixing, but it's all about hunting, training, and battling Pokemon, and those elements are as strong and engaging as ever.

As is usual, you're a plucky youth in a world where man and nature share an unyielding bond, and you're on a quest to catch and raise wild Pokemon in order to become the best trainer in the land. Along the way, you challenge top trainers from different gyms around the region, but you also go toe to toe with amateur trainers on the lookout for wild Pokemon. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire live and die by their combat system, and though it may look simple on the surface, there's plenty of depth to explore if you take it seriously. If you only tackle the main storyline, you find a pleasant and easy role-playing game rife with cute, imaginative creatures, but delve into the realm of Pokemon mastery, and you discover a highly competitive world that rewards dedicated and sharp minds. Just don't expect much from the game's bone-dry plot which, apart from the message of man and nature living in harmony, offers little to the imagination or soul.

Choosing your first Pokemon is one of the hardest decisions to make in the entire game.

As you traipse around the island region of Hoenne, every patch of grass, body of water, and murky cave is ripe with combat possibilities against wild Pokemon. Tackling these encounters is how you earn experience and raise your team's abilities, and thanks to the exp share item that you acquire early on, your entire team benefits from combat even if only a single Pokemon engages in the fight. With exp share active, It's common for one of your six active Pokemon to level up or learn a new move after every fight, which is both rewarding and motivating.

Of course, wild Pokemon are yours for the catching if you manage to employ the proper tactics. It takes the right amount of finesse to whittle a Pokemon's health down to its last reserves, weakening it just the right amount to capture it in a Pokeball. It's disappointing when you accidentally go to far and drain all of their health, or they manage to escape from Pokeball after Pokeball, but when you finally land the elusive Pokemon you've been searching for, you revel in the feeling of accomplishment and the addition of a new ally. Some species appear more frequently than others, so you need persistence and patience if you hope to find, let alone bag, the pick of the litter. Given that there are hundreds of Pokemon in the game, and variations in skillsets among a single variety of Pokemon, it's somewhat demotivating when you continuously run into the same breeds for hours on end. Thankfully, this trend reverses around the game's halfway point.

One of the joys of these games is stumbling into unexpected and wildly creative Pokemon. Yes, there are simple looking creatures that resemble real-world counterparts, such as a frog or a wolf. However, as the game progresses, you meet something like Camerupt, which is a mix of a cow and a volcano, or Probopass, which is something akin to an Easter Island statue with a mustache and birds for arms. There are plenty of Pokemon that are absurd and make almost no sense, but they're part of what's so interesting about getting your hands dirty and digging into the wide world of catchable creatures. Catching Pokemon is always a challenge, and discovering surprising new forms is always intriguing.

What the villains lack in subtlety, they make up in fashion sense.

Eventually, you're given access to mega Pokemon evolutions: temporary, super-powered forms of Pokemon that only exist during battle. Introduced in Pokemon X and Y, mega evolutions are an addition that makes the main quest slightly easier during the later stages, but it adds another layer to competitive play as you need to look for mega stones in the world if you want a full stash of mega-capable Pokemon.

Take one look at the combat system, and you may mistake it as rudimentary. With just a few exceptions during the course of the game, two Pokemon face off at a time with only four moves at their disposal; what could be so interesting? Give it a closer look, and you find that there's a deep system of elemental relationships and statistics lying underneath that adds a compelling amount of depth to what looks like a simple affair. Being good at combat is easy, but mastering it takes a significant amount of memorization and experience with different types of Pokemon. Though the story missions are mostly forgiving when it comes to your chosen warriors, especially once you get a hold of a few mega stones, it's real world opponents that have the best chance of giving you a challenge, and preparing for these scenarios requires dozens of hours of training beyond the plot's conclusion.

As arduous as hunting and training can be, the former is easier than ever in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire thanks to the availability of the DexNav, a tool that reveals details of nearby Pokemon in the wild. This radar-like device gives you an idea of what to expect from hidden Pokemon, in terms of elemental affinity and level, and this data affords you a chance to temper your excitement or realign your team before getting into battle. It's a great little tool, and it's a prime example of how the series is evolving for the better, ever so slightly, by arming you with more information than in the past.

Poor Zigzagoon. He probably never saw the frozen shark teeth coming.

As in Pokemon X and Y, not all training takes place on the battlefield. Through a system known as super training, your Pokemon can hit a variety of punching bags to raise individual stats, or enter an arena and attempt to take down large inflatable Pokemon. Neither minigame is particularly fun, but if you want to get the most out of your Pokemon, super training handy tool to have at your disposal when aiming to raise a specific attribute.

Once you're confident enough in your team, you can battle opponents locally or online, and this is where the true endgame arises. It's not unheard of for people to spend upward of a hundred hours or more training their teams and perfecting their loadouts. As ever, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire feature hundreds of Pokemon and different abilities to use in battle, making the possibilities for match-ups near endless. Trading Pokemon is also useful when you're looking for a specific type of Pokemon that may be exclusive to the opposing version of the game, and some Pokemon will only evolve into advanced forms when they're transferred from one player to another, making it an integral and necessary part of trying to catch them all.

There are other distractions to tinker with, including a series of beauty-pageant-like Pokemon contests that award the winner with honorary badges. You pit a Pokemon of your choosing against three others in front of a panel of judges that weigh merits such as coolness and toughness. The reward for pleasing the judges, the qualifications of which are difficult to decipher, is a ribbon that the victorious Pokemon gets to wear in perpetuity. Given that ribbons don't add any practical benefit to your Pokemon, coupled with the fact that it's difficult to understand exactly how the judging is done, you don't find yourself tempted to dedicate much if any time to Pokemon contests. Besides, you're too busy having fun hunting and raising Pokemon to be distracted.

Additions like the DexNav make hunting Pokemon a much more calculated affair.

Becoming a Pokemon master is a long journey that is at times exciting, and unexpected discoveries and the potential for hard-fought battles with friends compels you to charge forward. Yes, its the same game we've seen before, but that's not a bad thing when the core concept is so engaging and rewarding. Your dedication to the cause makes the difference between becoming a good trainer or the best trainer, and while some people may end their journey once the story concludes, there's a wide variety of Pokemon to capture and raise, and potentially thousands of opponents waiting to put your Pokemon skills to the test. Give these remakes enough time, and you begin to understand why Pokemon's formula hasn't changed much over the years. It's a seemingly simple and cute journey, but with the underlying potential for strategy in combat, and a massive number of adorable Pokemon to catch, you can't help getting hooked by Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

The Good
The world of Hoenn from Ruby and Sapphire looks fresh and new in 3D
Hunting and battling Pokemon is as fun as ever
Super training allows you to fine-tune specific attributes of your Pokemon
Every Pokemon is colorful and expressive
The Bad
Another missed opportunity to resolve series-old issues
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Peter fell in love with Pokemon years ago, but after a decade hiatus, he jumped back in the saddle for Pokemon X/Y and Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. He played over 30 hours of Omega Ruby for the purposes of this review, and plans to continue playing until he catches, well, most of them.

Discussion

144 comments
robbiejones
robbiejones

Bring out Pokemon on the Wii U, have it an opened world RPG (obviously), and let player's control any one of the past series leads; in third person. 

Junior_AIN
Junior_AIN

That's the worst pokemon generation, if nothing is changed then what the hell?

boodleout
boodleout

Like all nintendo games the review score seemed a little high.

All of those negative points don't carry much weight when the game is still scored an 8 out of 10

alexpii400
alexpii400

Had to discredit this review after I read, "you meet something like Camerupt, which is a mix of a cow and a volcano". This comes off as extremely ignorant and lacking common sense, how do you believe this to be the likeness of a cow? CAMEL-ERUPT ...... It has two volcanoes on its back and looks exactly like a camel.


Also, to some of these other posts complaining about how the game is the same.... I prefer it this way, I enjoy them all being the same with updated graphics and monsters. Also, this is a REMAKE, so it would probably be the same regardless. 


I am under the impression that this is a children's game on a children's console and what we have here is a grown man reviewing it for other grown men instead of for what it is. "After watching Blues Clues, I would really have to say that it just doesn't stack up to Saving Private Ryan, I am going to have to pass on watching any more Blues Clues until they make it a little more like Saving Private Ryan, I really do not understand why they took some of the childish liberties that they did..." - Peter Brown

jjleshko90
jjleshko90

Where art thou water?


Oh, and Kev would've given this game an 11/10, because, well, cute and cuddly creatures! :D

csward
csward

This is my least favorite entry in the series, so I am surprised by a remake. It looks like not much has changed, so I'll have to pass this time.

j4c0b890
j4c0b890

Hoenne? I don't know if my favorite region is Kunto, Kalis, Joe-toe, Ewnova, Sinnew, or Hoenne. Are you kidding me? And you reviewed this game?

luxemboss
luxemboss

"too-much-water/10" . This needs to become a meme, thanks IGN.

Coldpain
Coldpain

The last few games were great, but I think I am done buying what is (essentially) the same game over and over. Now that we've moved to 3D and I don't feel like we'll ever get another truly unique entry in the series.

kvcrafted
kvcrafted

Hey, just a small question. Are there more megas in the game than there were announced? You don't have to tell me which ones do, I just want to know if this isn't the end of mega evolution.

Torvar72
Torvar72

Same rehashed crap this should of been a 4/10 at best. Pokemon hasn't been relevent since 1999. 

cavs25
cavs25

This game is a 6 at most.  It just has too much water

indie_boy6
indie_boy6

The AI needs to improve, it seems like they all have no concept of types or status effects.

Menslaughter
Menslaughter

"Another missed opportunity to resolve series-old issues"

Thats about it. I'll get this game, but it still saddens me to see Pokemon stale on some Points.


1. The UI is horrible and takes ages to navigate.

2. The game is way too easy, even compared to older versions. Remember how you actually had to do some thinking while fighting Arena Masters?

3. The Story is crap. Pokemon has great story Potential but is always destroyed by simply bad dialogue. Disney or Dreamworks show us that a story can be for children and adults alike, so why not try to be i bit more... daring?


There are some points to follow (how random encounters work, quantity of Pokemon,...), but these are my personal most disappointing facts about Pokemon. I'll still enjoy it, but it would be a masterpiece if those would be adressed.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Uh reading your review, i never did find out what were your gripes with so called "age old issues" This is a remake you know? Not a new release in the series. 


They essentially needed to give some new features that have come along since the last couple pokemon games while making sure that the game remains what it was. Hence remake. And they did that. Quite well from what i am seeing here.


So i am going to guess that this will be a 9 for me honestly, if not a 10. But that is the great thing about reviews, you don't have to always take reviews to heart, and there is always room for your own opinion.

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

Great review Peter!

I'm looking forward to playing this as I was a Pokemon big fan of the Pokemon Red & Blue games on Gameboy all those years ago. I have since jumped in and played X & Y on 3DS. I missed Ruby & Sapphire on Gameboy Advance so now I will finally have a chance!

ajjjevans
ajjjevans

Looks fun, but I hear it has too much water so I will probably stay away. 

joel_c17
joel_c17

Its a sad day when remakes start getting better scores than new games. Ah well - i wish i had more time, so many games

silversix_
silversix_

great score, kids will enjoy this game.

hiphops_savior
hiphops_savior

@robbiejones and expose Pokemon for what it really is, a repetitive grinder RPG that's best played on the road.

ballashotcaller
ballashotcaller

@alexpii400 it looks more like a cow with two volcanoes on its back, i think the name only applies to the humps.

bobbo888
bobbo888

@alexpii400 you must be the most boring person ever then. You like repetitive games you THINK are for children? Son if you had any idea about the competitive multiplayer aspect of this game you would never say it was for kids. They've had years to fix so many problems with the game it's ridiculous. 

highpitcairn
highpitcairn

@alexpii400 Somehow you complaint about fictional character, and games with the same gameplay mechanics get repetitive (depending how people like the game), and this game is made for family friendly, but that my opinion

Silverline62
Silverline62

@Torvar72 You have never been relevant in your whole life so you deserve a 0/10 at best

csward
csward

@Menslaughter To be fair, it was pretty easy to steamroll the gym leaders in the earlier games (save dragon). The Elite 4 were much harder in the older games because they were 20 levels ahead of you, so you had to grind a bit to beat them.

Delston
Delston

@WolfGrey Love your rationale here.  Logical..., calm and collected to boot!

Delston
Delston

@GH05T-666 Same for me.  Last game I played before X was Red...when I was the target age for Pokemon ;)  Loved X, and looking forward to Alpha!

ryudo6
ryudo6

Lol. I also jumped from gen 1 to gen 6 skipping the others in between. Glad to know I am not the only one. So yeah I am excited to play this one too

alexpii400
alexpii400

@ballashotcaller CAMEL-ERUPT..............camerupt. It is clearly not a miltank (milk tank) which looks exactly like a cow. Peter Brown could have chosen about any other Pokemon to make his point about there being some weird pokemon out there that were not directly correlated to real animals, instead he chose to use the pokemon that looks like a camel, and is named after a camel. Glalie and Metagross for example, they do not look like real animals, they would have been acceptable pokemon to use for that point. 

alexpii400
alexpii400

Listen up @bobbo888, the only people you should refer to as "son" when commenting on a Pokemon review is your actual "son" becuase this game was made for him. "Daddy, it is not a little kids game I promise, it actually has a very in depth competitive multi-player aspect."


Fair point about me being the most boring person ever, I admittedly enjoy to play mindless children's games, but unlike you son, I will admit they are mindless children's games. Just because you switched to your fire type when the other trainer sent out bulbasaur, and did double damage with your ember attack, does not mean that Pokemon is not a child's games.  I do not see the problems that they have had years to fix, looks pretty good and plays pretty good IMO. 

Menslaughter
Menslaughter

@Delston @Menslaughter I've played the Demo to see the same UI.

I've also seen the easy difficulty in the same demo, which was also supported by words of the devellopers that they'll make future Pokemon easy/easier.

I've played the original, which has the same storyline.


So yes, technically I've played it.

samekichi
samekichi

@console_war_vet It was IGN's cons on the game. They gave it a 7.8 and the only bad thing was too much water.

Delston
Delston

@Silverline62 @silversix_ Lol...true...some want things that are more realistic, and others wish we could forget reality and get back to a nostalgic childhood (sometimes) :)

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

Ugghh no there were too many HMs as well don't forget xD

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby More Info

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  • First Released
    • 3DS
    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire are a fresh take on Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire and promise to take players through a dramatic story within a spectacular new world.
    8.6
    Average User RatingOut of 3 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby
    Developed by:
    Game Freak
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence