A Worthwhile Return to Hoenn

User Rating: 7 | Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire Dual Pack 3DS


The Pokémon franchise has been around since I was a child and I've been fortunate enough to experience every generation firsthand. From the humble yet glitchy beginnings of Pokémon Red and Blue, the franchise has come a long way. With its first dip into the truly three-dimensional realm of gaming, Pokémon X and Y, Nintendo was able to explore the ways in which the games can utilize 3D to its advantage. Examples of this would be Pokémon-Amie, which gives you a small field to pet and play mini-games with your Pokémon as well as feed them snacks to increase their affection towards you (which some Pokémon require to evolve). The latest installments, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire build on the foundation built by X and Y and deliver on some key points where those games failed. Specifically speaking, end-game content (for the most part) and availability of Pokémon are two major points that showcase Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby as fantastic games. Other points in which they falter, such as the shameful copy-pasting of the Battle Maison from X and Y and the ever-decreasing challenge of overworld trainers and gym leaders leave players with less of a sense of accomplishment that earlier installments provided. Black 2 and White 2, for example, gave us the option to change the difficulty (through a somewhat annoying infrared trade-like feature) and earlier games provided a greater challenge than those given to us by Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby. Regardless of challenge and copy-pasting, these games will provide many hours of fun. Contests, collecting Legendary Pokémon unavailable in X and Y, as well as the PvP content give better life to these games than those of X and Y for many different reasons.


If you haven't played X or Y, the 3D graphics will be a pleasant surprise to you. Even on a 2DS, the models and textures are crisp. Unfortunately, the developers did not manage to fix the frame-rate issue that plagued X and Y's 3D mode. Battles in 3D often lag up and provide a subpar experience, but without the setting turned on, the game runs smoothly. While I can't say with confidence that I know what the issue is, I have read that it stems from the poly count given to each Pokémon model. Some are given too high of a poly count for the 3DS to handle efficiently, thus you experience lag. Frame-rate issues aside, the overworld and NPCs (save for Maxie, leader of Team Magma) wear flawless textures. Pokémon models are, of course, brilliant and lovely in 3D, but desaturated of their color when compared to their sprite counterparts from Black 2 and White 2.

The narrative of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire draws on many similar elements of the original Ruby and Sapphire. You fight against Team Magma if you pick Omega Ruby and Team Aqua if you choose Alpha Sapphire. Their plans remain relatively unchanged from those in generation three; Team Magma seeks to expand the land on which humans and Pokémon live, while Team Aqua seeks to expand the oceans so that water Pokémon can thrive. Each team seeks to do this by awakening Groudon (Omega Ruby) or Kyogre (Alpha Sapphire), but this time around they both have access to something called Primal Reversion, which is similar to Mega Evolution in most ways. If you didn't play X and Y, this generation (Gen VI) introduced Mega Evolution, which gives certain Pokémon the ability to evolve further, however, this is only allowed during battle and requires Pokémon-specific stones to do so. These stones can be found either during the storyline or in the overworld, whether by talking to specific people or just exploring the region. Luckily, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire give players access to all the mega stones that X and Y had, so you don't need to buy two or four in order to collect them all. Even so, you can trade other players for version exclusive stones without the need to buy both games. In conjunction with Groudon and Kyogre, Rayquaza is also obtainable via an end-game questline called 'Delta Episode' which introduces new characters and a new move that enables Rayquaza to Mega Evolve... but without a Mega Stone. Without spoiling too much, these three legendary Pokémon are given extraordinary abilities in their new forms, especially Rayquaza.

Contests give players the chance to eschew storyline responsibilities and normal gameplay for the chance to compete against NPCs for the chance at ribbons, as well as a special in-game effect that displays a red ribbon over your Pokémon upon entering battle. This effect is only available to Pokémon who have completed the Master Rank of every contest category (Cleverness, Beauty, Coolness, Toughness and Cuteness). Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire introduce rewards this time around for completing them, as fans will line up along the entrance of the contest hall to shower you with gifts, whether they be berries or simple status-healing items. Berries take on an extra importance here too, since improving contest stats are a must if you want to achieve Master Rank for any, let alone all categories. Maxing all stats out is possible but requires a bit of time to collect all the necessary berries. Luckily, the Berry Master's house comes with a massive field next to it, so players can plant whatever berries they wish. With a bit of time and effort, you can get all the berries that boost contest stats specifically, so that making powerful Pokeblocks (called [insert color here] Pokeblock+) is easier than ever.

There is more end-game content than X and Y (which provided nothing more than an island and the Battle Maison) but still leaves a bit to be desired, especially considering they copy and pasted the Battle Maison from X and Y. To add insult to injury, they included a model of the Battle Frontier and a sign that tells players it's under construction. Regardless, Delta Episode gives at least an hour of extra gameplay and catching the various Legendary Pokémon that appear in Mirage Spots excites players as they fly around on the back of Mega Latios (Omega Ruby) or Mega Latias (Alpha Sapphire). With this new addition, players are now able to fly over a full-sized overworld of the Hoenn region, as well as land on specific routes or landmarks, if they've been visited before. Accessibility is one of the main things that makes both Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire more enjoyable than X and Y.

Secret Bases also provide fun for those of us who like to customize living spaces or simply have a place to call our own. Having the ability to battle players from their Secret Bases (although the game only allows 3v3 battles) is a welcome change and even allows you to farm experience points if you happen to befriend or find someone who has three Lv. 100 Blisseys. Flags can be taken from Secret Bases and depending on how many you've collected, you rank up. 1000 Flags provides you with Platinum Rank and the Garchompite, which is easily trade-able from X and Y if you don't want to go through the trouble of collecting 1000 flags. The developers have made it easy though! If you have someone as a registered Friend, by making them a Secret Pal, you can collect the flags they collect via Street Pass simply by talking to them while they're in your Secret Base! Lots of decorations exist for Secret Bases as well and this addition alone will give you hours upon hours of enjoyment. Finding just the right place to set up shop and finding the perfect furniture for your Secret Base is not only rewarding, but also time consuming.

A quick note on PvP; things are still relatively similar to the PvP environment of X and Y, however, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire only allow Gen VI Pokémon... this means that your team must all be either born from Kalos or Hoenn to participate in any online battles. This is the developer's latest effort to curb the amount of hacked Pokémon that make it through PokéBank from Gen V (Black 2 and White 2).

Overall Opinion / Outcome

The newest Pokémon games are worthwhile if you are a long-time fan or returning player who hasn't kept up with the franchise for many years. Whether you choose to pursue Contests, collect furniture for your Secret Base or finish your (ever increasing) PokéDex, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby don't disappoint, all things considered. If you're looking for end-game content, this game is the better choice over X and Y, but if you'd like to avoid frustrations, you may want to reconsider stepping foot in the Battle Maison. Once you unlock the Super Ranked Single/Double/Triple/Rotation Battles, the A.I. can be unforgiving once you begin to accrue a winning streak beyond fifty. As toted by the advertisements and sales pitches, most Legendary Pokémon are available between the four games of Gen VI (X and Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire), however, the latest installment has made catching them more enjoyable and accessible than ever. While the difficulty and challenge of the Pokémon games is ever-decreasing, the storyline and gameplay are enjoyable and the Elite Four rematch teams will give some players a run for their money. Training and perfecting Pokémon via breeding as well as EV training always proves to be time consuming, but that isn't every player's cup of tea. With all the content included, these games will live in the hands of players for at least fifty to sixty hours, if not more.