Solid gameplay: Combat, Collecting, Beauty Contests, Breeding, Trading, Great Multi-player.

User Rating: 8.8 | Pocket Monsters Ruby Version GBA
Familiar with only Pokemon FireRed and Pokemon LeafGreen, I come to this series much later than most other players. Having never played the other incarnations, I was fortunate to find a good story and an interesting world that to move through. What's most enjoyable about this game is the game gives you the feeling that you are really traveling all over the place with involving locations: forests, deserts, oceans, mountain tops, meteor craters, in the shadow of a volcano, and more. These places aren't breaktaking, but they are unique and rewarding for the player to discover. Through your travels you are given a lot of activities, which are all aside of the main adventure to best the gym leaders, stop Team Magma and Team Aqua. First is the goal to try and collect all the pokemon in the world. Which in itself is a long-term goal as these Pokemon are sometimes hard to find and those hard to find ones are often hard to catch. With some pokemon being rarer or not existing in some versions. Also, some forms of pokemon are only available to you if you can train them, trade them, give them a special item, or befriend them so that they will evolve. You can breed pokemon in this game, giving the offspring pokemon the moves of their father, with special moves only available to you through breeding. There is also growing berries that help you put together PokeBlocks to feed to your Pokemon, so that they gain certain attributes that will help them win in various forms of talent contests. With these many options, there is a lot to do and as I said, these options are available to you as side quests that you have the choice of performing. If you're not interested you can keep right on trucking through the story, though I recommend you stop and savor the flavor. The strategy behind Pokemon is having a great memory or the ability to take great notes (or read on-line guides or buy a PokeDex). Because every Pokemon contain a myriad of moves that they can learn, be born with, or be taught through training manuals. They also have one or two intrinsic abilities that give your Pokemon some really interesting powers. The heart of the strategy comes from being able to recall the massively structured trait chart that tells you which Pokemon are best against other Pokemon. At it's core it's Rock, Paper, and Scissors with so many other variations that it is often hard to remember which Pokemon would be your best choice. This is absolutely key here, because you are often told what Pokemon you'll need in the next battle versus the gym leader or rival. This is different than most games where the emphasis is not usually on forethought, but your ability to adapt during fights. I find the music to be enjoyable, but often turn the sound off because the noises that the Pokemon make are often abysmal. The animations and effects that take place mostly in battle are often rather run-of-the-mill, but in no way causes your eyes to strain. I think for the hours spent playing this game, and the chance these days of getting the game used, it's really worth the $20-$25 that you shell out for it. It's always nice to come back to and you are almost guaranteed a unique experience, in terms of which Pokemon you'll use, each time that you play. To really up the value of the game, I'd really suggest that you get a friend or two on board with you. Have them get the alternate version and trade each other the Pokemon that you find. Also, this game has great multiplayer support. With the ability to cable up between individuals, or connect into Pokemon Coliseum (GC), to get the better 3D graphics, it really extends the life of the product.