Pokemon Emerald may be similar to Ruby and Sapphire in parts, but overall, it's an enjoyable experience.
The story is the same as pretty much any Pokemon game. You are a Pokemon trainer who wants to be the very best, like no one ever was...you get it. Your goal is to get 8 badges from the gym leaders through out the region, just like always.
The graphics are the same as Ruby and Sapphire. They do look a little dated when this came out comparing to the other games, especially since there was no significant upgrade.
The controls are good as well. You use the control pad to move, B to run, A to talk to someone, start to access your menu, and select to use your key item that you have programmed to it.
When you start, you can pick from a boy or girl. The gender you don't pick will be your rival, and will strive to be better than you. Inconvieniently, he/she also picks the starter Pokemon that's better than you.
The Pokemon battles are the same as always. You pick moves for your Pokemon to do, and after they are picked, the Pokemon perform them. Who ever goes first is determined by a Pokemon's speed stat. Each move is categorized under a type, and each Pokemon has a different type. Each type is affective against a certain type, and some aren't so affective. The key to having good Pokemon is having balanced moves, so you can type trump various types of Pokemon.
To catch a Pokemon, you need to weaken it down to a considerable amount of health, then throw a Poke Ball at it. To make it all the easier, you can afflict it with a status affect. There are different kinds of Balls as well, so you should choose the right kind for the Pokemon you are trying to catch.
The main goal of the game is to get all 8 badges from the Gym Leaders across the Hoenn region. However, there are other tasks as well, such as beating Team Magma and Team Aqua, and prevent them from taking over the world.
Like all the other games, the game has excellent multiplayer components. You can trade Pokemon with your friend using the GBA Link Cable, or with the Wireless Adapter which came with Pokemon LeafGreen/FireRed. You can also battle your friends to see who's the best.
Extra content has been added to this version, comparing to Ruby and Sapphire. Both teams appear in this version, and the Safari Zone has more Pokemon to bag. There is also a Battle Frontier which you get at the end of the game, which has tons of areas to battle Pokemon. You can also catch Pokemon from the other titles, or trade from FireRed, LeafGreen, Ruby, or Sapphire.
Pokemon Emerald is a solid addition to the Pokemon franchise. Even though there isn't a huge impact when it comes to upgrades from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, it's still a nice game to own if you are a fan of the franchise, and it's worth playing.