Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire: Hoenn again

December 1, 2014


The release of X & Y was, in many ways, one of the best things to happen to the Pokémon series. The entries finally moved into a polygonal world, and streamlined many of the processes that were considered to be tedious in previous games. It’s been roughly ten years since Ruby & Sapphire released, making them (until now) the oldest generation without an updated edition. Like HeartGold & SoulSilver before them, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire update the mechanics while preserving the original’s world and quirks, and these latest releases serve as a reminder of exactly how much X & Y changed the game.

You’re a trainer who has just moved to Littleroot Town with your mother. Your father is a Gym Leader in a nearby town ands wanting to follow in his footsteps, you embark on your adventure to become the strongest trainer around. As with every Pokémon game, you earn badges and beat the champion, but the unique part about the Ruby & Sapphire generation is that it introduced two new villainous organizations instead of the usual one. Depending on the version you picked up, you either fight Team Magma, whose goal is to expand the landmass of the region, or Team Aqua, which wants to flood the world and expand the seas. Both make an appearance in each version, but the focus on the team depends on the version you’re playing.



The more things change…

Not everything from the original Ruby & Sapphire has been (or could be) updated. In particular, the insane reliance on HM moves to progress through the story is still here in full force. You will have needed to use six of the eight HM moves by the time you reach the Elite Four, and you won’t encounter the Move Deleter until after your sixth badge. Even Black/White‘s upgrade to Strength obstacles doesn’t completely stick, as some boulders still reset instead of being permanently moved. Frustrating. — Chris Ingersoll

Many of the now mainstay-features for the series have been implemented in this version, from Diamond/Pearl’s physical and special attack split on individual moves to X/Y’s streamlining of training and overall connectivity. This update was something that was very much needed for a generation crippled by archaic mechanics. Game Freak realized that there is a huge competitive scene within this series, and changes have done much to accommodate that audience. Among the returning features are Super Training, Pokémon Amie and other second-screen apps, serving as an always-available hub for connecting, nurturing, trading and battling.

Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire also introduce the DexNav, a godsend for those in the competitive battling scene. The DexNav re-implements a Diamond/Pearl mechanic of rustling grass that contains special Pokémon. After the application locks on to the monster, you can sneak up by using the slide pad. The more you battle a certain monster, the more information the application reveals. Most notably, you can find Pokémon in the wild containing Egg Moves they would only learn by breeding. The DexNav can reveal the Pokémon’s ability, level and overall potential (the Individual Values that influence stat growth). Being able to find moves in the wild that would otherwise require an immense amount of time and effort makes everything easier for every trainer, casual or hardcore. There’s also the AreaNav, which serves as your hub for finding trainers looking for rematches, as well as a place to mark when berries are ready for picking.


Bottom screen blues

The Pokémon franchise has never really figured out the best way to utilize the bottom screen of the DS system family, but this edition has found a good compromise. Functions feel more realized than Diamond/Pearl‘s miscellaneous apps, are more useful than the forgettable C-Gear of Black/White and are far less obtrusive than the three options carried over from X/Y. That said, valuable space is still taken up by the largely useless BuzzNav news feature, so there’s still room to improve. — Chris Ingersoll

Secret Bases make a triumphant return, with some much-needed updates. Decorating is still very much a thing, allowing you to customize the space to make it your own. From going for looks to messing with your friends, not much has changed in that regard. Connectivity has been expanded immensely, as well, as you can receive your friends’ bases through StreetPass or even shared QR codes. Contests also return to the Ruby/Sapphire level of prominence, which should please those who like those aesthetic competitions.

Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire add another level to the Mega Evolution introduced in X & Y, giving cover stars Groudon and Kyogre “Primal Reversion” forms. They serve the same purpose as Mega Evolution, but happen automatically rather than being triggered strategically through Mega Stones.

For those indulging in post-game content, the Battle Maison serves as a stand-in for X & Y‘s Battle Tower. Emerald‘s Battle Frontier and all its unique facilities don’t exist yet (and are actually teased in the game), but the Battle Maison offers much of the same appeal. There’s also a new bonus tale, the “Delta Episode,” which has you saving the Hoenn region from an asteroid strike.


While the new coat of paint for this generation is nice, many of the control problems and graphical issues from X & Y still stand. From the occasional lag when running battles in 3D mode to overworld camera issues, Game Freak still has much to learn in its transition to polygonal worlds. These problems aren’t going to ruin your experience, but they’re frustrating when you can’t seem to control your character or even see where you’re going from time to time.

All the new features, like the DexNav, are a nice touch, and definitely cater to those who have stuck with the series for years. They’re a welcome addition to the series, and we hope to see them continue in future releases. While the core of the game hasn’t seen much change, Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire do well in reviving the addictive and familiar game fans have come to love.

Pros: Aesthetics are pleasing, key features return, Secret Bases are still fun
Cons: X & Y issues still stand (messy interface and camera issues)

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.