As I played Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, my memories of certain trainers’ one-liners and their Pokémon teams came rushing back from my time with the original Pokémon Sapphire and Ruby in 2002. Experiencing this classic role-playing game again in beautified 3D was truly a nostalgic trip, from the cute friendship-themed plot to the touching end-credits sequence. However, as a remake, it does represent a big missed opportunity to fix several significant balance issues and mechanical problems — the difficulty I had going back after playing the much more modern Pokémon X shows how far Pokémon games have come in 12 years.
For the uninitiated, Ruby and Sapphire were the third installments in the Pokémon RPG series and the best-selling Game Boy Advance games of all time. They follow the tried-and-true Pokémon model of journeying to catch new monsters, challenging eight boss-like Gyms, and eventually fighting the Elite Four trainers and the Champion. Like most other Pokémon games they also put you at odds with a villainous team of Pokémon trainers, in this instance Team Magma for Ruby and Team Aqua for Sapphire, who want to use legendary Pokémon to forever change the region of Hoenn, where the games are set.
Now they’re the first of the earlier games to receive the 3D treatment. Generation III was a big change from the first two for many reasons, most notably the introduction of Abilities (attributes that add advantages to battle, among other things), Natures (which affect how stats develop) and double battles (using two Pokémon at once was unheard of back in the day). Different areas had their own weather patterns, and the region contained varied topography, from a desert to a volcano to sandy beaches.
In 2002 I reveled in the newness and feel of having an untouched world to explore, and that sense of wonder carries over in Omega and Alpha. The scenery is rich, the adorable characters are even more adorable (especially little Wally!), and there’s more...