By Janelle Clausen
Arts and Features Editor/Part-Time Pokémon Trainer
As the balance of land and sea is so delicately retained in Omega Ruby, so is its powerful nostalgia factor and innovation.
The story was familiar enough for anyone who played the original Ruby version for the Gameboy Advance 12 years ago. As a young trainer from Littleroot Town, you journey across the Hoenn region to collect eight gym badges and confront Team Magma, which threatens to awaken Groudon and destroy the natural balance to further humanity’s ambitions.
There’s no denying that the three-dimensional aspect enhanced this remake. The little aspects like leaning down to a child a trainer’s speaking to could bring a smile to anyone’s face. Meanwhile, Maxie shows he is the ironically cool Team Magma leader, in strong contrast to the flush and jitters on shy rival Wally’s face. Text is not the only thing one must rely on to gauge the characters anymore.
Gym leaders, like Flannery, had limited animation to show a near panic as a new gym leader, while the twin leaders of the psychic gym operate in sync. The player feels important. While these leaders are relatively easy to defeat (like in the other games), a player, however, can create their own, more difficult gym that other actual players can challenge. In terms of customization, it’s a major step forward and adds a unique aspect to multiplayer beyond standard battles over Nintendo WiFi in every Pokémon game since Diamond.
The mega evolutions first introduced in Pokémon X and Y where some fully evolved pokémon can temporarily “evolve” beyond their main state, now play a central role. Groudon, for example, goes a step beyond into his primal state (essentially a mega evolution). Both your starter and legendary Latios, retrieved barely half way through the gyms, meanwhile receive the mega stones to grant them massive stat boosts.
One could also argue that there are too many legendary pokémon- 14 to be exact- and that it dilutes the term “legendary.” However, it allows a player to pummel through Hoenn more easily and twist online battles in their favor.
Great things came from the recent generations though. Technical machines, which used to be exhausted after one use, are now infinite. A pokémon can be trained outside of battle to utilize their natural strengths, making them “the very best” in battle. The experience share item comes early, making it easy to level up that pesky Magikarp into a ferocious Gyarados. Meanwhile, spending precious minutes trying to catch a pokémon also yields experience points.
But perhaps Omega Ruby’s most impressive feature is the remastered music that remains faithful to the original. From the intro sequence to reaching the Hall of Fame, there was rarely a moment where one wondered if they were still playing Pokémon. Every battle came with a sense of urgency and every natural wonder a sense of awe.
It’s no wonder Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire sold over 1.5 million copies in Japan alone in three days. If the tears of pokémon created the ocean like one NPC suggested, then the tears of joy streaming from millions- myself not excluded- could flood the planet.