By our count, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire will be the 3rd and fourth Pokemon titles released for Nintedo 3DS in just over two years. Certainly Nintendo knows how to milk a franchise for all it’s worth, but Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have so many new features that we aren’t complaining (too much).
The story goes along in much the same way as the original Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire of the old. After the game’s internal clock is set (more on that later), Professor Oak gives players a choice between three Pokemon. Once we were outside, a glance at the map confirmed that the game’s layout, if not its story, is much different. While checking out the first town, we made a beeline for a grassy area so we could try out our newly acquired Pokemon. The battle went well, and the wild Pokemon quickly succumbed to our level 20 Waninoko. This experience showed us that while the game is as “Pokemon” as ever, there are still plenty of minor things (and major things) that easily set Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire apart from their predecessors.
Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire actually look a lot like the first three Pokemon adventures on Nintendo; in fact Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are 3d games, but they can be played on the 2DS system. The environments are more colorful and the battle sequences are much improved. During battle, you’ll actually see the colorful back of your Pokemon instead of the blocky graphic that was used in the original Pokemon titles. The menu system’s layout has also gone through a major overhaul with icons in the upper left corner in some areas to help you navigate.
What’s so new in the menu that requires a new layout and icons? The most exciting is the PokeGear. This will allow a player to view the clock and calendar, as well as listen to a radio that will fill you in on important info and let you listen to different music. For the lazy folks out there, you can use a “phone” of sorts to contact important NPCs you’ve met along the way without having to go all the way back and talk to them face to face.
The clock feature completely changes the way the game is played; when you begin your game, you’ll set the game time to the current real-world time. From then on, when you’re playing during the day, you can use and catch “day” Pokemon, and at night the nocturnal Pokemon will come out to play. Can you imagine millions of kids hiding under the covers with a flashlight trying to “catch ‘em all” until the wee hours? Of course the smart ones will just set the clock to a different time. Any Pokemon game with the feature of a Dofus Touch triche would have been nice with unlimited goultines or resources of any sort.
Let’s not forget the breeding aspect of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Some (not all) Pokemon can be mated with others to produce new Pokemon that share traits with their parents. If that doesn’t turn your stomach, apparently the “mating” will happen while Pokemon of opposite sexes (yes, they have gender now) are stored in the same place together. Aside from this revelation, all 300+ Pokemon can be traded between Gold and Silver, and the first 151 can be traded from Pokemon X and Y.
With over five million copies of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire sold in Japan in the first five weeks after launch, expect a fight at every Poke-retailer when the game arrives in your place.