Nintendo has had a Ruby/Sapphire remake in the works ever since it discovered 3D programming, but almost nothing could stop fans from going after the game. Except, of course, the introduction of the new Fairy type. But I digress.
The Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remakes (ORAS) came out, without coincidence, the same day as the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was released, so it’s no secret that this game was a marketing stunt. This doesn’t detract from the emotions evoked as I started a new file. A wave of nostalgia washed over me as the game opened with the classic GameBoy retro pixilation. Quickly shifting into Pokemon’s new sleek 3D gameplay, the beauty of the graphics transformed Littleroot Town from the series of multi-colored squares on a tiny screen into a fluid rendering of what the town should have really looked like.
With the all-new imagery, you’d think the creators would ditch the overdone 8-bit trumpet soundtracks of the original versions, and they did, in a way—only to replace them with flourishing orchestral arrangements of the very tracks we sang along with in upper elementary. If you’ve heard of Pokemon Reorchestrated, a YouTube group that arranges Pokemon music for fun, this is sort of like that. Only on a whole new level. And you have an infinite loop on the tracks.
I will be very straightforward—the Hoenn region was my favorite. My childhood was defined by Ruby, Sapphire, and later Emerald. I played using all the starters and every imaginable team, caught every legendary, visited Nintendo World (back when it was still called the Pokemon Center), and picked up my Naval Pass mystery ticket to recruit the in-game Lugia and Ho-oh. So I greatly appreciated the nostalgia rush. But I did not appreciate the redesigns of classic maps like Mauville Town, which became as much of a geographical train wreck as Lumiose City was with its weird wheel-and-spokes map design. I understand the creators were trying to throw in all the new features from the newer games, but throwing them into one city was definitely not the way to go.
For older fans, if you’re looking for a throwback and don’t mind the bumps in the story flow with the added features, ORAS is your game. Newer fans, please redirect yourselves to at least the Black/White versions of the Pokemon series to appreciate a well-crafted storyline without the prototype-feeling of these remakes.