If you were a child in the 90’s, there is no doubt you remember when Pokémon took the world by storm. Trading cards, anime, and of course the video games on the original Nintendo Game Boy. In 2003, Nintendo released the third generation of Pokémon games. Eleven years later, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were remade in full 3D and rebranded as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. The games follow the traditional Pokémon format of catching, training and battling Pokémon, while simultaneously reinventing what gamers can expect from Pokémon games post Elite 4.
The basic formula of a Pokémon game hasn’t changed in over a decade. As such, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are inherently very accessible games. Movement is done using either the circle pad or d-pad of the Nintendo 3DS, with interactions saved for the A button. The menu can be accessed by either the X button located right above the A button, or by use of the touch screen on the bottom of the device. Walking around the world and battling other trainers and wild Pokémon requires no precision or timing.
Controls aren’t fully remappable, except for the option to move the primary interaction button from the A button to the L button on the shoulder. This makes one handed play with the left hand a breeze. One handed play with the right hand is much harder, but that is due to limitations of the hardware, not the game itself. You also have the option to simply disable the L and R shoulder buttons, which is a great choice if the way you hold device leads you to accidental button presses.
Outside of that, the controls are fairly straight forward and non-inhibitive. There is no camera that needs adjusting, no quick time events, or multiple button presses outside of running instead of walking, which is optional. Though, an option to toggle running instead of being forced to hold the button down would be much welcomed. There are no difficulty levels, but the new mechanics of the Experience Share make leveling your Pokémon much easier than it used to be in older generations.
There is no speaking or ambient noise in Pokémon that would require subtitles, making Pokémon ORAS perfect in these regards. However, speakers are never identified by name, instead just represented as a text bubble over their head. This usually doesn’t lead to any confusion, but an option to identify speakers would be much welcomed.
Visually, Pokémon ORAS misses the mark in a few areas. The first being the AreaNav, the in game name for the map. Cities and towns are colored red, while other places to visit are colored green, all on top of a green underlay representing the land mass. The icons for towns and cities are all bordered, but on a smaller 3DS screen it’s very hard to see. Text is all readable and the game includes a text speed option to help those who need a bit more time, or conversely, those who are more impatient.
The other issue is with a Pokémon’s stats. Each different Pokémon has a “nature,” and these natures translate into a specific stat increase and decrease. The decreased stat is labeled with blue font, while the increased stat is red font. However, this is all over a green background, making both colors very difficult to see, even with perfect eyesight. This has never been a problem with previous Pokémon games and it is very disappointing to see it now, as it is a poor design choice and I don’t quite see how it shipped this way. It’s important to note that casual players will most times never consider Pokémon natures, but breeders and competitive players who consider these things will struggle with the colors.
20+ hours of main story, perfect mobility, great end game content, Pokémon!
Team Aqua/Magma Pokémon gets repetitive, too much water (kidding), small screen makes game hard to see at times, some red/green overlapping.