Pokemon ORAS: a worthy remake?

Team Magma and Team Aqua return to plague the player with their hare-brained schemes.

Team Magma and Team Aqua return to plague the player with their hare-brained schemes.

Pokemon ORAS (Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) is simply the best version of Pokemon I’ve ever played. $50 for a straight 24 hours of game play to reach the Elite 4 was a more than satisfying romp through a familiar storyline, supported by awesome new graphics, and a refreshed playstyle.

Pokemon ORAS is a remake of Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire — the version I invested so much time in that I even managed to catch a shiny Pokemon, the odds of which are 1 in 8192 per encounter!

Even though the sense of novelty was mostly lacking as I was already familiar with the areas, Pokemon types and easter eggs, Pokemon ORAS still offered some interesting plot twists that caught me off guard. For instance, both Pokemon ORAS and Ruby/Sapphire had a scripted point in the game that pitted the player against the legendary Pokemon, Rayquaza. However, Pokemon ORAS made us duel Rayquaza to prove our worth before it would take us to fight Deoxys and prevent the alien Pokemon from making planetfall. This added sequence hearkens back to the epic battle between Rayquaza and Deoxys in a previous episode of the Pokemon anime series.

Mega-evolved versions of the three starting Pokemon

Mega-evolved versions of the three starting Pokemon

Also, besides the recently added fourth-stage Mega-evolution of some Pokemon including the three starting ones, it was a huge bonus to hunt down other legendary Pokemon, such as Ho-oh, Heatran and Giratini, which previously appeared only in separate versions of the game. Yes, if you wanted to “catch ’em all”, you once had to buy ’em all too.

It would have been even nicer for us gamers if GameFreak had also included exclusive legendaries such as Mew and Jirachi, which I believe can only be obtained legitimately from Pokemon distribution events [that’s greedy! – Ed.].

Also, an important aspect of Ruby/Sapphire was missing from ORAS: the Battle Frontier. Found in Emerald (which combines Sapphire and Ruby), the Battle Frontier is an after-game location that can only be unlocked by defeating the Elite 4. The Battle Frontier is a huge area that is dedicated to different styles of battling. It comprises 6 different facilities, each requiring the player to battle in a certain way. Each facility has its own leader whom the player gets to challenge only after battling past several levels — a tiring but enjoyable process. I nearly spent my entire childhood on this aspect of the game, even moreso than on actual game content, it would seem. ORAS, does feature a Battle Maison, which is like Battle Frontier but on a much smaller scale. As such, the game does not have as much to offer after defeating the Elite 4. Also, the Beauty Contest part of the game was somewhat disappointing because they removed the mini-game from the Berry Blending activity, which I personally enjoyed.

However, given a choice whether to play the original or the remake, I would still choose the remake. Although the remake lacks certain distinct elements of the original, it definitely has way more to offer to us players. Apart from the Fly Freely Through the Skies component, where one can fly around the region on either Latias or Latios; the Wonder Trade and WiFi Battle mode genuinely evoke the sense of what playing Pokemon is really all about: interacting with other human Pokemon trainers. I feel that this is a very important inclusion in ORAS as battling artificial intelligence tends to get repetitive and there is a definite strategy to beat all of them once we figure it out. However, battling human players is truly a different experience as each person has their own strategies and methods to win. Also, at times, having to improvise strategies mid-game makes battling people all the more exciting. The ability of ORAS to connect people in order to share the same game experience makes ORAS a truly worthy successor to Ruby/Sapphire.