Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International have announced Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, set to release worldwide on 3DS and 2DS this November.
Little has been revealed about the titles, aside from the boxart, but there’s a strange emphasis on ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ in the trailer and PR.
It’s likely that this is simply marketing spin on the fact that these games will be developed within the Pokémon X and Y engine, a simple shift that will dramatically change the look and feel of the game.
But could the changes run deeper? Hopefully. There are the obvious things that have changed in the last eleven years; from triple battles and Mega Forms to Fairy types and online, Pokémon is a different beast nowadays than it was in 2003.
But then there are the other notes. Could Ruby and Sapphire now feature a true Day and Night cycle? It always seemed odd after Gold and Silver that they were missing it. What about Super Training? Assuming it’s still here, will it be as haphazardly tacked on as it was in X and Y?
Then there are those cursed HMs. It wasn’t quite Pearl/Diamond degrees of stupid, but Pokémon’s reliance on HM moves was thankfully excised in Black and White, it would seem backwards to have a title released where we have to sacrifice two party members to slave status just to proceed.
And then there are the elements of Ruby and Sapphire that have gone missing in the interim. The ability to create and decorate a Secret Base in the GBA games was a really cute meta game, and surely a StreetPass feature in the wings. How about contests? Where have they gone?
If you ask me, Pokémon X and Y were slightly disappointing. A great new engine, yes, and still the same classic gameplay, but also games that felt incomplete. While playing Pokémon X I compiled curious checklist of missing, undercooked or needlessly curtailed features, and that feeling of disappointment was only increased thanks to some shockingly poor presentation on the bottom screen, particularly noticable after the wonderful touch screen devices of other DS Poké titles.
Past remakes (Fire Red/Leaf Green and Heart Gold/Soul Silver) have been exemplary re-imaginings of their source, re-creating the old while respectfully infusing them with the new. If Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire can do the same for Generation III, then Poké fans old and new will be in for a true treat come November.