So after writing a post about the demo of the game almost 8 months ago, I have finally gotten around to playing the full version of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. Playing all three iterations of the third generation Pokémon series religiously a decade ago (obviously I still haven’t yet accepted that I am an adult!), it was great to play through one of my favourite entries in the Pokémon series that has been stunningly rendered into 3D.
If you have played the original Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald games and are looking for a nostalgia hit in the remakes then you will not be disappointed. When beginning the game a nifty take on the usual Professor introduction takes place where the original introduction is used, but then zooms out showing your character playing the original game on a Game Boy, something I found to be quite inventive. The infamous trumpet-centric original soundtrack transitions into the remastered soundtrack, equalising the feeling of nostalgia and awe at the new take on it. Game Freak have masterfully utilised 3D to provide a deeper connection with the world you are entering, using different camera angles and a lot more 3D integrated cutscenes than had been previously used in Pokémon X and Y.
The game takes you through mostly the same storyline, but with a few new characters, some updated dialogue, and new story aspects to incorporate Mega Evolutions which was introduced in the last series. This did not overtake the original story however which I had initially feared, but flowed through it quite well. Once you have finished the main story crux by defeating 8 gym leaders around the Hoenn region and then the Elite 4 and Champion, you are able to continue your adventures in the Delta Episode, a newly written story arc for the series which incorporates old and new Pokémon lore, and was a joy to play.
What was great about the third generation Pokémon games was that it introduced, in my opinion, some of the most fun mechanics in the Pokémon series, and the remakes have wonderfully adapted these to the new generation. In the original games I would spend a lot of my time searching for the perfect spot to make my secret base, exactly as it sounds a base you could make in trees, bushes, or caves which you could design with a variety of decorations. This has been greatly adapted in Alpha Sapphire, with the beautiful redesign of the original decorations you could find. And now with easier access to the internet through the Nintendo 3DS, visiting friend or strangers secret bases to exchange flags and battle has become extremely easy, and greatly increases its replay value as it is fun to seek out new bases and see what other players Pokémon teams are like. The third generation games also introduced two types of bikes, the Acro and Mach bike, which could be used in different ways to overcome certain obstacles. This mechanic has maintained its usefulness in the remake, and looks great, especially the rails that can be accessed by the Acro bike, which had minimal definition to visualize what they were in the original series.
What I loved about the 3D remaster aspect of the game is that it is the first time in the Nintendo 3DS world that we have been able to see the Japanese aspects of the game rendered so beautifully, as Pokémon X and Y was inspired by France. Going into the houses and seeing the rooms decorated in a Japanese style in 3D almost makes you feel like you are vicariously walking into a Japanese home. Using 3D has also meant that a certain flair that can be seen in the Pokémon anime can be translated to the video games, with gym leaders striking a pose before battling, characters showing a range of emotions through facial expressions, and the updated Pokémon contests which now feature a cosplay Pikachu.
The introduction of the Pokénav plus which allows you to search for a certain pokémon in your current area has increased the chances of finding elusive shiny pokémon, but also allows you to find a pokémon you want that may have a move it wouldn’t usually learn, making it a lot more fun creating a diverse pokémon party. The Buzznav app which I had originally thought would be quite interesting, turned out to be quite dull with mostly the same things repeating in its feed, and becoming even more clogged once you had connected with others through the internet. The integration of the PSS system on the bottom screen which had featured in Pokémon X and Y remains the same, but for the better as it is one of the most handy and fun additions to the latest games.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Alpha Sapphire, as it was a testament to the original games, blending the nostalgia of the original story and environment with updated graphics, music, and exciting new additions to the story. It felt more like it was made for the 3DS with the integration of more 3D cutscenes and interact-able areas than had been done in Pokémon X and Y. With its updated secret base system and the integration of the popular PSS from the previous games, the game has plenty of replay value and I’m sure I will continue to play with it over the summer. My only qualm with it is that it has made me wish that a 3D remake of the first two generations of the Pokémon series will happen, a very unlikely possibility in the near future.