Review by strawhat

Reviewed: 01/09/04

A repeat? Maybe so...Nah!

Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire is the continuation of the Gold/Silver/Crystal versions. It's the third in the series, and has come back with full popularity.

Story: 7/10
The game's back, with the same storyline as always: You want to become a Pokemon Master. To do that, you must travel around the new world of Hoenn and defeat the 8 gym leaders to gain the privilege to fight the Elite 4. Once you do, you will be claimed the Pokemon Master, your big dream. You raise Pokemon by catching them with Pokeballs and raise them to be loving and your best friends. You win battles with other trainers and level them up to become strong. While doing this, you try to stop Team Aqua/Magma depending on your version, and being the big hero!

OK, so it's the same storyline as the rest of the Pokemon games. I was hoping maybe that they might spruce it up a bit and add more depth. I was wrong. The storyline isn't really bad, but it can get a little repetitive with the same thing for the entire Gameboy series. Other games like Final Fantasy have different storylines and characters for each game, but in this one it just seems like old characters with new sprites and names. It's a little disappointing, but I guess it can be bypassed since it was pretty good in the first games and is different from the rest. Still, the repetitiveness gives it a drop in the score.

Graphics: 10/10
Pokemon's graphics are good as always. It's still top notch with more improvements. Well, more than the storyline anyway. The Pokemon look real as ever with more colors and different poses. The battles are more realistic with added Pokeball throwing and capturing animations. Battle animations are fantastic as ever with background effects, color changes, etc. More features were added, such as seeing your reflection in the water, the sky darkening in some places, individual Pokemon sprites, and much much more. All these additions show that a lot of effort was put into making these improved graphics. And, their effort was rewarded. With flawless and improved graphics, this game deserves that ten.

Sound/Music: 10/10
Another flawless improvement? Of course. The Pokemon Gameboy games have always had pretty good music, and this one is no exception. There are many, many pieces, each one more extravagant from the last. I sometimes find myself replaying the game just to hear that music in which you can only hear at a certain place where you cannot go back to. The music is smooth and fits whatever mood the creators wanted you to feel. What I dislike is that the game doesn't have a place where you can listen to all the music in the game, but then there's all the more reason to start a new file and progress through the game again. Remixed are also found throughout the game. Look out, or rather, hear for hidden Pokemon cries and ripples in the water. There are little details in the sound that you can't hear without concentrating deeply. When playing, make sure you keep the sound on for a more enjoyable play through!

Gameplay: 9/10
Best. Gameplay. Ever. First, the controls. It is easy as pie. Direction pad to move, then A and B buttons to do simple actions. Not much to it. If you can't learn these controls, may God help your soul.

The Gameplay's rating can vary depending on how you go about your game. If you like to catch all the Pokemon while beating the game, then it'll take you longer. If you want to zoom through the game with only one Pokemon, it may seem really easy and you beat it fast. In most cases, you'll want to go through slowly the first time around. There's plenty of sidequests that you can do and get hefty rewards. There are also secrets out there in the world of Hoenn in which you can do after you beat the game to get some nice juicy rewards.

What I like about this game is that there is a lot of strategy in battles, especially against friends. The old, classic battles are back with new moves and new Pokemon to use them. There are also abilities in which your Pokemon have. Each Pokemon has an ability that can enhance gameplay, which is another asset to a much better battle system. You also have the choice of playing 2-on-2, either a 4 player game or 2 Pokemon on each side. There are also new items which can be used. Berries which you plant yourself can be used in battle. Give these items to your Pokemon and let it use these special effects. The battle system is better than ever.

Another feature in which they added to this game are contests. You may plant berries and turn them into Pokeblocks, a kind of Pokemon candy in which you can feed to your Pokemon and raising specific contest stats used to win contests you enter your Pokemon in. Each attack that they learn has a different contest effect. There are combos to master and strategies to be learned. You can also have a contest with your friends! It's fun and just a simple mini game in which you can play.

Downsides. That's an ugly word. There are a few downsides to this game in which I would hate to mention. See, even though that there are 386 Pokemon and all of their data is stored in the game, you can only catch 200. The rest will come from future games, in which you must pay for and trade into this game. Another thing is that the computer is way too easy. They have absolutely no brain at all and will make stupid moves at will. The few puzzles aren't that challenging either. They also took out the Day/Night feature which I'm sure was very much loved. Well, even with the downsides, all the upsides brought the game's score back up to a 9.

Replay Value: 10/10
If you really want to go all the way, then you'll be playing this game for a very long time. You can collect all the Pokemon, win every contest, find every secret, etc. There are many, many things to do in this game and has a much higher replay value than most other RPGs, including the all time famous Final Fantasy. However, if you are really smart, they won't really be as hard and you could finish within a few months or so =D

Buy/Rent: BUY
You can't finish this game in a rental time. Trust me. With all the side quests in the game, it'll take a while. This game is a definite buy. If you're a fan of RPG, you MUST have this game.

First, quick recap:

Good graphics
Good sound
Many things to do
Many secrets
Multiplayer compatibility

Took out Night/Day feature
Too easy
Too little puzzles
Story's a bit of a repeat

As you can see, the Pros quickly outweigh the cons. If RPGs are your thing, then play this game. It's filled with fun and many things to do to keep you happy.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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