Looking back at Hoenn in honor of ORAS' U.S. release
Vivid colors, carefully detailed towns and landscapes, a new story, with 135 new creatures available to catch and train – Pokémon shocked fans with its 2003 release of Ruby and Sapphire, beginning what would be its third generation of games.
For their time, Ruby and Sapphire were pretty revolutionary. Released two years after Crystal, the third and last installment of the previous generation, these games came scintillating in shiny “Gameboy Advance” boxes and boasted pretty, colorful cartridges. I remember excitedly anticipating their release — afterall, the last Pokemon game I’d played had been in crudely colored graphics akin to those of the original games, complete with an 8-bit soundtrack to boot.
Ruby and Sapphire presented a whole new set of graphics, sprites, and soundfonts, making it a truly captivating sensory experience (particularly for an eager eight-year-old). All these years later, and the games are still incredible. Unlike most old game series, Pokémon is one of the few whose older installments become more valuable with time. Ruby and Sapphire are no exception — and it’s easy to see why. The replay value is exceptional. 2003 graphics and gameplay still impress in the much more modernized, high-tech world of video games that we inhabit today in 2014.
Hoenn debuted eleven years ago. In the time since, three more generations and a plethora of new games have since been added to the family. And in those eleven years, two remakes have emerged: FireRed/LeafGreen in 2004 (remakes of the original games), and HeartGold/SoulSilver in 2010(remakes of the second generation). Hoenn was next in line, but no news of a remake surfaced until this past May, when Nintendo announced the news at a press release. The internet has been in an excited frenzy ever since.
Despite Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire embodying the same story and characters that their original predecessors featured, they still feel like a whole different game to me. Despite this, they still pique my interest and excite me just as much: something I don’t typically find when anticipating remakes of my old favorite games. I love FireRed and HeartGold as much as I do Red and Gold, because both exhibit different aspects of the same story. The older games hold the nostalgia value, but their remakes capture the essence of the game in beautiful graphics and sound. I expect no different reaction with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
The beauty of it all is even with the remakes that the world desired, Ruby and Sapphire continue to live on as perfectly playable games in the beloved Pokémon franchise. I recently just completed what would be my fourth or fifth time running through Ruby, and I was just as engaged as I was as an excitable eight-year-old. That’s the magic of Pokémon — and Hoenn. Pokémon’s first true “modern” games will remain a fan favorite as well as a personal one.