Review: Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (GBA) ~ Here Come The Horns

9jkdjk.jpg

Bulbapedia entry

My family and I take yearly trips to the seaside. I remember on the trip of 2003, we stopped in a big toy store. There was a Gameboy SP present with a demo version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. I played it in the store and knew what I wanted to buy at the end of the trip. I wanted my own Gameboy Advance SP with the new Pokémon games. It didn’t take long before I got my very own copy of the games and that I started playing it. Now, after I have finished all three games, it’s time to take a look back to the games and decide if it was a good decision to buy and play these games or that these games actually belong in the trash. So, let’s review these games. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the article and/or games.

Plot and such

pokemon_advance_profilelarge

This game starts like every other Pokémon game starts. You move to a new town where you are asked to help the professor to set out on a journey to explore the new region. In this game, the characters are rather interesting. For some reason, the rival characters and various other characters are one of the most memorable in the whole Pokémon series.

Truth to be told, I think most has to do with the fact that Pokémon was right at it’s absolute peak where I lived then. Everybody was talking on the playground about the latest Pokémon they caught and how the new anime season was running at the same time then you progressed in the game. This made the game more memorable to me. So, it might possibly be nostalgia blinding me.

So, I really think that the writing in this game is really well done. Also, the secrets you could discover in the game were fun too. There was a way to catch three new legendary Pokémon in a complete side quest. In this side quest, you had to read braille to enter a door. And I didn’t look it up on the internet, I actually used the guide provided to me in the manual to translate the braille into readable letters and figured it out that way.

What’s even more interesting, you can use these three Pokémon to trade them into the next generation and unlock a special Pokémon that way. That’s a big positive in my book!

Horns & flutes

ruby

This game has quite amazing presentation. I dare to argue that even to this day, this game holds up quite good. Just think about it, this game’s engine is the basis of most Pokémon Rom Hacks.

It’s the last 2D Pokémon game, since the 4th Generation went into 2,5D. But, Pokémon Platinum, Pearl & Diamond are for another review.

Something a lot of people point out about this game is the soundtrack. In nearly every track, there is a (French) horn and/or a flute present. While I enjoy listing to the soundtrack, I have to admit that this soundtrack lacks variaty in its instruments. But back in the day, I didn’t really mind it. The jump in quality from the previous generation was just too big.

Visually, this game is bright and colorful. I really love exploring the Hoenn region. I love exploring it so much that I even explored it several times. Yes, I played through this game several times. Something that added even more life to the game are the animations in the overworld. Things like the rain and the sandstorm or the tracks you made riding your bike in the sand made the game come more alive then ever.

A lot to do

pokemon-ruby-screenshot-6

So, this game introduces quite a lot of interesting new mechanics to play around with. Let’s first start with the new battle mechanics. This game introduced double battles. This is such a great addition to the series that to this day, spin off ideas are put into the main series Pokémon games.

That reminds me, the gameplay of this game is really good. The whole adventure in this game is one of the best adventures you can have on the Gameboy Advance (SP). But honestly, isn’t that a given with a main series Pokémon game?

So, in this game you also have secret bases. I have to admit that this was one of my favorite features ever. I wish they implemented into more Pokémon games. I had high hopes when they were re-introduced in the next generation as bases in the underground side-game.

And let’s not forget about the Pokémon contests, berry mini-games and the truckload of changes to the battle and breeding system. This game brought so much new things to the table, there is a lot to do in this game before you have seen and done everything.

Do I have something negative to say about this game? Honestly, one thing. That this game works with a battery. Now-a-days, the battery will have run dry and time based events won’t happen. If you can look passed that, you have a great game ahead of yourself.

This game’s difficulty curve is pretty great. Apart from the rematches of trainers. I rarely lost those. But that’s a nitpick, since you can choose when you do those rematches and I did them when my team was overleved.

The last thing I want to talk about is the controls. And guess what, they work brilliantly. I have nothing to complain here.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time we go to the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The internal battery can run dry.

-No multiple save slots.

-A bit more instrument variety would have been great….

The good:

+ … yet the overall soundtrack is pretty great.

+ Good writing and pacing of the story.

+ Good difficulty curve.

+ Interesting and fun side adventures can be had.

+ Trading with the next generation!

+ Secret bases

+ Pokémon Contests.

+ …

Conclusion

If you would ask me which generation is the best Pokémon generation. I would honestly doubt. Each generation has something I really love about it. And this game is no different. When I was preparing and when I was writing this review, I had trouble finding flaws in this game.

It might be because a lot of nostalgia, it might because this Pokémon game is that good. If you are a Pokémon fan and you haven’t play this game, I urge you to check this game out. It’s really good. I might not have mentioned a few things in my review, but you’ll find out soon enough. The post-game content is the best in Emerald by the way.

In any case, thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Score: 100/100

Game Nostalgia #5: My Gameboy Retrospective

SGame Boys Advanceo, in the last article of this series, I talked about my history with the DS and 3DS. So, I think that it’s now time to talk about my memories with the gameboy series. While I’m supposed to talk only about the Gameboy Advance, since it’s this month’s theme, the article wouldn’t be as long as it should be. That’s why I decided to write a whole article about my memories of all the Gameboy’s I got. That way you have an idea of my journey through the world of gaming, since I mostly only played on the gameboy. That and my hobby of writing was my childhood. So, prepare yourself for a personal story. Feel free to leave yours in the comments or your opinions on my story.

Exploding start

Nintendo Gameboy

The first gameboy I played on wasn’t actually mine. It was my aunt’s. She only had Pac-Man and Tetris. Somehow my young mind didn’t need anything more. It were my first real encounters with gaming, but I was hooked. I used to play games like DuckHunt or Mario Bros. at my nephew’s place, but those moments were then far and few between.

One day, I was at my aunt’s place and I stopped playing since the back of the gameboy started to feel hot. A few moments after I put it down, the batteries actually exploded, damaging the gameboy heavily. That was a big shocker. I didn’t know what to do. My aunt wasn’t even mad, since it wasn’t my fault. It turned out that there was a flaw with the batteries we used, and it leaked battery acid into the system. Yeah.

That story was my earliest memory with a gameboy. A bit later, my aunt started to take me to her babysitting job. At that place, they also had a gameboy and more then one game. I remember it well, it were two girls, two sisters. While they were doing their girl things, I was allowed to play on the gameboy. My love grew and grew even stronger.

I already talked about how awesome my family is. When they saw that I was so much in love with the Gameboy, they actually got me a gameboy. Not only was it the latest model, they got it in my favorite color! To this day, I still own that very silver gameboy pocket. I was so happy, I had my own gameboy. I did jobs around the house to be able to buy new batteries for the gameboy. Then they got me rechargeable batteries, and my life was complete.

Garage sales

Garagesaleloot
I never showed my latest garage sale loot here on my blog. Whoops.

In my childhood, we had this tradition to go to the sea on holiday. Man, always to the same house. I used to look forward to it every single year. Sadly enough, the owners of the house sold it, and the tradition is over now.

But back then, they used to take me to garage sales. So, as a young kid, they asked me to wake up early in the morning in the summer holidays. I honestly didn’t care one bit. Since I was allowed to buy games.

My family didn’t want that I bought a lot of games, now-a-days that’s a very different story, since they were so expensive. A garage sale was such an easy solution. The best thing they did was that they let me roam the garage sales on my own with a notebook and a pen. They said that I could write down the games I wanted and then I had the difficult job to decide which one I wanted.

To this very day, I love to wake up early and go to a garage sale. Every year, I go to around 10 garage sales, if not more. I never go alone, since that would ruin part of the fun for me. The nostalgia of hunting down games, which were pretty rare on the garage sales I went too, is just amazing. The moment a family member bumped me in the arm and pointed to a game, I think they loved to see that sparkle in my eyes of happiness.

Typical me is typical

ss (2012-10-24 at 11.45.23)

Garage sales memories are for another article. I was extremely attached to my games. I was always hard to pick games I had to sell. I had to sell a few games before I was allowed to buy new games. Now-a-days, I don’t have that restriction anymore.

One time I forgot my gameboy at a restaurant and I begged my mother to turn back and get it. I even begged that they called the restaurant so that nobody could pick up my gameboy and claim it.

Later, my gameboy pocket became my sister’s gameboy and I got a gameboy color. Then my sister got a purple gameboy advance and I got a silver gameboy advance SP, the one with the tattoo design on it.

To this very day, I still own most of the games I had back then. Of course, my library of games has grown quite a lot. If only I had the library I had back then, the nights I kept playing on my gameboy would be so much more fun. I remember that I had a lamp you needed to hit a button at the top in order to the lights go out. Since my room was at the end of a hallway, I could hear my parents and a simple slap on the lamp and putting the gameboy screen down, gave the illusion of my sleeping.

My parents knew that I was playing the gameboy under my sheets, but they were never able to catch my red handed. Okay, honestly, they were able a few times but usually, I was always able to dodge the bullet.

I could talk hours about my memories of the gameboy days, but I think I will end my article here. Since I have reached my usual length. I hope you enjoyed reading another special entry in the gameboy advance month. While it isn’t fully about the GBA, I hope you don’t mind that much.

Thanks again for reading and until another article. Also, don’t shit your pants but it’s Halloween.

Rant #003: Tutorials ~ The games that hold your hand.

ds-game-reviewsIt’s extremely lovely how games now explain the things in game. Sadly enough you don’t have to look at the manual anymore. For that manuals start to disappear. As a game collector, this makes me sad. But there is one thing that makes me sad too. That’s how games now a days have tutorials. Even if the battle system is extremely simple, the developers feel like explaining the game mechanics to you. Is this needed? Each time you play the game? Well, I don’t think so. Game tutorials are overrated, big time. I’m not against them, but they are certainty overstaying their welcome now.

Want to play the game, here I will help you.

I was talking with a friend of mine over Skype earlier and I said that I was giving Call Of Duty a shot. (ha, bad pun.) And he said that past CoD 5 it isn’t worth a play, since the game actually “holds your hand”.

What I mean with this is that you barely have any challenge in trying. The button you need to press flashes on the screen way on beforehand and finishing the game is just as easy as pressing the button.

Don’t confuse these with quick time events. I actually kinda like quick time events, as long as they aren’t overdone in a game. Tomb Raider has the action broken up with quick time events.

A game that’s good with it’s tutorial is Devil May Cry 4. The first part is you having a tutorial of the basics, to refresh and check if your controls are properly set, and after that it’s up to you to play the game. When you get a new ability, the instructions flash on screen once and then it’s up to you to remember them.

That’s the big problem with games that flash the buttons on screen. Back in the day, I knew where the A and B buttons where on the gameboy. But now I don’t know where the buttons are located on my PSP, since the button is flashed on the screen and I quickly peek over or just memorize it for that game. That may be a personal nitpick but tutorials can be annoying as getting the trash out and the bag rips. The first time you might go through with it but the second time you want to say some curse words.

Where is the skip button?

I can understand tutorials to make the games accessible for everybody. But when a battle system is self-explanatory then why for the love of God do we need a tutorial. I’m looking at you Pokémon for example. Is it really needed to say that you can select attacks under “attack” and that your items are under “bag”? Well no, let me try to defeat my opponents Pokémon by trying to run away and let’s try to throw a Pokéball to a wild Pokémon with a Sand Attack.

One game managed to nearly boil my blood. The start of Devil May Cry 4 is a fixed tutorial. And when you don’t do the move or the action required, forget it, you won’t pass to the rest of the game. Lovely.

A game that got it right is Overlord for example. In this game, right after the opening, you get the basics explained but for the basic combat and such, you can take a route. But if you want to skip it, you can go right to the Throne Room. This is how I want my games to be! With a skip-able tutorial.  I don’t want to be reminded each time I restart the game how to play the game.

images (1)

A game that is a perfect example of how to do it, but make it extremely annoying is The Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time.

In this game, you have a fairy following you, acting as your tutorial in how to use weapons and your items. But the sound effect to remind you that she has something to say is “HEY LISTEN.” and you hear this phrase a least a million time in the game. It gets on people’s nerves extremely quickly. Luckily they fixed this in the sequel Majora’s Mask where the sound effect is just a tingle.

A game that has no tutorial is Minecraft. This game drops you in a random generated world and without prior knowledge, this game is pretty confusing. And this is the big fun of Minecraft. You get to learn the game by playing it and you feel rewarded if you kill that first Zombie or craft your first bow. Most recipes aren’t far fetched anyways.

Some games have in game menu’s where you can review certain combo’s or actions. I remember some games, and I’m sorry that I can’t bring an example at this moment… I think it might be Age of Mythology for the DS, have a separate tutorial button that you can take outside of the game. That’s also a great option.

I feel retard. 

images

Yes, I feel sometimes as a retard in a game. The game gets more like an interactive movie where you need to punch in the right button on the right time. There is no real skill involved anymore.

It’s like that coach at the side of a soccer game shouting at their players each and every move they need to do.

In complicated games, no issue, more power to you. But like I said, in a game like Kirby or Pokémon where the things are obvious how they work, it’s not needed. Just scrap that part and use the space for something decent like more levels.

Nintendo isn’t the only wrong do’er in this. I feel like tutorials now-a-days make a game way to easy. They flash the button you need to press or they can’t be skipped. What’s wrong with the challenge in a game. I once heard on a podcast that a developer needed to scrap a puzzle inside a game because there weren’t enough hints and you needed to use your common sense.

Oh, that’s another thing. Gamers don’t use a lot of common sense because of these tutorials. I wouldn’t be surprised if some gamer shouted at their game because “it wasn’t in the tutorial.”. Pathetic.

In conclusion, I think tutorials are welcome to aid the player get introduced in a game. But it’s annoying when you can’t skip it or when it explains extremely easy stuff that makes me go: “No shit sherlock.”.