Five Features to Expect from the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Remakes

Five Features to Expect from the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Remakes

Our resident Pokémon Master shares her thoughts on the Generation III remakes.

?I'm going to let you in on a little secret now that Nintendo has gone ahead and confirmed that the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire remakes are real: They're probably the worst of the main generation games.

I say this as a big fan of both Generation III's Pokémon (Metagross!) and Pokémon Emerald – they were really bad. They had both the worst region (Hoenn) and the worst rival (Brendan and May, who started the trend of the helpful rival). They were the games that infamously reset the Pokeverse and locked out hard-earned monsters from the Game Boy games. And most damnigly, they were the games that once locked out a good chunk of the Pokedex, making fan favorites like Charizard, the Eevees, and Gengar completely unavailable for capture.

Actually, it's ironic that Ruby and Sapphire should get a remake now, since Ruby and Sapphire's Pokedex lockout was the main impetus for the Pokémon Fire Red/Leaf Green a decade ago. After eleven years, we've basically come full circle, returning to the roots of the modern Pokémon era. Here's something to chew on: I still have Pokémon that I trained on my old copy of Pokémon Ruby. It'll be like they're going home.

Of course, I understand why Nintendo is remaking them, even if they are functionally not that useful. Putting aside the fact that everyone expects now, which creates its own kind of inertia, the original Ruby and Sapphire are more than a decade old now. They were released in an age of link cables and static sprites. The generation that played Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire when they were 12 years old are now 23 – old enough to have a little cash in their pocket and some nostalgia for their misspent youth running around Hoenn. Mostly though, the original Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were really flawed games, and there is plenty to improve upon, but they also had a few great ideas that will be making a welcome return to the series at large. To wit, here are a few things that you can expect from the new games:

1. Hoenn Will Be Getting a New Area

I like Generation III as much as anyone, but as regions go, Hoenn is pretty much the worse. If you enjoy surfing and running into dozens and dozens of Tentacools and Tentacruels – the Zubats of the sea – then Hoenn ought to be in your wheelhouse. For everyone else, it's both too small and annoying to traverse, which is a neat combination.

With that in mind, I think it's pretty much a given that the Ruby and Sapphire remakes will be introducing a new island or something similar to explore. Apart from checking off one of the required content checkboxes, it will give players something new to find after finishing off the main campaign. There will still be too much water though. So much water.

2. In that vein, expect the Battle Frontier

One of the reasons I really like Pokémon Emerald is the Battle Frontier – a fantastic set of challenges for advanced players that can be completed to earn a separate set of badges. The Battle Frontier returned in Pokémon Platinum, but the one in Emerald was the original and the best.

The challenges in Emerald's Battle Frontier included a pyramid filled with traps; an arena in which style points counted for more than victory points; and a factory in which you had to use rental Pokémon to win. It was actually pretty tough; and I'll confess, for all of the Pokémon that I've played over the years, I've never quite cleared the Battle Frontier. I suppose this will be my big chance.

One note to Game Freak: If you put the Pokémon World Tournament in the Battle Frontier, your Ruby and Sapphire remakes will be my game of the year. Make it happen.

3. Online contests will finally be a reality

The other thing that I actually really enjoy about Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: Contests.

In the original games, you could build up sub-traits like beauty to compete in contest halls scattered around Hoenn. After an initial round of judging, you would be placed in a practical competition in which certain move combinations would build up points with the judges. Winning a master contest was worth both a large ribbon and a fancy painting of the winner in the Hoenn art gallery.

Contests were a welcome departure from the usual grind of battling, and I've wanted to see them come back for quite some time now. Nothing that has followed since has quite lived up to it – not the Pokémon musicals, nor even the movie sets in Black and White 2 (though they came close) . With the remakes now a reality, it will finally be possible to enter online contests and earn even more ribbons. My Flareon has been waiting for this day.

4. Secret Bases will return, and they'll utilize StreetPass

Count on it. Secret Bases were a neat addition back in the day, but they suffered from the lack of any sort of online connectivity or StreetPassing functionality. If Game Freak has its head on straight, I expect that Secret Bases around Hoenn will be populated by StreetPass trainers. And if the remakes follow in the footsteps of Emeralf, you will also be able to battle their teams for experience (and hopefully) and other in-game rewards. Personally, I can't wait to decorate up a cave with trophies, stuffed monsters, and furniture. Let's just hope that Game Freak hasn't heard of a little thing called microtransactions.

5. Metagross is getting a mega-evolution...

... And so will the rest of the Hoenn starters. Have I mentioned that Hoenn actually has the best starters in the series? I would even put them above Charizard and company in terms of design and usefulness. Yes, I just went there.

Beyond all that, I fully expect Game Freak to go above and beyond and find some way to add additional value to the Ruby and Sapphire remakes. I'm thinking of something similar to the PokeWalker – the fan-favorite peripheral that doubled as a pedometer. Either that, or they'll find a way to extend the existing capabilities of the 3DS with another app in the vein of the Pokémon Bank.

For what it's worth, I think Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire will be markedly better than the original Ruby and Sapphire. We're a long way from the days of Game Freak flatout locking out a large chunk of the Pokedex to get people to buy their other games. I fully expect to see a large number of the newer monsters putting in appearances around Hoenn, which should do much to alleviate comments like, "Wait, another butterfly Pokémon?" It will also benefit greatly from the various improvements introduced in Pokémon X and Y, such as the online functionality (did I mention that there will be online contests?). And hopefully, it will be much harder than Ruby and Sapphire, which had one of the easiest Elite 4s I can remember.

As much as I complain about Ruby and Sapphire's flaws, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Generation III. After all, it was the generation that got me knee-deep into competitive battling in the first place, and I have many fond memories of tromping around Hoenn, earning ribbons, and EV training my first Pokémon. In my own way, I have also come full circle. I'll be good to be back.

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Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

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