Pokemon Omega Ruby review: Hoenn is reborn with Mega Evolutions aplenty

Nintendo 3DS; Game Freak; £34.99

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The Independent Tech

Pokemon has always been about capturing, training up and battling small monsters. It’s also about exploration and tapping in to that youthful thirst for adventure. The main criticism levied against the series has been that it’s stifled its own innovation. Your role is always the same: beat eight gyms, solve a mystery that centres around a legendary Pokemon, and defeat the Elite Four and the Champion. Along the way you capture and train up a team of Pokemon, carefully deciding on which to carry through based on their types, which are like a complex matrix of rock, paper, scissors - there are eighteen types, including fire, grass, water, dark, steel and the latest, fairy.

Pokemon’s recent return is a remake of the generation 3 game, Ruby, in their most recent graphics engine. Following on from Pokemon X and Y, this means that the little monsters are now in beautiful 3D - plus, with the introduction of Mega Evolution, old fan-favourite Pokemon now receive new evolutions. The bulk of the story is the same. Team Magma are attempting to revive legendary Pokemon, Groundon, in an attempt to increase the landmass of Earth, and you must stop them.

I can’t and don’t want to say too much, but rest assured this is one of the best games Game Freak has created - with one of the most enjoyable post-game content available. It’s ironic, really, considering the original generation 3 games (Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald) weren’t particularly great. There was an unnecessary amount of surfing between islands, and the number of Pokemon available to catch was limited. It seems like Game Freak has intentionally made an effort to make sure that this game’s swollen with content, and that’s certainly laudable for a game that many expected just to be a simple rehash of a not-that-great game.

But here Hoenn is reborn. The storyline is streamlined and invigorated with a chunk of new lore that means anyone who’s played Ruby or Sapphire can still find something new here they’ll enjoy. But also it’s linked to the newer games - X and Y - as you find out more about the workings of Mega Evolution. There’s a pleasure watching your favourite Pokemon transform, and that is here more so than ever.q

Game Freak have also done something quietly amazing in this rejuvenation of the third generation - they’ve stepped back into their own game and tweaked it into, arguably, what it should have always been. There’s plenty here to love - two thirds or so through the game players unlock the ability to call down a legendary Pokemon from the sky, to soar across the overworld. From there you can see the whole breadth of the region - from the tiny islands dotted in the surf to the central volcano - Mt Chimney - and beyond. From up there you can enter secret areas to fight powerful Pokemon; you can land, with a skid, anywhere you’ve visited. I can’t wait to investigate every nook and cranny over the next few months to come - and have a sneaking suspicion there are far more secrets yet to uncover.

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