Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

"Keep Beating That Dead Horse"

Hold on, let me guess…hmm…well we had Red, Blue, and Yellow…so Ruby, Sapphire, and…Topaz!!! What? No??? Emerald? Huh… and you know what? That's as different as these games get. It follows the exact same plot, strategy and means to the end, and the only mess up in my predictions was that Emerald and not Topaz was chosen. Well, you know what? I can tell when the dead horse keeps getting beaten, and I am not going to give a game that does not change with the times a score worthy of the times. Sure, had these games released back on the Gameboy with all they had (minus the color), they would be heralded as the greatest games ever for portables, but in this day and age, they are the games of typicality and the ones to be forgotten.

The word never gets old: Pokemon. In Japan it translates into English to form Pocket Monsters, but hey Pokemon just has that ring to it. Who could forget the many years ago when children, like myself, would go office to summer camp and fraternize with other children. I did not know what Pokemon was at the time, but I do remember when I set my eyes on the Gameboy Original and Super Mario Land a few years before that. When I saw this slimmer Gameboy that could produce color at a low scale of tinge, and I saw the red cartridge of a game sticking out of the Gameboy, I knew I was in for a treat. So I watched and borrowed the games. It was my first true game experience. My first game was Pokemon Blue, and despite the ups and downs of Pokemon, I cannot escape my bond with it. When another ten years past, I will still look at the classic Pokemon games, and always say, wow, now that was a good game, and let us hope that in ten years, if Pokemon is still around – possibly with 700+ Pokemon –, that it will become a classic again.

I have never enjoyed quantity over quality and that is what the Pokemon gamemakers continue to push. Once a classic is made, it must be matched or improved upon, not just copied and pasted with some trivial material added to it. The years have past, the technology has evolved, and it is a pleasant time for portability. No longer are the graphics of consoles a far dream, but actually have become reality for the portable console…and with the advent of the Nintendo DS, so it will continue. So, we've seen the age of Pokemon change as we grow older and leave the realm of childhood and enter our teenage years and possibly adulthood. We see the portable technology get better; we see the cherished classics of Pokemon Blue and Red become forgotten as flash material replaces the old games. Yes, the graphics look better, but what else? Sure there are more Pokemon in these new games, sure the world is longer to explore, but is that all? Yes…sadly. The classic of ten years ago is still what Game Freak dwells on and continues to beat a dead horse. The only difference between this game and its predecessors is that it has color now…big whoop. This is a main reason for the downfall of Pokemon at this current stage. When you look at Mario, yes, it's the same Mario, it's the same “save Princess Peach” but the means to get to those ends have been altered. Look at Super Mario Land and Super Mario 64…same Mario, same story, but different means. That is what Pokemon continues to lack. Technology has increased for the company to change its means to the ends of fighting the Elite Four, but why must they continue to utilize a system that belongs in the Stone Age. I am sure that there would not be many fans of Mario had Mario continued to be a side-scrolling game in a time when the world opened to the exploratory three dimensional world, but lo, Pokemon continues to live on the past. Is there any difference in Emerald? Well nothing worthy of noting, but yet, I will note it for the game's sake.

Why review a game that is the exact same as before? Well, it is kind of like a brother to me. It was my first game and even though it continues to on a downward path, I will remain loyal. Well, it's time to speak my mind. I can understand that Pokemon Gold and Silver and Crystal were just advancing the legacy of the classics, but in this day and age when I see games such as Golden Sun and Fire Emblem taking leaps and bounds in the way an role-playing game is played, the standards have been set to crush Pokemon until it changes its means so that the ends are noteworthy. Pokemon, though it is in an era where it gets old fast, psychologically, I wish it not to get old.

Let the review begin!

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Gameplay: 7/10
I will say that Pokemon Emerald is worthy of an increase in its Gameplay score, but it is truly lucky. With Pokemon Emerald, there was no need for me to even try Pokemon Ruby or Sapphire. It was a complete waste of my time, as Pokemon Emerald integrates both storylines and Pokemon into the game: such as Team Aqua's and Team Magma's ploys and at the same time adds more adventure to the game by allowing for adventures off in other islands to have a go at more legendary Pokemon in more legal way than resorting to Gameshark…or what it is known today as Action Replay. How unfortunate that the game of my heyday has dropped off the charts, but nonetheless, the show must go on. I will give the Pokemon game credit where it is deserved. The good old saying “If it ain't broken, don't fix it” proverb holds true in this sense. The ability to move around in the game is simple, as walking should be. When I wish to run, it is not long into the game when your mother provides you with running shoes so that you can run quite fast – an improvement to the games that preceded this one. Eventually movement can become quite fun when you receive the bicycle voucher to get either the bike that can go fast or the bike that can do stunts. Now when you wish to access the menu, it is with the touch of the button and the many commands at your disposal are quite explanatory. The Pokedex has received a complete makeover to make it even catchy to the eyes and the size comparisons and the ability to search through the entire Pokedex makes it immensely easy to navigate despite the 352 (give or take a few) Pokemon that exist in this game. When you wish to look at the many items at display in the menu option, there won't be any confusion, and it is actually quite nice and simple so that most people will get the hang of it in minutes. The ability to withdraw and deposit Pokemon in the PC is simple, but I still do not understand why must there continue to exist Pokemon boxes in the computer at the Pokemon center – it is quite annoying. Now then, of course, what I find the most crucial part of all role-playing game schematics and setups is the battle system. If there are flaws in the battle system, then the enjoyment of an role-playing is quite destroyed as this is the center objective of all these types of games: to get stronger and to learn new skills. I will say that the Pokemon battle system is basically as perfect as perfect can be, but due to technological innovations, I have one major problem with this battle system. I will say, yes, the four commands available: attack, item, Pokemon, and run, make it as simple as simple can be. Attack allows you to choose from four Pokemon moves, item lets you choose items such as pokeballs, Pokemon lets you switch out a Pokemon for another Pokemon, and run allows you to run away from fights that you encounter in the wild. Now then what is wrong with this? Well the fact that Pokemon have only been allowed to learn four moves since the beginning of time in this franchise!!! I mean come on, I could understand in Pokemon Blue and Red and Yellow when technology limited memory capacity, but now in this day and age? No, it is just silly and ridiculous. My reason for this major complaint is the fact that in the dogma of Pokemon, the Anime series, Pokemon do not forget their moves: I have noted that these Pokemon have performed up to ten different moves in one battle, and so what is this four moves restriction in our games? When Pokemon changes this and allows for battle gameplay that mimics that of the television show where strategy and not just level play a key, battle setups will definitely become classic again. This is where Pokemon blunders: in its means of battle, and until the gameplay of the battle schema are changed, Pokemon will just continue to get worse in my opinion. You wonder what is another destroyer of this game: Game Freaks continual want of money. You cannot beat this game unless you collect all the Pokemon…and how are you going to do this. Well, you will need to find someone else that possesses the complement copy of this game: if you have Sapphire, pray he or she has Ruby, and vice versa. If not, then you'll have to buy another Gameboy Advance, then the other game…and then you'll need to buy a link cable. But no, it doesn't stop there…that's just the first Pokedex…if you want to complete your entire Pokedex, you'll need to get together with people that have access to Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen…it becomes a money racket, and such games are undeniably pitiful. I can understand that it could promote camaraderie among people, but come on, what is the change that your friends will hopefully have the different games that are needed to complete this game…not very likely. If the thought of money left the heads of these game creators, then surely Pokemon could return to a classic adventure, but it just continues to be more complicated. I can see how spoiled I became complaining about how Pokemon Red and Blue were ploys for a money racket due to the need to complete the Pokedex, but with these new games, I would gladly wish them back. Besides the slight additions to the gameplay though, it is the exact same game as Pokemon Sapphire and Pokemon Ruby, but slightly improved.

Story: 5/10
Well, now when I played Pokemon Yellow, I got to go around with my dear friend…Pikachu…what about now? Oh, that's so sad, the storyline is no longer that of Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town, but something else. Ah, the nostalgia kills. Now where was I in this rating for the story? Ah hold on…this is going to be a toughie…NOT. Collect Pokemon, fight eight gym leaders, defeat the Elite Four, become Pokemon champion, and complete your Pokedex. How familiar, eh? And isn't amazing that the means to the ends has never even deviated? Sad. As games grow and new series are released the ever “the means to the ends” is a key. I do not mind that the story itself may be nonetheless the same and the ending nevertheless predictable, but it is the development of a story that truly makes it classic or just mundane. And that what Pokemon's storyline is: purely trite and ennui in ever way. The fights are the same, there are no quests that make a player feel worthy, there is nothing, but straight linearity of this game that games of previous decade and decades had. The only difference…more Pokemon. There are no shocking plot twists and if you have played previous Pokemon games, the story is quite simple…1 leads to 2 then to 3, and hey, we're at the end of the game. The only reason why the game lasts longer is that more trainers and more fluff have been pumped into the game. After you defeat the Pokemon Champion of the Elite Four, you say, wow, I just wasted 100 hours of my life on a game that is the exact same as Pokemon Blue that I could beat in a tenth of that time…it is quite depressing. If I had a choice between giving a child Pokemon Red and Pokemon Ruby, I would have to say Red, that is how disappointed I am when it comes to this game. I do not know, it could be from the fact that I must have defeated Pokemon Blue so many times, defeated the Elite Four so many times (must have been over 500 times), that when I defeated this game, and got the exact same setup, it just felt shallow and I felt hallow.

Graphics: 6/10
Okay, the graphics are slightly better, but enough to warrant any changes…no. When I see other Gameboy Advance games taking advantage of the system that are not as well known to people as those of Pokemon, I expect Pokemon to live up to a high class, but it does not. Hmmm…so it is about ten years later and the technology has increased from the predecessors…but what do we have? The same graphics, just more color and more fluff. There is nothing special about the graphics of this game, they are cut and dry. If they were not as precise as they looked in the cities I may have even given this game a lower score. The fact that you can witness the doors slide and such of buildings is a nice but little substance change. I will say that when a Pokemon evolves and it switches into the cutscene; that is a direction that Pokemon should focus more on. The main problem of the graphics is not the walking around world graphics, because they are decent and pleasant to the eye, but the battle scene graphics. There is no change from those graphics and those of the predecessors except that they have been laced over in 32-bit color. Why can't Pokemon change? Surely it could adopt the battle scenes from those of Pokemon Stadium where it switches in three dimensional, and if though the Gameboy Advance is not capable yet of that, it can use the optical allusions of camera effects to get the sense of a three-dimensional playing field that was so unique in Golden Sun. As the gameplay of a role-playing game focuses around the battle scene, show should its graphics. It is pathetic that Pokemon does not take advantage of the great capabilities that the Gameboy Advance system can offer that is a major flaw. To the ignorant player, these Pokemon games will scene attractive… “the fad” …and that is why Pokemon will not change. But I hope that despite the continual rise in sales, Pokemon will change and hopefully regain a classic status. Do you know when I will buy another Pokemon game? When the graphics of the battle scene mimic the setup of a Pokemon Stadium like battle. Please Pokemon, change!!! I can get better graphics making my own RPG on RPG Maker than you can deliver on this game.

Sound: 8/10
Well, you know, you'd think they could switch up the music, but no, it has to be the same music. I mean they changed the Pokemon sprite images, at least they could have remixed the songs a little, but hey. At least the music helps me combat the other foolishness in this game. I would say with all the other aspects upsetting me, this cheers me up. The sound is probably the best aspect of this game. It is catchy, but childish and become highly repetitive. With the Gameboy Advance, sound quality should be improving, but not in Pokemon, it continues to be the exact same expected synthesized music that has you humming sometimes and other times quite annoyed. I will say though that the gym battle music and the Elite Four battle music are well matched and get the adrenaline flowing. That is what music is supposed to do…be diverse and match the scene. Unfortunately, Pokemon does have its good moments, but then they are marred by repetitive unchanging world music. Despite this though, I had a tendency to hum the music of this game months after I had stopped playing it. You know what, I know the music so well, I could probably play it on my trumpet – and yes, it would sound better than that redundant synthesizer.

Replayability: 7/10
With the extra places to explore, I would say you could add another few hours to this game, but really, it could already take you a hundred hours to explore and do quite a lot of things without exploring those islands yet. Okay, so I'll give it the credit of a game life of 100 hours, but that's all. Of those hundred hours, it's basically 70 hours of pointless playing and lacks any substance. I am not so sure about this score, but I will give it this, to seem fair. In my opinion, after playing so many tens of hours of gaming, who wants to take this game and start over. It is so hard to just erase the many hours of life and dedication you put into this game. And to this day, I have only played it through once, beaten the Elite Four a heck of an amount of times, and leveled several of my Pokemon to level 100. But really what is left? I won't restart, but I wish to continue to bask in the glory of beating the game, despite its emptiness, and I just would not have the will to do it over again despite many mistakes I made throughout the course of the game. I will say that multiplayer will never get old, and that is another reason I would not restart. Just when you believe Pokemon is extinct for older player, you find a person who happens to have it on him, and Pokemon battles are a great way to duke it out, and in my opinion are the best aspect of Pokemon games. It is one thing to play the AI, but when you face another opponent, things can change. Now when people can battle over the internet with people via wi-fi, that will be something. Well, if you cannot find friends, you could always try the Battle Tower. That houses the toughest AI in the games, and at times, the stunts that these Pokemon pull are just humiliating to a player who thinks he is good. Why aren't these people competing against the Elite Four, seriously.

CONCLUSION
Using my rating system for Gameboy Advance RPGs:
20% Gameplay, 30% Story, 20% Graphics, 7.5% Sound, 22.5% Replayability

Overall Game Rating: 6.275

OVERALL RATING: 6/10
Suggested Action: Do not rent and do not buy, not worth a person's time.

Final Comments: Okay, well if you have not bought Pokemon Ruby or Pokemon Sapphire, then of the three, this is the one to get. But if I had my choice in all the games, I would settle with Pokemon Yellow and Pokemon Crystal, but hey, that's my opinion. There is nothing to say, but the ratings for my Pokemon games continue to drop. For a Pokemon game being on a system this advance, it fails. It is a disgrace that Pokemon has continued to digress from its golden days at the beginning, but I guess with little kids who cannot tell a good game from a mediocre game and proceed on the bandwagon of Pokemon, Pokemon may never change. It will not win the hearts of dedicated and serious portable role-playing gamers, and will only continue to earn scorn with them as little children continue to branch to them. I understand that Pokemon is a child's game, but please, let the game remain immature, but let its innovation mature. It is for a child, but please, serious role-playing games stay away. . Pokemon will always continue to milk the market, and in a sense this greed could lead to its downfall.

Fin


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/10/07


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