Review by AstralFire

Reviewed: 03/17/03 | Updated: 03/17/03

The Return of the King!

Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, the third installment in Nintendo's extremely successful Pocket Monsters series.

Does it live up to the hype? Let's find out!

Setting

Even many of us who preferred pokémon not for its story, but for its gameplay, like to see a good believable story along the way. Ruby & Sapphire deliver much more than expected in this category...

Atmosphere

The first and most important part of its setting is the Atmosphere. By that I mean how real the game feels. Well, this game certainly delivers on that more than the previous games did... NPCs react to events; if a cataclysm has occured, they AIN'T GONNA BE WALKING OUTSIDE LIKE NINNIES. And their doors'll be bolted shut too.

Towns are no longer restricted to always having a gym and at most 2 houses. The World Map is sprawling, and you'll constantly find yourself revisiting certain cities - I actually found it fun to do so, rather than FLY around, for once - and ignoring others. The pokédex has new data and a new function - size comparison - that makes it feel like you really are a field researcher, and not an errand boy for a Professor. I'd especially like to note what a good job they did with the mythology in this game, it equals G/S/C in most respects, and beats it in a few others. I could go on and on and on, but it'd be to excess; just try it for yourself. If there was anything this series had been lacking in before, it was this; but I think that The Pokémon Company took a lot of GOOD cues from the heyday of the SNES RPG.
Atmosphere Rating: 10/10 - a job well done, Nintendo/GameFreak/Creatures!

Plot

The sustenance of the modern RPGunkie. Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire has nothing to wow audiences with, not much in the way of life lessons, and no epic journey. That's a good thing, because that would put the game on rails... But, there's enough of a plot that the life of a trainer is not simply ''Training, fighting...'' until after the Elite Four. I can't say too much about it without spoiling it, but it's a decent job. (The Magma and Aqua Gangs are MUCH better organized than the Rocket Gang!)
Plot Rating: 8/10 - Pretty decent!

Setting Rating: 9/10 - Could be better, but definitely good.

Graphics

The game delivers quite well in some aspects - there is one route where the clouds in the sky reflected off the water is simply amazing (I have my secret base there for good reason.) In other aspects such as certain sprites, however, it is disappointing after playing a game like Golden Sun. Please notice that qualifier - after playing a game like Golden Sun. The graphics are very good on their own right, and quite remind me of SNES FX Chip days... The intro for the game is very mode 7-ish, only not as grainy. The pokémon themselves are excellent, and anyone who claims these are the same graphics as the previous versions needs to be hit with a wet trout - stylistically, they are similar, but these graphics are a leap ahead.
Graphics Rating: 8/10 - Not the most beautiful, but certainly not the most ugly.

Sound

What can I say? The sound is much as the graphics - they are not Golden Sun's orchestrated etudes, but they have certainly come along. All of the tunes are quite catchy, and fit the mood of the game as they should.
Sound Rating: 8/10 - Not the most beautiful, but certainly not the most awful.

Gameplay

These have always been the meat 'n potatoes of this series, and thank Jebus for that! The one player game is much as before - although it is a bit harder than it used to be - but the possibilities for link battle just shot through the roof! 2 on 2 gameplay's a little broken - some pokémon are just way too dangerous (think Kyogre's El Cheapo now? Try fighting a Kyogre and Rhydon on the same team. You'll lose 99% of the time as of this writing.) 1 on 1, though, is the same great Pokémon Gameplay we know and love... with a bunch of new moves that are pretty sweet, like Hot Wind and Blaze Kick, and a retooled stat system, traits, and personalities. Stats no longer determine if your pokémon is odd-colored (aka Shiny, Rare-colored, or albino) nor are Special Attack and Special Defense running off of the same stat anymore. There are other changes too technical for a review. Traits are like always on Pokémon Powers and PokéBodies from the Card Game; a pokémon with the Floating trait, well, floats, and is immune to any Ground type attacks. Personalities modify any 2 of your stats in a trait by 10% of the original value, so make sure your pokémon gets a bonus in the stat they need and a subtraction in a stat they don't! Long story short, this game continues to prove why it is not kiddy, simply by the complexity and depth of its PvP battles.
Gameplay Rating: 10/10.

Final Rating

My rating system is as follows:
10% Sound
20% Graphics
30% Setting
40% Gameplay

Using that, my final exact score for this game is a...
91/100!

That means a lot - using this rating system, a 90 is extremely rare for me.

Rent or Buy?

If you can't tell by now, you probably shouldn't be reading... Buy! If you can finish AND get bored with this game in 7 days or less, I will be most amazed.


Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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