Review by enacting

"Not just a kiddie game anymore"

With the release of Pokemon Emerald, the stereotype that Pokemon is a game for the kids can jolly well be flushed down the toilet. This new instalment of the series reinforces what the game has always been about - fun, and more. First things first. The first thing on everyone's minds when Pokemon Emerald was released would definitely be: Isn't this the same as Ruby/Sapphire/previous Pokemon games? Well, the bad news is, most of the basic concepts are practically identical. However, the good news is that it's a whole lot more fun now.

Pokemon Emerald is a huge leap from previous Pokemon games. Gone are the days where you roam the world in simple colours and limited number of Pokemon to catch (ie. Blue/Red). In Emerald, the graphics are stunningly beautiful and the animations are detailed, from how your Pokemon moves in its "opening dance" at the start of every battle to how attractive the environments really look. The Pokemon themselves are coloured vividly and that makes them most appealing to not just kids, but grown-ups too. (Who can resist a cute bright yellow-orange Torchic?) Great effort has also been put into the sound development, with the enchanting background music beautifully mastered for a GBA game, and the player can be assured that most, if not all, of the Pokemon's "sounds" are different.

The storyline, on the other hand, pales in comparison to the graphics and sound. It's the same old tale where you, the hero or heroine, strives to be the world's greatest Pokemon trainer and at the same time defeat the baddies, which in this case are Team Aqua and Team Magma. Plot developments are limited in scope, but as a new scene unfolds, there's a guarantee of more fun along the way.

One of the most interesting aspects in Emerald is the PokeNAV. It includes a map of the region and a "Match Call" feature, which allows you to register trainers and important characters to communicate or, well, rematch. It's been awhile since I've seen this feature (I last saw this as a Phone feature in Gold/Silver), and it's fun and a bit nostalgic to have it back now, which has been refined in a more colourful and "interactive" way.

The key feature in all Pokemon games, including Emerald, has been the battle system. It's a turn-based system where you can match even 2 vs 2, and the list of unique techniques and status effects makes the battles as exhilarating as ever. In Emerald, the developers have taken this a notch higher by introducing a battle arena-like area where you can battle your Pokemon in different ways.

Pokemon Emerald is a breath of fresh air from all the similar RPGs on the GBA rolling out in recent weeks. It's clearly the most polished and engaging game in the series, a must-get for both adults and kids, and fans and non-fans. Buy or rent? Buying will be your best bet, as this game will no doubt keep you hooked to your GBA for a good couple of weeks.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/09/05

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