Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire are the dominant arrival on the Holiday horizon for 3DS, making this the second year running — after X & Y in the same period during 2013 — that the franchise has led the way for Nintendo's portable. Pre-order numbers have been impressive, which Nintendo is linking to a mix of current day fans and those that enjoyed the GBA originals 12 years ago and are now keen to return — these are games that should have little trouble succeeding.
Of course, as remakes these are titles that are delivering a great deal of change over their originals — they're utilising the X & Y 3D engine, which was a first last year, which has required more than a generic spit-and-polish upscale, while a host of new features are included. As a result these could be particularly fresh experiences over their Game Boy Advance predecessors; Shigeru Ohmori, director of these new games, has reiterated just that in an interview with gamesTM magazine — much has changed in 12 years.
When I started at Game Freak, Ruby and Sapphire were my first project, so obviously there are a lot of ideas I had at the time that didn't get into the final game — a lot of things for the story, for example, that I hoped to explore more in depth. Finally taking all those ideas, I get the chance to implement them and to go more in depth on them, 12 years after it began.
The Hoenn region is a favourite for some 'mon fans, so it's a re-imagining will set some pulses racing. There's still a desire to maintain the vibe of the originals, naturally, while series head honcho Junichi Masuda also explained the origins of the region and its rural focus.
Ohmori — One of the main goals, one of the main themes that I had in mind when I first started working on the Pokémon games with Ruby and Sapphire, and the impression I had at the time, was that that was really the first time Pokémon had entered full colour. The way the colours were used to create this feeling of nature left an impression on me, so I really wanted Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire to translate that to the new systems, and pay attention to how we used colour, and create that same feeling.
Masuda — Kanto and Johto were based more on the motif of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka — big cities in Japan, with people living in a more metropolitan feel. With the Hoenn region I wanted to go for a feel of abundant nature, so a lot of mountains and forests. When I was younger, my grandparents lived in Kyushu and I would visit them, and whenever I was there I'd always be catching bugs, playing in the river, catching fish and stuff like that, so I wanted to bring that feeling of nature to the games.
Utilising the 3DS hardware, these entries will aim for more immersion in the world — the feeling of nature will be stronger, as you'll be able to spot Pokémon in their natural habitat.
One of the things with Ruby and Sapphire is that you'll actually hear Pokémon cries as you're walking around the environment, but we wanted to go more in depth with that, even at the time, and actually have Pokémon appear in the game world. For example, you can see their silhouette or see a Pokémon flying overhead — these are elements and ideas we've been able to flesh out properly in the remakes.
As a final wrap-up, gamesTM quizzed both men on their favourite Pokémon, a tricky subject. Their answers are below.
Masuda — I have a lot of favourites, it's hard to choose! Most recently, after direct X and Y my current favourite is still Sylveon, the evolution of Eevee. I really like a lot of the more cute Pokémon too, though. My favourite from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is one of the new Pokemon, Primal Kyogre. It's very cool-looking.
Ohmori — My favourite would be one of the new ones from X & Y — I do have a lot of Pokémon that I like and lot and it's hard to choose a favourite, but from Pokémon X & Y it's Inkay. I actually came up with the idea for how it evolves, where you have to turn the 3DS upside down. That ideas was able to be implemented and was reflected in the design of the Pokémon, too, so it's a really memorable one for me.
Let us know what you think of these comments from Masuda-san and Ohmori-san, as well as how excited you are for these releases.