OrdannonsX's reviews: Pokémon Emerald
Yep, it just has to be done; I’m doing a review on a Pokémon game. Like many people on Vizzed, I’m a big fan of the Pokémon games. The Pokémon games are simple to pick up and play, but are so deep that few will actually play any Pokémon game to their fullest potential. Pokémon Emerald is actually my second favourite game in the franchise as well. I got it after having gotten Pokémon Ruby for my birthday. I loved how it was just so much more ‘complete’ than any Pokémon game before it. I’ll keep my introduction short; without further ado, let’s get going.
Like in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, once you turn on the Game Boy Advance, a shining star sparkles across your little screen, and the Game Freak logo shows up. A drop of water slowly slides down from a leaf and then drops down… That animation is just so fluid and gorgeous! And this doesn’t just go for the intro sequence only; the entire game moves flawlessly, and all the sprites -human, Pokémon and objects- are vividly detailed. However, how much praise this game’s visuals deserve, there aren’t many graphical upgrades from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Perhaps the biggest improvement Game Freak made in terms of visuals are that at the start of every battle, the Pokémon sprites move; making the Pokémon seem to come to live even more. But in all fairness, that’s the only notable upgrade I could spot in Pokémon Emerald. The quality looks exactly the same as in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. However, if I would have reviewed one of those games, I would’ve easily scored the graphics a 9, at the least. It just looks that good. Considering it does, I’m giving Pokémon Emerald’s graphics a solid score of a 7. There aren’t many improvements to be found here, but what’s still here still looks breathtaking.
Same story here, the sound already was great in Ruby and Sapphire, but they haven’t been improved by much. However, somehow I just could not find it in my heart to not at least score the sound with anything lower than an 8. The music is so catchy, and the SFX (from the obvious ones like Pokémon cries in battles to the little details like the splashy sound you hear when you step into a pool of water) is so well done. When you keep an ear out in the wild, you can hear the little cries of Pokémon coming from the tall grass, giving you the feeling you are in a living, breathing environment. When the rain starts pouring down, it’s not just like watching water drops falling down. The intense sound of the water clattering on the ground really makes it feel like you’re standing outside in a heavy rainstorm. I can’t imagine how it’s even possible to get so immersed in a small cartridge in a little machine such as the Game Boy Advance, but somehow, Pokémon Emerald got me hooked. Again, there haven’t been done many improvements from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, but that doesn’t mean that the sound is bad. On the contrary, the audio just doesn’t get much better on the Game Boy Advance.
The amount of hours I put into playing Pokémon Emerald is what some call just ridiculous. Or as I like to call it, a reasonable amount of time. ;) Like in all Pokémon games, there is just so much you can do. Catching Pokémon is ever so fun. Training your Pokémon into powerhouses, perfecting your team and testing your skills against the eight Gym Leaders never fails to lose it’s thrill. Speaking of thrills, encountering an ultra-rare shiny Pokémon is an amazing experience, and makes you want to keep playing even more. The music you hear when you beat a tough Gym Leader, or catch a Pokémon makes it all feel nothing short of awesome.
I agree with most people who say that the gist of the story in every Pokémon game is pretty much the same. You’re a boy/girl who’s just turned 10, and sets off on a Pokémon journey. You train your Pokémon, earn badges, breaking up an evil group of criminals and defeating the Elite Four and become the champion of the region. That’s the gist of it. But Pokémon Emerald has more stores for you, even though a lot of people tend to overlook it, or simply don’t acknowledge it. The gist of the story is far-famed, we all know it well so I won’t go into details about it. But I’ll talk about the little things, the side-story. Instead of having only one single rival -May/Landon- There’s Barry (my favourite rival in any Pokémon game), a frail, ill boy who’s biggest wish it is to raise Pokémon. You meet him in Petalburg City, living with his concerned parents. You teach him to catch a Pokémon, as he afterwards immediately moves to Verdanturf Town where his parents hope the clean air there will cure him of his disease. From there, he does indeed recover, and sets out on a journey, becoming one of the strongest, most respectable rivals you’ll ever face in any Pokémon game.
Then there’s Team Magma and Team Aqua. And this is where Pokémon Emerald makes its biggest improvement over Ruby and Sapphire. They both have an ambition of making the world a better place (in their eyes) by expanding either the Earth’s land, or the ocean. They need to wake up and control the legendary Pokémon of either earth and water to complete their master plan. But the Pokémon are uncontrollable, as a fierce battle between the two break out, and Team Magma and Team Aqua stand on the sidelines powerless. Then a huge Pokémon ascends from the skies, calming down the two Pokémon, restoring peace to the regions once more. It’s these side-stories which actually have nothing to do with you as a character (I mean, you’re just a boy or girl on a Pokémon journey) but make you get so involved with the world around you, making the plot that much more engaging. Game Freak, thank you for finally making the storyline in a Pokémon game interesting.
Do you want to catch ‘em all? Me too! I’ve always been annoyed by either needing a friend with a different Pokémon game of the same generation to trade Pokémon with, or simply buying the other Pokémon games to really catch ‘em all. I see through you, Nintendo, with your clever methods to make people buy your games! ;) Well, Pokémon Emerald has a lot more Pokémon for you to catch in a single game. And, whereas Ruby and Sapphire only had the Battle Tower for you to compete in after the Elite Four, Pokémon Emerald has the Battle Frontier. This is like a series of tournaments to really determine if you are the biggest and baddest trainer out there. There are contests throughout the entire region for you to participate in, and you could play with friends to make berries together! Fun! Every Pokémon has their own personality, which determines the way they grow, and how they fight in one of the contests. And the training system… It is so deep, that I won’t explain too much about it. The gist of it is this: When your Pokémon defeats an opposing Pokémon, it gains Effort Values depending on the opponents stats. If your Pokémon defeats a speedy opponent, it gains an extra Effort Value on speed, etc. This ensures that no Pokémon will be trained in the same way. It’s so in-depth, I… My mind just fails to comprehend it sometimes. I rarely give straight 10s, and I promised my self to be very strict about that, but I can’t see how I would score the Depth of a Pokémon game lower than a perfect 10.
It is commonly known that most Pokémon games aren’t very difficult. Training your team is simple and however you may lose your first try at any Gym battle, it’ll give you insight on the Leaders Pokémon and their levels, giving you the knowledge of which level your team should be to beat the Leader and move on to the next one. There are no consequences like Game Over, so you could see it as Trial & Error. Lose the first time, learn from it, and practice and try again. However, I do think that some parts in the game are dumbed down even more. For example, May/Landon is a complete pushover. Her/his starter Pokémon is never fully evolved, and her/his team is often very underlevelled keeping in mind the progress you most people have made at the point of the game where you come across May/Landon. Luckily, there is a second rival in the game, namely Barry, who actually poses a serious challenge on Victory Road. But all in all, this game isn’t very difficult as a Pokémon standard.
Phew. I gave this game a lot of praise in these past hours. And with good reason. Pokémon Emerald is without a doubt the best Pokémon in the franchise up until now, and it will be difficult for future instalments to surpass it. I know, in the introduction I said that Emerald is my second favourite game of the franchise, but that’s because I hold Pokémon Gold close to my heart for nostalgia reasons. As for the game’s ratings, at first glance Pokémon Emerald may seem like more of the same to most players. But subtle changes in the visuals and the story keeps the game fresh and addictive.
- A large world full of life and detail
- Really catchy music
- Deepest storyline ever in a Pokémon game
- Tons of stuff to come back for
- Most of the game may seem like more of the same to most people