Pokemon Expert Emerald (Ver. 1.42) Review by: OrdannonsXMy favourite Pokémon hack. Gotta catch 'em all!
I’m a sucker for the Pokémon series. Some time ago, I noticed a ROMhack of Pokémon Emerald in the Retro Game Room. It’s called Pokémon Expert Emerald, made by Season. Supposedly, it was much more challenging than the regular game. I chuckled a little, and arrogantly thought to myself: “How could a Pokémon game be difficult in any way? Surely, a Pokémon game could never be ‘difficult’, no matter what you change about it?” Oh, how little I knew…
Nothing changed about the game’s overworld, and the trainer’s sprites have stayed the same from the original Pokémon Emerald. What’s impressive, though, is that Season replaced nearly all of the third-generation Pokémon sprites with the sprites seen in Pokémon Black and White for the Nintendo DS, because the sprites from Ruby/Sapphire are sooo 2003. Personally, I’m not a big fan of most of these sprites. They are designed to be in motion for them to look pretty. But seeing as it is impossible to make the sprites constantly moving on GBA hardware, it would’ve been better to stick with the Ruby/Sapphire sprites. Still, I have to commend the effort. The fact that Season bothered to change almost all 386 sprites is pretty admirable. The graphics aren’t perfect, though. I can notice some hiccups in the added text boxes here and there, which could really take away from the experience. Then there is the graphical glitch that occurs when you trade Pokémon with an NPC. It’s nothing game-breaking though, and you’ll only be trading Pokémon a handful of times, so it’s not that much of a biggie.
Not much has changed, audio-wise, other than being able to listen to the cries of the Pokémon that you couldn’t get before. The catchy, adventurous tunes are still around to listen to, so that’s great. The only thing I have to nag about, are some of the Pokémon’s cries. Let’s take the Pokémon Heracross and Blaziken, for example. These Pokémon’s cries are bugged, giving off very obnoxious scratching sounds. And that sucks, since Heracross and Blaziken are two of my favourite Pokémon, but now I don’t even want to put them in my party because I’d have to hear their glitched-out battle cries all the time… Major bummer, dude. What’s more, some cries appear to have been swapped. I noticed that Omanyte has Machop’s battle cry here. That’s weird. While this shouldn’t be very jarring to you, the bug in the Pokémon cries are just horrible. Perhaps they can still be corrected?
Pokémon has always been addicting, but the regular games have always had one major flaw: You had to have friends who owned the other version of the same generation of Pokémon games, or you needed to have the other game and another GameBoy or Nintendo DS to really be able to catch ‘em all. I don’t know about you, but because I was always the only kid in my friend circle who played Pokémon, I never felt the urge to train an Abra, since I could never get an Alakazam. But now, that isn’t a problem anymore. You can get every last Pokémon in the game, and that is so satisfying. Finally, you can complete a Pokémon game. If only the regular games did things this way… Season made all the legendary Pokémon catchable in an event, so encountering them that way makes it so epic. It really couldn’t have worked out any better.
The story is the same as in regular Pokémon Emerald. Nothing has changed, really. You save Prof. Birch from an angry Zigzagoon, set out on a journey, stop the evil Team Aqua and Team Magma, save the world from annihilation, and becoming the Pokémon master. That’s it. Next!
Aside from Pokémon already being one of the most in-depth games you can find, Season has implemented a lot of changes to the hack, which, as said in the description, expands on the original Emerald gameplay. Like I said, you can obtain all the Pokémon, which is already an A+. There have been subtle changes made to the map, giving you some extra places to train and catch Pokémon; you can find new items that are smartly placed around the map; many of the important trainers are made rematchable outside their events and various moves and Pokémon have had changes in types to make a bit more sense. No, it’s not an entirely new game with a unique storyline like, let’s say, Pokémon Light Platinum, but seriously, that’s not what’s important here. The amount of stuff that Season added into this hack is breathtaking. Great job.
Pokémon Expert Emerald is a difficulty mod so, naturally, the challenge has been raised a lot. The Gym Leaders have bigger teams of a wider range of Pokémon to counter your obvious Pokémon of choice. The enemy AI is really smart, always letting their Pokémon hold something to aid them in battle, and to thwart your attempt to defeat them. You’ll probably white out at least once or twice, encouraging you to keep training and stocking up on items. I know I’ve lost my fair share of battles during my playthrough. Man… am I glad I’m not an actual Pokémon trainer, or else my Pokémon would’ve hated me for letting them faint so often…
Pokémon Expert Emerald is my favourite Pokémon hack that I’ve played. It has a couple of beauty mistakes in the form of minor technical errors, but these pale in comparison to the stuff the creator added to the original Pokémon Emerald. It’s the ROMhack of the most played game in the Retro Game Room, made to be even better than the original. The bar has been raised. Go out there, and catch ‘em all!
- You can complete the entire PokéDex
- Enemy AI is clever, and uses very smart tactics to make battles tough
- Subtle changes in types and battle moves to make more sense
- You can fight every member of the Elite Four again at the Battle Frontier
- A couple Pokémon have broken battle cries
- Some notable visual bugs