Pokemon Emerald

Two years after the hit Pokemon GBA titles, we get an even better version of them.


The Lowdown

Pros: Enhanced version of an already excellent game, making this the Pokemon game to own.

Cons: If you already own and beat Pokemon Ruby or Sapphire there isn't much reason to purchase this.

Purchase at Play-Asia
Nintendo just can't stop milking the Pokemon franchise and people just can't stop buying the Pokemon Game Boy games. With the millions of copies of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire out there in the hands of gamers, its to no surprise that Nintendo has released an enhanced version of the two games as a new cart. In many ways Emerald is similar to Pokemon Yellow and Crystal, meaning you have the same story with some gameplay enhancements here and there.

If you've played either Ruby or Sapphire you'll be familiar with Team Magma and Team Aqua. Both teams are trying to awake the elusive Pokemon, Kygore and Groudon. Although instead of just having to fight one group villains, you'll have to fight both at the same time. As you race to stop both Teams from reaching their Pokemon, you'll be exploring the world of Hoenn. Although this is the same world from the other two games, there are a couple of new locations to visit. One of the most interesting ones is the brand new Battle Dome. The new battle dome has you use three of your trained pokemon in a tournament style battle.

On top of the new battle dome mode Pokemon Emerald will have plenty of Pokemon battling and fighting for you to do. If you've ever played a Pokemon game before you pretty much no what to expect. You'll almost always be battling Pokemon. Its either going to be dueling wild Pokemon found in the fields or competing in a trainer battle where you get to take on a couple of Pokemon in a row. In battle you'll be able to select a Pokemon to attack with, then you can select different attacks that your creature has learned. The attack system in Pokemon has always been a complex rock-paper-scissors system where attacks of a certain element can cause more damage than another. For instance water can extinguish fire monsters and hand to hand based fighting pokemon have an edge on rock pokemon. As you battle your Pokemon they gain valuable experience to make them stronger. More experience leads to higher levels and eventually new abilities. One of the unique features in the Pokemon series is that some Pokemon will get the ability to evolve into a larger, stronger Pokemon. New to the Ruby and Sapphire series were the two on two battles. This feature has been reworked in Pokemon Emerald because now trainers can jump in mid battle. This new feature can completely turn the entire course of the battle around. There are also new trainer types and new trainer combinations to play with.

A Pokemon game wouldn't be a Pokemon game without being able to catch different types of Pokemon. You'll see a wider variety of Pokemon in Emerald than in both Ruby and Sapphire. Favorites like Pikachu, Steelix, Shelgun, Abra and Noctowl are in the game. The game seamlessly includes Pokemon from both titles and a couple of rare ones, like Jirachi and of course Rayquaza. New to the game is the ability to catch a Pokemon favorite, Mew. Although, this elusive Pokemon have to be caught at Pokemon center or with a game shark. Also similar to past Pokemon games you can set an in game clock that operates via the battery in the cartridge. This means you'll see different sets of Pokemon depending on the time of day you play the game. The type of events that you can play also differ from real life day to real life day, giving players lots to do. Pokemon Emerald is also compatible with all other GBA Pokemon titles so you can import your invincible Pokemon and keep playing with them.

Once you find all the badges to complete the rather lengthy, 20+ hour main game you can go back and battle gym leaders again for the first time. This way you can try to conquer them with Pokemon that you couldn't have captured up at that point. If you're looking for more challenges you can use your cell phone to dial up other trainers. This feature gives you more battles to beat than found in the original Ruby/Sapphire titles. Perhaps the best feature in the game is the all new Battle Dome. This area has a bunch of  new battle scenerios. One of them has you pick three pokemon out of six random pokemon. Once you choose your cute weapons you'll engage in a battle with another trainer. If you win you can trade one of your Pokemon with one of the trainer's Pokemon. You can also participate in the Battle Arena, which is another type of 3 on 3 battle. In this mode you only have three turns to show off your moves. These new features are a welcome addition and are something that Poke-perfectionists will like.

Pokemon Emerald has reworked graphics. First of all you'll notice the new spiffy outfits for the two main characters. To go along with their new dreads, entire towns have been reworked to add in more details. By comparison the villages look more alive and the battles have better animations. When you enter a battle the first pokemon will move around and even use some of their moves to show that they're ready. Even though, these are only slight details and Pokemon Emerald doesn't look too much better than any of the other GBA Pokemon games.

After over ten games you either love or hate the Pokemon series. While Pokemon Emerald is really designed for people who haven't already picked up Ruby or Sapphire, gamers will find a decent amount to do in Emerald. Features like the wireless adapter support, new battle styles and more 2 on 2 fighting make Pokemon Emerald a better version of a classic GBA title.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 5

Pokemon Emerald is extremely language heavy. If you can't read katakana and hiragana the game will be impossible to play through without the use of a strategy guide.

US Bound?

There is no set release date yet, but were sure it'll be in the US eventually.

Overall

If you love Pokemon titles, Emerald is another game you'll enjoy. Although Pokemon Emerald doesn't have enough differences or anything else radically different to convince those who despise the series to pick the title up.