E3 shows off more Pokemagic
It was only a few months ago that we were playing Pokemon X and Y (which, by the way, is one of the best 3DS games), and now Nintendo and The Pokemon Company are already planning a brand new pocket monster title for the 3DS. Well, maybe new isnt the correct word for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which are remakes of the GBAs Ruby and Sapphire games from 2002. Nintendo's E3 2014 digital conference has lifted the lid on some details, most noteworthy of which is a release date: November 21, 2014.
Beyond the title, the box art, and a few other scraps of intel, theres still a ton of mystery surrounding the game. Heres everything we currently know, along with the most important questions we want answered about these exciting remakes...
We know... its fully 3D, just like X & Y
Pokemon X & Y represented a huge step forward for the franchise, not least of which graphically, and the new remakes follow suit with detailed polygonal models for both playable characters and Pokemon. The game does look even slicker than X/Y with better lighting and self-shadowing
We don't know... if it'll take better advantage of 3D
But even though X & Y looks better than any previous generation, it wasnt without its flaws. For one thing, it had very sparse use of the 3DSs stereoscopic three dimensional visuals. Sure, it couldve come off as gimmicky, but perhaps Game Freak wouldve found deeper uses for the feature if it really wanted to. Could Omega and Alpha thoughtfully expand on the simple uses of three dimensions in X & Y?
Our guess: The answer to this may be in the fine print. Omega and Alphas teaser trailer had this text at the end, game in 2D, some areas also playable in 3D. That sounds very similar to how X & Y dealt with 3D, so expect the stereoscopic thrills to stay limited to a few areas and key moments.
We don't know... how "new" the world is going to be
Nintendos press release and first trailer for the game said very little, but one word kept popping up again and again: new. But how can a remake of Game Boy Advance titles have new adventures and worlds? Just how is Nintendo defining that word? Because it flies in the face of expectations when you see Ruby/Sapphire come back--which is likely part of the reason Nintendo is using that phrase. Also, why differentiate between "Epic" and "Dramatic" in the text? It makes no sense.
Our guess: The newness will be more surface level than not. Like FireRed/LeafGreen and HeartGold/SoulSilver before it, these remakes will retain the basic structure of the originals. The world may theoretically be renewed by all the updates, but the story, locations, and starters should all be intact from the GBA versions. But just what will those fresh features be?
We know there will be more Mega Evolutions
X & Y introduced a whole new dynamic to the world of Pokemon: Mega Evolutions. No longer are Pokemon contained to their third form--instead, they're able to briefly go Super Saiyan and become even more powerful during battle. After Mega Evolutions became so popular in the first game, it isnt surprising that more are coming in the next release. Cover legendaries, Groudon and Kyogre, are technically getting new Mega forms for the remakes (more on that later), and the starter monsters are also getting an upgrade.
Fans will recall that X & Y had a bonus Mega Evolution for Blaziken, one of Ruby/Sapphires starters, which in retrospect looks like a tease of the Alpha and Omega remakes. Now we know via a magazine leak thats accompanied by Mega Sceptile (Grass/Dragon type) and Mega Swampert (Water/Ground type), both of which look awesome. Theres also a Mega Diancie, a Rock/Fairy type whose normal version isnt yet available in X & Y. But will any other classic third generation monsters get an upgrade? We think so.
We dont know How the legendaries are suffering from de-evolution?
The aforementioned covers for Alpha and Omega clearly show Kyogre and Groudon in new forms, but if a recent leak is to be believed, these arent simple Mega Evolutions. According to fan translations, both are devolving from their previous states into more primal, ancient forms. That may imply these Mega versions will be more powerful and uncontrollable, but how did this happen?
Our guess: As Poke-legend goes, a long ago battle between Kyogre and Groudon helped to form the oceans and the continents, a power the evil Team Magma/Aqua looked to capture in the original Ruby/Sapphire. Perhaps these older forms of the legendaries are how they looked before that terraforming battle. And wed bet that the legendaries transformations have something to do with the strange items hurtling at Kyogre and Groudon in the all too brief gameplay clip a few slides back. So how much is the plot going to have to change to deal with this new wrinkle?
We don't know... if there will be new Pokemon
That takes care of the Mega question, but will Game Freak stop there? Why upgrade old Pokemon when you can introduce brand new ones to the region? Alpha and Omega allow for a chance to update the Pokedex with a new legendary or two (at least), so why pass up the opportunity?
Our guess: This one seems a bit unlikely, particularly in a post-Mega Evolution world. Going Mega allows Game Freak to have fresh Pokemon without adding to the already massive Pokedex. While the Red/Green remakes did add Deoxys to the series, the more recent Gold/Silver repackagings didn't bring any unique mon to the campaign, so it's doubtful to happen with third gen.
We don't know... what this means for Pokemon Z
Usually, Pokemon follows a clear cycle. You got a brand new generation of monsters, then one year later you got an updated version in the mold of Yellow, Crystal, or Emerald. It doesn't always follow this pattern (Black & White were followed by straight sequels), but more times than not, you're getting some retooled version each generation. However, at the moment it looks like Game Freak is just skipping X & Y outright. Has The Pokemon Company completely moved on to GBA remakes without an X & Y update?
Our guess: Well, that's debatable. Pokemon Emerald did come out after FireRed and LeafGreen, so I wouldnt put it past the developers to put out Pokemon X & Y 2 in 2015, but things could be totally different this time around. But it'll likely be another year before we know the truth.
We know Some characters are getting a redesign
The previous Pokemon remakes have seen some level of redesign for its core characters, likely because the newer graphics allow for more details. Alpha and Omega are doing that as well, as some new images from Japan show leads (Brendan and May) shows some slightly revamped designs. Now we can see for certain that Brendan is wearing a hat, and doesnt have white hair, clearing up years of confusion.
Outside of the leads more fashionable attire, the antagonists are getting an update as well. Both Team Magma and Team Aqua are looking good in their 3DS-ready outfits, as does Steven Stone, the Pokemon League Champion of Ruby/Sapphire. The dashing young man looks more spiffy than ever, and he seems to have a Mega Charizard X on his team. It cant belong before we see redesigns for the Gym Leaders and Elite Four, right?
We don't know... if X & Y's advanced features going to be included
X & Y didnt just upgrade the graphics, it also gave Pokemon a ton of new features, such as interactive minigames like Pokemon-amie, more customizable protagonists, and numerous online upgrades. It's a much more streamlined experience than any entry before it. Thatll only continue in Alpha and Omega, right?
Our guess: Pokemon history says yes. The previous remakes both took full advantage of the updates from the most recent generation, even improving on those new features. I expect Game Freak to get even more experimental with the many gameplay techniques introduced in X & Y, making the Ruby/Sapphire reimaginings the most current Pokemon titles around.
We don't know... if there'll be new post-game content
Back in 2005, Pokemon Emerald was an expansive update to Ruby/Sapphire, adding new features, story elements, and the new legendary featured on the cover. Like the Gold and Silver remakes before them, Im betting Alpha and Omega will incorporate much of the plot from its third version, but what new will be on offer? How much does Game Freak want to change the experience?
Our guess: Hardcore Pokemon masters spend so much time exploring the late game stuff that theyve come to expect a hearty collection of post-game content. You can anticipate Game Freak fulfilling those demands with a ton of new fetch quests, legendary hunts, and heavy fanservice to unlock after you defeat the Elite Four. Maybe the new late content will even answer some plot holes we didnt even realize Ruby/Sapphire had.
We know itll be out this November
This one was revealed from the start, but lets just make it clear: the game will be out this November. And that date is worldwide, reflecting the newly international perspective of the Pokemon Company. Just as had be done with X & Y, Alpha & Omega will be out at roughly the same time globally, if not the same day.
For older Poke-fans who grew up in a world with six months to more than a year separating the Japanese and international launches of Pokemon games, this new normal is very refreshing. Now the whole world gets surprised by finding mysteries in each new entry, instead of learning every secret far ahead of time thanks to importers. Also, while theyre being coy about the specific release date, bet on it being the same day worldwide.