8 reasons Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire's remakes might be the best yet

The best

The recent remakes of Pokmon Gold and Silver were big, but rarely are remakes more anticipated than the upcoming Pokmon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Fans have been clamoring for a re-imagined Hoenn for years now, and Nintendo finally delivered with its recent reveal.

Generation III contains a ton of unique features, from underwater exploration to decorating your own Secret Base, and we can't wait to see what's in store in the upcoming remakes. An audiovisual overhaul will be a huge improvement as well, and online connectivity will (hopefully) take elements like the Battle Frontier and pseudo co-op play to previously unrealized levels. With that in mind, here are the top factors that will make the Generation III remakes awesome (and, potentially, one of the best 3DS games).

PokNav can get a 3DS upgrade

You may remember PokNav--its a small, disk-shaped device that can perform a wealth of useful Pokmon tasks. In Ruby and Sapphire youre given one as a reward for delivering some shady goods, and the device paved the way for things like Pokegear and Poktch in later games. In addition to delivering reports on the condition of Pokmon used in contests (Cool, Beauty, Cute, etc.), PokNav had one very important function: It would notify you when NPC trainers were ready for a rematch. Just fly to any route in the game, glance at your Poknav, and if its blinking, then someone nearby wants to take you on.

PokNav in the remakes will likely work with friend codes and real-life trainers, but stopping at familiar faces would be capping its potential. Imagine walking through a real-life city street, when you notice your 3DS StreetPass indicator blinking: essentially your PokNav blinking. You flip it open, only to realize that three trainers in the area want to battle, including but not limited to the woman on a park bench across the road, and the 10-year-old kid being dragged down a crosswalk by his mother. Now that would be awesome.

Secret Bases should work great online

Secret Bases are one of the more notable Ruby and Sapphire exclusives, and your mileage may have varied substantially depending on your interest level. Personally, I found the experience incredibly entertaining--not only would I painstakingly consider my bases location, but my collection of Pokmon dolls and various doodads to populate it was second to none. In some ways, the experience was like a miniature Animal Crossing.

For Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, I expect the Secret Bases will be brought online, and their features hopefully expanded past what a GBA link cable could provide. It would be great if tracking the Secret Bases of your friends were made into an ongoing challenge, where you keep your eyes peeled for hints as you traverse your own instance of Hoenn. If you you did uncover one, you could then leave a note, obtain items via Mystery Gift, or even say hello if your friend happens to be online. Just stay away from the large bush east of Fortree City--I've got dibs.

Contests can be bolstered by Super Training

I wasn't a huge contest junkie when I played Ruby and Sapphire, but even so, theres ample room to beef up the contest offering with the remakes. There are a host of tweaks that were applied to contests in Gen IV, all of which will likely be integrated, as well as the use of PokNav and PokBlocks for adjusting and tracking a given monsters condition.

Where contests will hopefully be improved are in two areas--online contests, and contest preparation. Players should be able to partake in contests with friends, as well as compare contest Pokmon and earned ribbons, and I expect that this will be the case. Beyond that, though, the process of getting ready ought to be made more enjoyable. This could be achieved through Super Training. In X and Y, Super Training made EV/IV training more bearable via harmless and fun minigames, and a similar tactic could be applied to Pokmon conditioning to get more people giving contests a try. Its a good idea, Nintendo--make it happen!

The Trick House can look cooler than ever

On Route 110 there sits an oddly placed house owned by a fellow known as the Trick Master, who populates its rooms with new and bizarre challenges periodically as you progress through the game. With each visit, you first have to uncover the Trick Masters hiding place, then progress through a maze, and finally uncover a code to escape. The rewards are usually custom mail or rare items, but you also encounter some tough trainers while there. Its a feature I wish subsequent games had brought back.

The main improvement to the Trick House in the remakes, I hope, will be visual. Stereoscopic 3D stands to offer all kinds of fun gimmicks to enhance the Trick Houses shenanigans, and at the very least Game Freak out to use the 3DSs powers to make the Trick House look interesting inside. Its probably not fair to exclude 2DS players too much, but if the Trick House becomes a sight to behold on top of being a fun mind-bender, then Ill be very pleased.

The enhanced soundtrack will rock

If theres one thing that generates Ruby and Sapphire nostalgia above all else, its the games uplifting soundtrack. More specifically, the near-comically enthusiastic MIDI trumpets that are at the foundation of a substantial number of its songs. The trumpet obsession has become somewhat of a meme, as evidenced by amusing makeshift Photoshop efforts and even all-trumpet versions of certain RS tunes.

Trumpets aside, though, these games do feature one of the better soundtracks in series history, and just like the massive jump in sound quality from the original Game Boy to the GBA, the improvements in virtual instruments since 2003 have been pretty substantial. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds and Fire Emblem Awakening demonstrate this in spades, and imagining a similar overhaul for Ruby and Sapphire already gives me chills. Its debatable that a realistic-sounding trumpet might take away some of the soundtracks goofy, unabashed charm, but we can worry about that later.

Real-time events can be expanded

Shoal Cave was such a good idea. Like much of Hoenn, the caves insides were often flooded with water, but depending on the time of day and the tide at a given time, the level of flooding would vary. Game Freak designed the cave around this mechanic, making certain areas, items, and even Pokmon only accessible when the water was positioned a particular way. This resulted in many return visits, strategy guide consultations, and much more planning than a relatively tiny game area usually requires. This was a good thing.

The original games suffered one huge limitation, though--when the internal cartridge battery died, there were no more timed in-game events. Sorry! The remakes will undoubtedly dodge this problem (as all DS-based Pokmon games have), and Im hoping Game Freak will up the ante and add a whole lot more time-sensitive elements to the world as a result. With over 700 Pokmon (up from 386 when Ruby and Sapphire first released), simply injecting the new ones into the wild post-Elite Four wont make much sense. Certain Pokmon appearing at certain times, on the other hand, is easier to swallow--and more fun.

Chasing down the legendaries should be a blast

In a similar vein, Im pretty pumped to see Hoenns most powerful creatures in their glorious polygonal forms. Sure, these Pokmon were technically attainable in X and Y, but I was far from enough of a Pokmon master to be importing Kyogres into Kalos like it was no big deal. Yes, I know there are plenty of hacked shiny legendaries to go around. Let's pretend for a second that we're not all filthy cheaters.

Beyond their Gen VI makeovers, the legendary selection of Ruby and Sapphire is actually pretty interesting. Youve got Groudon and Kyogre, of course, but then theres Rayquaza from Pokmon Emerald, and the multiple Regice variations (Regirock, Registeel, etc), all of which have fairly interesting side quests attached to them. Im not exactly sure if Id want Game Freak to pack too many more legendaries into Hoenn, but maybe an additional few (from newer games) as well as periodic events and refreshed sidequests for the old ones would do the trick. Plus, if you do get bored, you can always just camp Route 119 in search of the ever-elusive Feebas. Im not proud of how many hours I spent doing that.

The Battle Frontier will provide hours of endgame content

To me, the Battle Frontier is the most entertaining form of endgame content to date in a Pokmon game. Sure, you dont get experience for your fights, but that puts all the more emphasis on sportsmanship and competition. You can win some pretty awesome and useful items, too, and even face off against pre-configured player teams in later-generation offerings.

For the remakes, Im hoping the Battle Frontier will be taken online, and expanded to something like a multiplayer Olympic Games of Pokmon. X and Ys online experience was impressively robust, and merging it with what the Frontier has to offer could literally add hundreds of hours of replay value to the upcoming games. If players can create events and offer up specific rare items as rewards, or set custom parameters and rules, that number would increase even further. Unfortunately, theres no guarantee the frontier will be included, as the Frontier was part of Pokmon Emerald, not Ruby and Sapphire. Still, past remakes have included the third version of a generation (HeartGold and SoulSilver had Crystal content, for example), so Im hoping Game Freak does the right thing and includes an awesome, modernized Battle Frontier for players to check out.

Gotta Catch Em All (Again)

And if you're interested in more, check out what we know about Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and Pokemon facts you might not have known.

Griffin Vacheron