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Pokemon, a popular series of games. It has ranged from Pokemon Red and Blue(which also got remakes, Fire Red and Leaf Green), the games that started Pokemon, as well as their third edition game, Yellow, followed by Gold and Silver with their third edition game, Crystal, and most recently, Ruby and Sapphire, with their third edition, Emerald. Out of these, this review is for the game Emerald.
Emerald, being the third edition of Ruby and Sapphire, you would expect to be very similar to said games. However, Emerald manages to add plenty of new things to make it considerably different from Ruby and Sapphire, from design, to new add ons. These additions are covered in later paragraphs.
The gameplay is rather simple and easy to catch on – you first have to rescue the Professor at your hometown, Littleroot Town, from a Zigzagoon chasing him, which was a Poochyena in Ruby and Sapphire. You have to pick one of three Pokemon – Treecko, a grass-type gecko-like Pokemon; Torchic, a fire-type chick-like Pokemon; or Mudkip, a water-type mud fish-like Pokemon; to defeat the Zigzagoon in battle. After that, Birch lets you keep the Pokemon as a thanks. You then can journey to battle your rival, who is rather friendly compared to the previous rivals of the Pokemon games. He/she, depending on the gender you picked for yourself, will have the Pokemon with the type advantage over yours. But since neighter Pokemon know attacks of their own type, it isn’t too hard. Then you can get PokeBalls, and you can catch more Pokemon, and challenge Gym Leaders, who will give you badges if you beat them, your rival, many other trainers, and finally, the Elite 4, a group of 5 trainers who all train high level Pokemon. When you beat them, you and the Pokemon in your team get put in the hall of fame.
The design, while still similar to Ruby and Sapphire, has managed to improve. The overworld manages to look better than it was in Ruby and Sapphire, as it looks more like a cross between R/S and Fire Red/Leaf Green. The design of the bag, where you store items to help you in the game, has improved from R/S, and looks more like FR/LG, with the exception of the fact that there’s a specific bag for berries like it was in R/S, while berries were stored in a Berry Pouch in FR/LG. However, Emerald keeps the fact that you can see miniature images of the object you’re checking from FR/LG. In a battle, the text changed, and more notably, the Pokemon in battle now have animations seen when they are first seen in a battle. However, the animations vary in quality, as there are only two different sprites in reality for the animations: the rest of the animation is just modified from one of those two sprites. Some of these manage to go rather well, such as Ditto or Minun; in the case of Minun, it actually looks like it’s saying it’s cry. Some, like Combusken, are rather bad, since Combusken suddenly moves it’s head by a lot in it’s animation, so it can’t go too well with only two sprites. But if you can’t stand the animations, don’t worry. You can simply switch Battle Scene in the options menu from “ON” to “OFF,” and you won’t see the animations in battle.
There are plenty of 100% new additions to Emerald that weren’t in R/S at all. One of them is the fact you can get many Pokemon from Johto that were originally only obtainable in the GBA era by breeding Colosseum/XD Pokemon. Most of those are obtainable in a new Safari Zone section unlocked after beating the Elite 4, but you can also find a Sudowoodo you need to use the Wailmer Pail on to battle(much similar to how you needed to use a Squirtbottle on Sudowoodo to battle it in G/S/C) and a Smeargle-infested cave, both at the Battle Frontier, which will be covered later in this paragraph. A notable addition is the Match Call added to your PokeNav, where you can call trainers you recorded in Match Call, including Gym Leaders. You can rechallenge Gym Leaders up to four extra times after beating the Elite 4, where the Gym Leaders will be training Kanto and Johto Pokemon. Often, trainers will suddenly call you, always normal ones. Another feature is the addition of the Battle Frontier, which replaces the Battle Tower of R/S. You can try different styles of battles, which will be recorded on your Frontier Pass, which you will get when you first go to the Frontier. You can also catch both Kyogre and Groudon, choose with Lati you want(Latias or Latios), and get both fossils(the Root Fossil, containing Lileep, and the Claw Fossil, contianing Anorith), the one you didn’t pick the first time at the desert now being findable in a Ditto-infested cave at the Fossil Maniac’s house. There are also more additions, but I think I’ve mentioned plenty.
There are several things from R/S gotten rid of in Emerald, but none of these are too big of a deal. One of these changes is a lack of certain Pokemon, as you can’t catch Surskit, Masquerain, Meditite, Medicham, Roselia, Zangoose, or Lunatone in these games, all of which where catchable in Ruby, Sapphire, or both. However, the problem is easily solved by trading. That is probably one of the most major removals, so in general, not much worthwile stuff from R/S is gone in Emerald.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and Pokemon Emerald is no exception. For example, Emerald can get kind of annoying with too much wild Pokemon of a specific type(I could compare Zubat with StarBucks – both are so common), and even though I could use repels to avoid them, I’m often trying to look for a rare Pokemon, like Snorunt. And also, a few of the gym puzzles are rather tedious, such as Tate and Liza’s – but it is at least less tedious than the R/S version, where it was very annoying. I can’t say Flannery’s is that enjoyable eighter, but I do find Winona’s and Juan’s puzzles kind of fun.
I would consider Emerald to be a decent improvement over R/S, and while it is fine if you do not want Emerald, I myself would recommend it.