Developer: Game Freak | Year: 2003 | List Price: ~$24.99 | Buy from Amazon
Pokémon Sapphire, released with Pokémon Ruby back in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance, was one of the first Pokémon games I played, after Pokémon FireRed. It was released to mainly positive reviews, but there are also many Pokémon fans who think that it was a misstep in the Pokémon series. Personally, I really like this installment. I really like the creativity that was put into the making of this game.
The gameplay follows the basic Pokémon formula. You are a young boy who has just moved to the Hoenn region, and you embark on a journey to become a Champion of the Pokémon League. But the atmosphere of this game, compared to previous games of the series, is much more relaxed and natural. There is a lot of emphasis on how weather and the environment affect and are affected by people and Pokémon. This, in my opinion, was a great idea. The weather system was added, berries were greatly improved, and the world has many varied biomes. There are also many water maps, though this I didn’t like as much, as they are more tedious to cross.
The Pokémon themselves are also of a very nature-influenced design. For example, Castform changes form according to the weather, and Kecleon blends in to suit its environment. Team Aqua and Magma and their interweaving storylines was interesting too. But what made fans excited was the new battle mechanics. Abilites and Natures make each Pokémon more unique and give players an incentive to catch more Pokémon to get a good Nature. The simpler Stat. Exp. system of previous games was replaced with Effort Values, which force you to plan in advance how you allocate stats.
Here’s a summary:
Design: 9/10 The natural and relaxed atmosphere of this game is really nice. The Pokémon are also very unique compared to the previous games, if a little strange.
Graphics: 6/10 This game is almost 10 years old, and graphics are definitely not nice by today’s standards. The game has aged relatively well, though, and even today’s kids will not be turned off by the look of the game, and the graphics don’t really take away from the game. But compared to LeafGreen, FireRed, and Emerald, it is clear many things could have been different.
Sound: 8/10 The music in this game is very original and some of the tracks are nice and relaxing to suit the visuals. But many tracks are harsh and brass is quite overused, which often seems strange considering the calm wild you are in.
Gameplay: 9/10 The new elements that make each Pokémon unique are really great, and the battles are streamlined and quick, at least compared to Generation IV games.
Replayability: 7/10 There is lots to explore, but there isn’t really much of a postgame, and the routes can be a bit repetitive, especially the water routes. There is still over 30 hours of gameplay, however.
Total: 39/50 (B)
List Price: ~$24.99 | Buy from Amazon
Have you played Pokemon Ruby or Sapphire? How did you like it? Also, have you tried the new 3DS remakes, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire? Tell us in the comments!