Pokemon. One of the biggest gaming franchises of all time. You would have trouble finding people who haven’t heard of it, or its lovable creatures, as there is a huge merchandising industry built on the back of this videogame series, as well as the equally big trading card franchise. This classic Nintendo series came around, as the legend goes, because creator Satoshi Tajiri was a huge fan of collecting bugs as a child, and when he saw the Game Boy link cable for the first time, he imagined bugs crawling from one handheld to the other, prompting him and artist Ken Sugimori to conceive arguably the greatest JRPG of all time, starting with Pokemon Red and Green in Japan (Green was named Blue everywhere else). Now enough of the background, time to talk about one of the games in the series, Pokemon Emerald.
This game is the third in a trilogy that had Ruby and Sapphire preceding it, together forming the third generation of Pokemon. It was the third best-selling title in the Gameboy Advance’s lifespan, beaten only by Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire in first and Pokemon LeafGreen/FireRed in second (seems Pokemon is a big deal…). What I loved about the third generation is the debut of double battles. These battles had a more strategic edge to them, requiring the player to choose which moves to use with deeper thought, for example using moves which attack both opponents as opposed to just one. This battle system was used a large number of times throughout the game, which is quite different to the triple battles of Pokemon Black/White (DS, 2010) which I feel where neglected hugely, appearing a couple of times only.
The storyline of the game is a little similar to other games in the series (evil team tries using legendary Pokemon to take over world, hero raises a team of Pokemon to stop them, while collecting Pokemon League badges and battling their rival along the way, beats evil team and subsequently the Pokemon League, the end), but it fits the game well. The game is well presented, and the graphical quality of the environments and the battles is superb, squeezing all it can from the GBA. The Pokemon introduced in Generation 3 include some of my favourite designs, such as Blaziken, Flygon (see above screenshot), Salamence and Rayquaza (the cover star of the game).
Blaziken- he’s a fire chicken. Your argument is invalid.
The multiplayer features of this game are also pretty darn cool; there’s no better way to test your skills as a Trainer than challenging a friend to a link battle, and you can’t legitimately fill the Pokedex without trading with a friend, showing Game Freak’s determination to get players to interact with one another.
The battle scene in this game and the other games of generation 3 are in full colour, which is hugely improved upon the games of the previous two generations which only had the Pokemon themselves in colour (Gold, Silver, Crystal, Yellow to an extent) or the entire game in black and white (Red, Blue). Admittedly, there’s not much of an addition, a basic platform for each Pokemon to stand on and a background made of coloured lines, but it is better than the older battle scenes. The attack animations are also improved from before, and the music is also of very high quality, adding to the largely happy atmosphere of the game.
The reason to buy this game over the previous two in the generation is firstly the slightly enhanced storyline (the power struggle between Team Aqua and Team Magma makes slightly more sense here), and the fact Rayquaza is the cover star- he is an amazing species to have in your team, and besides, he looks awesome! The best post-game content in the game is the Battle Frontier, a facility that allows you to pit your Pokemon against different challenges with a variety of rules to test your abilities. It is an expansion of the Battle Tower of Ruby and Sapphire, which was rather limited in its challenges.
Rayquaza- I don’t really know what he is, but he looks awesome anyway.
If you haven’t played this before, it is worthwhile picking it up, perhaps you can find it cheap on eBay or from a retailer. Have fun playing 🙂