Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Hands-On Preview
Andrew Barker Andrew Barker



Game Freak

Traditional RPG


US 11/21/2014
Japan 11/21/2014
Europe 11/28/2014

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I can show you the world.
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Shining, shimmering, splendid.
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A whole new world!
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Don't you dare close your eyes.
"The best part of these adventures? Beating missions grants you items to send over to the full game once it's released."

Editor's Note: To learn even more about the new features found in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, head over to a slightly older editorial here.

Another year, another Pokémon. Built on the impressive new framework of the X & Y engine, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire bring us back to Generation III's Hoenn, revitalised for a new system. I'm not certain why Nintendo made getting your hands on the demo so difficult, but it took me quite some time to track down these elusive codes in Australia. I was finally successful, though, so today I bring you impressions of what it has on offer.

The ORAS demo is a rather unique beast. At first glance, it appears to about a half-hour adventure where you team up with Hoenn Region Champion Steven Stone to take down some members of Team Aqua and Magma before locating a brand new Mega Pokémon (Mega Steelix in Japan, Mega Glalie everywhere else). In reality, it's a near never-ending series of mini-adventures around a dozen or so of Hoenn's islands. Each time you play the demo, Steven has another new task for you (though the locations visited start to repeat). They only take about 10 minutes each, but have you searching for missing kids, tracking down lost Pokémon, or battling trainers.

The best part of these adventures? Beating missions grants you items to send over to the full game once it's released. After clearing the demo for the first time, you earn the right to transfer Mega Glalie (or Steelix) over too. While you do get to play around with full-evolved versions of all three starter Pokémon (Blaziken, Sceptile, Swampert) and their mega-evolutions, they can't be transferred, nor can you actually catch any creatures in the demo. The items you win are quite ordinary: poké balls, heart scales, and nuggets, but provide just enough motivation to jump in to a new adventure each time.

So what can you learn about Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire from the demo? Tons! Anyone who has played X & Y will immediately be familiar with the look and layout of the game's world and interface. Battles take place in the same 3D arenas and maintain the beautiful attack animations. Unfortunately, there's still some framerate slowdown when the 3D is turned on. Out of battles, the graphics are of the same quality as X & Y; no better, no worse. And there's no walking grid! You can walk around in any direction you please.

The menus are still contained to the bottom screen, though during the demo I had a fairly limited selection of options: only my Pokémon team, bag, and an interesting new feature called BuzzNav. It was a mix of tutorial and radio show where text would scroll by with tips or information about happenings in Hoenn. The words moved a bit fast to take notice of during adventuring, but it was an immersive addition to the game.

The demo is set in Mossdeep City, a town from the full game. It's missing features, though, as a different set of NPCs inhabit it and no houses can be entered. It functions as a hub for the demo, but provides a taste at what's to come: the space centre and rocket, new marsh-like trees in the south, and leaders Eliza and Tate blocking the gym's entrance. When leaving on an adventure with Steven, you can even experience soaring through the sky above Hoenn; an exciting preview of a feature new to Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.

All in all, the demo is a bit of fun and more like a mini-game than an actual preview of Omega & Alpha. If you've missed out on a code, no doubt Nintendo will eventually release it to the eStore, so you'll be able to grab your Mega Glalie/Steelix then. As always, if you've never liked Pokémon, then Omega & Alpha are unlikely to change your mind. But if you're already pumped for their release, then you'll be pleased to hear it should be another great entry in the series.

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