Pokemon ORAS Special Demo Shows Off The Good/Bad


When I first heard that Pokemon ORAS would have its own demo, I was more than a bit confused. How exactly do you create a demo for a game based around raising and battling Pokemon? You can’t start from the beginning – raising Pokemon would take too long. Focusing on story elements would be spoiler city, which young fans would hate. However, The Pokemon Company has found a nice balance that re-introduces players to the world of Pokemon through a sampler of bite-sized quests. From my time with the demo, it’s clear that Game Freak has made some strong improvements to the new game since X and Y… with a couple of notable exceptions.

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The first and most noticeable improvement is to the out-of-battle graphics. While Pokemon ORAS are clearly built on the same game engine X and Y were, character animations are noticeably smoother and better-looking. During cutscenes, the camera also pans around in interesting ways, adding more flair to the normally static conversations you’re accustomed to seeing in Pokemon. The anime-style character portraits for opponent trainers also look incredibly sharp and detailed. Both of those are nice improvements, but what capped it off was the view of the world: in between quests, you’re able to fly high above the islands of Hoenn. Seeing the area in full 3D without any of the framerate issues that plagued X and Y was incredibly exciting, and the area looks beautiful. The music also sounds wonderful, though it’s clearly using the same soundfonts as X and Y did.

Playing the special demo is also worth it for the special gear you get. After completing the first quest, you’re able to catch a Glalie, which is equipped with a Mega Stone. This Glalie can be transferred over to Pokemon ORAS when players buy the full version, which is a big plus for collectors and battlers alike. The more quests players take part in, the more rewards they receive as well. After three quests, the player is given Poke Balls for use in the main adventure, and at five quests Heal Balls. After five quests the adventures you can go on loop, but finishing more quests opens up new NPCs to talk to in Mossdeep City. They don’t tell you anything important or give you items, but if you’re into Pokemon lore you’ll find something to enjoy there.

Pokemon look great in battles – unless the 3D is on.

Everything about this demo has me excited for Pokemon ORAS to come out… except the battling. Battles are the same as they always are – elemental weaknesses and strengths come into play, and trainers battle it out the way they always have. That’s fine! Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken right? But players who played X and Y will remember there was one part of battling that was broken beyond repair – 3D implementation. Trying to battle with your 3DS’ 3D features turned on is literally painful on the eyes. Framerates regularly drop into the low double and even single digits.

…No matter which way you like to enjoy your game, Pokemon ORAS has improved upon it. Just don’t turn on the 3D.

For the sake of this preview I attempted to bear with it for as long as I could, but I had to switch it off before the end of the first battle. I understand that the character models of these Pokemon are incredibly detailed and that’s great. But if the game can’t run 3D properly in battles, why even make it a feature? Given how poorly the game held up during 3D battles I can’t see anyone leaving the 3D functionality on for any period of time, which is a shame because other 3D events looked great. Enabling 3D as a feature in battles will cause people to miss other great 3D moments – if it can’t be fixed, it should be scrapped.

Overall, it’s great to see the Hoenn region revamped. The game looks beautiful, and has that signature Pokemon feel. The end credits also allude to some great new features, including Secret Bases and Pokemon costumes (likely for Contests) – so no matter which way you like to enjoy your game, Pokemon ORAS has improved upon it. Just don’t turn on the 3D.

Still looking for a way to get your hands on the special demo? Head over to Nintendo’s official website to find out how!

(A demo of the game was provided to GameSided, and was not contingent on providing a preview.)

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