Pokemon ORAS Review: A Beautiful Love Letter To The Originals

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Searching Far and Wide

What really made this game for me were the special features. Pokemon ORAS took all the good things introduced in Pokemon X and Y, and either kept them the same as they were, or made them even better. For a game series notorious for getting rid of the best parts of each generation, I was truly pleased with how they handled the special features.

To start, PokemonAmie and Super Training return, completely unchanged from Pokemon X and Y. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t add more, but the systems were pretty good in the first place and it didn’t bother me that much. The day/night cycle and clock also make a comeback, though without as many hues and variations as Gen 4 saw. Weather effects appear on select routes at certain times and change up the battle scene, as well.

The touch screen has been appropriated by the PokeNav. If you recall, the PokeNav in the original games allowed you to check for trainer rematches, look at Contest stats, see where you had planted berries, and a few other useful things. In ORAS, the PokeNav becomes the most useful tool ever. You can watch TV programs (that, with Street Pass, will feature your friends and also give you useful tips!), check berries, Secret Bases, Pokemon locations, and rematch locations all across Hoenn, view the map, and best of all, use the Dex Nav to catch rare Pokemon.

It works like this: Occasionally, while traveling, you may see a rustling patch of grass, or a splash in the water. By lightly touching the control stick, you can sneak up on the Pokemon hidden there. The closer you get, the more information the DexNav will reveal–a silhouette, the Pokemon’s first move, its ability, its type, and any items it is holding. Such Pokemon found through the DexNav typically have something special about them. Sometimes it will be a special held item or a secret ability, or a move that Pokemon wouldn’t normally learn, or it might even be at a much higher level than the Pokemon around it. The DexNav also shows you all the Pokemon available in the area as you encounter them, overlayed on a map in original Ruby/Sapphire style. If you’ve seen the Pokemon, you will see a silhouette of it on the DexNav. Once you’ve caught it, its image will appear in full. You’ll get a marker letting you know when you’ve seen/caught all Pokemon available on that route. All in all, the DexNav was a fabulously fun addition that made filling up the PokeDex a blast.

Secret Bases are quite as fun as they looked in the previews. All the old furniture and dolls are back, and there’s new ones too, the further you progress. At first, the Secret Bases you find are small, but you can eventually discover hidden locales with enormous, cool spaces that you can deck out however you want. Though I had no experience with Street Pass or Online features, it looks really easy to share Secret Base information with others and fill up your base with cool traps, as well as add your friends’ bases to your game for you to visit. You can change the battle style around in your base, and add friends you encounter and their Pokemon teams, so that whoever adds your base to their game will be able to battle you and all your friends. It’s a fabulous feature and I really hope they’ll keep it around beyond ORAS.

Finally, what is in my opinion the best feature in the game: Soar.

To start, the developers may as well have just gotten rid of Fly entirely for all the use it is compared to Soar, though it’s nice to note you can now Fly to any Route or Location on your map, and not just towns. Soar isn’t available until later in the game, but when you get it, the whole world opens up. You can fly anywhere–routes, mountains, oceans, towns, diving down low or way up high just to see the sights. You can only fly on Latios/Latias, but you can summon him/her from anywhere on the map at any time, regardless of whether or not he/she is in your party.

Soaring lets you encounter flocks of flying Pokemon as you go, but from time to time you may run across Mirage Spots–dark zones on the map with hidden legendary Pokemon inside of them. The Mirage Spots are, like the old Mirage Island, never guaranteed to appear and seem to change from day to day, so it’s worth checking often. Soaring also opens up several hidden areas only accessible by using the ability, some of which contain rare Pokemon or Secret Base locations. Soaring was desperately needed for the Pokemon games, and it’s a load of fun.

The journey Continues…

Without giving away any specifics after the 8th gym (I’m not much farther past it myself–this is a really long game…in a good way!), this game gives every indication of having a fabulous endgame. From what I’ve seen so far and the recent reveals from Nintendo about the Delta Episode, the endgame promises to be stuffed full of rare Pokemon encounters, rematches, storyline, contests, and exploration. The storyline sets up a potential endgame perfectly. Birch gives you a tantalizing hint after beating Groudon/Kyogre that Hoenn’s environment and Pokemon may have changed, and I can’t wait to see what that entails. And even without that, just traveling through Hoenn casually reveals tons of places to Dive, Strength, Cut, and Surf your way into secrets. There’s several oceanic routes you never have to explore as part of the main storyline, secret areas in caves that are worth going back to with your bike/more HMs, and hidden locales on the map that I haven’t figured out how to get to yet.

Plus, NPCs in towns hint at more–there’s a hotel that hasn’t opened yet, and I keep hoping it will so it will host visitors from other regions like the hotels in X/Y. There’s a house with a door that remains locked, and an Old Man waits for it to open. The mysterious girl from the elevator in X/Y returns. While I can’t score on things I hope to find, the potential for secrets and exploration in this game remains pretty staggering. I remember the original games having tons of playtime after the Elite Four, and ORAS gives every indication of having even more.


Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire are beautiful love letters to the original games. Though they have a few flaws that keep them from being perfect games, those flaws are hardly noticeable in light of the beauty and excitement of your trip through Hoenn, and largely consist of “should’ve done ____ instead” rather than being true flaws. Whether you’re a series veteran who remembers the old games, a greener trainer who is playing them for the first time, or completely unfamiliar with Pokemon, Pokemon ORAS is a fabulous and fun installment in the series. It takes all the good that was established in X and Y, and completes it almost perfectly.

I feel confident in saying that these are some of the best titles Pokemon has come out with. Go get these games and play the heck out of them. Come Friday, I hope to see you all in Hoenn!

A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.