Retro Review – Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

Retro Review – Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

Gems worth revisiting.

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are right around the corner and November 21st couldn’t come sooner. Before we dive into what will be the third remake in the Pokemon franchise, we decided to go back a decade and get the good ol’ Game Boy Advance out and strap ourselves into the original games Ruby and Sapphire, to see if the eleven year old classic stand the test of time. So, without further ado, here is our latest retro review!

The story follows a young child (you) who, in like previous games, wanted to be the very best Pokemon trainer in the world by becoming the league champion. What’s great about the story in Ruby/Sapphire is all the different elements it puts in place to change the old rinse and repeat story from the previous games. For one, you actually have a father (strange, I know), who is a Gym Leader who you get to battle, a new team of Pokemon Crime Lords who try to destroy the world with powerful ancient Pokemon, and you have two rivals who try and push you to your limits by encouraging you to go forward instead of being snotty kids who think they are the best.


With all these new pieces added to what was previously a bland story, now you have concrete goals to achieve. You want to surpass your rivals, you want to conquer the new threat and you want to become the champion. You aren’t just told all these things, they groom you into wanting to be the character you become by the end of the game, giving you a sense of achievement that wasn’t there before in previous Pokemon games. It’s something I still find it lacking in the newer Gens,  and what’s even better is the more mature theme behind the whole story.

Now I am not saying Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire is a M rated game, but it does feel a little more grown up in terms of the whole plot behind the game. This isn’t your regular Team Rocket grunts with their army of Zubats trying to kidnap your Pokemon, it’s a cult group of socialists who are trying to summoning a rageful Pokemon to destroy the land or sea (in their respective games) in order to bring about “peace”. As a kid, this was what I wanted in a Pokemon game, a darker tone to what is usually a colourful world where nothing goes wrong.

Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire doesn’t take away from the basic elements that make up a Pokemon game, but what they did is upgrade the initial base of those elements as well as add many new features to the 3rd Generation games. With things like weather effects that can change the statuses of the battles or the new HM Dive to discover deep underwater caverns, they made the new experience of Pokemon feel more alive and vibrant. The only downfall to the exploration in Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire is all the surfing involved in the game. Having all the cities converted into small islands instead of one big landmass makes getting around a bit tedious and with a whole lot of back in forth to do, it becomes even more irritating as you progress further.



The new 134 Pokemon are by far the coolest batch of Pokemon to have ever been created. They look more evolved and primal in their design making it look like a progression in the series, only later to be regressed in the latest game X/Y where the Pokemon look more kid-friendly. I know that the games aren’t supposed to be catering to my age group, but it was just a relief, even as a kid to see that next step in the series.

The only thing that bugged me with the vast new roster was how many legendary Pokemon are in the game. It was okay for this game, but it started a trend of having 10+ legendaries for every new Pokemon game announced, which makes all legendary Pokemon feel more like regular Pokemon. Don’t get me wrong, I like Kyogre and Groudon, but the addition of Jirachi and Deoxys were unnecessary as a story standpoint as well as for originality’s sake.

The upgrade in presentation is seen right off the bat as the power of the new GBA shows off an updated display of colourful graphics and enhanced visuals. Again, without parting ways with the original Pokemon game settings, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire takes the traditional construct of the game and makes it its own. The overworld and the battle scenes are the most reworked areas in the game and the new Pokemon models look amazing as they are practically carried over from game to game until the DS with the Black/White versions.

We obviously know the impact of these games in the gaming community, as they seem to become even more popular with each iteration selling over the 10+million mark. Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire was the series to sell the least compared to its counterparts in the franchise at 15.85 million. Compared to the Gold/Silver versions that sold 23.10 million you’d suspect a drop off in interest for the game series, but what is even funnier is that when talking to any die-hard Pokemon enthusiast they will say that Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire is comparatively one of the better games in the series.

The game rightfully deserves its long awaited remake in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS, and I for one can’t wait for it to be released later this month. To be able to revisit a world like Hoenn again in full 3D will be a treat to anyone who is a fan of the series as well as newcomers who started with X/Y. With all the innovations that the original Ruby/Sapphire brought before, it will be fun to see how they integrate those ideas while blending the updated overall aesthetic that the newer game has planned.

Without venturing far out of the original Pokemon build, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire brought a completely new look to the famed franchise. Its new game mechanics and cool batch of Pokemon certainly make this one legendary game for Pokemon enthusiasts to get their hands on while we wait for the remake to reinvigorate our Ruby/Sapphire needs. This duo of games stand the test of time as one of the most renowned gems in the Pokemon franchise.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8.8

Presentation: 9.1

Value: 9.1

Overall Score

*Overall score is not an average.