The new Pokémon games start how all Pokémon games start: You play as a boy or girl who begins collecting adorable monsters and training them to fight. But before you call PETA, you should know that in the world of Pokémon, this is all in good fun. Matches end when a Pokémon faints, and no one really gets hurt.
At a glance, it would seem that these games are strictly for kids. The primary reason for this, of course, is that they are for kids — or at least, that’s who they’re meant to appeal to. What you might not realize unless you look past the cartoonish veneer, however, is that Pokémon games are intricately designed experiences that are every bit as deep and complex as the latest Final Fantasy or Call of Duty. Pokémon is just more accessible.
This year’s dual installments are Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (aka ORAS). Instead of being entirely new installments, ORAS are remakes of Game Boy Advance games from 2003. That might sound like they’re intended to be a quick and easy cash-in to get new Pokémon titles on the market in time for Christmas, but really they’re not.
The games — which are nearly identical, aside from a few exclusive Pokémon and slightly different antagonists — have received a total graphical makeover and have gotten many much-needed updates to make the games fit into the modern Pokémon landscape.
You play as a boy or girl whose family has just moved to the Hoenn region of the Pokémon world, and you want to become a trainer. There doesn’t appear to be much else to do in the world of Pokémon, since Pokémon are all most people talk about, and about a third of the people you meet are also trainers.
Anyway, once you start your new hobby, you take off on a journey to explore the region, collecting all the Pokémon you can, training them to become powerful fighters, taking on gym leaders, and thwarting a criminal plot along the way. It’s all standard stuff for a Pokémon game, but no one really plays Pokémon for the story. You play it because it’s a blast.