I'll admit, I really got into POKEMON RED/BLUE back in the day. I had collected all 151 Pokemon, and was pretty damn happy with myself for doing it. Troy handled the coverage of POKEMON GOLD/SILVER and I never really played either of those games. Now, with midterms freshly over, Nintendo has dropped the new installments of the franchise on my desk, and I'm hooked.
If you've been living under a rock for the past 4-5 years, you might not be familiar with Pokemon. In this world, trainers travel around catching and battling wild animals called Pokemon. You can carry up to six at a time, and store as many as you want. There are now around 350 documented species of Pokemon in the world.
POKEMON RUBY/SAPPHIRE has incredible depth for a Game Boy Advance title. You have to capture, train, evolve, travel, and collect. It's sickening the amount of time and dedication it requires to travel from city to city collecting Gym Badges. Starting the game with a blank Pokedex (an encyclopedia that tracks the Pokemon you have) is more than overwhelming.
Beyond just making gamers start over in a new story, with 100 new Pokemon, Nintendo has made some new additions to the tried and true gameplay. First thing is the two-on-two battles. These allow you to send out two Pokemon at a time vs. two other Pokemon. It's a bit weird, and mainly just makes the game play more like another RPG. There are other new additions such as the berries that a Pokemon can hold.
As a whole the entire gameplay has been greatly expanded, again. I seriously felt overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to start, where to go, what to do. Trying to catch and evolve 350 Pokemon is not an easy task, and definitely not one for the ones uneasy about dropping weeks of their life into a game.
If you like RPGs, or the older Pokemon games, this is only the next logical step. Expect to put a ton of time into it though. This is one of the longest games I've played in a while, especially if you are one of those completionists who must do everything, or in this case, must catch them all.
The graphics in the game are greatly improved to take advantage of the Game Boy Advance hardware. Besides much more color and cooler animation during the battles, the overworld graphics are much more detailed. One of my favorite new effects is when you can see your character's reflection in a body of water. Very very cool.
The music has been redone for the GBA hardware as well. I haven't tried the game out with a set of headphones (I've been playing exclusively on my Game Boy Advance SP) so I can't comment on how it sounds through headphones. But the music and sound is pretty good coming through the GBASP's sole speaker. It's the best mix of it yet.
With the game's ability to trade and battle with friends, plus incredible amount of Pokemon to capture and train, you won't be putting these two down anytime soon.