Pokémon Ruby Version, Game Boy Advance

Pokémon Ruby Version – released the same time as Pokémon Sapphire Version – was developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo in 2002 in Japan and 2003 everywhere else. It is known as a ‘third generation’ Pokémon game.

Pokémon games are essentially an amalgamation of the quintessential Japanese adventure/RPG – with turn-based combat and random encounters – and the concept of nurturing virtual creatures (like Tamagotchi and Little Computer People). It’s the level-grinding aspects of the Pokémon games that appeal to me, and I also ‘get’ the collecting side of things too.

With that in mind, I have to say that Pokémon Ruby is what I would describe as “crack cocaine for children“, in that: it is obviously designed for kids to play, but it also has some seriously addictive qualities too. Maybe too addictive…

I played this game exclusively for three weeks solid recently, and – while I enjoyed it – I constantly felt like I should be playing something “better”, but I couldn’t put it down… I got a bee in my bonnet about farming seeds and found myself wasting hours collecting and growing plants… Until I finally had that fabled Gold Pokéblock… In the process I managed to collect about three quarters of all the available Pokémon, complete the game, then re-play it in New Game Plus mode, but I eventually realised that you can’t get all the Pokémon unless you trade with others, so I gave up…

So what’s different between Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire? Well, each title has its own exclusive Pokémon, locations, items and quests, although they do share the same game world – a place called Hoenn. In general, though, you’d be hard pushed to find any differences between them, and you’d be madder to buy both (unless you’re a mad Pokémon collector), but they were made so siblings could play both, and even collaborate on trades. The subtle differences between Ruby and Sapphire, and the trading side of the game, are just one of the reasons why – combined – they sold 16 million physical cartridges worldwide. If you want to collect ALL the Pokémon, you’re going to have to find a friend with Sapphire and do some trading…

Pokémon on the GBA is a wonderful thing. Graphically and musically the game is lovely, with lots of character and charm. There are plenty of nice touches in the game, like the footprints in the sand; the underwater sections; the Pokemon contests, and the music is great too (I particularly like the tune for Petalburg City). The presentation throughout is second to none.

If I had any complaints: the AI of opponents is a bit dumb (they often try to play useless moves, which give you an advantage); there are a few seemingly useless moves that your Pokémon learn (like “ROAR”); and it does take a serious investment of time to get anywhere near filling your Pokédex, but these niggles are slight when you consider the quality of the game overall.

A Game Boy Advance classic and the joint biggest-selling title on the system!

More: Pokémon Ruby Version on Wikipedia

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