Pokémon Emerald - Preview

Pokémon Emerald
Developer: Game Freak, Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB: Everyone
Release Date: 05.01.2005
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Shades of Emerald

The third game in the Ruby/Sapphire series, Pokémon Emerald is what Pokémon Yellow was to Red and Blue or what Crystal was to Gold and Silver. By combining the stories of Team Magma and Team Aqua developed in Ruby and Sapphire, Nintendo has created one game wherein the same male and female trainers introduced in Ruby and Sapphire track down Team Magma and Team Aqua in an attempt to foil their plans. Sporting a few new types of challenges for players to grapple with, Emerald promises to deliver more of the customizing, upgrading, collecting, and battling of Pokémon that fans of the franchise have come to expect.

For those unfamiliar with the Pokémon franchise, Emerald can function as an introduction, as it combines elements of Emerald’s predecessors and adds new ones to satisfy fans as well. The general style of gameplay in Emerald is the same as that of previous games; trainers go out on a quest to collect Pokémon, become the greatest trainers in the world, and stop evildoers in the process. This process inevitably involves the battling of Pokémon, either wild ones, which can be caught, or the Pokémon that other trainers fight the player’s with. In battles, the player selects the Pokémon that will fight, and chooses attacks in a traditional turn-based system.

The game’s combat is largely focused on attacking enemy Pokémon with attacks of an element type that the enemy is weak against. As your Pokémon earn experience, they become stronger, and the ultimate goal is to beat all of the world’s premier Pokémon trainers and become a champion. The process to improving your Pokémon isn’t just about following a simple "level-up to get stronger" formula, however; Pokémon can be bred to produce offspring with specific characteristics, choices will have to be made in terms of choosing which moves you want your Pokémon to learn, and the game’s real-time clock tracks the passage of day and night and has effects on many aspects of gameplay.

"...Emerald offers a few notable improvements on and additions to its predecessors."

More specifically, Emerald offers a few notable improvements and additions to its predecessors. First, the game supports the Wireless GBA Adapter. Pokémon can now be battled or traded wirelessly. Second, new challenges have been created for masters of Ruby and Sapphire. One of these, the "Battle Dome," allows players to only bring three Pokémon to a lengthy tournament-style competition. Six other different types of competitions await enterprising Pokémon trainers. The most significant change, however, lies in a fundamental change in Emerald’s combat system. Now, two trainers can attack simultaneously; NPC opponents can call out to other trainers for assistance in fighting the player.

Graphically, Pokémon Emerald appears to resemble Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire at first glance. While a few alterations have been made to status screens and menu layouts, for the most part, everything else from the color scheme to the battle screen should seem extremely familiar to those who have played the previous games on the GBA. Nintendo has decided to bring back battle animations like those found in Pokémon Crystal. Before each battle, Pokémon will briefly show off their moves rather than simply appearing on screen.

Traditionally rare or "legendary" Pokémon from earlier games can be caught in Emerald. In Emerald, players will have the chance to catch both Kyogre and Groudon, monsters that were once unique to either Ruby or Sapphire. Additionally, Jirachi, Latios (or Latias, you’ll have to make a choice), and Rayquaza will all be available in Emerald. As an added bonus, Nintendo has stated that they will periodically hold events that allow for players to have a chance to obtain other rare Pokémon.

Pokémon Emerald will be compatible with Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen, and even the GameCube’s Pokémon Colosseum. As a synthesis of the elements of its predecessors, Emerald might just create a new batch of trainers out of players who have never played any Pokémon game before. We’ll know for sure on May 1, when Pokémon Emerald reaches American shores.

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