I forgot Tropius can fly
Do you have your code for the special demo of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire?
There are a handful of ways to acquire one before the games’ full release on November 21. Those who missed getting a code via email should consider buying Pokémon Puzzle Challenge from the 3DS eShop next month. That Tetris Attack-esque game is wonderful. This demo is okay.
Before sharing my impressions, I have to comment on how weird it feels to play a demo of Pokémon. Perhaps today’s kids will feel differently (do they feel anything at all?), but as someone whose childhood was so closely tied to these games and the merchandise — every school recess was nothing but Charizard this, Mewtwo that — it’s unusual to me. Hard to shake off.
The demo is centered around Mossdeep City and various islands in Hoenn, which you’ll visit in short (and I do mean short) one-off adventures. Team Magma and Team Aqua are both after a Mega-Evolving Pokémon (Steelix in Japan; Glalie everywhere else, darn it!) that you can catch and transfer to your full version of Ruby or Sapphire after a few battles with grunts.
Hoenn champion and “stunning male specimen” Steven Stone acts as a guide of sorts. He’ll offer one starter (Grovyle, Combusken, or Marshtomp) before eventually handing the other two over, and they’re all conveniently leveled to let you see their Mega Evolutions in action. I preferred Swampert in the Game Boy Advance days but with Sceptile’s cool new form, I’ve changed sides.
Running around Mossdeep is neat but, with this being a demo, the locale is barren. Houses are locked. The Pokémon Center is blocked. The twin gym leaders will speak to you but are unwilling to fight. Not that any of this is unexpected, mind you. It is nice to see the city in 3D.
The demo’s battles take place away from the town and your initial playthough culminates in a two-on-two bout between you and Steven and an admin for both Team Aqua and Team Magma. Steven whips out a shiny Metagross and Mega Evolves it into a multi-armed beast, the showoff.
After showing the duo what’s what, you’ll have an opportunity to catch either a Glalie or Steelix with a regular-ass Poké Ball. But don’t worry like I initially did — the catch rate seems to be in our favor. Then, with your prize Pokémon claimed, the demo ends. A video montage plays (I forgot Pikachu can wear clothes in these remakes!) and you’re given a nice thank-you message.
From there, you can start again and Steven will fly you to a miscellaneous island to battle some junior campers, or find a Whismur hiding behind a palm tree, or perform some other related task with a slight variation. Each of these objectives is treated as another playthrough, and if you do enough of them you’ll earn rewards that can be transferred out of the demo.
I’m unsure if there’s a hard limit, but Steven stops counting playthroughs after a while. Get to 10 if you must earn Heart Scales. I’d encourage playing a few times at most otherwise. It’s tiresome seeing the same flying cutscenes, and you’re always kicked back to the start menu after completion. The demo gets the job done, in other words, but it’s not exactly elegant. I’m still looking forward to the new free-flight Soar mode and Mega Evolutions for Beedrill and Pidgeot. (So good!)
For more on the Ruby and Sapphire remakes, give Steven Hansen’s preview from last week a look. He made me laugh. Might make you laugh, too. He was right about sneaking, by the way.