Turn that sound back on, folks

The soundtrack from the original games contained the cheesy 16-bit beep-boop kind of tunes you’d expect. These versions contain many of the same melodic themes, but with multiple tracks that do a remarkable job of balancing synthetic and real-life instrument sounds. They’re complex, delicate … and actually enjoyable.

If you have kids, you might actually ask them to leave the volume on while they play in the car. Regardless, you’re going to find yourself humming the cheerful bicycling theme in the shower.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby

Above: Mudkip makes a repeat appearance in AS/OR on an early trainer.

Image Credit: Nintendo

What you won’t like

Not enough hand-holding for new players

While this remake offers new content for experienced players, it doesn’t always do a great job of explaining them to first-timers. I tripped over an Alakazite Mega Stone, which gives the player the chance to mega-evolve their Alakazam Pokémon (a magician-fox with spoons) — giving it much more power.

When Pokémon X and Y introduced Mega Stones, a whole section of the game helped players learn their functions, rather like the way Primal forms are here. That explanation is missing in this remake, so other than an optional bit of instruction, you’ve got know way to know what you’ll get if you’re wandering across some of these things for the first time.

New players who have never experienced the franchise before might have to suss out how to do the basics (such as catching a new Pokémon).

Exp. Share and simpler trainers make things a little too easy

Players looking for the harder play from the original Sapphire and Ruby won’t find it in Alpha/Omega. The Exp. Share device, which you have from the start, shares experience between all of the Pokémon on your team, not just the one holding the item. That makes it so much easier to level up your little friends.

Combine that with easier gym leaders — their teams have lower levels and are missing some Pokémon they used to have — and you’ll sprint through lower levels. It’s still harder than X/Y, but everything is harder than X/Y.

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby

Above: Kyogre, the lead Pokémon for Alpha Sapphire, gets a Primal upgrade.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Headliner Pokémon may be a bit too overpowered in competitive play

Nintendo requested that we not reveal the game-changing mechanics of the previously confirmed Primal Evolutions for the two “cover” Pokémon of the two versions, or how you get them. But it’s not a spoiler to say that these two become superpowerful as a result of their new forms.

I suspect that it’ll be great news for competitive Pokémon players, if you’re playing with the fully evolved rocky T-rex-like Groudon from Omega Ruby or winged-shark-like Kyogre from Alpha Sapphire on your team. Your opponents may not be so happy.

Conclusion

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are worthy updates of classic games from the Pokemon pet battle series. They add modern graphics and sound, the gameplay updates of the previous few installments, and the new evolutions without ruining the nostalgia of the original Sapphire and Ruby titles.

If you played the original games, you’ll definitely want the updates. If you’re new to the series, it might be worthwhile to start with an earlier installment (like Pokémon X/Y) that includes more instruction. And if you didn’t play the originals but have been playing more recent Pokémons, dive in.

Score: 80/100

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are available Nov. 21 for the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo provided GamesBeat with download codes for both versions for this review.

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