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Pokemon Emerald Review - GBA

8
Gameplay: 9 stars 9
Graphics: 7 stars 7
Audio: 7 stars 7
Multiplayer: 6 stars 6
Innovation: 7 stars 7
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I knew as soon as I picked up this cartridge that I'd be hooked by the game, just as I was with Sapphire. I look back on the 28.5 hours I spent with that one with half shame and half pride. So yes, I hesitated before plugging this game into my newly recharged SP, and thought about all the time it would steal from my day. But damn it, GAME FREAK succeeded once again - I couldn't put the bloody title down.

Gameplay



You should understand how the Pokemon franchise works by now. In brief: you play as a 'Pokemon' trainer. Pokemon are critters of all shapes and sizes that inhabit the world of Hoenn. By catching and levelling them up in battles you'll gain their friendship, and also conveniently save the world from imminent destruction at the hands of some conniving evil gangs. It's nice how it all works out, isn't it?

Anyhow, you'll roam the Hoenn region, collecting all the little and not-so-little critters and locking them in your balls. Your Pokeballs. The creatures are found in long grass (or open water), and some are pretty rare. There is one Pokemon - Feebas - that is only found in eight squares in the game. For every tap of the d-pad, you move one square. That's right - only eight squares in the world have them, and even if you fish (it's a marine creature) in each tile of water, you're not guaranteed to see it - it appears rarely. You'll have to fish in each square multiple times. I managed to get one in Sapphire. Go me.

Okay, so I went off-topic a bit - but who can blame me? I mean, it seriously is a really hard Pokemon to...Sorry. Again. The staple of these RPGs has never been an intricate plot, but I was surprised this time around - even having played an equivalent game. You see, Emerald is to Ruby and Sapphire what Yellow was to Red and Blue, and Crystal was to Gold and Silver - the same game with slightly altered gameplay mechanics. In Ruby and Sapphire, you sided with one of the aforementioned conniving gangs - either Team Aqua or Team Magma. In Emerald, you team with neither group, and instead act as a third party and watch as they destroy the world. It's kind of neat.

So, what are these new features? Well, the Pokemon animations in battle return from Silver. They're neat, and give your critters a bit more personality. There's the odd trainer added, altered or moved, and the locations of some of the Pokemon have been changed too. More interestingly, there's the all new Battle Frontier. The Battle Frontier is a town full of puzzles and games, as well as some rare Pokemon like Sudowoodo and Smeargle. You'll gain access to it late in the game, but it offers lots of fun and some tough fights.

Like any RPG, you'll (read: your Pokemon ... (continued next page)