Originally, I was going to include Pokémon Emerald in my Ruby and Sapphire video seeing as how all three takes place within Hoenn. However, noticing all the changes Emerald brought to the table, I gave it its own mini-review detailing the changes it brought to the table and why this game is so well received by fans of the franchise. Heck, it’s in my top ten Pokémon games.
The story of Pokémon Emerald is about the same as its Ruby and Sapphire counterparts except, with a twist, Team Magma’s and Team Aqua’s narratives are merged into one storyline here. Previously, Team Magma (Ruby) wanted to awaken the legendary Groudon to use its power to create more landmass for the development of humans while Team Aqua (Sapphire) wanted to use Kyogre to flood the world and create an environment fit for Pokémon. Both stories, in my opinion, were lame and few changes are found here as both get what they want over the course of the narrative only to reawaken the legendary Rayquaza who puts a stop to their evil deeds.
For a Pokémon story, I think it’s one of the worst but fortunately, it’s inoffensive and doesn’t distract from what I believe the core components of Pokémon is: adventure, training, trading, and battling which are all here. There are new characters as well such as Scout who we’ll get to later.
As far as core gameplay goes, Emerald doesn’t change much. Battles are still six on six, turn-based with a rock-paper-scissors flavor. What’s new within the battle system are the animated sprites upon entering a battle. It’s not a big thing now thanks to the current games being full 3D, but it was huge at the time.
Instead, Emerald focuses on features found within the overworld. Taking a page from Colosseum, there are more double battles! Because of this, most of the gym leader’s gyms were revamped for double battles if players choose to challenge them. And speaking of gym leaders, all their teams got an upgrade! While some have swapped out Pokémon for entirely new ones, others have elevated levels invoking an even greater challenge for players. And this change doesn’t effect the gym leaders, but the Elite Four too.
Also, gym leaders can now be rematched with an even greater team in the post-game!
But all these changes pale compared to the biggest addition Emerald brought to the table… the Battle Frontier. Throughout the journey, an individual named Scout would appear many times, ultimately inviting the player to confront the Battle Frontier. It turns out he owns the facility and wants to test the player’s skills.
The Battle Frontier can only be accessed in the post-game and it boasts seven different and unique battle facilities, each led by a Frontier Brain who is only challengeable after a winning streak in each of the respective facilities. Winning streaks are everything in the Battle Frontier and will be the only way to move forward and the only way to get a streak is to knock out every opponent confronted without a break.
Some facilities allow you to rent Pokémon, transversal through seven rooms, challenging trainers and encountering wild Pokémon along the way and others aren’t so complex and only requires the trainer to face every trainer the game throws out them.
Keep in mind, no legendaries (like Groudon or Rayquaza) or Mythicals (like Mew and Jirachi) can be used in any of these facilities, assuring that each challenge is fair for the player.
Truthfully, this mode, while fun in short bursts, can be tedious. Along with the fact that players will be required to know their IVs and EVs (which I don’t want to get into as I’m not much of a fan of meta Pokémon) which was much tougher back in the GBA days. Using the team, you, the player, had since the beginning of the game will not be enough and you may have to discard them if you’re willing to take on the Battle Frontier. Later games get better with this situation, but unfortunately, those newer games no longer have robust facilities like the few found in the post-3DS era of games.
I suppose that’s a story for another day.
Pokémon Emerald is a great addition to the lineup of Pokémon games and I really enjoy my time with it whenever I get the chance to boot up a new game. Like I said before, Hoenn is my favorite region in all of Pokémon so seeing the revamped changes within the map of the world gives me joy.
Thank you for reading.