30 November 2014
Reviewed by Emma Salmon
There cannot be many people who have not heard of Pokemon – the hugely successful Japanese world of ‘Pocket Monsters’ created in 1996 by Satoshi Tajiri who pioneered the innovative concept of linking handheld gaming consoles to make an electronic version of trading cards. This lead to a partnership with Nintendo and off shoots into manga, anime, cards and merchandising.
Today we saw the UK launch of the latest in a long line of Pokemon games – Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, complete with special edition Nintendo 3DS and 2DS consoles. The new games have been thoroughly reworked from the original 3rd generation Ruby and Sapphire, with updated graphics and landscapes, but the main premise of play remains the same – capture, train and battle, and fight evil forces! There have been some extra features added to this game, the second to be available in 3D – mega evolutions on some Pokemon, and Primal Reversion of the two legendary Pokemon who form the heart of each story, as well as secret areas, cosplay and customisable features for inplay characters.
Alpha Sapphire features Team Aqua, who are battling to create more sea, while Team Magma are fighting to create more land in Omega Ruby, both invoking their legendary Pokemon to help – it is a thought provoking concept that the gameplay makes you question who the ‘good guys’ are, depending upon which game you play and the perspective of good and evil changes from each other’s viewpoint.
To celebrate the launch we joined a throng of excitable children and twenty something’s to have our photo taken with a very bouncy Pikachu, and to make some fantastic Pokemon inspired Christmas baubles. We were encouraged to decorate a card with a message of love and kindness and hang it from the Hoenn friendship tree, to help pass peace and love across the land – a message which is very much at the fore of Pokemon Storylines.
Two other rooms were set up for our use – one with Pokemon trading card boards, where challengers could take each other on, refereed by official Pokemon trainers, and the other containing several Nintendo consoles set up to allow the new games to be played, both of which seemed to be very popular, and which my son found easy to navigate and exciting to play – just the right balance of simplicity and challenge.
We then had the opportunity to watch the latest anime movie featuring the X,Y Pokemon – Diancie and the Cocoon of destruction – which continued the adventures of Ash, Pikachu and friends journeying on a quest to assist the Jewel Pokemon Princess Diancie find the Life Pokemon, Xerneas, who helps her discover her inner power and to use it to save her people. Along the way they have to battle jewel thieves and Team Rocket amongst others, and there is a showdown when the Cocoon of Destruction is disturbed and power of Yveltal is released. The animation was fantastic, with scenery based on location shots from various sites in Canada, and the storyline as fast paced as you would expect from Pokemon. If you are a fan of Pokemon then this is well worth checking out when it has its UK debut on CITV.