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Pokemon Emerald – Game Boy Advance

Pokemon Emerald – Game Boy Advance

GBA - Pokemon EmeraldPlatform: Game Boy Advance

Release Date (NA): May 1st, 2005 

Developer: Game Freak

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Role-Playing

Nerd Rating:  6.5 out of 10

I figured this day would come eventually… It must happen in every game reviewer’s life, the day they review the game that they’ve put the most hours in, the game they’ve played every day for years in just about every way. Yeah, it’s happened. This is Doc Croc’s favorite game (by default).

The Pokemon Emerald poster that’s been on the wall of whatever room I’ve lived in since I bought the strategy guide.

I’m definitely in my zone.

What? Doc’s favorite game, a 6.5 out of 10?! Why would someone rate their favorite game a 6.5 out of 10 instead of say…a 9 or a 10 out of 10, you ask. Let’s start at the beginning.

Although my personal rule of no-preordering never really counted for Pokemon games, I didn’t actually purchase Pokemon Emerald until almost a year after it came out. I just happened to be at Best Buy with a wad full of birthday/Christmas money I’d saved up and I saw it on the shelf. It’d been a couple years since my first Pokemon game, Pokemon Sapphire had mysteriously disappeared, and since then I’d been playing Pokemon LeafGreen, but I was feeling a little homesick for the Hoenn Pokemon games. So I bought it, the guide, and the GBA GameShark that I had actually come there for to begin with.

Pokemon Emerald is part of the third generation of Pokemon games, which is widely referred to by fans as the worst Pokemon generation. Although I personally find the fifth generation to be much worse than the third, there are a lot of valid reasons why the third generation was so panned. This was mostly due to so many improvements from Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal that had been thrown out for some reason, along with the introduction of the Erratic experience group, making raising Pokemon absurdly easy.

I’d prefer to save my complaints about the third generation for the games that started it, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. It wasn’t likely that Pokemon Emerald was going to make any huge changes to gameplay from the previous games anyway. However, Game Freak added enough tweeks and additions to Pokemon Emerald to make it a worthwhile game to own and play.

Pokemon Emerald keeps some small UI changes from FireRed and LeafGreen (ex; Lv00 instead of Lv:00)

Pokemon Emerald keeps some small UI changes from FireRed and LeafGreen (ex; Lv00 instead of Lv:00)

Now Pokemon Emerald is what you would refer as a Director’s cut of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. The practice of making a third tweeked version of the generations’ two main titles wasn’t new by then, if you think back, it actually started in the first generation with the Japanese limited edition Pokemon Blue. A lot of people tend to skip these retooled versions since the story tends to be the exact same, but I’ve personally found said “third versions” tend to have some pretty groundbreaking improvements in them. For Pokemon Emerald, this comes with the re-introduction of moving sprites, team double battle, and the post-game Battle Frontier.

The new Battle Tents that replace all but the LilyCove Contest halls.

As I mentioned before, the story of Pokemon Emerald is virtually the same as Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. The player begins as the son or daughter of local gym leader Norman, moving into Littleroot Town, etc. Now however, instead of being version-dependant, the player will also be taking on both antagonists, Team Magma and Team Aqua, as they attempt to revive their legendary Pokemon of choice.

In doing this, Pokemon Emerald adds some new dungeons and events to the game so that both teams have equal screentime. Game Freak also split the existing events (like the scheme at Mt. Chimney) between the two teams in a way that logically matched said team’s goal. For example, you face Team Magma on Mt. Chimney, where Groudon is sleeping underneath, instead of Aqua. Maybe others won’t care much about who they face and where, but I thought it was a nice touch.

The climax of the game, a battle between the two legendary titans Groudon and Kyogre, was also pretty cool, even though it mostly consisted of two large sprites ramming one another back and forth. But it’s the third legendary, Rayquaza, who takes center stage in this version. Whereas in the two previous games, Rayquaza simply waited at the top of an almost impossibly hard to scale tower for players to find, it now plays a real, larger role in the story (and can be caught prior to the Elite Four).


The big draw to this game however, is the addition of a new area called the Battle Frontier. In essence, the Battle Frontier is a new area dedicated to Pokemon battling, pure battling. While in the main game, players can get by with just a few over-leveled Pokemon, the Battle Frontier is all about strategy. The Battle Frontier contains eight facilities, each with their own theme and obtainable emblems, in which the player takes on Pokemon leveled to them.

The first few years I played Pokemon Emerald I didn’t really pay the Battle Frontier any mind, it really just bored me. And still, the monotanous Pokemon battles over and over can get extremely boring, but after a while I began to understand the strategy and patience needed to sucessfully take on each of the facilities and win. While I personally think the Battle Frontier from Pokemon Platinum was superior to this one, you have to respect Pokemon Emerald for introducing the idea of a post-game area to the series.

Like the previous two main series titles, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen, Pokemon Emerald also supports the Wireless adaptor, which allows players to partake in activities such as mini-games, trading, battling, and the Battle Frontier doubles, wirelessly. It may not seem like a huge deal nowadays, but being able to play with others from a distance longer than a foot was revolutionary. Also, unlike with the release of Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen, the in-game National Pokedex can be completed!

So now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, back to the original issue at hand. How could my favorite game be a 6.5 instead of a higher score?

And that’s an easy one; because Pokemon Emerald isn’t the best Pokemon game, not by a long-shot.

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and resident narcoleptic. In the off-chance she isn’t already asleep, you can find her here at the Bacon!


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