With the popularity of Pokémon Go, and the recent release of Pokémon Sun and Moon, I couldn’t resist reflecting on my own experience of an old Pokémon favourite of mine: Pokémon Ruby.
As the new versions became available for re-release, I immediately* (*insert half an hour getting a DS over ten years old to work) re-explored my old Ruby Save and I was not disappointed. I was thrown back into the Hoenn region with a proud eight gym badges to my name, and every child’s proudest achievement: the title of Pokémon Champion.
Even my pokedex was over 90% complete, which honestly surprised me considering that when I’d played the game, I’d only been seven years old and completion wasn’t something which used to appeal to me. After a good 45 minutes of nostalgic reflection, I couldn’t help but feel an itch to launch back into my old game, yet I didn’t have the heart to delete such a fantastic save, full of fond memories. Yet the itch simply wouldn’t abate, yet thankfully, whilst rifling through my collection of DS games in the hope of distracting myself, I found Omega Ruby.
“We decided to try the ‘Nuzlocke Challenge’, the rules are rather simplistic, yet brutal”
At once, I loaded the game into my 3DS (a thankfully far newer and far more reliable device) and began a new save, but I was no longer the easily-contented seven-year-old of 2004. Now, I needed more of a challenge. I’d played far more Pokémon games since Ruby and could no longer be satiated by simply defeating the elite four, or by the prospect of completing the pokedex.
Torn in regards of what to do, I went to my sister, an even more avid Pokémon fan, and together we decided to try the ‘Nuzlocke Challenge’. In its essence, the rules are rather simplistic, yet brutal: 1) Name every Pokémon you catch. 2) You are only allowed to catch ONE Pokémon from each route/region; this Pokémon has to be the first Pokémon you encounter in this region; if it escapes or faints, you are not allowed to catch a replacement Pokémon from that area. And 3) Perhaps the worst rule of all, if any of your Pokémon faint, you must release it.
“I also caught a total of four spare Zigzagoons, which my sister found increasingly hilarious.”
With the rules established, we simultaneously started up our games and launched ourselves into the familiar, yet beautifully redesigned, Hoenn region. After 15 minutes of ‘fan-girling’ over the game’s introduction, and a further 30 minutes of comparing its new design to the old game we knew and loved, we chose our starters and initiated our Pokémon journeys.
With Tilly the Mudkip by my side, I steadily made my way towards the first Gym and, along the way collected, Ted the Zigzagoon, Cindy the Wurmple (who quickly evolved into a Beautifly), and Ellie the Whismur. Along the way, I also caught a few spare Zigzagoons (a total of four, which my sister found increasingly hilarious) but I didn’t let this discourage me.
By the end of the first day of gameplay, I’d already achieved the first two gym badges and had, as yet, received no casualties.
As the days continued, my sister and I kept playing, yet the competitive nature soon got to us and soon we were both taking risks in order to get ahead of each other. By the 4th gym, my impatience to succeed had already cost me my first Zigzagoon, as well as my 5th team member, Pikachu, and a Numel which I had only acquired for 15 minutes before its demise.
“At its core, it was still the game I had grown to love as a child.”
Yet eventually I made it to the final gym and the elite four, and even though Tilly was the only one of my original team to make it, I finally defeated them, and the current Champion, and claimed the title of Pokémon Champion for myself.
I can’t help but be slightly disappointed that I couldn’t play the original game without either deleting a perfect save or meeting expected technical difficulties; I’m not even sure I still have the charger for my original DS.
But, at its core, it was still the game I had grown to love as a child, and even with the additions of attributes from X and Y, it still brought me nothing but childhood joy as I re-defeated gym leaders, again brought an end to Team Magma, and spent hours levelling new Pokémon which I before would never have even considered having on my team, even if the first half an hour of gameplay consisted of me worrying that my whole team was going to consist of Zigzagoons.
All in all, Ruby will always be dear to me, in much the same way that anyone’s first Pokémon game will always be their favourite. So, before diving in to Sun and Moon, consider revisiting an old favourite, be it generation I or IV; maybe even try the Nuzlocke challenge (though be prepared for a few tears!).
Whatever you decide to do, I hope Pokémon stays as dear to you as it is to me, and I only hope that Sun and Moon prove to be as enjoyable as their predecessors.
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