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Pokémon Gen III Remakes: Why They’re Closer Than Ever
When Nintendo announced its intention to reveal something huge in a Nintendo Direct worldwide announcement back in January, many Pokémon pundits around the world both wanted and expected it to be word of the long awaited remakes of Ruby and Sapphire, the third generation Pokémon games. As it turns out, the announcement was instead that of Gen VI, Pokémon X and Y. This led to an uproar in some areas of the fandom, with many a fan bitterly disappointed that they would not be able to play an updated version of the Hoenn saga. At least, not yet.
First, a little history. Ruby and Sapphire were released back in 2003 on the Gameboy Advance, marking the beginning of the 3rd generation of games. They were followed by the first game remakes, Fire Red and Leaf Green, which updated and expanded the gameplay and storyline of the original Red, Green and Blue. When the fourth generation included updated versions of Gen 2, Gold and Silver, many fans expected the trend to continue into Gen 5 with the remakes of Gen 3. Instead, we were landed simply with a new set of games set in the same region as their predecessors, which became the first direct sequels to a Pokémon game. At this point, hope was still not lost for those craving a return to the Hoenn region, but with the announcement of X and Y, the reality of a Gen 3 remake anytime soon went up in smoke.
This may sound like a baffling move on the part of Nintendo, but the reality is the market was not ready for a Gen 3 remake during the Gen 5 run. Had an upgrade occurred, it most likely would have utlised similar graphics and battle effects as the main titles from the gen, ie: Black and White. When one considers the actual scope of the strides forward that the series had made between these two generations, it becomes clear that the marginally improved graphics and slightly updated mechanics in truth were simply not large enough to warrant a gen 3 overhaul, as it would have ended up being quite similar in appearance to its ancestors. Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum were just barely graphically superior to their Gen 3 predecessors, and while Black and White were better updates in this respect, they still largely retained the same feel that had been present since Gen 3.
When Red and Blue were remade, there was compelling reason to do so. Not only had colour been implemented; it was rich, realistic colour, unlike that which graced gen 2. Character design had not just been tweaked, as in subsequent generations, but completely redesigned and expanded, and in every aspect of the game visuals had been improved radically. Playing either Blue or Red back to back with their remakes is eye-opening, as it shows just how far the technology had come in that period. While there were only 8 years between the release of Red and Green and their remakes, and a decade has now elapsed since the arrival or Ruby and Sapphire, the advancements made between Gen 1 and Gen 3 were arguably far greater than those made between Gen 3 and Gen 5. Releasing a remake of Gen 3 based on the graphics found in Black and White would have provided little real improvement in gameplay terms, and in my opinion the titles would have suffered greatly without a significant draw card to pull consumers in.
With the announcement of Gen 6 however, things have definitely taken a turn for the better. Since it heralds a host of changes to the format, the time is now ripe for a Gen 3 remake. Fully 3D environments, updated battles and ubiquitous graphical improvements provide the sort of upgrade to really make any remakes of older titles stand out from their originals in a way a Gen 5 remake simply wouldn’t have.
Fans of Ruby and Sapphire, desperate to experience their beloved games in a more modern format, can now seriously look forward to a remake during the lifetime of this next, 6th, generation. With Pokémon finally taking the long awaited stride into the realm of three dimensions, any new games in the franchise are guaranteed to stand out starkly from earlier titles. Ruby and Sapphire will no doubt receive the makeovers they are so clearly due for in good time, but who’s to say we need stop there? Perhaps the time may be almost upon us to revisit the original games in three dimensions as well…
Only time will tell.