North American box art for Pokémon Emerald, depicting the legendary Pokémon Rayquaza.
|Publisher(s)||The Pokémon Company|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer|
Pokémon Emerald (ポケットモンスター エメラルド Poketto Monsutā Emerarudo,?, "Pocket Monsters Emerald"), is a role-playing video game developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance handheld video game console. It was first released in Japan on September 16, 2004, and was later released in North America, Australia, and Europe. It is an enhanced version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, and is part of the third generation of the Pokémon video game series.
The gameplay and controls are mostly unchanged from previous games in the series; players control a Pokémon trainer from an overhead perspective. As with previous games, the player's general goal is to traverse the Hoenn region and conquer a series of eight Pokémon gyms in order to challenge the Elite Four and its champion, while the main subplot is to defeat two criminal organizations attempting to take over the region. Along with Pokémon that debuted in Ruby and Sapphire, the game incorporated Pokémon from Pokémon Gold and Silver not featured in Ruby and Sapphire in the post-game.
Emerald's reception was generally positive upon release.
Setting and plot
The setting and plot remains largely the same as Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Players can choose from either a boy or girl (resembling Brendan and May, both of whom have been given new green costumes) and choose between one of three Pokémon before they proceed from their hometown into the rest of the game's world. Players are tasked with filling a device called a Pokédex by catching different Pokémon species and evolving them. They are also tasked to complete eight gym challenges and defeat the Elite Four and its champion by battling their Pokémon. Along their journey they face both Team Magma and Team Aqua (whereas Ruby and Sapphire had you face only one of them based on which version you had). Each has a goal to change the world to their liking; Magma desires more landmass while Aqua desires more water. They plan to accomplish their respective goals by summoning the legendary Pokémon Groudon and Kyogre. Late in the game, they both summon their respective legendary Pokémon; however the Pokémon refuse to obey either team and begin fighting, which puts the world in a constantly switching state of droughts and rain. The players' character climbs a tower in order to summon the legendary Pokémon Rayquaza, who quells the other two Pokémon's rage. After players beat the Elite Four, they are able to encounter two Pokémon flying across Hoenn called Latias and Latios and can access an area called the Battle Frontier.
The gameplay in Emerald is largely the same as it was in Ruby and Sapphire. Much of the game takes place in an overhead style; players' characters can move in four directions and can talk to other people on the overworld. Players can encounter wild Pokémon by walking into grass, surfing on their Pokémon, walking through caves, and other means. They can also fight other trainers' Pokémon. When this happens, the game shifts to a battle screen where players and their Pokémon are seen on the front-left portion of the screen while opponents are viewed on the back-right portion. Stats of the Pokémon and their trainers are shown on the side of each participant; these stats include the Pokémon's levels, the trainers' Pokémon number (which can be anywhere between one and six), the Pokémon's health, and any status effects (such as poison, paralysis, burn, sleep, and freeze). Trainers send out the first Pokémon in their party and they take turns attacking where the first strike is determined usually by the speed of the two Pokémon. Players can choose from one of four options: Fight, Bag, Switch, and Run. Each Pokémon has 1-4 different moves that they can use, which have different effects, number of uses, and types (such as Grass, Psychic, etc.). When a Pokémon hits 0 HP, they faint, forcing the Pokémon's trainer to switch out. Once one trainer runs out of Pokémon, the battle is ended. When a human-controlled Pokémon wins a battle, the Pokémon gains experience. Enough experience will earn that Pokémon a higher level, which grants upgraded stats (which includes attack, speed, defense, special attack, special defense, and health) and sometimes grant new moves.
Certain battles allow for two-on-two combat; certain moves were designed to support partners while other moves are capable of attacking two or more Pokémon. Unlike Ruby and Sapphire which had you fight two specific trainers, Emerald allowed for you to have a 2-on-2 battle with two trainers both of whom you could usually battle separately. Every Pokémon has an ability that often aides in battle, such as abilities that make a Pokémon more powerful if they are close to fainting. Wild Pokémon encountered by players can be captured using items called Poké Balls, which have a greater chance of success the weaker the wild Pokémon is. Players can battle and trade with other players by linking their copies of Emerald with other Game Boy Advance games (which include Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, and LeafGreen). This can be accomplished either by using a Game Boy Advance link cable or by use of the wireless adapter that was bundled with FireRed and LeafGreen. It is also compatible with Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. This allows players to trade for Pokémon not normally obtained in Emerald.
Aside from the traditional battle and overworld style, players' Pokémon are able to participate in Pokémon Contests where they can try and win in five different contest categories: "Cool", "Beauty", "Cute", "Smart", and "Tough" competitions. The players' characters are given a device early on called the PokéNav, which allows players to view the world map, check their Pokémon's contest stats, and make and receive phone calls with trainers that they have met with whom they can chat or plan a battle. This replaces a function called "Trainer's Eyes", which allows players to register certain trainers and see when they are in the mood to battle. This also allows players to rebattle Gym Leaders, an ability not found in previous Pokémon games. Emerald includes several other new features and changes. It includes animations of Pokémon in-battle (which was not present in Ruby or Sapphire) and an area called the Battle Frontier. It is an expansion of the Battle Tower found in previous games. A man whom players encounter several times throughout the game will eventually allow them to access the Battle Frontier after beating the Pokémon League Champion. The Battle Frontier features the aforementioned Battle Tower in addition to six new areas. Completing these areas awards players with "Battle Points" which can be spent on prizes to use in and out of battle. The Japanese version featured compatibility with the Nintendo e-Reader; however, this was cut for the English release due to its lack of success. Emerald features the Trainer Hill area which, in the Japanese version, is compatible with the e-Reader. Rare Pokémon that originated from earlier Pokémon games such as Mew, Lugia, and Ho-Oh were made available through an in-game event.
Development and promotion
Emerald was developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. It was first announced in Coro Coro Magazine. It features compatibility with the Nintendo e-Reader and 83 cards launched for Emerald on October 7, 2004. This was removed from the English versions. It is the third version of Ruby and Sapphire and follows a tradition of third releases (Pokémon Yellow for Pokémon Red and Blue for example). The wireless adapter was bundled with Japanese copies of Emerald; this was removed from English versions of the game.
Nintendo has done several promotions related to Emerald. Nintendo held a competition for players based on Emerald where players compete to be the "Pokémon Emerald Ultimate Frontier Battle Brain". The competition took place in seven areas across the United States and Canada, where 14 finalists (two from each area) competed in Seattle, Washington's Space Needle for a trip for two to the Pokémon Park in Nagoya, Japan. People could also enter to win a trip to the Space Needle to watch the competition. The competition centered around trivia about characters from Pokémon and their abilities. Nintendo also introduced a pre-order program that would give those who pre-ordered the game exclusive access to a Pokémon website, a collector's tin holder, and a guide to the Battle Frontier. A limited edition Game Boy Advance SP was released by Nintendo which featured a silhouette of the Pokémon Rayquaza. It was distributed by Nintendo in Japan exclusively on their website "Pokémon Trainer Online" and was never released outside of Japan. It was featured in the Official Nintendo Magazine's list of rare Pokémon consoles. Players who brought their Game Boy Advance with a copy of Emerald and a wireless adapter to Booth 2029 of the 2005 Comic-Con International would be given an in-game item called the Mystic Ticket which allows players the opportunity to capture Lugia and Ho-oh.
Emerald launched in the top spot in Japan with 791,000 copies sold in its first week and 372,000 copies sold in its first day. It was the fourth best-selling game in Japan for 2004. It sold 1.4 million for the year and ranked behind Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (combined), and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. The list of the top 1000 best-selling video games in Japan for 2010 featured Emerald at 779 with 7,724 copies sold for a total of 1,916,505 sold since release. It was the only Game Boy Advance game on the list. More than 146,000 people pre-ordered copies of Emerald in the US. Emerald launched in the United States at the number one position in May; it followed in June by falling to the number two spot below Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on Xbox with 265,000 copies sold in that month. It was the second best-selling game for the first half of 2005. In a poll conducted by IGN, readers ranked Emerald as the most popular Game Boy Advance game for the 2005 Holiday season. It ranked second for the whole year of 2005 below Madden NFL 06. By the end of 2005 it had sold 1.2 million in Europe and nearly 5 million worldwide. It had sold 1.72 million copies worldwide by June 1, 2005. It had sold 5 million worldwide by the end of 2005. To date it is one of the three best-selling Game Boy Advance games. Its life-to-date sales totaled 6.32 million by the 2007 fiscal year. In November 2005, Nintendo Power erroneously reported that "Total sales [from Emerald] would exceed the value of an actual emerald the size of Neptune."
Emerald received generally positive reception. It received average scores of 76/100 and 76.65% on Metacritic and GameRankings respectively. It received an award for excellence at the ninth annual CESA game awards. IGN's Craig Harris stated that while he was not enthused by Emerald, he admitted that it was a solid game and that it was the best version to get for people who hadn't played Ruby or Sapphire yet. 1UP.com's Christian Nutt felt that it was the definitive version of Pokémon at the time yet was also a rehash. GameSpy's Phil Theobald felt that it was a good game in its own right but felt like the same game as Ruby and Sapphire. GameSpot's Ryan Davis noted that it was a quality experience despite being similar to Ruby and Sapphire and that hardcore fans may appreciate its changes. IGN's Lucas M. Thomas bemoaned the fact that he had to play through the whole game before he could play the Battle Frontier. Eurogamer's Corey Brotherson felt that it was a good game in its own right but was lacking in compelling additions. He added however that it was a better game for players new to the series. Nintendo Life's Laurie Blake performed a retroactive review of Emerald; she felt that the Pokémon games have aged well but still feel like they did in 1996. She further stated that the similarities between it and Ruby and Sapphire prevented it from being a must-have while still being good. Allgame's Julia Reges felt that the game had a lot of value for younger players but that older players may be disinterested. She compared Nintendo's remakes of the Pokémon games to the various Star Wars remakes.
IGN's Audrey Drake praised the game for utilizing both of the villain groups and called it a "marked departure" from Ruby and Sapphire. She felt that the ability to re-battle Gym Leaders created an "exciting challenge" for players. She also included Emerald (alongside Ruby and Sapphire) in a list of Game Boy Advance games that she wanted to see on the Nintendo 3DS' eShop. 1UP.com's Jeremy Parish listed Emerald as one of the best games to bring onto a plane. Fellow 1UP.com editor Kat Bailey included it in her list of remakes that "left the originals in the dust". She praised the Battle Frontier and its fixes for flaws found in Ruby and Sapphire.
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A new Battle Frontier area has you play through seven big battles.
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