Pokemon is a phenomenon that still hasn't run its course. I can't say that it's a bad game because it isn't, but games such as Ruby and Sapphire, and now Pokemon Emerald, hide behind an already established gameplay formula taking advantage of its popularity and offering nothing more than window dressing to rapid fans. Hey, there's a sucker born every minute. But having said that, I still enjoyed my time with Pokemon Emerald.

Aside from some new characters, new areas, abilities and mini-games this RPG fighting game hasn't changed much since it was created. As with any series that builds on its original premise it runs the risk of alienating newbies by becoming too deep in an effort to continue challenging hardcore fans. Pokemon Emerald is still a deep game but it's been streamlined in such a way that makes it accessible to beginners. If you're a teenager you might find some of the commentary very immature. Pokemon can be enjoyed by anyone but it is geared towards younger kids.

At the onset of the game you can choose to play as a boy or a girl. Your destiny is to follow in your father's footsteps to become a legendary Pokemon collector/trainer/fighter - in other words a Pokemon Master. These little monsters will take on other monsters in battles in a rock/paper/scissors style of combat - only much more entertaining and diverse. There are tons of Pokemons each with different moves and affinities such as water, fire, electricity which can be use against other Pokemon or used against your Pokemon. The idea is to collect as many of them as you can to keep yourself covered for all situations.

Pokemons can be earned, won and found. By training them you will increase their powers. Winning bouts will earn you experience points which can eventually make your Pokemon so strong that it will even change its appearance and name. You can then use the wireless adapter to fight it out with other players' creations and even trade Pokemons with friends.

In this version you will obviously encounter plenty of fights but there are enough diversions to satisfy anyone suffering from attention deficit disorder. You can gamble, enter a beauty pageant, breed Pokemon and play some mini-games. The carrot is dangled on the proverbial stick to motivate you to continue fighting and leveling-up your little pocket monsters.

The game is vibrant but there's little noticeable difference compared to the Ruby and Sapphire version. The worlds are large and varied and the music is well crafted to reflect a whimsical mood. It's an improvement on the series, however slight.

Only you know how badly you want this game and if you could really care less about it one way or the other, I would suggest "the other."

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System: GBA
Dev: Game Freak
Pub: Nintendo
Release: April 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Dameia