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The game has a lot in common with previous Pokémon games Silver, Gold and Crystal. For example, players can choose to be a boy or a girl trainer, an internal clock sets events at certain times and the game's handy-dandy Pokédex helps players keep track of the many stats. Your main goal is still to beat all the Gym Trainers and become the Pokémon Master, and as before you can trade Pokémon via the Link Cable--both Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire include exclusive Pokémon, and you'll find that some species are common in one game and rare in the other. So if you've played the old games, you'll be right at home. But not all is the same.
The most obvious change is in the battles themselves. Now that two Pokémon can fight on your side at the same time, you can tag-team them against an enemy by taking advantage of the strengths of your Pokémons while covering their weaknesses. For example, you can now have a water Pokémon watch your fire Pokémon's back. You can also attack more than one Pokémon at a time.
A whole new element to the games focuses on how berries are used in battle. And if you collect enough berries, you can take them to a Berry Blender and make a PokéBlock, which is a little super-charged sweet that raises your Pokémon's "Condition" attributes. You can then groom your Pokémon for regional contests and compete for ribbons like "Best of Show", which will unlock additional contests. There's even strategy in how to best use your berries: pick too many and the berry tree will disappear; plant berries, though, and a tree will grow. You can also build a Secret Base in special areas of the game, which you can decorate just like you can your room.
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire have a great multi-player system, too; you can link up to four players for incredible battles. The only downside is that you can't link up with the old Game Boy Color games. --Bryan Karsh
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire's graphics are greatly enhanced for the GBA. In the battle scenes, a rich palette and subtle shading gives both the trainer and the Pokémon themselves a great degree of realism, and the same meticulous attention to detail can be seen in the world scenes--artistic touches like ripples on a pond and intricate ironwork in a modern city bring the world of Pokémon to life like never before.
As with the previous Pokémon games on the original Game Boy, both Ruby and Sapphire include exclusive Pokémon, and you'll find that some species are common in one game and rare in the other--so trading with friends via the link cable is a must if you want to catch 'em all. As before, you can challenge a friend, but now you can also take part in two-on-two battles too. Link cable(s) and extra game cartridge(s) are required for multiplayer gaming.
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