Maybe you're in it for the cute monsters. Maybe you're in it to be the very best, like no one ever was. Or maybe you want to catch em all? Whatever it is about Pokémon that speaks to you, I'm here to help you get the most out of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
Some of these suggestions are general; the sorts of things you'll want to keep in mind no matter what Pokémon game you're playing. Some are specific to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. All, hopefully, will be of some use to you.
Play With Whatever Pokémon You'd Like
There are over 700 Pokémon, including mega evolutions and primal reversions. You have a TON of choices. Technically, not all these Pokémon are competitively viable, but for the sake of the single-player adventure? Most/any will do the trick, provided you've leveled up enough. There's no reason not to play with the Pokémon you think are cool or cute -- that's the point of having so many of them in the roster!
Side note: Since starters influence which Pokémon people like to put in their parties, I think it's worth mentioning that the games give you four different starters -- one from Ruby/Sapphire at the start (so, Treecko, Mudkip or Torchic), one from Gold/Silver (so, Totodile, Chikorita, and Cyndaquil), one from Pokémon Black and White (so, Snivy, Oshawott, and Tepig), and one from Platinum and Pearl (so, Turtwig/Chimchar/Piplup). The latter three starters you only get once you beat the game, but even so, I suspect people might have a hard time picking teams because of these give-aways. I suggest, at the very least, not picking starters that are all the same elements.
Use The DexNav
The DexNav allows you to scan areas for special, hidden Pokémon. Once the app hones in on a Pokémon, you can use the circlepad to slowly tiptoe up to a Pokémon's shadow. If you walk up to it, you'll engage in battle with a Pokémon that is actually better than the sorts of Pokémon you'd find from normal random encounters. The Pokémon will have better stats, special abilities, moves, and sometimes even items.
The more you use the DexNav, the better Pokémon it can pin down. If you have your eyes set on a particular Pokémon, I highly suggest using the DexNav multiple times, until you find something with lots of potential (it denotes potential through number of stars, with the highest being three stars). Helpfully, you can tap on the icon of the Pokémon you want in the route it appears on, and the DexNav will make sure it only brings up that exact Pokémon.
Even if you don't care about using the Pokémon, I suggest you use the DexNav anyway. If nothing else, it's a good tool to keep track of what Pokémon you have and haven't caught, since it tells you that information, too. Personally, I just found it fun to see how different the same Pokémon in a given area could be, so I used it often.
Use Wonder Trade
At the launch of Pokémon X & Y, Wonder Trade -- the feature which lets you trade your Pokémon with strangers, in exchange for something random -- was kind of shitty. That's because people liked to put in crappy Pokémon that nobody wants up for trade, meaning you'd often receive weak Pokémon from the starting area. But now, with the launch of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, that's changed. People are putting a lot of effort into making sure the Pokémon that are put up for trades are good, interesting, or at least different. You'll still get the occasional stinker, but sometimes you'll get something really good, too.
One of the big criticisms levied at the original Ruby and Sapphire is that they have a crappy selection of available Pokémon. But since Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire let you Wonder Trade, you're not limited to whatever Pokemon are Hoenn-specific. I found myself going through the game with a team that was 70% Wonder Traded, which made the game a joy. Not only did I have a selection of good, interesting Pokémon at my fingertips thanks to Wonder Trade, all those Pokémon got the experience boost that comes with Pokémon trading.
But the only way this can work is if everyone continues to put good Pokémon into Wonder Trade -- so don't be that jerk that throws in a Wingull or something!
Be Smart About How You Use Those Pokémon
OK, now that we've covered acquiring Pokémon, let's talk about how to actually use those Pokémon. The key is diversifying.
You can diversify on a team level and on a moveset level too. All Pokémon belong to different types of groups -- some of that is based on an element, like water or fire, and others are based on their characteristics, like flying creatures. If you have a move that matches your Pokémon's type -- say, a fire move on a fire Pokémon -- it will be more powerful than moves of a different type. Pokémon veterans call this "STAB," same type attack bonus. Despite that bonus, you don't want to have a Pokémon with 4 moves of the same type -- a fire Pokémon with 4 fire type moves, for example. That's the sort of movelist that can get you in a pickle, depending on who you face off against.
The less you have to switch a Pokémon out to match the various types of enemies, the better -- and having a Pokémon with a few different move types helps with that.
Play To Your Strengths
You also gotta make sure you're using the right category of moves: if your Pokémon has a high special attack stat, you should use more special moves, and if they have a high attack stat, you should use physical moves. Here's what the page that shows you your stats looks like (yours will have different numbers, depending on your Pokémon):
You should be able to see what type of moves you have in the summary menus (or, if you're about to learn a new move, it should tell you what category it is via a little icon).
Cover Your Weaknesses
And just like you don't want to have too many of the same element in your moveset, you'll want to make sure your overall team doesn't have more than one Pokémon of the same elemental type and, following that, that those Pokémon aren't all weak to the same things. Having a grass type, a steel type and an ice type on your team is a bad idea, for example: sure, you've got multiple different element types here, but they're all weak to fire. You could be wiped out rather easily, and yes, this is true even in just the single-player.
A good resource here to make sure you have all your bases covered is Marriland's team building tool. You can insert whatever Pokémon you have/want on your team, and it will tell you your overall weaknesses, resistances and immunities. It can be eye-opening to see that a team you've built could actually be wiped out rather easily by one specific element, or that you have no Pokémon/moves to respond to a particular threat.
Name Your Pokémon
It's not all about making your Pokémon into a powerhouse. It's also about friendship! So why not give your Pokémon nicknames after you capture them? Trust me, you'll feel closer to every Pokémon you nickname.
Just know that other people can see the names of your Pokémon, should you play with anyone else. So you can be crass and vulgar if you want, it just won't look classy!
Live and Die By This Chart
I don't expect you to just plain memorize all the strengths, weaknesses and immunities of all the elemental types. I sure as heck haven't. But that's ok, people have made charts for this sort of thing. Bulbapedia created the following chart, for example:
Use it. Hell, print it out if you wanna. Frame it. Decorate the frame with glitter. Trust me, you'll start to cherish this chart that much.
Talk To Everyone
Isn't it nice to just talk to people sometimes? Sure, the citizens of Hoenn might not always have profound things to say, but they can often be amusing, or at the very least, useful. This Lots of people in the world of Hoenn are either waiting around to give you a cool item or TM.
Fighting-wise, you won't need to grind to get through ORAS -- battling everyone you come across is enough to get by without a hitch. After you finish battling someone, make note of how much experience you get and how much money they give you. If you ever find yourself under-leveled (perhaps because you're raising a lot of Pokémon), or if you're short on cash, go and seek out the people you made a mental note of. Turns out, sometimes, people are down to give you a rematch -- and the returns on a rematch are higher than simply running through grass and fighting random Pokémon.
You can use your AreaNav on the bottom screen to highlight specific trainers on routes, allowing you to see who is ready for a rematch, too. Handy!
Certain towns around the world of Hoenn have special buildings, where you can participate in contests. You'll recognise them because they're gold-coloured and fancy. Personally, I'm not a big fan of this feature, which allows you go into a beauty pageant of sorts against other Pokémon. But if nothing else, doing at least one contest allows you to acquire a special Pikachu, which you can dress up in a variety of different outfits. The outfit not only changes what Pikachu looks like both in and out of battle, every outfit grants the Pikachu a special fourth move. It's a cool idea, and I'm sure some of you will enjoy this special Pikachu very much, I just wish it wasn't the only Pokémon that can do this!
Make A Secret Base
All around Hoenn, you'll find a few different types of suspicious-looking things. Perhaps a wall has a small hole. Perhaps there's a tree that looks different from all the other trees. Perhaps there's a weird bush somewhere. If you go up to suspect things like these, you might find that it's a place where you can make a secret base.
In order to make a secret base, you need a move called "Secret Power." A character will give you this move midway through the game. Teach it to a Pokémon, and then go out there and find yourself a good spot to make a base. This one is mine:
You can buy a variety of different decorations for your secret base in towns like Slateport, Lilycove, and Fortree City. What you put in your base is up to you. Maybe you just wanna make a cute treehouse. Maybe you want to create a mini-gym, complete with puzzles and tricks -- because yes, you can do that. Whatever you do, it's fun to invite your friends over so they can visit your base. So make one! Just note that tricking out your pad can get a little expensive, so you might wanna save up a bit before going on a shopping spree.
Put A Giant Charizard Plush In Your Base
Only cool people decorate their bases with choice items like Charizard plushies, Litwick candles, and Rayquaza posters. (OK, maybe that's just me.)
Take Your Time At Mauville
There's lots to do in this little town. You can, for example, get a bike. Or you can go into a special Food Court, something which I missed the first time around. The town also houses people that can teach you special moves, and it even has a special shop where you can trade in "miles" for special items. The way miles work is, the farther you Pokémon travel while traded, the more "miles" you acquire. So if you Wonder Trade a lot, you can get a lot of great items at this place. Sweet deal, eh?
Plus, right next to Mauville are things like the Day Care, where you can breed Pokémon, and the Trick House, where you can do a fun mini-gym of sorts. You'll probably be hanging out near Mauville a lot.
Look Out For Invisible Items
Game Freak does this thing where they put all sorts of items around the world...but you can't always see them. If you use 'Mario Logic,' you should be able to tell what sorts of places might contain this game's version of hidden blocks. Is there a mysterious dead end on the map? Maybe you should try facing the middle portion of the dead end and pressing 'A.' Betcha there's something hidden there. Or, you can "cheat" and just use the Dowsing Machine that a character gives you midway through the game. That headgear will helpfully light up whenever you're near an item.
Get An HM Monster
As you go along, there will be a number of moves you need to perform actions around the world -- you can surf along water, you can cut away foliage blocking roads, you can fly to different locations, you can use strength to move boulders, and so on. Most of these moves kind of suck in battle, and you're better off not taking up a precious slot on one of your main Pokémon for it. That's why you should get a Pokémon or two specifically for the purposes of using them as an HM monster -- take them out of the in-game PC when you need to use them, then throw them back in until next time.
With your HM monsters in place, it's always worth revisiting places you've already been, just in case there is a pathway you can take with your new HM move. Often, you'll find things like mega stones, items or TMs hidden in areas you can't reach normally, if not special secret base locations.
Exploring is also how you come across certain secrets in the game. There are certain areas that the game doesn't prompt you to visit, but that hide not only legendary Pokémon, but story nuggets, too. So get out there, and try to look into every nook and cranny.
Get All The Mega Stones
If you want to go mega, you'll need to find the appropriate stone for your Pokémon. Most mega stones are lying around, waiting to be found, though some will be given to you by certain trainers. If you want to find these on your own, skip ahead to the next section. But if you want to make sure you find every stone you can as you go along, here you go -- it's not a complete list, but it should still help:
Alakazamite: By the Slateport market
Mawilite: By Verdanturf town
Manectite: On route 110 by seaside cycling road (Mauville entrance)
Aggronite by going past the top boulders, inside of Rusturf tunnel (post the third gym).
Blazikenite/starter stone: Given to you by Steven after Fortree
Bannetite: Top of Mt Pyre (outside)
Medichamite: Top of Mt Pyre (inside)
Glalitite: In shoal cave
Heracrossite: On an island on route 127
Mewtwonite X: In Littleroot, after Cave of Origin story
Beedrillite: Inside storage room at Sea Mauville
Tyranitarite: At Jagged Pass (post Cave of Origin)
Houndoominite: At Lavaridge town by egg lady
Altariaite: in Lilycove city; need an Altaria
Abomasite: On route 124, by top of berry farm (post Cave of Origin)
Venusaurite: On route 119
Charizardite Y: in Scorched Slab (post Cave of Origin)
Charizardite X: Fiery Path
Absolite: in the Safari Zone (need Acro bike)
Slowbronite: After making a Shoal Bell in Shoal Cave (which takes two days)
Sablenite: Sootopolis City (post Cave of Origin)
Scizorite: Petalburg Woods
Ampharosite: New Mauville
Aerodactylite: In Meteor Falls, past the waterfall
Kangaskhanite: By the Pokémon Center at Pacifidlog town
Mewtwonite Y: In front of the Pokémon League
Cameruptite: Given to you by Tabitha midway thru the Delta Episode, after you beat the game
Sharpedonite: By visiting Battle Resort once you beat the game
Galladite: Fallabor Town
Gengarite: Visiting a shack at the back of Battle Resort
Audinite: By rescuing man on shore of battle resort
Gyaradosite: By the fishing shack
Steelixite: In granite cave
Salamencite: Talk to an old lady on Meteor Falls after completing the Delta episode.
Diancite: Trade Diancie over from X/Y. Put it in your team, go into a Pokémon Center, and characters that will give you the stone should appear.
Whew. So far, I don't get the impression that mega stones are version-specific, just by virtue of how many I've found. But, I'll update this list once we find out more. For now it's worth noting that I found most of these in Omega Ruby myself.
This brings us to....
Why not? It's cool, and it can give you the boost you need to win in a battle.
Use The Eon Flute
Near the end, a character will give you a special item for your Latias or Latios. When you use it, your legendary Pokémon will take to the air, and you can soar through the map of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. You'll want to do this for two reasons. One, it's the coolest feature in the game, and it feels awesome to do. And two, if you explore a bit, you're bound to find small bundles of light sprinkled around the map.
These spheres contain legendary Pokémon, so they're definitely worth seeking out. The Pokémon you find in your game are version-specific, but between both Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, you should be able to catch every legendary thus far in the Pokémon franchise. That's an incredible number of legendary Pokémon, folk.
In my experience, there will always be at least three spheres on the map, and they change every day. Two of these will have a legendary, and one will be a special region where you can collect unique items and Pokémon. All are worth visiting. Just make sure that you bring a ton of Pokeballs, because catching these legendary 'mon is a major pain in the butt.
Get Lots Of Repels
One of the other major criticisms thrown at Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is that the games contain too much sea adventuring. As you may know, water, unlike land, is random-encounter land. Everywhere you go, you might get tossed into a random battle. Personally, I've never felt that the game is excessive in this regard, but you might. If that's the case, always come prepared with a handful of Max Repels, which you can purchase in shops. This magical item prevents you from going into any random battles. Voila. Now you can enjoy the wonders of sea life without being constantly worn down by wild Pokémon. I especially recommend getting repels, because diving underwater is one of the neatest, most serene parts of the game -- don't skip them just because you're sick of random battles!
Set Your Profile
When you go online and do things like Wonder Trade, or even if you just pass by a fellow Pokémon trainer, they can check out your profile. So why not trick it out so they can learn more about you? Through the profile, you can pick a special avatar, and you can answer questions about yourself -- including silly ones, like "What's your secret?"
You can find your profile in the PSS, which you can tap on the bottom menu of your 3DS. From there, right above the "friends" option, you should find a little icon that looks like a folder. Tap that, then look at the extra options on the left. Boom, Profile menu.
Play With Other People
ORAS has a ton of online options, which let you battle against other people, put Pokémon up for trade, as well as give you the ability to send other people power-ups via O-Powers. If nothing else, you should turn Streetpass on. If you do, you'll gain access to other people's "Mirage Island" while flying with Latias or Latios. That means you can get extra goodies every day.
Make Friends With Your Pokémon
ORAS incorporate elements from X & Y, which includes a Nintendogs-like ability to interact with/pet your Pokémon called Pokémon Amie, and a mini-game that lets you buff your Pokémon up called Super Training.
Last year, I said that Amie isn't worth trying out. Now, I feel differently. You can at the very least get some laughs by interacting with your Pokémon, feeding it, and acquiescing to its weird demands about kissy faces and winking. Sometimes, they will react in unexpected ways. If nothing else, it's a good way to feel closer to your Pokémon. You'll also want to use this feature if you want a Sylveon, a fairy-type Pokémon that needs a high friendship level. Guess what, you can up your friendship by petting your Pokémon. Who would have thought?
Friendship has its own perks, too. You may find that a Pokémon can suddenly withstand a deadly blow in battle, because that's how much it loves you. Or maybe it suddenly starts getting an experience boost. Or maybe it gets a damage boost. All of this, because you spent some time with your Pokémon.
Skip Super Training Unless You're Battling Other People
Super Training, on the other hand, seems more optional. The game is easy as-is -- you don't need to use Super Training to boost your Pokémon's stats, unless of course you're doing battles against other actual people.
Keep Playing After You Beat The Game
You'll have a lot to do once you're done with the main story.
There are a few new areas that don't open until after you beat the game -- you should know what some of these are as you go along, since they will initially deny you entry. Some Mega stones won't be available to you until you beat the game, too. And at least one location in Mauville won't serve you until you finish the main story. And remember all those legendaries I mentioned earlier? Chances are good you'll still be midway through capturing them all after you beat the game.
The meat of the post-game, though, has to be the Battle Resort. Here, you'll find lots of high level tough trainers you can challenge, but the main attraction is the Battle Maison, where you can see how long you can keep up a win streak against a seemingly endless parade of trainers. The more you win, the more Battle Points you acquire -- which you can then trade in for all sorts of prizes.We'll update you on the particulars of this location later, in a different article.
And finally, we can't forget about the special Delta Episode which opens up once you beat the Elite Four, either. While I'll dig into why I like it so much in an article dropping later today, for now, suffice it to say that this segment of the game is by far my favourite, and it overshadows everything in the story before it.
As much as it would be easy to just drop the game once you "beat" it, there is still a lot to experience after becoming the champion of the Elite Four. So keep playing it!
Visit Your Mum
Seriously, do you know how sick you must make your mum by never calling or visiting? Once you have the ability to fly, go back every once in a while. She might have something to give you, or something new to say. If nothing else, this is the way that you get extra starter Pokémon -- you need to visit your old home, and then exit. A funny scene will ensue, and you'll gain another set of starters.
Also! If you visit your mum once you beat the game and do the extra story stuff, she'll give you the stone for whichever legendary you don't have, Latias or Latios. She's cool like that.
And that's it! With this stuff in mind, you should get the most out of your Pokémon experience... but feel free to share your own tips, if you've got any. And if you still haven't decided on which Pokémon to buy: here's my article about the differences between Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and here's our review for the games.