Of all the games that might need or benefit from a demo, probably one of the last games that would come to mind are main series Pokemon games. After all, the series has been around since 1996, and there’s a whole bevy of previous games if someone just jumping into the series wanted to get a feel for how the games play and whether that’d be their thing. For someone in such a position, that’s still the route I’d recommend, especially with the Omega Red/Alpha Sapphire demo not being freely available on the eShop. Nonetheless, here’s some thoughts on what’s in the demo.
1. There’s no trainer customization (there won’t be any in the final game either), which is somewhat understandable given this is a remake and not a new game like X/Y were. For the demo, you don’t even get the option to choose your gender. You play as the boy trainer (named Orlando instead of Brendan), though the girl trainer does show up as an NPC.
2. You won’t play through the beginning of the full game, but rather short adventures created specifically for the demo (like Bravely Default‘s demo). During your first playthrough, you accompany Steven to bust a pair of thieves from Team Aqua/Magma tryimg to steal a stone for mega evolution from Mossdeep’s space center. You get to choose between the three Hoenn starters, who are conveniently leveled so you can try out their mega evolutions during battle. You participate in a dual battle against the bosses of Team Aqua and Magma with Steven (and of course stomp on some grunts before that). At the end you can capture your Glalie, though even if you accidentally knock it out (not that I did that or anything… ahem…) you can try again. Even though you’re using regular Pokeballs, it’s been set so that you can capture it right away, so you might as well just toss it immediately. This scenario is the longest of the ones you can encounter in the demo, but you can only play through it once.
3. After the first time, you get the Glalie and all three Hoenn starters holding their megastones. The adventure you set out on is random each time, and can range from helping other trainers train by battling them to finding a lost Pokemon or person. You fight an Elder on the fifth and tenth adventures, who are a little tougher than the regular trainers, but still taken down easily. Beating an Elder nets you either an item or another NPC around town.
4. The graphics look much the same as X/Y, with no 3D effect available outside of battles. While I didn’t notice any slowdown specific to having the 3D slider cranked up all the way, I did still notice animations didn’t always look completely fluid. The pre-battle flourishes and movements during battle do make for a more dynamic scene than the 2D mostly static sprites.
5. Your options for doing anything in the demo outside of the adventure are limited overall. The only available menu options are to manage Pokemon and items. You can only walk around Mossdeep, with all the houses locked or blocked by someone standing in front of the door, even the Pokemon Center and shop. You can see the gym leaders Tate and Liza standing in front of the gym, but they won’t fight you or let you enter the gym. There’s also some different NPCs each time you start another round of the demo (specifically on the beach), but even then, they start to repeat more often after a while.
6. Speaking of repeating, despite the attempts at varying things up each time, the demo starts to get repetitive after a few times, especially having to sit through the same teaser trailer at the end every time. Even if you’re trying to unlock everything to carry over to the full game, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do it all in one sitting (like I did). Steven even stops counting the number of times you’ve played after the tenth time. It’s not fully representative of how the main series plays, but I suppose since they all follow the same basic formula, experimenting with a somewhat different structure for the demo would not be remiss.
7. There are a couple of secret missions that have a small chance of appearing. I got a mission where Steven said he spotted a strange man. When I walked up to said strange man, he simply gave me a Nugget and promised to dump more of his abundant stores of Nuggets on me (hey, I’d take them – money makes the world go ’round, after all). After that mission, the invisible obstacle blocking the entrance to Steven’s house was unlocked and I could go inside. While you can view some of his rock collection from the different regions, you can’t actually take anything. There’s another secret mission involving a rematch with Team Aqua and Magma, but that one has yet to appear for me.
8. You can transfer Glalie and its Glalitite to the full game (no Steelix unlike Japan, sadly). You can only bring Glalie to the final game, and your levels reset every time you start another round of the demo, so don’t bother trying to level grind. If you got the Blaziken from the Wi-Fi event during X/Y‘s release, you don’t really need the Blaziken in this game anyway. Even if you didn’t, you can still get the rest of starters later, either by trading with someone you know or the GTS, though with the latter, I’ve found it works better to set up your own trade instead of searching through existing ones, but your mileage may vary.
9. You also unlock items after completing the demo a certain number of times. After three playthroughs you get ten Pokeballs (yes that’s regular Pokeballs), after five you get ten Heal Balls, and after ten you get five Heart Scales. You cannot use these items in the demo, they just carry over to the full game. Since you can’t save in the demo or carry over anything else, you really don’t need to use them anyway (not that there’s anywhere to use Heart Scales). While not game breakers, starting the game with extra items and a Pokemon never hurts.
10. While the deadline for getting a code from the Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter has passed, there’s still other ways to get one. Purchasing Pokemon Art Academy, Pokemon Puzzle Challenge, or Pokemon Trading Card Game will net you a code on your eShop receipt (while supplies last). In addition, they’ll be distributed at select cinema locations from November 7-November 13 and during the holiday mall tour from November 24-December 21. They were also emailed to some with Nintendo Network IDs who signed up to receive promotional emails from Nintendo on the week of October 31. Granted, there’s more options than there were for the Super Smash Bros 3DS demo, but there are still hoops to jump through, since the aforementioned demo was made available to the general public on the eShop, while no plans to do likewise for the ORAS demo have been announced. Still, don’t do what some people did for a Smash code and drop a lot of money for a code on Ebay. If you’re going to spend any money to get one, you might as well pick up one of the aforementioned games that come with the code (PPC and PTCG alone are worth the money, and only $4.99 and $5.99 respectively). I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the demo not just being freely available (even with limited uses like Smash‘s eShop demo as opposed to the unlimited one given to Club Nintendo Platinum members), but at the very least there’s more ways to get one.