The latest entries in the widely popular Pokemon franchise, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire represent a commitment on Nintendo’s part to fully fleshed-out 3D games within the world of Pokemon. Both games are executed with Gamefreak’s trademark polish. From the standpoint of accessibility, the status quo reigns which in this case is very good news for disabled gamers. The Pokemon games have always been highly accessible, and the latest entries continue this trend. Pokemon Splash Art

The latest entries in the widely popular Pokemon franchise, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire represent a commitment on Nintendo’s part to fully fleshed-out 3D games within the world of Pokemon. Both games are executed with Gamefreak’s trademark polish. From the standpoint of accessibility, the status quo reigns which in this case is very good news for disabled gamers. The Pokemon games have always been highly accessible, and the latest entries continue this trend.

From the standpoint of visual accessibility, the Pokemon games have never been more accessible than with the new graphical style first seen in X and Y. The camera is somewhere between an overhead camera and a third person view, making features of each town and city that the player visits more visually distinctive then in classic Pokemon games. Buildings within the world are clearly delineated not only by color, but by shape. It is much easier to tell a Poke Center from a Poke Mart in this version then the original Ruby and Sapphire without relying on the red and blue color schemes. Furthermore, gone are the outdated pixelated profiles of players and Pokemon, replace by beautifully rendered characters that are each individually distinctive. The Pokemon themselves are beautiful. True to form each species of Pokemon is completely distinct from the others, allowing hard sighted players to be able to easily distinguish between members of their party.

In Battle Screenshot

Although text is the only method of communication within Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, whether it is on the top screen in the form of dialogue boxes, or the bottom screen’s menu interface all text is presented clearly and in a way that is easy to read. The one area in which poor sited players may miss out on something is the new Pokemon stalking mechanic which allows players to sneak up on Pokemon that have revealed themselves within the tall grass of the game world. Small icons appear which can be hard to see for those without good vision, but this is an add-on feature, and will not have much of a negative impact on the game. As a result, I have no problem recommending this for any visually impaired gamer who wants a great 3DS title.

The case is much the same for fine-motor. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire stick to the tried and true formula that is so accessible. The game is turn-based, which means that nothing in the main storyline requires precision or timing. It’s true that there may be a few inaccessible mini-games, but these can be avoided entirely, and do not affect the games general accessibility. Even though the game relies on touch to traverse the main menu, the boxes are large enough and the touch sensitivity forgiving enough that even with my severely impaired hands, I had no problem using a stylus or my finger to navigate through the game. As a result, this game can be played extensively with the use of only one hand. The one notable exception is the new Soaring mode which allows players to fly above the Hoenn region, on the back of a Pokemon. Even though this requires the use of the circle pad and the face buttons at the same time, it seems easy enough to execute with one finger on each hand, or it can be avoided entirely for those who don’t have the ability. Again, this game is highly recommended for any player with a 3DS with fine-motor impairments, since nothing in the game will exclude them from full enjoyment.

Finally, auditorily impaired gamers have nothing to worry about. Nothing in the game relies on sound or the ability to hear. None of the new features seem to be off limits to deaf and hard of hearing players, and as a result Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire should be completely barrier free for those with hearing impairments.

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