Pokémon: Emerald Version (JP) is the enhanced remake of Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire. This makes Emerald part of the third-generation of Pokémon games. The game follows a slightly modified storyline from Ruby and Sapphire. This time, both Team Aqua and Team Magma are serving as villains, and you are able to catch both Groudon and Kyogre. The main story Pokémon in this game is Rayquaza, which is featured on the front of the cover.
Emerald adds many new elements, such as the Battle Frontier, where the player can enter Pokémon battles with other trainers. It also adds the ability to receive a Johto starter Pokémon (Chikorita, Totodile, or Cyndaquil) after completing the Hoenn Pokédex. Talking about the Pokédex, there is now a new thing called the Pokénav which has a map of Hoenn, and tells if people want to have a rematch against you. In addition, the Pokémon of the gym leaders and Elite Four have been changed, the Elite Four has a new Champion, you can battle past gym leaders again, and Johto Pokémon have been added, as well as the usual graphical upgrades. Unlike the previous games that have been third (Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon Crystal), it has been said that a lot of new content has been added to Emerald, and it is not just a way of "milking" the Pokémon franchise.
Pokémon Emerald was 2005’s second best-selling game in the United States, and was the best selling Game Boy Advance game in the U.S.
The setting and story remain largely the same as Ruby and Sapphire. Players can choose between either a boy or girl, both of whom have been given new outfits with a green color scheme, and one of three Pokémon before they proceed from their hometown into the rest of the game's world.
Players are tasked with filling their Pokédex by catching different Pokémon species and evolving them. They are also tasked to complete eight gym challenges and defeat the Elite Four and its Champion by battling their Pokémon. Along the way, they make two rivals: May or Brendan, the child of the Pokémon Professor Birch, and Wally, a timid child from Petalburg who the player assists in catching his first Pokémon, a Ralts. They also encounter Wallace, the Hoenn Region's Champion.
Along their journey, they face both Team Magma and Team Aqua, who originally could only be faced in Ruby and Sapphire, respectively. Both have a goal to change the world they believe will benefit Pokémon—Magma desiring to expand the landmass and Aqua desiring to expand the sea—and both plan to accomplish their respective goals by summoning the legendary Pokémon Groudon and Kyogre, respectively. Both teams make repeated efforts to alter the landscape. Team Magma attempts to make a volcano erupt and Team Aqua tries to steal a weather-altering Pokémon.
Between the player's visit to the seventh and eighth gyms, both teams summon their respectively-sought legendary Pokémon with mystical orbs stolen from Mt. Pyre; however, the Pokémon refuse to obey either team and begin fighting, which puts the world in a constantly switching state of droughts and heavy rainfalls. The player climbs a tower in order to summon the legendary Pokémon Rayquaza, who quells the other two Pokémon's rage.
After the player defeats the Elite Four, they are able to encounter two Pokémon flying across Hoenn, Latias and Latios, and can access an area called the Battle Frontier, which adds several new challenges for the player. The player gains access to a battle with former champion Steven Stone in Meteor Falls, who uses a powered-up version of his team in Ruby and Sapphire. The player is now able to catch Kyogre and Groudon, which can be tracked by talking to the scientist in the Weather Institute.
Pokémon Emerald received generally positive reception and holds aggregate scores of 76/100 and 76.65% on Metacritic and GameRankings respectively. It received an award for excellence at the ninth annual CESA game awards. IGN's Craig Harris stated that while he was not enthused by Emerald, he admitted that it was a solid game and that it was the best version to get for people who hadn't played Ruby or Sapphire yet. 1UP.com's Christian Nutt felt that it was the definitive version of Pokémon at the time yet was also a rehash. GameSpy's Phil Theobald felt that it was a good game in its own right but felt like the same game as Ruby and Sapphire. GameSpot's Ryan Davis noted that it was a quality experience despite being similar to Ruby and Sapphire and that hardcore fans may appreciate its changes. Eurogamer's Corey Brotherson felt that it was a good game in its own right but was lacking in compelling additions. He added however that it was a better game for players new to the series. Nintendo Life's Laurie Blake performed a retroactive review of Emerald; she felt that the Pokémon games have aged well but still feel like they did in 1996. She further stated that the similarities between it and Ruby and Sapphire prevented it from being a must-have while still being good. Allgame's Julia Reges felt that the game had a lot of value for younger players but that older players may be disinterested. She compared Nintendo's remakes of the Pokémon games to the various Star Wars remakes.
IGN's Audrey Drake praised the game for utilizing both of the villain groups and called it a "marked departure" from Ruby and Sapphire. She felt that the ability to re-battle Gym Leaders created an "exciting challenge" for players. She also included Emerald, alongside Ruby and Sapphire, in a list of Game Boy Advance games that she wanted to see on the Nintendo 3DS' eShop. 1UP.com's IGN's Lucas M. Thomas bemoaned the fact that he had to play through the whole game before he could play the Battle Frontier. Jeremy Parish listed Emerald as one of the best games to bring onto a plane. Fellow 1UP.com editor Kat Bailey included it in her list of remakes that "left the originals in the dust". She praised the Battle Frontier and its fixes for flaws found in Ruby and Sapphire.