"Immerse yourself in the beautiful region of Hoenn, a place of masterful heroes and mysterious teams, of friendship and battles. As the new kid in town, you set off on your journey as a Pokémon Trainer. Who knows what wonders and dangers await you? Now it's time to grab your gear and head out on your own..."
— Blurb on the back of the boxes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions
The third set of games in the Pokémon series, Ruby and Sapphire were released for the Game Boy Advance, with Emerald arriving a few years after. Along with FireRed, LeafGreen, Colosseum and XD, they are known collectively as Generation III of the Pokémon video game series. In addition to introducing a new story and region to explore and over 100 new Pokémon to catch, Ruby and Sapphire brought with it many new gameplay features such as individual natures and Abilities for each Pokémon, double battles, and Pokémon contests. Along with massive graphical improvements over its predecessors, these games also had an entirely new data structure; as a result, Generation III games were incompatible with the previous two generations.The games took place in Hoenn, which is based on the Kyushu region of Japan rotated ninety degreesnote Of course, since the world is round and we never see Hoenn on a map along with any other regions, this rotation doesn't matter much. The game begins with the player moving to their new home in Littleroot Town, and later saving the local Pokémon Professor, Birch, from a wild Pokémon. As thanks, he gives the player their own Pokémon, encouraging him/her to travel around the region and collect as much data on Hoenn's Pokémon as they can, much like Birch's child (and your rival) Brendan/May is doing.note Your rival is whichever player character you didn't pick at the beginning; if playing as May, Brendan is your rival, and vice versa.On their quest to be the best, players will encounter two villainous groups: Teams Aqua and Magma, who want to flood and dry out the planet, respectively. Sapphire players will become allied with Team Magma to stop Aqua summoning Kyogre, while Ruby Trainers help Aqua stop Magma summoning Groudon. Emerald put them both in the antagonist role, with Rayquaza being summoned to stop the chaos.These games may be the biggest case of One Game for the Price of Two in the franchise, as there is literally no way to legitimately collect all 386 Pokémon without aid from FireRed, LeafGreen, Colosseum, and XD (Oddly, only RubyorSapphire). note The Game Boy Advance had backwards-compatability for the Game Boy Color, but its link cables were unable to connect the two systems; coupled with the aforementioned data structure redesign, there was no method for importing or trading Pokémon from Gold, Silver or Crystal to Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald. The Red and Blueremakes provided all 150 Kanto Pokémon and a small pool of Johto's, with Colosseum and XD having several from all three regions; together, they had all but the event-only Pokémon. Between Emerald and Ruby/Sapphire, only Lunatone and Zangoose respectively are missing and both are found in XD. Due to being released after the "Pokémania" phase of Generations I and II, and before the "It prints money" phase of the Nintendo DS, Ruby and Sapphire were the least successful (though still greatly profitable) "main pair" of games.
Tropes used in Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald:
100% Completion: First time in the series you get more than diploma for Pokédex, which is not repeated until Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (unless you count Sinnohnote Which rewards you with National Pokédex and Poké Radar) - for completing Hoenn Pokédex in Emerald only, you can choose one of the Johto starters.
After Combat Recovery: 5/7 of the Battle Frontier facilities, with the exceptions being the Battle Pike (although subverted when certain conditions are met) and the Battle Pyramid.
An Interior Designer Is You: The Secret Bases, which can get addicting. You can also decorate your bedroom at home, though to a lesser extent than the Secret Bases.
Anti-Frustration Features: Relearning moves from a Pokemon's natural moveset was impossible in Gen I, and in Gen II required you to beat the Pokemon League of the side game Pokemon Stadium 2 with your own team of non-rentals. Starting from Gen III, an NPC (in Fallarbor Town for this generation) will do this for a Heart Scale, which can easily be farmed off of Luvdisc, are scattered across the overworld. and in some games can be given a reward for certain tasks.
Apathetic Citizens: The two places which subvert this are Lilycove and Sootopolis, when Groudon and/or Kyogre are woken. Everywhere else, it's played straight.
Apocalypse How: The weather trio starts as an in progress Regional Disruption, but stated that if it is not stopped, will become a biosphere extinction (Groudon bringing harsh heavy everlasting sun, leaving desert wildlife, or Kyogre flooding the world, which allows purely aquatic life to remain).
Bag of Spilling: This generation is the only one to be incompatible with previous generations, which is one among various reasons behind the hatedom towards these games.
Blackout Basement: Brawly's Gym. Only the player and the three-by-three area around him/her is visible, but beating some gym Trainer's increase the radius of the area. The Gym Leader grants the player Flash, which becomes used in a few saves.
Bonus Boss: In addition to Rayquaza, and the seven Frontier Brains, Emerald has Groudon and Kyogre appear in mysteriously disappearing and reappearing caves on several routes. There's also the four distant islands, where Lati@s, Mew, Lugia, Ho-Oh, and Deoxys can be found. Finally, Steven can be found in a hidden room in Meteor Falls.
Cave Behind the Falls: Meteor Falls is a rather small dungeon, until the player unlocks Waterfall, opening the rest up.
A replica of Submarine Explorer 1 can be seen in Slateport's Oceanic Museum when you first visit it.
There's one that may go unnoticed in Emerald thanks to how subtle it is. Thanks to the Match Call feature, Trainers that you register will randomly call you for stuff that never really matters. At one point, your rival calls and remarks on seeing a flying, green Pokémon in the sky. Most players just take it to be another silly adventure. But when Groudon and Kyogre are clashing in Sootopolis City and Wallace asks you where one might find Rayquaza, the big green, flying legendary Pokémon, suddenly your rival's phone call seems a little more useful.
Similarly, a couple in Lilycove mentions they are vacationing there and were excited because the first Pokémon they saw was a dragon flying through the sky.
There's also a man in Fortree City who remarks on seeing a gigantic green dragon.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Winona's Altaria has Dragon Dance despite it being only Level 33. It can't learn the move by level-up until Level 40, and Swablu doesn't learn it by level-up either.
Continuity Reboot: Essentially because Gen III reprogrammed the way Pokemon are coded, making it incompatible with Gen I and Gen II games. Because of this all the older games got remakes to bring them in line with the continuity Ruby and Sapphire started, both in how the games are coded and in narrative Retcons that imply Gen I is roughly concurrent with Gen III and Gen II with Gen IV, as well as planting a few more foreshadowing and shoutouts between all the games.
The background music played inside the Oceanic Museum at Slateport is a remix of the S.S. Anne theme.
One of the ship replicas contained therein is of the S.S. Anne.
Ruby and Sapphire feature an NPC in Petalburg City stating that Norman moved from Johto. For some reason, this was removed from Emerald.
Mt. Chimney. You shouldn't be able to stand right in front of the lava pool like that.
Humorously averted with a Team Magma Grunt who's standing guard near a lava pool. When he engages you in battle, he complains about his post and says his left ear is burning. After the fight, he says he's getting heat exhaustion and questions why Team Magma is wearing hoods in a volcano if you talk to him again after.
You know how the Pokédex says no two Spinda have the same spot pattern? Turns out a hidden stat generated about 4 billion different patterns.
You can't lose the starting fight; the wild Pokémon will flee if you purposefully screw it up. Professor Birch still compliments you...
You will be let into the Oceanic Museum in Slateport for free if you don't have the money needed to pay the fee, but only during the one time the plot requires you to enter.
Downloadable Content: This is the generation in which Nintendo events blossomed into its full form. Various islands are accessable only with tickets, which are downloaded through Nintendo events, or via connection with an e-Reader and the appropriate e-Card.
Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald gives us Southern Island, which holds either Latias or Latios, and accessible with only the Eon Ticket.
The AuroraTicket gives us Birth Island, which holds Deoxys, and is available only in Emerald, as well as Firered and Leafgreen.
The MysticTicket gives us Naval Rock Isle, which holds Ho-Oh, Lugia, and the Sacred Ash, and is available only in Emerald, as well as Firered and Leafgreen.
There are twelve kinds of berries only available through e-Cards, which could only be found by buying trading cards. Most of the cards were never released, some of which were only in Japan.
Trainer Hill's layout can be modified with certain e-Cards.
Jirachi and Celebi could be gotten only with certain promotional discs, to be connected with a Gameboy Advance-to-Gamecube link cable.
Some battles could be unlocked only with e-Reader connection and certain promotional e-Cards.
The Old Sea Chart gives us Faraway island, which holds Mew, and is available only in Emerald
Dual Boss: Emerald includes an additional double boss battle where the player and Steven Stone team up against Magma Admin Tabitha and Magma Leader Maxie at the Mossdeep Space Center.
Dummied Out: It was stated in a Nintendo Power interview that Gastrodon (and presumably Shellos) were initially designed for this game, but were scrapped. They would later show up in Generation IV.
There are six hidden tracks in Ruby and Sapphire, five of them GBA remakes of Generation II tracksnote the Pokémon Communications Center theme, the Route 38 theme, the Team Rocket Radio Tower Takeover music, the Raikou/Entei/Suicune battle theme from Crystal, and the redone Viridian/Pewter/Saffron City music and the last one an alternate arrangement/possible demo of the Littleroot Town music. Emerald also contains the entire soundtrack from FireRed and LeafGreen, though it does use a few tracks from the latter.
Dying Curse: The new move Grudge works as one because when used by a Pokemon and that Pokemon faints from a direct attack by the opponent, the attacking move's PP drops to zero.
Evil Versus Evil: Teams Magma and Aqua are constantly at odds with each other. Each version lets you take a different response to it. (In Ruby, you team up with Team Aqua to defeat Team Magma. In Sapphire, it's the other way around. In Emerald, you fight both of them.)
Fail O'Suckyname: A pair of NPC's reference this trope, warning the player to be careful when choosing their Pokemon's names. Of note, the old man named his Pikachu "Pekachu".
On top of that, Sootopolis City's architecture is based on the city of Santorini, Greece.
On the actual culture however, Hoenn seems to be a bit of a rural island, or at least an island that has very strong traditions. It has strong port cities but those don't have Gyms. The only major city to have a Gym is Rustboro, and it's implied that is a fairly new Gym at that.
The legendaries seem to be based off of Jewish mythical creatures: golems (the Regis), Leviathan (Kyogre), Behemoth (Groudon), and Ziz (Rayquaza).
Forced Tutorial: Unlike in the previous games, the tutorial on how to capture a Pokemon is now mandatory. Instead of the game teaching the player character directly however, they use Wally to do it and it doubles as a plot point since it is his first time catching a Pokemon and he becomes your rival later on.
The fact that it's presented as Wally learning how to catch a Pokémon, rather than you, it's at least a bit less annoying than in some other generations.
Approximately 100 hours into gameplay or one year after the game's release, a rollover bug, called the Berry Glitch, would result in Berries ceasing to grow in Sapphire and Ruby - along with stilling/freezing anything else relating to the passage of time (e.g. the tides in Shoal Cave). Linking with FireRed, LeafGreen, Emerald, Colosseum, XD, an event for a shiny Zigzagoon at EB games, a pair of Japanese promo e-Reader cards, non-Japanese releases of Pokémon Box, or the PAL release of Pokémon Channel patched the error.
The internal batteries that handled clock-based events in the initial Ruby and Sapphire weren't the longest lived either, so there was a good chance they would fail (with the same effects as the Berry Glitch), and unlike the Berry Glitch, as it is a hardware issue and not a software one, it can't be fixed. Fortunately, unlike Gold, Silver, and Crystal, the battery isn't used to retain save data as well (which is stored using flash memory; FireRed and LeafGreen don't have batteries at all), so the game can still be played; just without the time-based events.
While still having bugs; Game Freak was able to perform much more bug-testing with their games starting with Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald (after the profits from Generation I and Generation II made up for the loss of Generation I's troubled production). And it shows.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The little girl outside the Seashore House invites you in with a little poem that starts off with the line "If you're hot-to-trot." Hot-to-trot is a mildly rude phrase for being ready or eager to do something, or, a little more commonly, sexually excited.
Guide Dang It: Feebas is one of the most frustrating Pokémon to get in the entire series. Out of 436 water tiles on Route 119, only six randomly-picked tilesnote whenever a new game is started or the trendy phrase in Dewford is changed have Feebas, a 1 in 72.67 chance of finding a tile that has them. You're not even guaranteed to get one by fishing on those tiles.
Less frustratingly, Chimecho only appears in one area and is extremely rare, and isn't even worth much besides Pokedex completion.
One of the more legitimate cases is the Master Ball, which, in Ruby and Sapphire, is found in Team Magma/Aqua's Lilycove hideout, which closes up later in the game. (Emerald, fortunately, leaves the hideout open.) Since the base is built around warp-tile puzzles, the item is easy to miss.
The opportunity to battle and catch Pokémon in the Cave of Origin is lost after the completion of the Weather Trio crisis event in Emerald Version.
The rooms of the Trick House north of Slateport City can amount to this, as the player cannot revisit them once they have been completed, resulting in the possibility of some items (visible and hidden) being missed forever.
Naval Rock Isle, Birth Island, Southern Island, and Faraway Island were only available by getting special tickets from Nintendo events.
Luck-Based Mission: The Game Corner, of course. But also the Battle Pike. Based on the player's choice of one to three rooms, a player can face a battle, a double battle, a particularly tough battle, nothing at all, free healing, status effects, or a room of random encounters. Also, the Mirage Island appears seldomly.
Naval Blockade: Team Magma/Aqua use a team of tamed Wailmer to blockade one of the port cities, forcing you to deal with them and advance the story before you explore the ocean.
The Needless: There are 7 people on Route 113, a Route that is covered in perpetual volcanic ash. In real life, prolonged exposure of the respiratory system to inorganic particulates such as volcanic ash would lead to suffocation or even worse, lung cancer. Yet, the people you meet there will never show any ill effects whatsoever from standing around in that area the entire time.
In Emerald, however, the man in the glass workshop (as well as his son) has clearly suffered ill effects from living there for so long, stopping to cough or catch his breath at the end of every sentence.
Noob Cave: Petalburg Woods, as typical of the series.
Red Herring: Early in the game, the player can fight the Winstrate family, who challenge you all in a row with no chance to heal in between fights. After they are defeated, every member of the family starts gushing about how great of a trainer the family's eldest son is, and how the player could never beat him. One of them even speculates that he has become the Champion. Towards the end of the game, you do eventually get to fight him— an ordinary trainer in Victory Road who is of no importance to the plot and no harder than any other generic trainer (you can also bypass him and not even realize it).
Route 113 is a place covered in ash - but if you've ever played any of the Earthbound/Mother games, the music will make you think of a place covered in snow.
On Route 127, there is a fisherman Jonah who has a Wailmer.
Schrödinger's Question: In addition to the usual world-building questions in the beginning, in Emerald, at one point the main character's mom asks what color the creature on TV was. Whatever you say turns out to be correct.
Side Quest: New Mauville. Also, the Pokémon Contests, which were first introduced in this generation.
Super Not-Drowning Skills: The Dive move allows the player to travel underwater, without a scuba mask. Humorously, if you have any Pokémon that are normally weak against water, they can battle and not lose their HP.
Over a quarter of the game takes place in the ocean.
Up to Eleven: Meta example. Remember the Berry Glitch (mentioned above) and that Zigzagoon which was distributed to fix it? In Japan, it was distributed for only 4 months. United States, however, had this go for over 3 years, making it the longest event ever.
Volcanic Veins: Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza show this off in the title sequence of the game.
Waiting Puzzle: Regice's Braile message in Ruby/Sapphire: "Stop and wait. Wait for time to pass twice."explanation Don't move for two minutes.
You Are Not Ready: The player's father, Norman, does this. He's the first Gym Leader the player meets, but insists that the player collect four badges to gain experiance. This serves the purpose of dividing the game up neatly into two parts, as after his defeat, the east side of the map opens up.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: Played straight. What makes the straightness interesting though is that its unique among Pokémon games; the rest have the evil teams stopped before the "let legendary Pokémon do X" stage, while these games actually show them in the process of attempting to burn the world to a crisp/flood the world. The music doesn't help make it not disturbing.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Oddly, Hoenn has a large number of important characters with blue, purple, and even silver hair - more so than most any other region.