— Promotional poster/pamphlet included with Pokémon Emerald Version
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 the 3rd Generation. It introduced many changes to the gameplay, such as: natures, abilities, double battles, contests, and over 100 new Pokémon to collect. Along with massive graphical improvements over its predecessors, it also brought a complete overhaul of the data structure, resulting in the games being incompatible with the previous two generations. The games took place in Hoenn, which is based on the Kyushu region of Japan rotated ninety degrees*
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, where they save Professor Birch from a wild Pokémon. As thanks, he gives the player their own Pokémon, and the adventure begins. Unlike previous installments, the player has tworival trainers: The first is Brendan or May (depending on which gender the player is), Birch's child. The other is Wally, a sickly boy who catches his first Pokémon with help from the player, and who leaves home soon afterward.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). *
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 Zangoose and Lunatone 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 were still greatly profitable) "main pair" of games.
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.
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.
Even funnier after you manage to capture/defeat Rayquaza: He will ask "By the way, you smell singed. Were you at a volcano or something?"
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.
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.
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), of Generation IV fame, was initially designed to be a Pokémon for these installments, but was later scrapped.
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.)
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. They don't show up in actual gameplay, however.
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: Like in the previous games, you have to endure a tutorial on how to capture a Pokemon. Instead of the game teaching the player character directly, 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.
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.
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.
Randomly Drops: Feebas is one of the most frustrating Pokémon to get in these games. Out of 436 water tiles on Route 119, only six randomly-picked tiles*
(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.
Rare Random Drop: Chimecho is notable for its rarity among all of the Pokémon available at Mt. Pyre (or all of Hoenn, for that matter).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.