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Diversity is key
First things first: If you want to avoid meeting Tentacools on water, use repels. That solves ALL of your problems with surfing, so I see no reason to complain about that.

Second of all, I will admit this was the generation that introduced me to Pokemon, so Nostalgia Filter may be in play here, but I will say that this region is the prettiest. You get to see deserts, volcanoes, secluded basins, floating houses, rainforests, heck, you can even go underwater. I have never seen such diversity before or after this generation was introduced, and for that I will never forget Hoenn.

Continuing on, we have the actual Pokemon you see in Hoenn. The first pokemon you see in Emerald is Vigoroth, a sloth with the strength of ten men. Then you choose your starter; will you choose the Kickboxing Fire Chicken, the Ninja Sword Gecko, or the ever-so-loved Mudkip? You go through the routes and you meet Puppies that turn into Hyenas, Acorns that evolve into trees, a little girl that becomes a beautiful woman (or not), torpedo sharks...They've definitely stepped up their game from evolutionary lines that went from thing to bigger version of that thing (Grimer to Muk, Ekans to Arbok, Ponyta to Rapidash, the list goes on).

Next up, the Legendaries. This was the first generation to explode with Legendary pokemon, and I've got to say, I love each and every one of them. There's a male and female Jet. Behemoth, Leviathan, and Ziz. Poke-golems. Pokemon from outer space.

This generation seems to be going for a very diverse generation as a whole with tons of diversity, and having grown up in a place where I've been taught to celebrate diversity, this is just the perfect region for me. If you want to be introduced to an entire planet in one continental island, if you want to see just how Crazy Awesome Pokemon and their evolutions can be, and if you want to be introduced to a place so diverse that rumors where you go into Outer Space could actually be believable, then try Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald out. I can't guarantee you'll like everything, but for me, this was the perfect way to introduce me to a franchise.
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The Problem with Ruby/Sapphire
Terrible villians.

This is probably the single worst thing about Ruby and Sapphire. The simple fact that the antagonists are just... lame.

Team Aqua is an organization that wants more oceans.

Team Magma is an organization that wants more land.


I dunno. I really... I really don't know. Maybe the guy who started Magma's parents drowned or something? I don't know.

Team Rocket was a criminal organization that stole Pokemon for profit. That doesn't make them great villians, but they at least have a clear goal, and you can understand why they would have that goal. You might question their methodology, but you don't have to question their reason.

You constantly, constantly have to question everything Magma and Aqua do. They're almost pathetic, what with their childish squabbles. Hell, they are pathetic. They're arguing about land and sea like nerds over Star Wars and Star Trek.

Sure. Their plans would have been more dangerous, more deadly than anything Rocket could come up with. But honestly? That somehow makes it worse. A lot people would die because some moron wanted more water. That's about as bad a death as you can get.

The whole thing feels like an environmental message. A very bad, very poorly written environmental message with no connection to the real world.

I could mention how the Pokemon new to this game all seemed kind of lame, or how having a space port but not letting you go to space is a real kick to the balls, but those are just little things. Story's never been important to Pokemon, but this game was just a little too weak for me to stomach. And I blame it on Magma and Aqua.
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Generation III review
Gen III, disregarding the Gen I remakes, includes Ruby and Sapphire, and later Emerald.

Setting: The Hoenn region, which is half terrain and half water, has a nature theme.

Story: You fight against Team Magma (Ruby) or Team Aqua (Sapphire); both are fought in Emerald. The former wants to increase landmass for terrestrial life with Groudon while the latter seeks to expand the seas for aquatic life with Kyogre. It's unique from Team Rocket, but both are quite myopic about the side-effects of their goals, especially Aqua.

Pokémon: Gen III introuduced 135 new Pokémon. Notice that the designs have become more detailed (some would say "complicated") as Ken Sugimori, while designing all the Mons of the first 2 Gens, developed a design team starting here. Competitively, they're generally better than what Gen II added, but not many aside from the legendaries (who started receiving a portrayal as deities as opposed to forces of nature like in the earlier Gens) remain top threats in the metagame, and this is when some of the more notable Joke Character Junk Rares debuted (ex. Luvdisc).

Verdict: Gen III is probably the most neglected Gen, with the decline of "Pokemania" driving many fans to turn to Yugioh or simply drop the series. The lack of 2/3 of the first 251 Pokémon, along with Hoenn's isolation from Kanto and Johto and the lack of backwards connectivity with any previous games, didn't help matters. These games were actually much better than people think, having the first visually pleasing region, a slew of new Pokémon worth more to try than Gen II's, and the Battle Frontier in Emerald to give people a taste of competitive battling. However, there are several negatives. Aside from the aforementioned isolation from the first 2 Gens, Hoenn had WAY too much surfing, leaving you spending several hours seeing monotonous blue, the same Mons in the wild and on trainers' teams, and nothing to hear but surfing music. There also weren't quite so many new mechanics as in Gen II. Despite these complaints, Gen III is still a great addition to the series and I pity those who simply skipped it.


Don't miss my Gen IV review!

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Too wet.
Why are Ruby and Sapphire often called "The boring Generation"? They're not bad games, they introduced a lot of new concepts, the graphics were lush... And yet, there still exists a vocal hatedom. Well, here's my personal account.

Oh boy. I remember first reading about Ruby and Sapphire in a random gaming magazine, and what interested me the most was the new region: Hoenn. Truth be told, I was not a fan of Johto when I played Gold. Johto lacked the mystique of Kanto, the variety of pokemon, the feel. In many ways, Johto was Kanto 2.0. Yet here, we had a completely new region with no resemblance whatsoever to Kanto. Most of the previous pokemon were gone, replaced by 3rd Gen equivalents. There was a tram, a volcano, a desert with an eternal sandstorm... So many new locales! And the new evil teams... There were two of them! So cool!

Then I played the games, and noticed the one thing I had missed before: A third of the region was water. I was not a fan of water routes before Pokemon Ruby, so I was not pleased to learn that many of the routes were water paths. Worse, despite the many new additions, pokemon variety on water routes stayed mostly the same: Tentacool, Tentacruel, and more Tentacool. Oh sure, there were Wailmers and Wingulls too, but the sheer amount of Tentacool killed my excitement to ever approach the sea again. The developers even seemed to notice how much water they included; the final gym leader is a water-type user!

Now, Ruby and Sapphire did many things right. They introduced a plethora of new ghosts, darks, steels, and dragons, more than doubling previous numbers. They introduced natures, allowing more customization, as well as abilities, allowing for more battle complexity. Hell, the games were lush, colorful, and exploding with variety! New pokemon gazed out from every corner. There were trees, gremlins, chickens, dinosaurs, camels, sharks... Even a wind chime! And yet, I just could not stomach the single player because of the massive sea.

This isn't really a review, so much as an explanation of what I personally found to be wrong with the game. Still, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire are landmarks in series history. They started many trends for future games, some positive (More ghosts, dragons, steels, and darks!), other negative (Multiple running or event-only legendaries). I like them, but I just can't love them.
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Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (Generation 3) (Game Boy Advance)
Possibly the most disliked generation in the series (until recently, I'll expand more on that later), Generation 3 was criticized for not having enough old Pokemon in it's regional Pokedex, too big a sea, and 'losing the magic' (most kids who grew up with Generations 1 and 2 were now adolescents who entered their "Pokemon is stupid and for kids!" phase) which the previous two generations had.

Hell no.

Pokemon RSE were groundbreaking. It was the first 'reboot' for the series, changing the underlying mechanics like E Vs and I Vs and making them simpler for the players. It included several things which make these digital mons more unique and lifelike, such as abilities and natures (which also add to gameplay). Berries from GSC were expanded upon, and now you're able to plant your own. And we finally got Double Battles!

But let's not judge this game by the features it adds. In a series like Pokemon which has many installments to come, if a certain feature wasn't introduced this generation, it would be in the next. I wouldn't say RSE was good solely based on the features it introduced, what's important is the adventure and the gameplay.

Gen 3 had the best atmosphere and variety in the regions, having a desert, a jungle, a volcano, a vast sea (YMMV, see first paragraph), and even an underwater cave! The music is some of the best in the series (just go listen to "Route 120" on Youtube!). Even Pokemon designs were top notch (Sceptile, Blaziken, Swampert, Flygon, Manectric, Salamence, Aggron... all incredibly badass). The difficulty was a huge step up from being non-existant in GSC (your paths branched after Ecruteak in Gen 2, meaning cities on both sides had the same level range, and post-game Kanto was dull and boring.)

So, I mentioned that it was the most disliked 'until recently.' I have been noticing the fanbase for this generation growing in message boards, image boards, and everywhere else. There have been a lot more people supporting RSE in 'which generation is best' debates which crop up frequently. I'm fairly sure it isn't something I'm imagining simply because I want to believe it. It might even have to do with it's Woobie status. I'm quite glad that the hate for these brilliant games seem to be ebbing away.

I'm eagerly awaiting the R/S remakes.
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