Pokémon: Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (2003)

The greatest mythology, adventure, region, legendaries, themes, awe, & experience in history of pocket monsters; epic-scale apocalyptica canvas of nature/climate in a lush Kyūshū island jungle tropical paradise w. magic & GBA raw evolution. 9.7/10.

Plot Synopsis: Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, & Emerald Versions are role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. They are the third generation of the Pokémon video game series, best-selling games in GBA history, and also known as the “advanced generation”.

CLC’s Official Top 10 #Generation3 Pokémon: 1. Latios, 2. Rayquaza, 3. Kyogre, 4. Deoxys, 5. Groudon, 6. Regirock, 7. Latias, 8. Registeel, 9. Aggron, 10. Jirachi /// Honorable Mentions [Too Many Good Ones, Again]: Swampert, Tropius, Slaking, Altaria, Camerupt, Manectric, Sableye, Makuhita, Azurill

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A Trilogy From Dreams

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Pocket Monsters had come a long way since 1996. Two generations in, what was once just a crazy dream-concept by a young kid named Satoshi Tajiri who spent a lifetime dreaming and 10+ years building [& nearly-bankrupting Nintendo] the ultimate fantasy world adventure experience was starting to see progress in the real one. Generation 1 established a bonafide, revolutionary pop-culture phenomenon spanning a gamut of video game genres with Red/Blue/Green/Yellow, and Generation 2 were the rare video game sequels able to challenge the originals’ throne while eulogizing them and progressing the IP with the best starters, new creature designs, postgame, & feature additions in series history in Gold/Silver/Crystal. Despite the accomplishments in Johto, the franchise’s popularity was beginning to ~wane in the early 2000’s – enough to greenlight a third generation by its core fanbase of diehards under co-publishing by The Pokémon Company with Nintendo relinquishing some control/overwatch, but still failing to catch all the hearts and eyes of the world-over by comparison to our favorite Charizard and Pikachu-led generation and beginning to be typecast as more of an indie than a blockbuster franchise who, perhaps, just saw their 15 minutes of fame come-and-go. Everybody knows in film: the trilogy ending is a critical finishing-piece; quite arguably the most difficult one to accomplish, but one of epic levels of payoff if done correctly. This paradox is only amplified in video game franchises – ones taking 10x more development and work hours to build-and-deliver to us, and one that must’ve been everpresently hanging over the teams at Nintendo given that the systemic mechanization and overworld of Pokémon was already ~fully-established in basics by ’96 and further-refined by sheer brilliance to what seemed like maximum performance in 2000.

A Panegyric To Nature

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald were perhaps the most pressure-filled games in the core series – a precipice of requisite evolution and self-deconstruction to recapture lost magic and wallets, and they – against all odds – succeeded. The greatest mythology, adventure, region, legendaries, and themes in the history of Pocket Monsters beautifully-weaved in an epic-scale apocalyptica canvas of climate/elemental nature exposition, R/S/E are the second-best new generation on release – bringing the series back to its roots out of brilliance in self-deconstruction in a lush, breathtakingly-synergized Kyūshū island jungle tropical background paradise brought to life by GBA technological evolution, real orchestration, fantastic new [& more] creature designs perfectly-spectrumizing the gamut of demographics, pure comic book fun/nostalgia in villain dichotomization, strong characterization, and A+ new feature additions like farming, double-battles, abilities, new ecosystems, and contests. From the opening scene’s soft poignance of flutes in a background of quiescence and soul-quenching natural iconography of morning dew gently cascading off evergreen leaves into ponds below, the major theme of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald’s is established: nature. Generation III is a panegyric to the natural world in story, themes, creatures, legendaries, name, villains, etc. – one that brings Pokémon back to its roots in a region we start our adventure in Littleroot Town.

Returning To Roots In Littleroot

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

The Creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri, built the entire concept of his dream world as a kid around the crux theme of nature. Known as Dr. Bug, Tajiri was obsessed with entomology [bug-collecting & researching] in his youth growing up in Tokyo, JPN in the 1970’s – only he began to notice local urbanization, declining insect populations, and other children progressively migrating towards indoors play. Agonizing over the lost joy of his experiences in nature kids then and in the future would be missing out on in life, Tajiri began formulating the origins of a fantasy world in his imagination extrapolating his perceived career-choice and hobby to the ultimate scale. Once the ’80’s pop-culture wave of video games became a phenomenon, he found the perfect medium to parlay his mission into a shareable reality – de-and-reconstructing Famicom consoles in his basement to learn how they worked and becoming writer-and-editor of his own publication gamezine he started peddling at local small dojinshi kiosks called Game Freak. This startup born out of the love of video games by a patriarch with his own revolutionary idea learning the mechanization of how to bring it to life eventually became the eponymous titan of video game development company responsible for the PKMN series – alongside a Nintendo who almost bankrupted themselves bringing R/B/G/Y to life back in 1996, but was rewarded justly by pop-culture.

A Tropical Paradise Region Of Adventure True To IP Origins & Dreams: Hoenn

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Pocket Monsters is the greatest concept in the history of fiction by the very idea of a childhood adventure in an idealized landscape free of real-world dangers and responsibilities being able to wield the power of nature through vastly-diverse and cross-demographically appealing creatures of water, fire, grass, electric, psychic, dark, normal, steel, ground, ice, rock, fairy, ghost, etc. types – one re-evoking lost connection to the natural landscapes our ancestors lived in and our DNA is codewired to crave but we’ve become increasingly-removed from by from the evolution of civilization from real jungles to concrete ones and in-person experiences to virtual ones in the Technology Revolution & Social Media Age. Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald deconstruct the series with surgical proficiency & godlike foresight to recognize the very elemental, foundational appeal of Pokémon as an IP – executing it with the greatest performance of any generation and games to-date foremost through its region: Hoenn. Hoenn is a tropical paradise and eden of natural exposition born from a real-world base true to the culture that birthed the series. The real-world island of Kyūshū serves as the inspiration for the region: a mountainous, equatorial island of major tectonic activity by its active volcano and natural diversification divided into prefectures with the honor by its oceanic proximity of being the gateway to Japan and the continent of Asia.

The Kyūshū Islands Of Japan

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

The indigenous tribes and inhabitants of the region live at-one with nature – forsaking big cities and metropolises, building their civilization into the surrounding environments to rebuke violation of the ecosystems and honor the predominant religious theologies of Buddhism and Shintoism’s divinifying of flora-and-fauna, and living simplistic-yet-fulfilling lives of agriculture through exportation of products like rice, tea, tobacco, sweet potatoes, soy, and silk encapsulating much of the fiscal economy of Kyūshū. Every aspect of this is found in R/S/E, especially in the construction of the worldbuild in which the adventure takes place: one that has its own distinct identity and idosyncrasy from any other & takes the crown in CLC’s ranking of the Greatest Region In The History Of Pokémon. Hoenn boasts dramatic environments spanning the full encyclopedic spectrum of nature, including many new ecosystems and weather patterns never-before-seen in the series to eulogize its power and diversification. There are rainforests, jungles, mountains, grasslands, deserts, volcanos, islands, and oceans – an expansive overworld giving the full experience of the natural world with the most natural routes to explore of any game in the franchise at over 30+ to only sixteen towns and cities (outnumbering over 2:1 in ratio) in the preclusion of major bustling metropolises like Celadon, Saffron, or Goldenrod from Kanto & Johto. These environments control the landscape; even the cities and towns in the game [named by conjunctions of two words put together instead of colors or plants like Gens 1-2] have to make big adjustments in the infrastructure and architecture of how their inhabitants live to survive in the this new-world eden with just enough human touches & civilization to perfectly create a PKMN world.

A Background Of Nature > Metropolis

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

From the dark bug-infested forest of Petalburg Woods to foggy moss-green Rusturf Tunnel to tiny island town of Dewford to limestone industrialized-aesthetic of mausoleum-churched Rustboro to bazaar maretplaces and boat docks of Slateport to casino-clad and bicycle-roaded cyberpunk powerplants of Mauville to red rock canyons and lava pools of Fiery Path to ash-drizzling skies and cable-cars outside the volcano of Mt. Chimney to hot springs of Lavaridge to otherworldly space/cosmos feel of the purple-gooed moonlike surface of Meteor Falls to egyptian archaeological excavation ruins of deserts straight off the pages of Indiana Jones serial comics in Route 111 to foggy zombie-ready spook graveyards of Mt. Pyre to japanese wooden structure thatched/tiled-roofs of Petalburg City to futuristic minimalism of art-heavy Lilycove to return of the Safari Zone to ewok-evocative earth-toned treehouse city of Fortree to real jungle tropical rainforest of Route 119 with grass so tall you can’t even see outside to acro-biked wooden bridges on the river-fed Route 113 [one of our favorite routes in PKMN history] afterseeing the meteorologically-advanced Weather Institute, the land to explore in Hoenn is absolutely breathtaking. We love how there are so many nooks and crannies to explore and they flesh out the world-building beyond the cities themselves existentially to even the inhabitants.

A 50/50 Overworld Of Land & Seas

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

R/S/E gives us new ways to interact with the environment like soot sacks to collect ashes to make souvenirs outside Mt. Chimney [a Top 10 setting in Pokémon history in CLC’s vote evoking pure childlike wonderand reinventing the idea of snow] in the glass shop, lava cookie sales reps near the cable cars, and new archetypes like art museums and mud-bath hot springs to explore manmade entertainment between running wild in the masterpiece of world-building outside that also gave us brand new ecosystems to explore like volcanos, jungles, beaches, and more. There are new features of sheer brilliance giving us new ways to interact with the environment while celebrating its majesty and adventure: two of the best being farming and secret bases. R/S/E boasts the legacy of teaching an entire generation of kids the basics of farming and sustainability – remarkable complexity and real-world applicability born from something as simple as berry-picking/planting. The games let you pick berries on routes [a carryover from G/S/C to take advantage of the new held items mechanic] and grow more for future usage, also benefiting the environment and other trainers to allegorically instill an important theme of environmentalism and how mankind should interact with nature by gifting back as much as we take from the planet in stark juxtapositional contrast to the real-world rapaciousness of nature our ancestors and governments do.

Ecology & Farming

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald are grassroots [literally] climate activism radicalizers of indescribable subconscious magnitude and benevolence positivity for gamers – yet do so in a way that never once feels like propaganda and is of great personal use to you as a protagonist as well. Cheri, Pecha, Rawst, Chesto, Aspear, & Persim berries cure paralysis, poison, burn, sleep, freeze, and confusion status conditions, respectively. Oran, Sitrus, Figy, Wiki, Mago, Aguav, & Iapapa Berries restore HP, while Leppa Berries restore PP of moves. Liechi, Ganlon, Salac, Petaya, Apicot, Lansaf, & Starf Berries boost stats in low HP. Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa, and Tomato Berries reduce EV’s. And finally, Razz, Bluk, Nanab, Wepear, Pinap, Cornn, Magost, Rabuta, Nomel, Spelon, Pamtre, Watmel, Durin, & Belue berries are for making Pokéblocks – a new feature giving this wide variety of berries even bigger purpose beyond battle mechanization and thrill of collecting ’em all to contests (as we’ll get to later). Another new feature of natural paean is secret bases: the magic and nostalgia of building childhood treehouses on the ultimate scale adding an entire layer of exciting secrecy and minor-engineering minecraft-esque creativity by allowing you to customize and personalize your own spaces hidden from the outside world within the vast expanse of nature for magnificent [& more] escapism and investment into the landscape while even further highlighting the diversity of biomes.

A New World Of Mystery Below: Dive

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

The most striking feature of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald is how much water there is in the overworld; the games balance ~50/50 land-and-ocean to synergize with its story and themes. This is not only more ecologically accurate to how nature is in the real world and about as accurate as it could possibly get [30/70 ratio of landmass to water on Earth, but that would require getting HM03 Surf after the 2nd badge or so which wouldn’t make sense narrative progression-wise], but gives an entirely new flavor of adventure. Water has captivated explorers, historians, and darwinists since the dawn of time – the facts that all life emerged from there, can’t survive without it, we dream and vacation to islands for paradise, explorers reached the new world and established nations by boat, and we have barely scratched the surface of its mysteries with millions of miles of it still-unexplored and generations of real-world urban legends from The Loch-Ness Monster to Mariana Trench Megalodons we’re still decades from having the technology to finally visit and document. R/S/E are thus even more of an adventure than any other PKMN games by the fact they give us an entirely new world and layer to explore – both above and below the surface.

The Greatest PKMN Region Of All-Time?

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

The attractions above sea level are fantastic – from the bizarre extraterrestrial mars-like flora-and-fauna perfectly-synergized with psychic types [every city in the game is brilliantly-themed to the type of its gym leaders’ teams] and space exploration of Mossdeep to the quaint floating sea-village of wood planks evocative of real Fiji tribal villages Pacifidlog Town to wave current joyrides on Route 133 to purple/gray/black dangerous ascension to heaven and the dragon’s real of Sky Pillar to Wizard Of Oz-themed beautiful rainbow-hued flower-blooms of technicolor and yellow-brick roads above the waterfalls of Evergrande en route to Victory Road and The Pokemon League to Mirage Island [god-tier hidden Easter Egg and treasure-hunting rarer to find than a shiny by the lottery number match of odds 1/65536 with liechi berries and Wynaut] to the epic-scale pantheonic red-carpeted white marbled and yellow-flagged theme park of The Battle Frontier (another Top 15 Pokémon setting ever, especially the skyscraper Battle Tower and Asian dojo temple of The Battle Arena) to ghostly spookfest of The Abandoned Ship bringing Titanic and more treasure-hunting vibes to adorable ice water-paths and private Islands to the jaw-dropping white granite with stucco pueblo blue-roofed house Santorini/Ancient-Greece modeled Sootopolis far different than anything Pokémon had and has ever done since.

One Flaw: The Removal Of Day/Night

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

That’s only above the surface; there’s an entire world below sea-level R/S/E finally let us explore through a revolutionary new feature amongst the greatest Pokémon has ever introduced: dive. Expanding the map exponentially and turning up the fantasy, we get to go under the sea to see landscapes nature cruelly deprives our eyes from beholding without millions of dollars’ worth of submarines and deep-sea equipment amongst teh everpresent dangers of suffocation and hammerhead & great white sharks. The dark purple field of vision is absolutely breathtaking visually and a herculean optical pleasure also perfect in its starkly-mysterious and primordial feel in finding legendary mythological dens later on in the game. The new feature addition of running shoes lets you experience the total landscape in as fast or slow a speed as you’d like – A+ quality of life improvement that comes tremendously handy often in the gameplay. Across all of these landscapes both on-and-off land and above-and-below the surface, yet another genius new feature exists and makes itself known: weather patterns. Given that the game’s entire crux is climate/elemental mythology, this addition made perfect sense, and it’s executed fantastically. Gushing typhoons of torrential rain downpours, sunlight-blasted drought heat-waves, thunderstorms, ash-drizzles from the sky, and bright clear days cycle in sequences to add a refreshing layer of natural authenticity to the games – just as another feature back in G/S/C did that we’re disappointed wasn’t included.

The Wizard Of Oz & Weather Patterns

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Weather patterns are the new day/night cycles from Generation 2 – and we’re confused as to why they couldn’t have included both with a technological upgrade as powerful as the GBA. We prefer the day/night cycles to weather patterns seeing how the entire landscape looks different, and while climatological/meteorological patterns synergize better with its story here, it’s a sizable oversight to have left out so bizarrely – as well as one that is a big part of nature that prevents true comprehensive accuracy. The natural landscape is fantastic overall and otherwise otherwise in biome and worldbuilding – except for the absence of one of the four major seasons, biomes, and weather patterns: snow. Of course, Hoenn being a tropical region modeled after a real one in Kyūshū, realism dictates that there shouldn’t have been any snowy part – and we can respect it from a logical perspecitve. There are is a taste of it – not only basically a doppelgänger-remix in the ash-drizzles near Mt. Chimney that feels analogous enough to fool/satiate the palate, but also literal snow and ice in the Sootopolis Gym. Pokémon is a fantasy world, though, and could’ve found some excuse for having one biome – even if it’s one at the top of Sky Pillar or another mountain post-game wherein the altitude change allows for light dustings of snow. There’s also no fall leaves, again by its tropical setting that’s a blessing but also somewhat of a curse at-times as well. Not a big, gamebreaking deal – but a slight incompletance that could’ve been solved somehow to finalize the true achievement of all nature in one game. The A/V to bring the world-build to life is very good – not perfect, but definitely memorable and a joy to get lost in.

The Score & Real Orchestration

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

The visuals of R/S/E were a major jump from the safe-zone for Pokémon: the awkward teenage middle years between 8-bit Gens I-II were in and the DS masterpiece of Gen. IV that remains the best visuals of any Pokémon game [well until Let’s Go.. but that’s over a decade later]. The textures of the overworld are mixed and obtuse at times and ~lack the complete charm or nostalgia of its original predecessors while being less refined than D/P/P and HG/SS, but damn if the chibi world isn’t still adorable and perfectly passable escapism by any other video game’s metric in the GBA years – it certainly isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. The colors are vibrant, sprites redesigned, and transitions constantly change – cool VFX in editing cycling from triangles to whiteouts to pokeball wipes to tiles and dynamic changing battle fields: a new feature of brilliance further connecting the landscape around you to the battle screen beyond mere black and white minimalism. There’s also far more fluidity of movement by the GBA technological progression/advancements in things like how your avatar bounces like a bobblehead on the water, and the design work is absolutely incredible. In fact, Generation III might just have the best costume design in the history of the franchise. Outfits inspired by Japanese culture and athletics breathe pure idiosyncrasy into the design that sticks with you for years after playing the games.

The Visual Canvas: 8-Bit, Evolved

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The female avatar May’s outfit is the best by far, quite arguably the best in the series with rivals of D/P/P’s Dawn and Sw/Sh’s but coming in second in CLC’s vote to Dawn – a green bandana, red-orange tunic, black biker shorts, white belt, yellow backpack, and red/white sneakers [The Emerald version > Ruby and Sapphire’s]. The male avatar Brendan’s outfit is fantastic too: a Japanese/Native-American headpiece in a green bandana, red short-sleeve jacket, wristbands, gloves, black baggy pants, and red/black/green shoes – probably the best male avatar in PKMN history after Gen 1’s. The colors reverberate those of its games [with the absence of blue changed for black in a smart move, considering how red/blue/green would clash on the same outfit] and are extremely fashionable yet also bursting with vibrance, personality, and functionality hiking/biking across the landscape of dramatic weather and divergent natural biomes. The score of R/S/E is fantastic. There is a sizable amplification of the diegetic background noise to let us revel in the quiescence and peace of nature and naturalism – the crackling of lava bubbles in pools and hot springs, the pitter-patter of rainfall, each footstep on wood bridges, squishy sounds when you walk on water platforms, etc. The music that is featured boasts the first real instrument orchestration in the series; Gens 1-2 trafficked in white-noise drum flips and synthesizers by their 8-bit origins, but Gen. 3 is blessed with a trumpet-heavy soundtrack that still manages to honor its roots [still charismatic, bouncy, and plucky – even if it does, like its visuals, lack a bit (a smaller margin acoustically) of its predecessors’ charm] but is more diverse by the tonicism and timbre and a huge progression/evolution for the franchise.

The Best Protagonists & Fashion Design

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The liquid flute harmonics of Littleroot, marimba light cymbal-tapped relaxation of Rustboro, mozart-like classical piano of Pokéschool, extreme gentility in plucked violin and xylophonics of Fallarbor, brassy adventurous theme of its Routes like 113, science-fiction mysterious twinkles of Meteor Falls, grunge bass guitar chord strums of grime in Magma/Aqua dens, arabic flavor in zawaya-themed monophonic rhythm structures of Route 111, dubstep of New Mauville, Ocarina Of Time-evocative aesthetic of Fortree, dark electronica of Mt. Pyre, luxurious strings of Lilycove Art Museum, tribal drums of the Safari Zone, soul-soothing acoustic lullaby of Verdanturf, epic war drums of Legendary battles, mysterious spelunking minor keys of Dives, Greek opa 3/4 accordian steps of Sootopolis, and boom-boom-clap crowd control fanfare of The Battle Frontier are incredible. Multiple themes of the soundtrack of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald boast status in our Top 25 Score Themes Of PKMN History: Littleroot, Route 113, Verdanturf, and The Battle Arena at the frontier. If there is a gripe or grudge to be had with the score, it’s that it does reuse themes at-times. For example, Mossdeep and Lilycove [two cities of sizable importance in the narrative, one being a gym town and the other being wherein Aqua’s base is] utilize the exact same soundtrack – giving these along with several other routes and towns we noticed across the progression less identity in a canvas of technological GBA evolution that should’ve been enough to give each major area at least its own sonicism.

the characters

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Regardless of these minor oversights, the score is very good overall, and certainly fulfills its job of euogizing nature – along with its characterization by the games’ major theme on construction Satoshi Tajiri & co. said: the relationships forged between Pokémon and people through nature. The characters of R/S/E are memorable and burst with personality. Of foremost exposition’s worth is the new advancement for the series: we as the protagonist actually have a mother and father in-game. This is the first major series installment [& last] to actually *gasp* let us know what happened to our absentee father we’d otherwise believe pulled the classic drug-store cigarette ditch. Of course, this isn’t a major flaw of importance in the narrative of other or past, present, and future games seeing as how the parents in Pokémon are pretty lazy parents overall we only see for like one day in the entire adventure they send their 10 y.o. kids out on [here even funnier by the fact the bad mom moves her kid in the back of a moving truck with fear of suffocation and never even mentions or concerns over the fact we single-handedly become in the crosshairs of mythological gods and the apocalypse], but it still makes Gen. 3 feel more complete than other games characterizationally. Our dad is World’s Best Dad material too; not only is Norman a powerful and prestigous/famous Gym Leader in Petalburg we can look up to, but he provides fatherly assistance throughout the narrative and a major point of our own character-development.

A New Type Of Rival: Friends

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Norman also serves as an allegory for parenthood in his joy when we’re able to defeat and grow past him to diametrically-oppose the daddy issues of previous gens into a story arc that feels deeply satisfying. The rivals deserve celebration as well: new flavors, again, from anything we’ve seen in the past obviously apparent by the beginning of this sentence [there are two]. Brendan/May (the other trainer gender archetype depending on whom you pick as your avatar) is a bold evolution for the series’ rivals – the kryptonite to the overly-edgebro masochistic rage of ??? in G/S/C by showing a softer friendship side to our foes born of a return to classical roots being our neighbor and childhood friend who’s also the professor’s son. There’s even some romance possibility by the cross-gender decision that feels even more bold and new and, while Blue in R/B/G/Y is still the best rival in series history overall by the fact he perfectly balances the friend and rival archetypes to make you both love-and-hate him simultaneously, the lifelong friendship invests us automatically in them as characters. About the only problem with May/Brendan is that the game developers forgot to give us our final battle with them; we never get that epic throwdown with fully-evolved ‘mons and thus never even see the final stage of any other starters across the game in what feels like a monumental oversight diluting the trajectory of the arc.

One Of The Best Rivals Ever: Wally

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Even though it’s massively-disappointing, we do get a final Victory Road battle to make up for it – by the grace of the other rival who’s even better anyways: Wally. The shy, bashful, quiet, self-doubting youngster from Verdanturf synergized both characterizationally and appearance-wise with the Ralts we first help him catch becomes a strong, confident, self-assured, capable trainer of his dreams before our very eyes in a masterclass of character-development the series has rarely been able to soar past since – one that invests us in his story from the beginning by our hand in his guidance and introduction to the world and gives us gratitude and fulfillment [almost parent-like ourselves by the age-difference in complexity] upon that final battle he uses epic Pokémon like Gardevoir to actually challenge our thrones in. Fantastic. Beyond rivals and family, the other characters in the overworld steal the show. Prof. Elm has perhaps the funniest introduction of our academia grandfather-figures being chased down by zigzagoon as he prefers fieldwork to desk job 9-5’s and Mr. Briney is quirky and adorable getting chased around by his mischievous wingull in circles before tragically losing him (rooooar) for us to get him back and be rewarded with sea-chanteying adventures on the seven seas. There are new character archetypes like Parasol Lady & Rich Boy humorously metaphorizing resource inequality like them being able to use Full Restores before you even get to Gym 1, Young Couples in love connected through winfull mail across cities, Ruin Maniac, Park Ranger, and Network Interviewers [giving us the ability to be famous on TV in yet another epic side-project in the overworld of pure fantasy and wish-fulfillment].

The Only Complete Family In Pokémon

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Finally, Steven is a mysterious silvery presence that perplexes and intrigues from our first meeting with him in the cave outside Dewford we only wish we had more interaction time with by his personality and epic steel-type team. The Gym Leaders in Hoenn are god-tier for the series. From the rock-foundations of schoolteachers in life & education like Roxanne to turquoise-haired idiosyncrasy of buff surfer bro Brawly to fiery passion and burning pressure of character-arc to live up to familial tradition/legacy of Flannery to fighter pilot girl anime-stylization of Winona to brash old-man chuckles of electrifying joie-de-vivre by Wattson to normalcy of commonplace typification in Norman to telepathic/kinetic abilities and kimonos of Twins Liza & Tate to fluid grand illusion-master conduction of hispanosphere cool-factor of Juan, our badge conquests are glorious on both personal and pokémon levels. The Elite Four, on the other hand, are a bit mixed characterizationally; The Champion Wallace is perhaps the best character in the game by his synergized-water type theatricality and caped artistic flamboyance with Juan, Phoebe is great as the ghost-type Hawaiian hulu-dancer bringing themes of nightmarchers and kapu ghosts and religion into play, and Drake is badass as the old-timer weather sailor employing dragon-types beyond our cofort-levels strength-wise, but Glacia deserved better execution as the Swiss Alps girl with goldilocks princess aestheticization and Sidney is absolutely awful in mohawk dark-type cosmopolitan design: one of our least favorite E4 members of all-time.

The Villain Duology Legends: Ecoterrorism, Comic Book Nostalgia, & Redefining Epic

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Beyond that, this E4 frequently reuses the same Pokémon as well as only an incomplete team of 5 ~only-G3 ones – the opposite of G/S/C’s problem of too-few PKMN from its own generation into here a pugnacious and bizarre inexplicable refusal to utilize others like employing a Gengar, Natu, or Umbreon instead of doubling both Banettes and Dusclopses for Phoebe and Lapras or Feraligatr instead of doubling Sealeo in Glacia. Any remote problems in characterization are blasted into oblivion by the sheer brilliance of R/S/E’s villains; they might just be our favorite villains in the history of Pocket Monsters, rivaled only by Rocket and Plasma. Team Aqua and Team Magma are god-tier villains straight off the pages of classic golden-age comic books or 007 films – and there’s twice the villainy of any other games for us foil the dastardly malevolence plans of in-game as well as environmentalism themes that drives the entire narrative of R/S/E and were way ahead of its time in the early 2000’s only getting exponentially more highlighted as the biggest challenge and most important debate of mankind going forward into the future even a mere few decades later. Ecoterrorism organizations of a criminal underworld with big financial resources and agent operatives throughout the hoenn region, they are a villain’s dream come true, refreshingly nostalgic to the origins of villains back when they were limitless of imagination, and given clear themes, aesthetics, motivations, and character-development to cement them as some of the greatest villains in the history of video games.

Team Magma

Photograph Courtesy Of: Nintendo, Gamefreak, & The Pokémon Company

Team Magma are the fire-type antagonists dominating Pokémon Ruby and of equal importance in Pokémon Emerald. The aestheticization is easily the best of any villain team in PKMN history: red horned devil iconography gangster hoody, infrared glowing visors, black boots, and an emblem resembling the volcano to complete the synergized ensemble to what drives their motivations. Their motivations to cause volcanic eruptions to create more land-mass inhabitable by humans is classic in its anti-ecological/environmental theme: one dating all the way back to, in its most famous example of the first-ever comic book movie, 1978’s Superman Lex Luthor who tried to create more beachfront property for profit ~exactly the same way with kryptonite blooms. However, Magma wants to do it for the good of the world instead of profits – recognizing, way ahead of its time, that humanity’s cycle of growth and overpopulation will far exceed available land for habitation in the relative future as to what’s driving deforestation and destructive ecological processes killing off species of animals and plants into extinction. Our planet’s 70/30 water-to-land topography and the fact that 80% of all natural species on Earth live on land instead of the ocean only highlight further this paradox of so much empty space for habitation, only getting even smaller by climate cahnge’s rising sea levels and erosion. This also brings themes of the economy into play; real estate would thus be able to be far cheaper because of the endless new land, upsetting the class dynamic structure and shaking the entirety of civilization by eliminating the debt of the biggest purchase most people make in their lives to make a better world with less poverty, hunger, disease by less healthcare options, violence, crime (drugs, homicide, theft, etc.), and death.