Pokémon: Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (2003)

The greatest mythology, adventure, region, legendaries, and themes in the history of pokémon in epic-scale apocalyptica canvas of nature/climate mythology in a lush, breathtakingly-synergized Kyūshū island jungle tropical paradise by GBA raw evolution, strong characterization, magic of designs; the #2 new generation on-release. 9.6/10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A T-Rex Gojira Of Terraformation: Groudon

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

Magma and its cold, calculating patriarch Maxie can thus be seen – though their methodology for carrying it out can be extreme in actions plunging into villain feel – as ecological heroes theoretically: the best kind of villains actually having logical dialectics, syllogism, and complexity behind their antagonistic discourse. The villain team’s plans center around the mechanization of awakening and unleashing one of the Greatest & Most Powerful Pokémon [As Well As One Of CLC’s Top 20 Favorite] Of All-Time: Groudon. A badass volcano lava monster and bipedal dinosaur/lizard-like creature with segmented red tectonic-metaphorized plates, white spikes, and bulldozer-like claws able to summon intense droughts, cause volcanic eruptions, terraform, and sleep in underground magma chambers, Groudon’s design is pure brilliance: one of the trinity of R/S/E’s legendaries easily boasting the crown of best legendaries ever made in one generation of pocket monsters. The resemblance of a therapod dinosaur or T-Rex with spikes resembling various species of Ankylosauria bony osteoderms in the Jurassic-Cretaceous Period adds a layer of humorous black comedy irony in the fact volcano eruptions are the most pervasive scientific theory about how the dinosaurs went extinct in real-life – brought into the design element of PKMN’s king lizard along with a true-to-roots kaiju celebration by Groudon’s aesthetic similarity to the king of the monsters: Gojira [ゴジラ, Godzilla] and devil iconography hitting us hard in our evolutionary codewiring with fear. The ‘mon’s etymology combines ground and don [spanish for lord and a common suffix in names of dinosaurs] with alternative inspirations of ὀδών (odon) being Ancient Greek for tooth and Japanese linguistics of 土 being ground andドン being onomatopoeia for loud crashing noises such as tectonic plates shifting in the creation of land or volcano eruptions Groudon synergizes with. Oh, and the chroma schemes are god-tier for Pocket Monsters – its normal red sprite being perfect evocation of fire-types and shiny being easily a Top 5 Shiny Of All-Time by the ground-typified desert gold-and-black.

The Devil Iconography

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

Not only is Groudon a creature of pure brilliance in design and inspirations [also shares biblical religious allegory, as we’ll get to later], but it’s one of the strongest of all-time from a competitive meta standpoint too. Being able to quickly-access solar beams and create an environment where water is both weakened and threatened on its appearance makes it a formidable opponent with few opponents – the ground typing also giving it immunity to rock and ground while its ice-type weakness is often uncommon in the overworld and moveset + sunny day weather boost give it easy access to the most powerful fire-type moves to make easy dinner of either. Team Magma’s psychology and motivations are in the correct place – but, as nature frequently does, it humbles a mandkind with the pretense and futility to believe it can control it. Groudon’s powers violently spiral out of control, summoning heat-waves and eruptions threatening all life on the mainland and the very existence of the elixir of life animals and plants can’t survive without: water. The villain team thus must work together with us as heroes to end the apocalypse in the end – a parable of humbling humanity before the awe and power of nature that drives magnificent character-development and highlights the yin-yang elemental balance of the natural world. This yin-yang also extends to the other side of the coin and villain team of R/S/E: Team Aqua. The opposite flavor of villains yet a legendary one in their own right, Team Aqua gets its motivations, aesthetics, type, and inspirations from the sea. The typification of sailor blue-and-white stripe gangsters with bandanas and ripped pants give them an edge and intimidation every bit as palpable as Magma’s – as well as a type adventage.

A Cataclysm Of Fire & Earthquakes

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

Team Aqua operates is under a poseidon-themed leader named Archie [whose design in the original R/S/E is mixed and too plebian, but is easily fixed to what it should be and the best design of any villain team leader in PKMN history in the OR/AS remakes], and their mysterious idiosyncrasy and hideout of old abandoned ship port harbos on the edge of water coves makes for an iconic team of antagonists. Aqua’s motivations are foundationalized in history, and more scary than logical – classical villainy in stark contraposition to Magma’s ~antihero constructs by how the misguided villain team wants to harken life back to the ages of the sea life originated from before we moved ot the mainland, turning back the clock and negating the millennia of evolution since to basically commit genocide against humanity and land plants/animals by killing their locus of habitation and drowning them sadistically. There is some militant environmentalism in the general idea of Aqua’s constructs in as far as the humanity exposition; we, in mere seconds of ticks on the clock of Earth’s history comparatively to other lifeforms, have already caused major climatological destruction and ravaged the planet of its resources – also managing to single-handedly inaugurate a new mass-extinction event out of sheer selfishness, greed, and comprehensive lack of empathy for other lifeforms. Real-world scientists are mixed on the very possibility of us ever being able to salvage the planet ourselves in humanity – politicians and vast demographics of everyday people even refusing to admit or believe there’s a problem [ironic in how rising sea-levels and global warming coincide hand-in-hand to synergize with both villain teams of R/S/E allegorically]. This is, of course, barring an apocalypse of natural origins or act of god – one long since hypothesized and written legends about like biblical noah’s ark synergizing with aqua’s plans, remixed by R/S/E through a monster for the ages: Kyogre.

Team Aqua

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

One of CLC’s Top 5 Favorite & Greatest Pokémon Of All-Time, Kyogre etymologically gets Its name from the Japanese 海 kaiō (king of the sea) and 海王星 Kaiōsei (Neptune), as well as a jumbling of the animal kingdom’s royal cetacean it gets its major design inspiration from: orca whales. A blue legendary orca down to even its white facial markings and vocalization with major pectoral fins and red contrastive lines metaporizing the magma and tectonic plates shifting beneath the ocean’s surface, Kyogre’s design is pure brilliance – evocative of the apex predator of the ocean [along with sharks] & biggest living species of planetary life in our world with no rivals or competitors free to be as peaceful or destructive as it wants to and mythological, religious, and cultural origins. The indigenous cultures near the oceans know the power of the whale – the Haida tribe of the Pacific Northwest coast fear and worship it as the ruler of the undersea world, the Kwakwaka-wakw in Alaska view it as the gods’ chosen holy custodian of the oceans, social carvings over 4,000+ years old have been found at Port-au-Choix archeological sites in Newfoundland, Siberian Yupik people built boats in their image and sacrifice to them as gods. Kyogre’s mythology in-game is breathtaking – the creator and king of the oceans, perfectly-synergized with its real-world inspiration in how both whales are normally passive-and-cool animals of wave-like temperamental mellowness and high intelligence [not like westernized culture’s brainwashing of them being aggressive hunters by-nature], but have the capacity to become violent and destructive when provoked just like the seas. Oh, and there’s an entire horror layer by the endless sailors’ tales of shipwrecks and urban legends of sea-monsters for even more primal fascination.

A King Orca Of The Sea: Kyogre

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

Team Aqua metaphorizes western futility in disrespecting and futilely believing they can control the god; the typhoons, hurricanes, floods, torrential rain/thunderstorm downpours, and tidal waves Kyogre summons showcase the best way of any we can possibly imagine the destructive power of nature as can be seen by the death/infrastructure-toll of these real-life disasters in tropical climates and even mainland catastrophes yearly since the dawn of time. The story of R/S/E was revolutionary for its franchise: the first-ever integration of legendaries into the major story. This groundbreaking advancement would change everything and set the precedence for the rest of the series, as well as perhaps be the reason Pokémon has even survived 25+ years; the box legendaries thus became a way for consumers to aestheticize what the major themes and goal was and each generation thereafter had its own identity and singularism [both within and outside of its larger franchise] nowhere more apparent than R/S/E. The groundbreaking legacy goes beyond the overarching narrative of integration, three box-legendaries, and presence of two villain teams to be the first generation that truly boasted differences between each of its three games. Ruby and Sapphire have entirely different villains, legendaries, themes, goals, and stories – & Emerald serves as the swan-song encapsulation and ultimate version that combines everything from its two versions of predecessors while changing the story with a new legendary entirely. This could’ve been the saving grace for the franchise by a genius business decision to comprehensively differentiate and give kids and families a reason to buy and experience each of the versions beyond the box legendary, even when it doesn’t need it by the depth of its storyline and mythology.

Kwakwaka-Wakw, Alaskan, Pacific, Greek, Haidan, & Port-Au-Choix Indig. Cultures

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

Themes of environmentalism, meteorology, terraformation, elements, disasters, science vs. mythology, mankind’s god-complex and megalomaniacal egocentrism, nature’s supreme reign over all life, perfect balance of ecosystems and ecology, civilizational sociology, and climatological discourse are beautifully-weaved throughout R/S/E’s narrative for a generation decades ahead of its time boasting perhaps the best and most depth-filled/layered allegory of its franchise and one of the best video games of the 2000’s. ‘Long, long ago when the world was in early stages of creation, there was a clash between titans of the land, sea, and sky.’ Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald is kaiju epic monsterisms on the ultimate scale of fiction – aggrandizing the stakes and powers to be not just blue flames or energy beams, but the ability to summon the apocalypse by twisting nature’s elements/powers just by its presence to perfectly exemplify its franchise’s concept in the biggest way possible. We ourselves get to save the world: not in the cutesy and clichéd minor key ways other games and series incarnations have posited, but truly be the salvation of every lifeform on the planet as we get these pantheon gods to cease their ancient cataclysmic battle in what’s easily 10x over the most blockbuster-ready cinematic experience of breathtaking awe in video games of all-time. The game and its natural exposition not only awaken lost existential crises of survival we’ve forgotten in our cushy suburban homes and penthouses since mankind moved civilizations from real jungles to concrete ones, but evokes the heights of mythology and takes us back to the zenith of fascination captivating our ancestors to the cruxes of their souls since the dawn of time: creation & genesis.

Apocalyptica Of Typhoons, Hurricanes, Tidal Waves, Cyclones, Rain/Thunderstorms. Floods

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

‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ is a crowning moniker pop-culture frequently references The Bible with, as there’s a reason why it’s worshipped by billions religiously as well as being arguably the crux of civilization on which we’ve modeled ours afterwards. The Bible evokes similar awe, stakes, complexity/depth of themes, and scale across its narrative – especially in The Old Testament R/S/E’s legendaries allegorize by taking us back to the seven days of creation mythology. The rivalry of Kyogre vs. Groudon shares unmistakable similarities to Leviathan vs. Behemoth. Leviathan – the monument-sized sea demon whose etymologic origins come from the Ugaritic Baal god Lôtan – is a creature of cultural and religious presence beyond its biblical origins: a huge part of near-east and Babylonian cultures, judaism, and gnosticism tracing its presence all the way back to the garden of eden. The evocations by Kyogre are obvious – both sea god/demons who live in the oceans with fish-like qualities and dwell in a watery abyss [Leviathan’s known as Tiaat]. Behemoth is clearly the proto-Groudon of Biblical Christianity and judaism apocrypha and pseudepigrapha contexts: a land monster living in the desert of Dynadin east of eden with red coloration, horns, crocodilian iconography to animal world, and a peak performance in the heat of the summer solstice. In the OR/AS remakes of R/S/E, they’re characterized with the iconography of Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby: another Biblical reference to the beginning-and-end of both time and God in the Alpha & Omega. The Bible characterizes these gigantic primeval chaos-monsters as having actually existed, created by God at the beginning of creation [with rabbi legends prophesizing a great battle which will take place between them again at the end of times in case you needed more proof of R/S/E’s leitmotif inspiration] and being described as so powerful, only God himself could overcome and quell their dukes.

The Bible: Leviathan Vs. Behemoth

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

R/S/E gives us that metaphorization of God himself by the exact dynamic, power, creationism, and iconography of what might likely be The Greatest Pokémon Of All-Time: Rayquaza. The Green Sky Pillar Dragon is CLC’s #2 Favorite Pocket Monster Of All-Time [behind only another legendary from R/S/E, as we’ll reveal later on] personally, but its brilliance of design, complexity/depth of aestheticization, unbelievable power, and religious/mythology references are quite simply the best of the PKMN kingdom. A body resembling a missile with rudder-like wings on its shoulders and yellow ring-like symbols running down its length to a head with four biperpendicular horns and fangs from prominent gums demarcate the king of the sky, and its mega form in OR/AS is what really elevates it to G.O.A.T. status by glowing orbs, schichisito, particle streams, beetle-like armor head, and delta Δ-shaped profile. The green, red, black, and yellow colorway feels extremely different from any other legendary – and it might just boast the title of Greatest Shiny Pokémon Of All-Time in its jet-black chiaroscuro legions of fans have spent hundreds of millions of hours trying to hunt post-game. Rayquaza is the perfect Pokémon also because of its mythological depth and culture eulogization. Based on The Chinese Dragon that defines the culture and way-of-life in ~all aspects – even being put on the very flag of the nation in certain dynasties, typifying qi as the energy lifeforce all living entities share, denoting royal kingly imperial power [just like Rayquaza is to Kyogre and Groudon], and being found in zoomorphic statues and texts back since early origins of Xinglogwa cultures in 6200-5400 BCE, Rayquaza celebrates Asia beautifully.

Breathtaking Allegory Of Complexity|Depth The Power Of Nature & Futility Of Mankind

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

Rayquaza’s Eastern depth goes even further – its traits of being able to inhabit skies while subsisting on nothing but dew and particles for centuries also evokes aspects of Chinese Xian hermit sages, and the fact it has three claws as opposed to four is a subtle nuance reference to Japanese dragons over Chinese ones – with dragons in general in Pokémon eulogizing the Japanese artform of kaiju and Gojira. Etymologically, its name can be seen as originating from Japanese 烈 retsu (violent or ruthless), 空 kū (sky), 座 za (seat location), and 天皇 tennō for heavenly sovereign or one thwhoat sits in the ferocious heavens – alongside 帝 mikado in its mikado organ [the inside of Rayq. being described as having the power of a mega-stone in later mega-evolution contexts] referring to the mikado name for emperor of Japan. The design origins of Rayquaza go far beyond eastern contexts, though. Raqiya being without question a name inspiration is the Hebrew word for firmament [the heavens or sky], and the dragon fulfills the role of the ziz in Hebrew legends: a large, griffin-like bird similar to the Persian Simurgh ruling over the skies and being a celestial singer able to stop fights just like Rayquaza’s peculiar and unforgettable cry sound does the cataclysmic battle of Kyogre and Groudon. Rayquaza is – our favorite reference by any legendary ever made in aestheticization – based on the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Depicted throughout history as a flying serpent who created the boundary between the earth/oceans and the sky [sound familiar?], Quetzalcoatl is the king god of the Aztec pantheon and critical in the history of Mesoamerica – ruler of the sun, wind, and air dating back to Teotihuacan tribes in the first century BCE Late Preclassic chronology being known also as related to the planet Venus (v-create being a special move the dragon learns in Pokémon events and V’s being found throughout the design of the ‘mon), dawn, crafts, and knowledge.

‘God’s Mercy Rained Down From The Sky’

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

Quetzalcoatl is literally depicted as a green, yellow, and red serpent in Cofex Telleriano-Remensis, shown oftentimes ruling alongside Tialoc [the God of Rain = Kyogre], known as the god of vegetational renewal as well (which would further justify the green natural coloration and how the world rebuilds after the apocalyptica of Groudon & Kyogre), and is believed to have contributed essentailly to the creation of mankind. One of the names of Quetzalcoatl in Spanish is ‘la serpiente turquesa’ commonly abbreviated by locals as ‘la quesa’ of which you can just add a ray and there you go. As if this incredible background research at the depth of a PhD archaeological thesis wasn’t enough, Rayquaza boasts iconography of the Lindwurm, Lambton Worm, and Tatzelwurm from Swedish, England UK, Scandinavian, and Ireland mythology – a popular motif on runestones in the 11th century of a wingless creature with a serpentine body, dragon’s head, and two clawed forelimbs playing an important role in nature within legends and even a role symbolically in the holy crusades. The Sky Pillar it’s found in evokes iconography of fairy tales and mountainous treks like hiking Mt. Kilamanjaro, as well as Greek iconography by how perilous and treacherous the journey to such gods would be. The markings on Rayquaza’s body also have been hypothesized to be modeled after The Nazca Lines: Peruvian geoglyphs made in the soils of the Nazca Desert around 500 BCE by removing the top layer of red-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles to reveal a yellow-grey subsoil [colors of the ‘mon’s markings] to create huge gemoetricized shapes and zoomorphic designs of religious significance visible from the air to be seen by deities in the sky as locals ascribe.

The Greatest Pokémon Of All-Time

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

The Nazca Lines are so historically important and mysterious, they’ve been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site akin to Stonehenge in England. Finally, Rayquaza share Biblical iconography by how it controls and reigns supreme on Leviathan and Behemoth just like Old Testament God does – saving us like the almighty divine does along with iconography of ruling from the sky and its power of being [even before OR/AS made it easily the most powerful pokémon in existence with its weather-lock and delta airstream ~precluding any supereffective hits ats it can just Extreme Speed, Outrage, or Dragon Ascent OHKO any opponent] one of the most deadly creatures in the Pokéworld. Going back to The Nazca Lines, many have been found to peculiarly reflect and divert light like Stonehenge as a pseudo-observatory far beyond the scientific resources of the time, and many of the designs also boast constellation-like constructs for mystery of how they were able to reflect such cosmology and astronomy back then. Rayquaza’s name also can be seen as a combination of ray (both gemoetrical ones in lines with points on the end extrapolating its design and the sun’s from space) and quasar (extremely luminous active galactic nucleus powered by a supermassive black hole releasing energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation and redshifts of cosmological origin akin to the visuals of its Outrage attack). Together, the legendary trio of R/S/E is the starter trio colors/aesthetics on the ultimate scale imaginable – PKMN at max performance. This brings an entire space mystery layer/element to Rayquaza’s creation – perfectly synergized with its rival: Deoxys.

Quetzalcoatl, Hebrew Ziz, Persian Simurgh, Tatzelwurm, Galaxy, & The Nazca Lines

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

Deoxys begins the cosmic layer of legendaries, and it’s yet another one of CLC’s Top 20 Pokémon Of All-Time. The post-game surprise is an entirely new flavor of mythicals from the cute-and-cuddly trend G/S/C began with Celebi; it’s now evolved into a way to completely expand the story and bounds of the adventure post-game. Drawing inspiration a frankenstinian amagmation of visual representations of aliens in a nucleid acid double-helix of deoxyribonucleid acid (DNA) true to Watson & Crick’s models from biology textbooks worldwide often coating the strands in blue and red, Deoxys is a genius design in its normal forme alone. The fact that there’s four vastly-divergent formes with entirely different fx, designs, characteristics, and stats gives a four-for-one deal evoking reminisces of Mew/Ditto from Gen. 1 and the Kanto post-game in Gen. 2. Normal, Attack, Defense, & Speed Forme Deoxys are all perfectly designed to their motif [Attack and Defense being our personal favorites by how badass and aggressive the acidicity is on the ATK forme and contrastively basicized and bulky DFN is], and the ability of Deoxys to clone itself, morph tentacles into hands, regenerate lost body parts, create auroras of different electromagnetic wavelengths, and mutate from its origins of an extraterrestrial virus exposed to a laser beam in a meteor shower crashing like a comet on Earth make it one of the coolest PKMN ever made. Oh, and the yellow, turquoise, and purple shiny versions are yet another Top 5 Shiny Pokémon Of All-Time. The cosmological being is only one of the star-based celestials of R/S/E: the other being a classical mythical on-par and taking huge inspiration from our grass/psychic time-travel pixie johtoian friend, Jirachi.

A Celebration Of Eastern Cultures: The Chinese Dragon & Japanese Mythology

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

Based on the age-old cliché of storytelling: wish upon a star, Jirachi reframes and gives it a masterpiece design exemplification loaded with nuance and eastern charm. A small white humanoid [almost alien-like without the headpiece] with a third-eye on its belly, a tri-tipped crown structure on its head, back streamers resembling comet tails, and pops of white, blue, and gold colors, Jirachi is one of the best mythicals of all-time – an indescribably-adorable encapsulation of the concept of wishing upon a star while observing meteors in the night sky referenced subtly by the psychic/steel-type to iron meteorites. The tags of paper on its head feel distinctly-Japanese – taking inspiration from a real-world festival known as たなばた tanabata wherein children and families write down wishes on tags of paper called as 短冊 tankazu to be hung up on the hopes they’ll come true. The life-cycle of it directly references this by how it hibernates in a formed protective crystalline shell – only to awaken for seven days every thousand years [unless it’s sung to by a voice of purity] just like how the tanabata star festival takes place on the sacred 7th day of the 7th lunar month. Etymology, its name is derived from jinn (aka genies – perfect for its powers) in Arabic myth/folklore like Aladdin, יִרְאֶה jireh the Hebrew for provider, желать zhelat as Russian for wish, and 幸 sachi as Japanese for happiness or good fortune. Jirachi is every bit as cute and adorable as Celebi – fulfilling yet another major achievement of god-tier fantastization by the ability to go back in time and grant wishes everyone who’s ever walked the planet back to ancient times has fantastized about and we now have the bility to by the progressively-evolving overworld only furthering the thunderous declaration it’s the greatest fictional world of all-time. Oh, and bonus points: its eyes also clearly reference another icon of video games from Nintendo: Kirby [also frequently seen riding stars].

Viruses, DNA, Mutations, & Aliens: Deoxys

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

One of the special things about R/S/E is how wildly-diverse it is in legendaries. From elemental creation gods to alienic virus mutants to wish mythicals, the paradigm shifts yet again onto manmade/used beings: the Regi’s. We love how incredibly hard to find each of the legendaries is throughout the game – giving a true thrill-of-hunt and storyline onto themselves by how you can never just walk up to and catch them. The Regi’s are that x1000 – we journey across deserts for lost caves, sci-fi mad experimentation labs, and underwater caverns on a treasure hunt for lost titans of rock, steel, and ice. The mechanization of unlocking them alone is fascianting and filled with questions – why must Relicanth and Wailord be in-party? Why the braille patterns on ancient monoloths around them filled with misdirections? Why does the intricacy of patterns and puzzles down to even juxtapositional step-patterns to unlock them? Why does it state ‘a door opened somewhere far away’ when we unlock them – does that mean someone’s controlling them? Who created them? When? How? Where? Why? Etc. We LOVE how the game seemingly answers none of these burning questions on the tip of our palates – instead leaving the mystery open to be further explored and refined across generations to the future with no end in sight [even in Generation VIII here 2021, new forms being discovered like Regieleki and Regidrago]. The Regi’s themselves are fantastic in their designs: three golems of different types but similar aesthetics to the legendary bird and dog trios of Gens 1 & 2. Our favorite of R/S/E’s trio [& all Regi’s ever created; one of CLC’s Top 40 Pokémon Of All-Time] is Regirock.

Wish Upon A Star: Jirachi

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

The most classical form of the golem evocative of Old Testament Biblical iconography of fallen angels as well, Regirock is perhaps the purest rock-type of the overworld, made of brown and orange rocks and seven dots on its face with jutting shoulders, rocky spines, and club-like hands for mach punches and rock slides synergizing with volcano and desert iconography to basically be a new version of Moltres & Entei archetypically. Regice is the weakest design of the trio, but still a great one being a glacier alive of solid antarctic ice and pentagonal arms cloaking itself in air -328 F to freeze anything coming near it as a true successor to Articuno and Suicune by arctic iconography. Registeel is a frankenstinian masterpiece of mankind’s own creation: technology, given even more ego-complexes by the fact it’s humanoid in our image. We can just imagine the black-and-white chiaroscuro footage of the mad-science doctor screaming ‘it’s aliiive!’ [the shiny is also green to unmistakably evoke the classic monster movie it gains its major inspirations from] jolting it with the electricity to bring it to life – perfectly-remixing Zapdos and Raikou while reflecting scientific genius in design touches like its black ‘skin’ being surrounded by a raised metal nucleus like an atom or black hole [it being also given a hexagonal dot formation like carbon organic chemistry atomic structures and its steel also being able to stretch and shrink as some kind of super-element for scientists to geek out about] and layering in some depth-of-allegory like Mewtwo’s as well: how mankind subverts/disrespects nature by futilely creating legendaries trying to mimic natural miracles but fails as they betray them out of being too powerful (Registeel being the strongest of the trio by type-impervious match-ups).

A New Type Of Trio: The Regi’s

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

Etymologically, the Regi’s signify royalty by using the latin word for royal along with the plain suffix of what type it is – storytelling in the animé and films revealing they were originally cast as servants of higher powers, e.g. kings and queens. This synergizes with the very idea of golems themselves: animated anthropomorphic beings in Jewish folklore, psalms, and medieval writing created entirely from inanimate matter. The metaphor is highly-mutable with limitless symbolism – it can be a citim of mankind or the villain, man or woman, jew or non-jew, etc. and used to connote war, community, isolation, despair, hope, etc. The Bible connects the iconography to mankind before the finishing touch of God’s eyes – created from mud by those close to divinity before being infused with life and logic by the breath of God. The most famous example of a classic golem narrative is Judah Loew Ben Bezalel: a 17th century rabbi of Prague who reportedly created a golem out of clay and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations.. in real life. Reportedly tasked with defending the Prague ghetto from anti-semitic attacks and pograoms, Josef [aka Yossele] could make himself invisible and summon spirits from the dead in order to fill his assigned duty – only he fell in love and, when rejected because of his experience, became the violent monster seen in most accounts of the tale. The rabbi had to lock him away in the attic of his synagogue – where, according to legend, he still lies today – exactly like the Regi’s being locked in the sealed chambers!

The Ice, Stone, &Iron/Technological Age

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

Finally, the Regi’s can also be seen to be collectively-themed after the historical epochs. Regice can be seen as symbolizing The Ice Age: the geological pleistocene from 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago spanning Earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations – wherein frigic arctic temperatures from -6-0C made existence tough for the creatures like wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, and archaic humans of the genus homo originated in Africa and spread throughout afro-eurasia. Regirock can be seen as The Stone Age: the prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make tools and artifacts with an edge point in the evolution of the genus homo into social organization, agriculture, hunting, and religion lasting for roughly 3.4M years ending between 4000-2000 BCE with the advance of metalworking. Registeel can be typified as The Iron Age all the way to The Technological Revolution of our modern times – the production of iron or steel advancing to the point where iron tools and weapons replaced bronze predecessors historically, but perhaps more synergistically referencing the bloom-evolution of mankind today in scientific and technology senses being able to create weapons and achines like Registeel in real life and basically give it life without the need for magic through artifical intelligence. Gosh, what a collection of masterpieces by the design team team of R/S/E scouring the face of the planet for the best possible inspirations and designs.. and the truth is, we haven’t even gotten to their best work: The Eon Duo.

The Golem Of Prague

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

Latios [and Latias; basically only a minor gender/color difference – we prefer Latios by the slightest of margins but they’re interchangeable] is CLC’s #1 Favorite Pokémon Of All-Time; if we had to only pick one to ever have for the rest of our lives, we’d pick Lati[o/a]s. A dragon-avian masterpiece, the archetype’s three major design characteristics beyond the animal kingdom are jets, gender, and superheroicism. The streamlined body clearly gets its aerodynamic stylization after jetplanes – with flight speeds clocked at breaking the sound barrier and being able to even fly faster than the mechanical planes they’re modeled afterwards. The color-scheme harkens back to comic book history – donning a mask on its face and bold chromatization of the first-and-greatest superhero ever made: Superman [blue/red and its inverse red/blue], as well as a wacky & fun colorway for its shiny we’d definitely see in golden/silver-age comics [& maybe colgate toothpaste commercials by the mint-green/yellow and vice versa] amongst the best shinies ever made. They also have superhero/villain-like powers and abilites with just enough touches of naturalism and mythology to make them work perfectly – dream analysis, telepathy, invisibility/mirage-cloaks, luster purges, mist balls, and the incredible otherwise powers ascribed to psychics and dragons in the pokéworld: the strongest type. No characteristic of Lati[o/a]s’ design/aestheticization is as predominant and genius as its gender exposition achieved through a lens of gnosticism and yin-yang.

The CLC Favorite Pokémon Of All-Time: Lati[o/a]s

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

The philosophy of yin-yang is what drives Latios & Latias: the ancient Chinese, Taoist, & Confucian dualism and metaphysical dialectic monism of dark-light, negative-positive, and how opposite or contrary forces may paradoxically be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world. Cosmologically, this goes back to how the universe created itself out of a primary chaos of material energy organized into the cycles of yin and yang and fomed into objects and lives with yin being the receptive and yang the active principle. Gender is the lens with which Lati[o/a]s paints this philosophy. Latios boasts masculine, rugged, brawny, aggressive, stoic, violent characteristics in its design down to even its eyes and the lines of its features, whereas Latias is more feminine, soft, compassionate, intuitive, gentile, and flowing in its aesthetization down to even its wing plates being ~breast-shaped. Philosophically, female can be seen as the yin receptive element even down to the biological characteristics like sexual organs and hormonal estrogen, while male is the active yang synergizing with increased physical strength historically ascribing roles of hunting and providing. This is reflected in even the stats with Latios’ attacks being higher while Latias’ defenses are higher; make no mistake, though, Pokémon doesn’t sexistly assert superiority or inferiority between either Pokémon or the gender they represent – they’re both given the same stat spread and power overall – celebration-worthy in equality as a lesson for all of us.

The Yin-Yang Of Gender Exposition

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

Etymologically, Lati[o/a]s gets its name from latere: latin for to lie hidden and os/as: the suffix of the difference between mascline and feminine pronouns and conjugations across major world languages [especially in Euope: French, Italian, Spanish, Etc.]. Finally, there’s a religious and natural layer to their designs – being traceable back to Adam & Eve in the Garden Of Eden in Biblical contexts, aeons in gnosticism existing in pairs of males and females emanating from God and one another [supported even further by the fact their official designation in-game is ‘eon’], omnivorous and polygynandrous mating junglefowl by the colorful plumage and fact early designs showed crossovers with Blaziken, and dragons by all otherwise characteristics further highlighting their magic by balancing the cute soul of Dragonite with badassery of Rayquaza perfectly for a lifetime/generation pair of designs. Now, the main event of any new generation: the new pocket monster. Beyond having the Greatest Legendary Pokémon Of All-Time by miles in a literally flawless canvas of masterpiece designs, R/S/E brought tons of god-tier non-legend ‘mons to the franchise too.. as well as some mixed ones, and some plain bad ones. Of primary exposition, though, is how many new creatures there are: 135. This is 35% more than G/S/C brought in Generation 2 and the most since R/B/G/Y’s 151 of Generation 1: more than enough to make up 2x over for any poor designs with great ones. There are far more triple evolutions than both generations-past, and that exemplifies the major takeaway of this generation – while demographically-balanced, there are tons of badass creature designs clearly-skewed towards older demographics for the first, and perhaps: only, time in PKMN history.

The New Pokémon In R/S/E

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

The A+ Pocket Monsters of R/S/E amongst CLC’s Favorites Of All-Time include the volcanic-humped camel bison Camerupt, cumulonimbus cloud-winged Dr. Seussian fantasy dragon-bird of grace Altaria, gemstone-eyed goblin/ghost Sableye, Raiju/Aztec thunderous wolf-remixed Manectric, tropical banana-bearded herbivore tree-imposter Tropius, adorable chubby boxer-sumo Makuhita/Hariyama, dark gnome forest troll Shiftry, classic beach seagull Wingull, Mayan viper/anaconda of mythology feel Seviper, sky psychic kid Ralts, skull-ghost/mummy Dusclops, puffball balloon-seal Spheal, baby dark-cactus Cacnea, moon-alien of metal ore Metang, robber-raccoon Zigzagoon, evil possessed doll Claydol, Galileo-cosmology sun Solrock, dipole battery-themed cheerleaders Plusle & Minun, blue prized capitalistic-catfish Whiscash, baby water-mouse bouncing on a beach ball/buoy tail Azurill, pig/monkey/sloth King Kong-themed Slaking, and badass texas-longhorn samurai-armored Mechagodzilla & Bulgasari-referential [monster of Korean legend who eats iron] triceratops Aggron: our favorite non-legendary of Generation 3. Whew, that was a lot; as you can see, R/S/E boast many incredible designs alone enough to cement Hoenn’s as one of the best generations of creature designs Pokémon has ever seen. The shinies are great too, even for ones we’re mixed or think are good-not-great ~saved by shinies better-highlighting/synergizing with their concepts or giving cooler chroma-schemes: the brown/orange superheroicism of Nuzleaf, darker western bandera gunslinger out of The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Lombre, green elegance of swallow/falcon Swellow, turquoise ice colors of the shivering igloo Alaskan indigenous tribe x yukinko childlike Japanese snow-spirit Snorunt, lilypad-colored dragonfly/moth Masquerian, carolina blue yogi Medicham, purple royalty of Wurmple, etc. – doing the same for many of the best ‘mons like the classic lunar-white of the Metagross family, black-suited banker Whiscash, contrastively-highlighted red Solrock, burnt-ash Camerupt, purple-gloved stoner-psychedelia Hariyama, and green-plated/red-eyed Aggron amongst the best shiny colorations ever created.

A Bold Collection Of Magic; More Trilogy,& Diverssity; Epic Imagination; Best Legends

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

There are other designs we’re mixed overall on, but highly appreciate the imagination, references, innovation, and conceptual aestheticization of enough to [~easily] pass them like the ’50’s retro abstract housewife Gardevoir, Mario Bros. Goomba-mushroom Shroomish, jawed-ant colony Trapinch, steam-locomotive flame tortoise Torkoal, dark-type werewolf Mightyena, joie-de-vivre Mexican sombrero/poncho-dancer Ludicolo, whispering shy-kid to pipe-organ themed ceratopsid monster of the Exploud growth-line, piranha-shark torpedos of Carvanha/Sharpedo, tragically-abandoned cursed plush doll and sock-puppet of the Banette line, flower-carrying theatre actress Roselia, Anomalocaris dinosaur-shrimp fossil Armaldo, badass classical medieval dragon Salamence, slinky orb-juggling psychic-pig Spoink/Grumpig, Hello Kitty-themed Skitty, sea-oyster pearl Camperl, hood-gangster cornrowed dragon baby Bagon, egg-hatching Shelgon, whale-blimp Wailord, prehistoric carnivorous plant Cradily, cloud-transformative friendly-ghost Castform, and type-everchanging invisible-camouflaging chameleon Kecleon. However, while the vast majority are good-to-great-to-god-tier, there are some bad-to-awful designs – most of them, bizarrely, coming from the early stages of the evolution as the one problem & Achilles’ heel of R/S/E’s roster of new creatures. We hate Gulpin, Poochyena, Wailmer, Corphish, Anorith, Taillow, & Feebas: all of them first evolutions who went on to become okay-to-good final ‘mons. There are a few final evolutions we dislike too – Flygon, Glalie, Huntail, & Cacturne – but they’re ~50% fewer than first evolutions to establish the trend, even more dire when you count non-evolution one-offs where the roster really shows major faux-pas. Spinda, Volbeat, Illumise, & Nosepass are some of our most inexorably-despised grudge ‘mons we’ve hated with a passion for decades now.

Mixed Starters: Treecko, Mudkip, & Torchic

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

These mixed-to-bad feeling carry over partially to the starters: The Good, The Bad, & The Mixed, a 1-1.5/3 and the first-ever time we’ve had any we dislike or even hate from the fire/water/grass trioa – a major SOS-ready alarm after the masterpiece of G/S/C’s Best Starters Of All-time: Totodile, Cyndaquil, & Chikorita. Let’s start with the ambiguous and mixed: Treecko. A wood gecko lizard with a growing plant on its back/tail like Bulbasaur and ~type-switched Charmander, Treecko lazily retreads old ideas & animal kingdom archetypes done constantly in PKMN while comprehensively lacks the charm or soul of either starter it’s based on – not a truly bad design, but an underwhelming one that does get slightly better in the ninja-bladed Grovyle culminating in the near-salvaging [but still worse than any Gen. 1-2 starters and failed by CLC] Sceptile resembling a dilophosaurus with orbs of nutrients on its back evocative of the reproductive spores of fern species and leaf-tail of a yew tree. Next, the bad. We hate hate hate the Torchic line – amongst or might even just taking the opposite-crown of Worst Starter Line Of All-Time in CLC’s Ranking. What happened here? Torchic is fine: a somewhat-cute fire-chick hatchling based on the mythological basan with gender differences referencing vent-sexing: a chick-sexing technique originating in Japan wherein feces are squeezed out of baby birds in order to open its cloaca to allow the chicken sexer to observe whether it has a bump normally-ascribed to males only. This masochistic sadism and shockingly-dark tastelessness of imagery and barbarism [only worsened by the fact Torchic’s cute] establishes a cringe only becoming 10x more amplified throughout. COMBUSKEN IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST POKEMON IN THE HISTORY OF STARTER EVOLUTION LINES. We just.. cannot put into words how comprehensively hideous and lame Combusken is: looking more ready for a deeply-frier outside a KFC’s than Hoenn.

A Few Design Flaws, But Highs >>> Lows

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

Finaly, there’s Blaziken. Mixedly-designed with touches of Native American totem, Muay Thai fighters, Egyptian Orus/Ra gods, and Taimatsu Maru raptors, there are some interesting references and potential in Blaziken.. but it’s ruined in enjoyment by the humanoid stature diluting the fantasy of Pokemon.. and the worst possible motif for its franchise: cockfighting. Blaziken – beyond being themed to the lamest possible animal in the world most people never think of beyond lunch and it’s ~impossible to take seriously – is clearly referential of Shamo Chickens from mane to upright posture with feathery legs: the major usage choice of cockfighters. Why would you highlight the violence and animal cruelty of the real-world counterpart of your IP – enough to sabotage an otherwise masterpiece collection of designs and make even diehard patrons of the fanbase cringe with the lingering idea they’re playing and enjoying something wrong. This is Pokémon: The First Movie’s violence-is-wrong english dub hypocrisy all over again, and not even oon a good design that sours/taints the games. Even with these major problems in starters, there’s one genius enough to save the entire trio: Mudkip. One of the best starters of all-time, the axolotl/newt-based mudpuppy with alternative inspirations to the gilled East African lungfish or flathead catfish is indescribably adorable, soul-infused, fresh, and original as it grows perfectly into the badass Swampert amongst The Greatest Fully-Evolved Starter Pokémon Of All-Time. In fact, Mudkip’s line is so damn good, we give the shortcomings and failures of the otherwise trio a ~pass – and the numerology ratio of there only being <20 mixed-to-bad designs out of 135 [less than 15% with 85% being good-to-great-to-god-tier] is enough (along with the GBA not being perhaps advanced enough as a system to hold 386+ creatures in one cartridge) to well-overlook the flaw of the games only including 202 catchable ‘mons in hypocritical failure of its crux motto of ‘gotta catch ’em all’. The presentation of the game expertly hides this flaw so that you don’t even notice it by correcting G/S/C’s biggest flaw: subjugating your new generations to nostalgia-pandering.

Fixing The Major Problem Of G/S/C

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

The Pokémon of Generation 3 are given the spotlight from the very beginning; there’s not a dang one to be found from previous generations early on and throughout most of the narrative except in the periphery as the games beautifully learn from their mistakes to invest you in the new generation from the second we arrive in Littleroot Town. There is a huge diversity of catchable ‘mons around you in all directions from the beginning: we counted literally 20-30 new species within the first few gyms: all brand new for magnificence of new experience. Beyond fixing G/S/C’s biggest flaw in how secondary and ~disrespected its masterpiece designs were behind Kanto pandering with the lingering suspicion you were getting sold something, R/S/E also fix its [really] only other flaw: the challenge is back, baby! Level curves? Phsst, Ruby/Sapphire/Emerlad might just be one of or even the most level-balanced games of the first five or six generations since ’96 – never once being overleveled across your team [and we’re completionists battling every trainer in-game] for an experience that breathes fun difficulty and grinding without ever feeling masochistic and even hiding the Exp. Share in the way background of the game you actively have to search out if you want it [not be forced upon you the easiest game-breaking device later gens were near-completely ruined by]. Literally in the first gym alone, we got KO’d – even using Mudkip against the supposedly-weak rock gym. The games celebrationally catch you off-guard throughout the narrative: from Norman’s Slaking and OHKO room to legendary rest-cycling to Juan’s Kingdra Dragon Dances to even extraneous tasks like getting up Sky Pillar’s weak floorboards [PTSD of us taking hours to get past even the first level on our mach bikes]. This is achieved majorly through a revamp of the battle AI – a genius one that’s 10x smarter than past incarnations, employing far more strategy and being given advantages like 5-6 hyper potions, endless berries, & everpresent status-effect/stat-boosting/self-healing moves to antagonize you brillianty.

The Challenge Is Back

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

That’s not even mentioning how many new features R/S/E & Generation 3 added to the franchise in groundbreaking legacy revolutionism. Starter-wise, the new angle of being chosen out of emergency to help save Prof. Birch injects our first meeting with endorphins, life, and even a little danger, and R/S/E gifted us the revolutionism of dual-typology. One-type starters were great, but having two dramatically spices up the gameplay and meta by giving ‘mons new weaknesses, imperviousnesses, and design abilities – especially, for e.g., Swampert having water/ground typing eliminating electric attacks but becoming 4x weak to grass ones and able to employ new ideas as far as the design elements. New Features also include a litany more that fundamentally changed & evolved Pokémon moving forward. For one, the sheer movement to a new system in the Game Boy Advance allowed for 10x more fluid/smooth mechanization: technical proficiency down to even the way the text butterflies and exp. gain of points glide across the screen. Synergistically, there are huge quality-of-life upgrades to previous annoyances – ones we didn’t even quite realize could be improved by the ~95% perfection of copy-and-paste formula established from R/B/G/Y and G/S/C until we saw the updates. One of the most ‘Thank God’ moments in the game was the bestowmen of running shoes – fixing the goldilocks paradox of walking being a little too slow and bike being a little too fast to give a perfect option for when you want to speed up gameplay a little bit without having to go into your bag or spam the select button. The Pokénav is also 10x better designed for easy map navigation crucial in exploring and geopositioning ourselves in the vast landscape of routes in Hoenn.

Double/Multi-Battles & Quality-Of-Life +’s

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

Moving Pokémon is now 1,000x easier in boxes by the ability to move ‘mons seamlessly without having to depostit and withdraw separately. You can hear the cries of nearby Pokémon in the grass to give at least a better idea of the fodder nearby and if you’d like to go hunting. Trainers move back-and-forth and your footsteps make indentations in the sands and rustle through the bushes to create a more alive and realistic landscape. The itemfinder lets you treasure hunt for those elusive hidden items beneath the overworld whn in the past it was just hoping you’d find poke2balls laying on the ground. The gyms are more puzzlelike, there are tons of new pokeballs with extremely helpful effects nad beautiful designs like the Dive, Net, Repeat, Nest, & Timer Balls [MVP, making legendaries far easier to catch and saving you hours of time while still making them no cake walk to capture], and the move tutor and reminder allow easy remembering of past moves and forgetting of HM’s to unlock new layers of leveling up movesets. The multiple types of bikes give different ways of navigation and exploring with the acro bike giving the ability for technical jumping and tricks while the mach bike letting you climb up sandy slopes and zoom on routes and new items like the Everstone let you prevent evolution without having to press B every level and Sooth Bell increase friendship 2x faster to prevent the huge pains like the ones we encountered constasntly raising ‘mons like Espeon, Umbreon, and Togepi while adding tons of new battle ones to really take advantage of the meta-definitive competitive battling feature of held items introduced in G/S/C. Not only does R/S/E refine and evolve existing features and gameplay, but it adds a tons of revolutionary new features.

Natures & Abilities

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

Continuing G/S/C’s legacy torch of evolving the battle meta and overworld, R/S/E changes the game once again with the new features of Abilities. Natures, and Double/Multi-Battles. Abilities add an entire new layer to strategization, shaking up competitive play with everything from levitation to every-turn speed boosts to lightning rods to the ability to summon type-boosting/killing weather effects solely from their presence in battle. Natures add more personality and variation between ‘mons of the same species – sure, it makes it a pain when breeding, but makes it 1,000x more realistic with advanced psychological depth and complexifies EV-training for maximum IV’s. Double/Multi-battles are one of the best new features of all gens by how they introduce any entire teamwork interactive sports dynamic that completely refreshes the mechanic – allowing for twice the strategy, twice the exp. gain, and twice the fun in an evolution of one of the core features of PKMN that we might even prefer to their single-battle counterparts. as previously stated, there are entirely-new biomes neverpbefore séen in the pokeworld and tons of new itesm t o interact with them like go-googles, the overworld is far more fleshed out with tons of new fun detour events and touristy stops like Trainer Hill, The Winstrate House, and Mauville Trick-House, and there’s an entire proto-social media in the game beéond the pokenav call feature [which is also far more cleaned up and diluted in spam calls] letting you create a profile and write in your own unique conversation lines as well as be interviewed on TV.

The Battle Frontier And Post-Game

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

One of Generation 3’s shining achievements is the creation of Pokémon Contests. R/S/E boast the legacy of expanding the possibilities of the overworld infinitely beyond just the one-way linear progression and perspective of using ‘mons as tools for [violent] battle. Contests are an awesome new way to interact with your critter friends through beauty pageant competitions in classically-fantastical poké-ways: wild unpredictability in opponents employing strategy just like their battle counterparts in order to win by employing pokéblock candy through berry blenders utilizing the flora-and-fauna of the overworld’s berry-picking mechanic and targeted moves in a variety of types [cool, beauty, cute, smart, and tough] and difficulty ranks to razzle dazzle the crowd and judge. The post-game deserves credit too for its ambitious construction. Of course, nothing will ever top G/S/C’s multi-region surprise, but three regions would be impossible to code in one game. R/S/E instead leave the legendary Pokémon hunts for the post-game to let you brilliant defeat the region and become champion yourself with your prized regular story ‘mons and unleash the beasts in the postgame. There’s also basically an ew overworld to explore in the post-game too: The Battle Frontier. Beautifully-designed with pantheonic grandeur and opulence in white marble and red-carpeted theme park construction, TBF is divided into tons of areas specifically for battling: The Battle Tower, Dome, palace, Arena, Factory, Pike, & Pyramid. Each has their own rules and constructs with tons of great prizes transactional through BP gained through wins. This would be the absolute perfect post-game model.. if you could use legendaries.

A New Way To Experience: PKMN Contests

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

The only flaw [besides occasional mismatches of opponents in the battles] is the inexplicable restriction preventing the usage of what we crave to use most and are thus majorly deprived of from using in the games: legendaries. We get that they’re overpowered and oftentimes banned from competitive play, but just overlevel the opponents you face by 20-30 and any advantage Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, etc. have is ~null-and-void. Sigh. The Battle Frontier is thus a great concept with mixed execution, but it and any other flaws pale in comparison and are extremely difficult to fault in the awe and brilliance of R/S/E otherwise: perhaps our personal favorite new generation of all-time on its release. 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.

Official CLC Score: 9.6/10