Over the course of the Holiday season, here at Ready Player Gone we will be bringing you a feature article each day – with a break on every 6th day – in the lead-up to Christmas. Our posts will be split into one of five themes throughout the event and there may even be a competition or two. Today the theme is, Around the Tree Review. This means that the following post will be a mini-review of a game/console that we got for Christmas one year! Today Joey remembers his time with Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire. For the full RPG Christmas line-up, click here!
Every fan of the Pokemon series has their ‘golden age.’ You can try to tell me that you do not but, I don’t believe you. Fans of the original games lean towards Kanto as you have the likes of Mewtwo and the legendary birds. Others prefer Johto, which almost had me for my love of Lugia and Ho-Oh. In contrast, I would hope no long-time fans would call Galar their favourite region, but then again, Sword and Shield did bring many changes to the formula with it. However, in spite of all of these things, you can take me back to Hoenn in a heartbeat.
This article is regarding both Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, but please take note that I spent a staggeringly longer time with the former (and later, Emerald), than it’s Sapphire counterpart.
Earliest memories of Pokemon Ruby
When I opened one of my first presents on Christmas Day, I knew I was in for a treat. Inside was a Gameboy Advance SP. I had previously skipped out on asking for the normal Advance model as I liked to play before bed, and no backlight was a major deal breaker for me. I could wait, there was no rush. Once I saw the SP, I knew what was ahead – there must be something to play on it. I gave my Mum a list of games I would like if I was to get one and at the top of that list was Pokemon Ruby. There it was, Mum’s the word – Pokemon was in my hands. I think it is safe to say I didn’t really speak to my family for the majority of the day from this point as I was absorbed into the glorious universe of 8-Bit goodness.
I started my adventure into Hoenn with Mudkip by my side because there is no other starter worthy of the journey. As customary with every entry in the series, I caught my early Pidgey-equivalent, Taillow, and I began to grind until he was at a suitable level to serve as a worthy battle partner to Mudkip. I then made my way a little further into the game and Taillow became the saving grace of the team as we approached the Knuckle Gym on the Island of Dewford. It is almost as if this was planned! It’s amazing because 8 year old me would never have thought about these details, the way the game supports you with the Pokemon you need to get you through it and to keep you playing.
Why Generation III is one of the best
For years now, the formula for the Pokemon series has come under incredible scrutiny. It may seem dated now, but back then – we didn’t need a new formula. What we needed was a new adventure in an astonishing region and to be greeted by a plethora of new Pokemon to collect.
Think of the vastness of Hoenn. You have a massive world to explore (possibly the largest in the series at the time), a variety of biomes each riddled with different types of Pokemon. A large sea sprinkled with islands which hold secrets to explore – some dislike this fact (too much water, anyone?), but I disagree. It doesn’t detract from what is on land, especially since this generation introduces the Dive function.
Gatcha is the game here – you need to collect them all. The generation introduced 138 new Pokemon to collect and it is amazing to think that even now this still excites me, nostalgia is a great thing. Collecting gives you a mini-rush that keeps you playing. I’ve even started collecting TCG cards again because of this fact. This is the reason the series has always been incredibly popular. Yes, you can battle and get your team to Level-100, but the real challenge is in the tagline, you gotta catch em’ all.
The ever-growing collection of Pokemon
The line-up is brilliant. You have a number of traditional nods to the original 150 (or 151) Pokemon, with the likes of Beautifly, Dustox and Taillow. But you also have Pokemon with a tonne of originality, take the Aron, Lairon and Aggron evolutions, or the Regi trio.
If I had to consider the weaker side of the line-up, it would probably be the two main legendaries, Groudon and Kyogre. Their backstories are great with them both having abilities which affect their respective biomes, land and sea. Their parts in the plot of the game are interesting but them as pokemon let me down.
The same would have to be said of Latios and Latias, the legendary bird duo of the generation. Think of the legendary birds which came before them – Moltres, Zapdos, Articuno, Ho-oh and Lugia – these two do not have the same calibre. Not to mention that they are extremely difficult to catch, especially for an eight year old.
The legendaries are the shortfall of the generation, but with the ability to trade with Fire Red and Leaf Green being an option, there is atleast a consolation. Also Rayquaza. Rayquaza was great.
*Credits roll* Is it all over?
What about after the credits roll? Did the fun end for this Christmas present? It wasn’t the same to say the least, but it still did deliver a satisfying challenge. You could climb the Sky Tower to challenge and catch Rayquaza (who has a much more interesting story arc in Emerald); you could even attempt to catch Latios, the legendary bird for Ruby; or you could take the S.S. Tidal to challenge the Battle Tower, another Elite 4-esque series of battles.
These small additions make the post-credits something worthwhile for a period of time, but unless you are determined to complete the Hoenn Pokedex followed by the National Pokedex (around 380 Pokemon from a variety of games), then there isn’t a huge amount of appeal to stick around after Rayquaza I would say.
If I had to compare then and now, I know exactly what generation I would want for Christmas. Ruby and Sapphire still wipe the floor with Sword and Shield. I get that the series wanted to become more accessible and for a younger audience, but I got along just fine with the games when I was eight, why can’t children now? Or is it a need to be fresh?
Pokemon has just become incredibly easy and basic, it’s nothing short of boring in the current generation. Pokemon Ruby was a great Christmas present. I never played the remakes, Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire as Pokemon was off my radar at the time, but from what I have heard they are great remakes with interesting additions to an already brilliant generation.
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