Retro Review: Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

Ah, the 3rd Gen. This was the Gen that set a few standards that have become staple in gens 4 through 6. Like the 5th Gen it served its role as a transitional Gen well and also like the 5th Gen it’s aged well. Let’s review some of the things The 3rd Gen brought to the table:

  • Version-Exclusive Legendaries: While Pokemon Gold/Heart Gold and Silver/Soul Silver had Ho-Oh (Gold/HG) and Lugia (Silver/SS) as the main legendary in their respective game, you could catch the other during the post-game without having to trade. Not in Ruby and Sapphire. Groudon (pronounced Grau-don) and Kyogre (Pronounced Kai-oh-ger) can only be captured in Ruby and Sapphire respectively due to how closely tied they are to each game’s storyline. The trend is continued in gens 4 through 6. It is interesting to note Gen 3 is the only one in which a third legendary is closely tied to the two main ones: Rayquaza (Pronounced Ray-kway-za). Giratina is revealed to be the Guardian of the Distortion World in Platinum and is sort of the black sheep of the Shinnoh Legendary Dragon Trio. Rayquayza’s main job is to stop Groudon and Kyogre from rampaging in Hoenn.
  • Dual Storyline: Quite possibly what made the game so hard for some folks to grasp: In Ruby, Team Magma is the Good Guys and Team Aqua are the bad guys. It’s the reverse in Sapphire. Both Teams are environmentalists using Pokemon to push their agenda to increase the landmasses/seas and want to use Groudon/Kyogre to make it happen. Aside from this both games are the same.
  • Contests: Personally, I think they should have been introduced in the 4th Gen but that’s just me. The Blaziken I started with (currently enjoying retirement in My Pokemon Ranch on my Wii)
  • Abilities: Seriously the third Gen doesn’t get the credit it deserves for introducing this to the game. This was one if the visible game-changers that forced trainers to change their stratedgy to take a Pokemon’s ability into account. For example most would pause when facing a Pokemon with Limber (prevents paralysis), Levitate (Ground type attacks always miss) or Drought/Drizzle/Sandstream/Snow Warning (Summons permanent Sunlight/Rain/Sandstorm/Snowstorm). Speaking of the new Weather abilities, Rayquayza is the only non-ice/ground/rock/steel Pokemon uneffected by it thanks to its Air Lock ability while Castform’s type changes with the weather.
  • Natures: Yet another thing the third gen doesn’t get properly credited for by IV/EV Farmers. In hindsight the stat changes are noteworthy but to me they’re not woth the extra time folks in IV/EV community spend getting the nature that’ll maximize a Pokemon’s numbers. As I said in another blog post, no one pokemon is unbeatable. Some are pretty close but every Pokemon has a weakness.
  • Double Battles: Before there were Triple Battles and Horde Battles there were Double Battles. Double Battles require care when pairing Pokemon together and strategy to pull off a decient team. For example the move Earthquake, which is a staple in so many rotations is powerful enough to be handy with non-ground/types. Unless the user’s partner is a Flying type or has the Levitate Ability (can’t be hit with Ground-type moves) it’ll take damage from Earthquake!
  • Secret Bases: It’s interesting to note this feature hasn’t been seen since it was introduced in Ruby & Sapphire (as well as in Emerald). With the Pokemon Ability Secret Power one can create a hideout in one of dozens of places across Hoenn. Once made, Trainers could buy furniture to decorate their Secret Base. When they mixed data with a friend, you would gain access to each other’s Secret Base. It was a pretty cool feature that sadly has not been seen since its introduction.

Those are some. Let’s not also forget the 135 Pokemon introduced to the game as well, among them a new Fire/Fighting type starter: Bashamo–I mean Blaziken (Actually Bashamo is its Japanese name). The type combination was so popular it was brought back in the 4th and 5th Gens ala Infernape and Emboar. Blaziken’s popularity trancends the 3rd Gen: A Torchic is currently being given away to players with Pokemon X and Y via Mystery Gift. This promo Torchic comes with Blazikenite, a special item needed for it to Mega Evolve into Mega Blaziken.

Overall, I give Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire a 7 out of 10. The presentation is mostly unchanged in the 4th and 5th Gens in comparison. The 6th Gen changed everything with the introduction of 3D Pokemon and a 3D world in the main handheld games. The third Gen played its role as the transitional period between veterans of G/S/C and those introduced to Pokemon in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. The third Gen is also technically still accessible to those who have Gens 4 through 6: Transfer Pokemon from R/S/E/FR/LG to D/P/Pt/HG/SS then transfer those Pokemon to B/W/B2/W2 then transfer THOSE Pokemon to X/Y.

Since we’re on the subject of the 3rd Gen, here’s a bit of info on the other noteworthy Pokemon games of this era:


Ah, the third game. The trend originally started in the 1st Gen with Yellow and cotinued through the 5th Gen (Black 2 and White 2 technically being direct sequels to Black and White). Emerald’s storyline is mostly unchanged from R/S: Both Team Aqua and Team Magma are a threat to Hoenn. Players also encounter Rayquayza before beating the Elite Four unlike R/S. Also unlike R/S players can catch both Kyogre and Groudon in Emerald after beating the Elite Four.


Alot of folks seem to have forgotten Pokemon Coliseum was the first 3D Pokemon Adventure with Pokemon battles and an overworld map. Pokemon Coliseum and its sequel Pokemon XD were released on the Gamecube. Both games are a departure from their handheld counterparts in which there are no wild Pokemon in the Orre Region where the games take place.

Instead, you catch other trainers’ Pokemon.

You read that right. That’s exactly the point of the games. Team Snagem has devised a way to close the hearts of Pokemon, turning them into Shadow Pokemon. These Shadow Pokemon are nothing more than living weapons who wouldn’t hesitate to attack people. Your job is to catch the Shadow Pokemon being used by Team Snagem, reopen their hearts and purify the darkness. Once they’ve been purified they’re basically normal Pokemon.

Pokemon Coliseum and Pokemon XD both helped bridge a huge gap in the Pokedex since you can’t trade between Gens 3 and Gens 1-2: All of the Pokemon in Coliseum/XD were from Johto and Kanto. Lugia is the top prize in XD but if you purified all 50 Pokemon in Coliseum and cleared all of Coliseum Mode (including Mt. Battle without losing once) using a team from Story Mode, your reward was the Rainbow Pokemon Ho-Oh.

The ability to catch other trainer’s Pokemon. It was unthinkable up to this point but Coliseum/XD threw that out the window!



Released to coincide with the 10th Anniversary of the original Red/Green’s release (Red and Blue outside Japan), this marked the first time Green had been officially released in the U.S. FireRed and LeafGreen were the same as the originals but with R/S/E graphics and mechanics. Actually I take that back. A few things a different from what you might remember from the original Red/Blue in addition to the mechanics introduced in R/S/E:

  • The Sevii Islands: A new area added to FR/LG that you visit during your travels in Kanto. After you beat the Elite Four you will be able to fully explore all of the Sevii Islands where many Pokemon native to Johto can be found.
  • Birth Island: An area unlocked via a Nintendo event or Cheat Device, this is where you go to catch the DNA Pokemon Deoxys.
  • Navel Rock: An area unlocked via a Nintendo event or Cheat Device. This is where you go to catch Lugia and Ho-Oh.
  • Dexoys’ new forms: Deoxys’ Speed and Attack Forms are introduced in FireRed and LeafGreen respectively.
  • Moltres’ location moved: Moltres is now found on Island one at the top of the island’s volcano.
  • New Female Protagonist: Her name’s Daisy (Green in Japan) and she represents Green opposite Red (Ash/Satoshi).

It goes without saying FR/LG was the answer to the question “How do you finish the National Dex?!” Well, some would probably still need a cheat device for Mew, Celebi, Jirachi and Deoxys but anyway you get the idea.
After Diamond and Pearl (and later Platinum) were released it paid to still have the GBA Games: Players could not only migrate Pokemon from 3rd Gen to D/P/Pt but to take it a step further, new Pokemon could be found in Shinnoh depending on which game was inserted. The cross-Gen trend would continue with the 4th and 5th Gens and the 5th and 6th Gens.

If not for Ruby & Sapphire I doubt the franchise would have evolved as much as it has.

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This entry was posted in Blog, Brendan Aurabolt, Game Boy Advance, Pokemon, Retro Gaming, Review, RPG, Serene Adventure, Way Back When and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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