I feel like I’m gonna get a lot of hate for this, but I actually didn’t enjoy the third generation of Pokemon as much as other games in the series. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great game, and certainly has some improvements. Most notably: new concepts, more in depth characters, and new game mechanics. However, as much as the game has improved, it has some new flaws to go along with it. As someone that enjoys story above all else, it pains me to see a game come so far but under perform with its story. So let us take a look into one of my least favourite Pokemon generations.
We start off with a decent back story for the main character. You have just moved to Littlefoot Town, in the Hoenn region. Your father, Norman, has become the gym leader of the Petalburg Gym. You start your journey when you save Professor Birch, a friend of your fathers. As thanks, Birch lets you keep the Pokemon you used to save him. We get a good introduction and relationship to the Pokemon world, and it’s realistic. You are given a reason to go on the journey, which is a vast improvement over the previous games. This generation has perfected the humanistic and realism of the real world, bringing the game to life. Now, as for the reasons why I did not like the story.
Your character is related to the Pokemon world by your father the gym leader. This is a big connnection, and yet the game doesn’t build on it. Here is an example. You are going up against a terrorist organization whose goals could spell the end of the world. If you didn’t want to contact the authorities for some reason, wouldn’t you at least contact your gym leader father? He could likely get the word out to a network of very powerful trainers that these people were, you know, awakening a legendary Pokemon that would either sink all land, or get rid of all water.
Not only was this a big punch in the face, but also, no one knows you. You might argue that people don’t know who you are because only your father appears on TV or something. However, if they made your father a gym leader of all things, they could at least have included some friendly interactions with either other gym leaders or the elite four that point to that relationship. Now, I’m willing to look past this, as it doesn’t make a story unplayable. It isn’t too big an issue as the game’s main focus is on the player and how they feel, not the backstory.
My main concern is the progression of the story. The ending is a letdown. There are multiple climaxes that go nowhere. The first is the battle with your father. This should be the battle that drives the main character through this game, but he is defeated in the fourth gym battle. As well, the build up towards the final confrontation between Magma or Aqua was amazing, but the joy of completeing this storyline is lessened when we realize the game isn’t over. We’re not done until we are the Hoenn Champions.
The past two games worked well because we had no tie into the world, and Team Rocket didn’t have a huge impact in our journey. This allowed us to recognize the central plot. Here, we have the potential end of the world by Team Magma or Aqua, and we are the son of a gym leader. Our father is sussposedly our primary motivation to become league champion, but you defeat him in the fourth gym battle and the threat to the world remains. It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t work.
Now imagine it this way. Norman is the eighth and final gym leader. After witnessing his strength with his assistance taking down Team Magma/Aqua, you both go home to your mother. After the reunion as a family, understanding the dangers that you prevented together, you finally get to fight your father. In a highly anticipated battle between father and son, you set aside your relationship and become trainer and gym leader.
The satisfying defeat of Norman is savoured, and then, after expressing how proud he is of you, he encourages you to become the League Champion. This way the story feels more linear, and the climax feels more complete.
The characters are the biggest saving grace to this game. The second gen games started to explore the aspects of realistic npcs, but the third gen is where it comes to light. I had almost no problems with the characters, as they were all well defined and had interesting personalities. Take Wally for example, one of two rivals. He is sick, but he dreams of becoming a Pokemon trainer despite it hindering him. It makes it even harder to watch his struggles in your final battle with him. He wants to prove to himself that he is a good trainer, but you’ve got to beat him to progress.
Another good character was Professor Birch. Firstly, he is actually shown doing his job. You find him out in the fields where you have to save him from some Poocheynas. The way he talks, you know that he loves Pokemon. The best thing about him, he doesn’t give you the Pokedex so you can do his job for him. It’s for your own benefit…sort of. It’s not really expressly clear, but I viewed it that way.
The only downside that I found with the characters was that the rivals were too kind. I know that sounds weird, but honestly they really were almost to kind and relatable to even be called ‘rivals’. Wally is always considerate of you and sees beating you as a goal for himself. Your other rival, who varies depending on the gender you choose in the game, is kind and helps you often. If anything, these are allies or friends, not rivals.
Competitive Pokemon probably got the biggest update with the third gen. Abilities, natures, and the revamp of IVs and EVs brought welcomed change. Abilties are the passive triats that each Pokemon got that can give a little edge in battle. Natures were the personalities that the Pokemon had, and some had bonuses and minuses to certain stats. It was an interesting addition that I really enjoyed.
The third gen games also introduced double battles, where two Pokemon could be on either side of the field at one time. This allowed for a total of four players, with one Pokemon each.
The last major addition to the game was probably Pokemon Contests. It’s basically a modeling side game. There are categories which your Pokemon can enter, which include Beauty, Cuteness, Cleverness, or Toughness. I personally didn’t connect with contests, but I still think it’s a solid addition for those that like forming a deeper bond with their Pokemon.
Despite these additions to the game, I once again found the gameplay repetitive. That said, it was not as much as a grind as the second gen games were.
Art and Music
The art, to no surprise, has improved yet again. The shading and texture give depth to the game despite it still looking quite pixilated. It makes it easier to immerse into the game. The colour is more defined and diverse which is vast improvement from the previous games.
The music on the other hand has obviously advanced from the previous games, but it turned quite stale for me. The previous two generations had music that supported its format, it helped bring out the game. The music in the third generation games, has lost that, and has become more stand alone. I was often more annoyed with the soundstrack than anything. Don’t get me wrong, the music itself isn’t terrible, it just doesn’t seem fit the game as much as I would have liked.
Pokemon has come a long way from where it started, and with new additions comes a lot of faults as well. Overall the characters are easy to relate to, but the story could have been better. The gameplay has new additions and the art has improved, but the music seems to have lost it’s ties to the game.
There’s not much that I can say, except that you should try it out for yourself, or if you have played it before you should go back and give it another go. Let us know what you thought of Gen 3 in the comments below!
Check out Joel’s review of Pokemon Gen 2 Here!
Want to relive Gen 3 with a modern twist? Try the enhanced remake for 3DS Here!
- THE GOOD
- Threatening villains
- Overall story and world
- THE BAD
- Had more potential as a sequel
As a stand alone game Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby were great games with beautiful characters, art, and music. The story could have been better and sometimes makes no sense, but if you were to get past it’s flaws it is a must play game. If you played this during your childhood I recommended trying it once more, just for old times sake.