“I wanna be the very best like no one ever was.” Those are the infamous opening lines to the Pokémon anime theme song. For twenty years now people have been aiming to do just that. In that time, counting each version, developer Game Freak has created eighteen main series Pokemon entries, six remakes, six different generations of Pokémon, and introduced the world to over 700 different monsters. Without a doubt the biggest monster here is the franchise itself, and for good reason. With solid turn-based gameplay, countless Pokémon to catch and train, impeccable soundtracks, and overall an astoundingly enjoyable design, everyone I’ve ever met whose played Pokémon has loved it. But which Pokémon game is the best? Putting all nostalgia aside, and attempting to review each entry in light of when it was released, here is my list in appreciating order of the best Pokémon games by generation.
6. Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald (Generation Three)
By the time Nintendo’s Game Boy entered its third iteration, the Game Boy Advance, Pokémon was ready to enter its too. With the trek in to the new region, Hoenn, came some permanent new fixtures in the franchise. Generation three introduces Pokémon natures that influence, both positively and negatively, a Pokémon’s stats. It also introduces Pokémon abilities that influence battle. For example, the cover Pokémon Kyogre has the ability Drizzle, which changes the weather to heavy rain, dampening certain elemental attacks and bolstering others. These two developments in particular redefine competitive play, though that’s not all the third generation brings to the table. Pokémon Contests and Double Battles both first appear in Ruby and Sapphire. For the first time, players can also choose to play as a dark haired male character donning his signature white cap (he doesn’t actually have white hair!) or a female trainer with brunette hair. Consequently, we are left with the fan favorite line, “are you a boy or a girl?”
Disappointingly, the third game doesn’t include the day-night system introduced in the second generation. Also, while expanding the total number of Pokémon to 386, with 135 new inclusions, only 202 Pokémon are obtainable in game, fewer than the 251 of the previous generation. While some of those new Pokémon have gone on to be some of the most popular Pokémon of all time, including Rayquaza and Blaziken, the rest handily compose my least favorite generation of Pokémon, especially since this set easily seems the most uninspired and imitative of all the six generations. This isn’t why Sapphire and Ruby are at the bottom of my list, however; it’s the stupendous amount of water that sinks the score for me. Let me substantiate the claim that there’s too much water in Hoenn, as its a common complaint. For starters, there’s too little variety to the wild Pokémon encountered while using the hidden move Surf. These Pokémon’s levels also aren’t scaled nearly as well as their land counterparts, and encountering low level Pokémon near the end of the game is a waste of the player’s time. Further, the only trainers that the player encounters on water routes, which make up about half of all routes, are swimmers who only use water Pokémon. Consequently, it’s exceptionally easy to level electric and grass-type Pokémon, resulting in an unbalanced grind of an experience for the rest. In direct correlation, the game is also drowned in hidden moves necessary for traversing the map, three of which are water-specific. This almost necessitates a monster in the player’s six Pokémon party being nothing more than an HM slave just so the player can get around. As yet another consequence, over one-fifth of all Pokémon introduced in this generation are water-type, resulting in a somewhat soggy situation in terms of variety. While the third generation of Pokémon is an invaluable addition to the progress of the series, its the worst Pok-entry, with or without my nostalgia glasses on.
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