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| Generation III
| Title screen of Pokémon FireRed Version
The third generation of Pokémon games, also sometimes known as the advance or advanced generation, is the third set of Pokémon games released, and is described by some to be a "resetting" of the series.
Centering around Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald on the Game Boy Advance, released in 2002 and 2004 respectively (2003 and 2005 outside of Japan), Generation III broke from the continuous storyline that had been established between Generation I and Generation II, opting instead to move players to the Hoenn region, an island region disconnected from Kanto and Johto. The games themselves are incompatible with the previous two generations as well, initially causing many complaints due to the unavailability of many popular Generation I and II Pokémon in Ruby and Sapphire. This problem was remedied, however, between the release of Hoenn's paired versions and third version, with remakes of Generation I's Pokémon Red and Green appearing as Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen on the Game Boy Advance, as well as Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness on the GameCube.
Details in the Hoenn- and Kanto-based games hint that the storyline of Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald is contemporaneous with that of FireRed and LeafGreen (and due to this, contemporaneous with Generation I as well), placing Generation III three years before Generation II and Generation IV, themselves contemporaneous. It is unknown where the storylines of Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness fall in the timeline, being five years apart from each other but making no reference to their time period relative to any of the other games.
Advances in gameplay
Through its incompatibility with Generation I and Generation II, Generation III enhanced the Pokémon world the most yet, bringing about the most changes to the world of Pokémon. The advances include:
- The addition of 135 new Pokémon, the most added since Generation I (at the time of its release), bringing the total to 386. Many new Pokémon have previously unseen type combinations, while only two of them are related by evolution to older Pokémon.
- Two new forms of Unown are also introduced.
- The addition of 103 new moves, bringing the total to 354.
- Pokémon may now have one or two of 77 different abilities which can change the tide of battle.
- The Pokémon storage system has changed from a crude, text-based interface to a full-color graphical user interface. Boxes, while remaining at 14, now have 10 extra spaces, allowing for storage of 140 additional Pokémon (for a total of 420 Pokémon).
- The introduction of Pokémon Contests, where Pokémon show off their style in one of five Contest categories, with Contest stats enhanced by Pokéblocks. Through this and other methods ribbons can be won for pokémon, which they wil retain when transfered to a Generation IV game.
- A brand-new region, Hoenn, with its own set of eight Gym Leaders and Elite Four. Player characters are also different from before.
- Seven new Poké Ball variants, replacing those found in Johto.
- New villainous teams, Team Aqua and Team Magma, whose focus is on capturing the legendary Pokémon Kyogre and Groudon, respectively.
- Weather conditions, introduced before, can now be found on the field and activate at the start of battle, while one more, hail, has been added.
- Double battles, where both sides use two Pokémon at a time, introduced.
- Communication capabilities with the e-Reader to activate certain events.
- All handheld Generation III games have a framerate of 60, allowing for smoother animations.
- Link trades and battles are made possible between Japanese and international releases due to the use of a worldwide character set. Due to the fact that online trading was introduced only in Generation IV, however, most are not made aware of this.
Major alterations from Generation II include:
- A complete overhaul of the Pokémon data structure; Pokémon now have an individual personality value which can range up to a number above four billion. Abilities and natures, also newly introduced, are determined based on this value, as is a Pokémon's gender, while the IV system has been overhauled for greater variance (0-31 rather than 0-15 as it was before). Shininess is now based on a calculation between the personality value and Original Trainer's Trainer ID number and secret ID number with the same rarity.
- An overhaul of the Berry system introduced in Generation II: old Berries rejected in favor of Berries which grow individually as plants and can be picked and planted elsewhere. The effects of the first ten new Berries are similar to the ten Generation II Berries.
- Each Pokémon has its own status screen sprite, for ease of use in the party screen or PC.
Further additions in FireRed and LeafGreen include:
- Wireless communication between games (requires adapter boxed with FireRed and LeafGreen).
- The ability to move multiple Pokémon in the PC at once.
- The Sevii Islands, a collection of nine islands that contain many Pokémon otherwise only found in the Johto region.
Further additions in Emerald include:
Alterations from Generation II
- The function of the built-in clock was greatly reduced. There are no cosmetic changes during different times of day and Pokémon appearances are not affected by time. Also, the day of the week is no longer tracked.
- The seven Poké Balls made from Apricorns, along with Apricorns themselves, are unavailable in Generation III.
- Main article: Hoenn
The Hoenn region, situated somewhat southwest of Johto, was introduced in Generation III. It is more tropical than either Kanto or Johto, featuring rainforests, deserts, and volcanic caves, as well as areas deep underwater.
This region's geography is mostly rural on the interior of the continent, with major cities springing up near its ample coasts. Routes between the cities can be treacherous, with densely-forested area covering much of the land. Legendary Pokémon are said to have created the region long ago, with its shape reminiscent of a yin-yang symbol reflecting the balance between land and sea.
Several ancient ruins are found around the region; their purpose remains to be discovered by the player, though ancient writings found deep beneath the sea south of the region indicate that within them are ancient Pokémon who were sealed away due to their power.
Like before, the starter trio follows the Grass-Fire-Water alignment, with new Pokémon Treecko, Torchic, and Mudkip being the three Pokémon the player has to choose from to save Professor Birch from a wild Poochyena (Zigzagoon in Emerald) at the start of the game.
Being that there are only 17 types, and Kanto and Johto, during Generation I and II, had Gyms specializing in 16 of them, all of the types of the Gym Leaders of Hoenn are the same as that of a Gym Leader in one of the previous regions. As before, all Gym Leaders give out badges and TMs on their defeat.
- Main article: Kanto
Kanto, which in Generation II lacked some features from its original appearance, returned in a state closer to its original form Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, with all features from Generation I brought back and improved.
As the Generation III games taking place in Kanto are remakes of Generation I games, the starters are the same as in that generation; they are the Grass-type Bulbasaur, the Fire-type Charmander, and the Water-type Squirtle.
Like the starter Pokémon, the Kanto Gym Leaders are also the same as they were before, with each giving out a TM for the player to use freely as well as their badge.
The Sevii Islands, appearing only in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, are a smaller region without a Pokémon League where the player can journey later in the game. These islands make available many Generation II Pokémon to players of the Generation III games, and through events, allow for the capture of Generation II's version mascots Ho-Oh and Lugia and the mysterious Pokémon Deoxys.
Other Generation III games
Pokémon Colosseum, for the Nintendo GameCube, features a new land called Orre where several Generation II and Generation III Pokémon are altered by two teams called Cipher and Team Snagem. Players must "snag" the "Shadow Pokémon" and cure them of their darkness. Once this is completed, the Pokémon may be transferred to the other Generation III games. Pokémon Colosseum is the first 3D Pokémon RPG. This game also features an advanced Stadium Mode similar to those of the Pokémon Stadium games.
Pokémon Box Ruby & Sapphire is another Generation III game for the Nintendo GameCube. It allows:
- Storage of up to 1500 Pokémon from Ruby, Sapphire, FireRed, LeafGreen and Emerald Versions.
- Playing Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire on the television through emulation.
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, also for the Nintendo GameCube, follows a storyline that takes place a few years after the story of Colosseum. It allows for snagging of rare Generation I, II, and III Pokémon as well, and includes a difficult-to-purify final Shadow Pokémon, a Shadow Lugia.
Three spin-off Pokémon games are based on Generation III, Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire, Pokémon Ranger and Pokémon Trozei!.
Discussion of Generation III
While the opinion of the fandom shifts from time to time, Generation III is notable for drawing the most criticism for the series yet. The sense of a reboot when players were thrust into Hoenn (which excludes 184 of the older 251 Pokémon from availability) drew ire. The game also saw a jump in newly-introduced legendary Pokémon, with 10 more introduced, a significant increase from Generation II, which only introduced 6.
Later games improved this, however, with Emerald's return to Hoenn being a welcome addition to the series (and including the first Battle Frontier in the series as well). FireRed and LeafGreen brought back nostalgic fans who decided to pass on Hoenn's primary paired versions due to their nature in being somewhat of a reboot, as well as brought newer fans the joy of the Kanto region, only previously available in its fullest state on the vastly outdated Game Boy with poor monochrome graphics.
Hoenn thematic motif
The third generation of Pokémon games were more directed towards nature and relationships. The three starters were collectively more symbolic to their elements than previous starters: Mudkip is based on a fish which thrives only in Water, Torchic is a chick (which, in the real world, needs warmth in order to hatch) holding its Fire internally, and Treecko is a gecko that lives only in forests with Grass. The main antagonists were either Team Magma or Team Aqua who want to expand the land or sea respectively. Once they awaken one of the legendary Pokémon Kyogre or Groudon, the world is flooded by rain or dried by drought. It's up to the player to set nature back on course by defeating their version's mascot or capturing it. Hoenn's people are far more attuned to nature than previous regions: Fortree City is built alongside Pokémon in the trees, while Pacifidlog Town is built on wooden rafts in the sea atop a Corsola colony.
There are far more Pokémon that share relationships with other Pokémon in this generation of games, especially the legendaries. The legendary golems are more obvious of this; however, the version mascots all share a relationship with Rayquaza as the weather trio. Latios and Latias are both Eon Pokémon that must be chased around the region, while standard Pokémon such as Lunatone, Illumise, Plusle and Wailord are related to the other Pokémon: Solrock, Volbeat, Minun and Relicanth ranging from explicit to loose symbiosis. Zangoose is rivaled by Seviper. With Secret Power, a player can make a secret base out of trees, caves or clumps of grass. Hoenn was meant to establish Pokémon far more so into nature and symbiosis than previous installments.
- Generation III was the first generation to:
- Generation III does not introduce any evolved forms of Pokémon from previous generations (a trait shared with Generation V) with the only cross-generational relatives being baby Pokémon Azurill and Wynaut.
- Generation III has the largest number of main series games with five handheld games and three console games.
- Starting with Generation III, Ken Sugimori's art style shows noticeable differences from that of Generation I and II. This can be seen when when comparing the artwork for Red, Ethan, and Generation I and II Pokémon from their original games to that of those games' remakes.
- Most of the Generation III Pokémon that are not in the Sinnoh Pokédex have only one sprite in the Generation IV games. Generation IV Pokémon received sprite updates in Pokémon Platinum, while Generation I and II Pokémon received updates in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
- Generation III had the quickest transition from Japanese to English, with only a four month gap between the Japanese and North American releases of Ruby and Sapphire.
- Generation III was the only generation where the current total of known Pokémon was an even number (386).
- Almost all of non-Generation III Pokémon backsprites are revamps of those in Generation II games.
- Generation III is the longest generation in North America, lasting slightly over four years.