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Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire Are the Best/Worst Games in the Series

Why Ruby & Sapphire are the Best

by Alex Culafi - June 5, 2014, 10:15 am PDT

Water? Trumpets? More please!

As one of many resident Pokémon fans on this website, it may come as a surprise to hear me proudly state that Ruby and Sapphire are my favorite games in the series. I’ve played all of the games in the same order you probably did, from Red and Blue all the way to X and Y late last year. Saying that I love these games usually comes with the common retorts of “trumpets,” “Pokémon designs,” and “water,” but as it turns out, those are many of the same reasons why I hold these games so close to my heart.

Foremost, I hold Ruby and Sapphire in the highest regard because of their personality. These games look, sound, and play far differently from any other game in the series. They use brighter color palettes, smooth sprites, and a level of detail that, at the time, stepped into the future of the series while being just reminiscent enough of the past.

As for the sound, Ruby and Sapphire remain about as technologically limited as the original games; instead of beeps and boops, the third generation had a bolder horn-like sound. I understand that some people dislike its half-step nature between the more varied modern soundtracks and the comforting older ones, but I remember more songs in these games than I do in any of the newer generations, and at least as many as the older ones. To see a bit of what I mean, here is both my favorite battle theme in the series as well as my favorite city theme.

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As for the Pokémon designs, it’s hard to argue this in a way that doesn’t come down exclusively to taste, but I would like to present some of my favorites (in order from left-to-right in the above mosaic): Slaking (who I once based a competitive team around), Flygon, Groudon, Latios, Tropius, Absol, Kecleon, Walrein, and Rayquaza. Every generation has its duds, but I think a lot of these Pokémon are far more colorful and interesting than many of the monsters who came before or after.

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Talking about the game itself, there are fundamental qualities in the game that make it stand far above any other game in the series to me. Unlike other Pokémon games, Ruby and Sapphire are unique in that they hold your hand far less than other series games. You can get through most of the game and even maybe beat it without a huge amount of trouble, but many of the game’s best features can only be experienced via exploration and handout-free honest-to-goodness work.

Getting the legendary Rayquaza required exploring the ocean after beating the game to find a single newly-made hole in the ocean barrier. Getting the legendary Regi golems required embarking on a challenging, yet fair, journey involving braille decoding, deep ocean exploration, and rare Pokémon hunting. Getting Bagon, the first form of one of the strongest evolutionary Pokémon in the game, required players to go on a cave expedition in order to, eventually, find a single cove where they can be caught. While Ruby and Sapphire suffer from the same lack of post-game content that X and Y have, there is so much extra exploration here that there’s a good chance some of you with 300 hour save files might not have seen everything the game has to offer. Ruby and Sapphire are amazing because they offer a world that challenges players in ways Pokémon games rarely do.

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I would be remiss not to talk about how good the water exploration is in this game. I know that might sound a little weird to say after all of the hate the massive water portions of the map get, but I also think some of that hate comes from people annoyed by the wild encounter rate more than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, the encounter rate is extremely annoying on the ocean, especially if you don’t understand the glory that is Super Repel. If you are able to look past this, however, the ocean in this game is extremely dense with things to do. Diving beneath the ocean (one of the many firsts this game offers to the series) allows players to search for rare ancient Pokémon and uncover entire parts of the map. Whether you explore the southern part of the map trying to find the elusive Mirage Island or go east for the Elite Four challenge, the ocean’s mysteries hold no bounds.

Are there issues with the games? Sure. They aren’t backward compatible with previous Pokémon entries, they don’t allow players to explore something like Kanto after they beat the game, and there aren’t many of the beloved classic Pokémon to find and collect. On the other hand, this game has something to say. It takes the idea of Pokémon, makes the visuals brighter, the sound bolder, and plays with the formula in water-centric ways that are unique, even if not every single aspect appeases every single fan.

In this way, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are kind of like the Super Mario Sunshine of Pokémon games.

Images

Talkback

Evan_BJune 05, 2014

I like how one-sided this article is- one person has a falling out with Pokemon because Ruby and Sapphire sucked and the other enjoys every aspect that made the game insufferable.

Why is Ruby and Sapphire the worst pair of Pokemon games? Well, in trying to "diversify" it's versions it came up with two equally lame evil organizations with the most ridiculous schemes ever. There are far more duds in R/S than any other entry and it started the overcomplicated design trend that the series has only recently eased up on. The region and it's ridiculous obsession with water still end up being extremely bland, even though they tried really hard to make it interesting with weather choices, which wouldn't be well-implemented until the next generation.

I understand that people try to defend something they like staunchly even when it's widely regarded as subpar, but I would have preferred more opinions from more writers on these games. If you're going to have two people argue why a game is good or bad, I'd like to hear more variation than harping on all the reasons it's bad.

Quote from: Evan_B

I like how one-sided this article is- one person has a falling out with Pokemon because Ruby and Sapphire sucked and the other enjoys every aspect that made the game insufferable.

Why is Ruby and Sapphire the worst pair of Pokemon games? Well, in trying to "diversify" it's versions it came up with two equally lame evil organizations with the most ridiculous schemes ever. There are far more duds in R/S than any other entry and it started the overcomplicated design trend that the series has only recently eased up on. The region and it's ridiculous obsession with water still end up being extremely bland, even though they tried really hard to make it interesting with weather choices, which wouldn't be well-implemented until the next generation.

I understand that people try to defend something they like staunchly even when it's widely regarded as subpar, but I would have preferred more opinions from more writers on these games. If you're going to have two people argue why a game is good or bad, I'd like to hear more variation than harping on all the reasons it's bad.

Who's harping? Is it that unreasonable that two people end at two justifiable, opposing ends of the spectrum? And where is the one side?

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterJune 05, 2014

Quote from: Evan_B

I like how one-sided this article is- one person has a falling out with Pokemon because Ruby and Sapphire sucked and the other enjoys every aspect that made the game insufferable.

Why is Ruby and Sapphire the worst pair of Pokemon games? Well, in trying to "diversify" it's versions it came up with two equally lame evil organizations with the most ridiculous schemes ever. There are far more duds in R/S than any other entry and it started the overcomplicated design trend that the series has only recently eased up on. The region and it's ridiculous obsession with water still end up being extremely bland, even though they tried really hard to make it interesting with weather choices, which wouldn't be well-implemented until the next generation.

I understand that people try to defend something they like staunchly even when it's widely regarded as subpar, but I would have preferred more opinions from more writers on these games. If you're going to have two people argue why a game is good or bad, I'd like to hear more variation than harping on all the reasons it's bad.

who says the remakes won't try to fix these things.

nickmitchJune 05, 2014

I found it weird to read how Alex liked so many things that are popularly hated about R/S and kind of poo-pooed the rest.

The designs are a matter of taste, sure.  But I felt that the obscurity of some of the puzzles, for me at least, made the extras not fun and unplayable.  At a time when my interest was waning, having to look up braille was not my idea of fun.  Also, having to have certain pokemon in your party in order catch others was annoying.  I think trying to get a wailord was where I eventually put down the games.  And there was waaay too much surfing.  Sorry, but having to constantly keep a supply of repels was tedious.

Evan_BJune 05, 2014

@Pokepal I seriously hope they do! I think that Hoenn will function better as a region with the X and Y engine.

I was just hoping for a bit more variation aside from "this is all the stuff that was dumb" and "this was all the stuff that people say is dumb except I liked it."

Huell BabineauxJune 05, 2014

I completely agree with you. I had many fond memories of using a braille dictionary trying to decode the puzzles to get the regiis. I think people love to hate and find flaws in a game as opposed to enjoying it and babi-knowing how to play the game.

CericJune 06, 2014

Reading some of this reminds how much I don't like Post-Game only stuff in Pokemon.  I rather there be a ton of optional stuff you could do before officially beating the game.

OblivionJune 06, 2014

Holy shit, the comment section on this site has gone hill. Go gives a crap if his opinion is that he liked some of the stuff others didn't? It's his opinion, for crying out loud. Its like your blind hatred for this game has turned your anger towards an innocent article.

MythtendoJune 06, 2014

I hated Ruby and Sapphire. I thought the world was bland, the new Pokemon were not interesting. I did like the introduction of 2 on 2 battles though.

Fiendlord_TimmayJune 06, 2014

Quote:

I like how one-sided this article is- one person has a falling out with Pokemon because Ruby and Sapphire sucked and the other enjoys every aspect that made the game insufferable.

How is Justin's argument better? It basically boils down to: "I couldn't transfer my Pokemon from older games and they didn't just put the same old Pokemon in a new region. Therefore Ruby and Sapphire suck. Q.E.D."

Also as for the Silcoon/Cascoon comparison...

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Nidoran%E2%99%82_%28Pok%C3%A9mon%29
http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Nidoran%E2%99%80_%28Pok%C3%A9mon%29

See those two Pokemon above? They're different Pokemon. They couldn't be bothered to come up with different names, so they just put a tacky Male or Female symbol in the name. Truly awful.

I find it interesting how the majority of people who hate Gen 3 so vehemently are the same people who freely admit that they were suffering from Pokemon fatigue at the time. What that says to me is not that the game changed. You did.

It's the typical "Genwunner" argument. "Everything was better back in Red and Blue! They've run out of ideas! etc., etc." This illustrates the irony of that pretty well, albeit with Gen 5 instead: http://i.imgur.com/Zo9QB.jpg

I think it's absolutely ridiculous that people hate new Pokemon games that only let you catch new Pokemon, instead of all the same ones we've seen for the past 20 years over and over. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE NEW POKEMON, WHY ARE YOU BUYING A NEW FUCKING POKEMON GAME?! That's kinda the point, isn't it? That's the biggest feature update of a new generation. That's the main reason a new "Generation" is such a big deal.

Aside from all this, Gen 3 brought a ton of new stuff to the table. Double battles,  Weather effects, Natures, Abilities, a new IV system, etc. The reason your old Pokemon couldn't be transferred is because of the huge overhaul they made to the individual aspects of each Pokemon. I'd much rather have big changes to the system (like Abilities) at the expense of my old Pokemon rather than having the series be EVEN LESS different between iterations just to try and grandfather in all of the old, obsolete, half-baked systems that existed before.

Evan_BJune 06, 2014

The article simply states that, if you're the kind of person who likes all the things that weren't well-received by the majority of Pokemon fans in Ruby and Sapphire, you liked Ruby and Sapphire.

People still bitch and moan about me saying Super Mario 3D Land is the worst 3D Mario of them all and giving legitimate critique, so excuse me if I feel something that parrots the popular opinion of a game with an added "but I liked them" is a weak argument, or one that could be expanded upon.

I feel a forum discussion is better for this type of subject because then we could see the variety in people's opinions of the game. This just doesn't seem to warrant a full article, but that's just my OPINION. It's still going to stay on the site, I was just merely commenting on it.

Evan_BJune 06, 2014

And since I can't edit talkback posts:

Quote from: Fiendlord_Timmay

Quote:

I like how one-sided this article is- one person has a falling out with Pokemon because Ruby and Sapphire sucked and the other enjoys every aspect that made the game insufferable.

How is Justin's argument better? It basically boils down to: "I couldn't transfer my Pokemon from older games and they didn't just put the same old Pokemon in a new region. Therefore Ruby and Sapphire suck. Q.E.D."

I also feel that this argument is cheap, which is why I called for more variety in the feature. If kind of just feels like a lazy editorial.

OblivionJune 06, 2014

Hey, don't get me wrong, I am in the camp that loves Gen 3. I just get sick of all the article bashing.

Fiendlord_TimmayJune 06, 2014

Quote:

The article simply states that, if you're the kind of person who likes all the things that weren't well-received by the majority of Pokemon fans in Ruby and Sapphire, you liked Ruby and Sapphire.

I disagree with the notion that "the majority of Pokemon fans" agree on disliking aspects of this game. I think this is just another case of a vocal minority. For example, there seemed to be a universal hatred for the new DmC game, but when there are anonymous polls, etc. it turns out that an overwhelming majority of people actually think highly of the game, and it's just a few crazies who won't shut up that color the perception of popular opinion.

With Ruby and Sapphire, it's even more split. While I do see plenty of hate for those games, there are just as many people willing to jump to its defense. So I don't think this unanimous agreement that you keep citing actually exists.

Quote:

excuse me if I feel something that parrots the popular opinion of a game with an added "but I liked them" is a weak argument, or one that could be expanded upon.

Quote:

I also feel that this argument is cheap, which is why I called for more variety in the feature. If kind of just feels like a lazy editorial.

Fair enough. I would have also liked to see a much more in-depth analysis of the games. Especially as a hardcore Pokemon fan, an analysis of the nitty-gritty stuff like the apparent removal of a day-night system or the added elements in the battle system would have interested me.

I'm not quite as critical as you are, and I'm not going to call this "lazy editorializing" or anything of the sort, but it's certainly not the most engaging debate either.

Quote:

I just get sick of all the article bashing.

Yeah, just keep in mind that the writers for this site are unpaid volunteers who do this in their free time. Even if they weren't I try to avoid harsh attacks and stick to constructive criticism as much as possible.

It's admittedly difficult to do at times because I'm so passionate and have so many opinions about games, but I always try to keep my cool and be respectful, because god knows the internet needs more of that.

Quote from: Evan_B

The article simply states that, if you're the kind of person who likes all the things that weren't well-received by the majority of Pokemon fans in Ruby and Sapphire, you liked Ruby and Sapphire.

People still bitch and moan about me saying Super Mario 3D Land is the worst 3D Mario of them all and giving legitimate critique, so excuse me if I feel something that parrots the popular opinion of a game with an added "but I liked them" is a weak argument, or one that could be expanded upon.

I feel a forum discussion is better for this type of subject because then we could see the variety in people's opinions of the game. This just doesn't seem to warrant a full article, but that's just my OPINION. It's still going to stay on the site, I was just merely commenting on it.

I thank you for giving your opinion and I enjoy seeing people so passionate about this topic; I would like to say, though, that my article wasn't quite as simple as "It has a lot of water and I like it even though you don't." I sure did like many of the things that sparked criticism, but I feel like I at least fairly elaborated on why I liked them. I like the style, sound, look, and Poke-designs because I admire how colorful, bold, and different everything is. The design, while occasionally dipping into obtuse territory, does so in a way that makes me feel like I'm properly journeying around Hoenn.  Is any of what I'm saying that lazy or that unfair?

Evan_BJune 06, 2014

Once again, I apologize if I sound like an opinionated arse- I mean, I AM an opinionated arse, but the problem I have with this article is that it says the same thing twice- water, trumpets, Pokemon designs- and then also layers the lack of Pokemon transfer atop that and everything does end up feeling pretty one-note and kind of down. I just would have liked to hear more contributions from staff members- it's usually the best way to encourage discussion. More experiences would have probably unearthed new things to mention- my friend often cites the Underground being a major factor in his enjoyment of the title, and that's something neither party elaborated upon.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterJune 06, 2014

I feel like hoenn, while it may have felt a bit watered down at times, is still the most dynamic region.

Honestly if 3d is not working in route 113 with a decent camera angle I'm going to be very sad.

Also meteor falls is the best overworld theme in the series hands down

Fiendlord_TimmayJune 06, 2014

Quote:

may have felt a bit watered down at times

http://community.us.playstation.com/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/279078iF57B2F84025C0789/image-size/original?v=mpbl-1&px=-1

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterJune 07, 2014

http://youtu.be/i3GrO6kxJCw

MythtendoJune 08, 2014

Quote from: Fiendlord_Timmay

Also as for the Silcoon/Cascoon comparison...

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Nidoran%E2%99%82_%28Pok%C3%A9mon%29
http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Nidoran%E2%99%80_%28Pok%C3%A9mon%29

See those two Pokemon above? They're different Pokemon. They couldn't be bothered to come up with different names, so they just put a tacky Male or Female symbol in the name. Truly awful.

The Nidorans look different though, Silcoon and Cascoon don't.

the asylumJune 08, 2014

The only good things R/S/E introduced were abilities and the box organization. The music was tinny, annoying, and forgettable. Also completely cut off from Gens I and II, with no way to legitimately complete the Pokedex if you weren't living in Japan. A ton of the Pokegear features from Gen II that made it so much better than Gen I were also missing, and no day/night function.

Thankfully, Gen VI takes second place to Gen V as best Gen. So even though I was so sure there wouldn't be a R/S/E remake, I'm still glad that there is.

...which brings me to wonder: If the last two remakes were intended to let us import the Gen I/II legendaries to our current games, and Gen VI is still young, what precedent does this set? Can we expect to see BLAZING FIRE RED and LUSH LEAF GREEN next?

CericJune 09, 2014

I think by the time Ruby and Sapphire came out people were ready for a shift in Pokemon but, while they were ready what they really wanted was a full expansion.  Which is something they really haven't done as of yet by my understanding.

They have so many regions now.  I'm waiting to hear about the game that allows you to start in different regions.  Take on different paths to getting to the elite four.  Say I do some badges in Hoenn, maybe some in Johto. 

Be able to go to different areas to grab different Pokemon.  Something where we could each have are own path of making it through.  I think that is the Pokemon that really needs to come out.

OblivionJune 09, 2014

Forgettable music in Gen III? HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THE HORNS?!??!

nickmitchJune 09, 2014

The Nidorans are only separate Pokemon because gender wasn't in Gen I.  Silcoon and Cascoon both evolve from the same Pokemon, so it makes sense that they look similar.

I still didn't like Gen III.  Yeah, I was fatigued from the series (skipping R/S and going straight to Emerald), but Gen IV (my favorite) really renewed my interest in it.  I don't get people's obsession with the trumpets.  The music in the games was ok to me.  The sound track had it moments.  I couldn't imagine saying it sucked.

Fiendlord_TimmayJune 09, 2014

Quote:

The Nidorans look different though, Silcoon and Cascoon don't.

Hence my citation of their names being the same and not their appearance.

Quote:

The Nidorans are only separate Pokemon because gender wasn't in Gen I.  Silcoon and Cascoon both evolve from the same Pokemon, so it makes sense that they look similar.

Also this. And yeah, I understand the reason for the naming, but that doesn't make it any less dumb. I just brought it up as an example of arguably bad or lazy Pokemon design(/naming) to show to genwunners who think that Gen 1 was flawless and brilliant in every way.

famguy3March 06, 2015

I was a big fan of Pokemon red through gold and diamond through x and y. Ruby and Saphire felt a bit flat for me and I will give my reasons:
1. The selection of Pokemon types are severely limited. There is a huge amount of water types and I was always left with an open slot. 
2.  It felt like there was a large imbalance in the Pokemon.  The bad Pokemon were ridiculously bad and the good ones were crazy overpowered.
3. The Teams(Aqua and Magma) have a huge fetish for dark type Pokemon. This was always an issue but it felt really present in these games.  These evil organizations would probably be more successful if they would chose more than just rattata, koffings and ekans.
4. The run feature was a great addition, but everything was so far away from each other it didn't matter as much.
5. The legendaries were not fun to catch at all. From riding a bike over loose floorboards to using relicanths and wailords to reveal the path these journeys felt more like a chore than adventure.

This game had a good deal of memorable Pokemon.  I will not mention them now as we all have our own opinions on memorable. I loved every Pokemon game after ruby,sapphire so it has nothing to do with my tastes changing. These are just my thoughts

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