Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Look at Pokemon: Generation 5

So yeah after what Generation 4 gave us could Generation 5 go beyond to be even better than before?  Well not really, that isn't to say that the game is bad, but there are some things they took out that I would have really wanted to see continue in the games.  But with what they have now I do hope for the best in future games where they bring the good elements of the Gen 5 games with the good elements they scrapped in Gen 5.  As of now it plateaus on the scale, it's isn't too bad but at the same time it isn't as good either.  Let's see what they did correctly and what should return permanently to the series.

A lot of time went into the overworld graphics.  And those graphics look sweet.  Plus I never felt that the sprites used were ever out of place in this world.  Now there are many old Pokemon that have Gen 4 sprites being used here, but all Pokemon are in motion now so even the old sprites there are given some motion detail.  Not only in motion throughout the whole battle but back sprites are full bodied and not just a part of their back.

If there is any complaint I have is one thing.... the hexagons.  They're everywhere!  Look that the map for the Unova region, it has a hexagon right on it!  The C-Gear even has hexagons everywhere!  It's a little much for me to see this shape be repeated for no reason.

This time you are a trainer in the Unova region.  Personally I like to pronounce the region as "You"-"Nova", I know that isn't how they call it that in the anime or the like but I think it just works better my way... I mean you're saying Nova that is always cool.  Back on track the player this time is a bit older than the 10 year-olds that go on their journey.  If I had to guess you are in your teens this time.  Well spending a day with your childhood friends Cheren and Bianca, you get a gift from Professor Juniper, the first female Pokemon professor in the games, the regions three starters.  So together with you and your friends you start your Pokemon quest together as you become rivals to get all 8 badges to become the Champion.

And sorry but I have to do this.... IN AMERICA!  Yes Unova is based in the USA, or to be more exact New York City.  A major location change since the last generations have been based in Japan.  Even before it was revealed that it was New York I guessed it and I was right.

Like in Johto, Unova has a history to it but different and refreshing.  The best part is that humans are involved.  I don't mean groups of humans, but two brothers using a single dragon Pokemon brought peace to the land.  Then they began to fight and the dragon having difficulty deciding which side to take split into two Pokemon, Zekrom and Reshiram, with each one siding with a brother they thought was right.  Like the legendary beast trio of Johto I find it interesting with unknown Pokemon somehow becoming new Pokemon while their previous life is left unknown to the world.  While the brothers don't have names it is interesting to see that there are individuals that have made their mark in Pokemon history.

The evil team this time is Team Plasma and they are my favorite of all the games villains.  They have a mid-evil knight look to them and follow one king.  This almost makes them look like a religious order more than anything.  They bring up the ethical debate of if people are using Pokemon for their own ends and enslaving Pokemon.  Some might call them hypocrites as they battle with and steal Pokemon, but for me I would defend that, to them it might be more of a necessary evil in order to free Pokemon.  The king of Team Plasma, N, is a young man about your age and follows those beliefs strongly compared to the others, seeming to let Pokemon go after every battle you have with him. At N's Castle there is a grunt in a room trying to free their Patrat but it honestly doesn't want to leave them.  Of course there are those in Team Plasma who are only using that kind nature for much darker means.  The 7 sages, lead by N's father Ghetsis, are out to be the only ones in Unova that have Pokemon so that can.... that's right take over the world!  OF COURSE!  This falls to what Team Rocket was trying to do... but sadly Ghetsis has Giovanni beat, where Team Rocket just wants the world, Team Plasma as a plan to make it possible.  Ghetsis raised N to be a pure boy by bringing Pokemon that have been abused by humans so that N can gain favor of one of the two legendary dragons of Unova.  And with that heart and power people would give up their Pokemon so the sages can enslave the rest of the region with their own Pokemon.  What makes Team Plasma more hardcore is that they are the final bosses of the game.  When it came to the handheld games the evil team always loses before you face the Champion but here N beats the Champion having to fight N as the new Champion... kind of.  After beating N, Ghetsis shows the truly evil mad man he is.  He rants on how his own son is a failure and has the balls to face you.  So yeah he doesn't give a rat's ass about his son (a sage suggests they might not be related but look at them, plus it would make it all the more meaningful in his evil if N is his son), and challenges you even though you beat the powerful dragon N had AND most likely have the other dragon of legend ready to kick ass.  I mean he witnessed this, how can he not know about it, so that makes him the most badass villain of the games.  Plus the best plan out of everyone, with no one with Pokemon who can stop him honestly?

Like I said the series plateaus from here.  And it's because of the gameplay.  They have taken out things that people might have wanted here, but added a few things that kept it from falling.

First thing to note, no Vs. Seeker.  I fangasmed about this enough before, and for those who don't know, look at my "A Look at Pokemon: Gen 3" Blog.  So yeah best item the series had that allowed you to rebattle any trainer at just about any time.  Now there are Daily Battles in limited areas so you don't have to battle just the last 5 trainers over and over again like in Gen 1.  Really though no game should be without the Seeker or a device of equal or better quality, but we don't get that here.

For this generation there is nothing but all new Pokemon, until you beat Team Plasma.  This is what was something no game after the first games did.  In all games there was always some Pokemon from previous generations walking around in a new region.  But this game doesn't give us that.  This is straight new Pokemon found in Unova, and not giving us any familiar faces.  One of the odd things to note is that Pikachu can be spotted in the game from billboards, to bushes, a balloon, and even one that a trainer has walking around.  Really odd when Pikachu can't even be caught post game.

Triple Battle is the newest form of battle.  Considering that in odd number generations the amount of Pokemon used in battles goes up I would guess by the 11th generation we'll get a full 6 vs 6 battle.  Anyways triple battles are not only about adding one more Pokemon to the field, but also has the player focus on placement.  Pokemon can be in the left, right, or middle, and those placements have an effect on the moves used.  Take for example the move Earthquake, if the Pokemon using it is in the middle of the field then the attack will hit the 5 other Pokemon on the field.  However if the Pokemon is to the left (or right) side then Earthquake will not hit the Pokemon placed on the right (or left) side.  There are moves that target a Pokemon regardless of placement on the field, this includes most flying type moves (the only one that doesn't work here is Air Cutter) and moves with Pulse in their name (this includes Aura Sphere as its Japanese name has Pulse in it).  The only problem is that this new kind of battle isn't used much in the game, not even the Battle Subway makes use of it only having up to double battles.  The only way to go about triple battles is to fight multiplayer mode.

Rotation Battle is a mix of Triple and Single, if that makes any sense.  You can call three Pokemon to the field but only one will be active.  So here one will attack and take damage while the others wait.  Rotating Pokemon isn't like switching as you which Pokemon will be in front and what move they will use, so nothing that works on switching will work on rotating, also rotating doesn't take away a turn.  You see what Pokemon your opponent is using but you don't know which one they'll use for an attack.  Another fun and refreshing style but battle but like triple battles it isn't used much and only can fully use it in multiplayer mode.  What's sad about them is that double battles when they were done in the generation 3 games they were used a fair amount of times even were the Gym Leaders used double battles.

In multiplayer battles generation 5 gave us the Wonder Launcher.  A new device that allows players to use items in battles against other people, but it doesn't work the same way as using items from the item bag.  In battle the trainers can score points that go to using items the Launcher has with items costing 1 point to up to 14 points.  A great way to add more of a challenge to all battles in multiplayer.

C-Gear is the newest device of the games taking the space on the bottom screen.  The main menu is also in the bottom screen but the X button has to be pressed to use it.  The C-Gear is used mostly for connecting to other people or the internet, with three sections, Infrared, Online, and Wireless.  Infrared can allow the player to trade and battle with nearby people without having to go to the Pokemon Center.  Players can also exchange friend codes this way too, and with a Feeling Check players can get Sweet Hearts from it.  Online has Game Sync that puts Pokemon to sleep to send them in the Dream World which will be explained in the Global Link section.  Wireless has two, Xtransceiver and Entralink.  With DSs that have a camera players can talk and view each other with the Xtransceiver.  As for the Entralink... we'll get to that.

Being based on New York City, Entralink is based on Central Park and looks like a pokeball.  This place allows one to connect to another players game if they within the hexagon shape of the region.  And by traveling to other people's game players can complete missions to unlock power-ups in their game.  It is through Entralink that players can go to the Black City or White Forest of another game.  And if that game is the opposite version of the one your using you can invite NPCs from their game to yours (like inviting NPCs from Black City to White Forest).  At the northern end of Entralink is Entree Forest where Pokemon from the Dream world can be obtained.  In Entree Forest trainers are given a special pokeball to use in case they don't have any, also all pokeballs have a 100% catch rate in Entree Forest.  Pokemon appearing in the Entree Forest us the sprites used for following trainers from Heart Gold and Soul Silver.  As pointless it was following you around was neat and you only needed to make them for the new Pokemon only.

The Battle Subway, move over Children Card Games on Motorcycles a new champion has appeared!  Seriously you battle Pokemon with many destructive attacks on a MOVING subway train.  I can't possibly imagine all the things that go terribly wrong here.  On topic the Battle Subway is a replacement for the Battle Tower, while I do like the subway for it's insane design I think the Tower is much safer.  So as replacing the Battle Tower it using all the same battle styles with facing 7 trainers in a row and getting points in return.  Like noted before it doesn't use the new Triple and Rotation battles so kind of a missed chance by the developers.  And no Battle Frontier, the Subway is it, this is just me talking but I think they could have the Subway as a start then have a train that goes to the Frontier in post game.

PokeTransfer............ *facepalm*  While being able to connect to the last generation is fine and all but really?  Can we stop with this "sending to new game and never returning" garage?  I would think that Gen 4 could get away with it because it was two different systems and making a trade thing might have been hard to pull off, but both the Gen 4 and Gen 5 games are DS games.  You're telling me you can't do what they did with Gen 2 connecting to Gen 1?  Those were Gameboy game systems, the same thing.  This is really the biggest disappointment to me beating out my disappointment of the lack of a Vs Seeker, but not by much.  How PokeTransfer works is that you link up two DSs to send Pokemon from Gen 4 to Gen 5.  Like before there is no HM moves that can be on a Pokemon.  This rules makes me rage since I can't send my Surfing and Flying Pikachus, even though I would do it in a heartbeat if they didn't have that rule.  A new rule in sending Pokemon over is that they can't hold items......  Really this needs so many facepalms.  I believe this rule was set since of a change in TMs (which will be explained later), but really couldn't they have fixed that so that Pokemon wouldn't be holding TMs so that other items can go through, it really isn't that hard of an idea to come up with.  Well unlike Pal Park where 6 Pokemon are sent in one day and all 6 have to be obtained, the PokeTransfer allows 6 at a time but you can catch which ones you want and leave the ones not obtained in the Gen 4 game.  The goal of this one is to fire a pokeball at the Pokemon icon to catch them as they play hide and seek, again I did like Pal Park better with the goal of finding and catching Pokemon to get a prize at the end despite it's flaws.  I do hope future games will stop this trend and do things right cause it's just getting worse and worse.

The main thing in versions that existed that made them different was that you can't catch all Pokemon in one game without trade, and Ruby and Sapphire had different teams to fight.  In the Gen 5 games locations have their differences mostly in one area that is either Black City or White Forest.  In Pokemon Black players can go to Black City with trainers to battle and rare items to buy.  With Pokemon White, White Forest takes the place where Black City would be, and instead of battling trainers they are just there to talk and you can find level 5 Pokemon there and rare items can be found on the ground daily.  Pokemon battled/found are in connection with the trainers, like a trainer named Jacques who battles with Nidoqueen in Black City but in White Forest allows you to get wild Nidoran (F).  And not just Pokemon but items too have a connection for example Grace who would allow the Dawn Stone to be sold in Black City for found in White Forest.  Not that not all items would be the same for both locations but it will be the same for evolution stones.

In the generation 5 games several places have been removed or changed.  One would be the PokeMart, where the building itself has been removed but now shopping happens in the Pokemon Center.  It's convenient but I liked going to a PokeMart and having a shop environment,  here there isn't one.  There is a big shopping building like in every game but here it's just not as impressive as it usually is.  A big difference is the lack of a Game Corner that existed throughout all the games before, I think this has to do with the issues of gambling but really I never had problems myself.  Another lose is the Safari Zone  Yes, no area to be lucky and catch rare Pokemon.  The lack of a Safari Zone doesn't bother me, since well... after losing a shiny in Heart Gold, I can't imagine anyone caring about it anymore.

Pokemon Musical is what has replaced the Pokemon Contests and the Pokeathlon, and I got to say missed opportunity here.  The Musical has dressing up Pokemon and dancing like in the Super Contests but with no appeals round to add to the challenge.  Sad that this could easily fit in there to give us a better contest but no.  Plus there is nothing to be won from this, the game doesn't have ribbons, sure you can view them from Pokemon you have but they are either from past games or an event Pokemon.  At best after the show fans might give you items for dressing up your Pokemon for the next one but that's it.  There isn't even any big prizes to get like in the Pokeathlon.  Maybe if there was something to gain for all this the Pokemon Musical would be a beloved mini-game like event like the Pokemon Contests and Pokeathlon but with no pay off it just isn't worth it unless your are really bored and want a slight change in pace.

So what did they do right and improve on from the last generation?  One word, Trade.  Battle may be a large part of the series but the ability to trade has always been just as large a part that people don't think as much.  That's right, trading has been so complex before, like having a cable (Gen 1-3), always being in the Pokemon Center, and always having the traded Pokemon in your party.  But now with the use of the C Gear (explained above) you can trade without a Center for those near by, and you can trade Pokemon from your boxes now too.  Noted before like the PokeMart the GTS has become part of the Center which I kind of miss.  But there GTS had an upgrade from before.  Overall it's still flawed with how it works but there is now GTS Negotiation where you can trade with anyone anywhere and for the right price get the Pokemon you want without needing it on your Pokedex.

Again I must bring up the TMs.  Last time it was how the gen 3 TMs made it to gen 4 but things are different.  TMs now work almost like HMs, just without needing a Move Deletor to get rid of the move if you don't want that move.  Yes, TMs are now unlimited usage, but because of this some ground rules have been set up.  Back in the day TMs would fill your PP when the PP of one move was low so you get a new move that is full right away, so now that you can use them as much as you want in order to avoid cheating to get PP full all the time usage remains the same.  If you have 5 PP left on a move and use a TM which the move has more the PP count will still be at 5.  It's a good thing and this is a small price to pay.

The Relocator is a special device to transfer only 4 Pokemon over from the Gen 4 games much earlier than if you went to the PokeTransfer that happens after you beat the game.  These Pokemon are the event Celebi and shiny Johto beast trio from the last events of the Gen 4 games.  And only by the use of the Relocator can they be used to unlock events in Black and White.  If you got them by PokeTransfer it will not work.  There was also a locked device that could be transferred but it was never released.

This generation has been the boldest when it came to new Pokemon, with 156 new ones with no connection to any Pokemon from previous generations.  Also I wasn't sure about this generation originally because they made a God Pokemon in generation 4 so were could they go from there?  Well they didn't seem to focus on the point that they made the creator of everything and had fun with it, and it didn't disappoint. The starters are good, though it is rough for Tepig who evolves into the 3rd Fire/Fighting type starter.   It just barely slides since it has points that make it different from the last Fire/Fighting starters but come on....  there are other types you could make it.

Some of the new Pokemon have been made to mirror some of the first generation Pokemon like how the Pidove family is like the Pidgy family, the Roggenrola family is like the Geodude family, the Woobat family is like the Zubat family, the Timburr family is like the Machop family, Throh and Sawk is like Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, or the Bouffalant family is like the Tauros family.  While these are easy parallels to spot their designs are their own and not some cheap rip-off of the generation 1 cousins.

Global Link
Considering the scale of Global Link this gets it's own section.  If you have a computer hooked up to the internet and a DS that can go Wi-Fi (with a generation 5 game of course) then you have the possibilities that this has to offer.  The Global Link is part of  Pokemon.com and you need an account, and it's free to so no need to worry there.  There are four main points of the Global Link, Promotions, Global Battle Union, the Dream World, and Customization.

Promotions are pretty much events for the most part.  They allow you to get special Pokemon you can't get anywhere else.  Some promotions not only include Pokemon but also stuff for the Dream world and stuff for the Customization section.  Promotions have a time limit and you need a password in order to unlock it.  And if you have trouble with a promotion then don't be shy to ask the tech workers by asking questions on Pokemon.com.  I had trouble with a Promotion once and they were able to fit it right up for me.

The Battle Union section of the Global Link is a way to check stats of other trainers and your own stats as a trainer on online multiplayer battles.  Aside from that it also allows you to sign up for any Global Link battle tournaments that will happen soon.

The Dream World is by far the most important thing the Global Link has to offer.  Now you can put only one Pokemon to sleep once a day and you have only one hour to play.  Now this is reasonable especially after what happened then the Dream World first launched in Japan, it's because of a massive amount of people going in the Dream World that they had to control it by having hour time limits.  The world takes place on a floating island with a home to call your own.  The island has a house; that you can decorate like the secret bases before it, a field; the only place where you can grow berries, a bridge; that takes you to different lands to find Pokemon, and a share shelf; that allows you to share items with anyone in the Dream World.  Another thing to note is Dream Points, that unlock certain areas and Pokemon in the Dream World. These are obtained in many ways, playing games with Pokemon, picking a Pokemon to send to your game, watering your or other players berries, picking your fully grown berries, and sharing items.  Now the main point is to go on the bridge to find Pokemon.  All of them are from generation 1 to 4 and what makes them different from those that would be transferred from past games is that most of the Dream World Pokemon have a secret ability.  That's right, certain Pokemon will have an ability that can only be obtained in the Dream World and no where else, also mothers can have a chance to pass on their Dream World ability to their child.  Now to get those Pokemon you have to like noted in the points is to play a game with them, do well and they join you, do fantastic in the game and they could have a special move that is an egg move or a move exclusive to the Dream World.  The hard choice being that you can only bring one Pokemon you found into your game so it better be the best one you can find and you have to give up one berry to send that Pokemon over.  Also as you hunt for Pokemon in an area you can find items even berries that you can grow, share, or give to get a Pokemon.  Now there is a downside to this, you have no choice on which place to go after you go on the bridge, making the odds 1 in (number of places available to go) getting lower each new place that you can go to, making it hard if you want a certain Pokemon or item.  Now you can leave and try again hoping you get the right area but even that has a price.  After going to areas so many times there will be a point where no Pokemon or items show up in the area for the rest of the time, this counts leaving right away and coming back.  Those rules are okay, but paired together it just doesn't work... either let use pick the place we want to explore while having limited times, or let Pokemon and items be there all the time and the location be random.  Seriously we have an hour limit already, what's the point in doing something like this that could ultimately waste that whole hour into less than a minute?  But with some changes happening real soon as I'm writing this I hope this is something that will change for the better.

Customization is for downloading things to your game.  This allows to you set up images for your Pokedex and C-Gear, along with giving you a new Pokemon Musical.  While not much it helps to give off some personality to your stuff.

I don't think it has the lasting power the generation 4 games had, but for what it does it does well.  More open trading and battles, and new styles of battle to compete against friends with.  The Dream World is a refreshing new thing despite its problems.  Grinding Pokemon to level 100 is far more easier in this game than any other in my opinion, I have so many Pokemon already at the max level.  But with more on the way there could be more possibilities that have yet to be used.

Final Thoughts
They are good and make some bold choices but with the reasons above that is the reason why I felt that this generation is more or less on even ground with the last generation.  It has some good stuff that keeps it from dropping down in quality but also misses some good stuff that keeps it from raising.  That is only for Black and White themselves as this generation is still young and has a ways to go.

Black 2, White 2, and the Future
The third game or games are coming out sometime this fall, and there is some fair hype about them.  Unlike other third games of a generation this one is not just offering some more stuff but a LOT of new stuff along with some new settings in Unova and some changes in routes and cities.  These games are set two years after the first making them the second direct squeal games after Gold and Silver.  So now is a new leading male and female trainer along with a new rival.  There are some new Gym Leaders including the old rival Cheren, a new Poison gym leader, and a new Water gym leader.  Now I like the Poison one but not the Water one, the main problem being we have had a lot of water Gym Leaders already and not many Poison ones.  I think they really should have used that to reveal a Dark type Gym Leader.  Team Plasma strikes again but this time with a look that could have come from the Metal Gear games.  One of the things that I'm sure many have wanted is a way to battle past Gym Leaders and Champions, now it was revealed that there will be a location that has tournament battles with them.  Unlike the first gen 5 game that was new Pokemon throughout the first part of the game, previous generation Pokemon make it to the Unova dex this time.  These games will also include a way of making Pokemon movies, which I hope proves to have more fun and have pay off compared to the Pokemon Musical.  For the 3DS there is the upcoming Pokemon Dream Radar than can catch Pokemon and send them to the new games.  Final thing to note is the forms for the Pokemon.  Kyurem the Ice/Dragon Pokemon of gen 5 takes a Black and White form (each one based on the game, Black Kyurem in Black 2 and White Kyurem in White 2) based on the other two dragons Zekrom and Reshiram.  The last Pokemon to get some new forms is the trio of Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus and those forms can only be obtained through the Dream Radar I noted before.  So far it looks pretty good for the next generation 5 games and may set a new standard for other third games.

As for future games well here is a list of things I would add:

1) Create your own gym. Story goes that you find a trainer who wanted to be a gym leader in an old building, he/she fights you and loses. After that they realize you can be a better gym leader than him/her and gives you the building and gives you information on how to make the gym the way you want it. It will start off as a single room, but as you spend money you can buy all kinds of things to add to your gym and even hire NPC trainers and find a place for them. You can even make your own badge. So using Wi-Fi friends can try out your gym. And as to be sure before finishing your gym you would have to make your way to the leader spot, so people don’t end up making gyms where they can mess with people by making it impossible to pass.

2) Connecting to older Generations in a style like Gen 1 and 2. If there is one thing that bugged me most in the newer generations is that you can’t send back pokemon and that they can’t have HM moves. It really needs to stop, since I have a Surf and Fly Pikachus in my HG game that I would like to sent to my White game. So I think it would be a good idea for them to connect like before and connect to generations 3 and 4 along with 5. And with items… well they spotted them with Gen 5 but they should have fixed it up so that ONLY TMs can’t be on a pokemon.

3) Pokeathlon. While contests should come up again I think the Pokeathlon should also be an ongoing thing in the games. They’re really the first mini-games where you control your pokemon, and almost like the Stadium games. Plus they are the best spots for getting stones.

4) Bring back some of the old TMs. What I liked about Gen 4 was that the same TMs were there but they added more. And there are some TMs I liked that they got rid of in Gen 5, like Dark Pulse and Dragon Pulse. And with now endless uses why not have some of the good TMs back again?

5) Improved GTS. Now the GTS Negotiations in Gen 5 was a big step up in trading, along with trading in what is in a box and trading with the C-Gear, but the GTS can use a touch of improvements. It has the same problems as before, you’re only able to see a few trades rather than as many as you can. You only see 7 (I think that’s the number) and only that. I think you should be able to go through as many as you can. And maybe with Global Link have a GTS on there (like the old GTS site before) that can let you look if you don’t have the game on and can give you a code you can enter when you do get to the game so you can enter the code and find the trade faster that way.

6) Custom Main Trainer. Something that I thought about Battle Revolutions for the Wii, it offered a LOT of new great stuff though sadly didn’t give the things it should have had already. One of the great new things was the custom trainer. It would be nice to start as anyone would but got things to give the trainer a look different than the others. Yeah something else to spend game money on… well now in White I have everything and Maxed out money, custom stuff like a Trainers looks and a gym would be a good use of making the money have meaning again.

7) Vs Seeker. The Seeker was fantastic in the Gen 1 remakes and made it to Gen 4 (not to the Gen 2 remakes… since the phone was for that). But I was sad that the Seeker was not added in Gen 5. There are a good number of battles but they are only once a day things, I want to battle a random trainer on a route again.

(I was lazy so I found the comment where I posted these and copied them, deal with it)

And to end the look at this generation we look at the best and worst of designs of Pokemon. Now a few things to note.  Not all will be about appearance alone but how they are presented in the series.  Also no Pokemon on the worst list can be explained through species of real life animals, take Beautifly for example, it is a butterfly like Butterfree but based on two different kinds.  Also this list is hard to make, while some of my favorites are on the best list it goes by design.  Last rule is that pokemon may be grouped in one spot by family, or if they are part of a group (Ex: legendary trio thing), and of unrelated pokemon might be together if they have something similar that bugs/fascinates me.  Finally any Pokemon on my worst design list is not a Pokemon I hate.

Top 5 Worst and Best Pokemon Designs of Generation 


5 Braviary family and Mandibuzz family

Proof that looks isn't everything.  I mean these are some awesome Pokemon, based on the eagle and vulture, but they have one major flawing that has annoyed me.  The fact that the Braviary family is all male and Mandibuzz is all female.  Now with Pokemon like Tauros and Miltank I understand why they would be their genders, along with other Pokemon that have this counterpart relationship.  But why do eagles have to be male and vultures female?  The idea as a whole doesn't work and such a thing gets this gender confusion on this list.

4 Vanillite, Vanillish, Vanilluxe

I didn't want to, since I do kind of like them but yeah.  While the Pokemon themselves are not real ice cream they are based on ice cream and I can see how it can leave a few people scratching their heads at this.  A strange creation but while on this list I cut them some slack since they are some of the first Pokemon to be created from a newcomer to Game Freak James Turner.  And well it's not as bad as some from the Gen 1 worst list.

3 Basculin

While I do like the forms for it the design overall is kind of bland.  Maybe because of the fact that it doesn't have an evolved form that keeps it from being too interesting.  It is the only Pokemon to learn 4 abilities, and even then it doesn't help it with a stand out feature like that.

2 Alomomola

This one just bugs me.  There is no Pokemon I've seen that has given me the same feeling of "why not?" as Alomomola.  What does this look like to you, anyone who are Pokemon fans (since they would most likely know)?  It looks like the kind of Pokemon that would be the evolved form of Luvdisc, but as all gen 5 Pokemon it isn't.  There have been Pokemon guessed to have been connected to past Pokemon that have not been and later they really didn't need to be.  But Alomomola is another story, if they wanted a fish Pokemon for that spot they should have changed it.  Because since it isn't an evolved Pokemon yet looks so much like it should be it gets this spot on the list.

1 Ferroseed and Ferrothorn

I really don't know what these Pokemon are, a WTF if I ever saw one, still doesn't beat Wobbuffet though.  Then after looking at their page on Bulbapedia I still can't believe what I'm looking at.  I mean it seems to be based on a spiked plant and a mace or flail, plus they're found in a cave of all places.  I just felt like I made that up but really it isn't.


5 Bouffalant

What else can I say?  It's a buffalo with an afro, can't think of much cooler than that.  Bouffalant is also the first and only Pokemon to have an afro as I recall.  And even more is that it's signature move is called Afro Break, well that's only in Japan, in the states they instead called it Head Charge.... bad move translators at least call it Afro Charge, it didn't have to be Afro Break but as long as the word Afro is in there.  Well regardless Bouffalant is bringing the cool in Pokemon.

4 Reuniclus

A Pokemon based on single celled organism and a homunculus.  It's just those ideas seem to be in perfect harmony with each other.  It has a very cell-like look, and the little creature inside it all fits with the Latin name of homunculus, little man. And considering that a homunculus is a creature made from alchemy I can't help but think that those red orbs might be Philosopher's Stones, but I do have Fullmetal Alchemist on the brain when thinking of that.

3 Cobalion, Terrakion, and Virizion

There have been Pokemon based on many things, plants, animals, fairy tales, items... the list goes on, but the most impressive base would have to be for these Pokemon.  The trio of this game are based on the Three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis respectively.  While all three have that air of nobility about them as they should they each have a look designed on the character their based on, with Cobalion having the sharp build of a leader, Terrakion as the powerhouse of the group look, and Virizion appearing as slender and romantic.  Now some might wonder, what about Keldeo?  Well it is an unofficial member, like the character it's based on, so it isn't sharing this spot with them.

2 Litwick, Lampent, and Chandelure

Because I always wanted a candle Pokemon since the beginning.  I even made my own.  I don't know where that paper is anymore but from what I remember my design was terrible compared to this.  Just because it was just so satisfying to see something I thought before and done better than me is why I love the design put into Litwick and it's evolutions.

1 Archen and Archeops

While a favorite like some of the others it's one that I always thought of when it came to fossil Pokemon.  Unlike Litwick I had no sketches of this kind of Pokemon before, but now I don't need it.  This was handled the way I always wanted and shows that they are not done with good idea yet.

Pokemon Art (c) Ken Sugimori
Information Source Bulbapedia

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Look at Pokemon: Generation 4

A new region, new Pokemon, new attacks, and new abilities, and for me this is the peak of the Pokemon series.  That's not to say any generations after this one will take the series downhill, it's just that this generation took some of the biggest steps in the Pokemon history and won big time.  And the importance of those steps haven't been repeated in Gen 5.  What did they do right above all the other games? Well keep reading to find out.

The game continues to use sprites but I'm okay with that.  The way they work with it seems to set it apart from other games and it's something I wouldn't change.  The overworld is no longer sprites but a 3D world in the Pokemon style.  One can see the dept of the land while all other characters are sprites is unusual, the sprites themselves don't look bad in a three dimensional land.  And with it being the DS the bottom screen is used for other things that I'll get to, but also the commands in battles which has a fantastic layout style.

The story starts out with the player and the player's best friend out on the lookout for the infamous Red Gyarados at the lake near their hometown in the Sinnoh region after hearing it appeared there in a news report.  Recklessly going into the grass they are attacked by Pokemon and they use the ones that happen to be nearby.  After that the region professor, Professor Rowan, allows you to keep the Pokemon the two start their quest.  The quest like the other games has been get all 8 badges and all, though they do kind of mix it up with a female champion for once, Cynthia.  Along the trip the player may run into another trainer that would join them for a short time, unlike Colosseum were the extra person did nothing the trainers here have their own Pokemon to use in battle.

The badies of this generation are called Team Galactic.  Having a space theme to them, they are after the Pokemon that control space and time to recreate the world.  A plus to them is that unlike the other games (not including the Gamecube games) instead of just the boss and grunts there are some high ranking officials in the team as well. In the Platinum version Team Galactic gets another member who, while you don't fight, acts as the leading scientist and the one who created all of Team Galactic's weapons and tech.  Where they Team falls is it's leader Cyrus.  Cyrus is really flat and not really emotional, don't get me wrong I understand that is what they meant to do... but,  I would have liked to see some emotion from him.  Like in the result of a battle he wanted to win but lost, direct setbacks like that should have unlocked the emotions he kept hidden, but that's just me.

Perfect.  This is the generation that perfected the gameplay of the series.  With Gen 2's typing and Gen 3's nature and abilities, Gen 4 gave the final tweak the series needed.  Physical and Special splits for moves.  In the earlier generations a move was special or physical by the type alone.  That was trashed and with this split people take a new look at Pokemon.  Now Pokemon like Feraligatr that has higher attack than special attack can now make use of it's type and greater stats with physical water moves, giving moves like Waterfall a shine for this Pokemon aside from using Surf.  It is no longer a laughing matter to give Hitmonchan the Thuder/Fire/Ice Punch moves.  A trainer can easily take control of Omastar's high special attack power to use AncientPower.

A small touch was added to breeding, but it was for the better.  In the games before all Pokemon hatched from eggs at level 5.  Kind of makes little sense when you consider the Pokemon next to the starter town tend to be under level 5.  This was corrected to now have Pokemon start off at level 1 and start from there.  A good choice I say, and again a small thing that was added but for all the right reasons and made sense this time.

The Underground, is a playground for trainers.  By digging in any location we can explore the land under the Sinnoh region, being able to travel from one side to the other... most of the time.  In the underground tunnels trainers can dig up all kinds of treasure like, plates, shards, evolution stones, even fossils.  With the Secret Bases of Gen 3, for Gen 4 the Secret Base is now part of the Underground.  So like before you can get all kinds of things to make your base look nice.  And one of the treasures, spheres, can be used to buy things for your base or by traps.  In the Underground trainers can connect with each other and play Catch the Flag, with the goal being to take the flag of the other person's base and get it to yours without be caught.  That is were traps come in, trainers can set up traps to catch people who steal a flag from their base.  The only problem with the game would be if the trainers had their bases in other parts of the Underground, but I have never come across this problem personally but I'm sure someone has.

The idea of the Mystery Gift was in the other games but not as important as it is now.  The function known as the Mystery Gift is now used to activate any events, be it in a local area or a Wi-Fi event.  Events could be for items that unlock areas to catch rare Pokemon, like Darkrai and Shaymin.  Other events can be to obtain special Pokemon like Mew or a Shiny Pichu.  Unlike generations before it event Pokemon now come in a special pokeball, a Cherish Ball, that is all red and Pokemon come out in a flash of colors.

The Poketch is the new device for the Sinnoh region, and is more handy than the Pokegear and PokeNav.  With time of day and night back from Gen 2 the Poketch keeps track of the time on the DS clock, both digital and analog.  It even has a calendar that keeps track of the day, month, and year the same way as time.  It even has its own map, a very useful thing as it even tracks any roaming Pokemon that are on the loose without you having to go all the way at the Pokedex to see where it is.  You can even see the happiness of your Pokemon without having to visit one person in the whole game that has to tell you that.  In games before there as always been a dowsing machine, this time one is part of the many functions of the Poketch.  There are a few functions that can even help you with breeding, like the one that checks compatibility of two Pokemon, a daycare checker to see how the Pokemon you left at the daycare are doing and if they had an egg, and a pedometer that can help you keep track of the number of steps when hatching eggs.  There is of course other functions that are not that useful in the game but they are fun to have like , a coin flip, calculator, memo pad, roulette, and  so on.

Pokemon in generation 4 also have new evolution methods.  One of which is gender evolution where if the Pokemon is a certain gender it will evolve into a certain Pokemon.  Like Burmy where males become a Mothim and females become a Wormadam.  Some Pokemon like Combee that evolve into Vespiquen need to be female, meaning that males never evolve.  Other gender evolutions need a Dawn Stone to make that possible.  Next method is items, unlike the trade with items this one is to hold the item.  Once the Pokemon levels up with the right item it will evolve, also note that those evolutions require to be a certain time of day too.  Pokemon can also evolve from a level up in a certain location.  As long as they are on the right place it can evolve at any level.  There are also evolutions based on attacks in these games, all you have to do is level them up with the attack and there you go.  It is strange when you consider that some Pokemon that use that method have learned those attacks in previous generations.  The last one is requiring you to have another Pokemon in your party to evolve.  This rule only applies to Mantyke, who needs to have a Remoraid in the party, to evolve into Mantine.

Super Contest, yeah so for this one instead of just Contest it had to be Super because....... SUPER!!!  There have been some changes to how the Conest work.  Pokemon this time eat Poffins to gain stats in the returning contests of Cool, Cute, Beauty, Smart, and Tough.  For the first round of contest it will be showing off your Pokemon like before but this time you get to dress up your Pokemon in whatever you find on your trip, from masks, feathers, and even rocks the list goes on.  The second round is the dance off which is a new thing where you match the beat of the Pokemon before, while trying to create your own beat that will be difficult for the others to copy.  And the last round is the appeals with using moves once more.  This time there are three judges and your goal is to appeal to the one that would likely not be picked by the others to gain more points, or plan your actions to snag a lot of points when a judge's meter reaches a certain point.  And while old moves are the same contest type before the effects on the appeals of this generation are different from before.

Wi-Fi.  This is what the generations of the past painfully lacked.  With the DS's ability to connect to other DS systems wirelessly and connect to the internet for a global scale the series has become.  So since the DS doesn't need cables anymore this does win over the Gameboy and Gameboy Advance systems that required players to have paid for a link cable to trade and battle.  With the help of friend codes people can trade with friends and people on the internet without be next to each other.  Trading with people you don't know is also possible with the help of the Global Trade Station, or GTS for short.  Trainers can deposit a Pokemon and ask what they want to trade it for.  Or search for a Pokemon they want and see if the price for the trade is good with them.  There are some limited actions on the GTS, first being you can only look or ask for Pokemon that you have seen on the Pokedex.  Next is that when you narrow down what you are looking for, you only get 7 choices, with no way to scroll to find others that want to trade, sure you can narrow it down by so much but it would be nice to look at some then scroll through others.  Final and biggest problem with the GTS is the impossible trades.  When you look for certain Pokemon yet you find that all 7 spots are filled with Pokemon no one can touch because what they ask for is impossible and they know it.  Now it wouldn't be that big of a problem if let's say you could scroll through them like noted before, but this works two problems against you messing up your chance to find someone who is willing to trade fairly.

With the use of the Gameboy Advance slot on the DS one can easily connect to the Gen 3 games with the Gen 4 games.  The only downside to this is that Pokemon from the Gen 3 games are transferred and not traded.  So you send Pokemon to Gen 4 but can't send any to Gen 3, of course this is bad considering that Gen 2 could trade with Gen 1 despite the changes in game design and just because it is two different systems still isn't a good excuse.  Plus transferred Pokemon can have no HM moves so you have to delete the moves with the Move Deleter in one of those games.  The Pokemon that are transferred over to the Gen 4 games go to Pal Park.  It is an area that you can catch those Pokemon in different areas and the faster you do it and the rarer the Pokemon you can get some high scores.  You are however limited in transferring 6 Pokemon a day and you would have to wait 24 hours if you change your DS clock.  While Pokemon not having HM moves isn't that big of a problem the good thing is that a trainer can let a Pokemon carry over anything they want with them over to the game, even TMs that we'll get to.

I haven't talked about TMs before because they were pretty basic as they only gave Pokemon new moves and they changed from the first 3 generations with new moves and always being only 50 of them.  Now however is something big regarding TMs.  Like I noted before Pokemon from Gen 3 can even carry over TMs.  This means that the Gen 4 games can use all of the Gen 3 games TMs and with more added with a total of 92 TMs.  So have a TM in your Gen 3 game that you never used before but would like to use it on one in the Gen 4 games?  Well put that TM on a Pokemon and send it over, it's as simple as that.  And it makes it easy in some cases where rare TMs like Iron Tail is easy to get in games like Fire Red and Leaf Green.

The games of this generation have the Battle Tower, but not the Battle Frontier... but we'll get to those details.  Unlike the last Tower where Pokemon can be set to the level, if you enter a level 50 challenge any Pokemon above that level will have their level dropped to 50 with stats fixed if they were that level.  Also taken from the Frontier style is the leader of the Battle Tower, who happens to be the father of your rival.  There is a multiplayer mode where you can join another person to battle in the tower's double battles.  If you don't have someone to play with you can also pick one of the characters that joined you briefly on your journey.

Battle Frontier like in Emerald returns in this generation's 3rd game, Platinum.  If anything this trend needs to stop and have the Frontier in every future game instead of a special thing for a 3rd game only.  This one has only five areas of battle instead of the seven that the last gen had.  So like before the Battle Tower returns here the same as it was in Diamond and Pearl.  The Battle Factory works the same as it did last time, with using rented Pokemon to battle.  The Battle Hall is a new one, where a trainer uses one Pokemon, or two in double battles, and pick a type starting at difficulty level of 1-10.  So that means to battle 170 battles to complete the Hall.  The Battle Arcade uses a roulette to decide what can happen in a battle.  You can give your opponent or yourself a status aliment, create a weather effect, gain or loss extra levels, or anything else.  The last one is the Battle Castle, unlike the Tower your Pokemon do not get healed after every battle.  Here you gain points from battles that go to healing HP, PP, getting an item, or even learn what Pokemon your opponent will use in the next fight.

Gen 4 has the second fewest Pokemon released for a generation at 107. Out of all those Pokemon 28 of them are Pre-evolved or Evolved forms of Pokemon of earlier generations that's about 25% of them.  That is the most considering Gen 2 had 19 of them out of their 100.  While some of them are alright there are Pokemon that didn't really need to be there, but we will love them anyways.

This also marks a first as all the starter Pokemon evolve into a dual-type evolution.  Interesting combinations out of them and for a few make up for their starter weakness to another type, like Torterra has a bit of a fighting chance against Infernape with its ground type, and Infernape against Empoleon with its fighting type.  But with the fire starters it marks the second time fire has been paired with fighting, and it can only last so long.

A change that happened to all Pokemon, well not all but many, is differences between male and females.  Kind of like Nidoran back in gen 1 but it's for more Pokemon than just them.  Pokemon like female Pikachu now have a V-shaped dent in their tail, female Wobbuffet wear lipstick, and male Milotic has shorter hair-like fins.  There are others but this generation created them and have many for the gen 4 Pokemon.  Like the Starly family which male and female differ from the spot on their forehead, the Shinx family in that females have smaller manes than the male, or even the Hippopotas family that differ in colors from male and female (not to confuse one for a shiny easily).

Heart Gold and Soul Silver
Like the Gen 1 remakes these games are better than the original, hell even better than Fire Red and Leaf Green.  It takes the perfected gameplay style of Gen 4 and use it full swing.  Plus the world is a lot more visually appealing than in the Gold and Silver games.

The biggest deal of Heart Gold and Soul Silver is now the leading Pokemon can follow you wherever you go.  Yeah inspired by the Pikachu that follows you in Pokemon Yellow this returns with now all Pokemon in the generation 4 national dex following you.  This leads to you being able to talk to your Pokemon, and interact with them outside of battle.  Now some Pokemon are too big so when you go into a building the Pokemon will return to their pokeball.  There isn't really any point to having your Pokemon free and following you around but it's just mindless fun and something that should be used more.

Places that were scrapped from the Gold and Silver games get a comeback here with the Safari Zone and Viridian Forest.  Where the Safari Zone was in the first game is now the Pal Park and a new Safari Zone is in the far west of the Johto region.  In that Zone you can give whatever fields you want and add objects there.  It's good but I don't have fond memories of it, losing my chance for a shiny Riolu being the case.  The Seafoam Islands return as they were before and not just the gym in Gen 2.  The Battle Frontier comes into this this version as the remakes came out after the Platinum game, unlike the Gen 1 remakes that came before Emerald.  The Battle Frontier is the same as Platinum even with the same Frontier Brains.  Another area added is the Pokeathlon Dome, home of the Olymipic-like Pokemon events.  The Dome's events are fun and require the right skills a Pokemon has to complete them, and the store offers many things trainers can't get easily, even evolution stones.  Out of all places though Heart Gold and Soul Silver did not add the Sevii Islands from the Gen 1 remakes.  Might be a bit repetitive considering how there isn't any new Pokemon to get there, but I feel that they could have done something to make the islands new and refreshing to us in a way we didn't see before.

Team Rocket gets major improvement with the heads of the team having their own looks and names so they don't have a generic look to them.  While the Gold and Silver games gave them more to do, these ones gives them the character they needed so much.  And with an event Celebi one can learn more about Team Rocket breaking up 3 years ago and what the scientist said back in Fire Red and Leaf Green.

The best touch to Heart Gold and Soul Silver is the.... well Touching.  Instead of scrolling through a menu on the top screen the menu is on the touch screen and makes things a whole lot easier.  Heck even you can set the Running Shoes to run all the time and not have to hold the "B" button all the time to run.  Even using the Box fuction on the PC uses the touch screen making moving Pokemon around much less of a hassle than ever before.

A new add-on is the PokeWalker.  A device that lets you transfer a Pokemon on the device and run with them, going towards leveling up Pokemon, finding new items, and catching Pokemon you don't normally get yet in the game.  The best it has to offer is the Yellow Forest event area where there are nothing but Pikachu and some might have Fly, or even Surf in their movesets.  In fact some other Pokemon can have moves that are normally not in their movesets.

Pokemon Battle Revolution
Talk about a waste.  PBR was a step back from the games that came before it on the Gamecube, heck even the N64 games had more.  That's not to say the game is bad... it just leaves out so much that this could have easily been a big title game for the home console versions.

Battle Revolution takes a page out of Stadiums book but misses a few things.  Back then you had rental Pokemon, now there are some but it's way too few requiring people who have a Wii, DS, and a Gen 4 Pokemon game to fully use it.  If you have these things already and want more challenge from the games then go right ahead and get it, if not then don't bother.

The game has Colosseums but works more like the Battle Frontier with Colosseums having their own rules different than just normal battle.  Some include a Tournament battle, Baby battle, and a Roulette battle where you could get the other's Pokemon and they could get yours.  It makes the game a challenge, more so in the second round... again it's sad that a game like this had no more added to it.  And depending on which version you used the final boss of the second round could use different Pokemon.

For what this game did right that I want to see in more games from now on is the ability to create your own trainer.  Sadly limited, what it did have was good.  From trainer type to skin color, and even the clothes.  Limited but a good start.  The other going was gifts in the form of mystery gifts.  Most are TMs and other items but they are only once a game use.  Though you do get a powerful Electivire, Magmortor, and Surfing Pikachu.

Like every game before it more Pokemon are added to have the "got to catch them all" thing go longer but it's more than that.  Much of it's replayability comes from the Wi-Fi, with trading and battling people anywhere.  Know some people that have the right games on a forum you go to?  You can battle and trade with them!  Plus the Battle Frontier continues to give some of the most challenging battles in the game.  And if you have everything but want more then Pokemon Battle Revolution is okay for that extra challenge.

Final Thoughts
This.... this generation is the best of the series, but I said this is the peak so yeah.  Generation 4 gives us what is the perfected style of Pokemon and any one of the main games would be perfect, even with the generation 2 remakes clearly surpassing their original games.

And to end the look at this generation we look at the best and worst of designs of Pokemon. Now a few things to note.  Not all will be about appearance alone but how they are presented in the series.  Also no Pokemon on the worst list can be explained through species of real life animals, take Beautifly for example, it is a butterfly like Butterfree but based on two different kinds.  Also this list is hard to make, while some of my favorites are on the best list it goes by design.  Last rule is that pokemon may be grouped in one spot by family, or if they are part of a group (Ex: legendary trio thing), and of unrelated pokemon might be together if they have something similar that bugs/fascinates me.  Finally any Pokemon on my worst design list is not a Pokemon I hate.

Top 5 Worst and Best Pokemon Designs of Generation 


5 Finneon and Lumineon

If only because I felt that these Pokemon never really broke any new ground as fish Pokemon, yeah they have a butterfly look to them but they just come off as kind of uninteresting to me.

4  Chingling

It's cute but not to the point where I think it was needed.  Chimecho really didn't need a pre-evolved form.  Just proof that cute isn't always a good thing.

3 Lickilicky

Much like Chingling, Lickilicky is also a Pokemon that wasn't needed.  Oddly I do think it looks better than its pre-evolved form Lickitung, but I already did the worst design list for the first generation.  It came down to mostly Pokemon connected to the previous generations.  Maybe if Lickitung didn't exist and Lickilicky did then it might not be here.

2 Tangrowth

This is the last one following this pattern, trust me.  Out of all the Pokemon connected to the previous games THIS one left the smallest impact... well no impact really.  I just can't imagine who really wanted an evolved form of Tangela but here it is..... and boy is it boring.

1 Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf

The backstory of them is fine, yet... well they have a similar style to Mew and yeah the differences are nice but not good enough.  And the worst crime of all is that out of the Trios before and after them they are only psychic types when they should have had a second type like many others.  They're not bad but as far as designs go I feel that they really didn't get much love.


5 Electivire

While there are other Pokemon with connections to the older generations that have good designs this one is the best of those.  It's look and abilities makes it more than worthy of being Electabuzz's evolved form.  And with the right moves this Pokemon can be a major powerhouse for anyone's team.

4 Rotom

References are fun, and this little guy knows it.  Rotom is based on Pulseman, a character from a Sega game believe it or not.  But the character of Pulseman was designed by none other than the Pokemon artist himself Ken Sugimori so it all works out.  It's also the first Pokemon that does posses things, objects that would allow it to change it's form getting a new attack too. (and change it's ghost type but that's Gen 5 stuff)

3 Lucario

One of the first Pokemon of Generation 4 that we learned about, even starting in a movie before Gen 4.  Lucario grabbed attention from people by its canine appearance.  It seems Lucario is based on Anubis with it's jackal like head.  What is amazing is how it does resemble Anubis yet not being related to anything involving death.  Anubis would use a scale to judge peoples' hearts much like how Lucario uses aura to see peoples hearts.  While its Steal type seems out of nowhere that is a fact that doesn't bother me or bring down how Lucario works.

2 Garchomp

This Pokemon is a Dragon/Ground type and is better than the Gen 3 Pokemon with the same type Flygon.  The big thing Garchop has going for it is the land shark style it has and it is badass with the fin on top, hammerhead shark head, and spikes that come from it's legs and arms.  And while having a shark look the Dragon type seems all too fitting.  I could just imagine a Jaws movie just with a Garchomp swimming in the desert terrorizing people.

1 Darkrai

What can I say, it's Darkrai baby!  The first Dark type legendary Pokemon, and the master of sleep, with its moves focusing mainly on sleep related moves, even with its own signature move Dark Void putting all to sleep.  It's shape is also slick with it resembling an hourglass, and its coloring is great with mostly black with some white hair, red collar, and light blue eyes.  Of course being a Pokemon that causes nightmares it has a very nightmare-ish appeal to it that makes it the best of this generation.

Pokemon Art (c) Ken Sugimori
Information Source Bulbapedia

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Look at Pokemon: Generation 3

For me the series kept getting better and better, though some people believed that the series went down hill from this point.  I think the main issue with this is that no one foresaw what was to come in this generation.  There are some things that could have been handled better but I think the 3rd generation can stand on its own pretty well.

So being the Gameboy Advance series the graphics have gotten FAR better than ever before.  The world is colorful and every town had their own style to it that wasn't seen in the last generations.  Buildings like the Gym, Pokemon Center, and PokeMart all have their own look, and really... was it really that hard to pull off before?

It's from this point that Pokemon all have their own little icons for them, and not like in the last games where icons on the Pokemon team list had generic sprites for most of them.  I would like to also note that the Pokemon have not had any more mistakes in their sprites.  Also looking at the back sprites of Pokemon from gen 2 have been updated for these games.

And in Gen 3 is where Ken Sugimori did a new style for the official Pokemon artwork that he has continued using to Gen 5.  A good move since his artwork back then had more white in them than needed.

The same old tale but with a few differences to the earlier and later generations.  Instead of growing up in the town your character just moved in with his/her mother.  The player also has a FATHER, and not only that but he is the gym leader of a gym that is in another town than the one you live in as well as only challenging you after you have gained 4 other gym badges.

There is also the gender character.  In the region you will battle the child of the Professor Birch.  But that child will be the character you did not pick from the gender selection.  It is an interesting way to add in a character that would have been not used in the region.

With there being two different version there is also two different teams of bad guys out to do what they want.  The teams are both in a sense environmental terrorists out to fix the world the way they see fit.  In Ruby the player goes against Team Magma who are after the legendary Pokemon Groudon in order to create more land.  Grunts from Team Magma tend to use fire, ground and dark type Pokemon.  Sapphire we are treated to Team Aqua who want Kyorge to cover the world in water.  Grunts from Team Aqua use water and dark types.  Personally I would side with Team Magma myself.  They use my favorite color red, and use fire one of my favorite types, and Groudon is one of my favorite Pokemon.  Plus I think more people would naturally take Team Magma's side than Team Aqua's, if only because the world itself is already covered in more water than land and humans are built to live on land and not water.

One of the things of Pokemon is that no two Pokemon are the same, while Pokemon share base stats with their own they will not be the exactly the same.  To continue the difference they added natures to add more to stat differences.  Natures in the game are like personalities that a Pokemon can have 1 of 25 different ones that increase the growth of one stat while decreasing the growth of another stat.  The stats that are affected by Natures are Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed.  Out of the natures 5 of them are neutral that they don't increase or decrease certain stats.  They can help you find the Pokemon that can benefit from a loss and gain while at other times the might hinder them.  Natures also have an affect of special stats for the Pokemon Contests that will be explained later.

Next change to the series is Abilities.  Now Pokemon have powers that can be activated right away or when certain conditions have been meet.  Take for example the starter Pokemon, now they all have the ability to increase their water, fire, or grass type after they are down to 1/3rd of their HP.  The legendary Pokemon Groudon and Kyorge have the ability to have it sunny or raining respectively.  Not all abilities are useful though, Pokemon like Slaking cause them to attack once then do nothing the next turn then can attack again, rinse and repeat.  Granted abilities like that are part of what the Pokemon is based off of.  But there are moves that make use of one's ability to gain the upper hand.

With Gen 3 we are treated to a new form of battle, Double Battles.  With this two Pokemon fight side by side, and many moves are fixed to fit the new battle style with moves like Razor Leaf attacking only the opponents or Earthquake hitting all Pokemon (that includes the partner Pokemon) and some moves hit only a single opponent.  This ups the brain power needed for battles since now instead of keeping track of the two Pokemon fighting each other you have to watch four of them while considering the attacks, types, and abilities to give you the edge.  Like if you use Earthquake it is best that the partner Pokemon is a flying type, knows the Levitate ability, or is using Protect.

PokeNav is alright but not the best of the Pokemon technology in the games.  It has the map like the PokeGear but that is about it.  There is time in these games but it doesn't show them like in Gold, Silver, and Crystal, and the time isn't displayed on the PokeNav, but shown in the cloak in the player's room.  Trainers can be rebattled again and shown on the device to it is a hassle to check as you wouldn't know who would like to rebattle you.  Though it is improved in the Emerald version having a call function like the PokeGear and even allows you to challenge gym leaders again.  It also checks the condition and ribbons of the Pokemon you have gained in contests, though in later generations those things are in the summary of the Pokemon you look at and for the better too.

The biggest side quest of the Pokemon series is of course the Contests.  Pokemon have one of five conditions that can be shown on the PokeNav; Cool, Tough, Beauty, Smart, and Cute.  The conditions here are reflective of the stats of the Nature of a Pokemon.  So Cool=Attack, Tough=Defense, Beauty=Special Attack, Smart=Special Defense, and Cute=Speed.  These stats are increased not through leveling up but through Pokeblocks.  Pokeblocks use berries to make a candy like treat that will help a Pokemon through the contest rounds.  All Pokeblocks have certain flavors to them and each one works in favor of a different contest, Spicy for Cool Contests, Sour for Tough Contests, Dry for Beauty Contests, Bitter for Smart Contests, and Sweet for Cute Contests.  So one with a nature that will boost a stat like Attack will naturally like Spicy flavored Pokeblocks while the decreased stat like Speed will have a Pokemon not like Sweet flavored ones.  In fact one of the rare Pokemon, Feebas, evolves when it's Beauty stat is at max, making it and its evolution Milotic some of the most difficult Pokemon to obtain.  The contests themselves are in two rounds, one where your Pokemon is judged by its condition and the appeals round where moves are used outside of normal battle to create new plans on winning to get the most points.  Moves in contests now have one of the five types to them and using the right types will score or subtract points.  Like using a Cool move in a Cool contest will score you extra points, or if a Beauty move in a Cool contest will be normal, and a Smart move will lose points.  Spamming moves over and over will not go well as contests what to have Pokemon try to use all their moves to win, at least more than one move.  But there are combinations that some are easy to figure out as they work the same in battle for the most part, with combos like Sunny Day on one turn and the next followed up with Solar Beam.  Pokemon that win contests will get ribbons that can be seen in the PokeNav.  And each of the contests have 5 levels to go through and if your Pokemon does well enough in the last contest level they can have a painting of them in the Lilycove Museum.

Gen 3 also has baby Pokemon from the last generations, so how does one get around the breeding thing when it was set in the 2nd gen?  Incense!  You know... thinking about it the idea sounds kind of strange, since.... well.  You get them to breed and have a pleasant sent get them in the mood.  But to get the new baby Pokemon now the Pokemon must be holding the right incense item so instead of getting the second stage Pokemon we get the new first stage baby Pokemon and this is method is used in the next generation too though it still makes me wonder if they could do that why not make their baby Kangaskhan already and get it over with.

While Trainers could put stuff in their own house in Gen 2, Gen 3 offers something even better, the Secret Base.  With the help of the move Secret Power, trainers can make a base from a cave, really tall grass, or even a tree.  By doing mix records with other people, the bases of your friends can show up that you can explore, and even battle a NPC representing your friend complete with the team of Pokemon they have when the records were mixed.  Battle them takes place after beating the Elite Four.

The Battle Tower from Crystal also makes it to these games.  But with a level 50 or level 100 challenge, and yes the Pokemon have to be 50 or under to be in the level 50 battles anything from 51 to 100 can't join those battles.  Trainers can get ribbons for their Pokemon here to for competing in the tower.  Trainers select 3 Pokemon to one on one and face off against a set of 7 trainers before the challenge is over.   The more winning streaks you get the better the items you will be rewarded once you beat the seventh trainer.

So with the Battle Tower in Ruby and Sapphire, the Emerald version had to make something bigger, the Battle Frontier.  The island that contained the Battle Tower is now larger and has several other areas including the Tower to give a new battle experience.  So far the Battle Frontier has only been in two generations (with Gen 3 and Gen 4 being different), but is really something that should be in more of the games because of how battles are worked.  Since I did the Tower the next one would be the Battle Palace, where Pokemon fight on their own without commands.  This style puts one faith in their Pokemon as their nature and moves would decide what will be done and may change if health is low, a battle where there is a LOT of care placed on getting everything just right.  Next is the Battle Factory, that uses rented Pokemon.  Now using rented Pokemon isn't anything new as it goes back to the Stadium games, but you only get 3 Pokemon and can trade them with one of the Pokemon from the losing trainer.  The Battle Pyramid is much like a dungeon which is perfect for the setting.  Trainers are in a dark building and can only get light from beating trainers, also you can find items in the Pyramid that can only be used in the Pyramid, and to finish the dungeon quality you might even run into wild Pokemon which you can't catch... I think.  Tournament battles are the main feature of the Battle Dome.  With 16 trainers (including you), there will be 4 battles that need to be won for each visit.  For the Battle Arena it isn't a matter of only K.O.ing your opponent but getting a better score.  Depending on the actions you take after 3 rounds and both Pokemon still stand the one with the most points wins the match.  The last one is the Battle Pike shaped like a Seviper.  Here you can chose a room to enter that can have a verity things happen, single battles, double battles, your Pokemon get status ailments, battle a wild Pokemon, heal your Pokemon, and even nothing at all.

No Gen 2 connection.  For better or worse all generations of Pokemon can connect in some way to the previous one, but not Gen 3.  The 2nd gen had the power to use a time machine to trade, and with the other games... well we will get to that for another time.  Connecting to an old generation system would have been a great thing, many people might have wanted this if they knew it or not.  I believe it might have had something to do with how the coding in the game was for the 3rd gen but I think they should have tried some way to make this work, heck the Gameboy Advance could play Gameboy games.  It was a missed chance to bring the games full circle if given the right possibilities.

This generation has given us 135 Pokemon and oddly holds 3rd place for number of Pokemon released.  The 3rd gen also has been kinder to the Dragon, Ghost, Steel, Dark, and Bug types compared to the last generation, with new Pokemon and moves to balance out the types more.

Of course one has become infamous with the meme, "So I herd u liek Mudkips".  Which isn't bad as they are cute and it will never get old.  At least for me anyways.

What also strikes me about the Pokemon of this generation is the Hebrew mythology.  The Legendary Golem trio and the Weather Trio are both based on Hebrew stories.  The Regis are Hebrew golems that also represent the three ages, Regirock=Stone Age, Regice=Ice Age, and Registeel=Iron Age.  The Weather Trio is a bit more complex then the other trio.  Groudon is based on the behemoth, Kyorge the leviathan, and Rayquaza the ziz.  All of them taking their natural place in the Pokemon world based on those creatures.

Fire Red and Leaf Green
The Vs Seeker, best item ever.  End of story.  What is the Vs Seeker those who haven't played this and the games later you ask?  It is a device that can let you rebattle anyone you want on a route that you encountered in your journey.  What... there was the Pokegear and after that the PokeNav?  Junk compared to this baby, while people may not battle all the time you can battle them most of the time, unlike those other tools that only let you rechallenge a few people.  This is something that would have greatly improved the first generation even if you kept all its faults.  That is how good it is.

Aside from that a new region is in the game, the Sevii Islands.  Which allow you to explore more of the world with this island chain.  The main point of the islands is to really catch Pokemon that are outside of Gen 1, like the Gen 2 Pokemon. Though I think such a think would have been better handled if after the Elite Four and Champion battles that we got to go to the Johto region, kind of a reverse of the 2nd generation but it would have been awesome and people would have enjoyed it.  But the islands do offer a few things, like their own little stories like how one is terrorized by a gang of bikers or a branch of Team Rocket that remain is carrying out experiments on how to force Pokemon to evolve, along with one scientist noting a possible back story to the gen 2 rival.  One island even has their own Battle Tower that is different than the Ruby/Sapphire one, plus challengers there can have shiny Pokemon.  There are a few secret islands that can be available through events allowing one to obtain Ho-oh, Lugia, and even Deoxys that can have an Attack or Defense form based on what version you have.  Also an interesting note is that in Emerald while not all of the Sevii Islands are there the events one are with Deoxys having a Speed form from this one.

Gameplay for this one mainly consists of what was in the Ruby and Sapphire game.  With the types updated and the dark and steel types, along with Pokemon having abilities.  This time you can pick your gender which is interesting as there was meant to be a female character or the Gen 1 games but was pushed aside but came back for this game.  Breeding also is in this one, with the daycare for that being on one of the Sevii Islands.  So with everything these Gen 1 games are better than the originals giving us more than the first games.  Heck even if they only added the Vs Seeker to the remakes it would still be better.  But it isn't the best remake as we'll get to them soon.  These remakes also introduced the starter type hyper beams, Frenzy Plant, Blast Burn, and Hydro Cannon, that became signature moves of all starter Pokemon.  If there is one thing I think could have been done better, aside from Johto, is to have added some of the Pokemon Yellow plot in it... having Jessie and James might not have been bad and could have worked off the double battles for them.

Pokemon Colosseum
Now we reach the Orre region, a desert devoid of wild Pokemon... strange that there are Pokemon that can live in a desert but moving on.  The hero this time isn't a 10 year-old just starting their Pokemon journey but a darker and older character with his Espeon and Umbreon that was once part of the evil gang known as Team Snagem.  For reasons to this day are unknown he rebelled against the Team by blowing up their HQ and stealing a machine they were working on.  He later saves a kidnapped girl who has psychic powers telling him of a group of people changing Pokemon into mindless fighting machines called Shadow Pokemon.  So this character along with the girl are off to save the Pokemon from this evil group known as Cipher.  How does he save the Pokemon?  Steal them of course... correction, Snag them!

So yeah this is the story in a nutshell and it's GREAT.  The usual games focus half on the badge thing and the other have on the evil organization, but here it is full force against an evil group using Pokemon in the most twisted of ways.  You do get the first human partner in the game but sadly she doesn't do much other than informing you on what Pokemon is a Shadow one, they could have done more.  And while you don't pick your Pokemon, an evolved Pokemon like Espeon and Umbreon are nice to have.  Also everyone has names in this game, and some of them are just strange... play the game yourself to find out why, those who have played it will get what I mean.

The graphics are fantastic, not only are there updates to the Pokemon and the newly added Gen 3 Pokemon but Trainers are given unique looks as do the places.  A lot of the time the game comes off as having a Final Fantasy feel to it with the graphics but that could be just me.  But because of this many places just pop with the right colors, my favorite place being the Under, a underground city full of neon lights.  Character models are just as good from the hero, his partner, and the many people of the world including Team Snagem and Cipher.

Gameplay uses the same mechanics as the games at the time with a few changes.  First off, no breeding is involved so no daycare that takes two Pokemon, there is a daycare but it's only one.  The focus of the gameplay is the Shadow Pokemon.  To obtain one the hero must snag it from another trainer.  This is mostly the same as getting a wild Pokemon but since it is from a Trainer it is usually the last Pokemon in their party. Once you have a Shadow Pokemon you must open its heart, and that usually requires you to use them in battle, walking around, and other things if you look around to find out how to clear them.  When you first have them you don't know their nature and they only have one move Shadow Rush a move that does recoil damage.  As you open their heart they will get back 3 of their moves and you can even learn their nature, and once you open their heart Shadow Rush will be replaced and the Pokemon gets all the experience they would have obtained in battle to level up.  Battles for Colosseum are all double battles, a reason you get two Pokemon to start with, meaning you have to deal with strategy a lot in the game and when dealing with catching Shadow Pokemon it's best you take out all other Pokemon and make sure you can gang up against the Shadow Pokemon the trainer uses.  There is also Mt Battle, a volcano that has 100 trainers waiting to do battle and is a great place to train, and in Battle mode if you purified all the Shadow Pokemon and win Mt Battle with your story team you can get Ho-oh.  This is a Gamecube game, and with a cable one can trade Pokemon from the Gameboy Advance games to the Gamecube games, once you clear the story mode of Colosseum that is.

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness
Back to the Orre region, after some years have passed the region is at peace.... OR IS IT!?  As the story opens up a ship carrying many Pokemon is attacked by a strange Lugia.  The hero this time is a young boy (never an option to be a girl in the Orre region is there?) and his trusted Eevee he got from his father is off to save the day.  The hero lives in a lab that was created by my guess some time in-between the years that passed.  The lab was started by the hero's father to help Pokemon from Cipher or anyone wishing to create Shadow Pokemon if such people ever showed up again.  The father sadly passed away in that time but at least it's something instead of having the father be nonexistent.  As it turns out Cipher as indeed rebuilt themselves and are ready to take the world.  All with the help of XD 001, Shadow Lugia.

As before you have to steal Shadow Pokemon in order to free them but there has been some changes since last time they came along.  First off there is no longer one Shadow Pokemon move but many now,  and Pokemon can have up to 4 of those moves, with each move being different from powers, aims, and effects.  Now while Shadow isn't a type it is fixed up so it does act like a type, with Shadow moves doing super effective damage to non Shadow Pokemon and not very effective damage to other Shadow Pokemon.  One of the major ways to purify Pokemon now is the Purification Chamber, that by using a ring of other Pokemon and using the effectiveness of types can create energy that purifies many Pokemon even if you can't carry anymore.  Also not all trainers have just one Shadow Pokemon but can have many with the final boss having SEVEN of of them!  Purified Pokemon also obtain a move that they don't normally have, take for example Togepi, once purified it can get Tri Attack, and while not great in this generation it becomes a power house of a move in later generations.  There is many more Shadow Pokemon to snag in this game but there is also wild Pokemon now.  Yeah Pokemon have been appearing in the Orre region and in what is known as PokeSpots you can place bait and when you are signaled you can go back to the spot to catch the Pokemon there.  And like the last Gamecube game you can only trade with the Gameboy Advance games once you beat the game.

Pokemon from Gen 4 gain some of the spotlight in this game, with the first game appearance of Munchlax, owned by the old lady who sells herbs, and Bonsly, the only Pokemon on the ship that was attacked by Lugia that did not get changed to a Shadow Pokemon.  Munchlax goes around PokeSpots to eat the bait you placed there for wild Pokemon, and the old lady will repay you in more bait and some free herbs.  After one saves Bonsly from the ship the player can use Bonsly in a special battle, but of course you do not keep it.

With Ruby and Sapphire you not only have the Pokemon League but also Contests to keep you busy in deciding what you want your Pokemon to do if it's battles or contests.  And lets not forget the Battle Tower that is the most challenging parts of the game.  With Emerald you have a whole Battle Frontier with all kinds of different battle styles aside from the Tower.

The Fire Red and Leaf Green versions were of course with it being better there is more things to do when compared to the original.  And it is something for the people who like the series but felt like they didn't get enough out of Red, Blue, and Yellow.

Colosseum was a great way for people who couldn't get certain Pokemon in Ruby and Sapphire to get them here.  There wasn't much Pokemon to catch but it offered some great stuff and with Mt Battle the perfect training ground for all your Pokemon from the Gameboy Advance games.  XD gave the people more in battles and challenges.  For the best in replay value of these games at the minimum all you need is one of the Gameboy Advance games and one of the Gamecube games for the best replay experience, though you could get more to give you a LOT to do.

Final Thoughts
So did the series really start to fall here? No!  One of the things that might have put people off was that you couldn't "catch them all" when Ruby and Sapphire came out.  But the other games came out and gave use a different kind of experience that the games before didn't.  Someone might say it might be because the number of games that came out for this generation but they all had their own design about them that not only made Gen 3 a whole but made each one important.  Ruby and Sapphire shaped the basic gameplay that is still used with abilities, natures, and double battles, along with Contests.  Emerald gave what Ruby and Sapphire had just with the added Battle Frontier.  Fire Red and Leaf Green, brought back Gen 1 and showed us that the games from back then can be touched again and redone to make better.  Both Gamecube games gave their own stories to the Pokemon world and their own kind of gameplay with Shadow Pokemon, which I hope to see in future games.

And to end the look at this generation we look at the best and worst of designs of Pokemon. Now a few things to note.  Not all will be about appearance alone but how they are presented in the series.  Also no Pokemon on the worst list can be explained through species of real life animals, take Beautifly for example, it is a butterfly like Butterfree but based on two different kinds.  Also this list is hard to make, while some of my favorites are on the best list it goes by design.  Last rule is that pokemon may be grouped in one spot by family, or if they are part of a group (Ex: legendary trio thing), and of unrelated pokemon might be together if they have something similar that bugs/fascinates me.  Finally any Pokemon on my worst design list is not a Pokemon I hate.

Top 5 Worst and Best Pokemon Designs of Generation 


5 Castform

Mainly because of the debate that the bottom part of Castform looks like.... well look for yourself and you'll see.  This Pokemon is based on a teru teru bozu, a Japanese doll to pray for good weather.  While the forms it takes in the weather effects are fine it's the normal form that could have been fixed up so people wouldn't have to bring that up.

4 Azurill

If only because it's the oddest of any pre-evolved Pokemon to exist after its evolutions.  It's a normal type yet having a look AND evolutions based around water.  Plus for the biggest what the f**k in Pokemon one in every three female Azurill will become male.  Yeah there are some animals that can change genders but this isn't the think of thing you would think could do that.

3 Trapinch

While not bug type which it is based from that isn't what gets me.  The design flaw is the disconnect between it and it's evolution.  There might be others that fit this but this one is personal for me.  I been trying to get a Vibrava for some time in Ruby and well I didn't know how.  Thanks to the internet I did find out Trapinch evolves into Vibrava but how could I possibly figure that out.  It wouldn't have hurt the creators to color it the same as it's evolved forms.

2 Shelgon

The same reasons as Pupitar pretty much.  A Pokemon that didn't have to be based on a cocoon at all.  It says that in this stage it gets ready to evolve again, but I think that isn't a good excuse.  There are Pokemon out there that start without wings yet gain them without a cocoon like form in the middle.  There are things they could have done with this, but we are stuck with Shelgon as is.

1 Tropius

So it's is something like a Brachiosaurus, okay I get that.  But how about the wings it has?  Pokemon has played lose with how things work but this might be one of their worst ideas.  I can't imagine leaves of its size to lift something that is 220.5 pounds into the air.  So yeah Tropius gets the number 1 spot of generation 3 because that is where I draw the line at believing what Pokemon can do.  And it does some strange stuff!


5 Nosepass

What I love about Nosepass's design is that most people should know what it is based off of.  Created from the Easter Island heads, and honestly I think Nosepass looks better than the heads it's based off of.  It's nose is a compass that always points north from what we are told, though I think it might be a bit impossible with how it is in the games and anime.  But if the Easter Island heads ever look exactly like this then I would so want to go.  It's just something that looks better than the original.

4 Sharpedo

It's about time we had a shark Pokemon and boy did we get one.  It's mean looking and looks like it could do what real world sharks would do and attack people, though that might be too much to think about.  What is also nice it that while it is obviously based off a shark it does have some subtle design based off another sea creature that people might not think about giving it a first glance.  That being is that its half body like shape is based on the Ocean Sunfish.  It's nice to have a Pokemon with a bit of obviousness to it along with a touch of subtly.

3 Shedinja

So for one Pokemon to evolve you get TWO!  This is one and a great design it has.  The discarded skin of a Nincada is given life making it a unique Bug and Ghost type.  Not only that but with that floating crescent on its head it is given something of an insect angel look that is both enchanting and kind of creepy.  While having 1 HP it makes up for that by being immune to just about everything that isn't super effective against it.  So if you know your opponent well this guy might even be a star player on a team.

2 Relicanth

Fossil Pokemon have always been part of the Pokemon world and each generation (not including Gen 2) has given us some kind of Fossil Pokemon and this is one of them.  While not needing a fossil to revive it like all the others this one is a living fossil, based off the Coelacanth.  The moment I saw it I knew I wanted one since it was one of the things I read about back in elementary school and it was my favorite thing I learned about.  When you make something based off a real world creature and want someone like me to want one so much you know you did a good job designing it.

1 Sceptile

A Pokemon based on a gecko, not just any kind of gecko, but the leaf-tailed gecko.  That is the thing with Pokemon, there are Pokemon based on creatures you never thought lived in the world.  Geckos that have plant like parts to them and while there is this starters pre-evolved forms Sceptile shows this the best.  It is even designed to illustrate it has an attitude, I mean look at it's "I'm cool and I know it" facial expression.

Pokemon Art (c) Ken Sugimori
Information Source Bulbapedia