I love when you go play a game with low expectations and the game ends up unexpectedly being amazing. I had a negative bias towards Gen 3 because I got out of touch with the series after Ruby and Sapphire were released, as when it was released I didn't had neither a Game Boy Advance or a strong enought PC to run an emulator. After some years I started to think that every game post Gold & Silver sucked and had ugly Pokémons. Only 3 years (maybe 4?) ago I got back into Pokémon, and then my anti-bias slowly started dissolving when I played Soul Silver, then again with Black and it finally melted away with Y.
That said, I still wasn't expecting much from Emerald. Glad to see how wrong I was! While I do think it have some ugly Pokémons (specially the ones you meet before reaching Rustboro), I think there are some great monster designs in this game too. I'm really surprised that I didn't disliked any main Pokémon game I've played so far, and I just was caught off guard with how well Blue holds up after all this years and how fun Emerald was. The only generation I still have to play is the 4th one, and my gut feeling is telling me that in the worst case scenario it will be at least "ok"!
Last week I finally beat the game I beat this game mid-June, but then I got too busy with college stuff to finish this blog, and then I simply forgot it existed until today, haahaha. So, after getting buttslapped pretty hard by the Champion, I decided to reconfigure my team. I put Camerupt and Sharpedo back in the box and replace them with Lanturn and Absol. I broke my vow of only using Gen 3 Pokémon, but I needed an electric monster and I think I don't like any of Gen 3 electric Pokémon. I think Chinchou is really cute and always wanted to train one, so I did it and it was the best decision ever. That thing was kind of bulky and carried my team against Drake and Wallace with its Ice Beam and Hydro Pump.
Afterwards I got Kyogre and Groundon and proceeded to kick Steven's ass using the legendary trio. I know they are OP, but there is no way I would grind my team again until level 60. Now I'm hunting down the Regi trio I got the Regi trio already and made them my golem slaves. Anyway, enought talking! Let's go to what really matters now.
The most recent games have so little of those that I never had the chance to really get the feel of it. But Emerald is chock full of them, and I loved it so much that now I think they are way more fun than single battles. Also there was a really cool mechanic where if two trainers spots you at the same time they will team up aginst you, so this way that most of the dual battles are completely optional. I wish they brought back this mechanic!
I would love to play a main Pokémon game with double battles being the norm.
It was realy nice to see two opposing vilanous teams clashing against each other! Once you ignore how silly and dumb their objectives are, it is really nice to see the dinamic they got between them, the way you are caught up in the middle of their conflict and how they actually end up achieving their goals. I like to think they only managed to succeed because the protagonist had the ability to easily deal with a single team, but two teams were just too much shit to handle at the same time. I mean, not that the protagonist wasn't capable of kicking their asses, but while you keep one team busy the other one was out there progressing with their plans.
But I feel that these teams aren't strong enought to stand alone as a single antagonist, but I haven't played neither Ruby or Sapphire to confirm my suspicions.
The leaders on this game were a little more challenging than usual, specially the last ones. I have even lost for the 7th duo, which was a little bit of a humbling experience, specially because I powered through all the local trainers with almost no resistance at all. Gen 6 leaders felt way too much easy, and it is nice to have some though but fair leader fights.
The revamped berry system is almost like a mini game of its own. It is kind of like micro-pokémon, collecting and trading different fruits because you got to harvest 'em all. If you try to plant in all the muddy patches as you can it may get somewhat overwhelming to manage, but once you have Fly and start focusing only on planting at the berry master's garden then things will get way more relaxing.
I love how mysteryous the bottom of the oceans are and they manage to grab this feeling for me, with unreachable dark depts in the background and a great music track. And there even little algae patches that are analogue to the tall grass patches on land!
I am 100% serious when I tell you that the biggest letdown to me in SoulSilver was the lack of room decorations, and secret bases are the natural evolution of that concept. Also it is really cool that you can make your own home anywhere in the world! It is like having a treehouse. Or being homeless.
One thing I don't live very much in Gen 2 games is that you encounter Gen 1 Pokémon more often than the new ones. I didn't care about this that much as a kid because that was my first Pokémon game, but currently I think I would rather have a party made only of completely new creatures when playing a new game. Gen 5 did it and it was great. Gen 6... well, it didn't had enought new Pokémons for it, but there was so many different monsters from all the generations at the same time to catch all the time that it felt kind of like a celebration of the series. But going on Emerald now and finding mostly "new" Pokémons felt great!
There is a big variety of terrains and biomes to explore, and while most of the progression is linear, the way the story leads you through the map makes it seems like it is not.
This game introduced some really cool and weird type combinations like grass/fighting, fire/ground, water/dark, fighting/psychic, bug/ghost... Sure, a lot of them have a crappy 4x damage multiplyer from their double weaknesses, but I think that it also makes thinking about type matchups way more interesting.
This game looks REALLY good, even by today's standards. It was such a crazy quality jump when compared to Gen 2! Also there is a lot of small details, my favorite ones being the footsteps in the sand and the sky reflection on water puddles.
I'm having lots of fun consulting Braille charts and trying to translate the murals! The best thing is that the game even provides you an in game chart, so if you write it down you don't even need to look for one.
You have really great typings like Breloom (grass/fighting) that can't be used to its full STAB potential. My Breloom basically acts like a regular fighting Pokémon because grass damaging moves aren't much viable due to its weak Special Attack.
Actually, surfing between Petalburg and Slateport was pretty ok. That path is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate, with a city and a cool dungeon midways. But the real problem surfaces at the nautical road between Lilycove and Slateport.
My main gripe is that you will mostly find only 3 different Pokémons in the whole wide sea of the entire region. And the sea water is about half the size of the map. A big deal of the fun in Pokémon games to me is meeting and catching new monsters at every new rote, and only finding Tentacools, Wingulls and sometimes Pelippers for most of the late game was a big letdown. Also the wild encounter rate is sky high and it almost feel like a long, enourmous cave - but with Tentacools instead of Zubats. I've never bought so many repels in my life I did in Emerald.
And the terrain also had very little visual variety. It would be nice to have different looking water in different regions and/or more different looking rocks
Starts very slow, then when it catches speed it becomes hard to make precise turns, then it resets speed every single time you bump into something (which happens a lot), and on top of that it doesn't bunnyhop!
Yeah, I'm not a fan of sportswear at all. May's hair-bang-thingies doesn't make much sense, neither does Brendan's alien knit hat that I only discovered that wasn't white hair a few years ago.
Hey, at least they aren't as bad as the Black & White male player character!
Somewhat underwelming. The rivalry thing is pretty weak, he/she ins't a strong trainer and you don't even got to fight against the final evolution of his/her starter Pokémon
I thought Sycamore was the most useless Pokémon professor of all time when I played Pokémon Y. So turns out thay professor Birch is way more uselles and also a complete lazy-ass, going into "field trips" just to pretend he is working.
It didn't happened a lot, but the pre-elite 4 grind was so bad that I think it is worth mentioning. I had to make every single one of my Pokémons at least 10 levels up by fighting REALLY underleveled wild Pokémon at the Sky Pillar and the Victory Road. And because I lost at my first try against the Elite 4 I decided to switch 2 of my team members, so I had to train them from the wild capture level. I don't know if I would be able to endure it if it wasn't for the emulator's increased speed mode. If playing like that bored me to death, I can't imagine how it felt to play it on the Game Boy Advance.
THIS THING IS SIMPLY EVERYWHERE! Remember how much it sucks when you go into a cave and there is nothing but Zubats and Geodudes? It feels just like that, except it appears in half of the game map.
Speaking of the devil. I think I've already said enough.
It was simply inexcusable that they didn't figured out a way to transfer all your hard earned old Pokémon from Gen 2 to Gen 3. Wanna catch'em all? Too bad! How about buying a brand new remake to get the missing monsters instead?
At least we will be able to transfer our Gen 1 Pokémons from the Virtual Console to the new Gen 7 games. Better late than never, I guess.
So that was it! Despite it getting a little bit boring at the endgame, this was a very, very fun Pokémon game.