Game Plot Analysis – The Hoenn Games

In earlier articles, we began a series where we analyze the plot of the main Pokemon games with the first games from the Kanto and Johto regions. Today we’ll take a look at the Hoenn games. We’ll focus on how those games did with the two evil teams approach, and how the remakes and sequels improved some aspects of the plot and characters.

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Shamu or Godzilla?

Recap

We’ll first focus on the plot of the original games, Ruby and Sapphire. Emerald and the remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, will be discussed later in the article.

You first start out your adventure getting familiar with Littleroot Town and its people, you and your family having just moved from Johto. After meeting with your neighbor and rival May/Brendan, you go see their father, Professor Birch. You run a quick errand for him and once that’s done, you visit your father, Norman, at his gym in Petalburg City. Over there you also meet another rival of yours, Wally, and help him catch his first Pokemon.

Like the Kanto and Johto games, you take on the gym challenge and encounter your rival May/Brendan on several occasions. You also get to see Wally a couple more times to see how he’s doing and battle him near the end of the game. During your journey you bump into two teams, Team Magma and Team Aqua. Depending on which version you have, one team wants to expand the world’s ocean/land while the other team tries to stop them from doing that. You eventually find out their ultimate plan in wanting to awaken the legendary Pokemon Kyogre or Groudon and while they succeeded in doing that, their plan didn’t work out as intended and so you have to stop the legendary Pokemon yourself.

There’s not much to do after you’re done with the Gym challenge and the Elite Four and Champion. There is a Battle Tower you can go to test your skills and the legendary Pokemon Latios/Latias, you can try chasing after. You can also visit an extra area, Sky Pillar, to capture Rayquaza.

Analysis

Ruby and Sapphire’s plot is a big change from RBY and GSC. This time you’re going against a villainous team that wants to use a legendary Pokemon for their main goal and you have to save the world in the process, which later games will use as the basis of their storylines. Legendaries have appeared in previous games, but this is the first time the legendary Pokemon is significant to the plot and you’ll need to catch or defeat it in order to move forward. All of this, in addition to Hoenn’s tropical climate setting, gives a sense of you going through a journey much bigger than anticipated. The game also introduces two teams instead of one with one of them being the primary evil team and the other one opposed of their plans. One can say reason for this is the increase in hardware capabilities, allowing the developers to have the Hoenn region be very diverse in its locations and add in extra weather effects like lightning.

The long gaps when you find the evil team and when they’re not around is spread out evenly overall. Though the lulls gets a bit long at times, you at least get a sense that each encounter with them is relating to their grand plan. One of the first introductions of them was when they want to get the Devon Goods as those are plans for a submarine. Later on when you drive them off in The Weather Institute near Fortree City, they wanted information on Kyogre or Groudon and Castform, known for their ability to change forms depending on the weather. In Mt. Pyre, the team’s boss goes to steal one of the orbs and that kick starts the final leg of the Team Aqua/Team Magma plot.

The Team’s plan have some flaws, though. bobandbill’s ORAS article Top Ten Wanted Improvements already mention a few problems, like for instance the meteorite. In the Mt. Chimney scene, Archie or Maxie wants to erupt the volcano to expand or decrease the landmass by somehow using the energy of the meteorite. This is not a very bright idea considering volcanic eruptions don’t exactly work like that. Then there’s the team’s overall plan in expanding the ocean/landmass. Basic earth science tells you of the water cycle and its main parts– evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Taking Team Magma’s plan into account, Groudon’s abilities can be able to evaporate water, but it’ll come down eventually anyways due to the water cycle. As for Team Aqua’s plan, more water has to come from the very ocean itself and evaporation has to take place.

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Archie should brush up his earth science knowledge (linked comic by effiesketch).

There are some other issues within the story, like the very beginning when the team grunt steals Peeko the Wingull. While it is reminiscent to the first two games when Team Rocket were stealing Pokemon and the grunt was using Peeko as hostage, it’s probably an unnecessary action in the overall scheme of things. Another problem is how Team Aqua or Team Magma takes the wrong orb when wanting to awaken their respected legendary Pokemon. How they messed that up in the original games I’m not sure.

The games does have some extra sidequests, but it doesn’t add too much to the overall plot. One of the sidequests is you finding the three golem Pokemon Regice, Registeel, and Regirock and the ways you need to get them is interesting. Another sidequest is going to the Abandoned Ship, but that area serves more as a place to gain some levels and a fetch quest if you want to evolve your Clamperl into a Huntail or Gorebyss. There’s also a short quest if you visit Wattson again later in the game in which he asks you to check up what’s going on in New Mauville, but there’s really nothing too special about it. The Trick House is another area of interest with the eccentric Trick Master keep switching the layout of his puzzles, many of them similar to the ones used in gyms, each time you visit him. Lastly are the Contests, a new feature to the Pokemon games. While it’s nothing more than a fun distraction from the main quest, its different take on making Pokemon moves more appealing to an audience is very refreshing.

The Rival Factor

Another first the game has done is giving us not one but two rivals, another feature later games take advantage of. Your first rival is May or Brendan, depending on which gender you choose as the playable character. Unlike Silver or Blue, they’re much friendlier which can be refreshing if they’re developed well enough. While friendly rivals aren’t a bad thing, bobandbill in his ORAS article I referenced earlier makes a few good points as to why they’re very underwhelming as characters overall. Besides the occasional battle here and there, most of your encounters with either May or Brendan is whenever they help you with a roadblock or give you an item for convenience, for instance the Go-Goggles after you defeat the gym in Lavaridge and the HM Fly before you go to Fortree City. There’s also the problem of not knowing the exact motivation of your rival’s journey. After you battle them in Lilycove City, they said they’ll going back to Littleroot Town to help with their dad’s research. There is nothing wrong if your rival wants to do research instead of become a trainer midway through, but there’s no indication of what they wanted to accomplish after they finish their journey. You don’t meet up with them again until the end of the game, in which they come to give you advice on how to defeat the Champion, even though you already did just that.

Your second rival is Wally, a boy with an illness who wants to go on a Pokemon journey. You first help him catch Ralts after your father gives one of his Pokemon to him. You next meet him at Mauville City when he asks you to battle him, and shortly after you defeated him you can meet Wally in Verdanturf where he’s resolved to become a stronger trainer. It’ll be a long while until you see him again in Victory Road in which he had challenged all the gyms and wants to battle you a second time. Like May and Brendan, he’s very friendly overall and it’s nice to see him grow from a sick boy starting out to someone much more confident in his Pokemon and battle skills. It’s disappointing, though, after Mauville City a lot of his personal growth is off-screen. While May and Brendan fell flat as characters, there’s potential for Wally that falls short in the end.

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The cinnamon roll.

The remakes ORAS do give your rivals a little more screentime and such, which I’ll get to later when I discuss those games in more detail.

The Other Characters

Like Team Rocket in the Johto games, both Team Aqua and Team Magma have a hierarchy that consists of grunts and admins. The idea of two teams opposing one another is a great concept, yet the games fall short of distinguishing the difference between Team Aqua and Team Magma overall. Except for some mentions of land and water, the dialogue remains mostly the same for both teams no matter which version you play. Because of that, both admins and grunts don’t have much of a personality to speak of and are not all that memorable.

The gym leaders don’t have much depth to them, either. There are some interesting backstories about them, like Roxanne the teacher of the trainer school, Flannery’s grandfather used to be in the Elite 4 and Wattson the founder of Mauville City. For the most part, though, they remained inside their gyms. There is Norman who is your father and has let Wally borrow his Pokemon for a little bit, otherwise he hasn’t come out of his gym saved for one time after you become Champion (and then he has to go back to his gym right after). Sootopolis Gym leader Wallace is also seen outside his gym when the villainous team’s plan got out of hand and oversees the Cave of Origin, but he really didn’t do all that much.

The Elite 4 also has the same problem in which they weren’t seen outside of the league and only serve as final bosses to battle. The Champion Steven is the only one that you meet a few times throughout your journey. You first get introduced to him fairly early in the game by sending a letter to him from his father. He later helps you out in a couple occasions when he gives you the Devon Scope to help you see Kecleon that have been blocking your way and in Mossdeep City he hands you the HM Dive. Shortly after Kyogre/Groudon has been awaken, he checks up how you’re doing and introduces you to Wallace. Even though he makes a few appearances, he doesn’t do much, if at all, in stopping the villainous team with their plans, and is more or less there in a similar role to Brendan’s in which he helps you out with a roadblock or gives you an item.

The NPCs in Ruby and Sapphire aren’t too memorable, either. There are some notable ones, like Mr. Briney who adores his Peeko and helps you travel to a couple cities with his boat. Another one, Lanette, has a similar role to Bill in which she’s in charge of Hoenn’s PC system. One new device called the PokeNav and one of its features, the Trainer’s Eyes, that has information on the trainers you’ve battled and lets players know when they wants to re-battle you. You can also get more facts about the gym leaders and Elite 4 through that device, although no re-battles with them.

Third Game/Remakes Factor

Emerald is the third game for the Hoenn region and makes some big changes from Ruby and Sapphire’s story, perhaps moreso than what Yellow and Crystal did for the Kanto and Johto games respectively. Instead of going against Team Aqua or Team Magma, you have to face off both of them. Rayquaza also gets an important role, being the legendary to keep the peace between Kyogre and Groudon. Emerald’s plot has potential to be amazing but there have been some pitfalls. A lot of the plans, like the meteorite incident and stealing the submarine, more or less stays the same and you’ll find one team do one of the plans that was used before in the original games instead of something new. There’s one part where Team Magma gets an additional base and goes to the Mossdeep Space Center to get some rocket fuel, but that is about it. The dialogue in Emerald makes it apparent there is not too much difference to set Team Magma and Team Aqua apart from one another.

Some of the other characters get different roles, too. Steven is not a Champion anymore and your encounters with him is very similar to Ruby and Sapphire, but he does help you out going against Team Magma in the space center and you can go against him post-game with his team in pretty high levels. Taking over as Champion this time is Wallace, who has his former mentor Juan take over the Sootopolis City gym. Besides having some knowledge of Rayquaza and help you get in Sky Pillar, his appearance in Emerald isn’t that significant at all.

One new feature introduced is the Battle Frontier, which replaces Ruby and Sapphire’s Battle Tower. It doesn’t add much to the main plot, but it offers very fun post-game material you can sink several more hours into. A new character, Scott, is the owner of this facility and you meet him at various points during the main story. The Battle Tents, serving as practices for the Battle Frontier, replaces most Contest Halls and you’re always see him outside and wanting you to try those. Most of your interactions with Scott are of him being impressed of your battling skills and later inviting you to take on the Battle Frontier challenge.

The remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire goes back to you facing off one evil team instead of two but offers more significant changes to its story than Emerald. The concept of Mega Evolution, first shown in Pokemon X and Y, is used as a main plotpoint and introduces Kyogre and Groudon having Primal Reversion. Because of the addition of Primal Reversion, the villainous plot makes more sense. During the Mt. Chimney arc, the Meteorite is planned to be used to awaken the legendary but after the boss is defeated by you they realize it’s a mistake. There’s also how Maxie and Archie gets the correct orb this one and the other orb that you have weakens the Primal Pokemon. The game often emphasizes how powerful Kyogre and Groudon’s Primal forms are, so the landmass/sea mention is less of a stretch this time around. Members of Team Aqua and Team Magma also get better characterization, with the admins having more distinct personalities and also one of them talking some sense to their leader when the team’s plan have gone out of hand. There are still some similarities in dialogue, like with Tabitha and Shelly, so some improvements could still be made even though ORAS did much better in showing the differences between the teams.

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Being good bros.

ORAS does get some inspiration from Emerald in the postgame sideplot The Delta Episode. Like Emerald, Rayquaza is the main legendary Pokemon focus and it can Mega Evolve without a Mega Stone. Because of the involvement of Mega Evolution in ORAS, there are some XY references concerning AZ and his machine when you and Steven go see Mr. Stone in the Devon Corporation. Steven’s father explains how his company developed the energy source from AZ’s weapon to create Infinity Energy and use that to launch a rocket that can stop an asteroid from coming. This is a nice extra way to have Mr. Stone more of a role here than in the original games. It’s later revealed Professor Cozmo plans to use that rocket to create a “warp hole” to transport the asteroid from somewhere. The team admin Matt or Courtney also gets involved, wanting to carry on their boss’s plan after his defeat from you. They first try to steal Wally’s Key Stone after theirs got stolen, and then later on lead an assault at Mossdeep Space Center. Their actions throughout the Delta Episode gives Matt and Courtney some neat characterization, showing how far they want to please their boss.

Zinnia, a new character, steals some Key Stones in order to summon Rayquaza because her original plan of getting Groudon and Kyogre to use Primal Reversion had been stopped by the player earlier. When she goes to visit Mossdeep Center, she tells you the rocket plan will have the asteroid hit another world where no Mega Evolution is involved. Some of her actions, for instance her knocking you out in Sky Pillar before you go against Rayquaza, can be a bit much, otherwise her role as lorekeeper for the Draconid people and mysterious relationship of Aster makes for some neat characterizations of her. The lore behind Rayquaza, Groudon, and Kyogre is fascinating and the plot twist of a parallel world where Mega Evolution and AZ’s machine didn’t exist is also great.

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Time to save the world again.

With the exception of The Delta Episode, ORAS doesn’t offer much when it comes to postgame stuff. The Battle Resort is disappointing with it being mostly the same as XY’s Battle Maison. You can have double battles together with some characters like Steven, Archie, and Maxie, otherwise there’s nothing new to do. Despite that, there are a couple events going on, like you finding Looker when he forgets who he is and two Team Magma/Team Aqua grunts from opposite teams who want to be together. The “Looker having amnesia” scene while odd has potential as an extra subplot. You can also find some references to the Battle Frontier, which while doesn’t make up for the underwhelming Battle Resort does show the developers haven’t forgotten it at least.

Many of the other sidequests from RSE returned, although Sea Mauville, formerly the Abandoned Ship should get a notable mention. Bobandbill in his second ORAS article, What Has Improved, explains how a lot of backstory for several characters like Wattson and Professor Cozmo is given as you travel through the ship. As you read through the various notes and magazines, heavy topics concerning overworking, unemployment, and family issues are brought up along with some silly ones too like a gossip magazine featuring gym leaders and Elite Four. There’s also a heavily implied same sex couple that wants some time alone when you visit one of the rooms. Indeed a lot of the extra details being put here are great and should be used more often in later games.

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In today’s edition of PokeHot…

There are also two more new characters, Lisia and Aarune. Lisia, who is Wallace’s niece, is a contest star and you can see her enter in some of them occasionally. She can get too enthusiastic at times, but considering her specialty are contests it fits. Meanwhile, Aarune is a secret base expert who helps you out getting started with one and oversees the Secret Base guild. He has a laid back uncle type of personality whenever he talks to you (his few instances of referring himself as “Uncle Aarune”) and some bits concerning his backstory are interesting. Neither of them have any big relevance to the plot and are mostly there to promote contests and secret bases respectively, but they’re fun characters nonetheless.

Steven returns as Champion and appears a bit more often than in RSE. He often discusses with you anything related to Mega Evolution and Primal Reversion and it works well due to his fascination with rocks. At one point in the game as you’re making your way to Fortree City he takes you to a secret area where you can capture Latias/Latios, perhaps a nod to his cameo in HGSS where you can catch them in those games too. He also has some decent amount of screentime in The Delta Episode, keeping you up to date on the meteoroid that is coming down to earth and sometimes tags along with you as the both of you try to find out more about Zinnia.

There are several instances in which the gym leaders do a few other things outside of their gyms without the reliance of re-battles. Wallace is back as gym leader, but his role is similar to Emerald in which he’s the one that lets you in Sky Pillar after you defeat him in a battle. He also appears in Contest Halls as a nod to his specialty in contests in the anime. Wattson is able to re-develop Mauville City into an indoor city and the New Mauville sidequest from RSE gets expanded upon a bit in which the power generator is a big source of power for Mauville City. He also has a hand in the construction of Sea Mauville before it got closed and more of his backstory involving that can be found when you visit there. Postgame you can bump into Flannery when you go look for Heatran in the cave outside of Fortree City. Because of her interest in fossils, Roxanne can be found in the Fossil Maniac’s house. For the other gym leaders you can find Brawly in a Contest Hall after you defeat Lisia, Tate and Liza shopping for dolls in Lilycove City, and Winona in a tower in Mauvillle “soaring like a bird.” While some of them don’t have magnificent character development, it does feel like an attempt to flesh the personalities out for each of the gym leaders.

Your rivals May/Brendan and Wally also get some extra spotlight and mentions. There is one time in Meteor Falls where May or Brendan teamed up with you in a double battle against the team admin. You also encounter your rival in Rustboro, Route 112, Route 113, Fallabor, and Lavaridge. Another extra scene is before you have your battle against Kyogre or Groudon in the Cave of Origin, they come to give you some words of encouragement and how much of a great friend you are to them. After you defeat Steven, you can have one last battle with them, this time they have their starter evolved and can even Mega Evolve them. In the end of the Delta Episode, the two of you go on a “date” in the Mossdeep Space Center. Your rival’s role has been expanded with one of them being your best friend that you grow closer with over a short period of time. For the most part, though, they are still more or less the same like in the original games. The double battle in Meteor Falls is a good step with them doing something else for a change, but unfortunately they didn’t do that again even though the Delta Episode would have been a perfect opportunity for them to do another double battle with you.

As for Wally, there are some instances where he blushes and he looks up to you much more than in the original games. Your mileage may vary as some players like me don’t mind this slight new take on him too much while others would say it distracts from him originally being someone who wants to grow as a trainer despite his sickness. You don’t see him around in Verdanturf Town like before, but he and his father makes an appearance after you defeat your father in the Petalburg Gym and he does help you get to Mauville City very quickly. Although after that he’s missing the majority of these games too, you can keep track of his progress with the gyms in the Hoenn News Network after you defeat Team Aqua or Team Magma in Mt. Chimney. A part of me however thinks it would be neat if we met him a few more times and perhaps even an extra battle or two. By the time you meet him in Victory Road he has a Gallade he can Mega Evolve and, in my opinion, he’s much more humble after you defeat him than in R/S/E. He has a couple more extra appearances, like in the beginning of Delta Episode and the Battle Resort. Some parts of his travels could be expanded upon, but compare to May or Brendan, Wally’s journey is refreshing as he has more personal growth and is not the same person you first met in Petalburg Gym.

Let’s rock.

The Hoenn games’ plot is more grand than the Kanto and Johto games with their remakes, although some of its plot points concerning the evil team’s plan don’t make sense. Both Emerald and ORAS, while different takes from the Ruby and Sapphire story, are more ambitious but an improvement plotwise from the original games. Although the characters are either flat or falls short in the execution, the remakes does well with expanding the personalities and roles for most of them. There are some flaws in the remakes like the rivals still underdeveloped and some of its post-game stuff, but the developers that worked on ORAS should still be acknowledged for making several improvements with the plot and characters to make the games much more enjoyable.

Written by Bay Alexison
Edited by bobandbill and Dramatic Melody

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