Do You Even Lift: Hoenn Hunks Edition

By Rodan and Layell. Art by ToxicPhox.
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trainer at gym entrance


Greetings once again, and welcome to to the ever inquisitive Gym guide; before Rodan and I start, I have to ask, "do you even lift?" You will have to do some lifting, swimming, cycling, and running, because this is the start of the Hoenn Triathlon! It's the perfect region for a triathlon as well, with long cycling roads, challenging hikes, and all the surfing you will suffer through!


This city is, in one word, boring. It is literally grey and beige. I know that every region needs to have an "INDUSTRIAL" city, but at least have some character. Saffron had a terrorist operation, Goldenrod had a radio tower/magnet train/terrorist operation, Veilstone had, uhhh.... a terrorist operation, and Castelia had a huge fucking map and.... a terrorist operation.

What I'm saying is, Rustboro is lacking in terrorists.

Gym Puzzle: You enter a building and the first thing you see are two huge stone walls splitting the room into pathways. You attempt to decide which one to take, but in your gut you feel that both will lead!" He sends out his Geodude, which is once again handily defeated. You find the area in which the two pathways meet one another and see a light. You are finally out, but are you safe?


Difficulty: You approach the stand and see a young woman, probably in her late 20s. She sends out a small rock monster, easily identified as another Geodude, due to the many you have beaten in the past. The only difference is this one is substantially bigger than the others. You topple it with a huge flow of water to its face. But then it happens. The lights dim and her eyes start glowing red. She reaches into her pant leg and pulls a PokeBall that was strapped to her thigh. A big red nose is all you see piercing the darkness. You try to hit it, but it just shrugs off all damage. And then it happens—she whispers, "Use Rock Tomb." A pile of rocks encase your Pokemon. Your Mudkip's body lies there twitching with muscle spasms.

You have lost.


Spoils of War: The woman looks you in the eyes. She clearly takes pity on you and sticks her hand out. In the palm is a small disc engraved with TM36 ROCK TOMB. She has tears in her eyes. "I-I-I'm so sorry," she utters in a shaky tone. "This is the v-v-very move that killed your beloved Pokemon." By now, she has burst out into a wave of tears. You decide to leave, and head home.


Coolness: You think in your mind about the woman, and how sorry she seemed. You could remember her greyish-blue shirt and pig-tails. She came across as a very motherly figure. But you remember in the battle how the fire in her stomach lit up with anger and hate for a short second. There must have been a reason... but you will never know.


Overall: There is nothing left. She has taken your humanity.



A little island away from the busy world, it's just perfect for training. Chuck is even a Fighting Gym Leader, so I'll be sure to get buff while I'm here. Oh wait, I mean Brawly; I guess I can't just copy/paste my Chuck entry from the last issue. What is the difference really? Oh, he surfs. Well, he fits right in with Hoenn.

Gym Puzzle: If you have ever foolishly declared to yourself, "Oh, I don't need to use Flash in this cave. I can manage without it," this is the Gym for you! Brawly is very forgiving on the whole dead ends thing; otherwise this place may have been actually unbearable. This puzzle would have been perfect for a Dark-type Gym, but there must be a veto on that type for a Gym since that has never happened.


Difficulty: There is nothing weirder than seeing a Bulk Up/Seismic Toss Machop, as seen in R/S; it's a complete waste. Emerald version ups the ante with a dual screen/Bulk Up/Focus Punch Meditite, so I suppose if you just keep hitting it, you'll win eventually.


Spoils of War: Bulk Up is a good move, but for slow monsters that will wreck anything puny enough to stand in their way. The problem really is that you don't want slow things on your team, next to nothing learns Bulk Up in gen 3, and any necessity for setting up can often be resolved with the X-items.


Coolness: Brawly says he grew up in the dark caves of Dewford, which sounds remarkably similar to my childhood story. Seeing as he gives you something like the Knuckle badge, I imagined he'd be big into giving fist-bumps as well. I once thought he was too much of a stereotypical surfer dude, but then I was introduced to Marlon, who makes Brawly seem completely reasonable.


Overall: The only reason to ever come back to this pile of sand is to change the popular phrase into something more absurd. Brawly's deep love of surfing suggests something later in this game that many players didn't realize: you ought to like surfing as much as Brawly does. Enjoy that boat ride you get out of here, because you'll really be wishing for a boat four badges later.



Mauville City is even more boring than Rustboro. Aren't I too young to gamble?

Gym Puzzle: Does Wattson dream of electric fences? This puzzle is one of the most simple tasks in any Pokemon game. My biggest peeve is that it tries to come across as difficult when really you just step on buttons. Also, electricity doesn't work like that.


Difficulty: Wattson is probably one of the harder Gym Leaders in the game due to the fact that he has a Magneton. Steel-types are very hard to kill early in the game and the only Ground-types you have access to aren't very good (except Marshtomp, but that guy looks like what happened when Quagsire stopped taking prescription drugs and realized he could actually be useful). 60 Base Power STAB Shock Wave off 120 Special Attack is pretty ridiculous for the third Gym, don't you agree?


Spoils of War: Shock Wave is decent. Wattson also gives you Thunderbolt if you bother to go to New Mauville, so he is redeemed.




Overall: This guy is good and full of joy. I like happy Gym Leaders and I like Santa Claus, so this guy is perfect. I would like to be Wattson if I grow up one day.



We may have just ran down from a volcano, but this is where the hot stuff is at! Lavaridge Town, where people get naked and hop into volcanic hot springs, and the perfect gym leader to represent all the perverted Japanese onsen stereotypes is here as well!

Gym Puzzle: Here is how the Gym puzzle here works; others have Trainers just hiding in hot spring water waiting for you to approach, which is a potential health hazard. Find the right water and fall down the hole and try to remember the ten pixels of view you had from the previous floor to figure out which steaming hot geyser you have to jump into to get your way to the Gym Leader.


Difficulty: Flannery enjoys setting up Sunny Day and then Overheating, which even without the heat will probably OHKO whatever you have out. The benefit to this is in-game AI is way too dumb to switch. Her Torkoal is a tank and has Attract and Body Slam, so enjoy getting paralyzed, then Attracted, and never attacking.


Spoils of War: As a human player, you have the one strategy that the AI will never use: switching to something useless like an HM slave. The problem is that Overheat is really only taught to other Fire-types, Exploud being the notable in-game exception. Even against the gum-wads of Hoenn, you don't want to have two Fire-type moves.


Coolness: We have established Flannery is hot, but not exactly cool. She tries very hard to be intimidating when she fights you, but needs to start over like it's amateur hour at the local pub.


Overall: Oh, Flannery, if only my time in Lavaridge Town could have lasted longer—we could have bathed in our birthday suits together, then gone to the Herb Shop and sniffed some Energy Powder. My training must continue, but one day I will be back.



Time to kick your Dad's butt to the curb for making you move to an entirely new region, and you couldn't even trade over all your old Pokemon either. What a jerk. Stop telling me I can't use bikes indoors, too, Dad; I'll do whatever I want, since you don't want to be a parent anyways!

Gym Puzzle: This isn't a puzzle as much as a bunch of rooms with different "strategies" that are supposed to scare you. I'll be scared when these Trainers remember they can catch more than one Pokemon. I hope they like Double Kicks to the face courtesy of Combusken. Just remember what doors you went through if you need to leave and return.


Difficulty: Norman may look tough, but he sure does love to monkey around! His Slaking are tough and will try to Yawn you to oblivion. Whatever you do in this match, do not paralyze or poison; that is exactly what Norman wants so he can Facade you to a pulp. Just be glad Toxic/Flame Orb wasn't invented yet.


Spoils of War: Facade will not be used; you are going to have to use a Pokemon Center eventually and rid yourself of that burn you managed to get from the random Team Magma goon.


Coolness: Norman the normal, that is who this Gym Leader is. He gives sick kids his balls so they can explore the world. At least he doesn't force you to wait until you've beaten every other Gym Leader like a certain early-game Gym Leader in Viridian City.


Overall: Norman is very much like the Slaking he uses; at first he doesn't want to fight you at all, then he does. He also leaves all the parenting to his wife, and judging by her nonchalant attitude towards letting her kid run around a region they just moved to, she isn't getting any parenting awards either.



A city in the trees
you have to wonder
do they ever leaf?

Gym Puzzle:
A maze of pushing
many bars inhibit you
you need brain power


Do you think
Winona has an Altaria motif
with all of these birds?


Spoils of War:
Aerial Ace
you swoop through the air like a hawk
and hit them like a soft feather


An aviatrix
she can fly my plane any time


One might say
this Gym is


Tate and Liza

After Surfing around for what feels like a century, you find yourself washed ashore to a small isle in the middle of nowhere, and maybe it wasn't a good idea to drink some of the saltwater, because now you're seeing double! No, it's not a trick; this Gym is run by twins in what appears to be some kimono-esque uniforms, since telling them apart would just be too easy, wouldn't it?

Gym Puzzle: In Ruby/Sapphire, the Gym imported some spinners straight from a Team Rocket hideout and added switches to change the direction at certain points. This is probably the best of the spin path puzzles in the Pokemon games, since a few of the Trainers can be avoided entirely if you can figure out the switches and spin tiles. Emerald gives this Gym a huge makeover and adds less spinners and more teleporters, all I hated from the Kanto games. The Emerald one allows for more chances to fight in the doubles format against some of the Trainers within. So, fighting in doubles against the Gym Leader is just a natural extension of what you have already been doing in the Gym. Both puzzles are clever enough and can be experienced very differently depending on the order you solve the individual pieces.


Difficulty: The twins carry Light Screen, which makes its return from Emerald Brawly and Flannery, as well as Sunny Day, which Flannery and Emerald Winona enjoyed using caring. Screens are popping up and Confuse Rays just to annoy you.


Spoils of War: Calm Mind is a good TM competitively and many things use and abuse it. Back in the day, it would not be uncommon to reset your game because something else needed this darn TM. Just remember that CMcune has no weak. You probably won't need it in-game, though.


Coolness: Hehehe, were you annoyed? Fufufu, were you annoyed? These two repeat everything! These two repeat everything! Then they leave a line hanging... ...just so the other can finish it. I would have to say this is.... ...rather annoying and not how twins act.


Overall: I never really understood how this town is supposed to be Psychic in theme; is it because of the space station that is never really of any use? Appearently they have rocket launches (which are never actually seen) because there is no wind here. While there may be no gusts of wind here, the rest of this island still blows. So long, Tate and Liza, thanks for the only useful Gym TM in Hoenn!

4/10 each, so 8/10 in total

Wallace and Juan

Ugh, my back hurts; could this Gym be in a more unreasonable place? Not only is it in the middle of the ocean, but you have to access it from underwater. What hotshot designed that?!

Gym Puzzle: This is the game's anti-piracy warning, which is off since it comes so late in the game. The ice you must cross can only really be run on crappy GBA hardware; if you try to play it on anything else, you will die. At least they avoided a sliding puzzle.


Difficulty: They both use a Luvdisc.


Spoils of War: Water Pulse................ It is a good move, but this is way too late in the game to even bother. You have Surf already. You really, really, really do not need this TM.


Coolness: Juan is the single classiest/manliest character in all of Pokemon. From his dashing stache to his very debonair wardrobe, this is the dude that makes all the ladies drop their skirts. Wanna know why he is the Water Gym Leader? Because he knows how to make people wet.

WALLACE, on the other hand, is also quite classy. He is the exact opposite of manliness, though. I bet he speaks with grace and poise and other such classy words. He is the gay friend that helps the straight friend pick up chicks. He is that good at his job.


Overall: This Gym sucks, but the Gym Leaders rock. I hear Juan got to the Regis without even using a Relicanth. He just willed it. Wallace proved he is too fabulous for the Gym, and even the Elite Four. He can now be found backstage with his all-star cast in the Pokemon Musicals.



Quit asking for these games to be remade. Aside from the physical/special split, they play perfectly fine and didn't need an update as badly as the first two generations. Although if this generation did get remade, the new games would have to be called Surfing Ruby and Surfing Sapphire. Until next time, keep collecting those Badges!

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