The Great Regional FRIENDLY Debate: Hoenn vs. Sinnoh

By Codraroll, deetah, Rabia, lyd, and {Pokemon_Vigilante}. Released: 2019/12/08.
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The Great Regional FRIENDLY Debate: Hoenn vs. Sinnoh art

Introduction

It's a question that's tormented many Pokémon Trainers and has made many Pokémon Trainers torment one another: of all the regions that we've seen in the main series games, which one was truly the best? Do people have the fondest memories of Mt. Coronet, the Island Trials, Unova's hard regional Dex reset, Johto's Kanto "sequel", Hoenn's oceanic scenery, Kalos's Mega Evolutions, the fight against Kanto's mafia, or something else entirely? With the Galar region freshly added to the roster, now is a perfect time to look back at what we liked about every region and compare them all in a friendly debate.

We'll be reviewing all regions in a four-part series; today, we'll be looking at Hoenn and Sinnoh!

Who had the most interesting... plot and why?

Codraroll

Codraroll

Evil teams aside, the games have pretty much the same plot. You're a new kid in the region, the Professor asks you to get out there and collect Pokémon and Gym badges. Various other characters are met along the way. So I guess this question really is about your interactions with the evil teams.

In Hoenn, Team Aqua and Magma seem like an ordinary band of thugs at first. Until the climax of the plot, you always meet them in the field, whether it be in Petalburg Woods, at the top of Mt. Chimney, or in Meteor Falls. Then it is suddenly revealed that they have this gigantic base of operations in Lilycove City (or in Jagged Pass, as the case is for Team Magma in Emerald), which creates a bit of dissonance. Throughout the game, they really don't strike me as the type of team who'd be organized enough to be based anywhere more fancy than the back room of a pizza parlor, then suddenly the climax of the plot has you clear out their vast, subterranean lair and chase their submarine. Where did they get the funding for that sort of operation? And how did they all believe their plans to destroy one hemisphere of the ecosystem in favor of the other was a good idea? While chasing the evil teams around Hoenn was interesting enough, they kind of fall apart when you examine them too closely.

Team Galactic of Sinnoh, on the other hand, had a clear presence in the form of an energy company, which both provided them with a realistic source of funding and several bases of operations. While the evil teams of Hoenn mostly confront you in the field, Team Galactic is often battled on their home turf. Team Galactic also has the scary, charismatic Cyrus at the helm, with plans a tad more sinister than the ostensibly well-meaning ecoterrorism of Team Aqua and Magma. More on that later. Anyway, the point goes to Sinnoh.

Who had the most interesting... characters and why?

Codraroll

Codraroll

This one is a matter of weighting for me. Hoenn's Gym Leaders don't really stand out compared to those of Sinnoh, and both the Hoennese protagonist and rival are bland as white bread. Wally is an interesting secondary rival, but he doesn't have much of a presence throughout the story. The Sinnoh games let you meet Dawn/Lucas, assistant to the professor, as well as Barry, who is honestly the second-best rival the series has ever given us (Blue still reigning as the undisputed champion). Cynthia rounds out the list of main characters well, being an interesting mentor character who's also a powerful Pokémon trainer. If this question was limited to main characters only, Sinnoh would take this point easily.

However, the Pokémon journey is also shaped by the many side characters you meet along your way, and this is where Hoenn excels like no other region. Who could forget Mr. Briney, and his darling Peeko? The Black Belt who tried to dig Rusturf Tunnel by hand? The residents of Dewford who adopt any trendy phrase the second they hear about it? The Trick Master? Rydel, owner of the bike shop? Capt. Stern? The traveling reporters, Gabby and Ty? The glass blower (huff-puff!) of Fallarbor Town? Scott, the owner of the Battle Frontier? The old man in Shoal Cave? I fondly remember them all, and there are yet others, to a degree the Sinnoh games weren't quite able to match. Point goes to Hoenn overall.

Who had the most interesting... Pokémon and why?

Codraroll

Codraroll

This is a tough question to answer, and like above, I guess it comes down to weighting. Do you consider the highest of the highs or the highest of the lows? And what counts as a Sinnoh Pokémon? Many of the most interesting Pokémon of Gen IV are evolutions of ones from earlier generations - which for the most part weren't even available in Diamond and Pearl. Let it first be said that I'm a major fan of cross-generation evolution families, and I'm really bummed out that we haven't had any later generations picking up the thread of Gen IV. I like the concept of giving permanent evolutions to Pokémon that were sort of subpar when they were first introduced.

Then, we can look at the Pokémon families originally introduced in the generations in question. Keeping the focus on Sinnoh for now, I think we can all agree that the region introduced a whole slew of fan favorites. Staraptor, Luxray, Garchomp, and Lucario form a solid team alongside any of the starters, with a Bibarel in the sixth slot because whoever designed Sinnoh was a little too fond of the (now fortunately abandoned) HM system. However, the fact that these five Pokémon (plus a starter) tended to find their way to the teams of most players on at least one playthrough also says something about the rest of Sinnoh's Pokémon. Because apart from the aforementioned, the highlights are few and far between. For instance, the listed team comprises every single three-stage evolutionary family in Sinnoh. A significant portion of the new Gen IV Pokémon are late-game evolutions of earlier Pokémon, and seemingly to compensate, many of the "original" Sinnohan Pokémon were given early-game stats. Sinnoh is the region of Pokémon such as Kricketune, Mothim, Cherrim, Lumineon, Chatot, and others that frequent both Smogon's most obscure bottom tiers and list articles about the most forgettable Pokémon ever.

That being said, how does Hoenn compare? The generation that introduced Illumise, Castform, Swalot, Whiscash, and others shouldn't speak too loudly about forgettable bottom-tier Pokémon. However, without cross-generation evolutions taking up such a large portion of its regional Pokédex, and introducing roughly 30% more Pokémon too, Hoenn is more free to to feature a large number of original highlights. Already early in the game, Hoenn shows you team staples such as Ralts, Lotad, Seedot, Slakoth, and Shroomish. Three-stage evolutions such as Aggron, Exploud, Walrein, and Flygon might not have that much competitive merit, but their designs were memorable and they were fun to use in-game. Hoenn also is the region of Absol, of two pseudo-legendaries, and of other memorable pairings such as Plusle/Minun, Solrock/Lunatone, Zangoose/Seviper, and Beautifly/Dustox.

In terms of starters, the generations compete for having the most solid lineup in my book, and my personal preference for the Hoenn trio can mostly be attributed to nostalgia. As for legendary Pokémon, which both generations had in plenty, I'm largely indifferent. Anyway, Hoenn wins this one too.

Hoenn and Sinnoh were the first regions to introduce the apocalyptic "end of the world" plot we seem to have grown tired of later and already saw dialed down in the games following them. How do you feel about this concept, and which region pulled it off better?

Codraroll

Codraroll

I would like to use the Star Wars movies as an example here. The Force Awakens was technically a very good film, and seen in a vacuum, its plot surrounding the superweapon of the bad guys is quite epic. But because this exact same plot was reused from A New Hope, decades before it, The Force Awakens can't be judged in a vacuum. It feels like it repeats a story that was successful before, in the hopes of achieving some of the same success. And while the execution certainly was both competent and spectacular, that specter of unoriginality sours the overall impression.

I think you can see where I'm going with this. The Sinnoh games tried to up the ante with legendary Pokémon used to destroy time and space itself, instead of merely the Pokémon world. And the evil team leader was more charismatic, ruthless and evil than the villains of Hoenn. But still, the "seen it before" effect ruined the overall impression. It's as if the writers tried to make the story more epic by simply putting more at stake, but it still just reminds me of that scene in The Force Awakens where a hologram of the Death Star is shown next to one of Starkiller Base: yes, it's bigger, the effects are more spectacular, and the plot really tries to sell this as better than what we've seen before, but it's no longer a novel idea, and you keep reminding us of that. It doesn't matter if the repeat effort is technically better than the first one, the act of repetition in itself creates a problem.

Besides, there's something about the "ten-year-old trainer saves the world" plot that's iffy in itself. Throughout the entire game, your main task is to become as strong as the Champion, and the climax of the plot tends to take place around the seventh Gym. There are still many stronger trainers in the region after you've beaten the leader of the evil team. Take for instance Cyrus's team in the climactic battle in Diamond and Pearl. The average level of his Pokémon is matched by every single trainer along Sinnoh's Victory Road. The idea that the player character goes alone into literally the most important conflict the region—nay, world—has ever seen becomes absurd enough to break immersion, when the game later shows you literally dozens of trainers whose teams would be better up for the task. Scaling down the stakes in later games made their plot more believable, but no less epic.

Who had the most interesting... plot and why?

deetah

deetah

I really enjoyed playing through the storyline in both Hoenn and Sinnoh, but as for which region had the more interesting plot, I'd have to go with Sinnoh here. I did like the Hoenn region's layout, with the half land, half water theme; however, Team Aqua and Team Magma's intentions of either removing the ocean entirely or making the entire world into ocean didn't really appeal to me. Their plans were unrealistic and overall quite dumb from the beginning and easily predictable for the player. I am also not a huge fan of water-based routes, which Hoenn had quite a lot of. That being said, I did enjoy the side things that Hoenn gave us, including the Secret Bases and Battle Tower.

Pokémon Diamond was my very first Pokémon game ever, so it has a very special place in my heart. Sinnoh has one of my favorite layouts of all time. The mountainous terrain and snowy routes give it a unique "northern" feel. Growing up with lots of snow around in the winter and an appreciation for mountains, this region felt like home for me. Unlike the villains of Hoenn, Team Galactic seemed to use more strategy when it came to plotting their evil plans. This is most likely thanks to their leader, Cyrus, who was cunning and tactical. Team Galactic took a different approach, acting as a more mysterious group rather than revealing their true intentions early on. I enjoyed this because it was more suspenseful and unknown. I also really liked exploring the Underground in Sinnoh; the act of digging for treasure was something that definitely appealed to childhood me.

Who had the most interesting... characters and why?

deetah

deetah

As for which region had the most interesting characters, I'll have to go with Hoenn on this one; however, Sinnoh did give birth to my favorite character of all time: Cynthia. As a whole, I feel like the Gym Leaders of Sinnoh were quite forgettable and bland, and none of them really stuck out to me. I also don't really understand all the hype surrounding Barry. Along with Cynthia, I did like Cyrus and Flint as well. I also liked how the Team Galactic commanders were named after planets. (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). It tied the space and time theme together well.

In the Hoenn region, Winona and Flannery quickly became two of my favorites. I also liked that Game Freak incorporated a set of twins, Tate and Liza, to function as a Gym Leader. We had seen twins on ordinary routes, but it was cool to see them having a fundamental role in the games. Something similar would occur later on in Unova with Cilan, Chili, and Cress! Steven had a unique, mysterious aura surrounding him that made him interesting to me. Despite my disapproval with Team Aqua and Team Magma's intentions, I did take a liking to their leaders. Archie and Maxie were both very outgoing, contrary to Cyrus in Sinnoh. In Ruby and Sapphire, they were both pretty serious in their intentions, but in ORAS, they had a good sense of humor. I can see how such a ridiculous goal in removing the ocean or the land came from these two.

Who had the most interesting... Pokémon and why?

deetah

deetah

I really enjoyed the Pokémon of both regions, so picking a winner here was a bit tough; however, I will have to go with Sinnoh here. Both regions had some very well-designed Pokémon. Some of my favorites from the Hoenn region include Absol, Manectric, Metagross, and Salamence. We also got some great new legendaries in Rayquaza, Kyogre, and Groudon. One thing Hoenn has that I really like is the abundance of Pokémon that were either two different forms of the same type of design or two different possible evolutions. We see this in Latios and Latias, Minun and Plusle, Volbeat and Illumise, Ninjask and Shedinja, Silcoon and Cascoon, and finally, Huntail and Gorebyss. This is something that we have seen in other regions, but it was definitely more prominent in Hoenn.

What made me pick Sinnoh on this one was the fact that it introduced my all-time favorite Pokémon. All of my favorite Pokémon happen to be from Sinnoh, with the exception of Vaporeon. The designs of the Garchomp, Infernape, and Luxray lines are absolutely flawlessly executed. I mean come on, how can you not appreciate a menacing-looking landshark that can fly at the speed of a jet plane? Totally epic. A silky, luxurious black cat that can see through walls with its x-ray vision? Heck yes. Game Freak nailed it on the head with the designs in this generation. I haven't even mentioned the likes of Lucario, Lopunny, Staraptor, Weavile, and Mamoswine yet. We were also brought epic new legendaries in Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, and Arceus. A unique aspect of Sinnoh was that it introduced new evolutions of Pokémon in regions before it. These include Dusknoir, Froslass, Gallade, Porygon-Z, Probopass, and Gliscor, to name a few.

Hoenn and Sinnoh were the first regions to introduce the apocalyptic "end of the world" plot we seem to have grown tired of later and already saw dialed down in the games following them. How do you feel about this concept, and which region pulled it off better?

deetah

deetah

Typically, one would think that taking the plot in this direction would seem a bit dark for younger audiences, but Game Freak pulled it off well in both Hoenn and Sinnoh. They also managed to make it different enough between the two regions so that it wasn't super repetitive when we saw it yet again. Team Galactic and Team Aqua / Magma were so different in their approach that it still managed to capture my attention.

In Sinnoh, this plot shined through in Cyrus's goals. He wanted to use Dialga and Palkia, the representatives of time and space, respectively, to destroy the universe and strip the world of emotion so that he could create a new beginning, one that he would have full control over. He did not have a care in the world for anyone else, not even his own members of Team Galactic; they were simply the pawns in his plan. When you think about it, his goal was honestly not that unachievable. The direction in which this "end of the world" plot was taken in Sinnoh was very successful in being scary and quite plausible.

Using the same type of plot, Hoenn had a different approach. Team Aqua and Team Magma clashed in their intentions: Archie of Team Aqua wanted to awaken Kyogre from its slumber and use it to broaden the seas to cover the entire globe so that Pokémon would have a larger place to live, while Maxie of Team Magma wanted to awaken Groudon and use it to expand the land for humans to thrive. While I do appreciate the intentions behind these goals, neither of them was clearly thinking it through when they came up with these plans. Contrary to Sinnoh, these two goals seemed much more unrealistic and, honestly, laughable, but I still think it was a really cool and unique concept. Seeing the extreme weather in-game from Kyogre and Groudon was pretty cool, however. It seems like Archie and Maxie realized the extremities of where they were going though, as once the weather was calmed, they expressed regret in going to such lengths.

In the end, the difference between how the two regions utilized this plot comes down to how the leaders handled their goals. On one hand, Cyrus was very narcissistic, only caring about himself. He didn't care for the members of Team Galactic much at all, and his end goal was to have an entire world just for himself. Archie and Maxie, on the other hand, thought that they were doing something that would benefit other Pokémon and people. My final verdict for this is that I just cannot simply decide between the two. The evil leaders from both regions had such different intentions and methods of going about them that it would just be too hard to pick one over the other.

Who had the most interesting... plot and why?

Rabia

Rabia

Sinnoh is a very easy pick here. Hoenn's general plot theme is very straightforward, and the goals of Team Aqua and Team Magma are laid out very early: to expand the sea and land for the betterment of the Pokémon they favor and humanity. And while Hoenn does give the player a few fun things on the side to do, namely the Trick House, the Abandoned Ship, and New Mauville, you follow a rather linear path through the game with few places to veer off to. In Sinnoh, you don't actually know what's going on with Team Galactic for a fair bit of time. You see Commander Mars and her goons gathering wind at the Valley Windworks but aren't told why. What is Jupiter doing in Eterna City? And what is this Cyrus guy on about in Mt. Coronet... The game just does a really good job of hiding the true ambitions of Cyrus until very late in the main story, and the guide missions you can go on are a nice complementary piece. Plus, there is a fair bit more backtracking you can do outside of s u r f i n g for hours on end. The overall depth of Sinnoh's story and the amount of exploration you can do outside of simply progressing onward are simply something I appreciate greatly.

Who had the most interesting... characters and why?

Rabia

Rabia

While I think many will quickly jump to Sinnoh here by citing characters like Barry, Cyrus, and even Crasher Wake, I'm going to go with Hoenn here on the basis of side characters. My main issue with Sinnoh's characters is the lack of anyone really interesting outside of a few main characters; all of the people you have to guide through an area are rather bland, and no one is really all that memorable. Contrast that with the extras in Hoenn: Mr. Briney is one of the most eccentric characters in all of Pokémon; the bedridden girl in Rustboro City has surely provided many fun moments for all given all of the silly messages you can give her; the Trick Master's talk of greatness never gets old; Scott's weird obsession with the player makes it easy to remember him; even the initial encounter with Professor Birch has a fond place in my head, especially with the release of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. And sure, while Sinnoh certainly has more interesting main characters, Cyrus in particular, I find Hoenn to not be that far off. Archie and Maxie's attempts to expand the sea and land interested me a fair bit, especially with the twist later in the story that nearly leads to the end of the world, and Steven just has this air about him that attracts me to his character.

Also, can we stop with all the Barry praise? He's more obnoxious than anything. Sure, he has more of a discernible personality than May... but I'm not sure that's actually a good thing in his case...

Who had the most interesting... Pokémon and why?

Rabia

Rabia

This is just too hard of a question for me to pick a side in for a couple reasons. For starters, each game has a wide variety of interesting Pokémon even outside of the legendaries. In Hoenn, you have fan favorites like Metagross, Salamence, Blaziken, Swampert, and Mawile. Okay, maybe Mawile isn't as loved as those previous four, but it's EASILY my favorite from the generation. Then if we go to Sinnoh, you have Garchomp, Staraptor, Infernape, and Kricketune (who doesn't love its battle cry?). And looking at the legendaries just puts all other generations to shame frankly, with Hoenn possessing absolute beauties like Kyogre, Jirachi, and Rayquaza and Sinnoh giving us Darkrai, Giratina-O, and Heatran. There are just SO many well-designed Pokémon in each region that it's impossible for me to select one above the other for that entirely.

And so I look to theme of Pokémon in hopes of finding something I can hold one region above the other for... but I can't bring myself to say that one outdoes the other, frankly. With Hoenn, you have two general themes I'd say for the Pokémon: tropical and weather. Hoenn was the first region to introduce weather outside of battle, and so it's no surprise to see Pokémon like Castform and the weather trio make an appearance. However, we also have Pokémon like the Ludicolo line, Tropius, and the Sceptile line to make you feel like you're in some tropical region. In Sinnoh, the theme we're looking at more is the past; this is pretty evident from how much the past plays into the actual games itself, with Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina all playing important roles in the creation of Sinnoh. A key component with the theme here is also how many new Pokémon we got that were a preevolution or evolution of an already-existing Pokémon: Mime. Jr, Gliscor, and Bonsly to name a few. No matter what way I look at it, each region's Pokémon simply fit extremely well. Sure, I hold a bias towards Hoenn because it has Mawile, but hey, I can recognize the exemplary job Sinnoh does.

Hoenn and Sinnoh were the first regions to introduce the apocalyptic "end of the world" plot we seem to have grown tired of later and already saw dialed down in the games following them. How do you feel about this concept, and which region pulled it off better?

Rabia

Rabia

I personally enjoy this concept a fair bit; while Pokémon in general has rather tame themes, with the extremes usually just amounting to an evil team trying to take over the world, the apocalypse theme brings about a greater sense of urgency to the protagonist's cause. No longer are you simply trying to thwart the misguiding efforts of a group of villains attempting to take over a company; rather, the entire fate of the universe rests solely in your hands. I think this theme adds a really nice dimension to games that can sometimes get bogged down in their cookie cutter formula, and it makes the experience of playing the games engaging in an entirely different way.

In terms of which game did the apocalypse theme better, I think that question is simply too difficult to answer given the significant differences even within the theme itself between the regions. In Hoenn, you have the misguided efforts of Team Aqua and Magma attempting to awaken the primal legendaries from their deep slumber for the betterment of society by expanding the sea and land; however, because of the sheer stupidity of the leaders, they end up almost causing the world to be destroyed by the raging beasts. In Sinnoh, however, we have the cold and calculated Cyrus attempting to reset humanity entirely; his goal is to remove turmoil and struggle from the world through the removal of emotion. But this isn't to better society for others; as Cyrus says, "I see an entirely new world solely for myself. If not, it could not be the complete and perfect world." Both presentations of the apocalyptic theme are so different in nature that trying to put one above the other would be an injustice. While I prefer how Sinnoh did it because of the edge it adds to the game, Hoenn almost adds a sort of desperation to your mission due to the sheer ignorance in which Team Aqua and Magma act.

Who had the most interesting... plot and why?

Lyd

lyd

Hoenn's plot felt almost kind of lame, honestly. It's almost as idiotic to want to destroy the oceans as it is to want everything to be oceans, so basically having the evil teams have such a ridiculous goal invalidates most of Hoenn's plot for me, as most of it is caused by Team Magma and Team Aqua. I really liked that there were two teams, though; that was a really cool twist. Also, entering the Cave of Origin to stop Groudon or Kyogre was pretty sick, honestly, so bonus points there. Steven and his tie to the plot were also alright; it's nice interacting with the Champion before the League and knowing why he belongs to the story, with the Devon Corporation tying it all together. The Delta episode is also really sick, arguably the best post-game section in the series. Going to space to catch Deoxys and facing Zinnia was really interesting!

Verdict: a solid 623 out of 10. Shoutouts to Archie and especially Maxie for ruining the plot (Hoenn's fine with too much water smh).

While Hoenn was great, Sinnoh definitely takes the cake here. Team Galactic's goal makes honestly a lot more sense than Magma and Aqua's, especially when you can totally see from Cyrus's personality that he is very idealistic and egocentric. Having all the members' have names based on planets, stars, and satellites is also a nice detail that adds a lot to the cohesion. Visiting the Distortion World in Platinum was honestly insane to me, like the fact that you actually get to venture it and explore it. That makes the whole wrap-up of the story and the legendaries so amazingly immersive.

Verdict: literally the best plot in the whole franchise. 10 out of 10.

Who had the most interesting... characters and why?

Lyd

lyd

Wally. Brandon or May are alright rivals too, but they don't really have as much personality as other rivals do. Don't get me wrong, I prefer when rivals aren't just rude and stubborn, I really do, but rivals really need some other kind of personality to stand up to that and everything. Hoenn is also the only time we get to see the player's father, and he's even a Gym Leader, so bonus points for that. Steven is also a really nice asset to the plot, he helps tie a lot of it together: Devon Corp., PokéNav, etc.. Plus Steven is just a really cool character and one of the best Champions we've had. There's Professor Birch, I guess, for whom being Brandon's / May's father adds a bit more depth to the story. The Gym Leaders are alright too, Norman is obviously the most notable, but the others still have enough spotlight. I still prefer the approach a couple of the newer games are trying to take to introduce Gym Leaders early and make 'em feel more important, so Hoenn's losing some points for that.

Verdict: a great 7½ out of 10, the only Pokémon game you have a father after all!

In terms of rivals, I'd argue Barry is the best Pokémon rival ever, definitely a standard I'd love the series to follow. Barry isn't just one of these headstrong and disrespectful rivals like Blue and Silver, but instead, his hyperactive and distracted personality makes him a lot more relatable and human. You can relate to Barry, and you see an arc of him trying to humbly change his personality. I don't think I even have to talk about Cynthia, do I? She's the first female Champion, and she does an outstanding job in that role. You can tell how strong a Trainer she is, and you're always looking up to her in a way or another. Cynthia being there with the protagonist in Spear Pillar and Distortion World makes her presence so much more pronounced. Professor Rowan is an alright character, I guess, but still, probably the worst Professor so far, not gonna lie. He has nowhere near as much as charisma or personality as any of the Professors preceding him, and unlike, say, Sycamore or Kukui, who are studying something cool, Rowan is just kinda studying evolutions... Last but not least there are the Gym Leaders. I liked the story between Roark and Byron, and this generation had some really cool Gym Leaders on its own like Gardenia, Fantina, and Candice. The backstory of Volkner is really cool too! It would be cool to see more Gym Leaders considering challenging the Elite Four. And just having that multi battle vs. Volkner and Flint. That was the shit!

Verdict: a strong 9 out of 10. If only I could understand what Crasher Wake's purpose was...

Who had the most interesting... Pokémon and why?

Lyd

lyd

Hoenn has some really good Pokémon! The starters are pretty much flawless except Combusken, and the Treecko line is still to this day my favorite set of Grass-type starters, so bonus points there. Having two pseudo-legendaries is also a really cool feature, especially when both are as awesome as Salamence and Metagross!! Even the "early-route" Pokémon of Hoenn, which typically are less flashy, still are really really good! Beautifly, Dustox, Mightyena, Linoone, Breloom, Manectric, etc.; they are no Ampharos, but they're really fucking good!! Some other lines I really like are, in no particular order, Numel, Carvanha, Duskull, Spheal, Aron, Shuppet, Trapinch, and Swablu. Overall one of the better generations out there!

Verdict: outstanding designs, 813 out of 10, but Vibrava alone is like 90% of this score, lol.

Sinnoh also has some amazing starters; the Chimchar line is my favorite of the Fire starters, but it almost baffles me how charismatic and full of personality the Piplup and Turtwig lines are! Garchomp is my favorite pseudo-legendary, so many bonus points for that! Sinnoh also did a lot of evolutions for earlier Pokémon, so that's really nice! Electivire, Magmortar, Tangrowth, Togekiss, Mamoswine, and Porygon-Z are all amazing, and I'm really happy to see Pokémon company revisiting this again with Cursola and Sirfetch'd after all we had gotten in between was Sylveon. And speaking of Eeveelutions, Glaceon and Leafeon are up there as some of my favorites; definitely the second best batch of Eeveelutions after Kanto's in my opinion. Sinnoh also had a lot of legendaries and they were really good! Giratina-O, Shaymin, Darkrai, Heatran, the Lake trio, and of course Arceus itself. My only complaint here would be that some of the earlier route Pokémon are relatively lame, namely the Bidoof and Kricketot lines, but the Starly line completely makes up for that by being the best early-route bird by far!

Verdict: pretty much flawless (except for Lickilicky, what were they thinking?!) 9 out of 10!

Hoenn and Sinnoh were the first regions to introduce the apocalyptic "end of the world" plot we seem to have grown tired of later and already saw dialed down in the games following them. How do you feel about this concept, and which region pulled it off better?

Lyd

lyd

My main gripe with how Hoenn handled the plot is that both Team Magma and Team Aqua had such nonsensical plans that it just rubs me the wrong way. I don't have to explain why having all sea or no sea at all is a bad thing, do I? I also feel like the admins were rather lame; they aren't given as much individuality as the Team Galactic admins for example, so they just end up feeling like a normal goon that got a promotion. Like I said earlier, though, I like how the plot has two teams instead of one; that adds a really cool mechanic, especially in Emerald. But it's still lame that the whole plot is driven by two teams with such idiotic plans.

Verdict: 423, at least Team Aqua wants to preserve the sea, I guess...

While Cyrus's goal is 100% selfish it at least makes more sense plotwise, though at first you'd think it's awkward for so many goons to support his plan. Cyrus probably promised something in his ideal world for these guys, but knowing Cyrus, it's a promise he probably won't keep. Generation 4 also really edges out Generation 3 with the plot, as not only is the Champion involved, you also get to explore Giratina's very dimension in Platinum. Also, team Galactic's lore felt a lot more cohesive, with many members named after planets, stars, or satellites. It's also nice to see the legendary trio being involved in the story too, instead of Generation 3's approach of just "here's some braille puzzles", which granted is good, but it doesn't aid the plot very much.

Verdict: 913 more Cynthia and more Distortion World, please!

Who had the most interesting... plot and why?

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

There are things we will all do when playing the wonderful games of Pokémon that we will never forget. But there are so many ways to look at the plots of Ruby/Sapphire and Diamond/Pearl. Hoenn, in many ways, was the first region where I felt like I was saving the world. The clash between Kyogre and Groudon, which was caused by Team Magma and Team Aqua, was said to be powerful enough to destroy the world, so everything hinged on our ability to stop it from happening. In Sinnoh, we were called upon to stop the universe from being ripped apart by Palkia and Dialga, as Team Galactic looks to create a new universe for themselves at the cost of the one we're in.

I can't honestly say one cause is more worthy of taking up the fight than the other, but in terms of total story line/plot, Hoenn did it best. I felt like it was more interesting to play the game where you saw two opposing sides willing to destroy each other and have to be the one to put them both down. It created a greater sense of accomplishment when you put the world back in balance as a neutral third party. Don't get me wrong, saving the universe is obviously better than simply saving the world. But you have to save it from one self-righteous team who wants their own universe. It's basically a two-sided argument. There are a lot of those types of stories in the history of Pokémon games, but there aren't many stories where you get to take down two very ruthless organizations at the same time, and that's why Hoenn's story is easily the better one.

Who had the most interesting... characters and why?

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

From a Trainer standpoint, Brendan had the better design between himself and Lucas. I just can't see myself wearing a beret/golf hat. Brendan looks confident, while Lucas looks reserved. I'm not sure that either is really that interesting from a story standpoint, but they are each unique in their own way. Team Magma and Team Aqua were visually appealing, but in the story they were stiff, because there isn't a humorous moment they have. At least Team Galactic had the hidden running joke that no one other than Cyrus ever knew what the plan really was.

Looker was a character unlike any other. I never really understood the reason or need for the costumes, but they were always interesting. My favorite had to be the breakable rock disguise he used at Stark Mountain. But Looker could be serious and actually get the job done, too. That kind of layered character quality makes him one of my favorites.

This round truly goes to the Sinnoh region, though. The region's Gym Leaders were truly different in their individual ways. Crasher Wake looked like someone straight off the indie wrestling circuit. Maylene reminded me a bit of Agatha, who I always thought had a creepy vibe but wore it well. Roark actually looked the part of someone I could see using a Rock-type Pokémon for something other than defending a Gym badge, which made the region feel a bit more real. I can't take anything away from the character design of the Gym Leaders in the Sinnoh region, and for that reason alone, Sinnoh absolutely had the most interesting characters in my opinion.

Who had the most interesting... Pokémon and why?

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

There really is no two ways about this, so I'll just rip the band-aid off: Hoenn, plain and simple. The starters were more interesting because they gave us our first look at combinations in typing that hadn't been available to that point and had greater movepool options. Blaziken being the first Fire / Fighting type was a game changer made better by access to Sky Uppercut. Swampert gave us a Water / Ground combination that we hadn't seen used effectively to this point, as Wooper and Quagsire weren't really able to take great advantage of it. Then we come to Sceptile (which is one of my top 5 all-time Pokémon), which had access to Dragon Claw, and I took down many a Dragon-type with him.

Now, just sit there and think for a minute. Take your time, because this won't be too hard. Sure, you get the Pokémon God known as Arceus from Sinnoh, but I'm fairly certain one Pokémon doesn't make an entire region better. There weren't many new additions that stood out. Not many of them played too deep into the story, which limited their uniqueness in my opinion. In Hoenn, you had the Regis, Wailmer/Wailord, and Wingull to name a few.

All of them encountered Team Magma/Team Aqua in some manner. And yes, the Regis did because you needed Wailord and Relicanth to meet them. The best place to find a Wailmer to get Wailord is in Lilycove City, where Team Aqua/Team Magma is hiding out in a cave just out in the harbor. Then, if that isn't enough, you can take the uniqueness of the Regis further by exploring the HTO conspiracy of the Regis (where HTO stands for Hydrogen Tritium Oxygen, known as the three remnants of a Hydrogen Bomb). That conspiracy is furthered along by the fact that all three Regis know Explosion on capture, and their final learned move is Hyper Beam at level 89. I'm fairly certain there aren't any conspiracies as unique as that around Pokémon from the Sinnoh region.

Hoenn and Sinnoh were the first regions to introduce the apocalyptic "end of the world" plot we seem to have grown tired of later and already saw dialed down in the games following them. How do you feel about this concept, and which region pulled it off better?

Vigilante

{Pokemon_Vigilante}

If you actually read what I wrote earlier, you already know that I think the plot was great the first two times it was used. The problem is that I really wish it hadn't been used so much after Hoenn. That said, I loved the concept of saving the world as opposed to saving a radio station executive from Team Rocket like we got in Johto.

Sure, there certainly is nothing wrong with using something that worked repeatedly, but there is something wrong with using it excessively. Hoenn brought is into the middle of a fight between two teams, and you can't discount the gravity of that situation. Speaking of gravity, Team Galactic wanted to wipe it and the rest of the universe out. They both did it well, but I have to stick with Hoenn on this one. The story wasn't totally linear like it was in Sinnoh; there were so many twists and subplots that it almost got hard to keep track of it all. You needed to save Peeko in Rusturf Tunnel, then solve the problem caused at the Devon Corporation. From Petalburg Woods to Sootopolis City and the other nine encounters in between, you're never left with a dull spot in the story. In Sinnoh, there may be the same number of encounters, but the reasons behind them aren't really as diverse. The reality is that there is a decent storyline for both regions, and only one can win. So I fought through one complex layer after the next, and I when finished them both, I felt way more satisfied and accomplished by beating Team Magma/Team Aqua.


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