Best In-Game World Map

We have had five generations of Pokemon games, each generation bringing us a new region based on real world places. Every region probably has its share of detractors. The latest one, Unova, which I read somewhere is based on NYC, has been met with criticism for being too much of a circle line. Others have been shat upon for having too much water, etc.

The region map is probably one of the most important aspects in making the in-game experience enjoyable. Which region do you think has the best map? You can set any criteria you want, if you think they contribute to the experience of your journey.

IMO, the best in-game map so far is probably Hoenn. Admittedly, the 3rd gen is not my favorite generation (I am liking 5 best, so far), but Hoenn, particularly in Emerald, is arguably the one which makes you feel like you have an epic journey that is not restricted by some uninspired roadblocks.

What makes Hoenn great, IMO, is a combination of explorability and mystery. To elaborate on explorability, Hoenn is full of intuitive routes and dungeons that are at first inaccessible in a natural way (patch of water, huge rocks, vicious sandstorms), but becomes a shortcut to places you have visited before when you eventually gain the experience and the means to overcome said obstacles. Wherever you are, you are always so close to home that in fact, getting HM02 so late in the game doesn't affect you. For example, after Flannery, you have three ways, IIRC, to go back to Petalburg. You go through Meteor Falls, Rusturf Tunnel, or take the old ship back to Dewford. Then once you defeat Norman, you just Surf through the patch of water from Oldale to get east. It is perfectly executed so that you always feel you find something new even as you return to old places. Compare that to Unova or even Sinnoh, where most cities have no revisiting value.

Let's not forget that once you get past Lilycove, you can explore all the way to Pacifidlog, only to be thrown back to good ol' Slateport thanks to the currents.

Hoenn also uses the trick first introduced in Kanto: the first Gym cannot be challenged. This makes you feel that the world does not revolve around trainers who embark from Littleroot and have their routes tailored for them. Always feels good to return to a previously unbeatable challenge, take a deep breath, and say: "I am ready now".

The second part, the mystery, is an even bigger reason. Discounting Kanto, which does not have a region-centric myth, every other region so far rubs a legend in your face. Rainbows and birds and running dogs as early as Ecruteak, statues of the deity of time/space in Eterna, a tower with a legendary Pokemon that sits staring at a town nearby as its populace stare back at it. Hoenn has none of those. In fact, while any sufficiently good trainer with enough HMs can probably explore those directly accessible places with legendary Pokemon in other regions (Cerulean Cave, Whirl Islands/Bell Tower, Mt. Coronet - Spear Pillar, Dragonspiral Tower), Hoenn keeps its secret (Seafloor Cavern, Sealed Chamber) hidden among the vast ocean.

I really think that too much Surf actually helps Hoenn here. Because the region rewards the best explorer, not the best trainer. Steven did not almost unveil the secret behind Kyogre or Groudon. Captain Stern did. And not a lot of people sing about the titans ad nauseam, unlike in other regions. Once you see the stolen submarine in one of the caverns in the seafloor, you feel the excitement. You know that you have stumbled upon an unknown dungeon ready to be explored.

There are other small bits such as sidequests (New Mauville, Abandoned Ship, the Regis) that are again in places you have visited before. Or water, rock, and invisible Kecleons instead of "there is something up ahead, get stronger first" NPCs, or even the humorous but out-of-place thirsty sentries as obstacles. Or the thematic feel of the Gyms (Fire Gym near a volcano, Flying Gym in a town of tall trees, Water Gym in a crater town filled with water). Overall the region feels really solid. And let's not forget the awesome that is Emerald Battle Frontier. And Pokemon availability and diversity, perhaps, although my memory is kinda foggy right now?

The second best is probably Johto followed by Kanto, but that's me. Which are your favorite regions, and why?


Cod Mod
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Everything you said about Hoenn. Spot-on, my friend.

Though, I'd like to throw in another argument for Hoenn: Diversity. Hoenn had everything, it seemed like. There was, among many other things, a forest, some wetlands, beaches, several mountains, a volcano, a jungle, a valley where it rained ash (that is originality if I ever saw it), a desert, the beautiful Meteor Falls, intriguing cities, abandoned facilities, and even a hidden ice cave...
It was truly fun to explore. Hoenn is a tropical region, with brightly coloured houses and Pokémon. Every area felt new and fresh. Also, there were things to do in every city, like the Contests (I felt really sad when they relocated everything to Lilycove in Emerald, it really took the fun travelling part out of it), daily events and trainers to fight.

The Secret Bases cannot be praised enough. They really encouraged exploring the map, with all its hidden areas. How many else of you missed the secret beach just north of Rustboro until way after you beat the Elite Four? I only discovered it after a friend had made his Base there.

Kanto is also a great place, I think. It is a little more centralized than the other regions, with roads connecting the big cities. When hatching eggs in FireRed/LeafGreen, I used to bike Saffron-Celadon-Fuschia-Lavender-Saffron, around and around the region. Places like Pewter, Cinnabar, Pallet and Viridian were a little further away, but not unreachable with a few Repels. At the end of Kanto, you could go wherever you wanted without much hassle, even if you weren't using Fly. At the same time, there were deep and hidden dungeons you had to leave the beaten path to get through in case you had missed things there earlier.

Johto was also good, I agree with you there. Though, I think things were spaced too far apart there, which discouraged walking and biking. You had to go through grass to get from almost any city to another, and the cities don't feel connected in the same way they do in Kanto and Hoenn. Johto placed the "dungeons" between the cities, rather than on the way to them, and provided no shortcuts for later use. You went to some places for daily events or training, but other places were entirely forgotten as you progressed. How many did for instance visit Cherrygrove more than once?

Sinnoh suffered BADLY from "Johto Syndrome". The cities didn't feel connected at all. Once you beat the Elite Four, all the fun stuff happened in the Survival Area. Everything looked practically the same everywhere. If you want to walk from city to city, you better stock lots of Repels.
Kudos for the areas in the north, though. I played the part from Mt. Coronet to Snowpoint City late in the evening, sitting in a cabin up in the mountains. I really got a shivering sense of being far, far out in the wilderness, with the safety of civilization being way out of reach. But apart from this, Sinnoh is the weakest of the regions, in my eyes. Its biggest city is too early in the game, and there isn't a lot to do there. It doesn't feel like the centrepiece of the region at all. And the Secret Bases, which could have made the region rather awesome, were nerfed to the point of not being any fun at all. Imagine if you could make your own base in the cliffs of Mt. Coronet, the woods of Snowpoint or the forests in the southeast, and you had to search to find your friends' bases and battle their teams. Instant fun. Instead, they made the region big, bland and uninteresting, which coincidentally describes the new Secret Base system pretty well too.

Tied last with Sinnoh is Unova. It would be great if it wasn't so awfully linear. All the way from the starting point to the Elite Four, Unova is a line. There are no choice of paths, which was what made Hoenn so awesome. The content of Unova is great, the layout is terrible. There are many great locations to explore, the cities are eye-candy (apart from Nimbasa, which is horrible in every way), the "dungeons" are varied and intriguing. But it's all so linear it's hard not to facepalm.

Orre also deserves a mention. It isn't main series, and the layout is non-existing, but the locations are very nice and extremely atmospheric.
I too missed the area north to Rustboro in my first run. And I remember when Secret Bases were fun too. My favorite spot was east to Fortree, in a shrub which you need cut to access. The blocking tree almost felt like a gate, and the inside was not half bad either. And now that you mentioned originality, Hoenn is the only region where the Pokemon cemetery is not an effing tower. A mountain is more like it.

Regarding Johto, although Mt. Mortar really screams "Skip me!" and provides no exploring incentives whatsoever (worse in G/S when it actually needed Flash, IIRC), what I like about it is the "Sudowoodo crossroad". Like Snorlax in Gen 1, except that you don't notice that it's a Pokemon, and hence don't try to battle it, it provides a natural reason to visit Azalea and Goldenrod. By the time you finished Goldenrod, you can beat Sudowoodo to return to Violet and deliver the Spearow mail, or to report to Prof. Elm about the Egg hatching. That, and the Dark Cave, which conveniently leads you back home from Blackthorn to New Bark Town when you need to the most in the storyline (E4, Master Ball).

I agree that the towns feel detached from one another, though. Ilex Forest and Ice Path are hell, Union Cave is bearable if only because of revisiting for Lapras and for another part of Ruins of Alph. I never noticed until you mentioned it, but indeed, there are tall grasses everywhere that make me too lazy to travel between towns by feet. But well, at least the early roaming beasts make it worthwhile; anybody else who would charge into the grass full of anticipation?

Speaking of the Ruins of Alph, it remains my favorite place of interest thanks to the subtle touches here and there. The eerie radio wave, the cryptic messages, the sliding puzzles that are actually keys, the Unown which are ironically bigger mysteries than the box art legends. HGSS improved this even more. I guess I'm a sucker for mystery.

Sinnoh is fine and some parts of it atmospheric. But as much as the path to Snowpoint feels like an adventure, it becomes too much of a hassle. Visibility issues, SLOW walking speed... it feels like a chore, and during my reruns, I would always put the game down before two parts: this snowy route, and the route between Hearthome and Pastoria. The bogs and the deep snow seems like unnecessary hindrances to me. The three lakes are nice, but they have to be triggered by the plot to be of any significance, anyway.

And Psyducks with migraine are probably second only to Unova's human roadblockers. Other than those issues, Sinnoh is decent. Mt. Coronet is particularly good because it makes you feel like it is the central obstacle that looms before you. The east/west split, marked by Shellos and Gastrodon colors, is also a thoughtful touch.

The Underground sucks for being too bland. The Secret Bases almost can't be decorated because of the rocks. But I think the Distortion World is awesome beyond words.

I haven't played enough of the spinoffs to form an informed opinion, but I think I am going to check on Orre online.
IMO Hoenn is meant to have everything because the emphasis of the plot is on nature and environment itself, so it'd make sense to have most aspects of nature to be represented in some way (Rustboro, Lilycove and Mauville represent the city, Lavaridge has volcanoes, Fortree has forests, Dewford has beaches, etc.)
I agree, although that shouldn't stop Gamefreak from allowing other regions to have everything too. They have done it once, they should be able to do it again.

Maybe the bar has been raised. The 5th gen included seasons, which change the face of the "nature" a lot in many cities. Still, Unova could really do better than city -> cave -> another city -> another cave (from Driftveil to Icirrus).

But indeed, nature is the most relevant in R/S/E with its environmental terrorism and stuff. Hoenn is also where the tidal cycle is used most creatively. Shame that FR/LG, which belongs to the same generation, drops so many things that make R/S awesome.
Dont forget about the Orre Region from Pokemon Colosseum and pokemon xd: gales of darkness. I like to think of Orre as the third world country of the pokemon universe because their government is corrupt and most of the region is a waste land.
One thing I loved about Hoenn's map (my first game, by the way), was the fact that when you battled the legendary, it felt like something was in the balance. If you had no idea what you were doing like me, you probably flew around the map, and saw places being stormed upon or a massive drought (or in Emerald, both). The atmosphere and sheer variability of Hoenn was amazing. I hope they make a remake and bring the graphics up to the 5th gen level.
Which reminds me, Hoenn is the last region where its legendary doesn't sit on top of a high throne, looking down and wanting to "test" you. Both Unova and Johto are too preoccupied with heralding the coming of a trainer whom the regional legendary will acknowledge as a "hero" (who will eventually confine them in an orange-sized ball and enslave them for life). I also never understood why Dialga/Palkia wouldn't just disappear into the dimensional rift after Cyrus failed, instead of waiting for you to battle it.

Since I played Sapphire first, I remember vividly the torrential rain that hit eastern Hoenn soon as I emerged from the Seafloor Cavern. The people in the surrounding cities were all hiding in the buildings scared for their lives. Dialogues changed. You had the option to see apocalypse unfold around you for a while instead of being forced (again, by NPCs) to confront the legendary Pokemon and get it over with. And Kyogre/Groudon did not give a shit about you. It was dead set on drowning/scorching Hoenn, and nothing will stand in its way.

As great as the storyline is, Unova is severely lacking in this kind of experience IMO. Although I have yet to check if NPCs in cities around the Pokemon League react to N's castle emerging from the ground and surrounding the League...
Must confess, until I read this topic I thought that gen 4 had the best world. For me personally it had the best atmosphere, amplified by what I thought was an outstanding soundtrack.

Having read what you wrote, TruthfulCake, I'm more inclined to hop in on your side.

Slightly off topic, but something I loved about FF12 was just how big the world was and how many secrets there were that weren't hinted about in dialogue, some being barely foreshadowed by scraps of lore, and forced the player to go explore for them. You could be exploring a cave that you wouldn't need to explore at all and come across a new summon or optional boss. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire captured this feeling for me, Emerald serving to refine it more, a big wide open world with lots of secrets. As a player you weren't simply reacting to events (like in more recent PKMN games) you were being a proactive explorer.

Thats how I'd like to see gen 6, have a bunch of legendaries just hidden away, not forshadowed, not hinted at, just a nice surprise at the end of an optional dungeon. Maybe give the player an entirely optional sidequest to get another set of 680 base stat legendaries in addition to the version mascots.

Why does it have to stop there? Have optional caves dotted around the game, with an overleveled, fully evolved pkmn waiting for you at the end. Maybe make some of these pokemon unobtainable outside of its own exclusive habitat. Your free to catch it if you want, but its not compulsory.
When you said "Gen IV", did you mean Sinnoh or the revamped Johto/Kanto? I like Johto a lot, and the new Kanto is leaps and bounds better than its blasphemous version in the original G/S/C.

I can see how people like Sinnoh, though. I like a lot of the soundtracks too. The snowy route up north has a good tone, IMO, and Game Corner rocks! Although it was previously mentioned in this thread that Sinnoh has poor revisiting value, at least when it lasted, it offered you some choice instead of being a complete line. If I am not mistaken, you can reach Pastoria from either Veilstone or Hearthome, right? Although I tend to avoid the rainy route at all cost...


I only play ADV UU
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I always Liked Sinnoh the most. Couldn't wait to explore the island in the far north and the varying terrains were really fun to explore.

Didn't really like Hoenn, probably because it took me 8 months and I think 6 playthroughs before I accidentally stumbled upon the underwater cave, and found out that the Regi's existed. That thing was too well hidden!


Cod Mod
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Maybe it's just me, but I felt that Sinnoh looked the same everywhere. All the routes were either mountainous, foresty or covered with snow. Even the swampy areas felt too much like the forests, and the crappy weather didn't help either. And it feels like about a third of the map is caves, infested with Pokémon.

Once you got to the Battle Zone, there really wasn't any reason to leave it. It had all the post-game content, all the powerful trainers, the most powerful wild Pokémon...
Unless you cared much for EV-ing or Super Contests (bleh!), you didn't want to go back to the mainland apart from the odd Pokémon capture or breeding.

Sinnoh encouraged the use of Fly almost too much. The locations you would visit after beating the story, the Battle Zone and Pal Park, were located on diametrically opposite sides of the map, and there was an ocean, a tundra and a mountain between them (plus a Surfing route). The Pokémon Day Care in Solaceon was also very far away from both locations. If you were to go anywhere, you flew. You had no option, because things were simply too far apart. Racing along on your bike, getting to know the region while travelling, was just tiresome. Wild Pokémon leaping at you at every turn, or maze-like caves you didn't know the way through. As a result, you visited most routes and several towns only once. Sinnoh, like Unova, would benefit massively from Pokémon-free shortcuts. What about a boat from Fight Area to Sunyshore, Veilstone or even Canalave? A proper concrete tunnel through Mt. Coronet, going in a straight line from Hearthome to Oreburgh? Or even a mountain pass over Mt. Coronet?

Sinnoh would be great with some tweaking and a tad less wilderness. And that damn fog needs to go.
Will comment more substantially when I'm not using an iPhone, but I agree with a lot of the stuff here.

Basically, in a nutshell:

-Unova sucks, I would have been fine with it without the mind crushingly linear map.
-Sinnoh is less linear but also really obnoxiously limited in post game (nothing to do outside of the battle frontier
-Hoenn rules, best balance of pre E4 exploration and stuff to do postgame
-Johto had the best post game of any Pokemon game bar none. 8 more gyms? Sign me up! Would have been better if the levels weren't so low and it wasn't all recycled from gen 1.
-Kanto sucked in Gen 1 (what do you do after mewtwo?) but was much improved by gen 3's sevii islands.
My favourite is Orre, hands down. Such atmospheric areas, and like Hoenn you had to use your brain (:O) to find your way around, but a lot more so than Hoenn. It was actually an adventure, whereas Unova just said: "Walk down that route, catch a duklett for a HM slave here! Nope, you're not moving on until you go to the top of celestial tower!" Give us some freedom! D: And the areas had so much atmosphere it's unfunny! Pyrite town was so run down and dirty, you know there were rogues there. On the contrary, Phenac city had such a different feel to the rest of Orre, people at peace as opposed to living in fear (that attack in XD was awesome too) and the construction lot was so bare and empty too. It could have been from the graphical capabilities of the game-cube compared to that of the DS but honestly, with places like the under and pyrite town being so dodgy and wary as opposed to phenac city and the pokemon lab with such friendly and happy natures really puts an amazing feel to the whole of the orre region. Rating:
1) Orre
2) Hoenn
3) Sinnoh
4) Kanto
5) Johto
6) -
7) -
8) -
167422098467923709784390487) Unova (I don't like them).
Wow, I do Hoenn better then all of them too.

EDIT: Excuse me users, the reason why I used "Generation" is because each regions changes over time.

Yes the Unova is biased on New York city.

Yeah, 3rd generation of Pokemon for life.

EDIT: I edited my to post to make it much longer. I wanted to do this a long time ago, but I was tired that day.

Gen. I & II: I merge this two Pokemon generations together because I like them the same way. R/B/Y had the best music out of all the Pokemon games. The Kanto gym leaders were the best and appealing. I do slightly like Kanto over Johto. But G/S/C did have some better improvements. They introduced the Poke'Gear, you can listen to the radio. The phone was a little aggravating, however, your mother can give you some hidden items to put in your room. G/S/C had some really cool caves to explore too.

Gen. III: The third generation of Pokemon? Where do I began? This is the best generation of Pokemon I have ever experience in my life. Let me get started with the Hoenn region, this region was the outstanding region. Hoenn was the best region that Game Freak has ever created to me. Hoenn had numerous of secret bases to explore, also in different colors, red, blue, dark brown, light brown and green. You can collect ornaments to design your secret bases, I found this fun. The contests were good for Poke'Blocks. You can use a HM called "Dive" to go underwater and find rare items, Pokemon to capture, caves and secrets to unlock my favorite legendary trio, the Regies! The Hoenn region was so creative, there were awesome volcanoes, ice bergs caves, power plants, rain forest, ghost towers, nice islands, nice rocky caves, the Trick Master, Battle Frontier, creative cities, it had everything you can possibly enjoy. The Hoenn is really in superb shape. No other region good as this had so many great landforms in one ultimate combination. I don't care what people say, Hoenn was extremely fun. Now the Pokemon games in the third generation; R/S/E were the best Pokemon games I have ever played. May & Brendan were really interesting and had the best personality and style. To me, Team Aqua & Team Magma were the best villains out of all the team villains. Characters in this region had really good personalities. You can use a device called the Poke'Nav to find trainers, challenges, hobbies and their true classification. Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire had the best story line. It was an excellent plot with Groudon, Rayquaza and my number one favorite legendary Pokemon, Kyogre! Finally, FR/LG; these R/B remake games were a better improvement. This introduced the V.S. Seeker, Sevi Islands and new actives with Wireless Adapter. Also, in the third generation games, you can go mystery islands that are outside the regions, Southern Island, Navel Rock, Birth Island and Faraway Island.

Gen. IV: This generation had too many flaws. I didn't like their new sprites (out battle) buildings and characters to make Sinnoh, therefore, I won't enjoy HG/SS. This is the reason why I didn't put Heart Gold & Soul Silver on my upcoming games list. They basically ripped off those big bulky annoying D/P sprites and put it on HG/SS. That is messed up. Now back to D/P/Pt; the music was not that interesting. I am not saying that it is bad, but the music wasn't as interesting as the previous Pokemon Versions. The Pokemon cries have gotten worst. On the positive side, the battles have better graphics, cool move effects and these Pokemon games introduces to connect to Nintendo WiFi.

So I got to say that Gen. III was outstanding, Gen I & Gen II was good and Gen IV was fair.

I never played Black & White, but the new region looks a lot better then Sinnoh for sure.
Gotta admit, all this talk about Orre got me really, really curious. Looked it up, and it sure does look like a third-world country. I am not really familiar with the mechanics of the Gamecube games, though, so I can't say for sure how a barren region works out for them, but it might not work for the handheld games due to their focus on "completing the Pokedex", and as far as I know, Orre has no wild Pokemon?

On the topic of Sevii Islands... I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it enriches the Kanto experience. On the other, it feels forced and forgettable.

At first, Sevii feels like a brand-new adventure altogether. There are things to do in each island that is actually relevant plot-wise, especially post-E4. There are new species to encounter. It also introduces features that were not present in the original R/B/Y, but were in the subsequent games, like breeding, berries (lying on the ground), etc. And it fixes the Moltres plothole from the original games. To this day, why the legions of trainers inside Victory Road didn't engage in a battle with the bird still confounds me. Talk about a flaming, flying elephant in the room.

But Sevii Islands, being an archipelago, feels like a spread of detached maps that has no emotional connection with the player. You do them in an orderly fashion, and once the subplot is completed, most of the places are not worth visiting anymore. It also feels too random and incoherent. Altering Cave? Tanoby Ruins? Somebody tell me what their purposes are. Tanoby really ruined the mystery surrounding Unown, seeing as plot-wise, they are only really discovered and explored "three years later" in the Ruins of Alph. Why are they sitting there in Kanto, in everyone's sight?

The timing when it is introduced also feels forced. Right after the seventh Gym, when you are raring to go grab your final badge and see who is behind the Viridian Gym, there Bill comes and introduce an anti-climactic sidequest. It makes the experience in the first three islands irrelevant to your journey in mainland Kanto, and entirely omissible.

Finally, the soundtracks. I know that the game designers probably want to play the nostalgia card and included Johto tracks, but adversely, the Sevii Islands lose their identity to me. What is Violet City's soundtrack doing here? Am I supposed to be reminded of Johto when walking around Six Island?

If I am to be a little nitpicky with Sevii Islands in particular, it is how much of a "downgrade" FR/LG feels like after R/S/E. Sure, the lack of in-game time is rather a problem for the whole Kanto region, but what about things like berry planting? Secret bases? If an argument can be made for Kanto's not having berry planting spots (because it is too urbanized, maybe?), it does not excuse the archipelago, which still has its nature intact, to lack such an obvious feature. They put the second Day-Care with breeding purposes on one of the islands. Why can't they include loamy soils? Funny looking shrubs and trees?

Sure, Sevii Islands enrich the remakes of the first gen, and the games are definitely better with than without them. But a lot could have been executed better so that the islands have personality and relevance while remaining coherent. HG/SS is an example of old regions redone right. The new features, like Safari Zone, Pokethlon, and the Battle Frontier are introduced when the time is right, without being out of place in Johto.
TruthfulCake, 9 wild pokemon came in XD, but there were none in Colosseum, oh, and it is sort of filling up the pokedex, you know, catch all of the shadow pokemon. Anyway, I would highly recommend the games, you can play them on the wii like any others.


Robot from the Future
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Orange Islands
Orre is a really fantastic region. There isn't a lot of "travelling" as you tend to move around by giant motorcycle in Colo or little Scooter in XD. But every place has a very distinguished character that is very different from the other Pokémon games. Like other people have said, Phenac and Pyrite are almost totally opposed to one another, and then you have the "elderly" city too (Which I can't remember the name of). Every city is so different in flavour.

Honestly, of the other games, Johto is probably my favourite. Everything seemed to make perfect sense to me as I moved around the nation. Wasn't too difficult to get anywhere you really wanted to. Hoenn was OK I guess, but I found you go in giant circles rather than heading anywhere meaningful. You go back on yourself a fair amount. Kanto will always be a solid design as you generally moved East across the map until the latter stages where you headed home via Fuchsia and Cinnabar Island (Unless you flew home and surfed south).

Sinnoh... Oh lord. I hated this map. A few weeks back I was just doodling out the region in my notepad, kanto, Johto, Hoenn all came out perfectly. Sinnoh? I could barely remember any of the town placements compared to Mt Coronet, any of the route shapes. It was awful. I played them through a good few times as well. It just never stuck with me like the other game maps have. That and Victory Road was *wayyyyyy* too huge. I know they did that to try and force levels on you because the jump from Gym 8 to E4 is massive. Having to go back through Mt Coronet like 6 times did not help things either.
About Orre, people eventually found wild Pokémon in it by the time of XD, and they were a Big Deal. In Colosseum, one of the plot points is that you can hardly even find anyone who sells Poké Balls because nobody's been asking for them. (You use them in the game to steal Pokémon from other trainers, which is how you fill out the Pokédex. You're only allowed to steal specific Pokémon, though.)

Orre really does capture its feeling well; the entire region is pretty much nothing but desert with a few interesting places dotted around it, and you really feel it when travelling. (They give you the equivalent of Fly right at the start of the game; you use it quite a bit, and the cutscene of motorcycling across the area really brings the emptyness of the region home.)
Wow, I came into this topic expecting to have to valiantly defend the awesomeness that is Hoenn and the third gen of Pokemon games but it seems someone beat me too it.

And people wonder why I want RSE remakes so badly, best world map, some of the best Pokemon, good level balance to provide a challenge, terrific trainers, of course the Frontier. Aah I could go on...


Cod Mod
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Orre isn't exactly a third world country. It's just a big desert the government doesn't give a damn about. Apart from Agate Village, there hasn't been activity in the region for as long as people can remember.

Orre has always been desolate and poor, but that changed when minerals were discovered and the town of Pyrite was founded and prospered. But within a generation or two, the mines were emptied. The big corporations packed up and left with all their money. Even the railroad transporting minerals from Pyrite to more central areas was abandoned. Presumably, it was used for some time by the locals until a locomotive broke down in the middle of the desert, with no money for hauling it away or repairing it.

Some people didn't want to move. Perhaps they wait for more minerals to be discovered in the mines. Perhaps they dream of making Orre the new Las Vegas. Perhaps they're hiding from authorities, or just lust for adventure. Phenac City, a pilot project for desert reclaimation, is actually a quite nice place to live. Agate village is possibly the most remote settlement in the entire Pokémon world, a peaceful place far from the stress of the rest of society.

The few inhabitants, the total lack of law enforcement, and the remoteness of it all also makes Orre a paradise for thugs, mobsters and other criminal gangs. It's doubtful that even a penny of tax money from Pyrite ever reached the government, but it seems to be a fair deal considering the total lack of investment in return. There are enough trainers in Orre to warrant Poké Centers to run, and a certain amount of organized training going on. The inhabitants of Orre are trying their best to keep a civil society running, and while things are starting to fall into disrepair at the start of Colosseum, the future seems a little brighter by the end of the game. At the beginning of XD, it's quite clear that the region is developing, considering the number of new settlements sprouting up.
Hoenn had a terrible unbalanced map.

It may have had a lot of environs, but the diversity of pokemon was slow in the mid game and the whole latter third of the game was in/on water. As someone that hates surfing at the best of times, I found it close to unbearable. So much so that I almost never play those games any more. They are boring, stagnant, slow, a childish storyline, the worst mechanic ever invented in dive, (Yeah it's bloody worse than defog. Defog actually has some credibility to it. Dive was just a pain in the backside. It made the games unfun. Like it literally makes me angry thinking about it. I can expand on why if people want me to.) and some of the most primitive and lazy solutions to what can only possibly be flaws in the core design of the world map. They had to create multiple subplots to stop you going places you shouldn't, which is just poor map layout.

I also disliked the Isshu map quite a bit. Way too linear and not diverse enough. I felt like I was in a single place, not travelling through multiple environs.

Kanto had similar imbalance to Hoenn, however less pronounced.

As much as I disliked the games, I believe that Sinnoh had the best map of the main series games.


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I have to agree that Hoenn had quite a lot of sea at the end of the game, and that you'll have to stock up on Repels to enjoy it more.

However, the ocean was just so vast, with hidden coves and small islets with trainers, there were deep underwater trenches leading to secret caves and even an abandoned ship. Also, it connected several cities throughout the region. It didn't feel as constrained as the sea of Kanto. It was a sea to explore.

I will agree too on the Pokémon selection, but it has nothing to do with the map. As for subplots to stop you from going where you shouldn't, can you elaborate on this? The Wailmer in Lilycove Harbor, and the invisible Kecleon in Fortree/Route 120 are a stretch, but other than that, I think the obstacles are rather natural. The sandstorm preventing you from going in the desert, Team Aqua/Magma blocking areas, HM moves needed to proceed... it's not half bad. It's a LOT worse in Unova.
Dive itself was a good idea. It was just poorly implemented.

I loved the atmosphere underwater and with a bit more fine tuning (Like say making each underwater trench have something of note within), it could make a weak point, great.

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