The Introduction…

The move from GameBoy to the GameBoy Advanced created a riff within the Pokémon fanbase because, at the time of Ruby and Sapphire’s release, not every Pokémon was available. Game Freak could not figure out a way to transfer up  Pokémon from GBC to GBA, so they cancelled those plans and focused on remaking the classic games. Fans of unobtainable creatures like Rattata or Slowpoke would have to wait for the long awaited next mainline entry and first remake of the franchise, Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen.

The Story…

Due to being remakes of the classic titles Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, not much has changed in the story department with these titles. Players begin their journey in Pallet Town and travel across the Kanto region, catching and training Pokemon, collecting Gym Badges, defeating Team Rocket and competing in the Indigo League to become one of the greatest trainers of all time. Instead, much of the new story material is found at the tail end of the games; Members of Team Rocket, unaware of their bosses’ defeat at the hands of the player, wreak havoc on the Sevii Islands, a set of islands accessible only after the credits rolled with the defeat of the Elite Four. There are seven major islands and can only be traversed via a ferry in-game.

What makes scaling the Sevii Islands fun and unique, not just in its brand-new story, are the new variety of Johto Pokémon that are catchable, but we’ll return to that a little later…

The Gameplay…

If you’ve played a Pokémon game in the third generation before, you would know not much has changed here. Battles are still turned-based with the same objective as the last entries of the series, but now, with the move to the GBA, Kanto received all the upgrades from Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald.

The sprite quality of various monsters have improved, abilities, natures, genders and held items introduced in RS were implemented here, compatibility with Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness added, a new item called the VS. Seeker allowed players to rebattle trainers for extra cash and experience made its debut here, and a new item called the Wireless Adapter was included with a copy of FireRed and LeafGreen allowing players, for the first time ever in the franchise, to wirelessly battle and trade locally with friends! And most of that is just the tip of the iceberg when in comes to changes to Kanto. Still, if you weren’t a fan of Pokémon before, this game will probably not change your mind as most of what the developers added here was an attempt to please their core fanbase.

The addition of Johto Pokémon was one such attempt. No compatibility with Gold, Silver, and Crystal forced Game Freak to scatter those region monsters into various games across the GameBoy Advanced and GameCube, making it extremely difficult to catch em all unless players shell out money for a GBA, a GC console, FRLG, and RSE. As a broke child without a GameCube, and games like Emerald and LeafGreen, the Johto mons were unavailable to me for the longest time.

Another point I want to bring up is the music. As you all know, I loved the OST of Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald and with the move to GBA came with the usage of those games soundfont. While it has its detractors, I can certainly jam out to almost every track that was remade from the GameBoy era:


I don’t want to let my bias get in the way when I say that I love the GameBoy Advanced entries of the franchise regardless of how little they changed the core of the main game because I can understand why players, at the time of Generation III’s release, moved on. At that point, the games were very same-y.

Perhaps Game Freak didn’t know where to take the franchise next after the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Taijiri, stepped down and the popularity of the brand was weening. Nowadays it seems as if Pokémon is too big to fail, but the developers sure were uncertain of the future long ago and probably thought to keep the core game the same and attract new fans each generation… and it worked starting with the Nintendo DS era but that’s a different story for another day.

Thank you for reading.