Ruby and Sapphire Revisited

Every month, in accordance with dark prophecies written in the stars, I am fated to write an article on a topic chosen by my Dark Council, the conspiratorial conclave of readers who support me for at least $10/month on Patreon.  This month, the decree of the Council was that I watch a video by Pokémon YouTuber Tama Hero (formerly Tamashii Hiroka) re-evaluating Pokémon: Ruby and Sapphire and use it as a springboard to revisit the characterisation of those games’ villains, Team Aqua and Team Magma.  The video can be found here; you don’t have to watch it to understand everything I’m about to say, but I do think it’s worth your time if you like thinking deeply about Pokémon and game design.  If you don’t know Ruby and Sapphire, the fifteen-second summary of Team Aqua and Team Magma is: Aqua likes the sea, Magma likes the land; they both want to wake up an ancient legendary Pokémon (Kyogre or Groudon, respectively) in order to “expand” the sea or land through floods or volcanic eruptions; they eventually succeed and very quickly wish they hadn’t; it’s now your job to clean up the mess.

So, I really liked this video.  Jim the Editor didn’t, because it’s framed as a review but doesn’t really succeed at being impartial, which… is true, but not in my opinion particularly relevant.  The way I see it, the ship has long since sailed on any kind of rating-oriented “review” of Ruby and Sapphire, but this discussion left me with a much clearer understanding of what those games were trying to do and a keener awareness of both their successes and failures in that attempt – and that, to me, is good media criticism, of the kind that I aspire to.  Honestly, to me it often feels like saying at the end of a piece “I liked this Thing” or “I didn’t like this Thing” or “here is how much I liked this Thing out of 10” obscures a lot of what you actually thought about the Thing, which may be a lot more nuanced than your conclusion captures.  I almost think there’s an argument for having no introduction or final summation at all, utterly refusing to give a condensed verdict just to force people to decide for themselves whether your analysis revealed more good points or bad points.

(There is a counterargument that this would needlessly cultivate an antagonistic relationship with one’s audience; however, the beauty of Pokémaniacal is that you bloodsuckers already know I plan to bring about the end of time so I can sacrifice you all to the dark gods I truly and ultimately serve, so really we have nothing to lose here.)

Continue reading “Ruby and Sapphire Revisited”

Claydol asks:

Steven stone’s mega Metagross hits like a truck doesn’t he?

He sure do.  No Earthquake, though, unlike in the original Ruby and Sapphire, which makes him substantially easier to outmanoeuvre in terms of type coverage.  Giga Impact also creates a lot of openings for your Pokémon to come in and hit him hard before he can recover.  I have memories of much greater difficulty with the old non-mega Metagross, but that’s partly because on my first playthrough of Sapphire I had no idea what type the damn thing was, and pre-generation VI Steel-types resist pretty much everything (also I had a Sableye in my party because I didn’t understand the game very well yet).

Rivals, part 8: May, Brendan and Wally

…Jim, do you feel like we’re forgetting something?

No.  Why?

I don’t know.  Just… I have this nagging feeling we’re supposed to have done something.

Probably nothing important.

Hmm.  Okay; if you say so.

Well, we never did do the last entry in that rivals series.  About Mrayndan and Wally.  So, I mean, it could be that.

The what now?

We were talking about all the rivals?  You know, like how you did that series on the Champions years ago?

…OH S#!T!

Continue reading “Rivals, part 8: May, Brendan and Wally”

Team Aqua and Team Magma

In Ruby and Sapphire, we say goodbye to Team Rocket and are instead confronted with not one but two villainous organizations vying for supremacy on the island of Hoenn: Team Aqua and Team Magma. Sapphire pits you against Team Aqua while Team Magma exists on the edge of the plot and doesn’t really do anything, while the situation is reversed in Ruby. The more complicated plot of Emerald tosses you into confrontations with both teams, because really they’re both pretty crazy. See, Team Aqua and Team Magma aren’t simple criminals like Team Rocket and, theoretically anyway, they aren’t in it for the money. Their plans revolve around the climate of Hoenn and of the rest of the world – specifically, how it might be improved. Team Aqua love the sea, because the sea is where life began, and want to deepen the world’s oceans, while Team Magma love the land, because the land is where more diverse and complex life forms arose, and want to expand the world’s landmass. Continue reading “Team Aqua and Team Magma”