As part of our celebration of 25 years of Pokémon, we've explored memorable video game moments from shining Sinnoh, unique Unova, beautiful Kalos, sunny Alola, and wild Galar. Continue your tour of the Pokémon world with some of the Hoenn region's most memorable video game moments, places, and characters. Introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire and continued in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, the Hoenn region is full of opportunities for adventure. Looking back on 25 years of epic Pokémon battles, beloved friendships, and dastardly villains, it's difficult to choose the very best. So, while everyone's favorite Pokémon, location, and challenge might be different, here are some of the iconic moments that help distinguish and define the Hoenn region.
While earlier generations introduced and iterated on traditional Pokémon battles, the Hoenn region was the first to offer Trainers the opportunity to compete in Pokémon Contests. Trainers—referred to in contests as Coordinators—compete to determine which Pokémon achieves the greatest score in one of five different categories: Beauty, Cleverness, Coolness, Cuteness, or Toughness. Variations of these Pokémon Contests appear in other games with names like Pokémon Super Contests or Pokémon Contest Spectaculars, but it all started in Hoenn.
Pokémon Contests take place in buildings called Contest Halls and the competition circuit takes Coordinators across the Hoenn region. Any aspiring Coordinator's contest adventure begins in Verdanturf Town. From there, successful competitors can travel to Fallarbor Town, sojourn in Slateport City, and take their final trek to Lilycove City. Coordinators can earn ribbons by winning contests, and with enough wins, they can move up in rank from Normal to Super to Hyper and, finally, to the rank of Master.
In addition to being a new way to interact with the Pokémon world, Pokémon Contests offer an exciting opportunity to participate in fun activities like preparing Pokéblocks. To prepare Pokéblocks, Coordinators use a Berry Blender and different types of Berries to increase desired conditions like Coolness or Toughness. For example, Coordinators that want a Cool Pokémon use red, spicy-tasting Berries to raise their Pokémon's Coolness condition. Blending Pokéblocks to ensure your Pokémon is the toughest in town is a unique experience we'll always remember.
Nearly every Pokémon core series video game features a cheerful mother wishing her child well as they set off on their Pokémon journey. Noticeably absent is the player character's father—with one exception. In the Hoenn region, the protagonist has a father named Norman who's as passionate about Pokémon as the player.
Norman works as the Gym Leader of Petalburg City. As a Normal-type Pokémon expert, he gives the Balance Badge to Trainers who defeat him. Norman battles with a Slaking and takes his role very seriously, refusing to battle the protagonist until they have successfully acquired four Gym Badges. Other characters insist that Norman “lives for Pokémon,” which explains where the player character gets their love of Pokémon—the Berry doesn't fall far from the plant!
With his understated design and no-nonsense approach to battling, Norman might not be the flashiest character among Pokémon's colorful history of dynamic Gym Leaders, but being the only protagonist's father to appear in the core series makes Norman anything but normal.
Hoenn is known for its abundance of water, which becomes a core theme within the Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire games. The region boasts several islands, water routes, and even diving opportunities for seafaring Pokémon Trainers. The importance of water extends to many of the new Pokémon introduced in the third generation.
Of this region's many Water-type Pokémon, Kyogre is undeniably the most significant to the video games' story. In addition to being known as the most powerful Water-type Pokémon to exist in any region, the Sea Basin Pokémon is credited with filling the seas that helped form the Hoenn region. Kyogre is also at the center of villainous Team Aqua's plot to cover the world in water.
But Kyogre is far from the only compelling Water-type Pokémon introduced in Hoenn. The mighty Swampert evolves from the ever-likeable Mudkip, one of the first partner Pokémon available to Hoenn Trainers. Stunningly beautiful Milotic, which evolves from the unlikely Feebas, was also first discovered in Hoenn. Joining them on the extensive list of notable Water-type Pokémon found in Hoenn are Sharpedo, Wailord, Spheal, and Walrein. With a loyal Swampert at your side and a raging Kyogre to face in battle, the Hoenn region makes it impossible to overlook the power and beauty of Water-type Pokémon.
Who doesn't love a personal hideout? Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire introduced Secret Bases—a unique area where Trainers can decorate the space and plot their next move within the Hoenn region. The Secret Base feature is accessible to Trainers who utilize TM43 to learn the move Secret Power. From there, Trainers will be able to find areas along the region's routes that can be converted into a Secret Base. For example, they might find indents in a wall that can be carved into a cozy cave, or a tall tree with vines that can be pulled down for a happy hideaway. Because each space has a different size and shape, no two Secret Bases are the same.
Trainers can fill their Secret Base with all manner of treasures, including: desks, chairs, mats, plants, bricks, beds, slides, stairs, Berry Blenders, candlesticks, TVs, scrolls, cardboard boxes, tents, posters, dolls, and more. Trainers can also visit each other's Secret Bases, which offers the opportunity to pick up Special Skills. These Special Skills include the chance to get your Pokémon massaged, help Eggs hatch more quickly, search for treasure, and exercise to help train your Pokémon. Secret Bases aren't just wicked cool places to hang out—they allow you to pick up items that can help along your journey through the Hoenn region.
Most regions have a single villainous team that focuses its efforts on a specific goal—usually involving Pokémon. Hoenn, however, boasts double the villainy with Team Magma and Team Aqua.
You might think that having two villainous organizations would result in double trouble for the region's residents. But more often than not, the two teams wind up thwarting each other's nefarious schemes. This is because Team Magma's goal is to expand the world's landmass, while Team Aqua wants to increase the amount of water in the world. More specifically, Team Aqua intends to awaken Kyogre to destroy civilization and return the world to an earlier state for the benefit of Pokémon. Meanwhile, Team Magma plots to use Groudon to create more land where humans can build and further develop civilization.
In the games, Team Magma grunts fight with Pokémon including Zubat, Koffing, and Poochyena, as well as Ground- and Fire-type Pokémon like Numel. The team is led by Maxie, who oversees the Magma Hideout in Lilycove City or the Jagged Pass, depending on the game. Team Aqua grunts also work with Zubat and Poochyena, but they tend to focus on Water-type Pokémon like Carvanha and Wailmer. The team is led by Archie, whose style resembles a pirate, and whose hideout is in Lilycove City.
While neither team successfully achieves its vision of reshaping the world utilizing Legendary Pokémon, there's no denying that their influence helped shape the video games set in the Hoenn region. In particular, their machinations result in two highly memorable weather conditions: extremely harsh sunlight and heavy rain. Groudon's emergence causes the battlefield to be hit with intense sunshine, while Kyogre's emergence causes the battlefield to be besieged by unrelenting rainfall. Both scenarios were unprecedented when they first occurred, making the experience difficult to forget.
It's all but impossible to capture everything that makes the Hoenn region notable in a five-item list, so here are some other elements that stand out. To start, the region boasted unforgettable, original city designs. Most remarkable among these is undoubtedly Fortree City, which is essentially a treehouse town complete with rope bridges. Could anything possibly be cooler? No, but New Mauville gives it a run for its money. Originally planned to be entirely indoor city, it now sits abandoned beneath Mauville and resembles an empty shopping mall. Then there's Pacifidlog Town, a settlement comprised of floating houses in the middle of the sea. And Sootopolis City is located inside a giant crater, which is pretty awesome indeed.
Hoenn also boasts one of the most difficult Pokémon-catching experiences of all time: the elusive Feebas. The Fish Pokémon can only be caught on Route 119, which is mostly water. More specifically, Feebas can only be caught on six spaces which are randomly determined and change over time. Basically, this means that to catch a Feebas in Pokémon Ruby or Pokémon Sapphire, Trainers pretty much had to attempt to fish on every single available spot along Route 119.
Hoenn video games also task Trainers with learning some Braille if they want to catch Regirock, Regice, and Registeel. The quest to catch them is epic, requiring Trainers to decode Braille messages to reveal the locations where the Legendary trio rest. Trainers also had to catch Wailord and Relicanth, as well as travel to a series of cities, among other daunting tasks. The difficulty of the quest, especially in a time that preceded internet game walkthroughs, is impossible to overstate, but it certainly made for a memorable experience.
There's still more to see on our tour through the world of Pokémon. Check back soon—we'll be heading to the Johto region next as we continue to celebrate 25 years of Pokémon!
And don't miss our previous Pokémon region retrospectives! They're filled with incredible moments and tons of memories.