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Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire
Pokemon Ruby NA.jpg
North American box art for Pokémon Ruby
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Game Freak
Publisher(s) Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
Designer(s) Satoshi Tajiri (executive producer)
Junichi Masuda (director)
Artist(s) Ken Sugimori
Composer(s) Junichi Masuda
Go Ichinose
Morichi Aoki
Morikazu Aold
Series Pokémon
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release date(s) JP November 21, 2002[1]
NA March 19, 2003[1]
AUS April 3, 2003[1]
EU July 25, 2003[1]
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: E
PEGI: 3+
Media 128-megabit cartridge

Pokémon Ruby (ポケットモンスター ルビー Poketto Monsutā Rubī?, "Pocket Monsters Ruby") and Pokémon Sapphire (ポケットモンスター サファイア Poketto Monsutā Safaia?, "Pocket Monsters Sapphire") are the third installments of the Pokémon series of role-playing games, developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. The games were first released in Japan in late 2002 and later released to the rest of the world in 2003 (North America, Australia, and Europe). Pokémon Emerald, a special edition version, was released two years later in each region. These three games (Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald), along with Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, form the third generation of the Pokémon video game series, also known as the "advanced generation".

The gameplay is mostly unchanged from the previous games; the player controls the main character from an overhead perspective, and the controls are largely the same as those of previous games. As with previous games, the main objectives are to catch all of the Pokémon in the games and defeat the Elite Four (a group of Pokémon trainers); also like their predecessors, the games' main subplot involves the main character defeating a criminal organization that attempts to take over the region. New features, such as double battles and Pokémon abilities, have been added. As the Game Boy Advance can handle more powerful graphics than its predecessors, four players may be connected at a time instead of the previous limit of two. Additionally, the games can be connected to an E-Reader or other advanced generation Pokémon games.

Ruby and Sapphire received mostly positive reviews, though critics were divided in their assessment of the games, especially on the gameplay and graphics. Most of the complaints focused on the fact that the gameplay had not changed much since previous generations. With the popularity of Pokémon on the decline and the rising popularity of Yu-Gi-Oh! at the time, the games sold less than previous generations. However, they were still commercial successes: with around 13 million copies sold, they are the best-selling games for the Game Boy Advance.



The basic mechanics of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are largely the same as their predecessors'. As with all Pokémon games for hand-held consoles, gameplay is in third-person, overhead perspective and consists of three basic screens: a field map, in which the player navigates the main character; a battle screen; and the menu, in which the player configures his party, items, or gameplay settings. The player begins the game with one Pokémon, and can capture more using Poké Balls. The player can also use his/her Pokémon to battle other Pokémon. When the player encounters a wild Pokémon or is challenged by a trainer to a battle, the screen switches to a turn-based battle screen where the Pokémon fight.[2] During battle, the player may fight, use an item, switch his/her active Pokémon, or flee (the last not an option in battles against trainers). All Pokémon have hit points (HP); when a Pokémon's HP is reduced to zero, it faints and cannot battle until it is revived. If the player's Pokémon defeats the opposing Pokémon (causes it to faint), it receives experience points. After accumulating enough experience points, it may level up; most Pokémon evolve into a new species of Pokémon when they reach a certain level.[3]

Apart from battling, capturing Pokémon is the most essential element of Pokémon gameplay. During battle with a wild Pokémon (other trainers' Pokémon cannot be captured), the player may use a Poké Ball on the wild Pokémon. If successful, the Pokémon will be added to the player's active party (or stored if the player already has the maximum six Pokémon in his party).[4] Factors in the success rate of capture include the HP of the target Pokémon and the strength of the Poké Ball used: the lower the target's HP and the stronger the Poké Ball, the higher the success rate of capture is.[5]


New features

In this double battle, one of the player's Pokémon uses a move against an enemy Pokémon.

The most prominent change in the battle mechanics is the introduction of double battles, in which the opposing parties each use two Pokémon at the same time. Consequently, certain Pokémon moves can affect multiple combatants at once.[6] Also new to the games are innate abilities and natures; the former is shared by every Pokémon of a certain species, while the latter may vary among a particular species. Abilities grant their holders certain powers in battle, such as immunity against certain types of moves or strengthening a certain type of move. Natures, like innate abilities, affect the strength of Pokémon in battle; however, they affect the stats of the Pokémon rather than directly affecting the strength of the moves.[7] Another stat introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire is Condition, an important factor in Pokémon Contests, mini-games in which participants perform moves before a judge. Both Pokémon and their moves have a Condition, which is increased by using Pokéblocks (candies made from berries).[8]

Like Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, Ruby and Sapphire keep track of real-life time; this influences events like tides and berry plant growth. However, unlike their predecessors, Ruby and Sapphire do not differentiate between day and night. Also, due to the differences in the technical specifications of Game Boy link cables and Game Boy Advance link cables, Ruby and Sapphire cannot be linked with Pokémon games of previous generations.[9]

Connectivity with other devices

Ruby and Sapphire have limited e-Reader support. Nintendo released Battle-e Cards, a set of e-Reader cards that contained trainer battles in which the player could see previously-hidden Pokémon.[10] A special e-Reader card called the Eon Ticket was also released; obtained through the Mystery Gift function, the Ticket allows the player to reach a place called Southern Island. There, the player faces either Latios or Latias, depending on which version the player is using.[11]

Ruby and Sapphire are also able to connect to the GameCube games Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon Box. In the former, once players reach a certain point in the game, they are able to transfer Pokémon between Colosseum and Ruby/Sapphire.[12] Additionally, those who pre-ordered Colosseum were able to access the Pokémon Jirachi and see a preview of the movie Pokémon: Jirachi Wish Maker. Box, a so-called Pokémon "Microsoft Office", allows players to store and organize their Pokémon on the GameCube.[13]


Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire take place in Hoenn, a fictional region based on the island of Kyūshū in Japan.[14] The region contains nine cities and six towns along with different geographical locations, all of which are connected by Routes.[15] As in previous games, some areas are only accessible once the player fulfills a certain condition.[16]

Like other Pokémon games, Ruby and Sapphire's gameplay is linear; the main events occur in a fixed order.[17] The protagonist of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire is a child who has recently moved to Littleroot Town. At the beginning of the games, the player chooses either Treecko, Torchic, or Mudkip as his or her starter Pokémon from Professor Birch. His child, the protagonist's rival, is also a Pokémon Trainer and occasionally battles the player.[18] The games' two main goals are defeating the Elite Four to become the new Champion and completing the Pokédex by capturing, evolving, and trading to obtain all 386 Pokémon.[19]

In addition to the main quest of defeating the Gym Leaders, there are side quests in which the player can aid NPCs by fulfilling tasks (usually obtaining items); other side quests involve catching legendary Pokémon. The most prominent subplot involves Teams Aqua and Team Magma, crime syndicates who want to use Pokémon to alter the climate of Hoenn. In Ruby, the villains, Team Magma, want to use the legendary Pokémon Groudon to dry up the oceans of Hoenn; in Sapphire, the Team Aqua are the villains and they try to use Groudon's counterpart, Kyogre, to flood the region.[20]

Shortly before approaching the town of the first Gym Leader, the protagonist first encounters the Team Aqua/Magma in the Petalburg Woods, where he or she rescues a worker from Devon (a company that manufactures Pokéballs) and recovers Devon merchandise.[21] Upon arriving in Fallarbor Town (after defeating the third Gym Leader), the protagonist discovers that Professor Cozmo, an astronomer, has been kidnapped by Aqua/Magma. The protagonist traces them to a cave, Meteor Falls, but is too late to stop them from escaping to Mt. Chimney with a meteorite. The protagonist follows Aqua/Magma to Mt. Chimney where they are preparing to use the meteorite to alter the climate of the region. The protagonist defeats the Team's leader, however, and returns the meteorite to Professor Cozmo.[22] Shortly after the protagonist defeats the fifth Gym Leader, Aqua/Magma again attempts to change the region's climate by stealing a Castform, a Pokémon with the ability to change the weather, from the Weather Institute.[23] After the protagonist defeats the sixth Gym Leader, Aqua/Magma steals an orb with the ability to control a legendary Pokémon (Groudon in Ruby, Kyogre in Sapphire). Aqua/Magma then steals a submarine from Captain Stern in Slateport City; the protagonist, however, infiltrates the team's hideout, but fails to prevent the submarine from being used. Aqua/Magma, then travel with the orb to the Seafloor Cavern, where Groudon or Kyogre resides; the team then uses the orb to awaken the legendary Pokémon. Once awakened, the Pokémon travels to the Cave of Origin and causes a region-wide drought (Ruby) or severe rainstorms (Sapphire). When the protagonist defeats (or captures) the Pokémon, the region's weather returns to normal.[24]


Development director Junichi Masuda

Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were developed by Nintendo EAD with assistance from Game Freak. They started development in August 2001. The game was directed by Nintendo's Tatsuya Hishida and developed by many of the Nintendo EAD staff that worked on the Pokémon Stadium games. As with its hand held predecessors, Ken Sugimori was the art director, although these were the first games in which he did not single-handedly produce all of the art.[25] When asked where his design team came up with the ideas for all of the new Pokémon, Sugimori stated that they get their ideas from past experiences in their childhood involving nature, animals, and the media and then base them on insects. Even looking at the world in a different perspective sometimes provided inspiration for the creatures. Describing the process of creating a Pokémon, Sugimori stated that "first we [the design team] select an insect and after that we add essential elements to the insects to make it more like Pokemon, such as adding some hard shape to it, to be more like steel."[26] Masuda stated that the basic philosophy of all Pokémon games is communication; in the Pokémon series, this is manifested in trading and battling with other people. When asked about the new concept of double battles, the developers noted that they tried to focus more on the original one-on-one battles as the main type of competition and only added the double battles as a "new challenge". They stated that if they receive positive feedback about the double battles, the feature may appear more in future generations.[26]

As the Game Boy Advance was able to handle newer, enhanced graphics, Ruby and Sapphire were the first games in the series that allowed up to four people to share information at one time, as opposed to the previous limit of two. However, the development team used a more basic graphics engine in order to keep the game simple and not overly confusing. The team wanted the games to appeal to a large audience, so the software was designed to be easy enough for younger generations of children to play, but new features were added to bring the veteran gamers back.[26]

The games were the first in the series that did not contain all of the Pokémon from previous generations. Sugimori stated that the team tried to include all the new Pokémon as well as some from previous generations. Masuda stated that he wanted each individual Pokémon to make up to three different cries depending on its mood, but the feature could not be included due to technical limitations.[26]


GBA Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire Music Super Complete
Soundtrack by Junichi Masuda, Go Ichinose, Morichi Aoki, Morikazu Aold[27]
Released April 26, 2003
Label Mediafactory

The audio of Ruby and Sapphire consists entirely of game music; all dialogue is on-screen. The music, composed by Junichi Masuda, Go Ichinose, Morichi Aoki, and Morikazu Aold, is completely instrumental except for two tracks with vocals, "Trick Master" and "Slateport City". The soundtrack of the game was released under the Mediafactory label in Japan on April 26, 2003; the album reached #297 on the Oricon charts and charted for one week.[28]

Release and reception

Promotion and release

The Lugia PT Cruiser offered as a prize for Nintendo's promotional contest

Nintendo did not promote Ruby and Sapphire at the 2002 E3 convention;[29] however, it launched a USD $7 million promotional campaign that lasted from March to May 2003.[30] In addition to rewarding pre-orders of the games with merchandise, Nintendo held a contest in which participants submitted videos of themselves singing the Pokémon theme song with their own re-written lyrics; the grand prize for that event was a Lugia PT Cruiser.[31][32] Later that year, Nintendo launched the EON Ticket Summer Tour, in which 125 Toys 'R' Us stores across the United States offered the Eon Ticket for download from July 19 to September 1.[11][33] Nintendo aired two television advertisements, "Faces" and "Names", on prime-time network, cable, and syndication. "Faces" featured Pokémon juxtaposed with human look-alikes; "Names" featured people shouting out the names of Pokémon and emphasized the fact that the games introduced 100 new Pokémon.[30] Additionally, Nintendo collaborated with United Kingdom beverage brand Vimto to promote the games.[34]

Critical response

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 84% (55 reviews)[35][36]
Metacritic 82% (33 reviews)[37][38]
Review scores
Publication Score B-[39]
Computer and Video Games 9 out of 10[40]
Eurogamer 7 out of 10[41]
GameSpot 8.1 out of 10[42]
GameZone 9.5 out of 10[43]
IGN 9.5 out of 10[44]

The games met with mostly positive reviews. IGN gave them an "Incredible" 9.5 out of 10 rating and awarded them the Editors Choice Award; in 2007, the games were collectively named the tenth best Game Boy Advance game of all time in an IGN article.[45] GameZone also gave the games a 9.5 out of 10 rating and gave the games an Outstanding Award.[43] Gamepro gave the games 5 out of 5 stars and named them Editors Choices.[46] gave the games a 9 of 10, and Gamespot gave the games 8.1 out of 10.[40] Eurogamer and were less enthusiastic about the games however; Eurogamer gave the games 7 out of 10, and 1UP gave the games a B-.[39][41]

Reviewers were divided in their critiques of the games, especially concerning the gameplay and graphics. IGN praised the "deep design" and noted that the addition of features such as double battles greatly increased the strategic aspect of the games. Gamepro also thought that the addition of double battles "add[ed] challenge" and "made the harder battles far more strategic than before—the way the game should be".[46] Likewise, called the gameplay "incredibly compelling and addictive".[40] GameZone noted that the gameplay was more refined and challenging than that of previous titles.[43] However, GameSpot called the games "a cakewalk from start to finish" and claimed that Ruby and Sapphire "don't offer much of a challenge".[42] Eurogamer also felt that the mechanics "[get] very tired, very fast".[41] also felt that the games were formulaic and that double battles were underused.[39] was enthusiastic over the graphics, calling them "gorgeous".[40] Other reviewers were less enthusiastic, however. Gamepro felt that the graphics were only "a fair bit prettier" than those of the Game Boy color games;[46] Gamezone said that the games "still [use] the simple animations and basic character designs that were created for the original, color-less Game Boy".[43] IGN and noted that the graphics had received only a minor upgrade,[39][47] and Eurogamer felt that the graphics had been upgraded to a "functional level at best".[41] The audio was generally well-received: GameZone and Gamespot both felt the audio was catchy; GameZone gave the audio an 8 out of 10 score, saying that while the music "was annoying at times, [...] it's also very good. [...] I found myself humming the music when I wasn't playing". Other complaints included the removal of the time system of Gold and Silver and the inability to import Pokémon from the games of previous generations.[47]


Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were highly anticipated.[48][49] In Japan, they sold 1.25 million units within the first four days of release and were the best-selling games of the 2002 holiday season;[50] sales totaled around 4.4 million within six weeks of release.[51] They also became the first games to sell 2 million copies in Japan since 2001's Final Fantasy X and the first games for a hand-held console to do so since 2000's Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters 4.[52][note 1] In North America, Nintendo moved around 2.2 million units by April 2003 (within one month of the games' North American release) in the region alone.[51] Ruby and Sapphire were the second and third best-selling games, respectively, of 2003.[53] The games enjoyed success in Europe as well. They were the second best-selling games of the holiday season in 2002;[54] even before release, European retailers imported cartridges from the United States to meet the high demand for the games.[55] With around 13 million units sold worldwide, the games are the best-selling titles ever for the Game Boy Advance.[56] However, analysts noted that with "young kids...gravitating toward Yu-Gi-Oh!" at the time, Pokémon's popularity was waning.[57] This was reflected in the games' sales compared to those of previous generations: Red and Blue sold nearly 17 million units worldwide,[58] and Gold and Silver sold a little over 14 million units.[59][60]

Related games

Pokémon Emerald

Pokémon Emerald, featuring Rayquaza on the box art, is the twelfth game in the Pokémon video game series in Japan, and the eleventh in North America and Europe. The game, an updated version of Ruby and Sapphire, was released in Japan on September 16, 2004 as Pocket Monsters Emerald (ポケットモンスター エメラルド Poketto Monsutā Emerarudo?); it was released in North America on May 1, 2005, Australia on June 9, 2005, and Europe on October 21, 2005.[61]

Though the gameplay is largely the same as that of Ruby and Sapphire, Emerald introduces new features. The plot is modified; both Team Magma and Aqua are villains who awaken Groudon and Kyogre respectively. When the two legendary Pokémon begin to battle each other, the protagonist must unleash Rayquaza the legendary Pokémon (pictured on the box cover) to calm them. Some of the game mechanics are changed as well. Though double battles were clearly marked in Ruby and Sapphire, in Emerald, two separate trainers might unite to battle as a pair. After the Elite Four is defeated, the player may re-battle Gym Leaders in a double battle. Also, Pokémon sprites are animated in battle like they were in Pokémon Crystal.[62] Probably the most significant addition is the Battle Frontier, an expanded version of the Battle Tower in Ruby and Sapphire.

Emerald has been generally well-received.[63][64] The game has an aggregate rating of 77% on Game Rankings.[65] Gamespot gave it a 7.5 out of 10;[66] IGN gave it an "Impressive" rating of 8.0 out of a possible 10.[62] Eurogamer, however, gave Emerald a score of 6 out of 10. Though it praised Emerald for looking better than either Ruby or Sapphire and for having harder and longer gameplay, it criticized the game for not even being a "half changed update [...] but more of a director's cut".[67] Emerald was the second best-selling game in the United States of 2005; it sold 6.32 million copies, making it the third-best selling game for the Game Boy Advance.[68] In November 2005, Nintendo Power reported that "Total sales from [Pokémon Emerald] would exceed the value of an actual emerald the size of Neptune. It's true."[69]

Pokémon Box: Ruby and Sapphire

Pokémon Box: Ruby and Sapphire, or simply Pokémon Box, is a spin-off Pokémon game for the Nintendo GameCube console, bundled with a Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable and a Memory Card 59.[70] It was released in Japan on May 30, 2003 and in North America on July 11, 2004,[71] but only through the New York Pokémon Center and its online store.[70] It is no longer available in either location. The game was released in some parts of Europe as Pokémon Memory Magic due to translation problems,[72] and Europeans only could get the game by using points from Nintendo of Europe's loyalty program, or by buying the Pokémon Colosseum Mega Pak.[73]

The game is essentially a storage system for the Game Boy Advance Pokémon games that allows players to trade and store Pokémon that they have caught in Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, and LeafGreen onto a GameCube memory card. Players can then organize and interact with their Pokémon on the GameCube, such as allowing them to mate. Unique Pokémon can also be acquired. Another feature allows the games to be played on the television via the GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable. Options such as taking screenshots of the game are available in this mode.[74] Another addition is the "Showcase", where players can create and display game pieces of Pokémon.[75]

Nintendo referred to the game as "the most exclusive Pokémon software ever offered to North American Pokémon fans,"[76] but it was generally considered to be unnecessary, receiving an aggregate score of 50% on Game Rankings.[77] Craig Harris of IGN gave the game a "Meh" rating of 5.0 out of 10, praising the interface, which makes the organization of Pokémon much easier as compared to the Game Boy Advance interface, as well as the emulator which allows Ruby and Sapphire to be played on the GameCube. He also stated that the game was a good deal due to the inclusion of a Memory Card and Cable. However, Harris cited the "Showcase" as "entirely unnecessary and completely out of place," and said that overall the game lacked much to do. He wrote, "It's targeted specifically for the truly die-hard Pokemon fan, but it requires so many specific elements to actually be useful to anyone."[75] Allgame gave the game three and a half out of five stars.[76]



  1. ^ If the two games are counted as one


  1. ^ Mishiro Town is known as Littleroot Town in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  2. ^ Odamaki is known as Prof. Birch in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  3. ^ Haruka is known as May in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  4. ^ Kotoki Town is known as Oldale in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  5. ^ Literally "Short Pants Youngster", this encounter music plays when encountering trainers called "YOUNGSTER" in the North American English version, all of whom are depicted wearing shorts.
  6. ^ Touka City is known as Petalburg in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  7. ^ Muro Town is known as Dewford in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  8. ^ Kaina City is known as Slateport in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  9. ^ Shidake Town is known as Verdanturf in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  10. ^ Hajitsuge Town is known as Fallarbor in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  11. ^ やまおとこ can be interpreted several different ways, such as "Alpinist" or "Woodsman". The official North American English localization for this game rendered this trainer title as "Hiker".
  12. ^ Work Machines are known as TMs in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  13. ^ Hiwamaki City is known as Fortree in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  14. ^ Minamo City is known as Lilycove in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  15. ^ Literally "Mountain of Ceremonial Bonfires"; Okuribi is known as Mt. Pyre in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  16. ^ Rune City is known as Sootopolis City in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  17. ^ Mezame is known as the Cave of Origin in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  18. ^ Literally "Bikini Older Sister". This Japanese honorific (おねえさん) is also used to address a young girl who is older than the speaker, but not related. The North American English localization for the type of trainer this theme represents was rendered as "Bikini Girl".
  19. ^ Saiyuu City is known as Evergrande City in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  20. ^ Champion Road is known as Victory Road in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire
  21. ^ Daigo is known as Steven Stone in the English-language release of Ruby and Sapphire


  • Game Freak. Pokémon Ruby. (Nintendo). (March 18, 2003)
  • Game Freak. Pokémon Sapphire. (Nintendo). (March 18, 2003)
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  • Hollinger, Elizabeth M. (2003). Pokémon Ruby Version [and] Sapphire Version: Prima's Official Strategy Guide. USA: Prima Games. ISBN 0-7615-4256-6. 


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  3. ^ Pokémon Sapphire Version instruction booklet, p. 35
  4. ^ Pokémon Sapphire Version instruction booklet, p. 37
  5. ^ Pokémon Sapphire Version instruction booklet, p. 32
  6. ^ Hollinger, p.3
  7. ^ Hollinger, p.6
  8. ^ Hollinger, p.76
  9. ^ Pokémon Sapphire Version instruction booklet, p. 50.
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  22. ^ Hollinger, pp. 38–40
  23. ^ Hollinger, p. 45
  24. ^ Hollinger, pp. 61–62
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External links

Further reading

Reviews of the games from mainstream media


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