We're hoovering up all the unique pokémon in the main series games going all the way back to Pokémon Sapphire. Here's the introduction to the series, clearing out Pokémon Fire Red, Pokémon Colosseum, Pokémon XD Gale of Darkness and most recently a quick pit stop review of the Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald grab-bag spinoff games with pokémon unlockable for the main games. 

Our fifth entry in this blog series goes back to the earliest released game you can still transfer pokémon up from, 2002/2003's Pokémon Sapphire Version for the Game Boy Advance. As I explained in the Fire Red post, there's both a) lots to do and b) SOME SERIOUS ISSUES in Sapphire due to the age of my game cartridge so I was keen to clean up in all the other games in the third generation first and then end this generation in the OG game. Before I get into these trials and tribulations, however, an overview. 

LOCATION: Hoenn region (first time around). 

SITREP: Pokedex: 384/386 (no Celebi or Deoxys). Playtime: 409 hours. Money: $586023(!). Items: Some full heals all the flutes, a couple of STAB boosting held items, a lax incense and luckily a sun stone. In game team; a bunch of low level HM using pokes and what looks like a half-hearted attempt at starting to collect an in-game Hoenn dex (again). 
OBJECTIVE 1: Pokémon Sapphire is relatively straight-forward when it comes to legendary pokémon. There's the box legendary, in Sapphire's case Kyogre, the original three regis, Rayquaza and the version exclusive of the eon pair, Latias. The other one of the Latias/Latios pair was available by obtaining an eon ticket by scanning an e-reader card or by mixing records with somebody who had it. Alas, being from the UK such a thing never made it here. Happily, all the legendaries under this OT were present and correct in HOME, I breathed a sigh of relief in particular for the Latias as it's another roaming 'mon *RAIKOU FLASHBACKS*.

OBJECTIVE 2: There are just three in-game trades in Pokémon Sapphire, Elyssa's Makuhita for a Slakoth, Darrell's Skitty for a Pikachu and Lane's Corsola for a Bellossom. I'd actually already swung through Sapphire to check trades for when I was doing the 100 battle challenge in XD. I'd already traded and evolved the Makuhita back in the day, now in HOME but hadn't done the other two. One Pikachu hunt later and I'd traded for a Skitty called SKITIT. The last trade, a Bellossom for a Corsola, is hands-down one of the worst in-game trades across the series and for a minute I thought I'd genuinely have to give up on it. Back in the GBA games, evolution stones, one is needed to evolve a Bellossom were incredibly rare and limited. Weirdly, Corsola are easily found and caught in the game making this trade feel unfair or totally unneccessary. Fortunately, I still had a random sun stone rattling around on XD so caught an Oddish, evolved it with the stone and added a Corsola named COROSO to the team. Yay. 

OBJECTIVE 3: Ribbons. Here where's the wheels begin to fall off of this objective for the challenge a bit. There are a whopping 25(!) ribbons available in Sapphire & Ruby. These games introduced contests to the series, think pokémon beauty pageants, which have popped up in varying formats across later games in the series. There are four contest ribbons available in five categories; normal, super, hyper and master ranked ribbons in the beauty, cool, cute, smart and tough categories. Then for pokémon which earn every one of the master ribbons with an especially high score compared to fellow NPC competitors, one can earn the artist ribbon as reward for being chosen as a sketch model in the Lilycove City art gallery. Sapphire introduces the effort ribbon for when a pokémon max out their effort values for the first time. There's the champion ribbon earned by beating the Elite Four, the identical ribbon is also alternatively available in Pokémon Fire Red. Lastly there are a pair of battle tower ribbons earned by beating 50 trainers and 100 trainers in a row in the battle tower respectively. 

The Trouble with Ribbons 

With the legendary pokémon cleared out already and in-game trades easily done thanks to a lucky spare sun stone, getting some of the ribbons is by far the biggest challenge here. The effort ribbon is readily available in a number of subsequent games so I wasn't too worried about EV training the saved guys in order to earn this here. The Elite Four, championed by good ol' Steven, are thankfully not too challenging so it was easy to pull everyone through. The rest, however...

No Contest

The contest ribbons were extremely, not slightly, more challenging. Contests have two phases, a visual contest which is based on a pokémon's condition which can be augmented by feeding pokémon pokéblocks, special sweets which are blended from berries, which have to be grown and harvested. Different pokémon benefit more from different pokéblocks depending on their nature, the rarity of the berries used and how well berries are blended in a rhythm minigame, ideally played with three other players to make the best blocks. The second phase of the competition is quite a clever turn based game where you and the other three competitors use moves in different combinations to earn the most attention from judges. Again, this is somewhat complicated as each pokémon's moves have a category: beauty, smart etc. moves have different outcomes depending on when they are used and moves matching the category earn more stars than moves which don't. In short, mastering competitions is a HUUUUUGE ball ache, made even more challenging by the fact that my copy of Sapphire's internal battery had run dry, meaning that timed events in the game no longer function. Crucially for contests the planting, watering and harvesting berries no longer works on a dry cart battery, even if I wanted to go through all the steps to make competitive pokéblocks. Secondly, pokéblocks, especially more effective ones needed to secure the most contest points are easier to engineer with three other players, with three GBA games and threes GBAs but... that ship has long sailed. Lastly, and here's the kicker, all of the contest ribbons from generation III and generation IV get condensed into one Contest Memory Ribbon in generation VI. If a pokémon has all 20 Ruby/Sapphire contest ribbons and all 20 Diamond/Pearl ribbons, the contest memory ribbon is gold. Otherwise it is purple. With this in mind, considering how impossible really acing the contests was going to be without other players, berries and the full flexibility of augmenting moves for a whole bunch of pokémon, I decided that I'd only be earning one contest ribbon on each pokémon, which will appear as a purple contest memory ribbon in generation VI and ultimately, there was no way I was going to be able to earn the artist ribbon for one, let alone a dozen or so guys. 

If that wasn't disheartening enough there was a problem with earning the battle tower ribbons too. Winning 50 battles in a row is difficult. 100 is a serious, serious challenge and one of the crowning accomplishments in any pokémon game. If that wasn't challenging enough, the 50 battles in a row can only be attempted by pokémon at level 50. The 100 battles must be attempted by pokémon at level 100 and unlike later games, levels aren't automatically scaled. This meant that already some of my team weren't eligible for the level 50 battle tower as they were too high level. In the old GBA games, levelling pokémon up to level 100 is also extremely time consuming. Like the contests, there was just no way I'd be able to do this for a team of pokémon I'd specifically trained, used all my unique items on augmenting and thinking about strategy let alone a rag-tag team of lesser used pokémon with mediocre stats. Like the contest ribbons, in later games these all get merged into a Battle Memory Ribbon, again with two different colours depending on if the pokémon has beaten not just two, but eight different battle towers across, the generation III and IV games, including WiFi battles which are no longer available. Seriously, if you see someone with legitimate gold battle or contest memory ribbons, they are true heroes amongst mortals. With this in mind, I was content just to try to earn one battle tower ribbon on each pokémon to unlock the standard tier battle memory ribbon and the battle tower in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl appeared to be the easier one. The pokémon in the gen IV games are auto levelled at the battle tower making threading that needle a bit easier and the easiest to earn 'just' needs 21 wins in a row, not the ludicrous, not to mention tedious 50 in a row slogfest. 

True ribbon masters among you may think that I've copped out of OBJECTIVE 3 above but hey listen, it's my arbitrary challenge and my arbitrary ruleset plus even being driven to get this stuff done, I just didn't fancy my chances getting such amazing pokémon as Farfetch'd and Skitty through the gruelling battle towers in this life time or even the next.  

So with a few in-game trades picked up, a handful of ribbons earned and many, many more written off, it was off to Sinnoh and the fourth generation of pokémon games. 

Ragtag Team of Muffins

For those of you keeping track this is who is in the caravan outta town:A Farfetch'd called CH'DING, a Nidoran(F) called MS. NIDO, a Nidorina called NINA, an Electrode called ESPHERE (it's still a cool name), a Tangela called TANGENY a Mr. Mime called MIMIEN, a Raikou called Corrs, Duking's Plusle, Shuckle, Meditite and Larvitar and a Skitty called SKITIT and a Corsola called COROSO newly scooped up from Sapphire. I'd also trained a Metagross called Metaboss and a Salamence called Batto up in preparation for the battle tower in Sapphire. Although it wasn't to be, they might be of some use in Generation IV's battle tower and Elite Four so they came along too. 

Next time: Success in Sinnoh?


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