The Hoenn region in Pokémon 3rd Generation added many of the mechanics that are still used in games today, making it the best in the series.
In the last 25 years, the Pokémon main game series has gone through a lot of changes. Every game has introduced new ways to play the Pokémon series, from pixelated graphics to 3D, and from linear plotlines to open-world environments. Although the inclusion of Wild Areas in Sword and Shield and changes to Gym Challenges in Sun and Moon have made these newer areas stand out, the best Pokémon region is still from a previous generation.
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were released in 2002 for the Game Boy Advance. The Pokémon series’ 3rd generation introduced new starters, Legendary Pokémon, and a map packed with thrilling locations. The Hoenn area improved on the best aspects of Kanto and Johto, such as combat dynamics and storyline requirements, while also adding a greater overall story than the previous two generations of the series.
What distinguished the Hoenn region, however, were additions such as Pokémon’s Secret Bases and Contests. Contests, similar to Gyms, are spread throughout the region, and players must progress through the stages, winning Ribbons. Contests allowed players to use berry growing mechanics to craft Pokéblocks, while also applying Natures and a new degree of value to breeding for unique moves and stats. Secret Bases allowed players to create exclusive homes that they could customize, providing a level of customization previously unavailable in the Pokémon series.
The Hoenn Region of Pokémon was used as a testing ground for the series.
Many mechanics that would appear in later Pokémon generations were tested in the Hoenn region. Larger route maps and new ways to explore these areas were added in Ruby and Sapphire. The longer grass on some routes and the soot collection outside of Mt. Chimney is examples of this. The new HM Dive could also be used to discover the ocean’s depths. While many of these mechanics did not make it into later regions or only appeared in a few generations after Hoenn, they inspired players to experiment with new ideas rather than sticking to the same ones in every title.
Many fan-favorite Pokémon species can also be found in the Hoenn region. Mudkip, Ralts, Zizagoon, Feebas, and Flygon are among them. Unlike later areas like Black and White’s Unova, which saddled the franchise with widely disliked Pokémon like Trubbish, the Hoenn region has an exceptionally impressive list of region-specific Pokémon designs. Although each Pokémon region has contributed to the series in some way, the Hoenn region was the first to introduce many of the mechanics that players enjoy today.