Generation III: Criticized too often?
The "bashing" of Hoenn, its Pokémon and Generation III is a general trend I have noticed ever since I joined the online Pokémon community, however it questionable whether it is really justifiable.
Even as we play our long-awaited Gold and Silver remakes, there is one thing many of us often forget: that they are sequels. Not just sequels to any Pokémon games, but to the originals, the ones which started it all and despite their many errors, will always have a special place in our hearts. Generation II was so popular precisely because it was able to fix the majority of the mistakes of the first generation, and add in a great deal of new features, while retaining its classic pocket-monsters. It wasn't just many Kanto Pokémon who returned in the GSC games, also back came the same villainous team, many NPC's including Prof. Oak and Bill, and finally at the end of the game the original region itself.
This couldn't last forever, of course, because the series needed to move on. When Game Freak started working on Ruby and Sapphire, the first of the third generation games, they must have decided very early on that it would ditch many of the staples of the previous two generations. When you look at how much is shared between the RBY and GSC games, you realise just how bold a move this was, and it becomes clear that it would have been difficult to do this without upsetting a large proportion of the fandom in one way or another.
Hoenn was step above the two regions that had preceded it, something that hit me recently when I was playing my version of HeartGold: I realized how cramped much of Johto is compared to the spaciousness found in both Hoenn and Sinnoh. The region of the third generation was also much more beautiful and contained several new environments including a desert and volcanic area, which had never graced a Pokémon region before. Also, the Hoenn region storyline was far more complex and interesting than the simplistic tales of the previous games. Unfortunately, even as a dedicated fan of Generation III, I admit that on average, the Pokémon introduced in the generation weren't of the same high quality of those of the first two. I do believe however that many fans exaggerated the difference between them, partly due to bitterness over the lack of connectivity with the other generations.
Although this was a painful shift, especially for the fandom, the need to update the data structure of the Pokémon themselves was overwhelming. To keep connectivity with the first generation, both gender and shininess had been tied to IV's in the second generation, adding yet more to be determined by these numbers would have led to numerous strange incidents where only certain combination of features were possible, plus left extras such as ribbons impossible. While the move did alienate many fans, I think that the number of fans who supposedly "left the fandom" because of this are overstated: after-all we must remember that Pokémon was losing the super-popularity it had held for the years beforehand anyway, and so sales would be expected to drop regardless.
Some may claim that Generation IV makes the third generation games obsolete, and yes, I admit that most of what Generation III introduced the fourth does better. We must not forget, however, that in reality Generation IV is more actually Generation III+, for compared to what happened previously between generations, precious little other than the split in physical and special moves happened game play wise. When you compare this to breeding, genders, the splitting of the special stat and held items of the second generation and the natures, abilities, double battles and contests of the third, then suddenly the fourth generation is revealed for what it truly is, an evolution rather a revolution.
Returning to my original statement, I believe that the Generation III games deserves more respect than they usually get; while not everything they introduced was perfect, they are the base upon which our modern Pokémon games are built. This generation had to try to remake much of one of the most popular franchises on the entire planet, and considering how much of a task this was I think they had a very good go at it. I know that there are many fans who disagree with this, who believe that the first two generations will always be the best, and that is fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It must be known, however, that there is no consensus view of which Pokémon games are the best or worst, or which features are welcome or unneeded. With the arrival of Generation V in Japan less than a year away, and the possibility of a Ruby/Sapphire remake being considered now by fans everywhere, I hope that Game Freak and Nintendo will take the opinions of the whole Pokémon community into account, rather than just those of loud-mouthed critics.