The third set of Pokémon remakes, are the most vibrant and beautiful in the series to date, giving Hoenn a facelift that retains much of the original layout with several tweaks implemented in between. The Gyms of the region are no different, with most keeping a similar layout and puzzle to their original Ruby and Sapphire counterparts albeit with a new aesthetic that makes them immediately more engaging and with that making each Gym sit comfortably between recycling the old and trying something new. However which gyms ultimately stand out this time more than the rest…
Best #1 – Petalburg City Gym
It seems only right that our father’s gym stand out as one of the best in the games. Feeling the most similar to its Ruby and Sapphire counterpart, Petalburg Gym is a traditional Japanese dojo with several rooms separated by sliding doors lying between us and the Gym Leader. Each room has a single trainer inside who focuses on a specific stat that has been outlined to us upon entry. That said trainer will then use battle items such as X Attack or Dire Hit to ensure that their chosen stat exceeds all expectations, meaning we would have to change our battle style in order to accommodate these dramatic changes. Once that trainer is defeated we’re given a choice of two new rooms we’d like to challenge next. The trainers inside aren’t necessarily the most challenging in the game but certainly if we did not keep our wits about us their increased stats could surprise us and leave us with more fainted Pokémon than we perhaps bargained for (think about how scary a One-Hit KO move can be when they have the misfortunate of connecting!) However knowing how Pokémon stats works and how best to tackle them is what makes this gym so interesting. The puzzle itself rests entirely in battle rather than an external distraction which makes each trainer battle seem more engaging. This theme also runs into the Gym Battle with Norman whose team could quite easily bowl over an amateur Pokémon trainer but can be completely taken advantage of by an experience one. I employed the old Spikes and Roar tactics on him and his Pokémon hardly touched mine. Petalburg City Gym is all about how well we know Pokémon battling at this point in the game meaning it can either be a cake walk or a nightmare. Either way obtaining the Basic Badge is a truly satisfying experience, especially when our father is the opponent to overcome.
Best #2 – Sootopolis City Gym
Indeed the final gym in the games is also one of the best however for a largely different reason to Petalburg City Gym. Out of all the Gyms in the Hoenn region, Sootopolis City Gym has the only somewhat challenging puzzle on offer. Trainers have to unlock the next staircase in order to get closer to the Gym Leader by stepping on a complete set of icy tiles once; step on any twice and we’ll go tumbling down into the water below where the Gym Trainers lie in waiting. It can be quite rewarding to reach the final Gym Leader without facing any trainers along the way but we’ve got to first get over these icy tiles which can often trip us up at the last moment. It’s by no means a university challenge setup, it is quite easy to get to Wallace, but it’s a nice change that charging ahead full throttle doesn’t necessarily work and we are forced to stop and think it through before starting on the tiles. The Gym’s aesthetic this time certainly inspires water more than the ice of its original Generation III counterpart, with waterfalls coating the walls and pools of water filling the ground level, all suiting Wallace’s tastes for the artful side of the Water-Type. His team again isn’t the most difficult to overcome and the focus on the Water-Type after being at sea full of Water-Type Pokémon is a little tedious so this Gym certainly doesn’t stand on this list for the battling side of things. It is simply the puzzle at hand that remains interesting and shows that perhaps it would be something quite interesting for a dungeon setup in a later generation of Pokémon.
That’s it for the best Hoenn Gyms, check in on Wednesday for the Worst the region has to offer.