Let us travel forward in time once again, because thankfully we still can for now. At least this timeline isn't as confusing as the main game's timeline, which even that pails in comparison to something like the Zelda timeline. This is now one year after the events of Gold, Silver and Crystal, and we travel to the pokemon region I know and love, the Hoenn region.
Our story takes place from two perspectives, from two people with two different goals. Ruby, the male trainer from the games, has moved from Goldenrod City to Littleroot Town, as his father Norman is now the Petelberg City Gym Leader. However as soon as he and his mother arrive, Ruby runs away from home with his Poochyena, Ralts and Skitty. Those three may seem like odd picks, but there is a reason for it. For you see, while his father wants him to be a gym leader like him, Ruby dreams of being a Pokemon Contest champion. However, in the bid to escape with the aid of his birthday present, running shoes. Ruby runs into Professor Birch, who is being attacked, and rather then using his pokemon because they would get dirty, Professor Birch lets him use one of the pokemon in his bag, being a Mudkip. The rescue plan, doesn't exactly work and as a result, Ruby ends up getting saved by a "savage girl". Turns out this girl is Professor Birch's assistant and daughter, Sapphire, who dreams of getting all the Hoenn gym badges, and looks down on Ruby because of his view of pokemon. The two agree to a challenge made by Sapphire, to get either all the gym badges (for Sapphire), or all the contest ribbons (for Ruby), and return to Sapphire's Secret Base in 80 days. However, things in the region aren't as they seem. For you see, this does follow Emerald logic to an extent (and I'll get back to him in Febuary). Both Team Magma and Team Aqua are beginning to launch their evil plans to create more land, or create more oceans. So it falls upon Ruby and Sapphire as the regions two pokedex holders, The charmer and The Conquer, to save the region from disaster.
The Ruby & Sapphire arc, in terms of story, feels like a mix of both RBG and GSC (I'm getting sick of using the full names for older arcs). It is far closer to the games themselves, but it also gives it's epic moments and story detours that still feel possible, thanks to an even split of the screen time between Ruby and Sapphire, leading to the two of them getting beautiful character development, including a look at their history together before the arc itself. Ruby focuses on looks, is very shallow, hates to fight in battles. But if need be, he will do what he has to do, and has Norman's battle instincts, leading to a awesome battle between the two of them on Route 119, because one part of the story is Norman hunting down Ruby to bring him home. Sapphire is a fighter, not having a proper education, but thanks to her father's research, she knows a lot about pokemon. She's strong, quick, willing to help pokemon no matter the situation, and thanks to her time in the field, she has heightened senses, for things like smell. But what makes that work even more is that both of them went through an event, which I will spoil in another arc, but for now I'll keep it a surprise, which basically turns them to what they are now, from a reversal of who they are when they were young.
The artwork has gone up in quality too, becoming more dynamic, and only making me want to see this animated even more. Route 119 is a prime example of this, but other examples include Wally (who no, isn't Emerald, he's coming later) getting training at Sky Pillar from Norman, the battle of Sootopolis with Ruby, Sapphire, the gym leaders, the elite 4, the Regi Trio and eventually Rayquaza, trying to stop the battle while Maxie and Archie are possessed by the Red and Blue orbs. It is a massive step forward in comparison to the last three arcs, though I think the reason for that is because this is how the games go, so you feel more of the weight of the situation because if you've played the games, you know what's going to happen, so the build up is to how they do it. This arc is one I highly recommend, as this is one of my favorites. If all goes to plan, next weeks review will make sure that "It all comes together", but if not, then I'll have something else lined up.