the ribbons of generation 3

as promised: here is an update on how reides the shiny horsea's ribbon master challenge has been going! he's been tearin' up both hoenn AND orre, and i have quite a bit to share about how his journey in generation 3 has played out. let's get into it!!!

in my last ribbon master post, i talked about what the ribbon master challenge consists of, what inspired me to hatch reides specifically for the challenge, how hatching reides went and how my storyline playthrough of emerald version went. i left off right after reides attained his first ribbon - the champion ribbon; aka, the ribbon you get for entering the hoenn region's hall of fame. i mentioned that my next step was ev training reides... and that's exactly where i want to start this post off!

ev training pokemon is a fun and relatively time-consuming process. in very, VERY general terms, a pokemon gains at least one ev - or, effort value - after knocking out another pokemon. effort values exist for each of your pokemon's stats - hp, attack, defense, sp attack, sp defense, and speed - and the species of pokemon that you knock out determines the effort value(s) that your pokemon will gain *for* knocking that pokemon out. it's kind of like an invisible bit of experience, linked directly to your pokemon's stats rather than its level. by sending your pokemon out against specific types of pokemon, you can therefore control the evs that your pokemon gains and have a huge impact on its stats. HOWEVER, like experience... effort values also eventually cap out, too - so you can't keep on increasing your pokemon's stats indefinitely. this means that you need to be careful when you ev train by keeping a stat spread in mind for your pokemon. you can read more about ev training here on keep in mind that ev training can have small differences between generations, too - the stuff i talk about for gen3 has been streamlined SIGNIFICANTLY for gen9! but i'll get into that later.

in the case of reides, i wanted him to have an ev spread that maximized his special attack stat and his speed stat. 252 evs is basically the 'cap' for each stat, so this meant that i needed to knock out 252 pokemon that gave 1 special attack ev, then another 252 pokemon that gave 1 speed ev. in addition, i needed to knock out 6 pokemon to make up the last bit of leftover effort value space. i decided to go with hp evs for that! my plan therefore looked like this:

- 252 sp attack: spinda and slugma (route 113, grass) each give 1 sp attack ev.
- 252 speed: wingull (route 104, water) gives 1 speed ev.
- 4 hp: whismur (rusturf tunnel, cave) gives 1 hp ev.

even though reides was my main focus here, as i wanted the effort ribbon for ev training him, i was fully aware that i needed to take on the battle tower for my next two ribbons - namely, the winning ribbon and the victory ribbon. to face those trainers, i'd need a battle-oriented team that could help reides out... which meant ev training those pokemon, too! naturally, there was a bit of a catch to this. in gen3, the battle tower does NOT scale your pokemon down to level 50 for the winning ribbon, which is tied to clearing the level 50 battle challenge. (future gens implemented automatic level-scaling for level 50 challenges, but the ribbons associated with those challenges are different from the gen3 one.) this meant that i couldn't level up any of the pokemon in my battle-oriented team past the level 50 mark. given the nature of ev training, some exp gain was to be expected... so all i could do was hope that knocking out all of those pokemon wouldn't send anyone over the limit.

after reviewing my options, i decided that my battle team would consist of a latios and a metagross. i knew that i could get latios at level 40 and that steven stone would entrust me with a baby beldum in the post-game of emerald. once again firing up eon timer, i rng hunted for a timid latios and an adamant beldum - also aiming for a spread of good ivs. (individual values are a whole other song and dance. they're stats which are inherent to pokemon rather than being something you can influence... or, at least they were until hyper training was introduced in later gens! for more information about those, you can check out bulbapedia's article on them.)

origin the adamant beldum was pretty easy to get my hands on! since they're a static encounter, i could basically save before picking them up and simply reset if i failed.

me picking up my beldum from steven stone's house in mossdeep.
i named it 'origin' as a nod to the steven/wallace ship name - "originshipping"!

as for latios... rng hunting for latios can be quite the ordeal! after doing the eon timer stuff, i couldn't just reach out and grab my latios, already neatly chillin' in a pokeball. i'd have to search for him, as he is a roaming pokemon that appears at random around the hoenn region. then i'd have to capture latios quickly - roaming pokemon love to escape as soon as they can!! - and take a look at his stats to see if i hit the correct frame for him. i decided to speed up the process by keeping a free slot open in my party, so that i wouldn't have to run to the in-game pc to examine him in the pokemon storage box. i also decided that i'd simply master ball him as soon as i ran into him so that he didn't have the chance to run away from me! this video by blisy was a big help to me; even though i wasn't hunting for a shiny, the trick that they shared of going to route 110 was super useful. i also repel tricked for the latios by putting a pokemon that was below level 40 in my party and poppin' a max repel. by hopping on my acro bike in the grass, i could prolong the max repel's influence, too, since the hops don't count as steps but can still spawn encounters. after some back-and-forth between the small cycling-related building and that patch of grass, i'd run into latios... and, after quite a few resets, i finally ran into my perfect timid lad.

albatross, my latios!
i named him after the bird, because i think they're super cool.
check out the mythology related to albatrosses if you ever get the chance, hehe.

this trio - origin, albatross, and reides - would serve as my battle tower gang. i knew i could raise albatross with the same spread i had in mind for reides, which worked out perfectly, because another fun thing about ev training is that... the exp share helps with it! any pokemon who gains experience from knocking out another pokemon gains the corresponding evs associated with that pokemon. (this is why ev training is insanely easy in gen9, as you can easily ev train a whole PARTY of pokemon at once.) another perk to the exp share method was that the exp gained from those battles would be split between the pokemon facing the opposing pokemon as well as the pokemon holding the exp share in my party. with the higher-levelled albatross in the lead, i handed the exp share to reides and got to work.

the respective sites of my ev training: route 113 and route 104!
many spindas, slugmas and wingulls were battled here...
shoutout to them for aiding us on our ribbon master quest!!
(also to the 6 whismurs in rustboro tunnel LMAO)

i had a lot of fun ev training albatross and reides in sp attack in particular, as i saw a lot of really interesting spinda patterns. i had to fight the urge to catch each and every single one that i saw, to be honest... but i gave into said urge when i saw this spinda, which i thought had a pattern reminiscent of florida on its forehead.

florida the spinda!

anyway, after spending a LOT of time counting encounters and gathering up those evs on albatross and reides, they finally met my ev training goal. thankfully, neither of them even hit the level 50 mark, so my plan to use them in the 50 battle challenge was intact. however, reides the horsea DID gain enough experience to evolve into reides the seadra!

reides the horsea evolves into reides the seadra and enters his edgy phase.

we paid a visit to slateport and talked to the woman in the market who was blessed with the supernatural gift of being able to tell if your pokemon is fully ev trained or not. her maximized-effort-value sense tingled when she saw reides, and so he got a lovely ribbon for all the work that he put in. (never mind that he was relaxing in my party with a weird hat on while albatross went on his rampage.)

second ribbon acquired!

naturally, i picked up the effort ribbon for albatross, too. i then had to ev train origin the beldum. deciding to do the ol' exp share trick once more, as i figured the more optimally ev trained pokemon, the better, i decided to go pick up a cute little adamant bagon from meteor falls so that i could train two pokemon at once. while she wouldn't be part of my battle challenge this time around, fangs the bagon marked the final rng hunt of my emerald file. i also had a different ev spread in mind for fangs and origin, instead opting for this one:

- 252 attack: poochyena (route 103, grass) gives 1 attack ev.
- 252 speed: zigzagoon (route 103, grass) and wingull (route 104, water) give 1 speed ev.
- 4 hp: whismur (rusturf tunnel, cave) gives 1 hp ev.

again, a battle of epic proportions occurred. origin and fangs were soon fully ev trained. after picking up their respective effort ribbons, i shifted gears towards readying my original trio for the battle tower. i levelled them all up to level 50, evolving origin fully into a metagross as they gained experience.

at this point, i didn't want to invest too much into reides' moveset, as i knew that i would be taking him through the contests later on. this meant not spending any of the single-use tms on him just yet. i went out of my way to get albatross and origin prepared, however. using the advice provided in athis' ribbon handbook, i put these movesets on my pokemon:

albatross (lvl 50 timid latios)
- psychic
- dragon claw*
- thunderbolt
- ice beam

origin (lvl 50 adamant metagross)
- earthquake
- metal claw
- shadow ball*
- explosion

* = to be changed in gen4 due to the special attack / physical attack changes that were implemented

once everyone was all ready, we hopped on the s.s. tidal and zoomed on over to the battle frontier.

arriving at the battle frontier!

it was then time to BATTLE. first up was the winning ribbon, which, like i said before, is awarded to your team for completing the lvl 50 battle tower challenge. this means maintaining a winstreak against 56 trainers in a row, with save point breaks after every 7 trainers. the battles in this tower are pretty damn wack, as the trainers have some... interesting pokemon. blisseys that spam evasion-boosting moves, pokemon that have an uncanny aptitude for landing moves that shouldn't be all that accurate with DEADLY precision (including the ohko moves), the works. everyone swears that the ai is stacked against you in emerald version in particular - with many people actually recommending that you just trade your pokemon over to ruby or sapphire instead, where the ai is apparently waaay more merciful - so i was very nervous about taking this challenge on in my copy of emerald version.

now, i'm not sure if i just got really lucky (albatross' ice beam actually froze one of the blisseys that i encountered, thus preventing it from stalling me out), or if the way i trained my pokemon was just That Good, but i managed to get through the lvl 50 challenge on my first try. i saved some of the fun little dialogues from this tower challenge.

during my challenge, i also faced salon maiden anabel of LEGEND. she actually almost broke my streak - but reides was able to clutch out a win against her entei.

after winning against 56 trainers in a row, reides got his third ribbon.

my time in the battle tower wasn't up, though, as i also had the victory ribbon to nab. this ribbon is granted to pokemon who emerge victorious in yet another streak of 56 battles - albeit in the battle tower's OTHER challenge mode. while ruby and sapphire have a level 100 division in addition to the level 50 one, emerald has an open level division in addition to the level 50 one, instead. this means that, in emerald version, you don't need to raise your pokemon to level 100 for this next marathon of battles. you can just raise your pokemon to level 60. this reduces the move pool at your opponents' disposal! it also meant that i could alter origin's moveset a little bit, as they learned meteor mash at level 55.

origin (lvl 60 adamant metagross)
- earthquake
- meteor mash
- shadow ball*
- explosion

* = to be changed in gen4 due to the special attack / physical attack changes that were implemented

once again, i dove right into the battle challenge. a couple of npcs stood out to me as i took on the open level challenge, too.

in addition to this future-mother, i had a really cool encounter: a full-odds uncatchable shiny quilava!

while i couldn't snatch this lad for myself, it was still AWESOME to encounter him!

eventually, i managed to clear the 56-streak challenge for the open level division. this meant that reides got the second (and final!) battle-related ribbon for generation 3.

i was extremely nervous about taking on the battle tower challenges, as it was my very first time attempting ANYTHING in rse's battle frontier. as a kid, i didn't even poke around at it... so, needless to say, getting through the battles was a massive relief. it made all of the team-building and ev training totally worth it. before leaving the battle frontier, i picked up a little treat with the bp that i got for winning so many battles in a row.

a totodile doll for my secret base!

once the battle ribbons were taken care of, it was finally time to dig into my most-anticipated part of my ribbon master journey: the generation 3 contests.

there are 5 contest categories in generation 3 - cool, beauty, cute, smart and tough - and four ranks for each of these categories - normal, super, hyper and master. each contest can be broken into two parts. in the first part, your pokemon is judged based on its apperance in accordance to these categories. in the second part, your pokemon is judged based on the moves - or 'appeals' - that it presents to the contest judge.

the appeal portion of the contests isn't linked to your pokemon's species, however. rather, it's linked to your pokemon's condition. each pokemon has cool, beauty, cute, smart and tough characteristics as part of its overall condition, and each of these characteristics can change in accordance to the type of pokeblocks that you feed it. for example, if you feed your pokemon a spicy pokeblock, it will increase your pokemon's cool condition stat.

this means that, before you take a particular contest challenge, you'd need to make the suitable pokeblocks to improve your pokemon's condition *for* that contest. furthermore, in gen3, there's actually a cap to how many pokeblocks you can give to one pokemon. once you hit that cap and max out your pokemon's 'sheen', you have no means of improving on it. (...unless you transfer it out of gen 3, as, in omega ruby and alpha sapphire, you can actually max out your pokemon's condition without worrying about sheen. however, once a pokemon leaves gen3, it can't go back into it by legitimate means.) since i needed reides to have a condition that was good enough to beat the master rank in all five contest categories, i needed to make special pokeblocks for him. pokeblocks that i couldn't hope to make in emerald version alone. i didn't have access to an e-reader or the much-coveted e-reader exclusive, nutpea berry, so...

that's where pokemon colosseum comes in. by grinding mt battle for pokecoupons, i could gain access to special, super-rare berries that i could then trade over to emerald for pokeblock-making purposes. i decided to give reides a tried-and-tested pokeblock assortment consisting of pokeblocks made from 1 salac berry, 3 petaya berries, 5 kelpsy berries, 1 hondew berry, and 1 more final salac berry. i could find the 5 kelpsy berries and the hondew berry easily in my emerald file, but the salac and petaya berries were colosseum-exclusive. since each of these berries goes for 15k pokecoupons a pop - and i needed 5 of them - i had to grind mt battle for a whopping 75k pokecoupons. to give you an idea of how long this would take: one full, 100-battle run of mt battle in story mode gives 6.9k pokecoupons, so... you know. (on the bright side, you CAN grind out the 1k areas over and over again once you beat them at least once in a previous story challenge.) i needed to take reides through all 100 battles in mt battle's story mode so that he could get the earth ribbon, so i figured that i could do at least part of this grind with him. i had to get to colosseum's post-game before i could actually send reides over, though. so i put one night aside and settled in to wrap up my playthrough and unlock the link trade option.


the very night i buckled in for some Peak Gaming... i'm talking intense, multiple-hours-long gaming... something AWFUL happened.

the pokemon colosseum file that i was working so very hard on whenever i wanted a break from emerald version... suddenly ran into an error. when i tried to save my game (in one of the final areas of the plot, no less!), i got a message saying that the save file had been corrupted - and that the only way to amend this would be to delete said save and make a new one. this meant starting over again entirely.

to say i was horrified is an understatement, as i went through a similar ordeal with my first playthrough of emerald prior to getting reides. i have NO IDEA what caused the corruption, as i was playing as normal and my memory card as a whole seemed perfectly fine otherwise. but i wasn't about to just follow the on-screen instructions and DELETE my beloved colosseum file. i wouldn't be resigned to a fate of reclaiming YET ANOTHER party of pokemon... not without a fight, anyway. i had already done two mt. battle grinds to the 90s from training my storyline team alone, and i was so very close to the post-game. i immediately began researching ways of saving my corrupted data. admittedly, my hopes were low - but, surprisingly, i found ANSWERS.

this is the part of my post where i gotta give a HUUUUGE shoutout to absolblogspokemon! matt posted a video about how he saved his corrupted pokemon xd and colosseum files, and, by following the process that he talked about in that video (involving gamecube memory manager and pkmngctools; more HUUUUGE shoutouts to everyone involved in putting these absolutely INCREDIBLE tools together), i was able to do the same for my colosseum file!!!

you have no idea how happy i was to see this instead of the memory card error.
i literally took a picture of it, HAHA.

everything was saved - from my party to my storyline progress to the amount of pokecoupons that i managed to scrounge up. please check the video out and give it a little Thumbs Up even if you didn't face this horrible problem, because it seriously is beyond helpful for anyone who runs into it and is also REALLY easy to implement. while this is unrelated to my ribbon master challenge, i definitely recommend looking into homebrewing your wii so that you can gain access to ways of backing up your saves in the event of Something Happening. i was able to back up my cherished childhood acgc town by using gcmm (which i also used to save my colosseum data!), so that alone makes me a little thankful that the chaos unfolded.

hilariously enough, i had a funny little moment prior to this happening. while i was training my battle tower team up to level 50, i ran into three absols in a row and joked that it felt like a bad omen, given absol's canonical lore of signifying upcoming disasters and it's somewhat rare 8% encounter rate. i can't help but think that the absol encounters both warned me about this upcoming colosseum disaster while ALSO giving me the answer as to how to fix it!

at any rate, i progressed as planned and finished up pokemon colosseum's storyline.

eagun's iconic e-mail; his message got cut off past this point...

he was still very proud about it.

also, his very cute pikachu.

once i got to colosseum's post-game, it was time to get reides ready for his trip to the orre region. at the very last minute, i realized that i could evolve reides, as trading between the gamecube and gba games still counts as a link trade. it meant that i had to scramble on over to meteor falls with a fainted nincada (for its ability, compound eyes, which increases the chances of held items on wild encountered pokemon) and my sharpedo which knew thief. i stole a dragon scale off my fifth bagon encountered and gave it to reides.

with that handled, it was time to trade reides over!

my setup, featuring my childhood gamecube controller
and my highly decorated childhood gameboy advance sp.

here are some more pictures that i took of the transfer process.

it was so cool to see all of the gamecube-style portraits for my team!

the preview status screen for seadra-reides.

trading over my bold suicune, persana, for reides.

since seadra evolves into kingdra once it's traded while holding a dragon scale, reides found himself evolving yet again! i was super happy that it worked, as, before, i was planning on evolving him in generation 4.

reides the shiny kingdra, in all his gamecube-era glory!

reides finally attained his true, purple forme. it was so cool to see him in 3d, too. kingdra is such a majestic pokemon and adding the shiny coloration to an already-stellar design is just... wow!

anyway, reides the shiny KINGDRA!!! joined my pokemon colosseum team and took on the mt battle challenge, battling each and every single one of the trainers in our path. this included the swampert that thwarted my previous - albeit underlevelled - attempt at the mt battle challenge, thanks to earthquake spam and very, very lucky dodges.

"you know i had to do it to em."

soon, we got to the final battle. it was my first time ever getting this far into the mt battle challenge, and i was shocked to see how very swagged out the arena was. its general design really added to the hype of the moment. it felt great to take on the final battle and emerge victorious.

with that, reides got the one and only ribbon that he could during his time in orre: the earth ribbon! at this point, i had enough pokecoupons to afford one (1) of the berries for his array of pokeblocks, so i was sure to give that to him before sending him back to his home in hoenn. in exchange, i sent over a kecleon named kiki (shoutout to my friend, rachel, who named him for me!), who would be right at home in orre with his extremely cool battle animations.

once reides was safely back in emerald, i re-focused on the berry grind. i challenged the 9th area of mt battle repeatedly, claiming 1000 pokecoupons every time. as such, i got very familiar with the npc battles there. in particular, i wanna give a shoutout to matso "the headband dude" lastname.

of course this guy would be the one who got my most hd colosseum screenshots.

after a GRUELLING 65k pokecoupon grind - which required 65 runs of this area - i finally managed to grind out the necessary coupons for the remaining berries. i traded them back and forth between colosseum and emerald and FINALLY... FINALLY made reides his pokeblocks so that he could take on the gen3 contest challenge properly. once the pokeblocks were mixed and eaten, reides' overall condition looked like this:

not perfect - yet! - but absolutely fine for our purposes. to give an even bigger boost to reides' contest stats, i got my hands on condition-boosting items in emerald version; namely, the 5 different scarves which you can pick up from the pokemon fan club chairman in slateport city. you can get these scarves by showing him a pokemon who took part in a contest, and then by showing him a pokemon that has at least 200 in a contest condition. i got all of the scarves by feeding origin 10 pokeblocks made from pomeg berries, feeding albatross 10 pokeblocks made from kelpsey berries, and by feeding fangs 10 pokeblocks made from qualot berries. (i used 3-npc blending for all of these, too!)

i also paid a quick visit to the lilycove museum, where i talked to the curator standing towards the back of the room. the curator showed me a room filled with empty frames and bemoaned not having any worthy paintings for display just yet. this is really important to remember to do before you take on the contest challenges (though not A Necessity, it just saves some time later on), so make sure you listen to him before heading back out.

with all of that sorted, i had one more bit of contest-related prep to tackle - namely, reides' contest moveset. thankfully, this ended up being really, really easy to sort out! after doing some research, i found out that the contests in hoenn are made pretty damn easy with the rest + sleep talk contest combination. (rest is super useful in particular, as it gives you a decent score while also preventing other pokemon in the contest from startling your pokemon and deducting its appeal points.) to set this combo up, reides and i paid a visit to a guy in fortree city who happily taught reides how to use sleep talk. once reides mastered that, we headed back to lilycove and talked to a sleepy guy who handed us a tm for rest. i also gave reides the surf + dive combination, just for the extra appeal boosts in the beauty contests. this was definitely not necessary, as the rest + sleep talk combo ended up working really, really well - even in contests which disliked cute moves! i was able to beat the master rank for each contest after a few attempts. behold, my shoddily-put-together edit of all of reides' master rank victory screens...!

reides got a ribbon for each and every contest that he won, which left him with a whopping 20 ribbons from winning contests alone! his dazzling master-rank contest performances also inspired an artist in the crowd to do some paintings of him. he approached me immediately after reides won the cute, tough, and smart master rank contests. keep in mind that this artist doesn't whip up a painting every single time that you win a master-rank contest! some people say that this event triggers if you hit a certain score in the master rank contest and others say it might just be a random event. regardless of the specifics, our little chat with the museum curator prior to taking part in the contests is what actually makes this event possible, as we can direct the artist to the museum afterwards. the curator will then put the painting that he did of your pokemon on display in the previously-empty room. the first time that this artist paints your pokemon, he also gives the artist ribbon to that pokemon!

naturally, i had to go to the lilycove museum to take some pictures of these three masterpieces.

with all of the contest ribbons acquired... reides finally did it. he got each and every ribbon available to him in generation 3 of pokemon!!!

reides' first gen3 ribbon as a horsea alongside his final gen3 ribbon collection as a kingdra!

i'm sure i don't need to say it... but the gen3 part of this challenge was SOMETHING ELSE. the ups and downs of it were truly mind-boggling. i mentioned feeling like i was interacting with every single aspect of gen3 in my previous post and let me tell you... i now know that i interacted with every single aspect of gen3. starting off this challenge in this generation has given me such a newfound appreciation of both the hoenn and orre regions. sure, i replayed both emerald and colosseum - which renewed my love of those games' respective plots. but, at the risk of sounding cheesy... my overall experience was even deeper than that. interacting with gameplay features that i never took on in the past (like the battle tower, mt battle, and gen3-style ev training) really enriched my experience. i had to put a lot of thought into each step of this gen3 journey, and i can truly say that each of the ribbons that reides has on him is also linked to a bunch of fond memories about acquiring that ribbon. if you're interested in taking this challenge on, please take this post of mine as a sign to attempt it; i truly can't recommend it enough... (especially with the threat of pokebank someday closing!)

anyway, with those 26 ribbons, reides' gen3 journey reached a very, very satisfying end. reides is already in sinnoh with his buddies - origin the metagross, albatross the latios, fangs the salamence, persana the suicune (who i sent over from orre and ev trained in emerald, too), and princess the zigzagoon (i'm really attached to her OKAY!!) - and i'm looking forward to the ribbon grind over there as well. a lot of the setup and preparation that i did in gen3 will aid me in future pokemon generations, so i don't think that any of my future updates will be QUITE this long (HAHAAA), but i'm still already looking forward to writing up the next one! especially since soulsilver will be involved, and that's my fav pokemon game of all time!

please continue to cheer reides on as his journey continues!

mood: refreshed
music: barefoot lullabies - the sailboat and the sea