Pokémon Ruby Vs. Emerald: Which is the better version?

By the time the third generation of Pokémon games was being released, I was a full fledge fan of the franchise. I was even lucky enough to get both copies of Ruby and Sapphire, thanks to my loving and doting parents. I was, unfortunately, unable to play the Emerald version as soon as it was released. So, I always had a lot of questions about the third version.

Was it similar to Ruby and Sapphire? What was the storyline like? Were there any significant changes? These were the questions I kept asking, and since you are reading this article, I’m sure you also are asking the same questions. I wanted a specific comparison between Ruby and Emerald since Ruby was my favorite between Ruby and Sapphire. But I noticed most forums compared Ruby and Sapphire in general with Emerald.

Luckily, I recently managed to get a copy of Emerald from a friend who was selling and can finally make a comparison between the two versions based on first-hand experience. So, if you’ve always wanted to know which game was better between Ruby and Emerald, read this article to find out my final verdict, after a detailed comparison of their key differences.

Pokémon Ruby vs. Emerald – How They Compare.

Let’s start with a quick summary of the key distinctions between the two versions that we will discuss in detail, later in the article:


Pokémon Ruby

Pokémon Emerald


  • Team Magma is the only villain
  • Only Groudon is awoken
  • Rayquaza is only available post-game
  • Groudon is the main legendary
  • Teams Magma and Aqua are both villains
  • Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza are both awoken
  • Rayquaza is the main legendary

Available Pokémon

Has Pokémon missing in Emerald:

  • Meditite/Medicham
  • Deoxys (normal form)
  • Masquerain
  • Roselia
  • Surskit
  • Zangoose

Has Pokémon missing in Ruby:

  • Lotad/Lombre/Ludicolo
  • Deoxys (speed form)
  • Ho-oh
  • Kyogre
  • Lugia
  • Mawile
  • Mew
  • Sableye
  • Seviper

Game mechanics and features

  • Has Battle Tower
  • No rematch with gym leaders
  • Fewer legendries to capture
  • Battle Steven who is the Champion
  • Has Battle Frontier
  • Rematch with gym leaders
  • More legendries to capture
  • Battle Steven who is the former Champion

What are the differences between Pokémon Ruby and Emerald?

Pokémon Emerald
Pokémon Emerald Version. Image source: Nintendo

Although Pokémon Ruby was released earlier than Emerald shares the same core mechanics and plot aside from some variations we will look into below. So, you can expect to find similarities between them. But Emerald is said to combine the best parts of both Ruby and Sapphire, so there are also some significant differences, which are as follows:


What I loved most about Gen 3 versions was how varied their storylines were. I mean sure the main plot is the same, following the journey to becoming a Champion. But I thought that, unlike some other generations, the variations to the plot were unique and gave each version a unique feel.

For example, in Ruby, you battle against Team Magma, a villainous team with the motive of awakening Groudon(the version’s main legendary) and using its power to expand the land mass. In Emerald, however, you also need to battle Team Aqua, previously the villainous team in the Sapphire version. Team Aqua has a different motive, which is to awaken Kyogre (Sapphire’s main legendary) and use its power to expand the sea.

What’s more since both Kyogre and Groudon are awakened in Emerald, they begin to fight each other. To stop them, the story requires you to awaken Rayquaza (Emerald’s main legendary) to put an end to the fight. A quick tip here that I got from other players before you battle Kyogre and Groudon in Emerald, ensure you save the game first, otherwise, you may not encounter and capture them later on after defeating them.

Another difference in the plot is where you fight and capture Kyogre and Groudon in Emerald. Since both of them are awoken in this version, you will first fight them in Sootopolis waters, but you can capture them in their respective layers after beating the Elit 4. Other than that, there are other slight changes in the plot like varying Gym leaders but they aren’t as noteworthy.

Overall, I would say Emerald has a more exciting storyline. Other than facing one villain team, you get to face both teams plus get Rayquaza as the new main legendary, on top of the two previously version exclusive legendaries.

Available Pokémon

Pokémon Ruby Vs. Emerald
Pokémon ruby. Image source: Pinterest

In my earlier point, I believe I have already touched on how the two versions differ when it comes to the available Pokémon. As you already know, in Ruby, Groudon was the main legendary and therefore previously exclusive to that version. You could also capture Rayquaza but in the post-game.

Emerald, however, also made Kyogre available for capture. The only difference is Rayquaza can be captured during the main game and the other two can be captured after defeating the Elite 4. In Emerald’s post-game, I also found a lot more legendaries were available like Mew, who wasn’t previously available in Ruby.

Additionally, the Pokémon that were previously exclusive to either Ruby, like Solrock, became available in Emerald, along with Sapphire’s version exclusive Pokémon. However, something was interesting I noted, while Emerald did offer a wider Pokedex both in-game and post-game, some Pokémon were missing in that version that was previously available to both Ruby and Sapphire. Good examples would be Zangoose and Surskit. Emerald also had a special speed form of Deoxys while Ruby only had the normal Deoxys.

But overall, Emerald is still the winning version, since it has a wider Pokedex and provides Pokémon that were previously exclusive to Ruby and Sapphire, as well as additional Legendries.

Game mechanics and features

Pokémon Ruby Vs. Emerald
Pokémon Ruby Version. Image source: Pokemon

Being an enhancement of the first dual versions in Gen 3, I expected Emerald to have significant improvements and I wasn’t disappointed. Unlike Ruby, Emerald had several new features and improved mechanics that amped the challenge of the game and made the experience of playing even more exciting.

In terms of mechanics, you can expect everything that was in Ruby, with a few additions like double matches for example. This allows you to have a rematch with the Gym leaders in Emerald after you’ve defeated the Elite 4. There are certain things I noticed I had to do, however, before I was able to have a rematch with the Gym leaders. For example, according to Bulbapedia, after entering the Hall of Fame, having about 60 wild encounters, and around 20 battles both with trainers and in the Battle Frontier increased the chances of a rematch by 31%.

Speaking of the Battle Frontier, this is a new feature that replaces the Battle Tower in Ruby and a significant improvement from it as well. This new facility, located in the same place as where Battle Tower is in Ruby, has seven different battle facilities that are more extensive than the Battle Tower. These facilities all offered unique challenges that felt were a great way to train and improve my skills as a trainer.

Another noteworthy feature is that despite Emerald having a new Champion, Wallace, I could still battle the previous Champion in Ruby, Steven Stone. This was possible after defeating Wallace and going to Meteor Falls. But unlike what some misleading sources say, I could not have a rematch with Steven after defeating him once, which was slightly disappointing.

Overall, however, Emerald is the obviously better version in terms of mechanics and features. Its new additions and improvements add a new layer of challenge to the game that’s not present in Ruby, making it all the more exciting to play.

Final Verdict: So, Which is better? – Pokémon Ruby or Emerald

To sum up, which version is better? Emerald is the clear winner in this case. Thanks to it coming after Ruby, it combines the best parts of both Ruby and Sapphire, rightfully earning its title as the enhanced version. Of course, there is the slight downside of the missing Pokémon, but I feel the extended post-game content and expanded Pokedex more than makes up for it.

That’s not to say that Ruby isn’t a great game as well. I thought both games were equally interesting to play, especially because of the varying storyline. It gives each version a unique feel in terms of the sense of adventure you’ll be on while playing. Overall, if you’ve already played Ruby, I would highly recommend playing Emerald as well, but if you’ve played neither version yet, then Emerald is the version worth getting since it contains aspects of Ruby’s version, so you won’t feel like you are missing much.

FAQ Section

Which is more popular Pokémon Emerald or Ruby?

Based on several forums, the Emerald version seems to be more favored among players. This is because, while Ruby and Sapphire introduced some great new features to the Pokémon game series, Emerald was an enhancement of both Ruby and Sapphire, making it even better than the original duo.

Is Pokémon Ruby different from Emerald Pokémon?

Yes, slightly. Considering Emerald is an enhanced version that combines the best parts of both Ruby and Sapphire, with a few additional improvements, there are some variations between the two versions. This is in terms of the storyline, available Pokémon, and added new features.

Is Pokémon Emerald and Ruby the same story?

Generally, yes. The main plot is maintained, but there are slight variations in how the story flows and key characters that are missing in Ruby but can be found in Emerald, for example, Team Aqua.

Which game is harder to play between Pokémon Emerald and Pokémon Ruby?

Considering Emerald introduces new mechanics and challenges such as Battle Frontier and Double matches, it stands to reason that it could be slightly more difficult to get through compared to Pokémon Ruby. However, objectively speaking, the level of difficulty in either game will depend on your level of skill as a trainer, since some players feel both games are equally easy, whereas others feel Emerald presents some challenge.

Which game came first between Ruby and Emerald?

Pokémon Ruby came out first. It was released alongside Sapphire, in November 2002 in Japan, and later in early 2003 in the rest of the world. Pokémon Emerald came much later in Japan around late 2004 and to the rest of the world, it was released around mid of 2005.

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