Generation III of Pokémon was a turning point for the franchise. With new graphics, new mechanics, and a brand new adventure overall, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald are fantastic entries in the series and were excellent starting points for new players and a great continuation of returning players as well. While new and innovative changes can make for an engaging and overall just plain fun game, there are some aspects to every entry that never really change: explore the region, best the Pokémon League, battle off any villainous team if necessary, and most importantly, catch 'em all. Catching all the Pokémon is a key part of the journey, and while it can be a bit of a challenge there's very little more satisfying than scrolling through a filled out Pokédex.
Before we begin, we would like to point out that this list will focus on encounters in Generation III games, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. Because Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are considered Generation VI games and have differences from the original games such as encounter rates of certain Pokémon, we won't be considering those in our ranking. Now with that out of the way, we'll be reflecting on the Gen III experience and ranking the 10 hardest Hoenn Pokémon to catch!
While not necessarily a pokémon with a particularly low catch rate, finding a Tropius tends to be the challenging part about it. Calling the tall grass along Route 119 home, this flying sauropod can be startling to encounter and worth catching if trainers need to fill a niche role in their team.
That aside, the primary appeal of Tropius is that it just doesn't show up too often so encountering one is usually more than worth the pokéball you'd burn to grab it if only for the sake of filling out your Pokédex. If we're being realistic, that's probably the only reason players would grab one anyway. It's not too impressive beyond being uncommon.
Chimecho is a rare psychic type that makes its home on Mt. Pyre, the token spooky location for the Hoenn region. These little guys are incredibly rare, and on a personal note, I've never actually seen one myself across any of my playthroughs of the Gen III games.
To be fair, there usually isn't a particular motivation to find one aside from its rarity; Chimecho isn't some powerhouse that's going to help you sweep the Elite Four or anything. Still, it's cute, it's rare, and if filling out the Pokédex is important to you, best of luck hunting around the top of Mt. Pyre to find one.
The disaster pokémon Absol is unique; it has one of the lowest catch rate values of the non-legendary Gen III Pokémon at 30. While these catch rates aren't hard and fast rules by any means and play into a larger equation when it comes to catching Pokémon, we can safely assume that a low catch rate means that a Pokémon is more challenging to catch.
Because of that, having an Absol in tow is a great show of skill and commitment to a central tenant of Pokémon games. Your journey through Route 120 isn't going to be complete without nabbing one!
Bagon is not that difficult to catch once you're finally facing one down, but the trek through Meteor Falls is what earns him his place on this list. If you aren't familiar with what goes into catching a Bagon, here's a slight glimpse: to first even begin your journey to catch one, you have to be able to use HM07 Waterfall outside of battle. To do that, you need to have beaten the Sootopolis gym leader; the last gym in the Hoenn League.
Considering that Bagon is the first stage evolution of one of the two Gen III pseudo-legendary pokémon, it actually isn't that surprising that it's challenging to find. We will say, of course, that the work it takes pays off; Bagon's final evolved form Salamence is a Pokémon worth having.
Looking for a non-legendary Pokémon with a catch rate lower than Absol's? Then you're going to have to dive and explore the seafloor of Routes 124 and 126. Relicanth is an ancient Pokémon with an interesting water/rock typing and is also tough to hunt down and catch.
If you happen across one, though, taking the time and care to catch one is worthwhile; while Relicanth may not end up being a staple member of your team, it's one of several keys to getting a shot at Hoenn's legendary golems, which also have an entry later on in this list.
While it's probably easier to catch a Swablu on Route 114 or 115 and train it up to evolve into an Altaria, this pokémon is actually available in the wild once players earn access to Sky Pillar. For trainers that have no particular interest in training a Swablu, catching an Altaria may seem like an enticing alternative.
The problem, though, is that Altaria is surprisingly beefy; its defense stats are nothing to sneeze at, and players who hadn't picked up on that facing Winona's ace or Drake's Altaria are in for a less than pleasant surprise if they decide they want to add an Altaria to their team. Paring down its hit points may be a challenge if trainers aren't properly prepared.
4 Latios & Latias
The version of the game that you have will determine which of the legendary birds ends up roaming the Hoenn region as a random encounter. But regardless of that, the experience of hunting it down and catching it is the same in the Gen III games. Once available, Latios or Latias can be randomly encountered anywhere that Pokémon can be found.
That's right; similar to the legendary dogs of Johto, Latios or Latias is a random encounter. It's hard to prepare for, meaning that trainers have to be ready to spring into catch mode at a moment's notice if they don't want to miss out on a chance at adding one of these legendary Pokémon to their team.
3 Regirock, Registeel, & Regice
While battling and capturing the legendary golems is optional once they're available, it's really the preliminary work of making these Pokémon available that earns them a spot here. Trainers will find themselves pursuing what is essentially a full-blown sidequest, mastering the braille alphabet and deciphering ancient messages and riddles to track down these elusive ancient Pokémon.
Once the challenges have been satisfied, these are still legendaries and the task of weakening them enough and spamming Ultraballs can still be grueling as legendary encounters in the Pokémon series are known to be.
Feebas is a shabby looking Pokémon not unlike Magikarp. It's not hard to catch, and can be fished up with any rod. Like Magikarp, too, its evolved form of Milotic is formidable and well worth the effort. Still, Feebas takes a spot on this list not because of its combat ability, but because of its elusiveness.
Available on Route 119, Feebas can only be fished up on one of six water tiles. To make things more complicated, there's no discernible way to identify which tiles those are. If players are committed to finding a Feebas, the old fashioned way of finding one involved a lot of fishing to rule out tiles one by one. Talk about rare.
Easily the most impressive legendary Hoenn has to offer, Rayquaza earns its place on the list because players had to work to reach it. While nowhere near as in-depth as the legendary golems' sidequest, Sky Pillar instead housed the pinnacle of Gen III's cracked floor style puzzle. After solving the confusing puzzle, players were then confronted with the most difficult battle with a legendary Hoenn region Pokémon.
For all the work it takes, saving the Masterball for this encounter was, of course, a great idea, but for those that went after it the traditional way, capturing Rayquaza was a true testament to a trainer's ability and commitment to the tenant of "Gotta catch 'em all!"