PokéBase - Pokémon Q&A
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I noticed that there are often two or three routes filling the space between two cities. Why didn't they just have one long route? The Pokemon found in these routes are almost the same.

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I think its because everytime you enter a route it loads the next one, and having one huge route could make the game lag or have to load longer for the route to appear. Also combining routes can cause confusion when  looking for items or people, maybe they wanted players to be able to find things more specifically.
Can you add this as an answer? I like it better than the current answer.

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The Hoenn Region is a island region with many sub islands, due to this it has an abundance of water which is why there are so many sea routes. The Hoenn Region is inspired by the real life Japanese island region Kyushu.

For more info: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Hoenn#Geography

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They couldve done it to make it more of a challenge, needing to constantly be on a surface where theres the possibility of an encounter
Because Water-types are basically the only ones that swim? There are a few exceptions, like Stunfisk, but still. It wouldn't make sense to run into a wild Magcargo while Surfing.
Yeah, and Ponyta don't burn the grass around them?
Game Freak logic, man. Please stop arguing for the sake of arguing :|
Thanks for ending the discussion. It would have probably gone like this:
sumwun: Farfetch'd,  Delibird, Yanma, Croagunk, Hippopotas, and Inkay are all based on aquatic animals, yet none of the can be found by surfing. Solrock can, however, though it would probably die if it spent too long in water.
sumwun els: Solrock can hover over the water.
sumwun: If that's true, why not Pokemon like Beautifly and Swablu?
sumwun els: ...
sumwun: ...
Satoshi Tajiri: Gamefreak logic strikes again!