Well. Finally doing Pokemon Black.
We open with a quick cinematic that presumably relates to our promised plot. I'm curious if this crowning happens before the game or if we'll run into in during.
(I realize spoiler avoidance is probably a lost cause at this point. But make an attempt.)
Anyway, this generation we have a female professor! As Tv Tropes explains, this makes their cast gender balanced, because Tv Tropes needs to die by fire. She's in a skirt because all girls in the pokeverse show off their legs.
Our sample pokemon this time, grey giant-eared squirrel-mouse looks unusually cutesy. Also, it seems to be waving at me.
We humans live happily with Pokemon! Living and working together, we complement each other. We help each other out to accomplish difficult tasks. Having Pokemon battle one another is particularly popular, and it deepens the bonds between people and Pokemon.
From what I know about the plot, this seems a matter of protesting too much.
As has been standard for some time, you can pick if you want to play a boy or a girl. As has been standard for some time, this means I can wear real clothes or play as my gender.
Nintendo is consistent, I'll give them that. Here's our set for this generation:
I'd really like a hack that would swap the image but keep my gender, as I really like the boy's design. But failing that, I go with the girl.
We then get the two rivals. There's the generic serious boy
...this ridiculous thing.
This young man is Cheren. He can be a little difficult, but he's a very honest person.
This young woman is Bianca. She's a little flighty, but she works very hard.
I much prefer it to gender swap with your character, if you didn't notice. Forced gender-neutral writing is generally good. And I particularly hate the ditz character.
But then, with rivals I'm especially old-school. The first game did it best: the character is an asshole to you when he appears, his beatdown is cathartic, and then he swaggers off, leaving you seething with the desire to get to the next area and smack him down again. Second gen was the better story of the two, watching your rival develop, but rendered the endgame disappointing up to outright depressing when he kept trying futilely to beat you. Third gen was bland, and fourth managed to return to the enraging rival but in all the wrong ways.
The professor says we've got potential, so she's giving me a special pokemon. Hm. On the one hand, why yes, I am awesome. On the other, I enjoy the whole RPG trope of proving myself.
She emphasizes that I'll be running into people with different perspectives on this journey...hm again. And she tells me the most important thing is to meet new people and befriend them.
Anyway, we're starting in Summer! You are confused, game.
Cheren's already there when we start. He recaps the whole getting-a-pokemon thing. And apparently we're waiting on Bianca.
Bianca: Am I a little late again? So-oooo-orry!
Cheren: Bianca... I've known for ten years that you have no sense of time, but...seriously...
It looks like we're getting Japan's favorite character, the incompetent cute girl. I hope the opening section isn't long, I want away already.
Now we have the three starters:
I think snivy looks most tolerable. Tepig looks interesting and I never have much luck with the fire starter, though I have used them. Then there's oshawott. Water is the type that least interests me. In fact, I was about to say I'd try that one because I never go with it, but actually I used both mudkip and piplup. My utter apathy toward squirtle colors everything.
My favorites in the early generation were the grass ones, though to my shame I still haven't really raised a treecko. But my brother claims tepig is underused, so fine, let's play harder mode.
This means Bianca ends up with a grass type, which goes with her hair, but also establishes her as the fail rival. So does her pokeball handling.
The animations are interesting. Snivy keeps crossing his arms and tapping his little feet like a diva. Not a fan of how the throw animation means showing off my avatar's ass, though. Hopefully repetition will dull that.
I tail whip a few times, then tackle it to death while it's still leering at me. I have such fond memories of the first-gen rival kicking my ass in the first battle.
The battle trashes my room, which is amusing but I'm guessing is a onetime gag. Bianca tells me I'm going to be an awesome trainer. This is not how you rival.
Cheren is the responsible one who chastises Bianca for this. He's also the healer, though.
Cheren: Farla's Pokemon needs to be fixed up, too.
It does not, Tepig only took one hit. FIGHT ME!
This time I tail-whip until one more hit will down me before attempting a tackle. Obligingly, Cheren orders his pokemon to switch to leering so I won't lose. I've tried to deliberately lose in other recent games and the AI always does stuff like that.
With that, they head out to apologize to my mom. The PC doesn't have a potion in it.
Downstairs, Cheren is apologizing formally and Bianca submissively. No worries though, housekeeping is Mom's purpose in life! Well, she does talk about being a pokemon trainer when she was younger, that's something.
Cheren is going to the professor, but Bianca says she has to go home before going to the lab.
The TV is just the auto-generated bullshit the game churns out. :(
Exiting my house scares a bunch of birds away. No come back I want to beat you up.
Outside, one of the NPCs brings up journeys changing people again.
At Bianca's house, her dad is flipping his top. It's always interesting to see how the games, which have only one or two scenarios per game, connect up to fanfic plots, which rival those monkeys chained to typewriters in prolificness. It does not, apparently, rival the games in sense, though - her dad may say she's too inexperienced for a journey, but her mom is dismissive of this, saying it's how things are. I'm cautiously hopeful for my NaRe - will this put a damper on that plot? Or am I being too optimistic and all that it's done is remind people of a chance for angsty teenagers?
Anyway, time for Professor Juniper! She observes that we've already had a pokemon battle, and says that perhaps that's why our pokemon already trust us. Yes, methinks the game doth protest too much.
She forks over our pokedex without any trouble, then tells us to follow her out to the first route so she can show how to catch wild pokemon.
Bianca: S-since the professor asked us, it's OK to go on an adventure, right?
I assume her plotline involves her growing out of this? Onward, then.
Talking to them again has Bianca talking about her pounding heart while Cheren is just looking forward to being a trainer. Exploring the lab just gets generic description boxes or nothing at all. All this is making me want to replay the first gen. There was so much cool stuff packed in buildings. Reading the computers contained all sorts of clues.
At Route 1, we all take our first step together because we're close friends and are all together and this is not what I want from rivals.
She demonstrates catching. We see a hideous thing that's apparently called a patrat
and her own pokemon, the cutesy thing, is a minccino
and she walks us through a capture. Yes yes, I know. Then she gives us the pokeballs. Tutorial over?
My failrivals set off. We have a competition about catching pokemon. Hm. Going to save and find out what happens if I win/lose.
Hm. Nothing if I lose.
Okay, first pokemon. Lillipup.
Looks better than the godawful rat, but sort of like a knockoff eevee.
I intend to catch her, only for Tepig to take her out. On the brighter side, he now knows ember.
A hateful rat thing. Catching for the dex.
It's called the "scout pokemon".
Using food stored in cheek pouches, they can keep watch for days. They use their tails to communicate with others.
So it's basically an unholy cross between sentret and bidoof.
I snag a lillipup. Lillipup sounds like it should be part grass, doesn't it?
It faces strong opponents with great courage. But, when at a disadvantage in a fight, this intelligent Pokemon flees.
Hm. I seem to recall something similar for poochyena, only slanted to evil.
At first sight, Poochyena takes a bite at anything that moves. This Pokémon chases after prey until the victim becomes exhausted. However, it may turn tail if the prey strikes back.
Anyway, it doesn't look like anything else will show up.
Route 1 team:
Hateful rat thing L2 until I get to the pokecenter and can kick it off.
I get nothing for beating the other two. No mockery when I fail or rewards when I succeed? Damn it.
Talking to the first person I find in town:
Some wild Pokemon jump out of the tall grass and attack... But you can make friends with those Pokemon if you reach out to them!
Maybe it's just that I've already heard about this but was the friendship this thick on the ground in past games?
Damn. The tutorial section is still going. Now I'm being shown the pokecenter. I really wish there was an "I already played one of these before" option. The only change is that now it's combined with the mart, which is hardly going to confuse anyone. Also, it lampshades the "someone's PC" thing. No, game. No.
I buy all the pokeballs I can and dump the suckrat.
When I leave, it seems something new's happened.
A crowd has gathered for what looks like the announcement of our new team. Green robey guy from our opening is there and introduces himself as Ghetsis. There's a bunch of silly looking redheads in raincoats as his minions. They remind me of Misty.
I am here representing Team Plasma. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to talk to you about Pokemon liberation.
Crowd: Huh? What?
He paces dramatically.
Ghetsis: I'm sure most of you believe that we humans and Pokemon are partners that have come to live together because we want and need each other. However... Is that really the truth?
Well, no. Pokemon don't come to live together because they want and need us, we go out and capture them by removing their HP until they're too weak to escape a ball.
Have you ever considered that perhaps we humans...only assume that this is the truth?
YES. Tell me more, crazy cult leader guy!
Pokemon are subject to the selfish commands of Trainers... They get pushed around when they are our "partners" at work... Can anyone say with confidence that there is no truth in what I'm saying?
I don't know...
Ghetsis: Now, ladies and gentlemen, Pokemon are different than humans. They are living beings that contain unknown potential.
Whoa, wait a sec there crazy cult guy. Surely pokemon being different than humans would mean it's okay to treat them differently?
They are living beings from whom we humans have much to learn. Tell me, what is our responsibility to these wonderful beings called Pokemon?
Crowd: What could it be?
Ghetsis: That's right! We must liberate the Pokemon! Then, and only then, will humans and Pokemon truly be equals. Everyone, I end my words here today by imploring you to consider the relationship between people and Pokemon...and the correct way to proceed.
Couldn't people just decide to stop catching them? Seems that'd work.
The mushroom heads quickly pack up and leave.
Older Man: About the speech...What do you think we should do?
Younger Man: Liberate Pokemon? That's not even possible!
Uh...wait, how come it isn't? I admit, I'm kind of unclear on exactly what this is, but it seems like it just means letting them go. What else is there that's impossible?
At this point, a ??? guy shows up. Hello possible decent rival!
???: Your Pokemon... Just now, it was saying...
Cheren: Slow down. You talk too fast.
Cheren, shut the fuck up. Also, he had ellipsises, there's no way he was talking too fast for your dumb brain.
Cheren also doesn't get how the guy can think pokemon talk. Let him explain then!
???: Yes, they're talking. Oh. Then, you two can't hear it, either... How sad. My name is N.
He is not happy to hear of our goal of filling our pokedexes.
So... You're going to confine many, many Pokemon in Poke Balls for that, then.
It's okay, N, we'll be friends with all of them!
N says he's a trainer too, but he wonders if pokemon are happy like that. Well, you're the guy who can hear them talk, why don't you ask?
Then suddenly he challenges me because he wants to hear my pokemon's voice more.
He's got a purrloin, which is basically a glameow with presumably a side of meowth's whole thieving thing. That said, I like the look of it. Want.
Attacking his pokemon makes this freak say that he wants more, to hear my pokemon better. Not concerned that I'm destroying his poor kitty's hitpoints. So I guess here he can't understand pokemon all that well, and maybe it's some sort of body language only visible during a fight? Wow Nintendo, way to stack your argument in favor of one side. Battling is just how they communicate!
At the end of the easy fight, Tepig hits L9. I need to start raising other pokemon...
Apparently whatever my pokemon said, N's surprised by it.
N: As long as Pokemon are confined in Poke Balls... Pokemon will never become perfect beings. I have to change the world for Pokemon, because they're my friends.
...why are you using pokeballs then?
Also, I think I can already see the pokemon liberation plot going off the rails. It's getting overwritten by a pokemon perfection/improvement thing, so once I prove my pokemon are stronger by beating down Team Plasma, I somehow win the argument that pokemon enjoy being in pokeballs.
Cheren observes that N's kind of weird. Yes yes. Is the hand-holding section over? He also reiterates the pokemon are partners thing. And apparently the gym leader will be in the next town.
Attempting to train up my lillipup, I found it got more experience than my switched-in tepig. New setup? Looks useful. Also, it was really pathetic. I raised it to L4 then tried it against another L4 only for it to get its butt kicked. I caught a better-statted replacement, this one with vital spirit instead of pickup.
I explored the city, but the only halfway interesting thing were some music players. You can see onto the next route from up high as well, which is sort of cool. I'm not really sure what to make of the whole 3D thing, it seems kind of gimmicky and the game seems a bit less smooth for it, but it's definitely interesting.
Oh, also chairs are solid objects and block your access to things. It doesn't actually matter, but it bugs me.
On to Route 2. Mom gives me the running shoes once I get out there. Also, there's some giant boulder and a hole, which I assume is something I'll come back to deal with once I get the strength HM.
Purrloin! Okay, showing up this soon probably means it sucks, but whatever. Mine!
They steal from people for fun, but their victims can't help but forgive them. Their deceptively cute act is perfect.
...so I see they still hate cats.
And I haven't even had a real battle yet.
There don't seem to be many pokemon around, actually - I spent quite a while running around and nothing else appeared.