Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pokemon Black, Day 2

Last time on Pokemon Black, I got to and through the first town. Now it's time for trainer battles!


My first battle, a L7 patrat. I guess I should stop leveling my pokemon, then. No one else is tough either. There's a tree I'll presumably cut down. Both the blocked areas so far don't lead anywhere, they just have a single out of reach item.

Also, my sprite does a stupid dance when she finds items. Just pick the damn thing up, potions aren't that huge of a deal.

Continuing, Bianca suddenly calls to me! Rival battle???

YES!

Ugh. Bianca's sprite is still annoying, though.

Photobucket

There's L6 lillipup and L7 snivy. Also ugh. We've barely started and already I'm considering going nuzlocke just to keep things halfway interesting. My own lillipup takes them out with ease.

Well, that leads to the next city. Current team:

Purrloin L7
Lillipup L11
Tepig L11

Striaton City. The names just keep getting weirder.

Ooh, there's a dark scary forest place coming up!

Dreamyard ahead. A place for novice trainers.

Well I feel dumb.

The buildings provide the usual bland comments, except there's a Fennel in one upstairs area doing something that I'll run into later. There's a trainer school, so I'll have to go through that too. When does the tutorial end???????? Apparently that's also where the gym leader is hiding. Screw that, I'm going to the dream place.

Another trainer! ...and this one opens with a L8 pokemon, so at least it's stronger than my weakest. The purrloin spends the battle using assist for no reason I can figure out.

Then some weirdo just hands me a pokemon, pansage. Dammit. So because I picked a fire type, I get a free useless and everywhere type pokemon. I bet the other starters got something better.

Doesn't look like I can go anywhere further without cut. Fine I'll go to the dumb school.

This Trainers' School exists to meet the demands of Trainers who want to know more about Pokemon because they love them!

I get it, friendship is today's theme, and yesterday's theme, and it'll probably be tomorrow's at this rate. Nothing makes me hate friendship more than friendship speeches.

I do get an item from one of the losers. Somehow, correctly matching what healing item fixes what obviously labeled status means I deserve to be handed a full heal, the item whose only purpose is to you don't have to bother picking the right one. He's calling me stupid, isn't he?

Cheren's there reading off the blackboard. He then politely asks me for a battle. And if I say no, he lets me. Stop being a failrival! At least Bianca jumped me on my way out of an area.

His oshawott is L8. He's also got a purrloin. Then he hands me some berries. At least he gives me stuff, even if that does make him even more of a failure of a rival.

Apparently the gym leader's thing is exploiting your first pokemon's weakness? So the tutorial section is still going, that's why someone just handed me a high level grass type.

And arg the gym itself is another tutorial on type advantage! The easiest one, the same fire/water/grass trio that we've introduced to at the start and that's always used as an example. And it doesn't even punish you for getting it wrong.

And more useless chairs.

Mm, three gym leaders. That's a decent idea. It's a shame you can't fight the other two, though.

The gym battle is the first halfway challenging thing. And apparently the pansage I got was just one of Nintendo's multi-type gimmick pokemon, so I'd just have been handed the same thing but in a different color if I'd picked a different pokemon. Well, no loss then.

The TM is something that boosts attack and special attack at the same time, ie something I basically will never want to do. Apparently, TMs are now reusable. That's a nice change. Of course, it'll mean I can't sell the ones I don't want, but it makes things a lot simpler. I guess the idea here is to give it to any of your pokemon that need either their attack or special attack boosted. Also, the badge only goes up to L20. Or was that set last game? It feels familiar.

Outside, Fennel appears! But not to jump me for a battle while I'm weak :( But to give me the cut HM!

She has an actual request of me:

I'd like some of the Dream Mist that a Pokemon there called Munna gives off.

Of course, fulfilling this will help me, since it'll unlock some sync thing between trainers. Not that I ever end up using these features.

So off to dreamland.

First, though, an investigation. The other person in the room is the creator of the storage system, Amanita. Already? Also there's some Battle Box thing. Looks like it's there to make battles with other players easier.

Clicking around the room turns up something new: Are these books for Pokemon to read?

Actually, second, healing my pokemon. And dumping off some useless stuff.

...oh my god the bag. Apparently it doesn't show how many of an item you have until you hover over it. Who did this and why?

I do a bit of buying and selling to get a couple premier balls, just because I like them.

So. Current team:

Purrloin L10
Lillipup L12
Tepig L13
Pansage L11

Hm. Don't much like the pansage - never really a monkey fan.

Photobucket

It learns cut, though, and I have yet to find anything else anyway.

Either I'm doing something really wrong or the early sections are really lacking in pokemon.

Oh hey, Bianca again. She says she's here for the mystery pokemon too. Let's settle it with a battle! ...no? Wait! Get back here!

And it's a/the munna. Also, Team Plasma!

Oh god I'm going to have to do a double battle with Bianca. Stop holding my hand, game!

They order the munna to produce the mist, then Bianca asks what's going on and they say liberating pokemon. That pokemon looked pretty free already, they're not even trying to go after us for chasing it...

They explain they'll use the vapor to make people want to release their pokemon. Wait, so that's all liberation takes? Why was that unnamed young guy saying it was impossible, then?

We'll show them dreams to manipulate their hearts.

You might as well twirl a mustache while you say that. If you believe in your cause, why would you think it was manipulation?

And then they kick it. Bianca demands to know wtf. They're trainers too, right? Yep.

And setting Pokemon free means that we win Pokemon battles and take Pokemon by force!

God damn, Nintendo. If they're evil and self-serving, just make them evil and self-serving. If they're supposed to be a cult, make them a cult! Pick one.

So, on that note, we are going to rescue your Pokemon from you!

I forgot to save, but I'll make a wild guess here and say that losing doesn't result in my pokemon being stolen.

Hm. Hey, not a double battle with Bianca. Yay! And they have a cool shieldy thing for the opening of the fight. But they fight me one at a time for no reason...

Defeated, they go back to attacking the munna.

Ghetsis appears out of nowhere.

...and then another Ghetsis appears out of nowhere, in a darker robe. And there's spooky music!

Disappointingly, second Ghetsis confirms that their plan is to "separate Pokemon from foolish people!" Look, I love Team Rocket too, but if you want that sort of thing, why not just make the team them?

And then they disappear and orange-robe Ghetsis is suddenly in a different position. And the grunts observe he's not like how he is at other times, like when he's talking to them.

Or Ghetsis when he is trying to control people by tricking them with speeches!

Oh my god Team Galactic had better treatment than this and they were simultaneously a joke and a doomsday cult.

Anyway, they say this is how he acts when a plan's failed and it's punishing time, so they run off and he disappears. Another pokemon, presumably the evolved form they mention, arrives. Musharna, apparently.

Bianca is freaked out by Ghetsis' whole teleporty double-existence thing and wonders if that had to do with it being a dream. Then Fennel shows up because she's impatient.

Fennel explains that the musharna must have been protecting the munna by using the dreams to stop the grunts.

...that'd be a great explanation for why the whole Plasma thing was so dumb, but the way the grunts act confirms it's how things normally are.

Bianca tells me to go back to see what Fennel's made, but screw that, exploring time first. Items!

...nothing much otherwise.

Fennel gives me some wireless stuff. I don't use this, so I wasn't paying any attention. Onward!

There's a park and a guy who apparently would have blocked me from going further until I had the gym badge if only I'd tried. Then some daycare. So we're getting that early too. The daycare has a playground, which is a terrible disappointment. There's a slide that just functions like stairs.

And a rival! Now with L14 oshawott and L12 purrloin. My own L12 purrloin takes them both out with sand attack and fury swipe without taking any damage. Then we're interrupted by fleeing Team Plasma grunts. Being chased by Bianca and some brownhair kid. Seems they stole the little girl's pokemon and now Bianca's trying to get it back. Characters doing stuff offscreen is always nice, and it's cool Bianca is the one doing the important

Bianca! Please stay by the girl's side!

Never mind, looks like Cheren's the one doing the important thing. Bianca, what do you have to say to that?

Bianca: Please, Farla. Team Plasma took that Pokemon. Get it back!

No grow a spine!

To teach them a lesson, I head into the grass instead in the hope of finding a new pokemon. A pigeon appears! Pidove, our pidgey clone for this generation.

Photobucket

Each follows its Trainer's orders as best it can, but they sometimes fail to understand complicated commands.

Still no sign of any elemental pokemon. I'm staying in the grass until I'm convinced there's nothing here.

Ooh.

Blitzle.

Photobucket

I will make a wild guess and say electric type. Into the pokeball with you.

Its mane shines when it discharges electricity. They use their flashing manes to communicate with each other.

A lot of people's teams seemed to involve stripey horse, so I'm tempted to avoid him. Anybody else in here?

...nope.

Okay, onward then.

Cheren: They ran inside here!

And? What, you're scared of a cave?

Now he's asking if I'm all ready to go. Of course I am.

A...roggenrola? That thing looks weird. It sort of looks like a fish. Onto my team with you.

Photobucket

Its ear is hexagonal in shape. Compressed underground, its body is as hard as steel.

So Plasma finally gives the full summary of their plan: They steal pokemon because the pokemon aren't reaching their full potential. Note this has nothing to do with liberation. Seems I guessed right, I'll end up proving them wrong by having my pokemon beat theirs.

They're easily beaten, though again, not in a double battle. This is getting odd. Only for another pair to show up telling them not to give it back. My, that's almost genre-savvy of you guys! Come in waves at me, I will beat you all.

Oh, and here's the double battle. Meh.

Winning, they explain the whole liberate by stealing thing, and claim we're making the pokemon we take back suffer.

Cheren: Trainers bring out their Pokemon's strength. Pokemon believe in their trainers and respond to that. I don't understand what about that makes Pokemon suffer!

Uh, well two obvious places for issues in that alone are that if the fact our pokemon are especially strong shows that we're a good trainer, then conversely weaker trainers must just be doing a bad job of bringing out their pokemon's strength, so if that's what pokemon value, then belonging to some brown-haired kindergartener who just uses them as a pet must really suck.

Then, there's the bit about pokemon believing in their trainers. But what about pokemon that don't?

This has always been the problem in these games. It'd be very easy to have a game where you met creatures and convinced them to join your party. Indeed, the first digimon game has a decent enough version of that, with plenty of battles along the way. But the pokemon series has never been about that. It's never even particularly clear how smart pokemon are, and the fact we've had several pokedex entries mentioning varying intelligence, which in turn has a lot to do with their ability to hold opinions. If a pokemon believes in someone who doesn't deserve it, that's probably going to be bad for them. And if a pokemon doesn't believe in or trust their trainer, is there anything they can do about it?

But back to the game. Cheren says he'll take the pokemon back, the glory-hog. Whatever, sucker, I'll explore the cave.

Also, there's this cool dripping water effect.

...there's nothing much in the cave, though, besides the thief TM. Guess I'll have to come back with a surfing pokemon.

Anyway the kid gives me some heal balls. Eh. Don't much care, maybe I'll sell them.

Whatever, onward!

Ooh, trainer with L13 pokemon. The levels are growing decently.

And now some different grass where there's double battles? Kay.

...And some woobat thing? What is that even.

Photobucket

It looks like a neopet.

I feel sorry for Pokemon when they lose because their Trainer lacks skill...

See, Cheren? That's totally a thing that could make pokemon feel sad.

Done with the route....

And now Cheren's here again. Damn it. Now he's showing me to the pokecenter, because I didn't already get shown that. And giving me berries, which is something, but still, when will the handholding end?

Well, there's a gym here! Hopefully I won't need to run around to get in.

...And there's N!

N: I...want to see things no one can see.

There's drugs for that, sweetie.

The ideals of Pokemon inside Poke Balls. The truths of how Trainers should be. And a future where Pokemon have become perfect... Do you feel the same?

Huh. Well, sure, I'd like to see all that stuff.

That so? I think my friends and I should test you to see if you can see this future, too.

Whoa whoa whoa, I said wanted to, not that I could. Frankly I'm not even sure what you're going on about, greenie.

Battle time! He;s got three pokemon now. L13 pidove, a...tympole? It looks weird, sort of cute but pretty anxious. And a timburr, which looks dumb. Where's his cute purrloin?

After beating him, he says his friends aren't strong enough to save all pokemon

Maybe I can't solve the eqation that will change the world. So I need power... Power enough to make anyone agree with me.

Oh, yeah that's a pretty good villain motivation.

Now I know what power I need. Zekrom! The legendary Pokemon that, along with the hero, created the Unova region.

Thank you, exposition boy.

It's my turn to become that hero-- and you and I will be friends!

See! Friendship is evil.

And the gym doubles as a museum doubles as a fossil reviver. Does the fact we're getting all this stuff so early mean there's new goodies?

Arg now the director's giving me the walkaround! I just wanna read the plates.

Hm, the plates aren't too informative. And there's no text at all when I try looking. I want to rob the place, though. Is that dragon skeleton a dragonite?

On to the gym!

Ugh, so there's the helpful guy again. Is he going to jump me and demand a chat in each gym? I don't need to be told this! If I want to know, I'll talk to you!

There's a puzzle this gym, but it's just walk around and click on stuff, and where you have to click is made obvious. You don't even get punished for doing it in the wrong order.

Oh, a scientist with a herdier.

Photobucket

That ugly thing is what my lillipup turns into? Time to evolve it and kick it off my team, then.

The trainers were kind of tough, so first, more exploring!

Purrloin L15
Pidove L15
Lillipup L14
Tepig L16
Pansage I guess L11
Roggenrola L11

There's some nurse outside the forest who says she'll heal my pokemon if I need it. How pathetic do you think I am, game?

When I played, you had to trek all the way back to the pokecenter, uphill, and we liked it that way!

Found a timburr.

Photobucket

It fights by swinging a piece of lumbur around. It is close to evolving when it can handle the lumber without difficulty.

And a tynpole. Hm. So N has a team of whatever's nearby? Perhaps he is walking the walk regarding pokeballs.

Photobucket

They warn others of danger by vibrating their cheeks to create a high-pitched sound.

And now my lillipup's evolving! L16. Wow, evolution looks freaky. The pokemon explodes into energy, then reforms. Again the comparison to digimon comes to mind.

So, double-checking the dex...Hm, looks like herdier evolves again. Also it looks like the monkey does. Fine, I'll keep them around for now.

One of the trainers says something interesting after losing.

OK! I will catch some different Pokemon in Pinwheel Forest and have more friends!

See that's just...not how friendship works.

And a sawk appears. That thing is hideous. Stop making pokemon that wear clothes, Nintendo.

Photobucket

It also beats up my pokemon and won't get in a pokeball, so I fail to catch it. Later, I guess.

Current team:

Purrloin L16
Pidove L16
Herdier L17
Tepig L16
Pansage L11
Roggenrola L17

Her team is a L18 herdier and L20 watchog. And I win! By spamming items so my pokemon aren't knocked out. That was pleasantly challenging.

Hm, my starter evolved after fainting, but it's still fainted. Aw. One time I remember I had a L35 fainted charmeleon, so I used a rare candy since between the leveling up and evolution it would get a couple HP out of it. Then I fought Giovanii. Stuff like that is fun, Nintendo!

Also, wow, it really is hideous. Seriously considering dumping you on your final stage, piggy.

Photobucket

And now my team is:

Purrloin L16
Pidove L17
Herdier L18
Pignite L17
Pansage L12
Roggenrola L17

And Team Plasma has attacked to steal bones! Perfect timing, guys! I'm assuming I'll get a heal before any actual fight but still, I approve of the attempt.

As always, I talk to everyone along the way. Our random patron of the museum says:

Those thugs sure were bold... It's almost as if they believe they are doing the right thing.

See, that's much more interesting than it just being a lie. Also whoever's writing the dialogue really needs to use more contractions.

Plasma steals the skull of the dragon skeleton. So...is it not a dragonite, then?

Outside some artist guy shows up. No, go away! I want to steal the skull back and then revive it and then have a dragon! Back to the plot!

Oh, he's a gym leader.

No, I stand by what I said, the gym leaders have been pretty sucky so far, and I doubt artist guy will buck the trend. Go away and let me beat people up for stuff.

And then Bianca gets in on it.

And Cheren.

Okay, so the failrivals will stay here at the museum and I'll go with gym leader artist to the forest. Eh, that works.

And Bianca gives me a dowsing machine. I will be spamming you good, little machine.

...mm, hello super potion.

And revive.

And ultraball.

I love this thing, I'm never turning it off.

Okay, so gym leader artist isn't going to be my double-battling partner either. He's going to go on the easy path and I get the hard path. Screw you too, buddy. I'm going back out to see if there's any items in the other area.

Ooh, rustling grass. And weird but cute pink piglike thing. Audino. Into the premier ball with you!

Photobucket

It touches others with the feelers on its ears, using the sound of their heartbeats to tell how they are feeling.

That is adorable.

Well, time to explore Pinwheel Forest and, I guess, get lost.

23 comments:

Fool said...

Hm, perhaps you should show the sprite of N? You refer to him as "greenie" due to his hair, but people who haven't played the game will have no idea what you're talking about.

Fool said...

Oh, and hate to nitpick, but it's tympole, not tynpole.

C.C. said...

The pokemon designs this time around are really hit-or-miss.

I like pidove and roggenrola. Audino reminds me of lickitung, if only because it also appears to be made out of bubblegum. But roggenrola seems like a terrible play on "rock and roller," so he doesn't get my seal of approval.  Herdier looks just like my cousin's jerkass yorkie terrier. And your pig seems to evolve by joining a high-school wrestling team.
 
The grass monkey thing you got is probably the most interesting visually out of the three possible choices. The water one looks really stupid, and its evolution is even worse. The fire one isn't bad, just kinda dopey looking.

C.C. said...

Also, the N using available pokemon in the area is a nice touch.

C.C. said...

The N? Wow. He actually sounds menacing now. I really should double-check posts more thoroughly.

Ember said...

Lenora was only challenging because you didn't catch the Sawk.  Mine made mincemeat out of her team.  As you've noticed, this game has a bad habit of giving you everything you need just when you need it.  There's a whole cave full of a electric Pokémon just before the bird gym, for example.

Between the hand-holding, the force-feeding of series themes, the way the plot was so different from previous generations, and the complete lack of older Pokémon until the post-game, I sort of got the feeling that this game was supposed to be... not quite a franchise reboot, but I guess a picking-up point for new players.  The beginning of The New Pokémon.  Just a sense I had playing it.

WonSab said...

"I sort of got the feeling that this game was supposed to be... not quite a franchise reboot, but I guess a picking-up point for new players."
I vaguely recall an interview stating basically exactly this, actually.

Morieris said...

I find it interesting how the slides in Ruby and Sapphire actually worked like slides, while this one at the daycare doesn't.

Farla said...

The environment in general is just...less interactive. Shiner, but less interactive. It's kind of depressing if I think about it too long.

Farla said...

Ah. That would also explain why the pokemon near gyms are so high level. Well, at least it allows for some optional difficulty if I don't play that way.

You know, I wouldn't mind there being tutorial options and such if only Nintendo would give us a hard mode or something. Like in the original. Don't pick Charmander unless you like suffering - but if you do, here! Go for it! It wouldn't be too hard. Just cut out the explanation bits for the hard mode, and insert someone handing out a properly typed pokemon before every gym in easy mode.

Farla said...

That's disappointing. I did feel like the third and particularly fourth gen were being overly difficult about certain mechanics like how pokemon evolve, but this seems too far in the other direction. It's just not satisfying to be handed everything. I want to work to figure things out.

Farla said...

Audino is the lovechild of a lickitung and wigglytuff. The adorable lovechild.

I just turn my brain off with the names as much as possible. I mean, there's a pokemon that's called "cottony". But it's spelled differently so that makes it different!
I just hate the monkey design, so I hate all three. I couldn't stand last gen's starter for that reason either. I don't mind aipom or even mankey so much, but this particular model just fills me with hate.

Farla said...

I think I'm the only one who hasn't, but sure.

purplekitte said...

God damn, Nintendo. If they're evil and self-serving, just make them
evil and self-serving. If they're supposed to be a cult, make them a
cult! Pick one.
Yes! This annoyed me so much throughout, as you pointed out in various places.

Oh my god Team Galactic had better treatment than this and they were simultaneously a joke and a doomsday cult. I never liked 4th gen plot because Team Galactic was so boring. Rocket wanted to steal stuff, which makes perfect sense. Magma/Aqua had really stupid goals but at least they were really into them. Galactic was pretty much 'we have vague goals and even we don't have the clearance to know what they are, but they're certainly very eeeevil.'

Audino is cute. I like Blitzle a lot too and Tympole's evolution. It's so sad that the starters get less cute as they evolve. This is how I used to feel about evolving a wonderful and favorite Wartortle into much less cute Blastoise for the pokedex.

Farla said...

There's been a steady decline with the teams. Galactic is my least favorite, but from how things are going Plasma will be taking that spot.

I'm okay with the cute->badass evolution progression normally, but evolution bloat always annoys me. I generally love the second stage starters because they're slim and cool.

Blastoise always bugged me. Why does it have metal canons coming out of its shell, Nintendo? WHY.

Ember said...

Speaking of Ruby and Sapphire, you know what I miss?  Secret hideouts!  Whatever happened to those???  The hideouts you could make in the underground in D/P/P weren't quite as cool, but at least they were something.  Also why did we lose the ability from HG/SS to have our party leader walk around with us???  That was a lot of fun and made the whole "in Soviet Johto, legendary birds choose YOU!" plotline somewhat more believable because you ARE being nicer to your Pokémon than most of the other trainers you encounter.

Farla said...

Yeah, I agree, I really miss that too! It was a nice feature, and it was nice to see a pokemon interacting with the normal world instead of being cooped up in its pokeball. Really, it's a pity they did it for HG/SS and not this game, since it would have made so much more sense here.

Ember said...

In one sense, yes, in another sense, no.  In HG/SS, the point was that trainers CAN be good and you are a new and better kind of trainer and therefore special enough to usher in a new era of unity between people and Pokémon.  In B/W, the point is that trainers ARE perfectly fine just as they are and nothing needs to change, long live the status quo.  If you're letting your Pokémon roam free and most other people aren't, it doesn't say particularly good things about trainers in general, just about you in particular.

Well, I suppose if they were more nuanced story-tellers they COULD have gone that route, and then the ending would be you and N deciding that you've BOTH been wrong and teaming up to reform the institution rather than outright abolishing it or leaving it as it is.  But there was no way THAT was going to happen.

Farla said...

But it could be universal, where everyone has a pokemon out. That would at least help with the idea that pokemon are valued partners.

Honestly, I don't think anything would actually make the basic idea work as long as we have pokemon getting caught by battles, but that would at least make it more believable why everyone thought so.

Fool said...

I think an interesting idea would be to give the player some control over the storyline -- let them decide for themselves if they want to join N or fight against him. The protagonist's a blank slate anyway. But of course that idea would be too cool for Game Freak to even consider. -_-

Your idea of an alternate ending also sounds great. Someday Farla must write all the fic. All of it. *_*

Ember said...

Haha!  IF BIOWARE MADE POKÉMON GAMES!  Or, really, any of the big publishers of RPGs for the PC platform, since player decisions that affect the outcome of the story have been a staple of those since forever.  But then, so has moral ambiguity.

Farla said...

Well, part of the problem is the issue of replaying the game. While they have prefectly good replay value, they're absolutely not designed for it - you're supposed to keep playing to get and raise all the pokemon in your first file. And just look at the amount of trouble you have to go through to start a new game instead of your old one.

So, if you start making it branch and change based on the story, you have people needing to reset their games and do it over to see the whole thing. And that's just not how they're designing the game.

I think we might have better luck with that on one of the side games, where the intent is to transfer all the pokemon over to your main file anyway.

Farla said...

That's disappointing. I did feel like the third and particularly fourth gen were being overly difficult about certain mechanics like how pokemon evolve, but this seems too far in the other direction. It's just not satisfying to be handed everything. I want to work to figure things out.