A friend asked me if I wanted to see the upcoming live-action remake of The Lion King in theaters. My response: “No thanks, I’m already working on a sequel.”
When we last left Ollie, he had just finished riding the coattails of his Talonflame to his third and fourth Kalos badges. Birdo had come out swinging ever since returning from a brief benching (boxing?), making everyone remember why she had been holding down the No. 2 spot on Ollie’s team in the first place. What we all forgot, however, was that there was a reason Nala the Pyroar had gotten the nod over Birdo for that slot, and she was less than pleased at the attention her rival was getting. She figured she would have shown the same passion and potential if she had just gotten the opportunity.
In this episode, she got that opportunity…and she didn’t waste it.
Now You’re (Literally) Playing With Power
Before we get there, however, we had to complete the western circuit of Kalos by crossing the barren wasteland that is Route 13. The route was also the heart of Lumiose City’s power grid, which was still suffering from a crippling cyberattack and in need of a hero to save the day. However, our first order of business was to observe the local wildlife and continue building our team’s depth. I wasn’t looking to add anyone to the top six at this point..
Flygons aren’t explicitly blocked by my “no previous champions” rule, but it’s a member of a select group of Pokémon (which also includes Waillord, Salamence, and a few others) that I raised to Lv. 100 long after beating the Elite Four in Pokémon Pearl, so whether or not I should use this monster was an open question. I was a big fan of it in G4 and it was an obvious upgrade over Thumper (STAB Earthquake and Dragon Claw? “Veemo” indeed), but in the end, I was still worn out from bringing Rocko and Symmetra up to speed (and then mentally drained from losing Rocko soon afterwards), so I decided to stick with Thumper for now and keep Trapinch in mind for a potential call-up should I lose another Pokémon.
With that decision out of the way, I conned my way past the security system and entered the Kalos power plant, discovering that the fiends behind this outage were none other than the bumbling idiots of Team Flare. Beating up on the rank-and-file of the group wasn’t much of a challenge, and Ollie quickly made his way to the center of the plant, where he encountered two pseudo-authority figures:
Just like that, the bad guys were on the run, and the power could flow once again to the big city (and Ollie didn’t get so much as a thank-you for it). The parade of strange figures, however, kept right on going:
After running into so many sketchy people on Route 13, Ollie was happy to see a familiar face in Shauna when he finally made it back to Lumiose City. With the power restored, the first order of business was to light up the Prism Tower like a Christmas tree, which was a bit underwhelming.
The tower also serves as the Pokémon Gym for the city, and it’s restoration meant that I could now challenge it for the fifth badge of my adventure. Unfortunately, this Gym specialized in Electric-type Pokémon, and if there’s one thing that’s haunted me in darn near every Pokémon game I’ve played, it’s that my over-reliance on Water- and Flying-types makes me a sitting duck for Electric Pokémon. (Then again, with Surf and Fly being so critical for mobility in these games, what else am I supposed to do?) Just like with Grant’s Rock Gym, a significant portion of Ollie’s top line (in this case, Patty, Birdo, and Amelia, a.k.a my No. 1 defensive pairing and my ninth-inning specialist) had to stay out of the fray unless absolutely necessary. Luckily, I still had three things going for me:
- Ollie has one X rank in Splatoon 2…and it just happens to be in Tower Control. The man climbs and rides towers with the best of them.
- I had Thumper as an ace in the hole, as his Ground/Normal typing made him immune to Electric moves.
- Most of all, however, I had Nala, and she had something to prove.
After several floors of channeling my inner James Holzhauer (“I’ll make this a true Daily Double, Bonnie”), I arrived at Clemont’s chambers for the final battle. For some reason, I had a feeling that Clemont would open with a twist by deploying a Pokémon super-effective against Ground-types, so I made the call to open with Nala and have Thumper ready in the bullpen for the first sign of trouble. It turned out to be the right call, but not for the reason I expected.
Instead of going on the offensive early, Clemont chose to play defensively and led off the battle with Emolga, whose Flying type made it immune to Ground-type moves. It was not immune to Flamethrower, however, and it only took one from Nala to bring it down. Next came Magneton, who suffered from two problems:
- Its Steel type, which made it weak to Fire moves.
- Its Sturdy Ability, which caused Clemont to burn all of his Hyper Potions on the poor Pokémon while Nala kept torching it.
Satisfied with Nala’s 2-for-1, I went to the mound and brought in Thumper to square off with Helioptile, whose typing I had guessed completely wrong (it turned out to be Electric/Normal). This fight lasted two rounds only because Dig is a two-turn move, and the Voltage Badge was mine.
After the battle, I received a message from Prof. Sycamore to meet him at Lysandre’s fire-engine-red cafe nearby, but come on: Ollie was young and single in the big city, and he wanted to live a little! Now that the lights were back on and the entire place was explorable for once, I decided to wander around first and see if there was any excitement to be found.
Spoiler alert: There wasn’t.
I picked up a short-term gig at a ritzy hotel working in their Lost & Found Department, I battled a few random folks on the street, I went up and down nearly every street in Lumiose City, and that was about it. I was only about ten minutes late to the cafe, and after Lysandre went off about beauty in the world and some such nonsense, Prof. Sycamore delivered his important message:
I’m No Stranger To The Rain
For a brief moment, it seemed like the game had let go of my hand and left me to make my own decisions…and then Trevor sent me a message saying everyone was meeting up on Route 14, and Route 16 was still blocked off because for some strange reason the power still hadn’t been restored over there. (I don’t know who runs this city, but they’re going to hear it from their constituents at the ballot box next year.)
The rain was already falling when I set out on the road, and only Serena and Trevor were waiting for me up ahead. After once again trouncing Trevor in a Pokédex comparison, Serena stepped up and demanded yet another battle with my team.
This time, I decided to reverse my battle triplet from the last episode:
- Amelia opened the battle instead of closing it, trouncing Meowstic in the process.
- Symmetra used Absol to re-enact a HeadOn commerical (Force Palm: Apply directly to the forehead!).
- Birdo got a bit cute in her battle with Chesnaught and took some damage as a result, but in the end, a Grass/Fighting Pokémon has absolutely no shot against a Fire/Flying one.
Tierno and Shauna showed up soon afterwards, with the latter suggesting that we all go and investigate a “haunted” house farther up the road. Serena declined the invitation, and I asked the court for the brief recess so I explore the area and see what cool new Pokémon I could find for my team…
Mention the word “Shelmet” to me, and the first thing that comes to mind is Super Mario Maker:
Not only is Shelmet a fairly weak monster overall, but it requires catching another Pokémon (Karrablast) to evolve to its final form. At this point, my top line is what it is, so I stuck Shelmet in a PC Box and moved on.
In truth, the entire route turned out to be pretty disappointing: The rest of the Pokémon I ran into were even less interesting than Shelmet (except Stunfisk, I would’ve liked one of those), and the “haunted house” was just a single person telling a not-that-scary story that I didn’t even pay attention to until he got to the punch line:
- NPC: “…A horde of faceless men!”
- Me: “It’s called ‘mainstream country radio,’ and it’s not scary, it’s just generic and and occasionally induces nausea.”
With that out of the way, I quickly cleaned up any items lying around and hurried north to Laverre City.
A Fairy-Tale Ending
Laverre City boils down to two main attractions: Its Pokémon Gym, and its Poké Ball factory. I decided to start with the first of the two buildings, entering what looked like a gigantic doll house filled with women wearing furisode kimonos.
As I mentioned at the start of this run, the Fairy type is a blind spot in my Pokémon knowledgebase, so I did some research on Serebii.net to make sure I knew what I was up against. Aside from dragons, Fighting- and Dark-type monsters had to most to fear from Fairy Pokémon, which meant that Patty and Symmetra would be riding the pine this time around. While I didn’t have any Poison or Steel Pokémon to exploit Fairy’s weaknesses, there was one strange quirk that worked in my favor: Fire-types only took half-damage from Fairy-type attacks. Once again, it would be Nala’s time to shine, although Birdo also did her share of heavy-lifting as Ollie traversed the Gym.
It was at this point, however, that I finally confronted an issue that had been hanging over this Nuzlocke run for some time: My entire team was now pushing Level 50, and had roughly a ten-level cushion over nearly every for they faced. That meant that even Patty and Symmetra were finding success against the other Trainers, often leveling them in a single hit before they launch an attack. (In particular, Patty’s STAB Surf backed by her exceptional Spec. Attack made every attack feel super-effective regardless of the actual matchup.) As much as I enjoyed not having to grind to power up my monsters, just like in my last Nuzlocke run, things seemed to be getting a bit too easy for Ollie’s crew. Then again, I began to feel the same way in my last Nuzlocke run, and the result was a near-fatal disaster for Ophilia and her team, so would the game ramp up just as I was ramping down? As I approached the Gym’s leader Valerie at the top of the dollhouse, I made a note to revisit the use of the Exp. Share at the end of the episode.
For badge battle #6, I again turned to Nala to get the party started, and was promptly rewarded with a one-shot victory over Mawile. In Act II, Mr. Mime was a bit tougher to bring down thanks to its Light Screen and Reflect moves (and Valerie’s healing items), but Nala continued her George Strait impression (stand there and sing use Flamethrower) until the mime could be served well-done back to its Trainer. I swapped to Amelia for the final matchup against Sylveon, looking on as the ghostly balloon laughed off a STAB Dazzling Gleam and responded with back-to-back Shadow Balls to slam the door. Three up, three down.
The Fairy badge was mine, but the victory felt a bit hollow given the level advantage. I didn’t have a ton of time to reflect on the issue, however, because Shauna and Trevor immediately grabbed me and wanted to go visit the Poké Ball factory…which was of course crawling with Team Flare flunkies.
Thanks to Shauna’s distraction of the guard and Serena’s battle by the reception desk (which included her dropping a sick burn about the Team Flare uniform), Ollie was able to infiltrate the facility, ride all the conveyor belts, and smack down anyone wearing a red suit. The entire floor was neutralized in about ten minutes, and I was in the CEO’s office staring down a few more high-level execs from the bad guys.
The white-suited admin was no different from her bald counterpart from the Power Plant: Decent design, no actual name, no chance against Birdo’s ferocity. When her scientist helpers Bryony and Celosia tried to best me using math (2 > 1), Serena arrived to even the odds and make it a true Double Battle.
The battle opened poorly: Manectric held the advantage over Birdo, and Liepard held the advantage over Serena’s Meowstic. Ollie had survived too many Turf Wars to lose his cool now, and he calmly switched to Thumper as Meowstic fell to the scientific pair. A Dig dodged two attacks and flattened Manectric in one shot, and a Strength cleaned up what was left of Liepard once Chesnaught was through with it.
With that, the day was saved and a shiny new Master Ball was given to the conquering heroes. Serena, however, was not happy with her performance in the battle…
This wasn’t a massive episode geographically (we covered a whole two routes), but the pace of the game has really picked up, as we’ve gone from having two badges at the end of Episode #3 to having six just two weeks later. The pace of play issue, however, is secondary to the question of whether the Exp. Share has made Ollie’s team a bit too OP at this point in the game: Should we reverse our earlier decision to use it, or keep going and assume the game will catch up to us as the impending apocalypse arrives? That will be item #1A on our agenda in the next episode.
Team-wise, Nala was easily the standout Pokémon this week, but nearly everyone had some impressive moments (even Patty, despite continually getting the short end of the type-matchup stick). Adding a Flygon is still an intriguing possibility, and I’m still hoping to find a Grass-type to cover Suzy II’s old role, but so far I’m pretty happy with what I’m seeing. Of course, what I’m seeing is partially due to the Exp. Share, so if I forgo it next week, my feelings may change…
Tune in next week, when Ollie and company visit snow country and looks to capture their seventh badge!