As Cheren, Bianca, Team Plasma, N, Ghetsis, Professor Juniper, and just about anybody of importance clears out of town, it is abundantly clear I'm supposed to push on to the first Gym. But nuts to that, I've got places to explore. All the best loot is off the beaten path, anyway.
Oooh, bet there's a potion back here!
Although apparently Accumula Town is exceptionally loot poor. The thing about the first town out in every Pokemon game (and just about every RPG ever made) is that random NPC's feel the need to give the kind of advice that makes no sense in context, but needs to be squeezed in someplace because nobody is going to read the damn manual. So this round of "Talk to the Peasantry" consisted mostly of non sequiters like "You can only carry six Pokemon!" or "One day a hero will lead the world, and a Pokemon will come help him!" On the plus side, the musicians playing at the Baron's estate were really damn good
Since the most exciting thing going on in Accumula was the game of
Rock Paper Scissors
Grass Fire Water I could play with an eight year old, I give in and set off for Striaton City. At this point, I run into one of the first places I can definitively say that Gen V has an advantage over Gen I- the gatehouses. As you know
, gatehouses serve as "bookends" to Routes, to provide the illusion that the cities are somewhat bigger than they are. In Gen I, the Saffron City gatehouses consisted of two counters opposite one another, behind which guards could stand to hassle you until you got them a drink, a quest it took me an embarrassing amount of time to comprehend my first time through. I guess they didn't have a water cooler or anything. Other gatehouses didn't even have that much- mostly a couple of potted plants, maybe an observation deck.
In Gen V, they replaced this with a GIANT BILLBOARD. Not just any giant billboard, one of those scrolling ones you see in Times Square, more a news ticker than anything else.
Like this, but covered in Pokeballs
But the part that makes it awesome is that instead of rolling advertisements for Pokemarts or Pokecondoms or whatever, it scrolls through somewhat useful information. That's right, I learned more from this piece of neon extravagance than I did from the entire population of Accumula Town. Did you know there is a Day Care on Route 3? I DID NOT. Now I know to avoid catching a Pokemon if I can, in case they've got an egg for me to babysnatch.
Pleased with this unexpected development, I head out to Route 2. Before I get very far though, my mother catches up with me.
Monk, hang on!
Mom! I was hoping to talk to you, I-
Monk dear, wait a moment! This is important! I heard you were going to take the Pokemon League Challenge, so I got you these!
Mom, that is an old pair of shoes.
I bought these a long time ago and stashed them somewhere. I found them when I was cleaning up. I guess it's good to clean occasionally! [actual game dialog]
Well, that's true I guess, but the thing is the Town Map you gave me had some wier-
Now that you have these shoes, you can run from place to place. That should help cut down on travel time!
I really need to ask y- wait, I couldn't run in the shoes I'm wearing?
Dear, you are going to be facing a lot of very important nobles in very important places fighting very important battles, and they aren't going to take you seriously if you don't follow the appropriate etiquette.
That's good sense, I suppose.
So remember to speak formally, wear your running shoes in the field, your dress shoes on the battlefield, and your blue suede shoes on the dance floor, and most importantly, remember the advice your father gave you.
"When in doubt, pinkie out."
Very good! Now don't let me keep you, you have very important things to be about! I'm very proud of you.
Wait, I still need to ask you...
But she was already gone- clearly she was wearing her running shoes.
Well, no point in delaying here any longer- time to make a new best friend! Mucking around in the tall grass quickly got me a level 6 Lillipup.
Oh jeez, dog's name, dog's name... um... Pompey?
[I LOVE THAT NAME!]
Easy, champ- save that enthusiasm for the battles- I can see lots of Trainers around here.
[I LOVE BATTLING!]
Although we should probably do a little grinding first, to get you up to speed with Marvin.
[I LOVE GRINDING!]
[I hate you already.]
Alright Pompey, let's see what you've got under the hood.
[I LOVE THE HOOD!]
Somebody's gotta represent
Pompey- Calm nature, often scatters things. Ability: Vital Spirit- prevents the Pokemon from falling asleep. That's pretty handy, considering he's basically the Rattata of this game. A few battles later, he learns Bite, which is Dark type nowadays and is still awesome. Wait a minute...
He's a great Ghost killer.. dammit, I should have named him Venkman
! That's it, from now on I'm looking on their learnsets before deciding on a name.
The Trainers around here are about what you'd expect for somebody who calls Route Two home- a bunch of losers battling with the Pidgey/Rattata standins. My crew breezes through them- its the tall grass that is dangerous.
*WILD LILLIPUP APPEARED!*
Alright, take him down Pompey!
*WILD LILLIPUP APPEARED!*
Good work, Marvin! Come on guys, lets head back to the Pokecenter befo-
*WILD LILLIPUP APPEARED!*
Mew's whiskers, who keeps abandoning puppies out here? No matter, we're almost ther-
Son of a BITCH! I have the WORST luck.-MEANWHILE, A BIT FURTHER AHEAD-
Oh no, Kantoese slave traders! Quick, Tepig, save me!
[Will you be my friend, Mr. Ball?]
Tepig, stop fooling around and save me you stupid git!
Don't worry Bianca, I'll save you! Go, Snivy! ...Snivy?-MEANWHILE, IN A REMOTE FOREST CLEARING-
[Soon, the doomsday device will be complete! By intercepting and scrambling the satellite beams that transfer Boxed Pokemon from one PC to another, I can turn every single Trainer's Pokemon into drooling monstrosities! None shall remain to oppose my conquest of the world!]
[Not so fast, Professor Purrloin!]
[So, we meet again Secret Agent Snivy! I'm afraid you are too late to stop me now- all I need to do is flip this switch, and the world will be my litterbox!]
[That's what you think! Behold!]
[NOOOOO! Not a shiny nickle! Must... resist... urge to steal! So...... SHINY! I MUST POSSESS IT!]
[Aha! Another cat-astrophe averted by Secret Agent Snivy!]
[Curses! Foiled again! I'll get you one day Secret Agent Snivy, just you wait!]-MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE PLOT-
Route two isn't a very interesting place to be- mostly it involves a lot of walking through grass on your way to Striaton and hopping over ledges on your way back to Accumula. I end up making that return trip several times, as the swarm of Lillipup's forces me to either backtrack to a Pokecenter or burn a potion- being a miserly bastard, I always take the free healthcare option.
In the midst of the trainer battles, I notice something rather odd. You see, in this game when you are fighting a trainer the trainer pops in occasionally to give some inane encouragement to their Pokemon. I had seen this behavior before from my rivals, but I thought that was just a symptom of their plot-importance. The reason it is rather odd is because you're battling along, not a care in the world, and then you are bluntly reminded that it is NOT you who is fighting, but these
little animals tearing each others throats out while you and another ten year old shout encouragement in much the same manner a football fan offers tactical advice to his team's quarterback. It's obvious they were trying to make each trainer somewhat more interesting, but intentionally or not they've underscored the brutality of the combat in the Pokemon world, and the callousness with which Trainers view these everyday deathmatches. Deep shit right there.
After battling through the waves of Lillipups (interspersed with the odd Purrloin) and the slack-jawed yokels who train here, I near the end of the Route. After a little exploration I find a potion and a Pokeball way off the main track, presumably on the rotting corpse of an unlucky trainer. Off to the west there is a tree that I will be able to use Cut on later, but not right now. Right now, all I want is a nice warm Pokecenter to heal up at, and a-
Hey Monk, let's have another Pokemon fight! I'm much stronger now!
Actually, this fight is pathetically easy. Bianca has her derp pig and a Lillipup- Pompey handles them both without any drugs or help from Marvin. Mostly it is troubling in the sense that she came out of nowhere to challenge me to a fight at the end of a route, right before the blessed Pokecenter, and immediately ran Mew-knows-where afterwards. It is a portent of things to come, I fear.
And when I say Bianca ran Mew-knows-where, I mean it. She took off back down Route two towards Accumula Town (instead of ahead to Striaton,) and intrigued I follow her. Following her last known trajectory, her only escape would be past the Cuttable tree- is there a secret douche base there? Is Cheren even now waiting there for the perfect time to strike?
Probably wants to touch my balls, too
A worry for another day- Striaton is before me, and somewhere in this vast city... THE FIRST GYM
NEXT TIME: Free Monkies!