After a rather paltry liveblogging attempt, I’ve decided to just condense my thoughts on my progress in the game into a full, single blog entry. Having finished the third island (and other stuff), I definitely have a lot to talk about!
Something to note is that, up until this point, I have largely avoided looking up a lot of the more detailed mechanics and Pokémon info in the game, in order to experience as much of it “naturally”, with only what I already know and what the game tells me. However, at this point I feel like I have gone through enough of the game that I have taken some time to look up that info and familiarize myself more with the game’s inner workings and my Pokémon’s more detailed stats. However, I still have not looked up any Pokémon I haven’t seen yet or any info on the fourth island, and of course I am still avoiding story spoilers like the plague.
With that, here’s a look at where I am at the game right now. WARNING: Spoilers after the jump. Early on they will be only minor spoilers, but there are some MASSIVE story spoilers I will talk about towards the end. I will put another warning before I start talking about those, so keep an eye out.
Ula’ula Island: Trials and Tribulations
So the third island, Ula’ula Island, features two trials, a major Team Skull-involved quest, and a Kahuna battle, though with some twists.
The Electric trial was really easy. Once I sent a Ground-type in, Totem Vikavolt literally could not do anything but Charge repeatedly.
On the other hand, the Ghost trial… that Totem Mimikyu really gave me trouble. The overall boost to its already good stats and my team’s relatively low levels meant that pretty much no one on my team could take more than two of its Play Roughs. Ultimately I ended up having to use an X Defend on my most physically defensive Pokémon at the time (Cubone) in order to overcome it. That was the first time I actually used an X item seriously in possibly forever, by the way… Still, I do have to appreciate a Totem Pokémon that actually required some strategy to defeat.
What followed was an interesting Team Skull quest where I had to infiltrate a town that has been run over by them to meet their boss. I really like how Team Skull has their own little ghetto (for lack of a better word), complete with a run-down Pokémon Center occupied by some cash-strapped rappers who will heal your Pokémon for 10 P even though you’re their enemy. They may not have particularly lofty ambitions like past evil teams (though there’s definitely more to them than meets the eye; more on that later), but they have by far the most personality I have ever seen in an evil team.
Oh, and the boss was an interesting–and moderately challenging–fight. Having the boss primarily use Bug-types is a neat twist, considering the previous leanings of past evil teams to other types.
And finally, there’s the kahuna who uses… Dark-types! Yes, after seven generations, we finally have what we can call a Dark-type Gym Leader! Obviously, it’s not exactly the same, but as far as I’m concerned, for all intents and purposes, it counts: a Dark-type specialist that we fight in a major battle before the Pokémon League. Oh, and the battle itself… was pretty easy. Apparently Mimikyu’s Disguise can tank an entire Z-move. Very useful.
There was one final major mission after the third island and before going to the fourth that is very spoilerrific, so I will talk about more of that later, but I will say that the battle at the end of that mission is by far the most fun one yet. The Trainer in question uses five Pokémon (a very high count at this point in the game), all of which are fairly strong and cover completely different types. Not only that, but this Trainer is the first one I have seen in a long time that regularly switches their Pokémon, meaning you have to also switch around to maintain the upper hand. The battle ended up being not too difficult, but it was definitely memorable, and from what I can tell, it is not the last we will see of them.
Messing Around on Festival Plaza
One feature I have been spending more time with is Festival Plaza. Right now I am mainly just stocking up on Festival Coins (FC) for various stuff (I particularly like dying clothes pastel-green), but it helps that missions seem to be going on very frequently to quickly earn those FC. I’ve in particular started to get quite good at the Type Matchup Tests–the trick is to get very used to recognizing and answering with Fire, Water, Electric, Fairy, and Steel where appropriate (the latter two by pressing Up and wrap-scrolling to the bottom of the list), since those are the fastest answers to get to and cover most types. There are a couple of tricky dual-types you have to keep an eye out for (Poison/Dark is most annoying, since its only weakness, Ground, is right in the middle of the list), but otherwise you can easily get the individual 5* every time.
I’ve also finally broken in the GTS, having caught a Ditto, hatched some extra Rowlets, and traded one for a Popplio. More on that later.
Goodbye to HMs
I had suspected it, but receiving Fly as a TM confirmed it for me: HMs are no more,as Ride Pokémon have completely replaced them. And thank goodness.
To be blunt, HMs sucked. Their intended purpose was to offer an extra sense of exploration while limiting your paths through the game and allowing for a sense of progression. However, they had many issues, as the HM moves took up moveslots. First of all, many of the moves themselves were bad, either being too weak (especially late-game) or just plain not useful. Second, you could not delete the move without going to a specific Move Deleter, meaning you had to use a potentially subpar move for a good portion of the game until reaching said guy. Even if HM moves were all useful in battle, the very fact that you had to have a Pokémon that could learn the move could be annoying. I never realized until now how nice it is that I don’t have to have a Pokémon that knew Surf and one that knew Fly with me all the time.
As a bit of an unusual side effect, having the Ride Pokémon replace HMs revealed another flaw of HMs. Before, Surf was generally a mid/late-game HM, as the move is overall rather powerful and one of the better Water-type moves available (hence being too broken if given out too early). However, by putting water-travel on Ride Pokémon instead, surfing can now be done earlier on in the game without any significant balance issues. (Of course, you also get at around this time the TM for Scald, a move that is even better than Surf overall…)
I must say, I did not think too much of Ride Pokémon from the pre-release info, but now that I see what they have done, I think they are one of the best things added to the game. Mostly. Stoutland Search is still stupid. Hopefully, this feature stays in future games; a Sinnoh remake will be so much better if we can just ride a Pokémon to clear fog and climb up mountains.
Here’s a look at my current team.
One member that I had to recently bench from my team is Alolan Marowak. I would have loved to use him, as I love everything about his concept, but unfortunately, apparently the only way for him to learn his unique physical Ghost-type move is to use the move tutor that teaches past level-up moves, whom we do not see until near the end of the game, so that makes him much harder to use. Plus, having three Ghost-types is a bit much.
My Rowlet is fully-evolved, and his unique Z-move is pretty boss. Alolan Persian has stuck with me ever since I recognized how utterly broken STAB Technician Bite is early-game (though that move has since made way for Snarl to make better use of her higher Special Attack). Having Technician-boosted Hidden Power Rock is a nice extra. Alolan Dugtrio has also been pulling quite some weight, even if Magnitude likes to give me 5’s and 4’s at the worst times. Plus, gotta love that hair. I picked up my own Mimikyu as well, and he’s also quite helpful. Disguise is really handy for taking free hits.
One new Pokémon I’ve grown to love is Araquanoid. This guy is one of the game’s Water/Bug-types, and I must say, for how long the only Water/Bug-type around has been Surskit (not even its evolution), it’s nice to have one this good. Araquanoid has solid stats (especially Special Defense) and makes good use of Leech Life, which has now been buffed to four times its original power, and that’s before factoring in its ability. Resisting Fire and being immune to burns is nice, but after some reading, apparently it also massively buffs Water-type attacks, which explains why, despite having relatively low Special Attack, his Scalds and Hydro Vortexes have been absolutely killer. Can’t wait for him to get some physical Water attacks to run off his higher Attack. Also, I love how he looks: a menacing giant spider with a water-bubble head. Definitely not something you want to see by the lake.
I normally keep my EXP Share off and only train off trainers and caught Pokémon, but I did take some time to train up my traded Popplio. I don’t know how much I will ultimately use her, but with Marowak out I figured something should fill the slot. There is one Pokémon I would like to add to my team, who I expect to find on the fourth island.
WARNING: MAJOR STORY SPOILERS AFTER THE PICTURE
Plot Twists and Turns
This is also the point in the game where the plot, as relatively simplistic as it is, takes some interesting twists. That the Aether Foundation is not nearly as good as it seems was not surprising; I knew from their reveal in pre-release info that they were not to be trusted. For them to actually be secretly supporting Team Skull, though… It does make sense, though, for a corporation that prides itself on supporting hurt Pokémon to secretly sponsor the very group doing the hurting, as a way of getting more “business”.
The real interesting part, though, comes in finding out where Lillie and Gladion fit in all of this. Lillie being Lusamine’s daughter, I could kind of see coming… but Gladion being her son, and Lillie’s brother? That might be the first real surprise I ever had from a Pokémon game in a while.
Surprises aside, though, all this creates some more interesting personal dynamics that I think really suit the game. Both of them have been disowned by their mother for not going along with Aether Foundation’s seedier projects, with Lillie escaping with Cosmog and some secret documents and Gladion escaping with Type: Null. At the same time, with Lusamine pursuing the Ultra Beast into the alternate dimension–while unleashing a couple others in Alola–both of them are definitely still concerned about their mother. This gives the player character a more personal reason to get involved with all these evil team shenanigans; sure, there’s the whole “the world is in danger” aspect with all these Ultra Beasts roaming around, but you also want to help your friends find their mother and make sure she’s okay (and not causing any more problems). That kind of personal dynamic with the evil team is overall rather unique, and seeing how Lillie and Gladion face things going forward makes me like both of them even more.
That concludes this week’s Progress Blog. Next week I hope to finish the fourth island and perhaps all of the main game, and give some overall impressions of the game.