Pokemon Black, Day 6

Yesterday, I rode a Ferris wheel, beat N, beat a gym leader, and got beaten on Battle Subway.


Further exploring the city, I see that Bianca is in front of the musical building. One of the people in the pokecenter mentioned that in combination with her pokemon, so I fear this is going to be a minigame. Let’s find out.

When we go in the guy in charge comes over and is impressed by what strong trainers we are.

What do we do here? We use Props to make your Pokemon fashionable and glamorous!

Oh god no. Not this again.

Also, I would just like to note the absolute nadir of the capitalization bullshit here.

The prop case (or Prop Case, as the sheep would insist it be written) is pink and has a heart lid. Is that the same between genders?

Anyway, it’s been redone from the previous version in that now you can’t just slap whatever anywhere on your pokemon, there’s only a few spots anything can go. I tried putting stuff on Maka’s tailtip and nope, head only. The results do look better than the sloppy stuff from before, but you can’t do anything halfway clever.

Bianca, in an impressive show of taste, demures that this is all so lovely and wonderful and oh she would love to but she’s gottagoseetherestofthecitybye!

I, though, have a responsibility to you hateful readers to see this through.

The explanation for the place is that one day pokemon followed actors onto stage and began imitating them, and everyone thought it was adorable. Really not getting the sense pokemon are equals here.

The musical itself is incredibly boring. It’s just all the pokemon hopping back and forth. I was hoping there’d be a little storyline because you can pick which musical to take part in but no. I do especially terribly, probably because I have no idea what each item’s cool/cute/etc alignment is.

Outside, Bianca is staring at some guy who’s just shown up.

Bianca: Daddy?! What are you doing here?

Bianca’s Dad: I’ve come to take you back home, of course! Your mother told me that you’d made it all the way out here. Haven’t you gone far enough?

Bianca takes a step back.

Bianca: No way! I’m going to keep traveling with Farla and my Pokemon!

Her dad takes a step forward.

Bianca’s Dad: Absolutely not! Others do things their way, and we do things ours!

Bianca: Is that so? Then, how about you do things your way, and I’ll do things mine!

Well, I’m glad Bianca’s standing up for herself, but… Well, I suppose part of it is the fanfic thing, where I feel I’ve already seen this plot so many times. And even though her dad is phrasing it as a family matter and not a matter of her being a girl, it’s hard to ignore the latter aspect when Cheren has no similar subplot and she’s been portrayed as weak in a stereotypically feminine way.

But a voice interrupts.

Sweetie, you keep going on your travels.

It’s the gym leader! I was expecting it to be the mom or something.

Bianca’s Dad: Hey, who do you think you are? This is a family matter!

My name is Elesa. I’m the town’s Gym Leader. I also happen to be a model.

-_- of course. “Model” is one of those occupations you just sort of throw at female characters.

Is this supposed to take place before I beat the gym? It seems like it’s the introduction to her.

You know, there are many people in this world. There are people whose way of thinking may be completely different from yours. Sometimes, this means you may get hurt.

Bianca’s Dad: Of course! That’s exactly right! It’s because I’m worried about that…

Elesa: But it’s important to keep trying, to learn about the differences between yourself and others… To learn that being different is OK. And you shouldn’t worry. Trainers always have Pokemon at their side. Pokemon are wonderful. It’s not only how cute they can be, but also how much you can depend on them…

I’m actually not quite sure where the game is going with its constant “differences” talk. The friendship and people/pokemon stuff is obvious.

Also I wonder how this came off in Japan, which is pretty homogenous. Or maybe that’s why it’s coming off as so trite to me? America’s much more pro-individuality, even if it’s something that, in practice, people don’t always follow through on.

Then:

Bianca: Please!

NO! Don’t ask him don’t plead with him don’t tell him to consider your side, just tell him that no, you are a trainer and he can’t make you stop. Pleading is accepting that he has the right and ability to make you stop and that you’re asking him to let you go.

I know there’s gonna be painful stuff like you’re worrying about! I know! Really, I get it! But, like, listen… There’ll be tons of nice people, too. Know what else? Since I’ve been traveling with Pokemon, I’ve already gotten tougher, I can totally tell. So…please?

Ugh.

Bianca’s Dad: Hmm… I guess. If wanting to continue your journey is selfishness on your part, wanting to stop you is selfishness on mine. I’m surprised to find I’m the one being childish– at my age!

Only it wasn’t selfishness on her part in the first place…

This Gym Leader’s comments helped me wake up. Bianca, I’m sure it’s better that you take the path you want to take now. I hope your journey will be fun. Bon voyage! Farla, please… Take care of my little girl, OK?

Bianca: Papa, I’ll come home after I find ot what I really want to do!

Yeah, I really hate her plotline. She’s not here to be a trainer or because she has ambition, she’s there to, in the most nonconfrontational manner possible, learn about herself. It’s like girls going to college to find a husband.

Elesa: I’m sure he traveled as a Trainer himself, in the past… Being a parent must be hard. Did I meddle unnecessarily? You looked troubled, so I decided to chime in. I’m sorry, Farla. I’ll be waiting on Route 5.

So this scene is meant to take place after winning the gym? Or does this change based on if I’ve won or not?

Bianca: She’s so cool! Hah! I want to be a totally cool woman like Elesa! Mm. I wonder how I’ll get there. Well, before that, I guess I need to discover what I really want to do! See you later, Farla!

So is the idea that Bianca keeps seeing other female characters who aren’t weak like she is? I feel patronized.

Fine. Back to exploring. I get the strength HM and a soothe bell. There’s also a stadium. There’s a bunch of people to talk to in the stands, but I can’t seem to see the actual game. In the smaller stadium, I can get onto the field, where the athletes apparently would rather battle than play. Hm, no, that was only the first person, the rest seem more focused.

Both seem rather pointless, really…

On to Route 5! And Cheren’s just shown up! Apparently he just got the badge too.

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L24 liepard
L26 demott
L24 pansear
L24 tranquill

Cheren wants to know why he can’t beat me, the most depressing of rival subplots. I don’t want someone who tries hard and is a decent person consistently failing at their dream. I want an asshole who takes defeat in stride and mocks me.

Elesa shows up yet again. It’s like the people making this game suddenly realized cutscenes existed and decided to stuff them into every available point. She notes we’re friends.

That’s nice, how you’re helping each other get better by competing.

I don’t think I’m helping Cheren. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m currently on track to eventually crush his dreams in the most decisive way possible either right before or directly after he challenges the Elite Four.

She leads us forward and some guy with flame hair notices us. He starts going on about how festivles are awesome. Apparently he’s the champion. Cheren is shocked it’s him because apparently he’s never seen a picture of the guy.

Why would the Champion be goofing off in a place like this?

Why, where do you expect the champion to goof off? Not enough hookers and blow?

Alder: I heard that remark. You’re quite a judgmental young person, are you not? My name is Alder. I’m the Unova Pokemon League’s Champion.

Yes, so we were just told. Alder, I assure you that it looks a lot worse when you throw “btw league champion” into random conversation. It’s even worse when you do so after we were just told that and you know we know, because then the only reason for you to say it is to imply it has bearing over who’s right in the conversation.

For your information, I’m not goofing off. I’m on a voyage. I know every corner of Unova.

Cheren: Um. I’m Cheren, from Nuvema Town. My goal as a Trainer is to become the Champion.

Alder: Hm. Traveling with a goal in mind is a commendable thing. And what do you plan to do after becoming the Champion?

Cheren: What else is there other than striving to become stronger? The strongest Trainer– That’s the Champion.

Alder: Hmm. Becoming stronger… Becoming stronger, you say… Is that alone enough of a goal? Hmmm. It’s not that I’m trying to say your way of thinking is wrong…

It’s just that I’m passive-aggressively implying it.

In my travels, I’ve helped many people learn to love Pokemon. I think that’s important, too.

Well, that’s great and all, but that doesn’t mean it’s the champion’s job. If a doctor golfs all the time, that doesn’t mean golfing is something all doctors need to do and any doctor who doesn’t is neglecting their doctor skills.

Also, who the hell needs to be taught to love pokemon? That’s like bragging you’ve gone around convincing people sugar tastes good.

(And how does everyone must love pokemon fit with the idea that different opinions are okay?)

If you play with those children, you might gain more of an understanding. Will you two have a Pokemon battle with those two? Hey, you two. Come here for a moment.

Cheren: …Understood.

Well, that makes one of us.

But before that…

And my pokemon are healed.

Now, it’s battling time. Double battle with my failrival.

They keep attacking my pokemon and ignoring his…

Alder: Nicely done! You didn’t win, but that was a good battle. Your Pokemon looked like they were having fun.

I poisoned them both in that battle.

Young man, if there are people like you who pursue strength, there are also people who are happy just being with Pokemon.

Or as I call them, weaklings.

There are many different people and many different answers.

And there may be no stupid questions, but there are definitely stupid answers.

When it comes to what a Champion should be, you and I may hold differing views, but so be it! Give it some thought.

My thought is that while you’re playing with kids I’m leveling.

Anyway. See, this is what I was getting at with Lance. If this was the champion of some other region, who’d already proved himself in battle and who I knew, this would be good. But I’m not going to fangirl characters I’ve never met, even if you tell me they’re super awesome.

It is possible to introduce a new character a while before the player is strong enough to fight them, but it’s a lot harder, and they should be kept at a distance. Seeing him actually doing some cool thing and then disappearing, for example, would work. But having him come right up to us, do nothing impressive, but have everyone act like he’s something special is definitely not how to do it.

See, if it’s a new character, the point of it should be to establish them as badass. Instead what we have here is a character attempting to cash his badass points in a lecture, but the only way the game’s established him as badass is saying he’s got the points to cash here – treating it like we must think he’s awesome and want to listen. You can do that with a character that’s already known, but not a new one.

It’s the same rules as introducing a new character in fanfic, to put it shortly.

Having it be another league champion would also help the issue of Cheren not recognizing him.

Elesa: Let’s roll. The Driftveil Drawbridge is just ahead.

Cheren: The Champion is the strongest of the strong! That’s all there is too it.

Cheren speaks the truth. That’s how it’s determined. Literally.

He runs off. Cutscene finally, finally over.

There’s a van with a maid who says she wants me to sell her ingredients. For example, the $100 castelcone thing is worth $2000. The lemonade is just worth the usual price.

Before I continue, I’m going to check through the dex for pokemon I missed. I know I need to backtrack to get a munna.

Apparently watchog is found in the same area…Pansear is presumably found in the rustling grass same as the other one…Woobat seems to be found in the Wellspring Cave. Basculin requires fishing. That cactus pokemon is back in the sandy area. Trubbish is coming up next, as is minccino and the freaky goth pokemon. And the water duck and flying electric rat.

Huh, first pokemon I run into in the sand is the cactus I want.

Maractus. Only I knock it out by accident. And then the next pokemon I run into is another one.

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It uses an up-tempo song and dance to drive away the bird Pokemon that prey on its flower seeds.

Back further. I’m getting so little experience from battles, so I stick a suckrat on my team with the experience share to level it up instead.

I find a sawk at last.

The sound of Sawk punching boulders and trees can be heard all the way from the mountains where they train.

On to Dreamland.

And the first pokemon I see? Munna. It’s very obliging about being captured, using lucky chant to prevent an accidental critical on my part and then defense curl to help with the whittling.

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Munna always float in the air. People whose dreams are eaten by them forget what the dreams had been about.

No luck searching for others, so I get bored and head back to Route 5.

Current Team:

PhotobucketSandile L26
PhotobucketWhirlipede L25
PhotobucketTranquill L26
PhotobucketHerdier L28
PhotobucketBoldore L27
PhotobucketPignite L25

Anyway, continuing along Elesa, who must have been getting a bit impatient waiting for me, sees me and then says something about contacting “him” to lover the drawbride. Why is there a drawbridge here?

I have a couple of Trainers here who want to challenge you.

Wait what? Well, I guess I’m not going to complain about more fighting.

And we get a cutscene of a massive bridge coming down and locking together. You know that must take an enormous amount of energy to move.

Elesa has to go do modeling stuff, so she goes off.

The Gym Leader of the next town may take some getting used to…

No, not another quirky guy…

Cheren says that he’s a trainer and that means he proves he’s right by winning. Yes, I agree completely. But I’m going to check out the rest of the route first.

I’ve managed to powerlevel the suckrat up to L19, and still no evolution. So I suppose the gym leader’s L20 was the lowest level possible.

Minccino!

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They greet one another by rubbing each other with their tails, which are always kept well groomed and clean.

Trubbish… God, this one looks stupid, even with the low bar the games have set.

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Inhaling the gas they belch will make you sleep for a week. They prefer unsanitary places.

Gothita… Same issue.

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Their ribbonlike feelers increase their psychic power. They are always staring at something.

And yes! Suckrat evolves.

Watchog.

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When they see an enemy, their tails stand high, and they spit the seeds of berries stored in their cheek pouches.

When I got back to dump it off my team, I check the gym to see if Cheren’s name has been added. It has, as has Bianca’s. Points for attention to detail, I guess, but it seems like this is missing the crucial part of a rival being someone I strive to catch up with, not someone trailing after me.

On the bridge, I see a black thingy and get a clever wing, which apparently boosts special defense like a vitamin. Then the guy explains it’s the shadows of bird wings and they drop items or sometimes trigger a battle.

Collecting a lot of them. And then it’s ducklett.

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These bird Pokemon are excellent divers. They swim around the water eating their favorite food– peat moss.

And then my brother told me that boldore evolves by trade, so he traded me.

Gigalith. It reminds me of metagross.

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Compressing the energy from its internal core lets it fire off an attack capable of blowing away a mountain.

Also, munna apparently evolves by moonstone, so let’s get that done.

Musharna. What the hell it looks like a fetus.

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The mist emanating from their foreheads is packed with the dreams of people and Pokemon.

So I’ll go with the dwebble for now. Replacement rock type.

Back to the bridge, I’m not finding anything but the ducklett, so I’ll assume that’s all there is here? Also, people say the guy who controls the bridge is Clay, that jerk who wastes perfectly good fossils by sending them to a museum to be displayed. Beating him down is going to be fun.

And now trying to get into town, another cutscene. Cheren’s there and I arrive to find someone being curmudgeonly at us.

Hrmph! So yer the Trainers Elesa was talkin’ about, huh. I’m Clay. I’m the Gym Leader ’round these parts. Don’t be expectin’ no welcome, now.

No worries, I already hate you.

‘Cause when we lowered that bridge, the Team Plasma guys we’d caught done escaped in all the ruckus!

Uh, that seems like your screwup, what does your incompetence have to do with me?

Cheren: What a bother. We’re grateful that you lowered the bridge, but how is it our fault that they escaped?

Thank you, Cheren. You’re downright tolerable.

Clay: Ya can say whatever ya want. But what’s important is y’all showed up, and then Team Plasma escaped. Maybe it’s a little heavy-handed, but you oughtta start lookin’ for Team Plasma, too. Yer both talented Trainers, aren’t ya?

Tell ya what… If ya find Team Plasma I’ll let ya challenge my Gym! Life’s all about give and take!

ARG. See, I was happy to hate him over something trivial, like the fossils. Actually making him this infuriating just pisses me off at the writers, especially since the plot’s just going to be me doing his dumb task and getting nothing but the plot actually progressing in return.

This kind of thing is only okay when it’s from someone who’s going to actually get more retribution than just having to give us a badge – you know, their actual job.

Cheren: Well I suppose that’s fair.

NO! NO IT ISN”T!

But really, we would have looked for Team Plasma even if he hadn’t asked.

Yes, which is why it’s so galling to be ordered about. It’s also galling to have a character telling me how I’m supposed to feel.

See, normally the voiceless protagonist thing works okay because no one else is talking all over the place either, and especially not having conversations. There’s also various points in the game that hint or outright show that your character does talk, the dialogue on your end just isn’t explicitly shown so you can fill in the particular response you make in your mind. Adding in another character gives all the drawbacks of putting a voice to the main avatar without the usual benefit that players can treat it as roleplaying a particular character. My avatar still doesn’t have any characterization, but Cheren being able to say stuff like that without an argument or even recognition of my seething expression says I agree with Stupid here.

It’s also similar to my objection of the constant handholding. The mechanics have blessedly stopped being explained every five minutes, but I’m still getting my feelings on the plot explained to me with proxy characters, instead of a straight monologue at my character and then me being able to take that how I want.

Exploring, there’s this new thing called a rotation battle where there are three pokemon out but only the center one attacks and gets hit, and you and the other person can both freely rotate pokemon. It seems overly confusing.

They have a market that sells herbal medicine, so I spend all my current cash on revival herbs. Cheaper and better than revives.

Someone says I’ll get something if I show a L30 pokemon, which I don’t quite have yet.

In the pokecenter, I get another bunch of free items: repeat balls, most useless of all.

Elsewhere, I’m informed that some old guy is looking for legendaries on Route 6.

If you’re interested, go talk to him!

Oh, I am very, very interested in anyone going after MY legendary pokemon, random NPC.

Below the city is another area, Cold Storage. There’s a PP up in a trashcan.

Suddenly, Cheren shows up. Apparently he thinks I was looking for Team Plasma here. That doesn’t even make sense, if they got away because the bridge was lowered surely that’s saying they escaped because the bridge was lowered? Now apparently it was so unrelated they haven’t even left town?

But whatever. Maybe we’re finally getting a dungeon area!

And now a pair of vanillite popped out of the grass.

..They look like ice cream cones.

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The temperature of their breath is -58 F. They create snow crystals and make snow fall in the areas around them.

Anyway, so it looks like Team Plasma’s in the warehouse. Tomorrow, then.

8 Comments

  1. Fool says:

    …They look like ice cream cones.

    Yeah, you can really tell the designers are running out of ideas. Seriously, ice cream cone pokemon? What is this i dont even

  2. purplekitte says:

    Yeah, I think the Bianca scene is supposed to take place before the gym, but obviously it’s not a necessary trigger for the battle. See, since I read less standard “no, you’re a girl, you can’t go be a trainer” fic, I saw less of that and more of “Bianca’s dad is a passive-aggressive abusive bastard”, even more than him being over-protective, because I was in the middle of a research project about that at the time and he was hitting a bunch of warning behaviors there. Alder is merely a dick in his introduction scene.

    The stadiums become available for about ten trainer battles a day each after beating the Elite 4. It’s not bad because they have pretty much the highest level pokemon short of the Elite 4 themselves.

    1. Farla says:

      I guess to be specific, it reads as abusive to me but not like it’s intended to be abusive from the way the dad is portrayed as realizing his error and letting her go so easily (though I’ll have to see how things develop there), so there’s this uncomfortable subtext to me in why the developers chose to make the female rival have this plotline. 

      And there is a lot of overlap. Most of the “trainers can’t be girls!” stuff also tends to have controlling and/or abusive parents.

  3. Rory says:

    I read Cheren’s “I suppose that’s fair” comment as sarcastic. It probably wasn’t supposed to be that way, but that’s the only way it made any sense to me. 

    Although thinking about it, maybe Clay’s dialogue was just poorly-translated something and his words were supposed to be more something like, “I’m kinda busy with chasing Team Plasma here, but if we all work together we can find them real fast and do the battle right after. Oh, but just in case that’s not enough of an incentive for you to help, I’m still going to be manipulative and make you feel like you’re responsible for the problem in the first place.”

    Bianca’s behavior is kind of realistic, I think. Not like I’m an expert on these things, but I could totally understand that a kid who grew up with a controlling father might be bold stand up to him at some point when she knows he’s being unreasonable, but then, as soon as he starts pretending to be reasonable and just looking after her well-being (which he’s not or he wouldn’t have been passive-aggressive and called her selfish), to immediately think “Look, he’s not so bad, he was just yelling because he was worried about me, maybe I shouldn’t have been so hard on him” and go back to being submissive. But yeah, IA that there are issues with the way it’s presented. Maybe he apologized for this one time, after, y’know getting told off publicly by an authority figure… but that doesn’t mean he’s going to change. And some of the stuff he says is definitely not okay. Like in the beginning when he says she’ll never make it on a Pokemon journey because she knows nothing about the world, despite the fact that it’s totally normal for KIDS to go on journeys. He’s like the Pokemon-world equivalent of the stereotypical parents who tell their kids that they’re too stupid to do anything but flip burgers and force them to drop out of school. So yeah, I REALLY wish the games gave us more of a reason to believe he actually changed his ways and earned his forgiveness.

    1. Farla says:

      In some ways the fact she seems realistic makes it worse. I mean, this is Pokemon, it’s not full of literary depth. So while Bianca giving up and everyone being fine with it and saying she was never going to amount to anything may make sense, it’s being presented at face value. Bianca’s dad really is just concerned for her. Bianca really does just suck as a trainer. Etc. So it ends up being like “Hey kids! You know how your friend’s dad yells at her and won’t let her do anything because he says she’s a stupid fuckup? That’s normal. It just means he cares about her. No need to support your friend or tell another adult!”

      1. Rory says:

        Agreed with that. I mean, I personally liked the plot, since it was an interesting change from the usual where characters’ parents are either famous figures or total nonpersons, but at the same time I can see how it would send a bad message. I haven’t talked to any real kids about this part of the game, but I’m assuming most kids who have good parents would recognize his behavior as bad, like most of the adult fandom does… but I can see it being potentially harmful to someone who is in a situation like Bianca’s. :(

  4. Anonymous says:

    Honestly? The Bianca scene really resonated with me because my dad basically did the EXACT same thing once. Minus the pokemon, obviously.

    1. Farla says:

      The problem to me is that the narrative doesn’t go far enough in condemning it, and it’s giving it to the girl character who’s always being portrayed as not as good. Bianca’s arc gets twisted from her being strong to her being weak but it’s important to try anyway.

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