My path is clear: travel to nearby Camphrier Town to learn more about this Mega Evolution whatever stuff. As I go to leave Professor Sycamore’s building, however, I meet someone new. He is well-dressed, in an immaculate black suit with red piping, and has ridiculous hair, bright vermillion, sweeping back from his head in a sort of V-shape, so he will surely be important to the story.
This man is apparently interested in meeting Professor Sycamore’s recruits, and introduces himself as Lysandre – a French derivative of the ancient Greek name Lysander, which means something like “liberator of men;” the most famous historical figure by this name was a Spartan general at the end of the 5th century BC responsible for creating the great Spartan fleet that broke the naval supremacy of Athens and ended the thirty-year Peloponnesian War (I’m a classicist; so sue me). He doesn’t really say why he wants to meet us, but does explain that he’s working to create “a more beautiful world,” and seems to think we could somehow be part of that. He leaves fairly promptly, allowing Serena to monopolise my time instead. Apparently she wants to talk to me about something but wants to do it somewhere more private, so she asks me to join her at the nearby Café Soleil. Um. Did I just get asked out on a date? Sorry, Serena, but I think I’m already in a committed relationship with the Lumiose Transport Authority guy who randomly fell in love with me earlier this afternoon. Still, I suppose it’s polite to go and let her down in person…
I meet Serena at the café, but something far more interesting than our love lives has come up: Lysandre is there, chatting to a glamorous woman. Serena informs me that Lysandre is the head of a major research firm known as Lysandre Labs (well, that explains why he knows Professor Sycamore), and that the woman he’s talking to is a famous Kalosian movie star named Diantha. We take a moment to eavesdrop on their conversation. Lysandre is asking Diantha whether she, as an actress, would prefer to “remain young and beautiful forever,” rather than grow old. After all, surely it’s her job to be beautiful, and make others happy by sharing that beauty with them? Diantha disagrees, saying that she looks forward to the challenge of playing new, more mature roles as she ages. They continue in this theme for a short time before Lysandre notices me and Serena listening in and greets us. He pontificates briefly about his wish to bring happiness to all people by creating a world where nothing ages and beauty never fades, then wishes us a good day and leaves. Diantha takes a moment to introduce herself to us, and then leaves as well. Questioning the café’s clientele later reveals that Lysandre is apparently “gathering young people for the sake of society.”
What a nice man. Good thing he’s not doing anything suspicious.
Serena remembers what she wanted to talk to me about – apparently she just wants to make a formal request to be my rival. I didn’t even realise that was a thing you needed to do; I thought she was already my rival, although I suppose in retrospect we’ve never battled before… I ask her whether she wants to battle now, and the answer is apparently no. I guess she’ll bring it up again later.
…wait, this doesn’t mean we’re, like, engaged or anything, does it?
Before leaving for Camphrier Town, I figure I may as well check out Lumiose City. Only the South Boulevard and Vernal Avenue, one of the city’s great axial roads, are accessible to me at the moment because of a blackout (apparently in Poké-Paris the term ‘blackout’ has little to do with the electricity supply, since I can clearly see lights on in the buildings past the checkpoints, and everything to do with oppressive regulation of the movement of the populace). Still, there seem to be a few attractions. Vernal Avenue offers a lavish Stone Emporium, selling Fire, Water and Leaf stones, a herbal medicine shop, two cafés, a clothing store (which forbids me entry on the grounds that I’m not stylish enough – me! Do they know who I am!?), and some kind of salon dedicated entirely to a bizarre poodle-like Pokémon called a Furfrou. Aside from more cafés, the Sycamore Institute, and the Pokémon Centre, the South Boulevard features an expensive restaurant, some sort of advertising studio, and a salon for humans, where you can mix up your hair style and colour (wow; they’re really pushing the character customisation angle). While getting a quick trim, I learn that the salon also fills the traditional role of gossip-monger – apparently the stylist recently met a mysterious man who tried to teach her to use some kind of “power” (she’s evasive about what exactly that means) and then vanished into thin air. Well. Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. The advertising studio intrigues me at first with the possibility of producing a propaganda video to begin acclimatising the citizens of France to my oppressive regime of hate and fear, but the staff seem intent on allowing me to speak only the blandest and most uninformative lines of dialogue, so I quickly give up and leave in disgust. The restaurant, known inexplicably as Restaurant Le Nah, seems to pride itself on the blandness of its food and insists on serving double-battles alongside its meals, which must be won in exactly two turns in order to enjoy the food properly. As service goes, they’re a bit rubbish, but at least each meal comes with a free bag of mushrooms. For some reason.
Feeling I’ve exhausted the possibilities of Paris for now, I head for the next gate, where I get a call from Tierno telling me to come and check out the hordes of Pokémon on the next route. Sure, why not? The moment I leave the city, I am accosted by a Lucario belonging to a snazzily-dressed roller-skater who introduces herself as Korrina, the Shalour City Gym Leader (presumably a Fighting- or Steel-type specialist – it’s hard to tell which because the other Pokémon with her is also a Lucario). Apparently her Lucario has noticed something curious about my aura, but she doesn’t seem to think it’s all that important and leaves without investigating further. I shrug in agreement and set off to find Trevor and Tierno. Battling the trainers in this area, I realise that my Pokémon are far outstripping what the game designers seem to have intended, decide that the Exp. Share is basically Easy Mode, and turn it off. I can always switch it back on later if it turns out my Pokémon are growing too slowly. Nonetheless, they continue to grow as I fight and catch wild Pokémon in the area – Plusle, Minun, Abra, Gulpin, Doduo, Scraggy, and three newcomers: Pancham, Skiddo, and Furfrou. I recognise Furfrou from the salon in town – apparently a Normal-type with fairly underwhelming stats, and the pattern of empty spaces in my Pokédex leads me not to expect an evolution. At the moment, she seems to be another of those Pokémon where Game Freak have come up with a neat gimmick and decided they’ve done enough (although she does have a very nice ability that halves all physical damage). Pancham is a Fighting-type and looks like a physical tank, blessed with the Mold Breaker ability and a bucketload of attitude. Skiddo, finally, looks to be the juvenile form of a Pokémon called Gogoat used by the people of Lumiose City to travel quickly, an all-rounder in battle with a generally calm nature. He’s a Grass-type, so I make a note of him for possible rotation into my party at a later date. Meanwhile, Ilex hits level 16 and evolves into Ivysaur, while Kore reaches 19 and becomes a Floette, larger and more powerful than her previous form but not particularly different in any obvious way except that she is no longer smaller than her own flower. Finally, I catch up with Trevor and Tierno. Tierno is apparently so excited at seeing so many wild Pokémon around and so entranced by their moves that he isn’t battling properly, but would nonetheless like to go a few rounds with me. I accept, and finally meet Tierno’s starter – Corphish? Tierno’s partner Pokémon is a Corphish? What possessed Professor Sycamore to give a newbie a mean-tempered bastard of a Pokémon like that? Once Ilex has stomped Tierno and his lobster, Trevor offers me a gift of honey, saying it will help to attract the swarming Pokémon in the area. But he also gives a word of warning: “if you’re going to challenge a whole horde, you may want to use moves that can hit multiple targets.”
I wander into the grass with Ilex and start waving the honey around. Almost immediately, a wild Gulpin appears. And another. And a third. And a fourth. And a fifth.
So, five-on-one battles with wild Pokémon are now a thing. Their levels are dramatically reduced compared to other Pokémon in the area, but these can still be nasty – with so many Pokémon of the same kind fighting you at once, techniques like Growl and Sand Attack can add up pretty damn quickly. Trevor’s right; multiple-target attacks like Kore’s Razor Leaf make these fights a lot less painful.
Well, once that’s out of the way, on to Camphrier Town…
Ridiculous quote log:
“If you’re like a cheerful sun, everyone will be grateful. If you’re like the Pokémon Solrock… well, some things are best left unsaid.”
…I don’t get it. What the hell do you have against Solrock, Café Soleil cashier?