More Pokémon flock to join my cause as I head north from Cyllage City: Snubbul, Houndour, Sigilyph, Yanma, Emolga, Nosepass, Golett, a whole octet of Eevee, and an odd brightly-coloured winged humanoid Pokémon called Hawlucha, a Fighting/Flying dual-type plainly based on a lucha libre wrestler. I don’t normally like designs that ape human subcultures, but for some reason Hawlucha works for me.
Maybe it’s because lucha libre is such a bizarre thing to begin with, and does also have a tendency to make use of animal imagery itself, which lends a sort of sense of credibility to the idea of a luchador who actually is a bird. The Pokédex leads me not to expect an evolution, but Hawlucha seems plenty strong enough without one, working mainly off her blazing speed and powerful physical attacks. Hanging around Cyllage City and chatting to people, I also find an interesting item: a puffy, creamy dessert known as a Whipped Dream, which “is loved by a certain Pokémon.” Now, I’ve been around the block enough times to know that “loved by a certain Pokémon” is code for “triggers trade evolution” (so I suppose I shouldn’t eat it…), but whose? A Fairy-type, presumably… Swirlix would make a great deal of sense, but then for some reason I’m not sure about the idea of a version-exclusive Pokémon going through a trade evolution… maybe this thing evolves Eevee into Sylveon? That would make sense – if I were Game Freak, I’d want the means for evolving my new Eevee evolution to be available as soon as Eevee herself was. Having no way to test this immediately, I finish reviewing my new Pokémon and set off.
The road north out of Cyllage City is fascinating. The area is dominated by a huge array of standing stones – menhirs, a notable feature of the French Neolithic – laid out in a grid pattern. Things like this are common all over Europe, of course. So many of them in one place seems odd… but, in fact, in the real world this part of France does have a cluster of sites like this, the Carnac Stones. What they’re for is anyone’s guess. Luckily, archaeologists have a secret fall-back for when we don’t know what something is or what it’s for: just say the words “ritual significance” and no-one will question you, no matter how weird it is (because really, those ancient people had some seriously bat-$#!t rituals). Accordingly, I draw a rough diagram of the structures in my notebook, write the word “RITUAL” beside it and underline it three times, then move into the ruins for a closer look… only to find that Team Flare is already here – three of the same four grunts as I fought in the Glittering Caves, to judge by the Pokémon they use. What do they want with a Neolithic ruin? Could be looking to loot the place – a structure like this could easily mark a burial site, which might mean valuable artefacts. Well, we can’t have that. Luckily, they are as incompetent in battle as we’ve come to expect from Pokémon villains. The first grunt mentions something about an ancient legend from three thousand years ago – well, okay, actually I’d guess this place is at least two thousand years older than that, but sure, why not – but doesn’t explain any further, since he’s distracted by a call on his Holo-Caster (a curious little holographic communication device), which he claims is an update on his mission. “Whoever thought this thing up must have been one truly stylish individual too!” he enthuses (the inventor of the Holo-Caster was, of course, Lysandre – enough with the clumsy hint-dropping already!). A backpacker checking out the ruins gives me a little more information: apparently our old friend Colress from Black and White 2 was here a few years ago, and told him that the stones emit some kind of energy. “Some kind of energy.” Amazing work as always, Colress.
At the end of the array of standing stones lies a town, littered with even more of the things: Geosenge Town. We’re really getting into hick-town-in-the-middle-of-nowhere territory now. The fourth Team Flare grunt is here, snooping around and muttering to himself about the stones. I follow him for a little while, but he disappears once he realises I’m on his tail. Serena sees him too, but has nothing useful to contribute. “He was here… but he isn’t any more. And that way is a dead end. Team Flare sure is weird.” Thank you, Serena, for your dazzlingly insightful contributions. The path the Team Flare grunt took ends in a round megalithic structure, maybe a tomb – but there’s something distinctly fishy about it; something seems to be concealed behind the closely ordered stones. I try to have Ilex shove it open with Strength, but no luck. This has got to be Team Flare’s hideout; goodness knows what kind of damage they’ve done to the site while building. I stay in Geosenge a little longer, and hear a little about the standing stones from locals – apparently they don’t know what they are either, but theories range from tombs to monuments to some kind of calendar. Supposedly there are “hundreds of millions” of them, which… well, okay, that would be at least four or five for every man, woman and child in France, which strikes me as unlikely, put it that way. Finally, I set off again for Shalour City… and am promptly met by Korinna, the Shalour City Gym Leader, at the gates of Geosenge Town. One of Korinna’s two Lucario still has a crush on me (which, in terms of updating my relationship status, is just way more than I can deal with right now), so she’d like to battle me and see what happens. Fair enough, I figure. Cecrops is getting pretty strong now, and as a Poison-type has a natural defensive advantage over Corinna’s Lucario duo; Glare and Rock Smash make quick work of both. Whoo! I beat another Gym Leader! That means I- hey, wait; where does she think she’s going!? That b!tch is running off without giving me a badge! I beat her fair and square; how dare she!? Has this harlot no respect for a Viscount of the Kalosian nobility? Oh, I’ll show her when I get to her precious Gym and crush it beneath my iron boot… figuratively speaking. If she’s lucky.
The road out of Geosenge Town is dotted with more interesting rocks – obelisks of clear blue crystal, this time, apparently natural formations, but it’s hard to be certain. As always in Kalos, a completely new selection of wild Pokémon appears: Nidorino and Nidorina, Hariyama, Sawk (Throh appears to belong to Y), Staravia… and Kalos’ resident electric rodent, Dedenne. Oh, joy. I was so worried that there might not be a new electric mouse Pokémon, in this game which already includes all of the previous electric mice Pokémon. And it even has the same colour scheme as Raichu. Just what Kalos needed. What was that? Oh, it’s a Fairy-type. Well, that makes it all right, then. Because there’s obviously no way Plusle, Minun, Pachirisu, or (gods forbid) Pikachu ever could have passed as a Fairy-type. All I can say is, you’d better evolve into something pretty f&$#ing spectacular, Dedenne, or I’m short-circuiting you by plugging that extension cord tail of yours into the most delicate orifice I can find…
Now all that stands between me and Shalour City is Reflection Cave, a cave system filled with more of those strange blue crystals, much larger ones this time, as well as huge panels of smooth, perfectly reflective stone like natural mirrors. This is plainly just the game showing off at how good it is at doing reflections, but it is pretty spectacular; this is a beautiful area. Reflection Cave is inhabited by a variety of Psychic Pokémon, mostly Mr. Mime (as one might expect from a place like this), but also Chingling, Wobuffet and Solosis. Roggenrola and the occasional Ferroseed or Sableye round out the ecosystem, along with another new addition: Carbink, a curious little Rock/Fairy Pokémon with incredible defences but very little offensive presence. Its body resembles a floating round stone, studded with crystals, but it looks like it has a little face hiding up at the top, and two big floppy ears like a rabbit’s. Speaking of rabbits… I am here introduced by a Hiker to what must be Bunnelby’s evolved form, the inventively named Diggersby – a huge potato-shaped bipedal rabbit whose ears end in enormous digging claws, each almost as big as his body. He seems to be a Ground-type, probably Normal/Ground. Well. It’s… not a cookie cutter Pokémon, I’ll give it that… Just as I reach the end of the cave and am about to emerge into Shalour City, my Pokémon hit level 30 – which means it’s time for Photia the Inkay to evolve into Malamar, a longer, darker coloured and all-around more menacing squid Pokémon that looks like it’s constantly plotting the painful demise of every imbecile who ever wronged it. A few readers have been giving me cryptic hints about how Inkay evolves, on the grounds that the method was so weird I couldn’t be expected to puzzle it out on my own, and a few days ago I figured it out: you have to get it to at least level 30 with the DS upside down (incidentally: combining a level requirement with some other evolution method is something I don’t think they’ve done before, but it makes a lot of sense: I approve). I didn’t even know the DS could sense its own spatial orientation. What’s next, a Pokémon that will only evolve when you speak into the DS’s microphone the words “évolue-toi, s’il te plait”?
…don’t tell Game Freak I said that.
Ridiculous quote log
“Wow! You and your Pokémon’s power levels are incredible! They’re over 9000 for sure!”
…seriously? We’re really going there now?
“Next I’m going to try challenging my own reflection to see who’s stronger!”
You go, Battle Girl. Live the dream.