Laverre City, which is probably Amiens, is a town out of a storybook. All quaint wooden cottages, surrounded by gargantuan fly amanita mushrooms and fields of pink flowers, clustered around a huge, ancient broadleaf tree, into which the town’s clock tower and Pokémon Gym are built. Only two signs of encroaching modernity disrupt the picturesque scene: a modern Pokémon Centre with all the standard amenities, and an imposing industrial complex on the town’s northern outskirts: the factory that produces the entire Kalos region’s Pokéballs. After a brief tour of Laverre City to give the inhabitants the opportunity to offer tribute to their new ruler (which yields another Mega Stone: Gengarite!) I go to inspect the Pokéball factory… and find its entrance guarded by a Team Flare grunt. Despite my finest quips and most withering taunts, he refuses to budge, or even to engage me in battle. Curses; how am I supposed to dispense vigilante justice effectively if I can’t actually attack people? I decide to go with my usual standby in these situations and take out my frustrations on the Gym.
I’m… not exactly sure what I was expecting from the Laverre Gym, but certainly not this. The Gym seems to be, quite simply, someone’s house: an extremely lavish home, with work rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom – all connected not by doors but by an old-school network of warp panels. Some of the rooms are filled with sewing paraphernalia and supplies, and I quickly learn from the trainers that the Gym Leader, whose name is Valerie, is a clothing designer. Strange that her extravagant creations don’t seem to be available in Laverre’s clothing store – I guess she works strictly for a higher class of clientele. Laverre City’s Gym specialises, of course, in Fairy Pokémon, and they have a few new ones for me to meet: Slurpuff and Aromatisse, the evolved forms of Swirlix and Spritzee (whom I obtain for myself shortly afterwards by trading with Adam), and a key ring Pokémon called Klefki, who is a Fairy/Steel dual-type, and turns up on the next route for me to catch – I may as well talk about all these now. Slurpuff is a remarkably silly-looking bipedal meringue with a supernaturally acute sense of smell; as little as I was expecting from Swirlix’s evolution, I actually find myself somewhat disappointed that Slurpuff isn’t more colourful – the pastel pinks are a bit boring, and I rather think that if you’re going to make a candy Pokémon anyway you should really push the boat out with it. Aromatisse is… on some level a little disturbing. I feel like Big Bird’s French cousin is trying to seduce me. That is all. Klefki is, I suppose, a neat little concept; he doesn’t seem to evolve, since he’s immediately followed in the Pokédex by Murkrow, but he does have Prankster, and just being a Steel-type is generally a plus, even if they’re not as powerful as they used to be. I suppose he’ll live and die on his support movepool.
Once I’ve dealt with all of these, I manage to stumble through all the warp panels and reach Valerie’s room on the top floor of the Gym. Valerie herself wears an extravagant winged costume, because she’s always wanted to be a Pokémon, and uses a lot of wind and flight imagery in her speech. No word on whether the costume actually allows her to fly, but I suppose she should be allowed to indulge her fantasies. Some of Valerie’s Gym trainers have been acting snooty about their Fairy-types’ vaunted immunity to Dragon attacks, so I decide to teach Valerie a lesson by opening with Pytho the Sliggoo against her Mawile, who doesn’t actually seem to have any Fairy attacks and consequently turns out to be easy prey. Her next Pokémon, a Mr. Mime, proves much more irritating – Pytho actually does fairly well here, but Valerie keeps healing the damn thing, so I eventually have to switch her out and send in Odysseus. By this time Mr. Mime has taken a pretty heavy accuracy penalty from Pytho’s Muddy Water attack and is in no shape to keep fighting for long, so he goes down quickly. Finally, out comes Valerie’s signature Pokémon – a Sylveon, who knocks out poor Odysseus with a powerful Fairy attack called Dazzling Gleam. Enough is enough, I decide, and throw in Ilex, who puts Sylveon to sleep, boosts up with Growth, and flattens her with Petal Dance. In defeat, Valerie lapses into a sort of introspective trance, handing over with little comment the Fairy Badge (seriously? It’s the first Fairy-type Gym in the history of the game and Fairy Badge was the best you could come up with?), a sliver of translucent pink agate in a gilded frame shaped like a pair of fairy wings with a brilliant opal in the centre, along with a TM whose contents she has forgotten (it turns out, upon inspection, to be Dazzling Gleam, which no-one in my party can learn). She starts murmuring to herself about her connection with her Pokémon, so I leave her to it and go to check out the Pokéball factory again.
It seems my rivals have had the same idea. Shauna and Trevor have been refused entry to the factory and are fleeing from the incensed Team Flare guard, while Tierno is running around like a headless chicken, as he is wont to do – but the door us now unattended, so Serena suggests we take the opportunity to break in. At first I was rather excited to be seeing the inside of a Pokéball factory – I hoped I might learn something about how Pokéballs function, or at least get a bit of ethical philosophy fodder, but in that respect it’s a bit of a bust really. All I see are conveyor belts leading to and from parts unknown. I do manage to elicit a plaintive “if Pokéballs are stolen by Team Flare, we can’t become friends with Pokémon…” from one of the captive workers, which is an interesting sentiment (considering that Pokéballs are pretty modern things and people have been working with Pokémon for millennia), but hardly a novel one. Quickly growing bored, Serena and I plough through the Team Flare grunts and confront their admin, a woman this time, though wearing a similar horrendous outfit to her male counterpart, in the president’s office. I have Odysseus stomp her two Pokémon, a Scraggy and a Houndoom, as quickly as possible. With the admin are two other women who claim, like Aliana, to be scientists – one, Bryony, has bright green hair and wears green glasses with some sort of digital HUD, while the other, Celosia, has purple hair and a heavy visor like Aliana’s, though a little sleeker (interesting that there seems to be an alphabet motif going on with their names here – not unlike the names of the games themselves). Again like Aliana, they appear to be both the brains and the brawn of the operation, and I’m not entirely sure whether they rank higher or lower than the admin they accompany. The scientists summon a Manectric and a Liepard, which Serena and I face with my Malamar, Photia, and her Meowstic. Liepard is initially a danger to Meowstic, but once both of them have been confused with Swagger, things quickly become fairly simple. Celosia, Bryony and the admin give up and flee with their underlings, and the grateful president gives me and Serena a big nugget and a Master Ball each. A news report on the Holo Caster soon confirms that Team Flare’s actions are unlikely to disrupt supplies of Pokéballs to the Kalos region. Wait- this thing gets the news? What is it actually even for?
That seems to be all there is to Laverre City for now, so I pack up and move on towards the next city, Dendemille Town. Along the way I pick up Klefki, whom I’ve already talked about, Watchog, Mightyena, Pawniard, Murkrow, Lombre, Floatzel, Basculin and Poliwhirl, learn a dangerous forbidden roller skating trick from an elderly gentleman who leads an underground street gang in a burned out hotel (you know, a usual day), grab a Litwick, an Electrode and a Magneton… and receive another Holo Caster message from Lysandre, who wants to shoot the breeze about Mega Evolution. Lysandre says that, according to Professor Sycamore’s research, Mega Evolution is a massive release of hidden energy, and wonders “do all people and Pokémon have such potential, or is it hidden only within a chosen few?” Wait- people? Is… is he suggesting that if I find a lump of, like, Humanite and give my Digivice to Pan, I’ll turn into a wizard or something? Because I could work with that.
In other news, I am going home for Christmas – and since I live about as far from home as I can get while still being on the same planet, this means spending most of a day on a plane. This will probably delay my progress a bit. Just so you know.
Ridiculous quote log:
“A Dusk Ball makes every battle sunny! Don’t you agree?
“Pokéballs are round! The world is also round!”
Are you suggesting some sort of connection here?
“Win or lose, Pokéballs remain round!”
Yours won’t for long if you keep yakking.