On Playing Through Alpha Sapphire: Ep II

Chilling at Slateport City.  Shopping in the market.  Being an obnoxious tourist.  Fish and chips on the beach.  Et cetera.  Nothing tremendously dramatic or exciting has happened since last time – certainly nothing like learning about STEALTH MODE or getting my ass handed to me by a random wild Pokémon – but I’ve earned my first two badges and been introduced to contests. 

Current team is:

And observations on my story so far:

  • I seriously over-trained for Brawly (in my defence, he used to be tougher).  Poor bastard got flattened by Galahad’s psychic powers.

  • The Granite Cave on Dewford Island seems to have been completely redone.  Much of it is inaccessible at the moment, as I need a bike capable of taking me up sandy ledges – what I can get into is really just a long tunnel leading into a single large chamber with some spectacular wall paintings.  The mural in the main chamber is several storeys high (hard to tell exactly because the ceiling curves), so this is no casual doodle; we’ve got some serious craft specialisation up in here.  Moreover, a chamber this deep, cut off from the light by two tight corners, doesn’t seem like an ideal space for habitation.  I’m no expert on Palaeolithic cave art, but I suspect we’re looking at a religious space of some kind.  The creature the mural depicts is clearly Kyogre, and it is… not in a peaceable mood, put it that way; rain, waves, whirlpools and lightning raging all around it.  Interestingly, we can also see what looks like a rainbow further to the left, an image that you’d normally expect to be a symbol of peace, and the ending of a storm.  Above that, a triangular shape that could be a shooting star.  My current interpretation is the people who used this cave worshipped Kyogre as a storm deity, in the belief that religious devotion would avert its wrath.  Steven Stone, whom I found examining the paintings, seems more interested in the nature of the power this Pokémon wielded; each of its pectoral fins bears a lowercase alpha symbol, and he seems quite sure that this iconography denotes an enhanced state which is totally different from Mega Evolution.  I would slam him for methodological carelessness in attempting to make such a deduction based on an ancient cave painting (I mean, really, how does he even know that what he’s looking at is a real Pokémon?)… but let’s face it, I know he’s right.

  • Archie and Team Aqua appear to have somewhat different goals compared to their original incarnations.  No one has mentioned “expanding the sea” yet.  Instead, Archie’s speech in the Oceanic Museum focuses on humanity’s misdeeds in polluting the oceans, the wellspring of all life, and expresses a desire to return them to a state of primordial purity.  This is good, because original flavour Archie’s plan to raise the global sea level in order to create habitats for Water Pokémon was – and let’s be fair to him here – completely f#%$ing bonkers, which should have been obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of ecology.  His new goal is impractical but (with certain caveats) desirable.  The trouble, presumably, will start when he attempts to get a hold of sufficient power to overcome that impracticality…

  • Archie’s brass anchor pendant has an iridescent stone set into the crossbar – looks like it’s a Digivice.  This is not particularly surprising – Mega Sharpedo and Mega Camerupt were revealed together, and Camerupt and Sharpedo are, respectively, Maxie and Archie’s partner Pokémon, so it makes sense that we should expect the team bosses to be able to use Mega Evolution.

  • Contests (I refuse to dignify the phrase “contest spectacular” by using it) seem to function more or less as I remember, albeit now with a greater range of moves and effects.  The big changes seem to be mainly aesthetic – most notably the addition of ‘spectacular talents.’  In contests, the crowd gets more and more excited as Pokémon use moves of the appropriate type (cool, cute, clever, tough or beautiful), and a Pokémon who manages to catch the peak of the crowd’s excitement during the appeals round earns huge bonus points – this in itself is nothing new, but spectacular talents provide an exciting visual representation of exactly what your Pokémon is doing to earn that bonus.  From what I’ve seen so far, these are mostly flashy displays of their elemental powers, like a Rock-type blowing up a mountain, or an Electric-type calling a thunderstorm.  Each element also seems to have a variant for each of the five contest types (the clever version adds glowing green numbers and chemical structures flashing in the background, the cool version adds sparkles and lens flares, that sort of thing).  Not terribly useful, but it adds to the ambience quite nicely.

  • There appears, to my delight, to be an actual subplot of sorts associated with contests now, involving an incredibly famous contest star named Lisia, whose partner is a male Altaria named Ali.  Lisia ‘scouts’ you in Slateport City, introduces you to the world of Pokémon contests, follows your rise through the ranks, and apparently later gets into some sort of squabble with a dude called Chaz; he believes they’re rivals, but she just doesn’t believe that that kind of adversarial relationship has any place in contests.  Will probably talk more about Lisia later.  Hell, if she turns out to be interesting enough I might do a whole character study thing.  We’ll see.

  • Unlike on the original Ruby and Sapphire (where you had to make your contest debut in Verdanturf Town, move on to super rank in Fallarbor Town, then head back to Slateport City for hyper rank, and finally enter master rank contests in Lillycove City), all of the possible contest ranks appear to be available right here in Slateport City.  However, Lisia has spoken about competing in Lilycove City, so I’m not exactly sure what I should expect to find – just more contest halls exactly like the one here?  That’d be boring.  Time will tell, I guess.

  • Cosplay Pikachu is just baffling on so many levels.  She can sure as hell clean up on the contest circuit though.

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