When I reach the entrance to the quiet valley of Brooklet Hill, a Water Pokémon paradise, I am greeted by none other than the local Captain herself: Lana, a dreamy young woman with blue hair. Lana needs help with something, and apparently won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Well, the sooner I make her happy, the sooner I can attempt her trial, and the sooner I can get out of here… I follow Lana down into the valley, past tranquil pools and rumbling waterfalls, until we reach a large pool being disturbed by a strange thrashing out in the deepest part.
“Look at that vigorous splashing!” Lana says, pointing out at the frothing water. “I wouldn’t be surprised to find a fearsome Pokémon is the one causing it all… so, brave trial-goer, I would like you to investigate that splashing there and find out what exactly is causing it!” I frown and squint out over the water at the splashing. Lana seems awfully eager to put me in harm’s way – and isn’t she the Water specialist? Besides, how am I even supposed to-? “I won’t ask you to swim out there, of course,” she continues, interrupting my thoughts. Lana asks to see my ride pager, and registers a new Pokémon in it: her Lapras. Well, I guess letting me summon her Lapras any time I want is a pretty substantial favour… and I have to admit, I’m curious about what’s causing that disturbance. If it’s a powerful Water Pokémon, then I ought to at least know about it… and maybe catch it for myself. As Lapras and I draw close, though, several fishlike shapes race away from the splashing and down a nearby waterfall into a different pool, leaving a much smaller disturbance behind. The remaining splashes are being kicked up by a small, weak, honestly kinda pathetic-looking Water-type fish Pokémon called a Wishiwashi. I capture it and discover that its stats are very poor all around, but it has an odd ability: Schooling. “When it has a lot of HP, the Pokémon forms a powerful school. It stops schooling when its HP is low.” So… the larger splashes must have been caused by several schooling Wishiwashi, and I only caught the one that stayed behind…
Lana, back on the shore, seems surprised that Wishiwashi could have caused such powerful splashes, but her attention is soon diverted by an even stronger disturbance in another pool further down the valley. She tells me to go down ahead of her to investigate – but then, to the surprise of the Rotomdex, somehow gets in front of me and arrives at the next pool first.
“Do you see that?” she asks, pointing out over the pool. “Whatever is kicking up such lovely splashes must be rather big… A strapping young Swimmer, perhaps?” (well, she’s got my number) “Or an amazing Pokémon specimen?” She sends me out with Lapras once more, and the same thing happens – several fish shapes swim away from the splashes, leaving behind a single, weak Wishiwashi. I capture this one too, hypothesising that they may need to gather in numbers to unlock their true power. Lana (who is suddenly on the other side of the pool – damn, she must be a strong swimmer) hears the sound of ever more splashing in another pool further down. “It sounds as big as a Wailord!” Suggesting that it might be a swimmer in distress, she calls me over to keep investigating further. “Brooklet Hill…” Lana muses as I follow. “Within it lies the legendary Pokémon said to be the embodiment of the sea itself… the mighty Kyogre…” I do a double take, and suddenly notice that it has started to rain.
“…what, seriously?” I ask, staring at her. She giggles.
“Oh dear… you won’t be tricked easily. But we are near the sea. If that splashing sound is coming from the sea… then I wonder what is causing it. Could those splashes be caused by some Pokémon whose moves are now growing ever stronger in the falling rain?” She turns and walks down towards the beach. Suddenly nervous, I follow her with one hand on my Pokéballs. At the water’s edge, just past a pair of elaborate totem poles, Lana turns around to face me, and reveals that we’ve just passed into her trial ground. This whole thing has been a set-up, leading me towards her trial – to defeat a Pokémon she calls “the lord of the ocean.”
“…wait, what about the swimmer?”
“Swimmer?” she asks, puzzled.
“You said you thought there was a swimmer in trouble, making some of those splashing noises. Shouldn’t we keep looking for them?”
“Oh! Oh… no, no, they’ll be fine.”
“You’re sure? Do they do this a lot?”
“Mmmm… no, usually just once.”
“Oh, okay, I guess that’s… wait what?”
We’re in a sheltered cove, separated from the ocean by only a few rocks and sand bars. A waterfall crashes down from above. At its base is another of those disturbances we’ve been following. Lana says that her Totem Pokémon should be there – and along with it, probably several of the Wishiwashi we’ve fought on the way down here, who might want “revenge.” I gulp nervously and call Lapras again. As we swim out towards the base of the waterfall, we see more of those little fish shapes passing us under the water – but this time, they’re not fleeing, they’re swarming, gathering together, more and more. We’ve fought individual Wishiwashi… and now it’s time to face the school. Suddenly, the little fish hit a critical mass, and the water around them coalesces into a body – a mass of swirling seawater in the shape of an enormous fish, little Wishiwashi darting to and fro inside.
The school roars and attacks. My poor Rattata scores only a single hit before being knocked out by a rain-empowered Water Gun, and the gigantic Wishiwashi summons one of its lesser kin to join the battle. My Slowpoke takes down the lone Wishiwashi with Confusion, then starts whittling away at the school – but just as it looks like that’s working, the blasted thing summons a wild Alomomola, which reinforces it with Heal Pulse. Slowpoke doesn’t last much longer, but manages to get off a Yawn before being knocked out. Finally, I bring out my Dartrix, banking on Razor Leaf’s area damage. The Alomomola can’t heal itself, and is slashed into submission. The Wishiwashi school keeps fighting for a while longer, but its health is getting low – and, at the moment things seem critical, its huge watery body melts away. Most of the Wishwashi scatter, leaving just the leader to face my Dartrix alone. One more Razor Leaf seals the battle.
…wow that was a cool fight, and an amazing way of introducing Wishiwashi’s unique mechanic, letting the player see enough to piece together what’s going on, and then hitting them with the full might of the school (it turns out, on further investigation with my own Wishiwashi, that you don’t need to actually own several of them – they seem to be able to summon enough of their friends to enter the powerful school form automatically once they reach level 20). These trials are turning out to be pretty spectacular – I’m getting curious to see what the remaining five will hold! Back on the shore, Lana rewards me with her Z-Crystal, the Waterium-Z, and an additional personal gift: one of her fishing rods, with a fistful of Dive Balls to use with it. To fish in Sun and Moon, you apparently need to surf out to a spot where a pile of rocks is visible under the water (presumably fish Pokémon like to hide in the crevasses) and fish from Lapras’ back. There’s a timing component to it, just like in several of the previous games, but there’s also another trick – sometimes, the rock formations will be marked by splashes and ripples. Following the splashes seems to be the way to go if you want to catch something other than a Magikarp. Of course, I immediately take Lapras and Lana’s fishing rod and check out all of the water areas I’ve passed so far, both in Brooklet Hill and back on Melemele Island, catching nearly a dozen kinds of Water Pokémon, including a Feebas that I mark as a possible future team member. Alola doesn’t seem to have the aesthetic contest traditions of Hoenn and Sinnoh, though, so I suppose I’ll have to get my greedy paws on a Prism Scale if I want to evolve it…
Five new Pokémon come to light in the aftermath of my victory in Lana’s trial. As well as many Water Pokémon, the denizens of Brooklet Hill include the new Grass-type I was expecting, Morelull, which so far seems to be broadly similar to the other mushroom Pokémon we know so well (right down to the Effect Spore ability), except for being a Fairy-type. At a later point, returning here after the sun has risen, I also discover a weird, alien-looking Bug/Water spider Pokémon called Dewpider that carries a bubble of water enveloping its head like an astronaut’s helmet (Dewpider… pronounced like Jupiter?). The bubble apparently affords it extra protection from Fire attacks and immunity to burns. I also take the opportunity to train up some of my “B-team” Pokémon, and discover Grubbin’s second form, Charjabug. It’s… odd. I’d been suspecting for a while that Grubbin might become an Electric-type, since mine had already learned Spark (as well as Acrobatics, weirdly enough), and I’d made the connection between Grubbin’s “horns” and a pair of battery terminals, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for Charjabug to be so… square… and so… not-cute. Then my Yungoos evolves into a Gumshoos, and… it’s an… angry mongoose detective? Uh… sure? Trickiest of all is a Pokémon called Mareanie, a surly-looking spikey anemone-like Pokémon. I’m tipped off to its presence in the Melemele Sea by a local trainer after I help her Corsola, who was just attacked by one, but I search the water and fish around the rocks for hours without finding one. Eventually, the answer occurs to me: what information has Alola given me about this Pokémon? Answer: it preys on Corsola. I think back to my time in Kalos, when I encountered a wild Seviper being attacked by a horde of Zangoose. Alola doesn’t seem to have Pokémon hordes, but it does have something similar… I fish up a Corsola and injure it, then wait. Its cries for assistance summon not another Corsola, but a wild Mareanie, which promptly begins attacking the Corsola, giving me the opportunity to corner and catch it.
Back on Akala Island, the mere sight of Lana’s Waterium-Z crystal is enough to panic and scatter the motionless Sudowoodo at the southeast entrance of Paniola Ranch. The south road leads back to Heahea City, and also branches east towards some kind of massive entertainment complex. As I approach the fork in the road, I hear raised voices arguing. A short, black-haired woman in rustic clothing, accompanied by a Drifloon and a powerfully built horse Pokémon that can only be the evolved form of Mudbray, is being harassed by none other than my Team Skull “friends” from back on Melemele Island. Now, I could just keep walking… but how could I pass up the opportunity to mess with them?
“You there, trainer. Can you come to my aid?” the woman calls. “Over here.” I shrug and sidle over.
“Gladly,” I tell her, then give the grunts a winning smile. “Soooo, how’ve you been, homies?” B looks at me, does a double take and starts spluttering.
“YOU! You’re that… that… that numskull trainer from Melemele, yo!” he explodes.
“These scoundrels are Pokémon thieves,” the woman says calmly. “And you’re on familiar terms with them?”
“Well, I guess ‘familiar’ will do for now,” I say with a wink at B, who turns bright red. The short woman gives me an odd look.
“I am Hapu. Life in the big city sure is something else,” she says, shaking her head in disbelief. “Pokémon thieves roam about brazenly…”
“We ain’t thieves, yo! It’s a legitimate business!” B’s friend interrupts. Hapu grunts and points at him.
“I leave that one to you.”
“Couldn’t I have the other one?” I ask, pouting. Hapu looks at B, who is now positively crimson and fuming.
“…I am not convinced his crimes are serious enough to deserve… whatever it is you have in mind.”
“We got straight messed up in Melemele…” B complains, “and got exiled to Akala… but we ain’t goin’ out like that!”
“Oh? Is there some way you would like to go out?” I ask. That, apparently, is the final straw, and I promptly find myself in a battle against the other grunt’s Drowzee. I shrug and send out my Trumbeak. “You know, this is no way to express your feelings,” I chide both of the grunts. I’m really starting to sympathise with that poor Drowzee; two hits are all it takes to knock it out.
“With all these losses, we’re gonna anger our bosses!” B complains. Hapu’s Pokémon neighs and rears up threateningly. B’s Zubat was apparently no match for it either. “Uh… but it’s time for us to break out, yo! Gotta tell y’all peace out, yo!” The grunts both flee. Hapu watches them go, hands on her hips. The Drifloon that was with her bobs happily up and down in thanks, then floats off – apparently, it was Team Skull’s original target when Hapu and her Mudsdale (the huge horse-like Pokémon) intervened. Hapu herself thanks me too, climbs up onto her Pokémon’s back, and rides off towards Paniola Town, offering a parting suggestion that I check out the entertainment complex: Royal Avenue, site of Alola’s Battle Royal Dome.
Royal Avenue is big enough to be a self-contained town, but is even more of a tourist trap than most of Alola. Its only buildings are the Pokémon Centre, the malasada shop, a huge supermarket, and the enormous Battle Dome, though there is also a spectacular garden. In the gardens, I find pink flowers whose nectar can induce Oricorio to enter a new form. Akala, incidentally, is apparently the Hawaiian word for “pink,” and the official emblematic colour of the real island of Maui; the other island names also seem to be Hawaiian colour-words – Melemele is yellow, like the yellow flowers in the hidden meadow, Ula’ula is red, and Poni is purple… so I guess I already know something about Oricorio’s other forms. In its second form, Oricorio’s stats and ability remain static, but its type changes from Electric/Flying to Psychic/Flying, and it ditches its yellow pom-poms for a pink Hawaiian pau’u skirt. Mine hasn’t actually learned any Electric attacks yet, so my guess is that it will eventually pick up a signature move (presumably a dance) whose type changes with its form. Not sure how useful any of this is in practice, but at least it’s kind of interesting. In the supermarket, I find a Hypno with the words “I’m just a poor Hypno; share some love” written across its chest. I shrug and give it some money.
“Wowzers!” the Hypno exclaims. “You’re really giving me this?!”
It turns out the ‘Hypno’ is a guy in a rubber suit. Pretending to be a Hypno. So that people will give him money. Because, as we all know, no Hypno has ever done anything remotely suspicious or illegal. In gratitude for my generosity, he gives me a Rest TM, then sends me on my way to keep me from “blowing his cover.” I accept the TM, back away slowly, and discreetly order the Rotomdex to alert the police.
Finally, I approach the Battle Royal Dome. May as well see what all the fuss is about. Outside, I catch sight of none other than Gladion, who is quietly musing to himself. Apparently he comes here with Null to “bury their sorrow in the crowd” whenever they feel down about something. Well, emo is as emo does, I guess. I follow him into the dome, making sure to stay a safe distance behind him. Inside, I am greeted by a… shirtless luchador. He calls himself the “Masked Royal,” and proclaims that he’s here to teach newcomers about the Alolan Battle Royal. I squint at him.
“Um… Professor Kukui?” I’d recognise those abs anywhere. The “Masked Royal” coughs and repeats his introduction, glaring at me sternly. I roll my eyes and decide to play along, taking part in a Battle Royal with Hau (apparently a huge fan of these battles), Gladion (basically not a huge fan of anything), and Professor Kuk- uh… *ahem* the Masked Royal. It’s… essentially a huge free-for-all brawl. You all just keep throwing out attacks until one team can’t take it anymore, and then whoever knocked out the most Pokémon is the winner. So uncivilised. What ever happened to the dignity of the perfect unity of emotion between trainer and Pokémon? At least one person is impressed by my Trumbeak’s performance, though…
“You were on fire during that battle,” remarks a shirtless, tattooed man with red hair as we leave the ring. He introduces himself as Kiawe, one of Akala Island’s three Captains. “I hope you bring that fire with you and burn up my trial.”
…this is exactly why I hate Fire specialists. The puns just never f#$&ing end. This guy is so going down.
Ridiculous quote log:
“When you speak of the Youngster Anthony, I’m the only one in the Alola region!”
I hate to break it to you, kid, but you’re also the only one in the Alola region who ever speaks of the Youngster Anthony. You’re a ten-year-old with a Magby and a Yungoos; as far as Pokémon training goes you’ve basically peaked early. Give up on your dreams and go become an accountant.
“No one beats the deals at Thrifty Megamart! But… there’s got to be a reason why all the stuff is so cheap, don’t you think?”
Random off-duty Thrifty Megamart worker, are you insinuating that your employer is involved in some kind of heinous illegal activity? ‘cause I would totally watch a buddy comedy about you and the guy in the Hypno suit exposing the evil deeds of a faceless multinational corporation.
Tane the Dartrix
Male, Timid nature, Overgrow ability
Tackle, Razor Leaf, Astonish, Peck
Rhea the Trumbeak
Female, Lax nature, Keen Eye ability
Pluck, Roost, Echoed Voice, Rock Smash
Sunny the Butterfree
Female, Rash nature, Compoundeyes ability
Silver Wind, Psybeam, Sleep Powder, Gust
Ashley the Pikachu
Female, Timid nature, Static ability
Thundershock, Hidden Power (Ice), Nasty Plot, Thunder Wave
Hypatia the Slowpoke
Female, Hardy nature, Own Tempo ability
Confusion, Yawn, Tackle, Scald
Soot the Raticate
Female, Hardy nature, Hustle ability
Bite, Tail Whip, Hyper Fang, Focus Energy