Since the next Captain, Kiawe, is a Fire
Pokémon specialist, he lives on a volcano.
Because of course he does. Fire
trainers don’t really ‘do’ subtlety. Wela
Volcano, which is named for the Hawaiian word for heat or burning, and
corresponds to Haleakala in the real world, looms over the northeast corner of
Akala Island. Although many of its
basalt flows are still glowing red from the last eruption, the volcano is
perfectly safe – or at least, this is the claim made by the Seismic Sisters, a
set of Alolan triplets who maintain tunnels that provide surprisingly easy
access up and down its slopes. Among the
hardy, fire-tolerant Pokémon that live there is a wily black lizard Pokémon
called Salandit, a Fire/Poison-type, which nearly blows my Trumbeak out of the
sky with Dragon Rage. I decide to retire
my Butterfree and recruit one in her place (a female, which I’m told is
important); that Dragon Rage is sure to come in handy as long as we’re still
The bare-chested Fire Captain is already waiting for me
in the middle of a circular platform within the volcano crater itself. With him are three sinister-looking black
Pokémon with bone staves, their tips glowing with spectral green fire. Wait… are those Marowak? As I stare quizzically
at his Pokémon, Kiawe explains the terms of his trial. He and his Marowak are fire dancers in the
ancient Alolan tradition. They will
perform two dances for me, and my task is to discern the difference between
“…that’s it?” I ask suspiciously. “No battle?
No Totem Pokémon? What’s the
catch?” Kiawe returns a sober frown.
“Alolan fire dance is no trifling
entertainment. It is a sophisticated
union of art, worship and discipline, performed to honour Tapu Lele. The slightest change in position or tempo can
alter the meaning of the entire dance.
My trial will tax your powers of observation to their limit.” Duly chastened, I sit down cross-legged at
the edge of the stage to watch. Kiawe
nods solemnly and turns to his three Marowak.
“Begin!” The Marowak march in a
circle, spinning their flaming staves, then freeze in a set of coordinated
poses. They hold their positions for a
moment, then at a nod from Kiawe, spring into action once more. The motions and tempo seem identical, but
when the dance stops, one of the Marowak is facing in a different direction
than I remember from the first time. I
point to it.
That one’s stance is different.”
Kiawe gasps – and the Marowak leaps right at me, spinning its staff once
again. With a strangled, squawking yell,
I summon my new Salandit and order her to open fire with Dragon Rage. Scorched by the brilliant energy, the Marowak
soon kneels in submission. “Right,” I
say, more than a little breathless.
“Right, okay. Wrong answer. Do I get another try?”
“No, no!” Kiawe stays hastily. “Marowak was so pleased by your right answer that it simply had to
battle you!” The Marowak twirls its
staff again and bows low.
“Oh,” I say. “Oh.
Okay. Sure.” So presumably the other two Marowak will challenge
me in turn.
“Onward to the second dance!” I watch the three Marowak closely as they run
through their practiced motions. When I
think I have them memorised, I nod to Kiawe, who commands the Marowak to repeat
their dance. Again, I see no differences
until the dance is almost ov-
What the-!” I flail my arms wildly and tumble backwards off the stage as
a scruffy hiker leaps in front of me, shouting and making gruesome faces. “What the HELL, dude!? This is, like… a sacred quest thing, or… or
something!” I squint at the Marowak,
frozen in their final poses, but my concentration has been broken. Is… the one on the left holding its staff at
a different angle? “Damn it, I couldn’t
see the end of the dance properly,” I complain to Kiawe. “How am I supposed to-” The hiker, crouching
on my right, starts chuckling. “You stay
out of this!” I snap at him. “Just
because you paid for the ‘authentic Alola experience’ doesn’t mean you get to be
part of whatever- what- whatever…” I pause.
Oh. Ohhhhh. Oh, this is ridiculous. I turn back to Kiawe, then point at the
hiker. “It’s this idiot, isn’t it? He’s
what was different about the second dance.”
Kiawe looks startled.
“You… you are correct! B-but how!?”
I give him the most withering stare I can muster.
“So… ‘ancient tradition’? ‘Sophisticated union of art and
“Well…” Kiawe begins, slowly. “Alola’s booming tourist industry has been
very good for the region. Tapu Lele
looks kindly on visitors, and permits us to… uh… involve them in our rituals.”
“…you know, this is gonna sound totally
hypocritical of me… and it is… but I don’t even care: tourism has ruined this
region,” I tell Kiawe flatly. He does
his best to ignore me.
“Uh, Kiawe, m’dude,” the hiker says. “Do I get to, uh…?” Kiawe smacks his palm to his forehead.
“Go ahead…” he mutters.“Radical, dude!” the hiker shouts, then
jumps to the centre of the stage, faces me, and calls a Magmar from a Pokéball.
“We’re doing this? Really?”
I sigh, and deploy my Salandit’s Dragon Rage once again to defeat the
Magmar. Kiawe coughs.
“My… hiker friend was so pleased by your
right answer that he… simply had to battle you,” he says, with no enthusiasm
whatsoever. “Onward to the final
dance.” This time, the hiker actually
leaps in amongst the Marowak near the end and joins in their movements. Kiawe lets me observe their final positions
for a few moments, then commands the dance to begin again. Once more, I watch closely for any change. Then, moments from the end…
A huge black and pink lizard springs over the opposite edge of the
volcano crater, lands in the middle of the dance, and flings its arms wide,
with a grin and a wink. I half expect it
to pull out a cane and a straw hat and start tap-dancing. I stare at the lizard, then at Kiawe, then
back at the lizard.
“…okay I’m just gonna fight this thing
My opponent is a Salazzle, a weirdly
salacious-looking evolved Salandit. My
own Salandit is clearly outclassed, but she knows Dragon Rage and the Totem
Salazzle seems not to; nor does the Salazzle minion that it summons. Unfortunately, the second Salazzle hits mine
with a Torment to keep her from blasting the Totem Pokémon repeatedly, and we
are forced to retreat. This thing is
actually quite nasty. Well, desperate
times call for desperate measures. I
send in my Slowpoke and perform the wave-like dance motion that Lana taught me
to activate her Z-Crystal. Slowpoke
summons a terrible Hydro Vortex that sweeps up the Salazzle, batters it around,
and throws it off the top of the mountain, wailing piteously as it falls. The little Salandit still has some tricks,
though, hitting my Slowpoke with a cloud of Poison Gas and following up with a
devastating Venoshock that knocks her out.
I briefly pause to applaud its bravery, then send in my own Salandit to
finish the job. Kiawe salutes me, and presents
me with his Z-Crystal, known as the Firium-Z, several Quick Balls, and the
ability to summon a new Pokémon with my ride pager: his Charizard. Charizard, like Latias and Latios in Alpha
Sapphire and Omega Ruby, replaces the Fly HM, and can take us to a variety of
locations both inside and outside of towns and cities, including between
Alola’s four islands… and beyond.
On the outskirts of Alola lies a chain of
small islands known as the Poké Pelago.
They are beyond the reach of any regular ferry routes (but not
Charizard’s wings), and only one human appears to live there: a fellow with the
uninspiring name of Mohn, who acts as their caretaker. Mohn is a cheerful hermit who seems to have
gotten just a little too much sun over the years. He suffers from a crippling addiction to
Pokébeans, and lives in a leaky, run-down wooden hut perched precariously atop
a distressed-looking raft tethered just off the coast of Isle Abeens. Thanks to some suspicious technology of
Mohn’s, trainers’ Pokémon can visit the islands whenever they like, warping
directly there from… wherever it is Pokémon go while in a PC box. On my first visit to the Poké Pelago, Mohn
promises that, if I help feed his Pokébean habit, he’ll get off his butt for an
afternoon and develop some of the islands to make them more pleasant for
Pokémon to visit. Mohn describes five
islands to me, all with stupid names, and each suited for different activities:
harvesting Pokébeans, growing berries, searching for treasure, training, and
relaxing. Despite my… suspicions of
Mohn, I find it hard not to love the Poké Pelago, because it embodies something
I’ve wanted these games to have for a long time,
namely some way of giving meaning to the 90% of your Pokémon who aren’t with
you at any given moment. The notion that
we’ve been leaving most of our Pokémon in internet limbo for weeks or months on
end this whole time is easily one of the most troubling things about the
series, and extremely difficult to reconcile with either the anime’s portrayal
of Ash’s off-duty Pokémon or the games’ own attitude to Pokémon as friends and
partners. This is a major item ticked
off my long-term wishlist – and it does a bunch of useful stuff too.
Once my first visit to the Poké Pelago is
finished and all my B-team Pokémon are getting settled in, I strike out along
the northern coastal road for the location of Captain Mallow’s trial: the Lush
Jungle. The road itself is unremarkable,
but many of the people and Pokémon I meet give me pause for thought. The first is a truly odd creature called a
Stufful. It… seems to be literally a soft
toy. Its type is Normal/Fighting, it
looks like a teddy bear with a smiling pink face, and its ability grants it
damage reduction against contact moves but makes it weak to Fire, because it is
made of stuffing. I am not sure whether I should be disturbed
by it. Not far along the road, a
sterile-looking white prefabricated structure houses some researchers from an
organisation called the Aether Foundation, a syndicate of scientists and
conservationists working to protect Pokémon from evildoers like Team
Skull. I can’t argue with that, and it
sounds like they do good work. Only…
their uniforms… they look exactly like the people I saw chasing Lillie when I
first came to Alola, whom I’d assumed were airport security apprehending a
dangerous terrorist. Why would they have
been after her and Nebby? There can only
be one conclusion…
Lillie is definitely a member of Team
Skull. Her professed fear of them is
merely a smokescreen, to keep me from realising the truth about her. Her wickedness is without limit and beyond
Down near the western end of the road is
the entrance to a secluded valley, where a self-professed scientist is trying
to begin the construction of a theme park filled with prehistoric Pokémon
reanimated from fossil remains. Because that’s a project that’s never gone
horribly wrong before and is guaranteed to have no negative consequences.
“So… just out of curiosity, did Jurassic
Poképark ever get released here in Alola?” I ask him casually.
“Oh, absolutely! It’s one of my favourite movies of all time!”
“Yes indeed! I had to leave after the first half-hour,
unfortunately, but it was truly inspiring!
One of these days I’ll find the time to watch it the whole way through.”
If I find any fossils, this guy should be
able to resurrect them for me… although, to be honest, I’d almost prefer to
brave the customs desk and take them back to Kanto to be examined by an actual scientist. The last stop before Mallow’s jungle is a
motel with an attached Pokémon Centre.
That weird, angsty Gladion kid appears to be staying here, but he is in
no mood to talk, refusing to say anything but “get out.” I try to explain to him that, where I come
from, wandering Pokémon trainers are usually allowed to enter any building or
room freely, as a matter of simple courtesy, but he is unmoved. I divert my attention to the rocky shore
below. Here, on the northwest coast of
Akala Island, is the habitat of a weak and cowardly Pokémon called Wimpod, a
Bug/Water-type with poor stats in everything but speed, no moves but Struggle
Bug and Sand Attack, an ability that causes it to flee in terror from any
battle when its health is low, and a propensity for eating rotten food. If I know Pokémon – which I do – Wimpod is
bound to evolve into something downright terrifying, and who better to make it
happen than me? Wimpod itself,
unfortunately, has other ideas, and won’t battle me at all until I loop around
to the far end of the beach to cut off its retreat from its burrow. I’m going to turn this Pokémon into an
all-powerful terror whether it likes it or not!
We’ve made a full circle around the volcano:
the Lush Jungle where Captain Mallow makes her lair is just north of Brooklet
Hill. The jungle and its mistress
promise Grass-types, and that promise is music to my ears. It’s about time Alola gave me something worth
bragging about when I get back to Kanto.
We’ll just see whose Grass Pokémon are stronger when I blow a hole in
your ceiling with my Grass-type Z-Crystal, won’t we, Erika? Next year’s Flower
Power Grand Prix is mine, you smug,
Thanks for stopping by!” Mallow’s
voice jolts me out of my reverie as she welcomes me to the jungle. She looks me up and down, smiles approvingly. “I knew it the first time I saw you and your
team… You’ve chosen only the finest ingredients! That’s why I’m gonna make you help me- er,
no! I mean, that’s why you should try my
trial!” I sigh and try to give her a
“Listen, if the trial is just, like, doing
your laundry or whatever, I don’t mind.
I’m sure you’re a busy girl, and I just want to tick all the boxes so
Tapu Koko will get off my back.”
Oh, not at all! I hope I didn’t
make you think- oh, dear. No, I just get
a little overexcited sometimes. Trust
me, my trial will be just as
challenging as any of the others you’ve faced so far.” Mallow closes her eyes for a moment, breathes
deeply, and then flings her arms wide and looks up into the lush canopy as
though searching for inspiration. “Ah…
the breath of the jungle…” she sighs rapturously, then suddenly turns her
attention back to me and snaps her fingers.
“I can tell just what today’s special should be! My personal specialty: the Mallow
Special! I’m gonna need you to find four
ingredients for me!” I blink a couple of
“Wait… your trial is a cooking challenge?”
She grins at me. “What were you
expecting? Hope that’s not gonna be too
tough for you!”
“Oh… I think I’ll manage.” I’ve studied the local cuisines of every region
I’ve visited (well, except Kalos… bunch of stuck-up food snobs refused to teach
me a single thing after I dared to question whether a boiled bone was an acceptable restaurant dish, but Kalosian cooking
is overrated anyway). This should be a
piece of cake. Perhaps literally.
“I’ll need… Mago Berries, Tiny Mushrooms,
some Revival Herb, and a Miracle Seed!” Mallow continues, counting off on her
fingers. I nod sagely as I consider the
ingredients she’s specified. It’s an
interesting combination of flavours. The
odd sweet-and-bitter combination of the Mago Berry and Revival Herb has
something in common with some old central Hoenn dishes I’m familiar with, while
mushrooms are basically alien to the traditional Hoenn diet, but should ground
the other flavours quite nicely. My
guess is we’re going to boil it all into a sort of stew or broth. Mallow gives me a final piece of advice before
I take off into the jungle: her Stoutland will be invaluable in finding the
Stoutland first leads me to a cluster of
mushrooms, guarded by a slender mushroom Pokémon, Shiinotic, the evolved form
of Morelull. My Trumbeak deals with it
swiftly; then, as I rummage through the assorted fungi, Mallow shows up. “Ooh, a Tiny Mushroom! That’s great!
There’s a secret to why they’re so popular with some people. You’ll have to try one to find out what it
is!” Is… is she trying to get me into
drugs? But actually, that gives me an
idea. Mallow’s request for “Tiny
Mushrooms” was pretty vague; there are a lot of different species in this small
patch alone… I mean, she was probably
talking about the Alolan shiitake, but there’s also some azure chanterelle,
Pyroar’s mane, urchin Shaymin, and… oooohh… I spot a single pinkish,
black-spotted toadstool on the edge of the patch. Could it be?
The legendarily delicious Milktank’s glory cap, said to produce a soup so
rich it would make a king weep?
Hmm. Well. Unless it’s the equally rare lookalike, destroying
Snubbull, in which case eating it would cause catastrophic organ failure.
What’s life without a little risk, right?
Continuing to follow Stoutland’s nose, I
head into the northwest part of the jungle and come upon a grove of fruit
trees. My Salandit dispatches the
Fomantis guarding the trees, and I start picking Mago Berries. Then I keep going. Mago is nice, but we could get a more complex
flavour by adding some Persim Berries too, and… oh my god are those Spelon Berries? I f&%#ing love Spelon Berries, and they’re a classic central Hoenn flavour;
let’s take a handful of those…
A few more Fomantis lurk in the grassy
northern area where Stoutland and I go to search for Revival Herb. We should only need a tiny bit; the intense
bitter flavour is what makes the dish, but even slightly too much could just as
easily wreck it. I pull up a fistful of
the rare herbs and sniff deeply. Wow this stuff is pungent. No wonder it wakes up fainted Pokémon. There’s an old family legend that my
great-grandmother used so much Revival Herb in her cooking that the smell of her
stew could actually raise the dead.
Probably apocryphal, of course, but there must be some reason my family got kicked out of Lavender Town. One ingredient left… Miracle Seeds are packed
with a veritable rainbow of nutrients, so they tend to get dug up and eaten by
wild Pokémon unless they’re buried in spots that are very hard to get to – like
under piles of crumbling boulders.
Stoutland confirms the presence of something interesting under one such
pile in the eastern part of the jungle, and with a little help from Hala’s
Tauros, we’re able to smash it out of the way and dig up the precious seed
hidden beneath. Time to get cooking.
“Great!” Mallow enthuses, when I confirm
that I have everything. “Now that we’ve
got all the ingredients, we just need…”
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” calls out a
voice from the entrance to the jungle. It’s
the other Captains, Kiawe and Lana, who have brought their own… contributions
to Mallow’s little culinary experiment.
Kiawe’s Thick Club and Rare Bone, used to crush and mix the ingredients,
should theoretically impart a little of their own flavour to the stew, and the
Fresh Water that Lana has brought from Brooklet Hill is the purest around. Lana’s also brought a Rocky Helmet to mix it
all in, which… y’know what, I feel like this is some kind of weird inside joke between
the Captains that I’m never going to get, so I’ll just drop that one. I light a small fire, heat the water, and
start grinding up my ingredients. As the
stew begins to cook, a tantalising smell wafts through the jungle, and Mallow
mentions, casually, that this should summon her Totem Pokémon.
“…wait what?” I suddenly feel distinctly and disturbingly watched, and slowly turn around.
“Luuuu-RAAAAAAAAN!” screams the huge orchid
mantis behind me.
“OH SWEET MOTHER OF MEW!” I scream back at
it, frantically grabbing my Pikachu’s Pokéball.
She knows Hidden Power: Ice, and this thing – Lurantis, the evolved form
of Fomantis, as the Rotomdex unhelpfully explains while I continue screaming –
is a Grass-type, so-
“LU-RAAAN!” the Lurantis screeches,
igniting a massive blade of radiant solar energy from the tip of its claw and slamming
it down on my poor Pikachu’s head.
Another screech summons a wild Trumbeak to its side.
“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” I keep screaming, in hopes
of confusing the Lurantis, as I call on my Salandit and perform the motions
Kiawe taught me to activate the Fire-type Z-move, Inferno Overdrive. The Lurantis is injured, but not critically,
and quickly heals itself with Synthesis… then keeps healing itself as its Trumbeak grinds down my Salandit. “THAT’S IT; NOW I’M MAD,” I shout, sending my
Raticate to crush the Trumbeak. The
Lurantis, more bemused than concerned, X-Scissors my Raticate, and then calls
out again, summoning… a Castform. “…ohhhhhh
$#!t,” I say to myself quietly. If that
thing can take control of the weather, the Lurantis will be able to start
spamming Solar Blade, and then I’m dead for sure. I back away from the Lurantis, grab Lana’s
stew-filled helmet, and hold it out in front of me.
“Lu-ran?” the Totem Pokémon asks.
Take it!” I shout, putting the helmet down on the ground and then diving
for cover behind a boulder. The Lurantis
sniffs cautiously at the stew, then begins gorging itself. I watch, heart pounding and fingers
crossed. A few moments later, the
Lurantis’ eyes widen, it stands bolt upright, turns bright red, begins venting
steam from its ears, and starts running around in circles wailing. Moments after that, it stops abruptly, as
though it had run into a glass wall, exhales a cloud of smoke, and then keels
over, twitching. Mallow stares in abject
“…um… are you quite sure you got all those ingredients right?” I give her a nervous smile.
“…you know, my great-grandmother always used to say cooking is more of an art than a science… and, uh… well,
sometimes more of a gamble than an
Ridiculous quote log:
“I want to make my Kadabra evolve! Friends!
I need friends!”
Listen, man, if that’s your only reason for
wanting friends, you’re going to have a hard time making any.
“I guess I wasn’t able to make use of the
potential energy of being in a high place.”
Is this the Pokémon equivalent of “it’s
over, Anakin; I have the high ground”?
Research! I will research the
…calm down, dude.
What do you think of the largeness of my area?”
…it’s great. Really great.
Tane the Dartrix
Male, Timid nature, Overgrow ability
Tackle, Razor Leaf, Astonish, Pluck
Rhea the Trumbeak
Female, Lax nature, Keen Eye ability
Pluck, Roost, Fury Attack, Rock Smash
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, Headbutt, Scald
Soot the Raticate
Female, Hardy nature, Hustle ability
Crunch, Tail Whip, Hyper Fang, Focus Energy
Joanna the Salandit
Female, Timid nature, Corrosion ability
Flame Burst, Sweet Scent, Dragon Rage, Smog