Pokémon Shield Playthrough Notes VII

All right, let’s try to wrap this up; then I can get started on all the everything

  • The two assholes Hop and I met in the Slumbering Weald, Sordward and Shielbert, apparently give off signals that Sonia can pick up with her Power Spot detector, the device created by Professor Magnolia that allowed Chairman Rose to find sites for the Galar League’s stadiums.
  • That means it’s wild goose chase time!
  • …listen, Sordward, you gotta understand… you cannot say a line like that, using words from your mouth, to me, a human of Earth, when your hair looks like a dick.
    • You just can’t.
      • No, not even then.
    • I truly hate these morons so… so much.
  • What follows is an impromptu tour of Galar’s gyms, accompanied by Piers and Hop and assisted by the gym leaders of each stadium, fighting crazed Pokémon who have been forced to Embiggen by Shielbert and Sordward.
    • The exceptions are Ballonlea Stadium, where Bede – now officially the gym leader – smugly explains that he’s already dealt with his share of the trouble, and demands a battle instead, and Spikemuth Gym, which doesn’t have a stadium and can’t Embiggen Pokémon.
    • Halfway through this, Shielbert and Sordward show up at Sonia’s lab, reveal that her new assistant has been secretly working for them all along, and steal all the Wishing Stars in the lab with the help of their inside agent.
      • They are extremely, infuriatingly smug about this.
        • I would like to punch them.
  • Ultimately, it turns out that forcefully Embiggening all these Pokémon has been an experiment, a test run for their real plan: to do the same thing to Zacian in the middle of Hammerlocke.
    • This is all for propaganda purposes. Shielbert and Sordward have apparently spent most of their lives in the lap of luxury on account of their royal lineage. They are livid that recent events, and the publication of Sonia’s debut academic book on the myth-history of Galar, have taken their ancestors’ glory by revealing that the “real” heroes were Pokémon all along. Forcing an empowered Zacian to go wild inside the city will reveal to the people of Galar the “true” nature of the legendary Pokémon – that they’re nothing but savage beasts – and return the brothers to what they see as their rightful place. Ultimately they want to bring about the restoration of the ancient Galarian monarchy.
      • I mean, like, that’s the theory; obviously it’s a terrible plan and fails spectacularly.
  • The problem is that Zacian has the restraint and presence of mind not to rampage around Hammerlocke destroying things and killing people… but is still pretty rightfully pissed off at Sordward and Shielbert, who are right there in front of her.
    • I therefore have to fight Zacian, which turns out to be tricky because she’s level 70, can outrun all of my Pokémon and can one-shot most of them. The slowing effect of Rillaboom’s Drum Beating technique turns out to be pretty key here.
      • Also, yes, I’m gendering Zacian now because the Pokédex claims she’s believed by some to be “Zamazenta’s elder sister.”
        • I read that on Bulbapedia; look, I’m close enough to the end that I’m not bothering to maintain 100% spoiler hygiene anymore.
          • leave me alone; let me live my life
    • Zamazenta turns up just in time to keep Zacian from eating Sordward, which… y’know, I wouldn’t have minded but I guess if I were a better person I might. Zacian races off, Hop chases her, and Zamazenta offers me the chance to battle and catch him.
  • In the final act, we return with Sonia to the Slumbering Weald, just in time to witness Hop calming Zacian – without even battling her – and winning her approval to catch her. That means it’s time for one final battle with Hop, now with Zacian on his team.
    • Hop’s actually getting damn good at this; his Pokémon are now ridiculously high levels. Unfortunately one of them is still Pincurchin, which is a Pokémon whose purpose for existing is not presently clear to me, but otherwise he’s got a solid team. I actually lost on my first try and had to switch one of my Grass Pokémon out for Zamazenta in order to beat Zacian.
    • For the first time, Hop doesn’t care that he’s lost, because he realises that he’s found his own purpose at last: he wants to help Pokémon everywhere by becoming a researcher, like Sonia.
      • Sonia points out that she needs a new assistant, since her old one kinda stabbed her in the back, and offers Hop the job so she can direct his studies and give him experience, like her grandmother did for her.
    • Sordward and Shielbert show up and… fµ¢£in’… swear fealty to me as the new King of Galar, which… I mean, sure, I am like 98% sure that this isn’t how mediaeval primogeniture works, but I’ll take it.
    • Leon also appears and basically tells his little brother that he’s awesome, which is maybe the most heartwarming moment of the entire game.
  • Okay, so… Shielbert and Sordward are dumb and I hate them, but I actually do legitimately like this storyline. It responds to one of the major threads of the main plot – Sonia’s quest to discover the truth behind the mythical history of Galar. She’s put the truth out there, but that’s not all it takes to rewrite history: people have to believe it, and truth on its own isn’t always persuasive (a real problem that people like me, archaeologists and historians, have to grapple with in our day-to-day work).
    • Sordward and Shielbert are angry that Sonia has tried to “change history” – to rewrite the story that Galar has always told itself about its origins and identity. She’s done a dangerous and powerful thing by creating a new narrative, and if you don’t know firsthand that her understanding of the history is correct, you could very well think that she was doing it for political reasons.
    • On that note, I think it is… slightly weird to put this story about a couple of inbred lunatics trying to bring about a return to monarchical rule in the region based on Great Britain, where the continuing role of the monarchy is, like… an actual controversial issue right now. Like, X and Y did touch on those themes with their references to the French revolution, but they didn’t go out of their way to portray the representatives of the Kalosian monarchy as obnoxious morons.
      • I almost wonder if this might actually be a sly way of commenting on the continuing role of the Japanese monarchy while maintaining plausible deniability. Like, “no, no, no, we clearly meant this as a reference to the other ancient line of inbred lunatics with outdated constitutional powers in a modern nation with huge global economic influence.”
        • listen, Game Freak, if you put this $#!t out there without thinking hard enough about it, it’s only a matter of time before someone “Death of the Author”s you on what it means; if this blog post gets back to the Emperor you have only yourselves to blame
  • The final scene also completes Hop’s character arc, which I found genuinely satisfying. He’s spent most of the game thinking he has to live up to his brother’s reputation and legacy, but never quite getting there and intermittently being kinda miserable about it. Now he finally gets to be awesome on his own terms and do things his brother never could.
  • So… time for me to work on my Pokédex, I guess! And, uh… write some articles.
  • In consultation with my dark and mysterious Patrons, I have elected not to jump right into Pokémon reviews, and instead begin with character studies of some of the major characters of Sword and Shield. Off the top of my head, I’ll probably do… Hop, Leon, Rose, Sonia, Marnie and Bede, not necessarily in that order.
    • While I’m at it, maybe I should do Hau, Lillie and Gladion as well, since they kinda got cut off at the end of generation VII when I ran out of time… we’ll see how that goes.
  • Thanks for reading, and here’s to another generation of unadulterated nonsense!

Final state of the team:

Donkey the Rillaboom
Level 67, male, Quirky
Drain Punch, Screech, Drum Beating, Knock Off

Oddment the Vileplume
Level 67, male, Careful
Giga Drain, Moonblast, Acid, Sleep Powder

Samba the Ludicolo
Level 67, male, Bashful
Nature Power, Zen Headbutt, Giga Drain, Surf

Blight the Trevenant
Level 67, male, Hardy
Phantom Force, Will-o-Wisp, Horn Leech, Leech Seed

Douglas Fir the Abomasnow
Level 67, male, Quirky
Rock Slide, Wood Hammer, Aurora Veil, Ice Punch

Honeycrisp the Appletun
Level 67, male, Lonely
Apple Acid, Body Slam, Recover, Dragon Pulse

9 thoughts on “Pokémon Shield Playthrough Notes VII

  1. “if this blog post gets back to the Emperor you have only yourselves to blame”

    Excuse me while I Google his email address… Actually, knowing my luck and Japanese culture in general, he probably only corresponds via fax machine, if not carrier pigeon.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh dang, so Pokemon reviews start when the next set of games are announced, at the earliest?

    I know I’m not part of your council so I don’t really get a say, but are you still ever going to discuss Alolan forms? I mean now regionals aren’t even limited to Alola, but it’s likely my favorite idea they’ve brought to this game and I’m not against having generations introducing no entirely new Pokémon and just a hundred or so regional variants of existing ones (we really didn’t need so many Pikachu clones, they could’ve honestly all been variants at this point).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh, I’m not gonna bet on getting around to it until well after gen IX is released

      Seriously though, I think I might do the new Pokémon, then do all the regional variants together, Alola and Galar. Seems thematically appropriate.


      1. Fair. That’s gonna be a heck of an article! I look forward to your continued content; even if I’m poor and still fairy fresh out of grad school (so drowning in loans), your scathing wit and thought provoking insight continues to be a bright spot on this bleak existence called life.

        Also I’ll be one of the first to join your dark army whenever the revolution begins. Just, like, in a scholarly role, since you’ll likely have better luck finding muscle at the grocery store.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Somebody pointed out that what Hop SHOULD have become, in line with his motivations, is not a Pokémon researcher but a Pokémon ranger instead, and I think it would have been such a nice tie-in to the whole idea of Pokémon rangers finally being shown through an important NPC in the core series games. I mean yes, Sonia does need a new assistant I suppose, but Hop has never shown particular interest in the academic side of things. His rather wild and excitable nature (notice his reaction upon first entering The Wild Area) really does fit a Pokémon ranger more.

    Can’t wait for your Gen VIII articles! And when you write the article about the regional forms, please try to make sense of why Fire Pokémon like Vulpix and Darumaka ever needed to become Ice-types to live in area they already had advantages over!


    1. Random thought: Pokémon “adapting” to environments in counterintuitive ways is actually another thing that would make more sense in the context of “Pokémidichlorians” (re: our recent conversation on Twitter). They adopt the “midichlorians” that are native to their new environment, and that alters their powers. It’s honestly kind of bizarre how much more sense everything makes if you assume Pokémon get their powers from symbiotic microorganisms.


      1. It amuses me how much you’re applying what I randomly said as a Tweet gag! Let’s entertain that notion: I think the problem with that line of argument is that you’re shifting the responsibility of explaining types from the Pokémon themselves onto the hypothetical Pokémidichlorians, but it doesn’t really explain anything, yanno? Like, that’s basically implying there are different Pokémidichlorians TYPES, or at least Pokémidichlorians of different habitats. But then the question just becomes: why do Pokémidichlorians that bestow powers over fire and heat need to adapt to cold environments?


        1. Oh, this is an idea I’ve had independently and been thinking about for a while. Like I said on Twitter, I think it’s useful because it basically describes what we already know about Pokérus.

          Having said that, yeah, I see what you mean there. Hmm. The problem is that the *actual* answer is “real evolution is often counterintuitive and the designers have probably never thought very hard about how it actually works in practice,” and when there’s an obvious external explanation like that, I often feel like trying to give in-universe reasons is just constructing a house of cards that could easily become meaningless when the next game is released (it’s like trying to answer the question “what’s the difference between friendship and affection?”, then playing Sword and Shield and learning that the real answer is “nothing!”).

          Liked by 1 person

  4. After finally getting through the game, I’d have to say Shield was a lot of fun, and much better than I usually expect a Pokémon game to be.

    The games have never been kinder to people who like the idea of emotionally connecting to an individual Pokémon through the storyline and then actually being able to use that same Pokémon in PvP. (A highly specific group to cater to I reckon, possibly just me?) There are only a few select things that are permanently unfixable about any individual Pokémon now – for several species, things that don’t really matter anyway. Of course, your –starter– Pokémon will invariably be ridiculously inferior to the Hidden Ability version released at a later point, but you take what you can get.

    Also liked the design of most of the new Pokémon, while a lot of them are quite bland (Krabby-style) there aren’t as many random details and doodads littering the designs this time around.

    Providing a varied assortment of bouncy balls for your legendary wolf to play fetch with was a cute touch.

    Liked by 2 people

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