Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 23

Big rules here, little rules down there, let’s go.

Where were we?

Oh yeah.  One last pair of chumps to keep us out of the big cheese’s business for just a few minutes more.

This seems as good a place as any for Moon Moon to make her battle debut…

The Stunky doesn’t vanish because Madame Malheur’s Shadow Ball one-shot it, as impressive as that would have been; it hit her with Memento and knocked itself out, leaving the poor Dustox to get double-teamed.

Swords Dance is in theory a really powerful move on Lucario, but with the Magician in play it’s useless for the foreseeable future; Moon Moon will be focusing on special moves like Flash Cannon and Aura Sphere.  Then again, I may as well pick it up in case my plans change – it’s not like I’m going to be using Reversal either.

Nice going, Moon Moon!

And here we are at last: the moment of truth.

Something that’s always bothered me about Diamond and Pearl is how abruptly the Red Chain is introduced and how little it’s explained.  Like, I definitely have my issues with Ruby and Sapphire’s Red Orb and Blue Orb, but at least we kind of understand what they are and how they’re connected to Hoenn’s ancient past before the exact moment they become critical to the fate of the world.  It’s clear that creating the Red Chain is the reason Cyrus needed the lake spirits, and therefore the reason for most of what Team Galactic has done since we met them, but… how?  Why?  What???

Heeeeeeeeeere’s Palkia!

These waves of red, green and blue light spreading across all of Sinnoh represent the distortion of space and time as Palkia begins to break down the dimensions in preparation for creating Cyrus’ new world.  The pattern of those three colours makes me think of the three little cells of red, green and blue that make up a single pixel.  I wonder whether the artists for this scene could have meant that as a sly little nod to the fact that all of these characters live in a universe made up of the pixels on the screens of a Nintendo DS; Pokémon occasionally makes little fourth-wall-breaking jokes like that (for instance, always having an in-game location where you can meet one or more of the game developers, like Junichi Masuda hanging out in a suite at the Hotel Grand Lake).

As of Diamond and Pearl, Cyrus believes that the Pokémon he is summoning – either Dialga or Palkia – is the creator deity of Sinnoh’s myths.  At this point we have no reason to believe he’s wrong, either; this is 2007 and Nintendo won’t officially admit that Arceus exists for another 2 years (although thanks to data miners we all knew about it long before then).  In Platinum Cynthia gives us some hints later that she thinks Cyrus has misinterpreted the mythology, but I don’t think any of that is present in Diamond and Pearl – it kinda hinges on Cynthia knowing about Giratina, who is present in the original games but plays no role in the plot and is more of an out-of-the-way secret for players to stumble on.  I’m interested to see how Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl will handle this, because it doesn’t seem like they’re supposed to be true rewrites in the vein of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.  If you release the same game again in 2021 with no changes to the story, it’s just painfully obvious that all the characters are wrong about some fairly crucial plot stuff, but they never find out and it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, Cyrus reveals that everything he ever said about creating a “new world” or “new universe” was actually extremely literal.  His followers can perhaps be forgiven for misunderstanding him here, since “building a new world” is a common figure of speech, but no: Cyrus believes that the problems of the world stem from something so fundamental – the flawed nature of the soul – that any effort to change the world is futile.  He’s only interested in wiping the slate clean.  Oh, and also in becoming a deity.

Mars and Jupiter are still standing by to protect Cyrus from any interference (I have to assume he’s made them some pretty grandiose promises about his new universe).  Fortunately, Barriam is here for a tag team!

I don’t even know if this is good, but I know it’s hilarious.

Well, when all you have is a hammer…

Okay, Andi’s Fire Blast is extremely bad against Mars’ Purugly (I think one of Purugly’s ability choices is Thick Fat, so it has a de facto resistance to Fire), so I’m going to switch back to Moon Moon.

NOOOOOO not little Munchy!

Barriam has graciously chosen not to evolve his Ponyta at level 40 out of solidarity with Madame Malheur (who is not allowed to evolve because of the Hanged Man).  Golbat is Mars’ last Pokémon, so if we take it down we can 2v1 Jupiter, but I have to imagine Barriam’s Ponyta will take the easy win against Bronzor instead.

Against two Golbat, I think switching to Otto makes the most sense.

DAMN IT OTTO

Much better.

That’s fine.  We’re not looking great either, but Mars is out for the count; it’s time to bring in the big guns to finish off Jupiter.

Barriam evidently had the same thought.

holy $#!t Staraptor do you ever chill?

Karpe Doom isn’t allowed to use physical attacks, but to be honest, with such a big level discrepancy in play, Dragon Rage might the best move we’ve got in any case.

Skuntank unfortunately has really high base HP, giving this particular one an HP total of at least 120 (3 Dragon Rages), as well as a nasty Poison Jab attack.

Probably doesn’t matter who I use now, since Staraptor should finish off Skuntank, but Moon Moon makes slightly more sense than Madame Malheur, just because Skuntank probably has Night Slash.

Yeah, no problem.

And there’s our full heal from Barriam – I really needed that.  Unfortunately, Barriam himself is tapped out; this is all the help we can expect from him.

Barriam used to have only one priority – completing the gym challenge, becoming the Champion, winning glory as a competitive Pokémon trainer.  Losing to Jupiter and failing to protect Uxie broke and humiliated him, but experiencing that and building himself back up again has made him care about fighting for a noble cause, so here he is to save the day.  It’s not a complex character arc, but it works!

Meanwhile…

Looking once again from the perspective of 2021 back at the original Diamond and Pearl, I’m not sure what to think about what seems to be happening here.  Is unilaterally destroying the universe and creating a new one even within the scope of Palkia’s powers as we understand them from later media?  Like, can it even do that without the say-so of Arceus, or even Dialga?  Can any of them really do that?  Clearly Palkia is trying to do something to satisfy Cyrus’ order to the best of its ability – but exactly what, and whether it would have “worked,” I’m not certain about.

Fortunately for the Sinnoh region, we don’t have to find out the answers to any of those questions, because Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf are here to save the day!

Forgetting about the metaphysics of whatever is supposed to be happening here, the point in terms of the story is clear: we win because the lake spirits, and particularly Mesprit, the “being of emotion,” help us in our hour of need, in return for the kindness the player showed by freeing them.  I would have liked to see a bit more of the story of these three, and particularly the player’s special connection with Mesprit – the embodiment of emotion, the thing Cyrus hates most of all, the guardian of our hometown’s sacred lake, as well as the Pokémon that began our journey in the first place (Barriam took us out to Lake Verity because he knew there was supposed to be a legendary Pokémon living there and wanted to find it; Mesprit is the reason the protagonist of Diamond and Pearl became a Pokémon trainer).  But maybe it’s fine leaving some of this stuff implied.

Anyway, yeah, Cyrus is fµ¢£in’ pissed, but figures he can still start from scratch if he just defeats us here and now.

oh, $#!t, no breaks, huh?  No wonder the game lets Barriam heal us; going straight into the fight with Cyrus without even a chance to revive our fainted Pokémon after that double battle would be brutal.  To be honest, even at full strength and with six Pokémon to his four, I don’t know if I can beat him; the level gaps here are devastating.

I doubt Moon Moon can beat Honchkrow; Drill Peck will do way too much damage.  The question is whether it’s worth switching to save her for one of Cyrus’ other Pokémon – maybe Weavile.  Andi can probably switch in safely, and Honchkrow is as good a target as any for her Fire Blasts.  Alternatively, I could go for Karpe Doom and try to blunt its attack power with Intimidate (Honchkrow’s base attack stat is sky-high).

BIRD JESUS CHRIST

Fortunately, Cyrus isn’t very clever and opts for Steel Wing instead of finishing Karpe Doom with Drill Peck, but Dragon Rage isn’t cutting it; HP is Honchkrow’s other high stat and this one has a total of about 160 by the looks of it.

I think the play now is to send in Andi, see how much damage she can do with Fire Blast, then hopefully revive Karpe Doom so we can come in with another Intimidate.  I don’t think any of my other Pokémon can stand up to Honchkrow; Moon Moon would have a shot if she were a higher level, but Madame Malheur, Ser Loras and Otto will all get wrecked.

Dark Pulse hits Andi’s weak special defence, and Fire Blast isn’t terrible but certainly isn’t going to help.  I have three max revives, and I’m going to burn one for Karpe Doom.

Cyrus makes the somewhat baffling decision to spend that same turn using a super potion, which doesn’t even fully heal Honchkrow.  I could switch now to keep Andi up, but I think I’d rather let her faint so I can bring in Karpe Doom uncontested, I don’t think she’s going to be critical in this fight.

I STAND MOTHERFµ¢£IN’ CORRECTED; Andi, how could I ever have doubted you!?  And that, by the way, was a Quick Claw letting her come in first, so she would have landed that burn even if Honchkrow had actually tried properly to finish her off.  That Embargo will keep me from healing Andi, or anyone else, so there’s nothing to do but stay committed.

Andi’s down, but that burn will ruin Honchkrow’s physical attacks, and Dark Pulse will do fµ¢£-all to Moon Moon, which means she can come in and finish it off, and we can save Karpe Doom’s Intimidate switch-in for one of Cyrus’ other Pokémon.

The Magician wrecks Andi’s ability to do almost anything useful, but that second Fire Blast was a game changer.  Moon Moon is basically fine.

Cyrus’ next Pokémon is Gyarados and I’m going to take a gamble on Otto’s Thunder here.  I’m relying on several things going right: one, that Gyarados won’t just one-shot Otto with Bite or something; two, that Thunder will actually hit; three, that it will do enough damage to one-shot Gyarados (ordinarily this is a good bet, but that 8-level difference is doing a lot of work here).

HOLY $#!T CYRUS CAN YOU CHILL OUT

Okay, this could actually work, though.  That gives me a really good moment to send in Ser Loras and open with Stun Spore.

…or not.

0.252 = 0.99, I don’t make the rules.

Well, let’s see how many Dragon Rages it takes to sink this b!tch.

Okay, I think the play here is to Dragon Rage once more, then max revive Otto and trust that Cyrus will use Giga Impact again to finish off Karpe Doom, giving us a free turn to blast Gyarados with Thunder.

Hmm.  Or he could try to be cute and use Aqua Tail, which doesn’t actually end the fight.  I have two full restores; that’s the only non-revive healing I have left.  I think it makes sense to use one here on Karpe Doom.

This time, Cyrus doesn’t repeat his mistake and uses Giga Impact twice to knock out Karpe Doom, but that leaves his Gyarados low enough for Madame Malheur to come in on the recharge turn and finish it with Nightshade.

I’m pretty sure Cyrus’ Weavile has Brick Break, but I can hope that he’ll do something stupid here and not just immediately murder Moon Moon.

Well, it was worth a shot.

I think we’re now purely into delaying tactics; neither Madame Malheur nor Otto can possibly beat Cyrus’ Weavile, so I’m going to use my last max revive on Karpe Doom.  Cyrus’ last Pokémon is a Crobat, and although it probably has a Dark attack I can at least hope that Otto will be able to deal with that.

Hmm

okay so this is not what I would call “good,” exactly…

I’m out of max revives, but maybe with regular revives I can juggle my Pokémon for a few turns and get another Intimidate off?

Oh.  Or Cyrus could once again be a moron and use an attack that can’t possibly finish off Karpe Doom.  Maybe this is the moment to spend my last full restore…?

I dunno what’s going on with this generation’s battle AI but it will do anything rather than cleanly finish a battle against a weaker opponent.

Cyrus alternates between Brick Break and X-Scissor for a few more turns before being forced to use his own full restore and only then finishes Karpe Doom.  Moon Moon is up next, so the question is: do I revive Karpe Doom, or once again gamble on Cyrus being a moron and just shoot him with Flash Cannon?

All things considered, I go with the revive, and Cyrus does indeed decide to see how X-Scissor does against Moon Moon.

Moon Moon, you legend.  Weavile’s going to finish her no matter what attack it uses, but Karpe Doom can then come in; thanks to Intimidate we’ll be in a position of strength.  I may as well use this turn for a revive on… let’s say Andi; Crobat shouldn’t be able to do too much damage to her, so she’ll be a decent backup to Otto.

This is a better position than Otto was in against Gyarados before, because Crobat is much less likely to one-shot him and we’re using Psychic instead of Thunder so don’t have to worry about accuracy.  Still, it’s far from a sure thing.

…especially if this happens.

Not fantastic, but I think we’re okay now.  Someone will be able to finish off this Crobat.  Heck, if Cyrus goes for Confuse Ray again (the first one only lasted for one turn) and Otto wins the coin toss, maybe he can end it right now.

Or not.

Okay, Andi, no one is disputing that you are an absolute living legend, but if you could pull off just one more miracle for me…

Andi’s Quick Claw just triggered twice in a row, but frankly, she’s a Golem; her special attack is garbage and two Fire Blasts are just not enough to finish off Crobat from this position (although I am definitely buying her a whole pile of calcium tablets if we get out of this).  I guess it’s up to Karpe Doom to finish things again…

I am… pretty much out of tricks.  Crobat is definitely faster than Karpe Doom, and Intimidate will blunt the damage from Bite or Cross Poison but not Air Slash.  I still have revives, but I’m not sure what I can do with them other than maybe revive Andi – but even that’s not sure-fire.  She only has one Fire Blast left and its accuracy is not perfect.  We just have to roll the dice on Karpe Doom.

Seven hit points left on my final Pokémon; now THAT is how you do a climactic final battle for the fate of the universe!

And a nice little echo from Cyrus of that previous line from the Veilstone complex about how he doesn’t use Pokémon as tools like the rest of Team Galactic, but “makes the power of Pokémon [his] own.”

And this is how Cyrus’ story ends in Diamond and Pearl.  In Platinum he vanishes into the Distortion World and is never seen again, while Mars and Jupiter team up with Charon (the Platinum-exclusive fourth Galactic Commander) for some wacky nonsense in the epilogue.  Here, though, the implication is that all three of them leave Sinnoh and continue to plot Cyrus’ rise to glory while in hiding (the last Commander, Saturn, who claims ignorance of Cyrus’ real plans, remains in Veilstone City and tries to turn Team Galactic legit).

So, that’s all wrapped up; let’s get some well-deserved rest for our-

the what now?

excuse me?

um

can’t

can’t Dawn do it

like, Barriam did his bit, with the double battle and the healing for my team, and I did my bit by defeating Cyrus; isn’t it, like… neater, structurally, if Dawn handles this part?  You know, so everyone’s… contributed… something…?

It’s just, um…

yeah…

also, uh, Karpe Doom is fresh out of PP for Dragon Rage, and Surf will do basically nothing to Palkia

…hi.

What even happens if you lose this fight?  Do we reset all the way back to Hearthome City and have to do the whole sequence with Mars, Jupiter and Cyrus again?

Okay, I have three revives left and I think we have a shot if I bring back… maybe Otto, Madame Malheur and Ser Loras?  But also I do genuinely want to save my game here and see what happens if you lose to Palkia; gimme a minute.

Okay, apparently you do reset to Hearthome City (or wherever else you last visited a Pokémon Centre) but you don’t have to fight Team Galactic all over again.  When you make it back to the top of Mount Coronet with your restored team, Professor Rowan and Dawn are waiting there to give you the same speech again.  I think a later Pokémon game would have healed your Pokémon and let you try again or something (or at the very least, healed you before making you try the first time).  I think a Pokémon game that I wrote would have just given you a comical line about how Palkia wore itself out beating the $#!t out of you for six hours and then flew away for a tropical island holiday in the Sevii region.

Anyway.  I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow of this one because I am exhausted, but basically the plan here is to open with Karpe Doom, who will die in one hit and won’t do anything but will at least weaken Palkia’s Dragon Claw with Intimidate, then try to wear it down with some combination of Stun Spore, Confuse Ray, Leech Seed and maybe Light Screen.

Also I have like 5 Oran berries that heal 10 HP apiece so I’m gonna use all of those before the fight; we need everything we’ve got here (I had Sitrus berries too but I ate those on the way up the mountain, we are running on empty here).

(at least I stole Cyrus’ wallet before he split, so I have some money again…)

o hai

wait, why the fµ¢£ is it spelled “spacial,” the word is “spatial”

did they ever change it?  I’m looking this up

no, they didn’t; it’s still spelled “spacial” in gen VIII, even though Palkia has always been the “Spatial Pokémon” in the Pokédex

okay, this is going better than expected, by which I mean, we lost Ser Loras, but he landed a Stun Spore and a crit with Giga Drain before he went down, and we can now reasonably attempt to catch the bloody thing with the… (checking)… four Ultra Balls I brought with me.

And… yeah I guess there’s the Master Ball but, like… come on.

I haven’t written rules for using legendary Pokémon in the Kingslocke and for the purposes of this run I’m going to consider them off-limits (although I’m going to try to catch Palkia anyway).  For my rule revision at the end of the run, I’m tentatively thinking that maybe you should be allowed to catch legendary Pokémon, but you may not use a Master Ball, and they automatically start off “sealed” as if they’d been hit by an Eight or a Snake Eyes or something, so you need another card like the Sun to help you gain access to them.

HOLY $#!T THAT WAS THE FIRST TRY

This is gen IV catch rate mechanics, mind you; catching legendary Pokémon is awful in this era (looking back afterwards and crunching all the numbers, I think with these conditions my odds were something like 3% per Ultra Ball).

Margarita is the Latin word for pearl (originally derived from Old Persian).  There is a story from my good bro Pliny the Elder (Natural History book 9) about how the Egyptian queen Cleopatra once dissolved a pearl in vinegar to win a bet by mixing the most expensive drink of all time.  The fact that this story has nothing to do with the cocktail called a “margarita” (which comes from the Spanish margarita, meaning daisy, in reference to an earlier cocktail called a brandy daisy) is, in my opinion, one of the great missed opportunities of the history of human civilisation.

Fµ¢£in’ thank you.

Does anyone have a way off this damn mountain?

7 thoughts on “Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 23

  1. That was EPIC.

    Also, in some way, I think both Dialga and Palkia could help Cyrus… partially, at least.

    Palkia is the Pokémon of space, so it could nbe able towipeout the universem but can’t create new one for Cyrus, as that would require the control of time (a ne universe can’t really exist if there’s no time in which it would exist)

    On the other hand, Dialga, as the Pokémon of time, could return the whole universe to the moment of Big Bang, wiping the state clean. But without the control of space, it would be unable to have any say in what the new universe would be like.

    As for Giratina, I am not sure we even really know WHAT it controls. I think I’ve seen some people say it’s antimatter, which I am not sure that makes sense? The Distortion World can’t be a world of antimatter (otherwise the entrance of Cyrus and later Cynthia and the player would be….. well, spectacular, to say the least) so I am not really sure if Cyrus would nee all three or only Dialga and Palkia to get what he wants. And of course, Arceus might still wnat to have a say in this whole universe deleting business so I am not sure where I got with this train of thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Giratina representing antimatter does indeed come from the games – Cynthia mentions it during the Sinjoh Ruins event in HGSS. Personally, I always figured that factoid was meant to tie back to how the Sinnoh myths say that “two make matter,” referring to Dialga and Palkia; Giratina, therefore, is their opposite and counterbalances them both, which is also the role of the Distortion World in relation to the physical universe. (I am also inclined to think that Game Freak are not being terribly precise in their portrayal of antimatter. The stuff is no stranger to being the subject of heavy artistic license when it comes to sci-fi/fantasy stories.)

      At any rate, I think Platinum does sort of imply that Cyrus would need to tame or at least subdue Giratina in order to successfully create his new universe. But seemingly no one alive knew about Giratina or the Distortion World until the exact moment that it decided to get involved, so there was no way he could have accounted for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That battle was SO tight. It’s so satisfying when a fight comes completely down to the wire like that. Once more, great job to you and your team!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Fortunately for the Sinnoh region, we don’t have to find out the answers to any of those questions”

    Wait but I *want* to know. Like that’s an excellent point, what *would* have just Palkia or just Dialga have done? I’m willing to sacrifice Sinnoh for science.

    Also, I never realize how many parallels there are between Mesprit and Tapu Koko – both essentially kick off the protagonists’ journeys and have notable plot relevance compared to the rest of their groups. Both reside close to the protagonists’ homes.

    Also also, Andi Site is a god among Pokemon. It was a good choice to bring her back.

    Liked by 1 person

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