One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
Azure Bay produces little in the way of revelations. The ‘Sea Spirit’s Den’ is a silent, empty cave. Instinct tells me this place is going to be important later, and the ‘Sea Spirit’ of the name is probably some kind of legendary Pokémon, but whatever it is, it has no inclination to reveal itself at the moment. The area does provide rewards of other kinds, though; a Mantyke, a Deep Sea Tooth, a Deep Sea Scale, various other sundry treasures… and a new Mega Stone, the pale sunset-coloured Ampharosite.
Now that all this Mega Evolution business is firmly out of the way for now, I think it’s time for another round of training. I head down to the eastern gates of Shalour City with a bunch of my Kalosian Pokémon for some levelling, and run into Serena on the way. Serena has a gift for me: the HM that teaches Surf. Surprisingly early, but I’m not going to complain. “It’s kind of amazing how a person like you came to Kalos and ended up travelling with me,” Serena says. “It’s like destiny in a way.” Okay, I admit I’m not always totally sure what this girl is getting at, but that one was definitely a come on. She doesn’t seem inclined to pursue the conversation any further, though, so I continue on my way.
Shalour City at last. It’s high time I got some answers.
A fairly typical medium-sized Kalosian town on the region’s north coast, Shalour City is dominated by the Tower of Mastery, a monumental walled keep that sits a little way out into the harbour, connected to land by a sand bar. Part fortress, part observatory, part cathedral, the tower’s asymmetric design hints at a long, storied history and decades, perhaps even centuries, of construction. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful thing I have seen on my journey so far. Staring at the tower, I almost forget what I’m really here for: learning about Mega Evolution and getting revenge on Korrina for slighting me. According to Trevor and Tierno, who catch up with me in Shalour City, the tower is home to someone known as the Mega Evolution Guru, who should be able to help us. Tierno also has a gift for me: an ‘intriguing stone,’ a strange round gem with bands of softly blended blue, purple, red and orange. Tierno wants me to have this because I’m clearly a far stronger trainer than him – good; my inferiors should know their place. He thinks it’s a Mega Stone, but it doesn’t look like the two Mega Stones I have already. If anything it reminds me of a piece of Soul Dew, but the colours are much warmer. I suppose I’ll find out what it does later.
More Pokémon flock to join my cause as I head north from Cyllage City: Snubbul, Houndour, Sigilyph, Yanma, Emolga, Nosepass, Golett, a whole octet of Eevee, and an odd brightly-coloured winged humanoid Pokémon called Hawlucha, a Fighting/Flying dual-type plainly based on a lucha libre wrestler. I don’t normally like designs that ape human subcultures, but for some reason Hawlucha works for me.
A deep, dark cave filled with beautiful blue and green crystal formations, the Glittering Cave is a treacherous place – you move through it in a first-person perspective, so you can only see what’s right in front of you, making it a lot more difficult to keep track of exactly where you are (luckily, the tunnel systems aren’t that complicated, but this could get tricky if a similar perspective is deployed for, say, Victory Road…).
Well, Kore the Floette has been replaced by Daphne the shiny Floette (named for a nymph who turned into a tree as an excuse to get out of a date with the god Apollo) – clearly a superior choice in every way imaginable by virtue of her shininess. Nothing else of great interest happened during my training program, though. Once I am satisfied that my off-duty Pokémon have learned enough, I move on to check out the Battle Château, a magnificent old castle straddling what I’m still pretty sure is the Loire River.
A small walled city dominated by the nearby historic Shabboneau Castle, Camphrier Town (which seems to be Orléans, complete with the Loire River, visible just to the south of the town) prides itself on its aura of history.
My path is clear: travel to nearby Camphrier Town to learn more about this Mega Evolution whatever stuff. As I go to leave Professor Sycamore’s building, however, I meet someone new. He is well-dressed, in an immaculate black suit with red piping, and has ridiculous hair, bright vermillion, sweeping back from his head in a sort of V-shape, so he will surely be important to the story.
This man is apparently interested in meeting Professor Sycamore’s recruits, and introduces himself as Lysandre – a French derivative of the ancient Greek name Lysander, which means something like “liberator of men;” the most famous historical figure by this name was a Spartan general at the end of the 5th century BC responsible for creating the great Spartan fleet that broke the naval supremacy of Athens and ended the thirty-year Peloponnesian War (I’m a classicist; so sue me). He doesn’t really say why he wants to meet us, but does explain that he’s working to create “a more beautiful world,” and seems to think we could somehow be part of that. He leaves fairly promptly, allowing Serena to monopolise my time instead. Apparently she wants to talk to me about something but wants to do it somewhere more private, so she asks me to join her at the nearby Café Soleil. Um. Did I just get asked out on a date? Sorry, Serena, but I think I’m already in a committed relationship with the Lumiose Transport Authority guy who randomly fell in love with me earlier this afternoon. Still, I suppose it’s polite to go and let her down in person…
Before leaving for Lumiose City, I check out the route east of Santalune (Détourner Way – another interesting change, all of the routes now have French names as well as numbers; I think I like this). This route apparently leads to the headquarters of the French Pokémon League, so I don’t get very far, although I do pick up a Psyduck, a Riolu, and a new Pokémon called a Litleo as I explore. Litleo is, as the name implies, a little lion who has been lit (on fire) – the game’s first Fire/Normal dual-type. This might be interesting enough to be worth a spot on my team, at least for the time being. I attempt to name her Ishtar, after a Babylonian war goddess whose sacred animal is a lioness, but the game rather impudently tells me “you can’t enter that word,” not deigning to give a reason why, so I opt instead for Astarte, the Phoenician name of the same goddess, and spend some time training her up a bit. Litleo appears to be a balanced all-rounder with a bias towards speed and special attack but decent defences as well. I wonder whether the males and females look different when they evolve (no manes for the females)? While mucking around here, I get my Spewpa to level 12 – and she evolves into a deep green Vivillon. Hmm. I admit I was focussing more closely on the Infestation attack, but I’m pretty sure Viola’s Vivillon was pink. The Pokédex helpfully explains that Vivillon come in different colours and patterns depending on their environment – Viola’s was a meadow Vivillon, while mine is a garden Vivillon. Initially I thought this was basically the same kind of thing as Shellos has and was all set to be totally underwhelmed by it, but, in between writing this bit and actually posting the entry, readers have explained to me that Vivillon have different patterns depending on where in the world their owners are from – so my garden Vivillon must be what New Zealanders get (the internet suggests that we have this in common with Tasmania, Britain and parts of Eastern Europe).