Anonymous asks:

I’ve been excitedly reading your Sun and Moon playthrough and enjoying it immensely. However, you passed through route 8 and didn’t even mention Colress’s appearance! I’m disappointed, I wanted to see you thoughts and your character’s reaction!

Good heavens, you’re right!  I completely forgot about that while I was writing!  We must remedy this situation at once!

“You there!”  I stop walking and turn around, ready to fire off a snarky quip at whoever just called me “you there,” until I see… oh.  Ohhhh good.  This guy.
“Oh, excuse me!  I am a scientist.  My name is Colress,” he introduces himself.  Colress still has his trademark lab coat and sweeping plume of blue hair, but has added a pair of robotic gauntlets with touchscreen displays on the wrists, so he can look like his every gesture is something important and sciency.
“Yeah, I’ve… I’ve heard of you,” I tell him haltingly.  He looks surprised, then worried.
“Really?  A young trainer like you has heard of my work?  Or- oh.  You don’t know about-?”
“The whole war crimes thing, with Team Plasma back in Unova?  How you were complicit in a plot to plunge a continent into a new ice age and bring about the end of modern civilisation?”  Now he looks very worried.  “No, look, it’s fine, I don’t care, just… look, we’ve sort of met before; it’s kind of a long story… I was a few years older, I might have been a chick at the time…” I shake my head.  “I was literally a different person, is the point, and so were you, as far as I’m concerned.  And I’m on holiday.  So unless whatever you’re doing in Alola is somehow a threat to the entire planet, it is officially not my problem.”  Colress just stares at me blankly.  “Seriously.  We.  Are.  Fine.  What’re you up to, anyway?”
“Well…” Colress begins cautiously, “That is… the theme of my research is… ‘bringing out the potential of Pokémon.’  What brings out the power of Pokémon is… I believe that is – the bond they share with their trainers!”  Okay, so he’s still working in the same research area, but the events of Black and White 2 have proven to him that supercharging Pokémon with evil machines to create powerful weapons is not the best method.  “And thus my attention is drawn to trainers like yourself… trainers bound to their Pokémon through the power of the Z-ring!  Z-power… is it the true potential I seek?  Does it surpass the Mega Ring?”
“Nope.”  He blinks at me.
“…what?”
“Surpass the Digivice.  Pretty sure it doesn’t.”  He stares at me in confusion.
“Digi- Digiwhat?”
“Digivi- oh, um.  Mega Ring.  Whatever.  Look, the Mega Ring unlocks a whole new level of evolution, changing a Pokémon’s form and powers, bringing it one step closer to spiritual completion… The Z-Crystals blow stuff up.”  He raises a finger like he’s about to say something.  “I mean, I guess if you only have a Charmander then a Firium-Z is gonna get you further than a Charizardite-X… seriously though, try ‘em both out.  They give Z-Rings away practically for free here in Alola; you just have to, like… risk your life to help out a terrorist, or something.”  Colress shakes his head in amazement.
“Alola is fascinating!  I believe I will stay here for some time!  Well then, I hope to see you again some time.”  He turns and walks away.
“But don’t get any ideas!” I call out after him.  “You better not try to destroy the world with this stuff!  I live here!”

Anonymous asks:

As you’ve often mentioned, a predominant theme of Pokemon is that humans and Pokemon both prosper by working together and treating each other with respect and friendship. It’s not only the ethos of most inhabitants of the world, but built into the metaphysics of the game itself (friendship evolution, etc). Why is it that (most of) the evil teams seem so convinced that it’s better to treat mons like tools or slaves instead, when their ideology is demonstrably wrong? Obviously, it shows that the evil people are, in fact, evil, but Team Rocket, who cares solely about money, should at least be able to crunch the numbers and see which technique is more profitable in the long run. Plus, who’s on the buying end of these smuggling rings? Do you think something else is going on? Either something implied or an unintentional interpretation?

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Pokémon Generations: Episode 14

This episode of Generations features Team Plasma’s assault on Opelucid City from the second half of Black and White 2, in which the city is frozen by blasts from their flying ship’s Kyurem-powered cannons.  It’s another one of those episodes that is basically showing us something we’ve already seen and know about, but manages to make it just that little bit more evocative through the cartoon medium than the games could originally manage.

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Rivals, part 6: Colress

Colress, in all his scientific glory.
Colress, in all his scientific glory.

Okay, I realise that we’re pushing it by including Colress in this series; it’s easy to come up with reasons to lump in N with the list of ‘rival’ characters, even though he behaves very differently to the rest of them, but Colress is very clearly not the same thing.  However, I don’t care and I want to talk about Colress, because shut up.

Nice reasoned argument there.

Thank you.

So, Colress.  Crazy mad scientist character.  I was underwhelmed by him, to be honest.  I mean, what does he even do?

I actually liked him!  I enjoyed the fact that he was working pretty much at right angles to what literally everyone else in the story was trying to do.

Continue reading “Rivals, part 6: Colress”

White 2 Playthrough Journal, episode 23: Chasing shadows

We touch down outside the route 22 entrance to the cave network that leads into the Giant Chasm.  Jim, Hugh and I sneak inside and prepare for a surprise attack on the two Team Plasma guards within, but are cut short when a third grunt approaches to tell them that they’re being relieved – it’s time for everyone to gather in the crater forest.  The third grunt turns out to be our old friend, Rood’s spy.  In recognition of the minor service he has performed for us, Hugh refrains from crushing him like a bug, and actually seems almost apologetic.  I think he may have finally learned to distinguish between the two factions of Team Plasma; he even expresses a belief that justice for Rood’s group will never be possible as long as the loyalists’ actions continue to tarnish the name of Team Plasma.  The agent thanks him for his understanding, and regretfully explains that he must leave us, as he still has more to do.

The cave network is twisted and confusing, but small, and we easily find our way into the Giant Chasm.  As we step, blinking, back into the light and feel the still, frigid air on our faces, we see that Cheren was right about the frigate’s destination – the great ship has landed in the middle of the crater forest.  Many Team Plasma members are already outside, apparently standing guard near the cave exit.  To our surprise, Rood is there as well, standing opposite them with a couple of ex-Plasma grunts.  Rood seems to be trying to explain to them that Ghetsis is evil and has no interest in liberating Pokémon at all.  That’s… strange.  I thought everyone already knew that.  Some of the loyalists still believe that their real mission is to free Pokémon from human oppression?  I know that many of them have given up the pretence completely; these guys are either lying or deluded.  They refuse to believe anything Rood says, denouncing him as a traitor.  Hugh calls on Rood and his attendants to fight, asking them why they even have Pokémon with them if not to protect the things they value.  “Even if your precious Pokémon get hurt,” he exhorts them, “even if your ideals get damaged, the time to fight is NOW!”  Wait- hang on, Hugh, aren’t their ideals the things that they’d be fighting to protect?  And aren’t their ideals all about protecting Pokémon?  And, for that matter, aren’t their Pokémon the ones they originally stole and are now trying to earn forgiveness from?  And- oh, what the hell.  At least he’s learned to exercise a little discrimination in his rage-unleashing; there’ll be plenty of time to get him started on philosophy later.  His rallying cry seems to have worked, at any rate.  Rood and his allies call out their Pokémon and prepare to fight, sending the three of us on ahead to invade the frigate once more while he keeps his former friends occupied.  As we leave, he calls out to Hugh, telling him that the Purrloin he’s looking for is likely to be in the hands of the Shadow Triad.  His commitment renewed, Hugh charges off towards the ship, Jim and I following cautiously behind.

The entrance to the ship is unguarded, and we quickly gain entrance.  Jim and I almost immediately lose track of Hugh, who has begun another rage spree in his search for the Shadow Triad.  We find a warp panel that takes us into the lower levels of the ship, and are immediately confronted by another force field, this one controlled by a series of switches protected by a warp panel maze.  How the hell does anyone get anything done on this ship?  More to the point, who’s designing this stuff?  The Pokémon world’s security companies must be staffed entirely by ADHD schizophrenics.  Jim and I split up, and manage to fight our way through the handful of Team Plasma guards remaining on the ship to flip the four switches.  We meet up again at the deactivated force field and advance.  Directly in front of us is the huge machine we saw from the balcony above the last time we were here – the ship’s heart, with Kyurem waiting inside.  Zinzolin appears for one final gesture of futility.  I convince him that there’s no point in fighting; he can’t beat either of us alone, so he’ll certainly never have a chance against both of us together.  He gives us a strange piece of advice, “as long as you are dreaming, the dream will never reveal itself to you,” (either Zinzolin is still my superior in philosophy, or he’s spouting cryptic nonsense in order to confuse us – possibly both) and tells us that, although Kyurem’s prison is indestructible, we can go on to fight Team Plasma’s leader by taking the warp panel to our right.  With a resigned shrug, we ready ourselves to take on Ghetsis.  We remember the bastard from the original Black and White, and we aren’t about to be caught unawares.  Satisfied that our Pokémon are in order, we step onto the panel and find ourselves in a spacious control room at the ship’s prow.  Standing at the front, behind a desk packed with complicated-looking control panels, is-

Colress?

Ah hah!  I knew it!  Colress was really Ghetsis all along!  I- wait, no, that makes no f#$%ing sense.  Colress, why don’t you tell us what you’re doing here?

For Colress, all of this is, and has always been, about how Pokémon can become more powerful.  N believed that humans suppressed the true strength of Pokémon, and that only separating the world into black and white could ever allow Pokémon to achieve perfection.  N, of course, recanted his views after the events of Black and White, proving to Colress’ satisfaction that the way forward was for humans to bring out the true strength of Pokémon, but there was still a question to be answered: was this to be done through hard science or through emotion?  When Colress’ old friend Ghetsis asked him to help orchestrate Team Plasma’s new operations in Unova, Colress decided to take advantage of the whole thing to set up an experiment.  He designed all of Team Plasma’s new technology for Ghetsis, including the great flying frigate and its Nevermeltice cannon, along with a host of other devices, to try to bring out the power of Team Plasma’s Pokémon (particularly Kyurem).  Unlike Zinzolin, he has no particular desire to see human civilisation destroyed, but would consider it a reasonable sacrifice, if that’s what it will take to see the ultimate strength of Pokémon realised at last.  Meanwhile, he would encourage trainers like me and Jim to grow, work with our Pokémon, bring out their power through trust and love, and challenge Team Plasma.  The Team Plasma loyalists who still worked for Ghetsis made the perfect control group, since they were, almost without exception, appalling trainers with only the barest shreds of empathy.  We, it seems, have shown the potential of our approach at almost every turn.  Like a good scientist should always be, Colress is as happy to be proven wrong as right.  Our conflict with Team Plasma, he thinks, will decide the fate of the relationship between all Pokémon and humanity – Pokémon must always grow towards their true potential, whether the path is through Ghetsis’ cold technology or our empathy.  He just has one final experiment to run: one last battle.

While Jim and his Pokémon team engage Colress’ powerful Steel-types in battle, I attempt to take on Colress himself in debate.  I admit that I admire his dedication to the basic principles of science – his willingness to put his beliefs on the line and let his worldview be dictated only by hard evidence – but question how he can condone giving such power to a group like Team Plasma, effectively a terrorist organisation.  How could his experiment be worth risking our entire civilisation?  Colress replies that it was no risk at all.  Ghetsis and N’s actions two years ago have revealed that both the justice and the utility of our relationship with all Pokémon are in question, and the nature of that relationship pervades every aspect of our society.  If Team Plasma wins, if Pokémon truly can reach their potential more effectively through Ghetsis’ philosophies, then what authority is there left in civilisation?  What can we trust is not holding us back?  Better to take away everything, let our new relationship with Pokémon be decided from scratch, and to the victor go the spoils.  But, I challenge him, how can a contest of brute force be allowed to have such authority?  Colress chuckles at that.  Surely I know better, he asks.  Pokémon become more powerful as they grow, everyone knows that, but that’s hardly all there is to it.  As a Pokémon’s physical strength waxes, so do its self-awareness, its understanding of its own powers, its ambition and ability to plan, even its personal charisma.  This isn’t about Pokémon becoming better at battles – this, just as N always said, is about Pokémon becoming perfect beings.  I concede his point on principle, but remind him that the relationships between all of these factors are still very poorly understood, in spite of recent advances in the field, and that any sweeping conclusions must remain highly contentious, especially in the case of species which do not exhibit Pokémon evolution.  I suggest a complete survey of all relevant studies to date, with a thorough examination of the data and a critical review of all current methodological approaches.  Colress agrees enthusiastically, and offers to mail me a copy of his research notes and a detailed bibliography.  There’s totally a PhD thesis in this for me.  At this point, we are interrupted by a deafening metallic clang as Colress’ Magnezone crashes to the floor.  Colress claps his hands together excitedly.  Jim’s Pokémon, again, have proven far more powerful than his.  He congratulates us both on our strength and returns to his control panels.  Tapping a few buttons, he casually explains that he is unlocking the warp panel that will lead us to Ghetsis’ office, then sends us off with a jaunty wave.

White 2 Playthrough Journal, episode 21: Deep blue sea

In comparison to the last six Gyms we’ve visited, the Humilau City Gym is an extremely laid-back place.  No one tries to blow me through a wall… or crush me between two giant statues… or wrap me in a silken coffin.  Jim and I are permitted to drift gracefully and calmly across Marlon’s huge indoor swimming pool, borne on huge lilypads, our reverie broken only by such trainers as we deign to battle.  If nothing else, Marlon at least knows how to treat his challengers with a bit of good, honest respect.  I quickly find, unsurprisingly, that my Sawsbuck, Bran, is going to be the star of this show, with a little backup from my Ampharos, Sansa.  Jim, likewise, has Ulfric the Serperior and his own Ampharos, Elisif, to cut a swath through the Gym.  Although they are admittedly quite strong, the Gym trainers fall very quickly to our onslaught of super-effective attacks.  We barely break a sweat on our way to Marlon.  He battles me first.  Bran, unsurprisingly, crushes the Carracosta Marlon opens with, and goes on to heal himself almost effortlessly by draining the great sack of HP that is Marlon’s Wailord with his Horn Leech.  Marlon’s partner Pokémon, Jellicent, proves to be made of sterner stuff, and I am forced to recall Bran when his Horn Leech attack is locked down by Cursed Body.  Now weakened, though, Jellicent is no match for Sansa’s Discharge.  Marlon congratulates me and hands over my Wave Badge before turning to Jim and saying that his Pokémon need time to “chill” before another match, “fo’ reals.”  How long?  Oh, a couple of days, maybe a week.  Apparently it is not proper for one to “rush the chillaxation, yo’,” as it is an important part of Marlon’s training regimen.  Or something.  Jim groans with exasperation, produces a bag of Revive crystals and Hyper Potions, and patches up Marlon’s three Pokémon before demanding a battle.  Marlon says something about “keepin’ it fo’ reezy” or… oh, who am I kidding?  I’d long since stopped paying attention by this point.  I settle down on a lilypad to watch Jim’s battle, which is even more of a walkover than mine was, Ulfric’s Coil technique boosting the power of his Leaf Blade to obscene levels and giving Marlon’s Water Pokémon no chance to respond.  Once defeated a second time, Marlon promptly backflips into the water and swims out of the Gym, presumably to go and ‘chill’ somewhere.

Hugh is delighted that we have earned our Wave Badges – only now, apparently, can we get on with our urgent business.  He dispatches me and Jim to check out route 22, west of Humilau City (which Jim, of course, never quite got around to) while he sweeps the southern areas.  At this point, Marlon shows up with an interjection.  He’s certainly easy enough to find when he wants to interfere… Marlon, unlike every other Gym Leader in the region, not only hasn’t even heard of Team Plasma but has no opinion on their actions one way or the other, because “the ocean accepts all rivers, brah.”  Jim points out, somewhat indignantly, that Team Plasma’s past actions, and indeed their entire raison d’être, are pretty much the exact antithesis of the philosophy Marlon seems to be pushing here.  The Gym Leader is unconcerned, and wanders off to return to whatever vaguely-specified activity he had been busy with earlier.

Jim and I head for route 22, a wilderness area with paths so convoluted it could hardly be more confusing if it had been designed as a maze.  We find no sign of Team Plasma as we search the area.  If their ship was here, it’s gone now.  I doubt it could have landed anyway; the terrain is so uneven that it would be just about impossible.  Just as we are about to give up and go back to Humilau City, though, we find something much more interesting: the legendary Pokémon Terrakion, waiting for us on a plateau.  Images flash inside my head: Cobalion, Terrakion and Virizion, together, a blade crashing down on the heads of our enemies.

“What are you waiting for?  Catch it.”

Colress is standing behind us.  He explains that, as far as he can tell, Terrakion wants to fight Team Plasma alongside Cobalion and Virizion, and is here to test us to see if we deserve his assistance.  I shrug and call out Jaime, my Samurott.  If this big ugly git wants a swordfight, we’ll give him one.  Terrakion has centuries of experience on Jaime, but Water-beats-Rock is a truism as old as the ocean itself.  Jaime’s Razor Shell brings Terrakion to his knees, and a barrage of Ultra Balls seals his fate.  I turn back to Jim and Colress.  Colress applauds enthusiastically, and declares that he has a reward for us – a prototype of the machine he used outside of Castelia City to awaken the Crustle blockade.  He hands me a small remote with a big green button on it, beaming proudly.  It has not been proven to have any effect at all on Pokémon in battle, Colress notes, but he’s sure I’ll find some use for it.  I am about to fire off a snarky comment, but remember the suspicious square boulder in the Seaside Cave, and thank Colress for his gift.  Satisfied, he departs, leaving me and Jim to our business.  I tell Jim to stay on Route 22 and do one more sweep of the area while I check out the Seaside Cave.  Were this any other game, it would probably be nothing, but since this is Pokémon and Nintendo we’re dealing with, there is an extremely high likelihood that the square boulder is a Crustle, and that it is sitting exactly where we need to be.

When I reach the Seaside Cave, I retrace my steps and find the east exit where the great sandstone boulder is still waiting patiently to be cleared.  I squint at the remote Colress gave me.  He provided no instructions, but the interface seems simple enough: push the big green button.  With a dramatic flourish, I point the remote at the boulder and press it.  The remote begins to emit a hum, which quickly rises to a high-pitched whine.  Nothing happens to the rock.  The remote then starts sparking and giving off choking black smoke, which prompts me to drop it.  It hits the ground and quietly explodes.  I bend over and peer at the remote’s remains, raising an eyebrow.  My confidence in Colress’ technology has taken a serious hit.  Suddenly, though, I feel the ground tremble ever so slightly.  I look up to see the huge Crustle slowly, tortuously getting to its feet.  It chitters to itself gently before waddling away.  The way is now open.  I silently question whether the remote did anything or the Crustle simply woke up on its own, but decide it doesn’t matter.  Now that I can get through the cave exit, I can clearly see the Team Plasma frigate sitting calmly in the water just off the beach.  I punch Jim’s number into my X-Transceiver and tell him to get down here, then step out of the cave to take a closer look.  The first thing I notice is that, this time, the ship’s occupants have remembered to pull up the gangplank.  Hmm.  Well, I suppose I could just Dragon Pulse my way in.  This ain’t my ship, what do I care?  Then again, that would attract a lot of attention, and I should probably at least try to- wait, no, I don’t give a $#!^ who sees me; I’m Princess Motherf#$%ing Leia, I’m taking these morons down, and I don’t care who knows.  Dragon Pulse it is.

As I deliberate on the problem, Marlon backflips out of the water and greets me.  I give him a sarcastic “sup, yo.”  Marlon is here, apparently, to repeat what he told me and Jim back in Humilau City – that, like him, I need to be open and accepting of all peoples and creeds, which is why he doesn’t want to fight Team Plasma.  After all, they’re probably perfectly nice guys, deep down.  I tap my foot on the sand, waiting for him to get to the point.  On the other hand, Marlon continues, I clearly need a hand here, so he’s just going to help me out a little bit and then be on his way.  He leaps back into the water, swims back out to the ship, does some sort of spider-climb up its side, hops over onto the deck, slides out the gangplank, and flips back over the side into the water.  He gives me a jaunty wave, tells me to “keep it real, yo” and swims off.

Y’know, Marlon, there’s a difference between a philosophical commitment to balance and neutrality, and plain old indecisiveness.  What you are doing is definitely the latter.  Thanks for the assist though.

Anyway.  Jaime, Sansa, Tyrion, Barristan, Daenerys, Bran… come on out, everyone.  Time to storm this b!tch.