Anonymous asks:

Are you going to talk about the final two episodes Pokémon Generations at any point? I already have an idea as to how you might like them…

…the final two episodes of what now?

…oh f#%& that’s right I was doing that whole thing

and then I started playing Moon version and forgot about it

uh

Let’s give ‘em a paragraph each now! Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

The Bare Essentials

The secret level of Lysandre Labs doesn’t live up to Malva’s hype.  After she lets me in (hinting, as she leaves, that this fulfils her end of some kind of shadowy bargain Looker made with her), I find that it is laid out in exactly the same way as the main floor of the complex, though with most of the rooms blocked off and disused, and is guarded only by a couple of scientists and the members of the Lumiose Gang, who were apparently hired as security on Emma’s recommendation.  Their leader, Nix, is stationed outside a storeroom waiting impatiently for his shift to end, and suggests that we rummage through the place together to see what it is that’s so important for him to protect.  Truly, Nix, you are a model of professionalism; I, an unauthorised intruder in your workplace, will gladly help you loot the storeroom you were hired to guard.  The stolen Pokéballs are here, along with Xerosic’s notes on the “Expansion Suit,” which has four major functions.  Two are comparatively innocuous: it grants its wearer superhuman strength and the ability to change his or her physical appearance at will (using technology based on the natural abilities of Ditto and Kecleon).  It also contains a remote transmitter that allows the suit to be controlled from the comfort of the lab while the wearer is kept unconscious, which explains Emma’s behaviour while acting as Essentia, but makes me wonder why Xerosic didn’t just… y’know, build a robot.  What does the unconscious ‘pilot’ contribute here?  Perhaps the control is intended as a failsafe in the event that an operative goes rogue on a mission, which, given the kind of people that Xerosic tends to associate with, is a distinct possibility.

Then there’s the fourth function.  “A hacking cable on the neck piece allows the wearer to upload a computer virus to Pokéballs and override their systems.  This provides access to control the Pokémon.  The virus also magnifies the Pokémon’s power.”  Wait, wha- how…?  What?  Hacking the Pokéball makes the Pokémon more powerful?  How is that even supposed to work?  I… guess if it’s implied that the Pokémon are stored as data then you could just program the virus to edit the data, but what makes a Pokémon ‘powerful’ is a multifaceted and highly subjective thing.  Notice that I find this so bizarre that I am entirely passing over the implication that control of the Pokéball grants control of the Pokémon, no questions asked, which would normally occasion multiple paragraphs of inane claptrap on my part.  We’re talking about altering dozens of physiological parameters (physical strength of various different muscles, reaction times, perception, durability of skin and bone, mental processing speed, countless bizarre things specific to different species like a Fire-type’s core temperature or a Psychic-type’s telekinetic strength), many of them linked to brain chemistry, in ways that could be crippling or even fatal if pushed too far – and he’s written a computer program that will automate this process, applying it to any individual of any species on the fly?  If it actually works, which I suddenly doubt, then this is either Nobel Prize-worthy stuff or some kind of magic.  And if you can do all that, reliably and safely, why stop there?  Couldn’t the same technology be used to give Pokémon moves and abilities they wouldn’t normally be able to obtain, or even change their species?  Yes, I answer on Xerosic’s behalf; yes, I think it probably could.

Yoink.

According to his notes, Xerosic initially envisioned having Emma test the suit while conscious, but hit an unexpected snag.  Emma is not a trainer in the normal sense of the word and owns no Pokémon – apparently he somehow forgot to mention in his job ad that this was a requirement.  As a stop-gap measure, Xerosic took on the role of Emma’s instructor, and let her use his own Pokémon while testing the Expansion Suit, but found that his normally disciplined, ruthless Crobat and Malamar became playful and easily distracted while in her care.  In order to get anything done at all, he had to use the suit’s remote link capability to put Emma to sleep and control Essentia himself.  While the tone of his notes is normally clinical and his intentions are plainly malevolent, Xerosic does seem to be genuinely concerned for Emma’s safety in these trials, even suspending further experimentation after the incident with Looker in the alleyway because he was no longer certain she would be unharmed (although Emma herself reported only that she had had a nightmare).  She’s turning him soft.

Nix is disappointed that there are only Pokéballs and documents in the storeroom, since he promised Looker he would never take another person’s Pokéball again (the implication, I can only assume, is that if there were anything else there he would gladly swipe it).  To his delight, however, a bell sounds to signal the end of his shift, and he leaves immediately.  “Be sure to shut the place when you go!” he says cheerily to the unauthorised child in the top secret room he was assigned to guard.  Something tells me the Lumiose Gang just aren’t cut out for honest work.  As he leaves, Xerosic enters the room and walks right past me, muttering to himself about the failure of his remote control and whether he could strengthen his grip on Essentia without hurting Emma.  Suddenly realising who I am, he decides that defeating me will prove that his project has been a success and calls Essentia.  This is the kick-off for a whole string of battles with the robot ninja, using all of the Pokémon she has brought against me so far in sequence.  Essentia is supposedly ramping up the potency of her Pokéball jack’s virus with every defeat, but exactly what effect this is having, if any, is unclear.  Three battles in, Looker and Mimi arrive and attempt to wake up Emma, but Xerosic crows that he, not Emma, is the one controlling Essentia, and turns his remote up to eleven.  Essentia keeps fighting, this time with Xerosic’s own Malamar and Crobat, but becomes incoherent and appears to be in terrible pain.  Looker continues to evoke The Power Of Friendship, to no avail – Essentia is paralysed by her internal struggle.  Xerosic stares, wordless, as she clutches her head and screams.  Eventually he gives a hint of a sigh and says “remote control… power down.   Deactivate.”

And just like that, everything is okay.  Emma wakes up with a loud yawn and takes control of the suit, apparently no worse for wear and slightly disappointed to learn that Xerosic is ending their trials and won’t be requiring her services any longer.  That, apparently, is that, and Emma, Mimi and I are dismissed to go and get something to eat while Looker talks things over with Xerosic.  In a cutscene in Looker’s office, Xerosic obligingly confirms that Essentia, under his control, was behind both the vandalism of the art museum and the recent Pokéball thefts.  He praises Emma’s talent, dedication and vision, claiming that his research could never have succeeded without her, but firmly denies that she bears any responsibility for her actions while unconscious in the Expansion Suit or even that she has any memory of them.  Looker formally instructs Xerosic to accompany him to the police station once he has everything in order… and then invites him to dinner, because he is Emma’s friend.

Ohhhhh no.  NO no no.  Looker, I let you adopt the homeless gang leader, and I let you invite her psychotic friends over for play-dates, but you are not going to Disney your way out of this one.  This man is legitimately evil and insane, and his obvious affection for Emma does not excuse his wanton exploitation of her for criminal ends – which, need I remind you, is far from the worst thing on his record!  And this is coming from ME!

What do you mean “I’m not even in this scene”?  I’m the narrator of this play-through, thank you very much!

Oh, whatever!

A couple of days later, when Looker is supposed to be ending his fake hospital visit, Emma and I receive a letter from him, in which he confesses to Emma his Interpol allegiance and his real reason for being in Kalos: to apprehend Xerosic.  With his mission accomplished, it’s time for him to return to… wherever the hell he comes from.  To me, he leaves his precious code name, “Looker,” and to Emma and Mimi, he leaves the office, so that they will always have a place to live.

You’re… leaving me your… code name?

Oh, HELL no; I am NOT going to rule Kalos with an iron fist burdened with THAT piece of $#!t.  Emma, Mimi and I split up to find him and prevent this atrocity.  Following a tip from Nix, I visit the art museum, where the damaged painting has been restored.  Whoo.  Meanwhile, Xerosic contacts Emma to summon us all to Lysandre Café.  When we arrive, Looker is questioning him to make absolutely sure all of the Pokéballs stolen by Essentia have been returned.  Their train is about to leave, and he is anxious to make sure there are no more loose ends.  Well, sorry, Looker, you missed one – and she’s here to confront you about it.  Emma demands to know why he has to leave, and then suggests that she and Mimi go with him to continue as his assistants.  That… wait, that might actually work; he has already started training her, right?  But no – Looker is so anxious to get rid of Emma that he decides to promote her to head of the Looker Bureau on the spot just to have an excuse to leave her behind.  Emma, to her credit, sees through his bull$#!t immediately and turns to me for support.  “Emma, please,” Looker cuts in, “I must ask you to respect the necessity of my decision.  Chris understands perfectly why I must go.  It is the way of partners.  He is my partner.  We understand each other.”  Why, that little-!

“No way.  Listen, Looker, leaving a lonely sixteen-year-old hobo in charge of a private detective agency because you can’t take responsibility for your recent insane decision to adopt and employ her may only make you the second-worst person in this room-”

“And which one of us would be the first, your imperial majesty?” Xerosic asks innocently.

“…okay, make that the third-worst person in this room, but-” Mimi gives a discreet little cough to draw my attention.  I sigh.  “The fourth-worst…” I glance at Emma, mentally weighing her recent actions as Essentia and her probable record as an inner city gang leader.  “…you know what?  F#$% it; do whatever you want.”  I slouch grimly over to a chair, muttering “you’ll all be my slaves one day anyway.”

“Well…” Xerosic murmurs, “I suppose that answers that question.”  He turns to Emma and offers her a gift – the Expansion Suit, minus its remote control function, as well as his Pokémon partners – so that she can become a masked superhero and defend Lumiose City from evil.  And then, just like that, they’re off.  Emma, vibrant soul that she is, shakes off her melancholy and pledges to do her best to keep her home safe as the new head of the Looker Bureau.

Wait… Xerosic said he took out the Expansion Suit’s transmitter (and, well, he easily could have been flat-out lying, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that he was sincere), but he said nothing about the Pokéball jack.  That, I’ve got to assume, is still in there, with all its nebulously defined, potentially horrifying, and tremendously versatile functions.  And now Emma has it.  Emma who,need I remind you, is a sixteen-year-old street gang leader.  Emma whose best friend is a telepathic cat who hates adult humans.  Emma who in a few short weeks earned the respect, the admiration even, of one of the most dramatically evil villains in the history of the Pokémon franchise.  And… come to think of it, do we have any proof, beyond Xerosic’s word, that Emma had no control over her actions as Essentia?

I see no way this could possibly go wrong.

Robot Ninja Bandit Zombie Pirate Shapeshifter

Our next mission has arrived!  Kind of!  Well, no-one has actually hired us, or for that matter even inquired about hiring us, but there’s been a break-in and some vandalism at the Lumiose Art Museum, and Looker has decided to investigate.  Considering how massively strapped for cash he apparently is, Looker is mighty keen on spontaneous pro bono work.  Anyway, he sends me to the museum, conveniently just around the corner, to force our services on the unsuspecting staff.  I find the vandalised painting on the third floor, covered by a broad squiggle of sky-blue spray paint.

…well, it looks like a perfectly fine piece of modern art to me.  Maybe that’s just my disdain for the blandness of Kalosian art, though.  I say as much to the director, and find to my surprise that he agrees with me.  Something about a statement of rebellion against authority.  He even muses that the defacement has drawn publicity for the museum, but is concerned that trying to restore the painting could even make things worse (he’s absolutely right, by the way).  Though mystified at how the tagger got inside, he makes no indication of wishing to hire an investigator.  Oh, well.  I’m sure Looker will find some bat-s#!t reason to take the case on anyway.

…but no.  By the time I get back to the office, Looker’s attention has been caught by a completely different crime: a string of Pokéball thefts in Lumiose City’s alleyways, the thief normally striking in the moment of inattentiveness after a battle ends.  They are thought to be the work of a single individual, but apparently there are no consistent reports of what this person looks like, or even whether it’s a man or a woman.  Um… wait, what exactly is making us think it’s a single individual, then?  Oh, whatever.  Looker, as always, has a cunning plan: he suggests that, since I have plenty of enticing Pokémon, I can act as bait for our mysterious bandit.  Yes.  As the famous destroyer of Team Flare and the most powerful trainer in the Kalos region, I am an ideal choice to be the bait for these criminals who prey on the weak and helpless.  Looker, immune as always to my perennial sarcasm, is delighted at my assent to the plan, which we set into motion at once.  Entering the nearest alley, I am quickly challenged to a battle by an elegant middle-aged woman with a Jellicent and a Volcarona – clearly a skilled trainer, but nothing exceptional… until the end of a battle when, with a flash of blinding light, she turns into a lithe, inscrutable figure completely concealed by some kind of black jumpsuit and an orange perspex visor, speaking with a harsh, synthetic sounding voice, almost like a robot.

…Viscountess Julia the robot maid, is that you?

Looker bursts into the alleyway to confront my assailant before she (he? it?) has a chance to make a grab for my Pokéballs.  “OBSTRUCTION DETECTED.  PROCESS JEOPARDIZED.  RELOCATE HUNTING GROUND,” the figure decides, before springing with lighting speed onto the roof of a nearby building and dashing away across the rooftops.  Okay.  The keen detecting skills I have learned from Looker are suggesting to me that I might not be dealing with a typical Pokémon rustler here.  Looker seems to think that trying our plan again in a different alleyway may get us another shot at apprehending the rogue, and despite my habitual scepticism I agree to give it a shot – this time coming up against a little girl with a Whimsicott, a Mawile, and a Granbull.  She too appears to be only another face of the robot ninja we are hunting, who is again chased off pretty quickly by Looker’s intervention.  A third alleyway yields not another of our enemy’s guises, but one of her victims – a young Black Belt who was enthralled by her beauty and had his Pokémon snatched away.  He does manage to give Looker enough information to point us towards another alley, though, sending me dashing across the city once again to put my life and Pokémon on the line in the pursuit of… *shudder*… justice.

…if this robo-chick is Emma using a personal holo-field and a voice synthesiser I am going to be so pissed.

In the fourth alley, I am challenged by a beautiful young woman, perhaps the same visage who appeared to the Black Belt.  She now seems to have all but abandoned her pretence of being an innocent member of the public, and challenges me right away with a powerful Persian.  When she loses, she again reveals her true form and attacks, and again is confronted by Looker.  This time, though, she seems to have decided that any risk involved in engaging him is worth being rid of us, and threatens to “eradicate” him.  Looker, plucky and clueless as he is, threatens her right back with his skill as a fist-fighter.  I quietly suggest to him, my hand slowly reaching for Xerneas’ Pokéball, that anyone using the verb “eradicate” is probably thinking of a slightly more sophisticated level of combat than fisticuffs.  Before we can get down to eradication, though, Mimi the Espurr rushes into the alley… and jumps enthusiastically to greet the robot ninja, smiling as she smiles for only one person…

Wha- THAT WAS A F$#%ING JOKE!  How am I supposed to make jokes when the plot is just as crazy as anything I can come up with!?

…WHAT KIND OF BAT-F#$% INSANE PART-TIME JOB DID SHE APPLY FOR!?

…then again, I gotta say; I’m not normally into chicks but the whole shapeshifting cyborg assassin thing is kinda hot.

The robot ninja denies that she has any familiarity with Mimi, or that she is Emma, calling herself “Essentia.”  She tries to “eradicate” Mimi, but Looker heroically causes the screen to fade to black so he can absorb the attack, and tries to get through to Emma, presumably reasoning that she is under some kind of compulsion (or she could be doing this entirely of her own will… I mean, she was a gang leader, and as backstabs go, I have to admit this one has me in awe).  This only causes Essentia to go haywire, give an unholy robotic screech, and retreat to the rooftops.  Well.  That certainly happened.  Looker tells me he means to check into hospital to sort his injury, but secretly reveals to Mimi in a cutscene that he is leaving on an especially dangerous mission.  A few hours later, I get a call on my holo-caster from Emma, and hurry to the office to find her.  She gives no indication of awareness that anything is the slightest bit unusual, other than concern for Looker, and dashes off to get back to her “job” before I can tell her she’s grounded.  What’s more, before I can pursue her, I am interrupted by a butler who seems to be interested in hiring us, but wants to check out my strength first… despite apparently knowing that I am the Champion.  I punish him and his Braviary for their insolence, and he reveals that he is a former member of Team Flare, like the mistress who sent him – one of the scientists, I can only assume, maybe Aliana?  She is waiting for me in the penthouse suite of the famed Hotel Richissime.  I am told to hurry, since the man’s mistress does not like to be kept waiting… so, naturally, I go for a walk, get some fresh air, buy some Lumiose Galettes for my Pokémon, and stay a while at the Café Triste for a light afternoon meal.  For members of an organisation I destroyed, these two have a frightfully poor notion of the respect I am due.  Once I feel appropriately rested, I head for the penthouse…

…and come face to face with the Elite Four’s Fire Pokémon Master, Malva.

Furious at being kept waiting, Malva demands a one-on-one battle before she will even speak to me.  I indulge her and destroy her Pyroar with Orion’s Aura Sphere, leaving her smouldering but prepared to talk.  Malva confirms that Essentia is Emma, wearing a special suit invented by none other than Xerosic, Team Flare’s chief scientist.  Malva wants me to get rid of Xerosic for tarnishing the honour of Team Flare with petty crimes – she claims that, despite our disagreements, they were always doing what they believed was right, while Xerosic is just plain evil.  In exchange for this service, she offers to lead me to the secret level in Lysandre Labs where he does his work.  As I turn to leave, she warns me, almost as an afterthought, “be prepared to face death if you go.”

…WOW.  Interesting tone for a Pokémon game, don’t you think, Malva?

Remind me to fire her (pun most maliciously intended).  Anyone who still believes in the rightness of Lysandre’s insane self-aggrandising mission will not be serving on my Elite Four, nor can anyone so recklessly insubordinate be trusted with an important role in my insane self-aggrandising mission.  Perhaps Serena could replace her; she does have a Fire-type partner, after all…

Ridiculous quote log:

“Museum staff said that security is very tight and breaking into the museum is impossible.”
…much as I try to refrain from telling random Kalosians how to do their jobs, if your security team is telling you that a break-in is impossible in the aftermath of a break-in, it’s time to find a new security team.

“She’s no Pokémon, yet she can use Transform!”
As always, Looker, your observational skills are second to none.

Looking for Trouble

I arrive at the formerly vacant office off Rouge Plaza and come face to face with its new occupant.  My first thought is “oh, no; not this idiot again,” followed closely by “didn’t I kill him?” and shortly after that by “oh, gods, why didn’t I kill him?”  The man in question is none other than Looker, the Interpol agent who has been hounding the steps of the Pokémon world’s villains since Platinum, partially responsible (in, I must stress, the most vague and advisory of capacities) for the arrest of Team Galactic’s chief scientist, Charon, and six of Team Plasma’s Seven Sages (I choose to believe he was responsible for failing to stop the Shadow Triad from rescuing the seventh, Ghetsis).  Now he has come to Paris to start a detective agency, and has a proposal for me: he wants me to be his partner in this affair.  I look him in the eye and give him my flattest, driest “no.”  Unfortunately, Looker has the persistence of a Professor asking for help with a Pokédex, and I am eventually forced, after several hours of conversation, to say “yes,” just to make him shut up.  My first assignment – to ‘train’ me and make sure I have what it takes to be a hard-boiled, steel-jawed, gum-shoed, cliché-slinging idiot – is to retrieve five sparkly tickets from around Lumiose City, having been told by Looker exactly where they all are.  With an exaggerated sigh, I go after one and send my Pokémon after the other four.  Looker is astonished at the speed with which I have accomplished his task, and proposes that we set out on our first mission: investigate reports of Lumiose children spending more and more time in dark alleyways, against the wishes of their parents.

“So,” I think to myself as I hunt the children down, “it has come to this.  Investigating a street gang of French preschoolers.  This is the life you chose.”  My optimism, lurking deep in a black corner of my soul, responds, “oh, come on; some of them were at least ten.  And did you see the size of that Swinub the six-year-old had?”  I tell my optimism to shut up; things are getting interesting.  The leader of the gang is not a child at all, but a Pokémon: a somewhat temperamental Espurr named Mimi, whose human mouthpiece is a girl whose name we later learn is Emma.  Looker initially assumes that Emma is Mimi’s trainer and asks her to recall her Pokémon, but Emma objects, somewhat indignantly, that she doesn’t need to be a trainer or use Pokéballs to be friends with a Pokémon (I’m sure the weight of this sentiment doesn’t need to be explained).  As it turns out, the reason the children have been spending so much time in the alleys of late is that this is where their friends Emma and Mimi live.  Emma is apparently an orphan, and Mimi has no trainer.  While sympathetic, Looker still needs to wrap up the case and earn his commission, so he comes up with a “genius plan”: have Emma and Mimi live at the Looker Bureau as his assistants.  Oh, yes!  By all means!  Invite the homeless gang leader and her telepathic cat to live in our officeThere is no way this could possibly go wrong.  Mimi is initially reticent, and Emma will not abandon her, but I am assigned to befriend Mimi, and manage to bring her around with my inimitable charm, melodious singing voice, and kickin’ dance moves.  All’s well that ends well.  Apparently.

Our next client is a Japanese tourist who arrives at the office while Emma is out.  She speaks no French (…or English… or whatever it is that we’re supposed to be speaking), but Looker honestly believes he speaks Japanese and gets the impression that she is offended because no-one has offered her tea yet.  While he’s out getting her some, Emma and Mimi arrive home.  Emma does speak fluent Japanese (…as all French hobos do) and on top of that Mimi has some kind of empathic communication power, so that I can understand, if not the precise meaning of their speech, at least their general tenor: the Japanese woman (who is very insulting about both Looker and Emma) has had her Pokémon stolen by thugs at Lumiose Station.  When Looker returns, Emma explains the situation and recommends that we refuse the job on the grounds that the woman is so unpleasant (I’m starting to like this kid), besides which, the people who are probably responsible – the Lumiose Gang – are familiar to her, and are as nasty as they come.  Looker is outraged at the very suggestion and leaves immediately.  Emma begs me to follow, since Looker doesn’t even have any Pokémon and can’t possibly go toe-to-toe with the Lumiose Gang (he’s mentioned having a Pokémon partner once, but lost it on a mission long ago – I seem to remember him having a Croagunk on Platinum).  I question Emma’s willingness to put me in danger when she was so worried about letting Looker go, but she turns on the waterworks and says Looker has confided to her that I make him feel like he has his lost partner back.  I grumble that I’m doing this for the Pokémon, not for them, and head for Lumiose Station.

I arrive to find Looker doing his darndest to talk the Lumiose Gang down before they realise he has no Pokémon (not so much akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight, as to bringing a bit of an old bone to the Battle of the Somme).  Luckily for him, the three gangsters are not exactly Champion material (despite their fearsome names: Eris, for the Greek goddess of strife and discord, Sedna, for the dark and vengeful Inuit goddess of the deep ocean, and Nix, for the Greek primordial goddess of night, Nyx – that last one is a dude, incidentally).  As I finish destroying them, Emma turns up and demands that the fighting stop – and they listen, because Emma is the boss of the Lumiose Gang.  I remain astonished by Looker’s taste in friends.  For what it’s worth, she never wanted to be the boss; they just kind of decided she should be after she wiped the floor with them in a battle.  What – with Mimi?  For an Espurr, she’s pretty damn clever and powerful, but really?  What’s more, it turns out they only stole the tourist’s Pokémon to get Looker’s attention, because they wanted their gang leader back.  Much as she tries to deny any interest, Emma has some pretty serious underworld clout!  Again, I question her decision-making processes and wonder, under my breath, why she didn’t just talk to the gang herself rather than put Looker in danger, but I’m beginning to think this chick might actually be worth having around – how often do you meet a teenaged French hobo who speaks fluent Japanese, commands the respect of a ruthless street gang, and is apparently some kind of Pokémon training prodigy to rival… well, me?  Looker, again showcasing his truly unique people skills, invites the Lumiose Gang to visit Emma any time they like, provided they swear to reform and commit no more wickedness, which they obligingly do.

Back at the office, Emma is becoming concerned that she and Mimi have been living with Looker, with free rent and board, for some weeks now and doing very little work.  I assure her that this is no problem, as Looker himself has been living there for much longer and has yet to do any work at all.  Looker too encourages her not to worry, since he has plenty of money saved up – a lie, and an utterly transparent one at that – and her studies are more important at her age anyway.  Learning how to be a detective is work, in his book.  Emma is unconvinced.  Without telling Looker, she begins searching for part-time work in Lumiose City.  I nearly suggest that she simply borrow an Amulet Coin and start challenging Gyms with Mimi, since the prize money will surely be much greater than whatever she could scrounge from battles in the alleys (presumably her previous source of income), but the thought occurs that she will probably be more useful if kept out of the public eye and allowed to maintain her underworld contacts in Lumiose City.  You never know when you might need a way in with the gangs…

Ridiculous quote log:

…all of it.  Just… all of it.