Hyper Beam asks:

How would you…in glorious detail…imagine kyurem, zekrom, and reshiram finally combined?

(Disclaimer first: I’m not a designer or an artist, and a Google image search would give you multiple answers to this question that are better than anything you’ll get from me)

The thing is, I actually like that Game Freak never gave us a final realisation of this concept.  Whatever they came up with, it would not have lived up to our expectations or done justice to the idea.  The original primordial dragon represents the totality of all truths and the realisation of all ideals, the reconciliation of every pair of opposites and the resolution of every conflict.  I suggest, though I obviously cannot prove, that the reason it never appears in the games is because Game Freak realised that there is no satisfying way to depict that, and decided it was better left as a mysterious background presence in the lore.  Sometimes it’s more effective to leave things to the imagination; there’s a reason some horror movies never show the monster.  A big mass of black and white wings and scales and $#!t is not as evocative or meaningful as the vague suggestion, buried in layers of mythology, of a primordial being who symbolises the impossible unity of all divisions.  Frankly I think Pokémon could do with more of that kind of restraint, not less.

Continue reading “Hyper Beam asks:”

Squidward Tentacles asks:

I Could no longer….

Anyways, how do you think gamefreak would approach restoring Kyurem to the original Dragon?

My idea would be (as true to the seemingly benevolent natures of the protagonist in the games). Reshiram and Zekrom giving a piece of their essence, which would then be transformed into a mega stone for Kyurem

Well I am not Game Freak, as I have learned over the course of the last seven years, slowly, painfully and at great material and mystical cost.  What we actually know about any plans Game Freak may ever have had to release this Pokémon (let’s call it “Primal Kyurem” for the sake of argument – I think Primal Reversion is arguably a better analogy for what we’re doing than Mega Evolution) is that there is an unobtainable item lingering in the code of all the games from Black and White onwards, called the God Stone.  Aside from its grey colour, it looks exactly like the Light Stone and Dark Stone, the dormant forms of Reshiram and Zekrom, which are plot-critical items in the final versions of Black and White.  Not enough information is left in the finished games for us to deduce what the God Stone was intended to be for.  It might have been meant as a dormant form of Kyurem, but the name “God Stone” seems altogether too grand for a being as diminished and broken as Kyurem.  I suspect it is the item, created by somehow merging the Light and Dark Stones, that would be absorbed by Kyurem (as it absorbs the Light Stone or Dark Stone at the climax of Black or White 2) to restore it to its “primal” state.  But even if this is true, the notion was probably abandoned at a relatively early stage of the games’ development cycle. Continue reading “Squidward Tentacles asks:”

Pokémon Generations: Episodes 15 and 16

I’m a big fan of episode 16 of Generations; 15 is nothing special, but it covers characters who were already quite interesting, so it’s worth looking at anyway.  15 is the last of the generation V episodes, and focuses on the confrontation between N and Ghetsis in Black and White 2, while 16 is the beginning of generation VI, and is all about the characterisation of X and Y’s main antagonist, Lysandre.  15 follows the games quite closely, but 16 is a bit more exploratory, and it’s when Generations tries to depart a little from the games, and show the bits of backstory that we haven’t seen before, that it does its best work.  Let’s take a look.

Episode 15 is fairly straightforward; it depicts the events of the end of Black and White 2, when N challenges Ghetsis at the Giant Chasm in an attempt to stop him from using Kyurem to freeze Unova.  Until the last few moments, this happens more or less as we remember from White 2, barring the absence of the player characters, Rosa and Nate.  As Ghetsis commands Kyurem to unleash its full power, N arrives with Reshiram and blasts through the gusts of freezing air emanating from Kyurem’s body.  N’s subsequent conversation with Ghetsis is largely quoted directly from the games.  He proclaims his defiance against Ghetsis and his plans, and Ghetsis decides to “teach [him] a lesson” by using the DNA Splicers he stole from Drayden to activate Kyurem’s secret laser cannons, or however that’s supposed to work.  Kyurem disables Reshiram and absorbs it in order to transform into White Kyurem, and Ghetsis orders it to destroy N.  In the games, this is the point at which the player intervenes and stops Kyurem; here, N makes contact with the elements of Reshiram’s psyche that are still conscious within Kyurem and is able to slow it down, but can’t actually free Reshiram.  Ghetsis completely flips his lid, which in the games is your cue to challenge him directly; in Generations, he repeats his previous order to Kyurem, who prepares to turn N into a pile of frozen ashes (or possibly charred snowflakes).  N is saved at the last second, though – by none other than Hilbert, the male player character from the original Black and White, who arrives with Zekrom to face down Kyurem.  The short ends as they prepare for battle.

Generations doesn’t really do much of anything for this scene, other than giving the spotlight to N (who by all rights really should be the centre of attention here), but it was already a fairly interesting moment in the games, just for the interaction between N and Ghetsis.  Ghetsis calls N a “freak without a human heart,” which N doesn’t directly respond to, although he does acknowledge that Unova “taught [him] how to live as a human.”  It’s never really made 100% clear where N came from or why he is the way he is.  He calls Ghetsis “father,” though it visibly pains him to do so, and we’re told elsewhere that Ghetsis found him living in the woods with Pokémon.  Despite the apparent family resemblance between them in their pale green hair, no one ever mentions a mother.  When Ghetsis gets mad (both here and at the end of the original Black and White after N loses to the player) he’s not just angry at N but ashamed of him, ashamed of the “freak” who shares his name.  He also seems to regard N as more Pokémon than human, lumping him in with Pokémon like Kyurem as tools for his conquest.  There’s a lot of different ways you could explain their relationship.  It’s possible that N’s origins are truly mystical, that he was “conceived by the midichlorians,” as it were, and that Ghetsis simply found him in the middle of nowhere and recognised the power his abilities might yield.  On the other hand, the story might actually be more compelling with less magic and mysticism.  Perhaps Ghetsis once loved a woman with similar abilities to N’s, who disappeared or died and left him bitter and cold.  Perhaps he was Ghetsis’ biological child, but his abilities came completely out of nowhere, and Ghetsis’ disgust of his “freak” son destroyed his relationship with N’s mother.  Perhaps his strange abilities are simply the natural consequence of a human being raised by wild Pokémon; perhaps he was even the result of an experiment conducted by Ghetsis specifically to investigate this phenomenon.  And heaven only knows how N’s foster sisters, Anthea and Concordia, fit into all this.  What is clear, though, is that N and his powers are the embodiment of everything that he was originally working to destroy – the unity of humans and Pokémon.  By the time of his showdown with Ghetsis at the Giant Chasm, this unity is something he will now risk his life to defend.

Episode 16 aims to take a closer look at Lysandre, the leader of Team Flare and main antagonist of X and Y.  It opens with a press conference at which Lysandre, accompanied by his Pyroar, unveils his company’s new holo-caster technology to a rapturous audience.  He performs a bit of technological wizardry, using holograms to make himself appear and disappear from within his Pyroar’s Flamethrower and awe the audience.  After the press conference, we go to his meeting with Diantha at the Café Soleil from the early part of X and Y, shortly after the player’s first meeting with him.  This conversation is where he and Diantha outline their respective beliefs about age, change and beauty.  Lysandre thinks that beauty should be eternal, and “would end the world in an instant so that beauty never fades,” while Diantha believes that age and the fading of beauty are natural, and beautiful in their own way; as an actress, she doesn’t fear the loss of her youth, but relishes the complexity of the changing roles she will play later in life.  Next we are shown a news report, delivered by Elite Four member Malva (who is also a journalist), which covers a major donation that Lysandre is making to a Kalosian Pokémon Centre.  Though Lysandre already has a reputation for philanthropy, this is apparently his largest charitable contribution yet; Lysandre himself characterises it as a way of “giving back” a portion of the success he’s had from the holo-caster.  As he goes on his way, a reporter tries to ask him one last question about his company’s rumoured new project, a mysterious initiative code-named “Project Y,” but Lysandre and his security dismiss him.  Later, at what seems to be a meeting of Lysandre Labs’ board of directors, it becomes clear that Lysandre himself is the only member of the board who actually knows what Project Y is.  Lysandre attempts to reassure the board that they don’t need to understand what he’s up to, as long as they trust that he’s working for the good of Kalos, then leaves the room before anyone can object to his new budget proposals, declaring the discussion over.  At the end of the day, he travels to Geosenge Town to check on Project Y, descending into Team Flare’s hidden lab to gaze upon Yveltal’s black cocoon.  “This beautiful world,” he muses, “will not just fade away.”

What X and Y really needed, I felt, was a bit more of Lysandre’s backstory, and a bit more opportunity for us to see him as a good guy – without that, he doesn’t have anything like the shades of grey that I think he was probably supposed to.  This episode does a decent job of providing that.  The conversation between Lysandre and Diantha (a really great establishing character moment for both of them, that does an excellent job of setting up the ideas behind the central conflict of X and Y) actually makes him seem a lot more creepy and sinister in Generations than it does in the games, where his talk of ending the world comes across as vague poetic-philosophical rambling.  The rest of it though, where Generations goes off-script and stops directly quoting the game dialogue, is really interesting.  We get to see Lysandre the philanthropist, Lysandre the showman, Lysandre the science celebrity.  He has a flair for the dramatic, he can hold a crowd, he can persuade on a massive scale.  His company’s holo-casters have been transformative for communication in the Kalos region (Malva mentions that Lysandre Labs has had to increase production in order to keep up with massive demand for the new gadgets).  His reputation for charitable giving is second to none, and much of what he donates comes from his company’s own ground-breaking medical research.  Lysandre is so trusted and adored that no one ever suspects the nefarious nature of Project Y.  As the project approaches culmination, though, it’s clear that Lysandre is getting careless.  The public know that he’s working on something, they just don’t know what, and the board of Lysandre Labs is becoming uneasy enough with his secrecy that they decide to confront him about what he’s really doing, and they’re visibly startled when he refuses to give them a clear answer.  We don’t see what the board decides to do after Lysandre leaves the room – he seems confident that their blind faith in him will overcome their misgivings, but there’s a definite tension here.  During the events of X and Y, Lysandre is nearly at the end of his rope with the legitimate side of his organisation.  But that doesn’t matter anymore – while a public fallout with the board would bring unwelcome scrutiny, it seems like Lysandre is probably close enough to his goals by this point that withholding corporate funds wouldn’t actually stop him; the facility in Geosenge Town is fully operational and Yveltal is just waiting for the energy transfer that will wake it up.  All in all, we get a much more rounded picture of who Lysandre is and what kind of position he’s in at the beginning of X and Y – and that’s all to the good.

White 2 Playthrough Journal, episode 24: Absolute zero

Jim and I warp into a spacious office at the prow of the Team Plasma frigate, sparsely but tastefully furnished, and lined with monitors displaying live security feeds from around the ship.  The office’s sole occupant, a tall green-haired man in long, dark grey robes, has his back to us, his eyes fixed on one of the monitors.  Colress is visible going about his business on the security feed.  As if conscious of his observers, he glances up at the security camera and waves cheerily before returning to his consoles.  Ghetsis – for it is he – quietly curses Colress for his obsessive devotion to the principles of science, before turning around to greet us.

Whatever else may be said about Ghetsis, you have to admit that his is a look which few men could pull off.  Whether Ghetsis himself manages to pull it off is perhaps open for debate, but his confidence is still admirable.  His wardrobe has undergone a marked shift from his time as active leader of Team Plasma.  Gone are the voluminous bright blue-and-gold robes with their curious battlement-patterned collar.  His new robes are far more sombre, though they retain the eye motif of his older clothing, and his green hair and red glass monocle are unchanged.  He seems older, somehow, and thinner, almost gaunt, and now walks with a cane – though I note, warily, that its handle seems modelled after the hilt of a sword.  Ghetsis once fooled all of Unova into believing he was a kindly old philosopher who just wanted to help Pokémon – feigning frailty to conceal a deadly weapon would hardly tax his powers of deception.  He doesn’t appear to have any plans to murder us today, though.  In fact, he has in mind something far worse – a private performance of one of his villainous monologues.  Ghetsis explains to us Kyurem’s true nature – it is a being of emptiness, which, by extension, makes it also a being of limitless potential, much as I had theorised long ago. It can act as a vessel for… well, pretty much anything, it would seem – including Ghetsis’ all-consuming ambition.  I politely raise a hand to ask a question about the underlying metaphysics of Ghetsis’ plans for world domination (I am particularly interested to ask how he knows that Kyurem will not simply drain his vital essence, leave him a withered husk, and then go on to conquer Unova itself) but he refuses to be interrupted, until a member of the Shadow Triad arrives to inform him that Kyurem has been moved off the ship.  Ghetsis leaves, proclaiming his triumph and ordering the Shadow Triad to deal with us, at which point Hugh arrives via the warp panel.

Entirely unfazed by the gravity of the situation he has just missed, Hugh demands to know where his sister’s Purrloin is.  Only mildly taken aback by this question, the ninja releases a Liepard, explaining that, although this is probably the Pokémon Hugh means, it will only obey his commands now, for “such is the fate of Pokémon that are trapped in Pokéballs.”  Hugh cries out that this must be someone else’s Pokémon.  Good grief, Hugh, this is not a moment to go into denial; Rood told us that the Shadow Triad probably had your sister’s Pokémon, and it’s not like they’d be carrying around a spare Liepard, just in case they wanted to mess with the vengeful brother of a trainer they stole a Purrloin from.  That’s… kind of a low percentage contingency there.  While Hugh stares, dumbstruck, the ninja muses that, if Ghetsis had been victorious two years ago and ‘Pokémon liberation’ had become a reality, even if only for the sake of Ghetsis’ ambition, Liepard might have returned to its original trainer in its own time.  Before I have time to dwell on what he seems to be saying, the rest of the Shadow Triad arrives.  Hugh is so preoccupied by Liepard’s apparent hostility towards him that he’s unable to do anything useful, so Jim and I battle the three ninjas ourselves.  Once dealt with, they vanish, as usual, but leave Liepard behind as a parting gift (possibly a deliberate stratagem on their part, since it keeps Hugh transfixed and unable to contribute anything whatsoever).  I admit to spacing out for a moment myself, watching them.  The Shadow Triad certainly seem to believe that Pokéballs really do enslave and control Pokémon – but is that just Ghetsis’ rhetoric talking?  They weren’t deceived by him the way the others were; they seem to have known all along that world domination was his intention, but could their minds still have been clouded by his rather adversarial view of the relationship between humans and Pokémon?  Jim interrupts my reverie with a snap of his fingers.  We still have a war to win.

Leaving the ship, we follow Ghetsis to the glacial cave at the very back of the giant chasm.  The place is eerily silent – no Kyurem in sight.  Ghetsis is standing, alone, in the back of the cavern.  This crater, he explains, the place where Kyurem fell from the sky, is where its power is strongest, strong enough to freeze the entire region.  He bangs his cane on the cave floor and calls Kyurem’s name, prompting the legendary Pokémon to appear from nowhere in a gust of blinding white wind, then orders Kyurem to Glaciate me and Jim.  Wait, what?  Has someone changed the rules of Pokémon battles on us?  Are we now allowed to attack other trainers directly?  When did this happen!?  I stammer out an indignant challenge, declaring that Ghetsis is violating section A23, clauses 1 through 6, of the Unova League Manual of Training Etiquette, which very clearly lists all of the Pokémon attacks it is permissible to order upon an unwilling human target.  Jim tries to summon his Magmar, Falk (perhaps a somewhat more practical course of action under the circumstances, admittedly), but our bodies are already unresponsive from the cold.  I make a mental note to strike first if I ever find myself in a similar situation in my next life, preferably using something big and scary with horns.

“Reshiram, Fusion Flare!”

A brilliant red pulse of energy sweeps away Kyurem’s glacial chill as the white dragon Reshiram lands before us.  The long-lost hero of Unova, N, leaps from her back to confront Ghetsis.

“Took you long enough,” I mutter quietly.

N declares that he and Reshiram won’t allow the Pokémon of Unova to suffer at Ghetsis’ hands.  Reshiram, last I checked, is more powerful than Kyurem – significantly so – but Ghetsis’ confidence seems undiminished.  In fact, he claims that he wanted N and Reshiram here; it was all part of his plan.  With a flourish, he produces from his robes the devices that will supposedly bring him victory: the DNA Splicers.  These pyramidal spikes apparently slot into the strange glassy protrusions on Kyurem’s frozen wings.  I watch, unimpressed, as they float into their positions.  Now what?  N does not seem particularly overwhelmed either, and orders Reshiram to enter battle.  Kyurem responds by firing a barrage of purple lasers at her.  Wait, “DNA Splicers” actually means “Laser Cannons”?  Why did no one tell me this before?  If I’d known they did something useful I would have stolen the damn things myself!  This, Jim observes drily, is probably exactly why no-one told me this before.  Reshiram evades the lasers for a short time, but soon takes a direct hit.  The lasers appear to drain her energy somehow, reducing her to the helpless passive form of the Light Stone.

…well, $#!t.

Ghetsis commands Kyurem to absorb the Light Stone with… Absofusion?  Absofusion, that’s the name we’re going with?  Okay, whatever; get on with it.  Kyurem consumes the stone and, with much pomp and flair, transforms itself into a terrifying hybrid creature, its own body parts seamlessly mixed with Reshiram’s, that radiates power like a frozen star.  Ghetsis laughs his most villainous laugh as N looks on in horror at the abomination that was once his partner Pokémon.  I glance over at Jim as I brace myself for Glaciating death.  “Eh.  We had a good run, right?” I ask.  He shrugs and says something insulting about my mother.  I quietly remind him that, in the context of this playthrough journal, we are supposed to be brother and sister.  He shrugs again and reaffirms the sentiment.  Realising that we aren’t dead yet, we look back to Ghetsis.  He brags that his cane emits a special disruptor signal that will jam our Pokéballs, making it impossible to catch Kyurem.  Catch it?  Why would we be trying to-?  Wait.  Oh, so now he wants to battle?  Now he wants to fight fair?  Oh, whatever.  I step forward, cautiously, unclipping Jaime’s Pokéball from my belt and releasing the Samurott into the battlefield.  Surely Kyurem will be my toughest opponent yet; an ancient, legendary Pokémon with the power to freeze all of Unova, its formerly empty body overflowing with the pure essence of Truth itself, mingled with Ghetsis’ own boundless will to conquer.

Jaime marches forward, grits his teeth, takes a couple of Kyurem’s energy bursts, and smashes its face into the ground with a fierce Revenge attack.  Kyurem twitches a few times, then lies still.  With a sudden flash of blinding white light, Reshiram reappears, leaving Kyurem reduced to its original, empty form.  Everyone present stares, dumbstruck, as Kyurem makes a regretful croaking noise and slowly drags itself away to the back of the cavern.

Well.  That was anticlimactic.

Legendary Pokémon are, as a rule.  The fact is, even the most overpowered nonsense of a Pokémon can only do so much when plonked into a 6-on-1 situation and told to make the best of it, which is what battles with legendary Pokémon almost invariably involve.  Give that same Pokémon its default moveset, featuring the sheer impracticality that is Ice Burn, and you’ve got something that can, quite realistically, be taken down by a single Pokémon of your own without undue trouble (it doesn’t help that Ghetsis has, ironically, denied Kyurem the possibility of enjoying free turns while you uselessly stand there throwing Ultra Balls at it – for most legendary Pokémon, the best chance they have to hurt you).  Black and White fixed this problem rather ingeniously by making Reshiram/Zekrom an active part of the showdown with N, inviting you to face one of the dragons with the strength of a proper Pokémon team to back it up, while the other joins as your partner.  The impact of the battle on the player is strengthened, and the actual challenge of it is assimilated to the challenge of the battle with N.  Black 2 and White 2 have no such recourse, leaving us with the inescapable impression that Kyurem is simply not the world-ending threat Ghetsis thinks it is (bear in mind that this is Ghetsis’ endgame; just reaching this point was essentially the final critical step in his plan to conquer all of Unova) – an unfortunate weakness in their climax when compared with that of their predecessors.

As I explain all of this, N and Jim nodding thoughtfully at all the right moments, Ghetsis himself is rapidly losing his cool.  As I pause for breath, preparing to launch into a discussion of the place of legendary Pokémon in the background of the game world, he gives a strangled screech and bangs his cane on the ground.  Geez; with all the monologues he gives, you’d think he’d have the common decency to sit quietly through someone else’s.  Alas, Ghetsis would rather throw a tantrum.  It’s not over, he declares; he’ll just have to recapture Kyurem and try again – after he’s dealt with us.  I point out, as gently as I can, that if Kyurem didn’t work the first time, there’s no reason to think it’d work the second, which just prompts Ghetsis to scream and release his opening Pokémon, a Cofagrigus.  I offer to let Jim handle this one, but he gracefully declines and allows me to have the honour.

Ghetsis… well, I’m not going to lie; he’s really let himself go.  Most of the changes to his team since the last time we saw him are of fairly little consequence.  Gone are Bouffalant and Bisharp, with Drapion and Toxicroak appearing in their places, but this is really just a physical attacker for a physical attacker and a physical tank for a physical tank.  Cofagrigus, Seismitoad and Eelektross seem to be more or less unchanged.  The great loss is his Hydreigon.  It’s still on his team, sure, but a shadow of its former self: Ghetsis’ Hydreigon was once an unholy terror that abused its monstrous special attack stat to the fullest possible extent with a spread of terrifying energy-based moves, but now it’s been saddled with some weird-ass physical attacker moveset and forced to rely on the 75% accurate Dragon Rush as its primary move.  I feel like Ghetsis, of all people, shouldn’t need to be told that this is at best a very metagamey way to use a Hydreigon.  He becomes more irrational with each of his Pokémon that falls, eventually dissolving into a self-aggrandising tantrum when his Hydreigon collapses.  N attempts to calm Ghetsis down, addressing him (with obvious pain in his eyes) as ‘father,’ but Ghetsis just rants about how N is a freak, and not even a real person.  As he slips further into incoherence, one of the Shadow Triad appears to retrieve Ghetsis.  That was the last we ever saw of him.

All in all… as I said, the whole sequence has rather a feel of anticlimax about it.  I have to admit, though, that there is something a little sad about Ghetsis’ eventual end.  Most Pokémon villains get to go out with some dignity – Giovanni gracefully acknowledges your superiority and retires, Maxie and Archie come to understand how they went wrong and even get a nice little redemption scene on Mt. Pyre, and Cyrus vows revenge as he disappears into the distortion world.  Ghetsis… Ghetsis collapses into self-destructive rage, to the point where his most loyal servants feel they need to restrain him for his own good.  The shock to his psyche is clearly massive, and we’re left wondering whether he’ll ever fully recover.  I don’t think I’d go so far as to call it ‘poignant’ or ‘tragic,’ but I can’t deny feeling a little sympathy for him.  Overall, I think that the climax of the original Black and White was better done in a number of ways, but it’s very fitting that a game whose strength was the ambiguous nature of its antagonists should take the one truly irredeemable figure among them and give him such a pitiable fate.

Well.  Time to move on with life, I guess.

My Wish List for Black and White 2

So, Game Freak have thrown us a curve ball.  There is to be no “third game” to the Black and White series as is traditional (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum) but rather a “Black Version 2” and a “White Version 2.”  I hope they know what they’re- oh, who am I kidding, of course they don’t but I hope it works anyway.  In hindsight this makes perfect sense.  The theme of dualism is so ubiquitous in Black and White that the standard pattern of “games 1 and 2 are identical, then game 3 has a whole ton of flashy extras” would have just broken the whole thing.  I never would have seen it coming, because the very idea of Game Freak breaking such a long-established formula is all but inconceivable, but nonetheless, here we are.  Despite being labelled as sequels, my suspicion is that these games will still follow the pattern of Yellow, Crystal and so on (essentially the same game but with cool new stuff added), just with more emphasis on continuation of the story past the point where it ends in Black and White.  So, what can we expect to see out of the sequels and what do I most want to see?

(If you’re not familiar with the story of Black and White, you should probably skim my entries on Team Plasma and Kyurem before reading this)

My first wish is just plain overoptimistic and it’s totally never going to happen but I’m putting it out there anyway: I wish for Black 2 and White 2 to be released as downloadable add-ons to Black and White, and priced as an expansion set.  I don’t know whether this is even possible with the current technology used by the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and I don’t know whether Nintendo would care to do any such thing even if it were, but I’m wishing anyway because I CAN DREAM, DAMNIT!

 Art of White Kyurem, by Ken Sugimori; copyright Nintendo 'n' stuff.

The weekend’s big reveal included artwork of the new games’ two mascots: two alternate forms of Kyurem, a Black Kyurem who looks like a fusion of Kyurem and Zekrom, and a White Kyurem who looks like a fusion of Kyurem and Reshiram.  These two are the mascots of the games of the same colour – contrast Reshiram and Zekrom, who were the mascots of the games of the opposite colour – which suggests to me that N is going to be partnered with each of these two Pokémon on their respective games, as he was paired with Zekrom on Black and Reshiram on White.  Now, this is the big one.  My other wishes are unimportant in comparison to this: I wish for Kyurem to take his place in the story in a way that makes sense.  I can only speculate as to what his role is actually going to be, and I won’t hazard a guess as to how well it will work.  I can talk about how I would do it, though – and what is this blog for if not to FEED MY MASSIVE EGO?  Here’s my version.

After Ghetsis escapes from prison with the help of the Shadow Triad, he travels to Kyurem’s lair in the Giant Chasm and takes control of the dragon.  He then lures N and his dragon partner there.  When N’s dragon confronts Kyurem, it is absorbed into the ice dragon (working off the speculation that Kyurem is the ‘shell’ of the original dragon who split into Reshiram and Zekrom), which makes Kyurem far more powerful, but also causes Ghetsis to lose control of it.  Reshiram and Zekrom represent powerful opposed forces, and Kyurem can’t handle having one of them inside itself without being balanced by the other, so it goes berserk, threatening to freeze all of Unova in an endless winter.  You and N then have to work together to find and subdue Kyurem – and defeat Ghetsis – to save the region.  In the end, your dragon partner is absorbed into Kyurem as well, bringing it back into balance and creating some kind of epic, glorious ultimate form – but only for an instant, during which Kyurem sets right all the damage it has done before releasing both dragons again.  Once you’ve caught Kyurem, you can fuse it with your dragon temporarily whenever you want, to access its more powerful form.

On the topic of Kyurem, I wish for Freeze Shock and Ice Burn not to suck.  These attacks are two absurdly powerful Ice attacks (one with a chance to paralyze, one with a chance to burn) that exist in the coding of Black and White but can’t be learned by anything.  They’re obviously intended to be the signature moves of Kyurem’s two new forms, but as written they’re pretty terrible because they have a charge-up turn, like Sky Attack or Solarbeam, which allows ample time to switch in a Pokémon that doesn’t care about Ice attacks (Walrein, anyone?) to take the hit, or just use Protect or Substitute if you happen to have them.  Reshiram and Zekrom enjoy awesome signature moves, Blue Flare and Bolt Strike, which are nearly as powerful as Freeze Shock and Ice Burn without any of this charge-up nonsense.  Assuming the attacks won’t just be completely rewritten for Black 2 and White 2, I think the most intuitive way to work with these would be to say that the charging turn is ignored during Hail, the way Solarbeam’s is in bright sunlight, and then give Kyurem’s new forms the Snow Warning ability so they create Hail by switching in (seeing as Kyurem wouldn’t be able to do much with an ability analogous to Reshiram’s Turboblaze and Zekrom’s Teravolt anyway).  Sounds dangerously powerful, but bear in mind that other Pokémon with weather-changing abilities, like Kyogre, could switch in, take away Kyurem’s Hail, and force it to sit there charging its attack while they plot revenge.

Getting back to story elements for a moment, there’s one big thing that I’d like added to the plot of these games: I wish for Team Rocket to show up (or an equivalent Pokémon gangster faction; Team Rocket have the advantage of familiarity and popularity, but would be difficult to justify since Black and White are set, pretty unambiguously, after the events of Gold and Silver).  I think it’s very unlikely this will actually happen, but I think it would work very well.  The reason I want Team Rocket involved, not as the main villains, but as the antagonists of a side-plot about halfway through the main storyline, is that I think the events of a Team Rocket storyline would provide a brilliant opportunity to showcase N’s character.  N is theoretically the bad guy in Black and White, but it stands to reason that he would hate Team Rocket more than anyone else on the planet, and would probably be happy to work with you to grind their operations in Unova into the dust.  He could probably rope some Team Plasma grunts into helping him with that, too, which could give us a closer look at the differences between his motives and theirs – and possibly give N himself a closer look as well, which would have to be interesting… even more so if Ghetsis became involved; how he would react to Team Rocket is something of a complicated question since he would probably profess a very different attitude towards them than the one he actually held.  N is something of an anti-villain in Black and White, with Ghetsis as the real but hidden antagonist, and I’d like to see that explored further in the sequels; this side-plot would do just that.

 Art of Black Kyurem, by Michaelangelo Buonarotti.  Nah, I'm just kidding; this one's Sugimori too.

I wish for the plot to continue in the eastern parts of Unova, with events and stories for Village Bridge, Lacunosa Town and Undella Town.  In Black and White these towns are kinda just… there; they add very little to the games other than to make the world look bigger.  I think it’s reasonable to assume that this will happen as part of the process of tying up the loose ends Game Freak left for themselves in Black and White when Ghetsis escaped.  I’m less hopeful for Anville Town, the hick town out in the middle of nowhere that you can only reach by train (seriously, you can’t even Fly there), not that you’d ever want to anyway because all you can do there is swap items for other items, and even that only on weekends.  I think it would be fun to look at the role of Pokémon trainers in society by having the player take an active role in helping to build up and expand Anville Town, helping the settlement to spread into the wilderness while protecting wild Pokémon from the impacts of the town’s growth, as a kind of mediator between civilisation and nature.  If I do say so myself, this would fit the themes of the game rather nicely, since civilisation/nature is one of the major dualities Black and White focus on, particularly through the version-exclusive areas of Black City and White Forest, but also through N’s desire to separate the natural world of Pokémon from the civilised world of humanity.  Where N supports total segregation of the two, we’re clearly supposed to support bringing them into harmony, so it would be beneficial, I think, to have quests that involve the player actively doing that.

Aside from story stuff, we can probably expect a lot of cool new toys in Black 2 and White 2: Emerald and Platinum set a precedent here, each adding multiple new move tutors to expand the options available to many Pokémon, as well as unveiling new Battle Frontier facilities where players could test their skills battling under unusual rules.  I’d put good money on both of these showing up in the sequels, but I’d particularly like to wish for is an expansion of the latter concept.  Before now, facilities like the Battle Factory (where players must choose from a selection of rental Pokémon) or Battle Pike (where you must cope with random events that help or hinder your Pokémon) are restricted to single-player and co-operative multi-player modes; what I would want to stick in if I were designing Black 2 and White 2 is the option to impose similar unconventional battle conditions and rule-sets on battles against friends and other players.  Not that these facilities aren’t challenging – they are – but the AI really isn’t all that good, and losses tend to come because it’s inevitable in Pokémon that you will sometimes lose just because you were unlucky.  When you’re playing against other people, you learn to accept that and move on, but in battle facilities it becomes frustrating because the game only cares about the length of your winning streaks, not your overall performance.  A single, full battle against an opponent of human intelligence would be a more interesting test of your ability to operate under unusual conditions than battles with a hundred of the relatively uninspired AI trainers (at least one of whom is bound to get lucky with some Brightpowder or a Focus Band or something).

Finally, I’d be really tickled if it turned out that Game Freak had been reading my blog all this time and decided to take my advice on improving the Pokémon from my Top Ten list.

Hey, no harm in wishing, right?