Ghetsis’ original design from Black and White.

The Dark Council has convened, and by the will of my mysterious Patrons, my fate is ordained: we’re talking about Ghetsis, the villain of Pokémon: Black and WhiteBlack and White have always been games that I have very mixed feelings about, for all sorts of reasons, and Ghetsis and his role in the story are inextricable from those feelings.  I love the story of Black and White and their sequels; taken together I still think they have the best plot a core Pokémon game has yet produced (although more recent games have different strengths of their own).  I also think they’re deeply flawed and could easily have been so much more.  Ghetsis is a fantastic character – but he and his relationship with the games’ anti-hero (anti-villain?), N, are at the heart of what holds Black and White back.  I’ve talked about Team Plasma, N and Ghetsis before in places, but that was ages ago and some of that old stuff is a little patchy, so this has been a long time coming.  Let’s talk about what makes Ghetsis arguably the most evil character in Pokémon’s history and how he shapes the story of these now-classic entries in the series.

Continue reading “Ghetsis”

Supman asks:

Hey pm! Ive been lurking here simce you denied or granted rights to exsist to pokemon, and i was wondering if you ever reviewed the secondary forms of zekrom and reshiram, when they are combined with kyurem?

Never did, and… I think probably won’t, though I’m not quite prepared to rule out a meandering series on legendary Pokémon generally.  There are some assorted thoughts on Reshiram, Zekrom and their relationship with Kyurem that you can find here:

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.

Continue reading “Pokémon Generations: Episodes 15 and 16”

VikingBoyBilly asks:

What do you think of the new formes of Zygarde that were revealed? They turned him into Cell from DBZ.

Oddly enough, Dragon Ball Z’s Cell is not what leaps out at me, though I certainly wouldn’t want to rule him out as a possible influence.  Conceptually, the way Zygarde’s forms are described – scattered cells that operate independently, gaining full power when they reunite – that reminds me, more than anything else, of Jenova from Final Fantasy VII.  The black and green colour scheme, the notion of many individual units working as one under a single intelligence, along with Zygarde’s existing designation as the Order Pokémon… well, that, bizarrely enough, calls to my mind Star Trek’s Borg Collective.  The red and blue elements of Zygarde’s “perfect” form hint at Yveltal and Xerneas being somehow absorbed (or assimilated? :-p) into it – which sounds like Cell, I admit, but is already something that exists in Pokémon, in the person of Kyurem’s augmented forms.  In any case… all this possibly has interesting symbolic resonance with Zygarde’s presumed role as guardian of Kalos’ ecosystem, in that Zygarde is itself, apparently, a self-contained ecosystem of sorts, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  A strikingly appropriate theme for the “Order Pokémon,” I think.

Also, I feel compelled to note that Bulbapedia seems to have decided that Zygarde’s dog and humanoid forms are based (in line with the Norse mythology theme that someone decreed back when X and Y were released) on Jormungandr’s siblings, Fenrir and Hel, respectively.  Hel, the goddess of the underworld, who was a beautiful woman above the waist and a rotting corpse below.  I mean, okay, maybe this is what they’re referencing, but if so, they’re doing it badly.  It’s a stretch, for me.  Presumably if Zygarde’s “10%” form were a goat, people would be saying it was based on Tanngniost and Tanngrisnir; if it were a horse, people would point at Sleipnir; if it were a boar, people would point to Gullinbursti.  I have little patience for that whole conceptual house of cards.

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?