The Let's Play Archive

Pokemon Shield

by Falconier111

Part 11: I Heard That Trainer Was Hop's Rival

Update 11: I Heard That Trainer Was Hop's Rival

Turffield - Pokémon Sword and Shield

Welcome to Turffield, an idyllic place of yellow fields and JESUS CHRIST

Is that a beard or a cancerous growth? You tell me! Do you remember when Meowth was a petty criminal with an inexplicable Brooklyn accent? I’m not sure I do, this abomination wiped my memories of that character in the anime and replaced it with nightmares. When I beat this trainer, he assures me his Pokémon are in top condition. Maybe he should take them to a specialist first .

But speaking of the anime!

I’m betting the vast majority of you already know the basics of the anime-game relationship, but I’m betting a few you don’t and I like the sound of my own writing. The Pokémon anime introduced the idea of Pokémon only saying their own names; before that, they just made appropriate elemental or animal sounds. The anime proved enormously popular, so much so it led to the release of Pokémon Yellow, which packed in a few improvements to the original –

Excuse me, I have to take this.

Anyway, it tightened up some issues with the previous versions, Red and Blue, plus adding a feature where Pikachu, the anime’s mascot, could follow you around on the overworld. Yellow set the pattern for future Generations; two (roughly) simultaneous releases followed by an improved version a ways later. Most Pokémon don’t do the name thing in the games, but as a consequence of its prominence in the anime, Pikachu still does. Hilariously, when Pikachu Dynamaxes (well, does a special equivalent I’ll cover later), its voice track changes and instead of saying its name, it says the first syllable long and slow, like it’s about to take a Dynamax-sized leak on the audience and wants everyone to know it.

Fun facts: my dictation software recognizes the word Pokémon and spells it correctly; not too shocking, given the franchise’s popularity. Same with Pikachu, to a lesser extent. But Charizard? Pokédex? Helps me write this stuff out, though.

About halfway between the cave exit and the town itself, we get involved in the Pokémon equivalent of a car accident.

Hmmm? Oh, you must be one of those Gym Challengers, right?

That’d be me, yes.

Ahhh, I thought so. I saw you at the opening ceremony. My name’s Milo. I’m a Gym Leader and rather partial to Grass-type Pokémon. I’ve been itching to see just how good the Champion-endorsed Gym Challengers are… Let me find out at the Gym Stadium just had on through this route, and you’ll run right into my stadium. See you there! Come on now. Back to the stadium with you, too! We can’t keep the Gym Challengers waiting!

The Wooloo makes its agreement known and they wander off together.

By the way, as we make our way through the area, I would like to point out that the Route 3 theme is (I believe) partially a remix of the Pallet Town theme from Gen 1; as it was your character’s hometown and the first place you walked around in, it’s burned into a lot of Genwunner skulls (I’ll talk about the meaning of that word probably in another update). Nice to hear it just outside the very first gym.

Look! Just take a look at that, Gloria! That’s Turffield Stadium down there! The Gym Leader just returned, too. Milo’s his name. But the place’s jam-packed with challengers. It’ll be ages before our turn comes up… Oh, but Sonia was looking for you, Gloria. She wanted to ask you about something. She tried asking me, but I had no idea. She’s up on that what’s-her-face hill. You know the one.

…How would I know that?

And out of nowhere, Sonia’s Yamper shows up to guide us up the hill. Who am I to defy a dog? You know how the thread's been joking about how this directional handholding in-universe probably stems from people dealing with Leon? I’m not sure whether the fact that Sonia’s pet leads us around just as invasively as the MC employee earlier did proves or disapproves that.

Sonia's Theme - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST

I had you come ‘cause I wanted to hear what you thought.

Well, I think it looks like a geoglyph. That’s probably not what you’re asking for, though.

Yeah, I could have phrased that better. There’s something a tad modern looking like it’s happening there.

…Dynamax. That's a Pokémon undergoing the Dynamax transformation.

It certainly looks like a gigantic Pokémon. I suppose people 3000 years ago could’ve just imagined this, but it looks to similar to Dynamax. It just can’t be coincidence. A long time ago… A great black storm covered the Galar region. Giant Pokémon ran rampant. But what was that black storm they called “the Darkest Day”? What connection does it have to Dynamax?

Actually, probably none.


I mean, Gudelic, the Kalosian Wars, Zacian and Zamazenta… That’s all within recorded history. These geoglyphs are at least 1000 years older, maybe two or three. They were first attested to by Unovan explorers before the Empire properly formed, even. They can’t be describing the same event.

Dammit! All that for nothing… Shouldn’t be surprised

Wait! Wait, wait. How are these geoglyphs and the Darkest Day connected?

Loads of sources on the Turffield ruins mention the Darkest Day when discussing local mythology…

Do you think they conflated the events?

… No. No, I don’t think so. A couple sources hinted that the Darkest Day might have been a recurring ritual or holiday. But… if they're referring to the same thing – which I think they are – it may not have been a ritual at all. It may have been a recurring event! There may have been multiple Darkest Days! Oh, that’s right brilliant, Gloria! Thank you!

Don’t thank me yet. One day I’m going to write a thesis on this and it is going to MELT FACES.

I need to catch a skytaxi back to Motostoke and hit up the libraries again, laters!

(I won’t be going into this because it’s not going to come up in the narrative, as I doctored it, but in the original, Sonia’s revelations are… lackluster. Let’s just say they don’t reflect the sort of intellectual effort you’d expect out of somebody who presumably at least has some scientific qualifications. She comes across as an airhead who got in on nepotism sometimes, and I won’t be borrowing that.)

You were standing 5 feet away the whole time, random tourist. What do you think of the geoglyph?

Turffield - Pokémon Sword and Shield

Anyway, Turffield isn’t actually based on a real town or city, but on Stonehenge – or, more accurately, Stonehenge and the variety of smaller ancient ruins and landmarks scattered throughout the southern part of England. That geoglyph up there? The tourism pamphlet doesn’t mention it, but there’s a very good chance it’s based on English hill figures. Why is all this stuff laid out around the town? So they can put Stonehenge in the game.

Pretty place, though.

Let’s hit the gym.

The Grass Gym Badge! I got it in one try! I reckon I’m just about the greatest when it comes to wrangling Wooloo… I’ve had plenty of practice at it, after all!

I still don’t understand how you do it. I grew up on a Wooloo farm! How are you BETTER at handling them?

I’m just that great .
But I’m sure you can win this one, too. After all, you are my rival!

Gym Lobby - Pokémon Sword and Shield

Here we encounter the first instance of one of many people’s favorite features in the game; people recognize your progress and the progress of your rivals as you go through the game. More on this later…

… Because we have an old friend to greet!

Hey there! Thanks for rolling by to have a chat with your mate – the Ball Guy! As a sign of our friendship, let me give you a wonderful Pokéball!

They give us a Pokéball that raises a wild Pokémon’s affections that the moment you catch it. We’ll talk about affection… Probably the next time we hit the Wild Area. Did you know that, canonically, Ball Guy has no gender? The original Japanese name is gender neutral and that no point did they use any kind of identifying language. As such, 70% of Ball Guy cosplay (and there’s plenty of it) consists of attractive women in ultra-feminine clothing wearing the head, while 70% of Ball Guy fanart (and there’s plenty of it) features shirtless, extremely muscular men wearing the head. I have no idea how to decode that.

While we’re in the gym lobby, we have access to a special shop that sells Type-themed uniforms. Unfortunately, you can’t wear them out on the field: instead, you’re expected to wear them as ordinary clothing, which sucks. I bought the Fighting uniform anyway.

But enough faffing about! We have a gym to challenge!

Gym - Pokémon Sword and Shield

Gyms have always been a major feature of the Pokémon franchise, showing up in every generation except Gen 7 (which still had an equivalent playing a prominent part). There are always eight Gyms in a region and each Gym always has a small group of Trainers lining a path that leads to the Leader, all of whom share their gym’s elemental theme. After the first few Gyms, the games introduce puzzles and gimmicks reflecting the gym theme, often making use of recently-obtained HMs (i.e. one HM, called Strength, could be used to push boulders around, so you can probably imagine the boulder-pushing puzzles that ensued). Just after the first season of the anime finished airing in the US, they released a series of Pokémon novels about good ol’ Ash Ketchum traveling to a Hawaiian-themed archipelago called the Orange Islands, which had Gym Leader-equivalents that challenged Trainers to competitions (like rockclimbing or sailing) instead of battles. Decades later, Generation 7 took place in a Hawaiian-themed archipelago called Alola, which had the local Gym Leader equivalents complete various challenges (like glorified scavenger hunts) before facing them. Coincidence? Actually, yeah, probably, those books never came out in Japan and there’s no reason to think the developers had even heard of them. E: I’m an idiot, those are based off filler made for the anime, but they genuinely seem not to have any connection other than thematic similarity. Still made me do a double take when I realized the parallel, though.

Gen 8 split the difference. Like most generations, Gen 8 has Gym Challenges take place in an enclosed space with Trainers to face along the way. Like in Gen 7, each gym as a gimmick challenge you have to work your way through before facing the Gym Leader themselves.

Since Milo’s gimmick is being really into sheep, his Gym has us herd 20 Wooloos through a series of checkpoints (each of which has a Trainer overseeing it). Each checkpoint has a twist, first a Yamper that chases the Wooloos around like the world’s saddest sheepdog, then some hedges to complicate geometry, then adding another sheepcorgi to the mix. It’s honestly not that impressive, though it does look nice. I do love how every Gym Trainer’s like, “You’ll never get past me!” before throwing out one Pokémon five levels lower than the one in the front of my party. It’s adorable.

Eventually I push my way through the last checkpoint and…

… Complete the challenge.

That’s why I try to keep the Gym mission challenging, but… That didn’t stop you from completing it, Gloria! Proper job! Sure seems like you understand Pokémon real well. This is gonna be a doozy of a battle I’ll have to Dynamax my Pokémon if I want to win!

E: Originally, my treatment of this fight was very flippant and dismissive. The thread didn’t like that and when they explained why, they brought up some good points that I am probably should address – especially since they'll be coming into play for the rest of the LP.

First of all, one of Gen 8’s defining elements is the spectacle of its Gym Battles. While most mainline Pokémon games portray them as scaled up ordinary fights, Galar’s Gym Battles are massive spectacles that cross football matches with light shows. The problem is… Well, only some Gyms ever live up to that concept (some of the later Gyms host some of the most interesting and challenging fights in the game; I’m especially looking forward to/dreading Melony. But I find the early Gyms so underwhelming I struggle to take them seriously. Milo’s is especially bad; I find the Wooloo herding puzzle really basic (and this is as someone who often struggles with puzzles) and the battle with Milo disappointing.

I haven’t been grinding for a while now; I haven’t even used any of the XP candies I got earlier. All I’ve done is fight every Trainer along the way, and that’s as much to get money for clothes as anything else. In spite of that, I won this battle so fast I didn’t end up getting more than a couple screenshots. It took me three rounds to beat both his Pokémon, which is as long as Dynamaxing lasts in non-Raid battles. It’s hard to respect something that’s over in under a minute. This’ll change, though. Nessa’s Gym, for instance, features one of my favorite puzzles in the game, and though her fight isn’t much harder, it has enough substance to deserve real commentary). It’s not like there’s anything wrong with the gym on its most basic level, I just don't care about it.

Second of all… I really don’t like Milo. He’s my least favorite Gym Leader. I mean, he’s a fine character, but I hate writing for him. You may have noticed I like intellectual banter, but while Milo’s perfectly intelligent, I don’t enjoy trying to mesh his canonical voice with my writing style. That’s what made me burn out on my last writing project. I was unconsciously trying to move past him as fast as possible so I wouldn’t have to risk wading into that, and that’s due to my weaknesses as a writer and unwillingness to try and force it. The fact that I wasn’t fully aware of that doesn’t make my writing on the topic any better.

I’m treating Milo’s Gym more harshly than it deserves, definitely. That’s on me. But I will be handling the next Gyms and Leaders better.

Anyway, back to commentary.

As proof that you have defeated a Gym Leader for the Gym Challenge, allow me to present you with your very own Grass Badge!

Gym Lobby - Pokémon Sword and Shield

And there we are! Milo accosts us on the way out to tell us that we should head out to the next town where the map was already pointing us. This is getting a little aggravating – I think I could go indefinitely without it driving me off the game, but I really wish the game would let up. It’d be a lot worse if the directions were preventing me from going anywhere interesting, but…

Off we go anyway.