Part 20: The Gym Challenge Is About Having FunUpdate 21: The Gym Challenge is About Having Fun
Route 6 - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST
I think this is the first time Ive ever genuinely hated someone.
You, girl. Youre one of the Challengers endorsed by Champion, right?
Where the fuck did you come from?
Language, please. My names Opal. If you want to know more, look me up. I understand youre good at that. Im keeping an eye on you, child. I know youre not putting everything you have into this Challenge.
Look, is this REALLY the right time? Im going through some shite right now, Id appreciate if
Oh, but it IS the right time. You only learn how truly skilled someone is when theyre at the end of their rope. Im expecting great things of you, child. Show me how well you can cope.
She walks away.
You know what? I think Im going to set up camp and call it early. Bruce, youre on fire duty; Tiddles, can you source the water? Dietrich, come over here and Ill let you stir the pot. Lets have a meal so mummy can sit back and digest everything.
Route 6 is a bit of an oddball, in that its geography doesnt really match up with anything in Britain (as far as Im aware). There MIGHT be a stretch of rocky desert somewhere, but Ive never heard of it. Nice ruins, though. Ill take this time to discuss something else. I believe I mentioned that Ive been developing a theory, and I believe Im on to something.
You see this Clefable? This monster nearly took out two of my Pokémon. It wasnt even that powerful, it just had so much health it tanks everything I tossed at it. It was the very first trainer Pokémon I faced on this route. That difficulty spike I mentioned earlier is back, bringing with it the grinding difficulty I remember hating back in Ultra Moon. As Ive said, Im not actually very good at this game, and my type advantages are probably all over the map, I havent optimized anybody, etc., whatever. But! I havent been training much, as I discussed, and through various Dynamax fights Ive built up a whopping 60 small exp candies and 28 medium ones. I decided that 10 small candies would be TOO much, right ?
The answer is absolutely not ! All of a sudden my Pokémon were dramatically overlevelled. Like, I seriously considered reverting the next day because Id broken the difficulty curve before I realized Id saved for the night just after stuffing them down their throats . Welp. I ended up having to go with a team cobbled together from randos that I caught during Dynamax Raids I found lying around in my box. They are still substantially stronger than everything around here.
And yet, even before I exchanged my team, when my Pokémon were more than half a dozen levels past most of our opponents, they still just barely put up enough of the fight that I didnt feel too guilty. I mean, look at this:
This is with Tiddles breaking out his most potent moves (without type advantages, granted). So my theory goes like this. At some point during development, possibly up till very late, those Dynamax Dens were multiplayer ONLY, as fits Nintendos traditional obsession with forcing nerds to engage in social activity. However, at some point somebody convinced the developers hiding one of the games signature features behind requirements players may not be able to fill was a terrible idea, and they quickly patched in that generic trainer option that basically everyone uses now. Unfortunately, they did not finish rebalancing experience from battles. The previous level curve assumed exp candies would be a rare treat, possibly just enough to level whatever Pokémon you just caught, but now the developers realized theyd have to completely rehaul experience gain rates at the last minute. The team either didnt bother changing them at all or at some point threw up their hands and went with what they had, which was bad enough. They also forgot that Dens give you very powerful Pokémon and scale with the player as they collect Badges and every time you beat one, you get a whole host of benefits ranging from exp candies to rare TRs. End result? Players are actively incentivized to go into the Wild Area, catch powerful Pokémon, douse them in exp candies, and throw them against Pokémon too weak to stand up to them. It was probably a pretty easy game to begin with, but this just shattered the difficulty curve entirely. Oh well!
Stow-on-Side - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST
I really like this town, despite how out of place it looks. Its so pretty!
It also has a lot of secrets, especially considering its relatively small size. As such, theres only so long you can go without
Hop! Its Its been like a day since we last talked. You sure youre all right, mate?
Come on, Gloria. It wasnt the end of the world. Im still a little offkilter but Im ready to go again. Ive been doing some thinking. Im just not as naturally talented as Lee is. And that isnt a bad thing, necessarily, just a natural thing, yeah? But that doesnt mean I cant surpass him. So. Till now Ive been just indulging my Pokémon and letting them fight how they wanted. Now, Im going to try out all kinds of different things against you and see what works! Then lets do this! I bet an all-out battle with my true rival will help me get my head on straight!
Final Battle! Hop (8-bit; VRC6) - Pokemon Sword and Shield
Wait, isnt that the Pokémon that spits up a fish? Yep. It looks really, really weird. But then, its a Pokémon. Fish fly, birds swim, Pokémon have stupid designs. Its tough as heck though; it almost outlasts Mr. Blobby.
Its John Bonham! And he goes down in one hit! His Silicobra lasts only a bit longer. He also found a Toxel somewhere. Unfortunately, it sucks, too; I didnt post a screenshot of the last two because, well, they just went down. These Pokémon are all about at the same level as the wild Pokémon in the previous route, if not a little below; even with my B-team I didnt have any trouble flattening him. It legitimately feels like he just caught most of these Pokémon and decided to throw them against me, and as far as I can tell from reading up on him his team doesnt have any tricks up its sleeve he just failed to bring out in time either.
Stow-on-Side - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST
Have you been using experience candies?
You know that tablet-looking stuff that gathers around Dens after you beat the tar out of whatevers hiding in them?
Isnt that stuff poisonous?
To humans. To Pokémon, it stimulates mental and physical growth its like training them up for free.
GodDAMMIT, how did I NOT know that?
Ive been working on connecting with my Pokémon, but Ive been cramming a lot of experience candy down them too. Part of why they always just seem a little stronger pound for pound. My advice? Go try that out.
Thanks, Gloria, youre a lifesaver! Im off, mate!
Gym Challengers should battle for the sake of their own Pokémon.
Wait when did you
Why worry about saving the Champions name? We all know hes unbeatable. And you arent doing him any favors, you know.
You are only putting off the inevitable. As useful as experience candy can be, its merely a shortcut, the first of many. He wont be able to beat you with shortcuts, Gloria. Youre an ace, after all, and youll go far in this challenge. You showed as much in your fight.
Look, I REALLY dont appreciate you popping in over my shoulder and telling my future and shit every time I try to help my friend!
Oh, dont get me wrong, your friend will be fine enough in the long term. But the most important part of the Gym Challenge is developing as a Trainer and a person along the way, not winning the Championship, and thats something for you to consider as well. Now off you go, child. Youre off to the Stow-on-Side Gym next, no? The Gym Challenge is about having fun.
Im going to take Woolooloo out of the box, set him down, and scream into his side until I calm down.
Our next stop along the way is the Ghost Gym. Well, okay, since Gloria is Gloria, our next stop on the way is ACTUALLY the mural we see mentioned from time to time as one of the towns biggest attractions
You know, Id HEARD theyd botched the restoration job, but I almost think they shouldve just let it fade away in the wind rather than this. Fuck me, its miserable.
You and me both.
Anyway, our next stop is the Ghost Gym. Or, in one of the biggest differences between Sword and Shield versions, what would in Sword be the Fighting Gym, complete with a different layout and Leader. The game has two of these, the other coming up much later. But speaking of Gyms!
That Bag on your back is looking pretty heavy. Speaking of heavy, let me give you this very special Pokéball!
He gives us a Heavy Ball.
Heavy Balls rock n roll at catching heavy Pokémon! Pretty straight forward, right [sic]? If youre a fan of big, heavy Pokémon, then this is the Pokéball for you!
Thanks, mate. Its always good to know theres at least one constant in the world.