The Let's Play Archive

Pokemon Shield

by Falconier111

Part 20: The Gym Challenge Is About Having Fun

Update 21: The Gym Challenge is About Having Fun

Route 6 - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST

… I think this is the first time I’ve ever genuinely hated someone.

You, girl. You’re one of the Challengers endorsed by Champion, right?

Where the fuck did you come from?

Language, please.
My name’s Opal. If you want to know more, look me up. I understand you’re good at that. I’m keeping an eye on you, child. I know you’re not putting everything you have into this Challenge.

Look, is this REALLY the right time? I’m going through some shite right now, I’d appreciate if –

Oh, but it IS the right time. You only learn how truly skilled someone is when they’re at the end of their rope. I’m expecting great things of you, child. Show me how well you can cope.

She walks away.

You know what? I think I’m going to set up camp and call it early. Bruce, you’re on fire duty; Tiddles, can you source the water? Dietrich, come over here and I’ll let you stir the pot. Let’s have a meal so mummy can sit back and digest everything.

Route 6 is a bit of an oddball, in that its geography doesn’t really match up with anything in Britain (as far as I’m aware). There MIGHT be a stretch of rocky desert somewhere, but I’ve never heard of it. Nice ruins, though. I’ll take this time to discuss something else. I believe I mentioned that I’ve been developing a theory, and I believe I’m on to something.

You see this Clefable? This monster nearly took out two of my Pokémon. It wasn’t 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 I’ve said, I’m not actually very good at this game, and my type advantages are probably all over the map, I haven’t optimized anybody, etc., whatever. But! I haven’t been training much, as I discussed, and through various Dynamax fights I’ve 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 I’d broken the difficulty curve before I realized I’d 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 didn’t 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 Nintendo’s traditional obsession with forcing nerds to engage in social activity. However, at some point somebody convinced the developers hiding one of the game’s 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 they’d have to completely rehaul experience gain rates at the last minute. The team either didn’t 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. It’s so pretty!

It also has a lot of secrets, especially considering its relatively small size. As such, there’s only so long you can go without…

Hop! It’s… It’s been like a day since we last talked. You sure you’re all right, mate?

Come on, Gloria. It wasn’t the end of the world. I’m still a little offkilter but I’m ready to go again. I’ve been doing some thinking. I’m just not as naturally talented as Lee is. And that isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, just a natural thing, yeah? But that doesn’t mean I can’t surpass him. So. Till now I’ve been just indulging my Pokémon and letting them fight how they wanted. Now,
I’m going to try out all kinds of different things against you and see what works! Then let’s 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, isn’t that the Pokémon that spits up a fish? Yep. It looks really, really weird. But then, it’s a Pokémon. Fish fly, birds swim, Pokémon have stupid designs. It’s tough as heck though; it almost outlasts Mr. Blobby.

It’s 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 doesn’t have any tricks up its sleeve he just failed to bring out in time either.

Stow-on-Side - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST


Yeah, mate?

Have you been using experience candies?

What candies?

You know that tablet-looking stuff that gathers around Dens after you beat the tar out of whatever’s hiding in them?

Isn’t that stuff poisonous?

To humans. To Pokémon, it stimulates mental and physical growth – it’s like training them up for free.

GodDAMMIT, how did I NOT know that?

I’ve been working on connecting with my Pokémon, but I’ve 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, you’re a lifesaver!
I’m off, mate!

Gym Challengers should battle for the sake of their own Pokémon.

Wait when did you –

Why worry about saving the Champion’s name? We all know he’s unbeatable. And you aren’t doing him any favors, you know.

You are only putting off the inevitable. As useful as experience candy can be, it’s merely a shortcut, the first of many. He won’t be able to beat you with shortcuts, Gloria. You’re an ace, after all, and you’ll go far in this challenge. You showed as much in your fight.

Look, I REALLY don’t appreciate you popping in over my shoulder and telling my future and shit every time I try to help my friend!

Oh, don’t 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 that’s something for you to consider as well.
Now off you go, child. You’re off to the Stow-on-Side Gym next, no? The Gym Challenge is about having fun.

…I’m 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 town’s biggest attractions…

You know, I’d HEARD they’d botched the restoration job, but I almost think they should’ve just let it fade away in the wind rather than this. Fuck me, it’s 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 you’re a fan of big, heavy Pokémon, then this is the Pokéball for you!

Thanks, mate. It’s always good to know there’s at least one constant in the world.