Part 31: A Punk VibeUpdate 32: A Punk Vibe
Route 6 - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST
Tired of that theme yet? Dont worry, itll be back soon enough.
The middle part of Route 9 is a maze of icebergs, rocks, and tiny islands with the occasional incongruously-dressed Swimmer. In older days, Swimmers used to hang around in the water more often than on land, but here they sit around on those islands in their bathing suits challenging passersby. It all looks terribly uncomfortable. When I described the Route as a maze, I wasnt kidding; the way forward is never clear and I got lost more than once my first time through. Now that I know what Im doing, though, it just took me a couple minutes to skirt around the Trainers.
Time for another old dumb meme! When Breeding Pokémon, you have two options. The first is to use whatever Pokémon you want to replicate and a Ditto; it will always get you that Pokémon back. This is the only way you can breed genderless Pokémon. The other is by pairing Pokémon that meet certain conditions; they have to be of opposite genders, they cant be types glossed as babies (Toxel, for instance), and they have to share at least one of the games egg groups, collections of thematically and (theoretically) biologically similar Pokémon.
You see that big round whale thing up there? Thats a Wailmer, a Pokémon introduced in Gen 3 to help fill out Water routes after they cut a lot of the Pokémon from Gen 2. Now, when the games were still sprite-based and you didnt have models to fit on the battlefield, Pokémon used to vary in size pretty dramatically. Yeah, you had the tiny ones, but the really big ones could be on the same scale as Dynamax Pokémon here not that you know it without checking the Pokédex, since that was the only place you could find a size comparison. Wailmers evolved form, Wailord, was probably the single largest Pokémon in Gen 3:
(Source). Also, yes, it did weigh about as much as a cow, old Pokémon games were notorious for how bizarre units of measurement got in the Pokédex.
See that tiny figure on the left? Thats a Skitty, a Pokéhousecat and one of the smallest Pokémon in those games. Sometime soon after release, Breeders noticed Skitty and Wailord both belonged to the Field egg group, which represented a mixture of mammals and the sort of Pokémon youd run into in one of the more boring routes meaning that a house cat and a blue whale could produce viable offspring.
People made so many jokes about Hot Skitty on Wailord Action .
This last part of Route 9 is just a little bit of terrain leading up to the next town. In theory. In practice, the area design gets a lot more cramped and starts working in metal boxes and wooden fences and railings.
Challenger: No one can challenge the Dark-type Leader like this
Other Challenger: Whats with this gate being shut? How am I supposed to get the Gym Badge now?!
Come round back.
We head around the side to a back alley.
You mentioned in your last text you had something to talk about.
Okay, yeah Okay. Thiss gonna sound a lot worse than it is, so stick with me through the end, kay?
I need us to be not in a relationship for the next couple weeks.
I-Im not breakin up with you! I like you, an I like bein with you n all. But I really, really wanna win this championship. I need to focus on it, and theres a part of me that worries about beatin my girlfriend in a fight an what it might do to th relationship. Even though I know it aint actually an issue I need to keep my head clear, yknow? Just until I win.
Okay. Are we talking no contact or just friendship-level contact?
Were you expecting drama?
Look. I like you a lot. But Our relationship so far has been, what, one kiss, one date, and a bunch of text messages? Were still getting established. Its not gonna fuck me up if you take a step back to focus on something important.
Youre bein really understandin about this.
Its something I learned back in the bad times. When it comes to a relationship, its usually best to trust the other party: I was told the foundation for successful relationships was respect, not just communication. If they betray that trust, its on them. Not that I think youll do that! But, I think I know you well enough to believe you when you say that and not worry about hidden agendas or anything. I trust you.
Thank you. And lets talk like friends for now, just no romantic stuff .
But Youre my rival. Im not letting you into my town yet. So youll have to beat me in a battle first, got it?
On cue, a couple of Team Yell Grunts pop out from around the corner.
Whatever kinda relationship we have, were rivals too.
And all that, but I got too much at stake to go around losin now!
Battle! Marnie (8-bit; VRC6) - Pokemon Sword and Shield
Heres our second and last fight with Marnie before the finals; lets see if shes been keeping up. Her Liepard hasnt, it goes down in one hit.
That Toxicroak, though? Different story. It shoves around Baklava and L337 (out of retirement for one last fight) and humiliates Sporkle, which seems to be a pattern. It takes me breaking out the inestimable Mr. Blobby to finally put it down.
You know how I mentioned way back at our last fight with Marnie that wed be seeing a stereotype in Pokémon form later on? Yeah, its here. I mean, its not Jynx, but holding up those pants . It doesnt last long either.
And finally we come back to Jekyll. I figured its only natural to take on her signature Pokémon with mine, even though its kind of mean. To his credit, Jekyll actually manages to endure a critical hit from Bruce long enough to take off a third of his health bar. And then he goes down.
Right Grunt: How dare you?!
Left Grunt: Oh, theres no way yer gettin away with
Right Grunt: What?
Right Grunt: Well settle this later!
Left Grunt: Goodfightbye!
Gettin real tired of that Oh, Gloria? When youre fightin your way through the gym, ask those trainers about Spikemuth, would you? This towns real important to me. Id like it if you knew it a little better, you know?
Well, I guess thats all tied up. Im off. Fight you later, Gloria!
Spikemuth - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST
This ones another knockout, by the by.
You people Gotta see if I can fix that...
To me, Spikemuth is the single most disappointing part of the game. From the beginning, the Spikemuth aesthetic, as embodied by Marnie and Team Yell, stands out dramatically from the rest of the setting, whether its the outfits for the Pokémon. Look, I remember when Zigzagoon and Linoone were introduced back in Gen 3. They looked like forest animals. They did not have the black and white color scheme and red eyes that they do in Galar as some of Team Yells signature Pokémon, nor did that have a third evolved form that looked like this:
From the moment you approach it and see the metal crates, Spikemuth gives off a different vibe from every other town in Galar, and indeed any town Ive encountered in a mainline Pokémon game (dont ask me about Colosseum). Instead of being whimsical or pastoral like every town weve encountered so far, it looks decidedly urban hell, instead of the scenic views we get from other towns, the Spikemuth exterior panorama just shows us some buildings, containers, and a slightly-rusted gate. When you walk around and actually enter, the sense of strangeness just magnifies: all of a sudden, it feels like were in cyberpunk, walking down shadowed back streets to electronic music. Yet somehow, it doesnt feel jarring. Startling, definitely, but the games been subtly prepping us for this since the third Gym. Honestly, I was more excited than Id ever been about a Pokémon city the first time I entered Spikemuth; I wanted to see what the devs would do with this setting and eagerly set out to explore, so I set down that alleyway to the right.
That alleyway to the right is the Gym, which is itself some more alleyway and a backlot. This is it. This is the entirety of Spikemuth.
I actually looked it up to make sure. Yep, thats it. The most interesting environment in Sword and Shield is also the smallest. You cant even go into most of those buildings, in a series where home invasion is a time-honored tradition! It was fucking infuriating, almost as infuriating as discovering its shortness doesnt seem to have anything to do with time crunch; as far as I could tell in my research, the devs decided beforehand it would be one of the most disappointing locations in the game. Theres very little about this game that makes me angry; at worst, its irritating or stupid, not offensive or destructive. But the way they got my hopes up and let them fall through the floor like that still has me bitter.
Before we head out, I'm probably going to dump Sporkle; maybe it's just Ponyta, but he fucking sucks. I'm going to ask for a name for the Abomasnow I'm going to cycle in.