The Let's Play Archive

Pokemon Shield

by Falconier111

Part 48: Compare and Contrast

Update 49: Compare and Contrast

Follow Me - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST

As should be obvious by now, I extensively revised Shield’s story, especially when it comes to character motivations. This update will explore many of the biggest decisions I made and elements I changed.

It should be pretty obvious that Gloria is almost entirely an original character. As you’d expect from a silent protagonist, <player_name> is a lot more passive than Gloria ever was, and they tend to be acted upon by the plot instead of making major decisions themselves. The nasty habit the game has of only ever giving you dialogue options that mean the same thing (“I’m excited” versus “Let’s go!”) just makes them even blander. I ended up retooling her into an actual character, and one active enough to drive the plot on her own instead of passively agreeing with everyone else around her.

It should also be pretty obvious that she’s a thinly veiled self-insert .

I changed Hop more than any other character. In the original, he’s such a dead ringer for somebody with ADHD that it put me on lookout for other neurodiverse characters; he’s impulsive, distractible, prone to focusing intensely on whatever he’s currently paying attention to, etc., etc. A lot of people find him annoying in large part (though not necessarily entirely) because of this behavior, but for me, it’s somewhere between endearing and uncomfortably familiar. Unfortunately, as I developed the Hop-Gloria relationship, Gloria ended up stealing a lot of those traits and leaving him as a sarcastic counterweight to her impulsivity, leaving him at odds with his Canon version. I do like this version better, though. He also took the loss to Bede a lot harder in Canon, spending the middle part of the game bouncing from team gimmick to team gimmick to try and repair his fragile confidence before you finally smack him down at the end.

When I’m either reading up on historical figures or playing video games, I like to play a game I call “spot the aut”: I look for people/characters who display behavior consistent with ASD outside of familiar contexts. Historical figures I’ve spotted include Napoleon, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Ulysses S Grant (the latter so strongly I ended up basically writing my thesis statement on it); in video games, I’d point to Eizen in Tales of Berseria and Yukiko Amagi and Yusuke Kitagawa from Persona 4 and 5, respectively. Marnie struck me as a mild positive, between her lack of social display (she rarely shows maybe 3 facial expressions in the whole game), general awkwardness, and seeming isolation from others (do we ever meet anyone aside from <player_name> we can fairly call her friend?). Most of her characterization here comes from me taking that and running with it. Canonically, she is also the single flimsiest tsundere I’ve ever seen in fiction. Her occasional “it’s not like I’m doing this to help you or anything” moments mesh badly enough with her character that they seem artificial (in universe) without being so dissonant they break immersion. I can’t tell if the writers were trying for that effect or not. But then, those moments read like she was haphazardly remembering social roles she thought she had to fill and scrambling to fill them at the last minute, and honestly that strikes pretty close to home, just sealing the deal.

As far as the relationship goes, I think of Marnie and Gloria as basically the same person raised in very different circumstances, both with love and support but love and support of very different flavors. I find their interplay interesting. I honestly don’t think I handled the relationship very well; it needed more development and screen time, but Marnie barely gets any screen time anyway and for some reason I find writing for both her and Spikemuth hellishly difficult. The reason the time between posts doubled in Spikemuth was because I needed that extra time just to pull things together, and I still ended up strained. But it is what it is, and even though I completely cut the tsundere because it just didn’t fit, I think she ended up reasonably close to her Canon self.

You want to know something a little embarrassing? Do you know the single biggest reason why I put Gloria and Marnie together? While there is some debate over whether Spikemuth is supposed to represent Liverpool or Wales, I personally lean more heavily towards Liverpool. But in this LP I made it Wales, and made Marnie get together with the pseudo-Scottish Gloria, because I wanted two Celts to date .

Though I had him mellowing out a lot, Bede remains an abrasive prick all the way through the endgame in Canon, just gaining a lot of perspective and becoming less self-destructive. His relationship with Rose was also even more ambiguous. Despite Rose having sponsored him for the Cup, he needs Oleana to remind him who Bede is almost every time they meet. It’s a little bit , so I ended up excising it. He’s also implied to be Unovan through some background details, so I made that explicit just because. But of all the rivals, he changed the least.

While she ultimately may not be that different from her Canon self, Sonia went through multiple rounds of revision as I started planning the LP. She was my least favorite character; she really did come across as someone who just wasn’t very intelligent treated as a brilliant scientist because her grandma had the same reputation. At one point I was even planning to somehow make her a villain. Ultimately, I removed a lot of her more lines and bumped her IQ by 40 points, and that was the bulk of it. The biggest changes I made will never show up; I ended up completely rewriting her backstory into a complicated tale in its own right, one that will never see the light of day.

But seriously, Sonia, why do you keep pointing to the statue in the Budew Drop Inn as evidence there was only one hero? It’s a piece of commercial statuary, why are you treating it as equal to primary sources?

I played Leon as a sort of friendly, capable authority figure, but canonically he’s kind of a space cadet who claims to be perceptive and then misses obvious things. I ended up just dropping the whole “constantly gets lost” deal, for instance. Instead, I realigned his personality on the perceptiveness everyone accuses him of having that he never shows; the rest of him is roughly Canonical.

Nessa got hit by several stray swings when I was beating Sonia with the backstory stick. It MIGHT come up in the next LP.

Even more of a troll than in Canon. Pretty much everything she told Bede in Hammerlocke is something that I made up from whole cloth. She doesn’t show up at the Finals for some reason, so I went ahead and used the opportunity to have her screw with Bede just a little bit more .

He’s not at all manipulative in Canon, nor did he have anything to do with Team Yell (I think). He also serves as a contrast to Nessa in Sonia's story, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to bring that in. That aside, there will be a lot more to say about him next go.

One of my least favorite tropes in fiction is when a woman in a leadership position turns out to be driven mostly by her crush on her male superior and falls apart the moment he leaves. That’s almost the entirety of Oleana’s characterization in the game, to the point that it implies she views Bede as a competitor for his affections and sabotages him, setting him up for his breakdown at Stow-on-Side. As such, I tried to add some pathos and texture to her character by hinting at an almost fraternal relationship with Bede and using that as a major motivation. I don’t think anyone picked up on us (not that I blame them, I didn’t emphasize it), so I’ll brag about it now; that moment where Oleana is going in the background when Gloria calls Leon? She’s furious about what Rose did to Bede, that’s why she’s ranting.

We will also see her later on.

In the original, Rose’s plan is pure, solidified . He believes Galar will run out of energy in about 1000 years, so he rushes into releasing Eternatus because he cannot bear to wait a few days and pays the price. “The future cannot wait another day” indeed. To be honest, I don’t fully understand his plan, despite having poured over the script dump to try and figure out how to rewrite it: I say that not because it’s complex or that I think I’m missing elements, but because it’s just that nonsensical. Aside from that, the game portrays him much more positively than I did, even though I made up the vast majority of the positive things I attributed to his name. I tried to make him come across as both more unhinged and rational than his Canon self.

Zamazenta is not capable of speech in Pokémon Shield. In the original, the game implies their actions were either covered up by humans afterwards or just forgotten over time. Being a historian, I felt the game both over- and underestimated us, so I ended up completely redrawing their past to target the discipline’s current greatest weakness: we are very highly siloed. Members of different disciplines don’t talk to each other nearly enough. We’ve rehauled the profession to value outsider voices who have something revolutionary to say, and my education focused heavily on the concept of silences – what information is and isn’t stored is determined by the priorities and biases of the people who initially managed it. It’s a huge part of why history books traditionally only talk about white men (earlier historians mostly only wrote about other white men and as such the majority of materials we have discuss them only, making them look more important than they were through pure quantity of sources). I mean, the issue is obviously more complicated than just that, but it’s a big problem when trying to find useful information. Punching through silences is an important part of being a modern historian, especially because by definition they’re very difficult to spot and usually hide vital information.

In my take on the legends, it’s a mixture of silences and siloing that prevented anyone from connecting the dots; past archivists took a look at material that described heroic Pokémon and supernatural disasters, decided those were ridiculous without further investigation, and filed it all away. Later historians were aware of the legends in an abstract manner, but they were only aware of in the context of whichever fields they studied and lacked the ability to reach across subfields and realize something was missing. In this, Gloria and Sonia served a similar role to Janet Stephens, a professional hairdresser from New York who started reading up on ancient Roman hairstyles. A lot of hairstyles represented in Roman statuary before she entered the field were thought to be either fanciful or just wigs; archaeologists believed they lack the equipment necessary to style hair like that at the time. She did some serious digging, realized scholars had mistranslated a common Latin word because of their lack of familiarity with hairstyling tools, recreating the hairstyles using only her own experience, research, and reconstructed period-accurate tools, and presented her work to the academic community. She is still considered one of the world’s leading experts on Roman hair.

Also I made it so that the Pokémon could talk.