Now we’re at Ten Carat Hills, which is suprisingly not the “rich people district”. Beach area; grass patches for wild Pokémon to chomp at your heel in; piles of rocks blocking some areas. And there’s a kid Trainer; a neat new bit is that, when you get really close to a Trainer, the screen narrows vertically to highlight the “tension” and the music tones down a bit. Not that I can’t tell a Trainer’s line of sight after six generations of the same game, but still.
The trial takes place in a nearby cave. The goal is to photograph the four Pokémon in the area, and Sun gets a new gadget: the PokéFinder! I’d joke about how it’s conveniently made for a Rotom, but appliances with creature designs/themes are a thing in real-life too, so… well played.
Photographing is pretty much a stationary Pokémon Snap moment, at least as far as the demo is willing to show. I think there’s even a gyroscopic control mode, but I forgot to try it at the time. Taking a snap startles the target Pokémon, which invariably means it pounces on you.
Thanks for the after-warning, doc!
Kukui has a Pikachu and he’s lending it to Sun for the trial… except all the target Pokémon are Dragon-types. Thanks, Prof.! A whole lot of good that did. Still, the demo remembers to provide a backup, so that’s considerate, because Greninja is not very sturdy.
The last Dragon is found outside the cave, through a single unbranching path to a small clearing that blatantly signals “BOSS BATTLE”. It’s the same evolved form as the third one, but a “Totem” version. What that means is that it’s stronger, starts out with a stat buff, and calls wild Pokémon for reinforcements. Fortunately, that works out fine for Greninja because it has a unique ability called “Battle Bond”, which kicks in after felling an opponent. What happens then?
~Boo.~ That only happens when the trainer is Ash, ~thank you very much~. ~And why the need to knock out a target first?~ This game is not faithful to the Anime’s mechanics ~at all~.
That’s all for the trial, and Kukui gives Sun a Z-Ring and an Electric-type Z-Crystal as congratulations. Apparently, the two combined can whip up some “Z-Moves”. (Personally, I know one that Snorlax regularly does – although the “move” part of it is questionable. Usually, it just does the Z.) Suddenly, Hau runs up, saying he’s got… another trial? What’s he talking abou-
Oooooohw, I hate you, Hau. Smartass.
Yup… the Skullolites are back with a vengeance – or, at least, their “big sis”. Considering the grunts’ fashion sense, I can’t imagine what the admin looks li-
Pheeeeeeeheeheeheehehehahahhhhhh~!!! Aw, man~! What the hell is this? I referred to Team Flare as a “fashion disaster” throughout G6, but clearly, I was wrong; this is the real deal destined for that label. Where on earth did she get the inspiration for that hair? It’s like she looked at a bird-of-paradise’s butt and went “YES. That is exactly what I want on my head. On both sides.”
She introduces herself as Plumeria; that name is so perfect, I will not accept anything else. She looks at Sun, remarks about his seeming capability… and then shrugs and walks away. …Okay, I guess we’re not gonna have a battle after all. Oh wait, the pipsqueaks remind her that she gotta take revenge and stuff. She immediately turns around with an affirmative, not even acknowledging that the thought didn’t occur to her until now.
Team Skull is gonna be amazing in the full game.
Kukui recommends trying out Z-Power for this battle, so I’m stuck with Pikachu. But Lady Skullovich is packing a single Golbat, so it’s not like I need reinforcements. Especially when the Electric Z-Move turns Thunderbolt into GIGAVOLT HAVOC. Skulls bugger off again, Kukui gives the standard “You have talent as a Pokémon Trainer” thing, and Hau is excited to be treated his favorite snack. The end.
The following short video footage contains, among other things: A Pikachu missile, a Wailord house, Kukui expressing how many malasadas he ate, and another crime against fashion by Team Skull.
But wait – there’s more! A little bit.
Logging back in, Kukui has another reward for clearing the trial: the Ride Pager! It basically summons a rideable Pokémon on the spot. The only Pokémon registered in the demo is Tauros, and it’s packing the functions of the bicycle and Rock Smash HM – with some rodeo music, even! This opens up a few more things to do at Ten Carat Hills. There’s some new Trainers, and the capture challenge.
There’s also a lady downtown who says she’ll show Sun a “really nice place” by closing his eyes… at the end of which awaits a mysterious old man – No, really, that’s literally what he calls himself – that gives him Stardusts and walks away saying not to look for him. Pfh, yeah – I believe that the moment involved some “stardust” all right.
Capture challenge gives you some Pokéballs and see how many critters you can catch within a confined area until you run out of balls or leave. You don’t get to keep the caught Pokémon though. There’s a Pokéball shortcut button among the main battle commands, which is nifty. The Pokémon summary interface has also been spruced up with a few minor features like a graph toggle showing base stats and EV.
A number of people and places in the city hint at things to come; nothing vitally important. Once everything is done, stuff gathered in the demo can be transferred to the main game through Kukui.
Thoughts and expectations?
Any kinds of interface refinements are always welcome, of course. Although, at this point, the welcoming feeling always comes with a hint of frustration at GameFreak being so slow to implement user-friendliness.
No Pokédex action in the demo, since you don’t really catch anything. I hope the sneaking and chaining stuff from OR/AS will be back.
I wish I had anything to say about the characters, but there isn’t much shown in the demo. They’re about as nice as you can expect friendly NPCs to be.
If the presentation of Team Skull is going where I think it is, I’m gonna have a hell of a time watching them. The main dissatisfaction I had with Team Flare is that, while I’m fine with a comedic (or at least non-serious) Team after escalating the scope and menace for five generations, they weren’t interesting at all. I’m hoping Team Skull can be “Team Flare done right” in that regard.
The impression I get from a lot of promotional material is that the games are more about exploring and interacting with various areas, and the photography feature certainly emphasizes that. I’m looking forward to more.
Replacing HMs with Pokémon rides is probably the biggest change that appeals to me. Compare strolling down a path on a bike versus a local Pokémon ride – the latter adds a little bit of character to the atmosphere, doesn’t it? That’s before the gameplay conveniences it brings to the Pokémon formula.
Z-Moves? They’re fine. I don’t feel a strong reaction about them one way or another, but I can imagine their value in PvP. Especially for Pokémon in need of a good STAB move, even for a single shot.
No music track in particular stuck out to me, but that’s only because this is a short demo. I’m curious about the various “Spotted!” tunes that play upon a Trainer, well, spots you.
I’m a fan of 3D graphics with cel-shading and/or 2D-like coloring. X & Y were fully satisfying in that regard, and here, the models are further refined to a point where they can compete with high-resolution 2D images. No complaints in this department.