I’m in Shalour City – finally, after two traverses through that damn Roggenrola-ridden cave – and it strikes me that Pokemon actually has a glaring problem that Game Freak have made no attempt at fixing over the years. First though, I should probably mention that I went to the Pokemon Tower when I got here and totally kicked some rival arse. I don’t think it’s meant to be so easy, but with my tiny team it’s been difficult not to accidentally be over levelled. As a result, Calem isn’t a challenge (he’s no Gary).
That unlocks the, ahem, “wonders” of the Shalour City Gym, a weird little place that’s more of an excuse for Game Freak to try and make rollerblading cool to ten year olds again. And rollerblading isn’t what I think of when I think of fighting type Pokemon. Seriously, what happened to the dojos of days gone by?
My real qualm with this gym is that it’s just not challenging enough. I dispatch every trainer with barely a sweat broken thanks to the psychic powers of my wonderful – and incredibly powerful – Delphox, and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. Delphox tears through fighting Pokemon with just a wave of his magic stick and looks incredibly sagacious while doing so. In essence, I’ve accidentally created a Pokemon that’s almost too powerful for this stage in the game. He should be banned.
But herein lies my big problem. I’m fighting Korrina, the gym leader, and it dawns on me that there’s a bit of a pattern emerging when it comes to the battle. It goes:
- Korrina sends out [insert name of generic fighting type Pokemon here]
- I wonder if there’s a way this battle can become more interesting
- With all the sarcasm in the world, I think “oh no, it’s a [insert name of generic fighting type Pokemon here]
- Go get em Delphox
- Cast a decent psychic move
Piece of cake! I do question why Korrina doesn’t use her Lucario (don’t get smart and say because she’s waiting to use it in the special event battle, because that doesn’t seem like a reasonable excuse when Lucario kicks ass and would make this battle marginally more interesting). I also realise that if I hadn’t got lucky in the beginning and ended up with a Fennekin that this battle may well be much, much harder. So yeah, I kind of got lucky. But when you think about it, if I’d gained either Froakie or Chespin I would have had a really easy time with Grant’s rock and ground Pokemon. It’s impossible not to have an easy time with at least one gym.
This is what bothers me about the Pokemon games. If you carry around a balanced team (with one each of grass, water, fire, electric, ground and one other type of your choice) then you’ll sail through the whole game with no difficulties. Game Freak had a nice idea in theory when they made the gyms single-type, because in the early days they built the gyms around that theme (Misty’s gym in the original games was basically a giant swimming pool, for instance). But when you’ve got a gym like Shalour’s, who’s set up bears no resemblance to the typing that it has, then what’s the point? Gyms are meant to be a challenge, but the decision to base them on a single type means that you can often sweep the grid with just one of your Pokemon. It was nice, in the past, to come face to face with a gym that posed a bit of a threat. Clair’s gym in Gold and Silver, for instance, was a challenge because, at the time, Dragon Pokemon were ridiculously powerful and her set of Dratinis knew water, fire and thunder moves, making them a wonderful near-endgame boss.
The term “boss” doesn’t apply to most gyms though, whose leaders and trainers can often be easier than what you encounter on a normal route (where you not only contend with wild Pokemon but also a range of trainers that usually carry a variety of Pokemon types with them). I remember traversing through Mt. Moon for the first time in Blue and having a really tough time dealing with the Geodudes and Zubats that would attack me randomly alongside the hikers, the campers and members of Team Rocket. Even if between them they only had normal, poison, ground and rock Pokemon, those four types mixed together made the passage hard to traverse at an early stage of the game. Then I got to Cerulean and beat Misty with ease because I had managed to catch a Pikachu and an Oddish. It didn’t feel like an achievement, it just felt a bit cheap. Admittedly, some of the Champions have been ridiculously hard thanks to their mix of Pokemon (I’m looking at you Cynthia) but why can’t the normal gyms have this? Why not have a really odd mix of typings, even just if it’s two per gym? The rock and electric gym, for instance – that might cause some problems if you think you’re just going to sweep a bunch of Geodudes with your water Pokemon.
I think this is why people do challenges like this, either Hardcore Nuzlocke Challenges or the single type challenge. Perhaps people got a bit bored of the simplicity of just running around and making all bow down before you because you’re the only trainer in the land who twigged on that carrying a variety of types is better than limiting yourself. Game Freak, I hope you’re listening to this because I’m pretty sure I’m a disgruntled Pokemon player. And I want a real challenge.
Oh and as for that Lucario battle… I think it’s impossible to lose. But I have a Lucario now. Quite happy with that.