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July 25, 2016

Pokémon White (Part 4)

Alright, so we’ve discovered Team Plasma’s ulterior motives, we’ve collected all eight Gym Badges… now all that awaits is that fateful battle against N! And the Elite 4, too! Oh, and the Victory Road before that. Seems simple enough.

When Nick leaves the eighth Gym, he meets Professor Juniper; she gives him a Master Ball. Yay, thanks! Gonna keep that for Zekrom. So, now we can go to Route 10 and into Victory Road! On Route 10, we meet Cheren again, though he's accompanied by Bianca. Guess what he wants?
a)      His Pokémon are weak and he needs a few Potions.
b)      He wants to battle.
c)      He has turned to Team Plasma and wants to steal your Pokémon.
d)     He wants to find Prof Juniper, she's in danger.

If you answered anything except B, then clearly you haven’t played enough Pokémon. That, or you really didn’t read through the last 3 parts. Honestly, I'm starting to get tired of rival battles in this game; Bianca is okay, but Cheren is just plain annoying now; and if you're willing to consider N as a rival, that also makes him an annoying recurring opponent - though since he's also the villain, the repeated fights against him are justified. I was rooting for option D as well, that would have been a nice change of pace - and Team Plasma seems dirty enough to kidnap people. But nope; rival battle. Once again, Cheren is defeated, but he takes it far better than any other time before. He knows you’ll be facing off against N, so the best he can do is to give you some words of encouragement – and some more strength. He knows you’ll make good use of it.

I should come back here in winter and bring my
Krazy Karpet!
Victory Road is pretty peculiar this time around. As usual, it’s a maze that requires many of the field abilities you’ve gained so far; however, while much of the maze takes place inside, a lot also happens outside. You climb from a floor to the next inside Victory Road, solving the puzzles, but sometimes you have to walk outside to go from an exit to another. You can also slide on the mountainside to reach a lower floor; sometimes, this is the only way to move forward. You have to think in 3D for this one, and it’s absolutely brilliant. Definitely more creative than the boring normal caves we see in the other regions. In this place await strong Ace Trainers, as well as many Pokémon that could be very interesting to catch, like Deino. Once Nick reaches the top of the mountain, he can find a Pokémon Center, and a large coliseum looming over Unova, the home of the Elite 4. Nick stocks up on items, because once he enters that place, there’s no turning back.

Left to right:`Marshal, Caitlin, Shauntal, Grimsley.
Seems Gyms and Elite 4 attract all kinds of strange folks.
This is also the first Elite 4 where you get to choose the order in which to fight the opponents; of course, the Champion always comes last, but you can battle the Elite 4 members in any order, as long as you defeat them all. It’s the first time in the franchise, and I think it’ll stay that way from now, as the Kalos Elite 4 also went with this concept. It’s true that it’s a lot less restrictive than previous Elite 4s where you had to adapt your strategy to the predetermined order. First is Shauntal, an expert in Ghost-types. Then there’s Marshal, who’s a tough Fighting-type user who has a boxing ring as his stage. After which we have Grimsley, another Elite 4 Dark-type user (The third in 5 generations, while there still hasn’t been a single Dark-type Gym). Last but not least is Caitlin, a sleepy girl with a preference for Psychic-types. These four characters are each unique, and their room represents that; to reach them, the Trainer follows a path that goes up around their room. Shauntal loves to write, so her room feels like a big library, as an example.

It is an impressive location for the Elite 4.
But it's still just an Elite 4; if you're prepared, you can defeat them
with relative ease.
Now... Alder!

When all four members are defeated, the statue in the center glows; stepping near it, we descend to the lower floor, after which we climb many sets of stairs towards the Champion. However, when we get there, we see N has arrived first. Ah, dammit! And he has already defeated Alder! Immediately, N uses this new pedestal to claim that all Trainers in Unova must release their Pokémon! When Alder objects, N replies that since he won their Pokémon battle, his ideology beats Alder’s, therefore he’s the one who’s right-ah, for fuck’s sake.

N, let me introduce you to something called sportsmanship.
AKA, don't be a dick to the people you defeat.
That’s not how debates work. In a debate, you may agree or disagree with the person you speak to; but you’re trying to prove your point or bring good arguments. In video games, an enemy who is defeated may join the protagonist; it happens. But here, we’re talking about fights that lead to friendships; not debates. In a debate, no matter how much you beat the other at something, that doesn’t make you more right than them. N, once again your heart is in the right place, but you’re just doing EVERYTHING wrong. I haven’t seen you bring up any arguments. Ghetsis has brought arguments – ones that are completely one-sided in his favor, but arguments nonetheless. Because from his point of view, he’s right, and he can justify himself – no matter how crazy he might be. They always say the best villains are the ones who actually believe they’re doing the right thing, after all. You’ve said nothing. You seem under the impression that defeating Alder immediately makes you right just because you’ve proven yourself to be stronger. That’s not how it goes. You’ve watched too many bad anime. People aren’t immediately swayed to the strongest person around. (Then again, seeing the insane popularity of Saitama from One Punch Man…) I mean, N, you clearly don’t want to hurt anyone. People can see that, despite your strange mind, you mean well. You won’t use force and you know it. Ghetsis, on the other hand? He’s ready and willing to use all the force he has. Which, again, brings me back to this entire goddamn debate: The problem isn’t the Pokémon being owned, it’s the Trainers using them for nefarious purposes.

But of course, N won’t listen. He has a final ace up his sleeve, though… his very own castle. Which somehow was hidden just behind the Elite 4 Coliseum, freaking underground, with a mechanism to rise up at that exact moment.

Such a giant castle that was somehow deep underground
and able to rise... blblblblblblblblblblblbl...
Okay, I’ve gone nuts. I’ll go buy myself a funnel hat and go outside to yell about the upcoming end of the world, dressed as a sandwich-man. I mean, I knew the Pokémon series could often pull pretty big plot twists out of nowhere, but that castle is pushing it. Even better, N can enter it thanks to a staircase that appears, and we’re invited to follow. How long was this fucking castle waiting deep underground? …How, how did they build it underground? How did they manage to do any of that without a single Elite 4 member noticing? How… how… how… I mean, it’s freaking impressive, but it makes zero sense whatsoever. Here, let’s say the castle belonged to one of the two brothers of legend, hence why it was hidden so deep underground, and Team Plasma seized it; how did they learn about it? When did they look for it? When did they find it? And what a coincidence that it was located exactly where the Elite 4 chose to be! And... No, I'm sorry, that plot twist makes no fucking sense no matter which angle I try to look at it.

Don't give me orders! I was heading there anyway!
N retreats into the castle, knowing the player will soon follow. Then Cheren arrives, ready to fight the Champion, but sees the castle and is quick to tell Nick to head in there to end this madness. We enter the Plasma Castle, and are confronted by six of the seven Sages – Ghetsis excluded, because by now it’s obvious that he’s the brains of the whole operation. But then… Clay bursts in! Followed by Lenora! And Burgh! Elesa, Skyla, and the others! Yes! The Gym Leaders are on MY side, Sages of Team Plasma! These little stories of debates and who's right, who's wrong, it's all nullified now that you're officially aiming to do evil. The Gym Leaders hold off the six Sages. Clay tells Nick to hurry through the castle to fight N. Let’s go upstairs. In the next rooms, we meet some Plasma grunts ecstatic about getting people to release their Pokémon, and have this sort of nasty glee about it. Just in case you needed more proof that they don’t actually have good intentions.

Electric train battery powered by the electricity of
thousands of helpless Joltik not included.
Near the next room, the Shadow Triad helpfully informs Nick that someone can heal his Pokémon nearby. Gee, you guys may be monsters aiming to rule the world trough a totalitarian regime, but you sure take that little “player fight against N” seriously! In that room, we meet Anthea and Concordia, N’s adoptive sisters who heal the player’s Pokémon and tell him a few interesting details; among others, that Ghetsis found N in the wilderness, in the case of Pokémon who had been harmed by their Trainers. After Ghetsis adopted N, he kept bringing abused Pokémon to the young boy to keep his ideals alive, to convince him to pursue the cause of freeing all Pokémon from their owners. Two floors higher, we find a room filled with toys. N’s room. A basketball game, an electric train that moves endlessly and pointlessly on a half-broken track, a skatepark that has no purpose… And that creepy music box… it’s like N’s growth into a teenager and then an adult has been stunted… Gee, no wonder he still sees the world in black and white! That’s why he couldn’t give actual arguments for his cause! He’s a teenager with a kid’s brain… Admittedly, a brilliant kid, but a kid nonetheless, and a kid without social skills to boot.

We get to the final room, where Nick encounters Ghetsis, who’s practically jubilating with a malicious joy at the thought that he’ll break out of his guise as a mere Sage and finally take the spot he has always actually held – true leader of Team Plasma. I’ll give it to Ghetsis, he’s by far one of the most interesting villains in all of the Pokémon franchise, if only because of how twisted, sadistic and manipulative he is, and how these traits of his are unrivaled by the other Team leaders of the past and present. I think the only one that got even close was the leader of Cipher.

Christ N, can you stop being wrong in everything?
It's not even funny anymore.

Anyway, Nick steps in the final room and there he meets N, for a final time. The green-haired teenager is determined to prove he’s right, but he’s a little saddened when he notices the player’s black stone hasn’t responded and didn’t reform into Zekrom. He calls forward his own dragon, Reshiram, which comes blasting in the room through the wall behind. Pfft, poseur. You just destroyed your own throne, N. However, sensing Reshiram, the black stone gets all agitated! It inhales the energy around itself and transforms into Zekrom! N says that Zekrom wants to be befriended by the hero, but only if he gets caught. You know what that means; battle against a Legendary! Nah… I’ll Master Ball him.

Not even gonna bother with trying to battle this guy fairly.

Whether or not you catch Zekrom, you then have to fight N. Zekrom can be added to your team immediately, then N heals your Pokémon – what a fair opponent – and then this is it, the decisive battle. Doesn’t really matter which version, the only thing that changes between these two fights is Reshiram or Zekrom at the head of N’s team, at LV52, two levels higher than every other Pokémon in his possession. He’s got a good team, but if you got that far, chances are your team is better. There’s the legendary dragon Reshiram (Dragon/Electric), both fossils (Carracosta and Archeops, both part Rock-types), and the other three are the Ice-type Vanilluxe, the Dark-type Zoroark, and the Steel-type Klinklang. Single-type Pokémon are usually easy to dispose of, so outside of a few surprise moves it should be fine.

N, you call these Pokémon your friends, yet you are willing to use them to
battle, and you... you... urgh, I,m so tired of trying to argue with this guy.

N puts up a good fight but he is defeated, at the astonishment of the entire Team Plasma. He immediately realizes the error of his ways: “Two heroes living at the same time— one that pursues ideals and one that pursues truth. Could…could they both be right? I don't know. It's not by rejecting different ideas, but by accepting different ideas that the world creates a chemical reaction. This is truly the formula for changing the world." See, there you go! You’re learning! You had to lose to understand, but you finally got it!

If all the Team Leaders got
into a fight, he would be the
biggest in this battle of jerks.
As for Ghetsis, he comes in and verbally tears N a new one. "After all of that, do you think you're still worthy of sharing the name Harmonia with me? You good-for-nothing boy!" The true leader of Team Plasma says that N’s defeat still doesn’t change much for his plans; N’s charisma has already started convincing people to start releasing their Pokémon. Ghetsis clearly has a lot of sadistic pleasure in chewing out his adoptive son. Like he knows it hurts N, hence why he does it. What we have here is likely the cruelest Team Leader. Not the one with the most impressive plan – I mean, in the end the Legendary Pokémon’s role is minor, unlike for Teams Magma, Aqua, Cipher, Galactic and Flare, where each time the massive power of a beast of legend was required for the plan. But Ghetsis here only wants power and is ready to do anything to get it. Zekrom or Reshiram, they’re just the bullies he’ll use against the population. He truly shines by how monstrous he is, as he raised a child to be his puppet for his grand scheme, purposely stunting N’s growth as a human so that he remains loyal and devoted! And when that puppet proves not enough, Ghetsis is more than happy to twist the knife in! He doesn’t need powerful Pokémon to be an asshole. He was very well ahead on his path to become a complete monster long before Reshiram was revived. In the sequels, Black 2 and White 2, he gets some new inventions that he uses against the player - and Kyurem -, but once again he’s just a sicko who wants power and will do anything to get it… he’s not an illuminated moron who believes the universe would be better without emotion, or an elitist jackass who believes only rich people and certain types of Pokémon are allowed to exist in the world. He doesn't need these aspirations to be a complete monster.

Of course, now that his plans have been made clear, Ghetsis says the hero knows too much and needs to be disposed of; in other words, here is the true final boss. Yeah, a man with so many human resources, so many followers, could just kill you right there and be done with it, and yet no. Pokémon battle it is. Ghetsis is a lot stronger than N with his Pokémon, which is ironic; but then again, he was trying to lay low, so I guess it makes sense. Plus, N always releases the Pokémon he uses, while Ghetsis had to have kept his. His team ends with a Level 54 Hydreigon, which is impossible since Zweilous evolves into Hydreigon at Level 64. In Black 2 and White 2, his Hydreigon knows Frustration, a move that is stronger the more the user hates its Trainer. And that Frustration is at full power; gives you an idea of the type of guy he is.

I mean, the guy is actually brilliant as an evildoer. The only place where he’s completely clueless is in his wardrobe – I mean, really? A robe that looks like a castle tower? Not a single real-life designer wouldn’t laugh at this. He does get wiser on clothing in the sequels… though he gets even more unhinged than before.

Goodbye Sharp!

Anyway, despite his powerful team, Ghetsis is defeated. Seeing his plans crumble, Ghetsis gets reduced to a yelling mess, bawling that he is perfect, that he was going to make his perfect world (apparently, for him perfection is something only he can enjoy), and in the end he’s just spouting insults at N. Oh, Ghetsis, how low you’ve fallen. In the end, you’re nothing more a man who throws childlike temper tantrums. It’s almost sad to see a villain break down… then you remember all of the horrible things they’ve done, and you stop feeling sorry.

Alder and Cheren escort Ghetsis out of the room, and N asks the player to follow him. N admits that when he met Nick in Accumula Town, he was surprised to hear his Pokémon liked him. The next encounters with the player, his Pokémon and his friends, led to N questioning himself more and more, despite being under Ghetsis’ machinations. He feels the need to apologize to the world for taking part in this, so he says some final words of goodbye to Nick, summons Reshiram, and flies off. And that’s how this story ends.

Reshiramspeed, N. You may be a guy with many faults,
but in the end you honestly were misguided.
Fight for what you think is right, but never forget
what you've learned from this journey.
I won't forget.

Well, that’s the end of the Story Mode. In Part 5, I’ll go over everything else than can be done in this game. Stay tuned!