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  1. Welcome to the twenty-seventh week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday morning. -------------------------------- Region Spotlight #1 Kalos I“m going to start something a little different today, something that“s going to last a while. On the first Friday of every month, for the next six months, I“m going to put together what I call a Region Spotlight." I“ll pick five things about each region from all six generations of Pokémon games and explain why I find them particularly unique or insightful. Most of the time, I“ll stick with locations versus concepts, so you can fly, surf or rock climb your way there in your own copies of each region“s respective games and take a second look after hearing what I have to say. I“ll start from Kalos and work my way backwards — that way we“ll hit Kanto just weeks shy Pokémon's twentieth anniversary. Without further ado: Lumiose City What a huge place! Folks who have played Pokémon since the late nineties probably got a good sense of how far the series has come visually from the moment they stepped outside their house in Vaniville Town. But this city is kind of the game“s crowning achievement, in terms of scope. It“s so big, they had to gate various portions of it off in the beginning, and the team continued to make players explore every nook and cranny of this place in the post-game for Looker“s Quest. There are so many cafes, stores, and minor/major landmarks that I still use the Lumiose Cab Company to get myself around. I like how the cab driver tries to tell me where these places are before I pay him — but my pockets are so bottomless, and my look so stylish, that the fare is always cut in half... and I never really have to pay attention to where he“s taking me. With almost all the Pokémon games, I try and figure out where places are and remember important spots for later. But I treat Lumiose City kind of like I treat a real-life city: my sense of direction is typically so poor in big places where all the buildings look the same that I“d be better served just hopping in a car and paying someone to take me where I need to go. I guess art imitates life, in this respect. When you stepped foot into Lumiose City for the first time, what were your feelings? Did you try to explore, only for some dudes to stop you and insist the place was “under construction” while an NPC just ran right by him? Parfum Palace We“ve seen various hideouts, tall city skyscrapers, mystic caves, and other “fantastical” locations in various Pokémon games, but this is the only instance in which The Pokémon Company have put time and effort into creating an actual palace. From just approaching Parfum Palace for the first time through the bunch of trees on Route 6, to the big that takes place in the story — the game picks a handful of moments to zero in on some “regal” visuals. Everything seems to shimmer without actually doing so. I think the only other times you feel a “regal” presence is when you“re in the Champion“s Room in the Kalos Pokémon League, but I“ll get to that in a little bit. To me, it“s worth highlighting because it feels like a place to escape to in the game. Even though nothing truly remarkable happens there, you get the sense it would be an actual landmark to folks living in the region. It“s definitely designed that way, and even though it“s been a long time since I last played my copy of Pokémon Y, it“s still a place that sticks out in my mind for that reason. Glittering Cave Never mind the fact that you ride on a freaking Rhyhorn and burst through rocks to get there — Glittering Cave feels like a modern-day Rock Tunnel. Rather than making you use Flash to see your way around it, the game drops the camera directly behind the player and makes you navigate its twists and turns in what practically feels like a first-person view. This is the first area in a Pokémon game where the team actually uses the game“s camera to dictate level design. It“s easy to get lost in this cave and run into a Pokémon by mistake your first time through. There are a variety of species to be found here that don“t just initiate in random battle sequences, but sometimes drop from the ceiling or actually lie in wait for the player. I don“t just give this area credit because of its visuals or how you come to arrive there — I appreciate it because of the camera-work that actually played a hand in its conception. It makes Glittering Cave, and the Kalos region as a whole I suppose, feel a little more life-like. Don“t you think? Kalos Pokémon League I remember when you could just waltz in and fight the Elite 4 (in a specific order, too) after just a brief screen-pause to close the door behind you. Now The Pokémon League has become a place to showcase some unique visuals to give the Elite 4 (who you don“t encounter elsewhere in any of the games, mind you) a little showmanship. Flames bursting forth. Water cascading down on you. Freaking dragon statues. From to how it“s designed, to the fact that the Elite 4 actually come at you in full costume, the Kalos Pokémon League feels like a “palace” of its own... with Diantha as its regal queen. The name of her chamber is the Radiant Chamber, for goodness sake! The area bleeds light. , rather than being some epic orchestral medley, feels like a calming melody with some impacting moments about it. Your entire battle with her takes place on what feels like an arena inspired by a church“s window panes? Don“t get me wrong, I like Diantha“s theme and everything... but I feel like the Kalos Pokémon League actually highlights its battle arenas more-so than its members“ music pieces. It certainly makes Kalos stand out a little more as a region, to me. Friend Safari I would be crazy if I didn“t close out mentioning this area. I know the Kalos region has a meaty story, and it“s filled with many incredible places. But I“ve spent hours toiling away in the Friend Safari alone, looking for Pokémon with Hidden Abilities, or Shiny Pokémon, or both. To this day, even after making a separate post about it some time ago, I still don“t understand how it works, fully. But... for being unremarkable visually, and only housing two to three Pokémon per Safari, this is the place I come back to the most when I revisit my copy of Pokémon Y. Every time I add a Friend Code onto my 3DS, I check and see if they“ve played these games and unlocked their third Pokémon. Do any of you Pokémon Faithful do the same, despite moving onto Pokémon ORAS as many of us have by now? I“m definitely interested to know. The Kalos region gave us many series firsts — customizable trainers and fully 3D visuals being chief among them. I feel like many areas in X&Y highlight the game“s unique sense of style--whether we“re referring to the Kalos region“s fashion-sense, or the game“s unique visual presentation as a whole. What are your favorite areas of Kalos? Be sure to let me know! And stay tuned for the next “First Friday”, where I take an in-depth look at some areas and aspects of the Unova region!
  2. Welcome to the fourth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday morning. ---------------------------- Region Locked A question one of our members asked over Twitter got me thinking: ORAS players: When did the game grab you? I've never played the original, and I'm finding Hoenn a bit... boring. Just as we can contemplate the best and worst Pokémon designs (and why we feel that way about them), so too can we contemplate the best regions. What makes the environment of any given Pokémon game work for you, personally? Is what makes a particular region great determined by the variety of Pokémon you“re able to see and capture, by the major characters/antagonists you meet, or by the symbiotic relationship between the game“s music and visuals that bring the place (like Hoenn) to life? Does an audio/visual overhaul like the one presented in Pokémon ORAS change your opinion of Hoenn as a region? There are so many questions. I“d love to hear your thoughts! For the longest time, my answer to the region question would have been Johto, especially as it“s presented in the remakes HeartGold & SoulSilver. As many may know, Gold, Silver, and Crystal are direct sequels to the first Pokémon game. So Johto itself was kind of made from Kanto“s flesh, so to speak. New elements of the world (like the Ruins of Alph, the story of Ho-Oh and the Legendary Beasts and more) sought to bring new or further explained mythology to the Pokémon universe that was targeted towards those who played the first game. But the new stuff was separated enough so that brand new players could enjoy the story/environment just as much as returning ones. Johto featured many brand new Pokémon (as well as the revolutionary [for its time] day and night cycle), but many returning species as well. Everything about the Johto region, even prior to the remakes, focused on simple expansion on what most players already knew, versus exploring this brand new place. It let returners explore a new spot while still embracing original comforts. And it let newcomers know what they missed from the previous game, too—especially since Gold, Silver and Crystal eventually let you explore the first game“s Kanto region as well. The remakes only made the experience better, with lead Pokémon being able to follow behind you, and further story regarding Ho-Oh, Luigi, and even Celebi/Giovanni for those fortunate enough to grab the Event Pokémon when Gamestop distributed it. No region has done what Johto did (tell a new story and build a new world based completely on elements of the old one) since. But... the Kalos region (from Pokémon X & Y) has knocked Johto from its throne, in my eyes. Thanks to the Nintendo 3DS allowing for the best visual and audio experience the franchise had to offer, I truly felt this particular world come to life like no other. Everything was so colorful! Its citizens were all customizable, and were in love with fashion and style as a result of that. The soundtrack, whether we“re talking battle themes or the fanfare for the infamous Professor Sycamore, did everything it possibly could to compliment the world. And, of course (even right down to the return of Mewtwo), the Kalos region features a vast assortment of Pokémon both brand new and from all five previous regions. So, there are my answers. For the longest time, Johto...and currently, Kalos! What are some of yours? Why do you feel the way you do? Be sure to let me know!
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