Can't think of a decent title, bah. And I'm really sorry that this is so late… suffice to say I've been busy. And, just to give you fair warning, I start classes this coming Monday and so have no idea what my schedule is going to be like once I get back into the whole school thing. I'm still going to try and keep this going at a relatively steady pace, though. Really. D:


Cynthia appears again as I make my way to the bike shop and gives me an egg. When I first heard about this egg in the news reports I was hoping it would be something like Crystal's "Odd Egg", which could hatch into any one of several baby Pokémon and apparently had a 50% chance of hatching a shiny. (I never got a shiny… or anything I actually wanted, for that matter. Would a Magby really have killed you, RNG?) Unfortunately, this egg can only hatch into Togepi. Bah. I leave Manti and Sting behind in the computer to make room for the egg—I plan to hatch it and then just put it back in the box, as I don't want a Togekiss this time around—and the new teammates I hope to be catching soon.

Rickshaw gives me a free bicycle as his thanks for saving his precious Pokeymans, and I set it to the Y button immediately. As I ride around the city to try it out, it looks like both gears/speeds have gotten a little faster. It *could* just be me, but I don't think it is. I want to just head straight out to Cycling Road now, but I can't leave unless I pay the Underground Man a visit first.

The Sinnoh Underground hasn't had any significant upgrades from Diamond and Pearl (and remember—it does NOT have Wi-Fi capabilities as some people were speculating, unless there's something I haven't seen yet), other than the fact that using the touch screen "radar" to show you the locations of hidden treasure appears to be less responsive than it was before. :/ Interestingly, in my various trips to the Underground I've seen a lot of Skull Fossils but no Armor Fossils. You'd think Platinum would have both, but for now that doesn't appear to be true. It could also just be that Armor Fossils are a lot rarer than Skull Fossils, so we'll see.

Obligatory Underground sojourn accomplished, I hop on my shiny new bike and head down Cycling Road toward Oreburgh at last. There are a few purple tunnels you can pass through, but they aren't anything special. More importantly, the hidden section of Wayward Cave beneath Cycling Road is now accessible without Strength, meaning I can go get myself a Gible nice and early. I'm not sure I want one on my final team, but might as well get it now anyway. And so, after a lot of searching, struggling with Sandstorm and cursing at how much damage stupid Dragon Rage does to ~lv20 Pokémon, I do—a little female I call Arc. Now that I have my Gible (and a Gligar that I really wish I could keep with me, but dammit neither Gligar nor Gliscor learns Fly) I head over to the main part of Wayward Cave to rescue Mira, the little girl with the Kadabra. You know, I don't think I've ever actually found/rescued Mira before. I think I usually get sick of all the dead ends and Zubat long before I actually reach her. Mm, this should be fun.

Amazingly enough I actually manage to find Mira on my own this time. Her Kadabra is level 26, which I'm pretty sure is much higher than whatever it was before. Of course, for a Kadabra it doesn't appear to be especially intelligent. It looks like it always attacks the "first" enemy when it can, and the stupid thing often leaves me flailing around against something annoying when it could actually be attacking the more dangerous target. (It would also be nice if she'd just let the thing remember Teleport and we could skip this whole ordeal, but whatever.) Mira and I manage to fight our way back to the entrance, and I suppose I'll see her again in the Battle Tower where she will hopefully be a little less useless.

Now that I'm done here I can stuff my newly-hatched Togepi in the box where he belongs and then make my way towards Hearthome City. Dawn shows up right before I enter Mt. Coronet to give me the VS Seeker and the Dowsing app. This is a little later than her appearance in DP, so don't freak out when she doesn't approach you at the same time she did before.

An Aroma Lady right by the Berry Master's house has a Roselia that is sent into battle in a swirl of rose petals. I think this is the first time you see an example of trainers that decorate their Pokéballs with Pokéball Seals. A little silly and pointless, but an okay easter egg, I suppose.

There is a clown in the Hearthome Pokémon Center when I enter it, and after healing up I talk to him. It turns out that this guy is one of the "Pokémon center trainers". Certain centers around Sinnoh are visted by a rotating set of trainers on certain days of the week, and you can battle them. I didn't think battling was allowed inside of a Pokémon center, but okay! I'll take extra experience anytime. The clown just has a Mime Jr. and isn't much of a challenge, so after Arc finishes him off (and evolves into Gabite, hooray) I go back outside. Apparently the grass outside of Hearthome is the first place you can find wild Ralts, and I'm itching for a Gallade.

As an aside, you can ride your bike in the gatehouses that connect the towns now. I approve.

After I catch the judge's Buneary and get my reward at the contest hall, I talk to Fantina and she heads back to the gym. Before I challenge her, though, I want to do some more training and catch that Ralts. Which is more difficult than it looks, given that they fold like card tables under the weight of any decent attack and are quite fond of the move Teleport (hey, Mira! Catch one of these before you get yourself lost in a cave next time!). My new Ralts, Sabre, is… really weak and hard to train, but I'll have to press forward if I want that Gallade. Of course, after I find out that the southern exit out of Hearthome is blocked by a reporter and cameraman that I'm sure weren't there before (in addition to the two guys blocking the eastern exit) I realize that I'm fresh out of trainers to battle unless I head into the Ghost-type gym that is obviously a fabulous place to train a wussy Psychic-type. Dammit, why do they keep doing this? D: I'd rather fight trainers than wild Pokémon, you know.

While trying to figure out which trainers would be good to try the VS Seeker with I stop by Bebe's house in the city. After getting DP's National Dex she gives you a level 5 Eevee; now she gives you a level 20 Eevee the first time you speak to her, similar to what Bill did in GSC. I think I'll be evolving my Eevee, Levi, into a Vaporeon as soon as I can find a Water Stone in the Underground.

…which is easier said than done. I make a few more trips to the Underground and come up with a multitude of Skull Fossils and pretty much nothing else. (Anybody with Pearl need a Cranidos? No, really, please take these things. I think they're even more common than in Diamond…) Annoyed and Water Stone-less, I decide to give up and just trade a Water Stone from Diamond later (and a Dawn Stone for Sabre, seeing as you can't find that for a while). For now I'm going to keep Levi an Eevee, though; it'd be nice if he knew Bite and I could actually use him to battle Fantina, but for now he'll serve as semi-decent stallfodder against the ghosts if I need to take a minute and heal someone.

I take a little while to run around and train Sabre until he evolves (and is… just as hard to deal with as he was before D:) and then make my way into the Hearthome Gym. As soon as I enter the large, glasses-sporting pep talk guy comes up to me and gives me what I assume are instructions for navigating the gym's new puzzle. Going through the door in the gym's lobby brings me to a semi-dark maze of Duskull-shaped glowing lamps with three doors in the back. In front of each door is a red mat, each mat with a different shape on it. There is also a blue mat somewhere in the maze; it has the same shape as one of the three red mats (the blue mat's shape and location are randomly determined each time you enter the room). You're supposed to find the blue mat, take note of its shape and then enter the door in the back with the matching shape. The other two doors warp you back to the entrance instead of leading to a dead end with a trainer as they did before, which is a shame; they've gone and cut the number of trainers again, and therefore the amount of money and experience you can get. (And since, as I said before, they've already made a habit of denying you access to decent numbers of trainers before the gyms… ARGH) The flashlight that I've been given isn't really necessary at this point, as the maze is small enough that the location of the blue mat is usually immediately apparent and the shape isn't that hard to see. All I have to do, then, is make my way to the right door after battling the two flashlight-toting trainers also wandering the maze. They challenge me if I get caught in their beam of light or if they get caught in mine.

The second maze is much larger and darker than the first, with five doors instead of three and more shapes to match. You do actually need the flashlight to see the shapes on the red and blue mats this time around (again, the blue mat's location and shape change each time you enter the room), so I have to take the time to wander through the maze, battle the four trainers and look for everything. Going through the right door leads to Fantina; any other door takes you back to the entrance.

Fantina's Pokémon are obviously weaker now that she's been demoted to third leader instead of fifth, and she's downgraded her Gengar to a Haunter and replaced her signature Drifblim (why keep the dress, then?) with a Duskull. Said Duskull is easily dispatched by Geist, and Porky, in one last hurrah before I bid him adieu, weakens her Mismagius with Tail Whip before I have to send Ziska in to finish it off. (Yay for Razor Leaf crithax whoo.) Geist and Ziska manage to take care of the Haunter, and that's it. Okay WHOO BADGE can I leave the frickin' city now?

…no, not quite. The damn southern exit is still blocked by the reporter, so after healing up I head out of the eastern gatehouse instead. Larry is waiting for me inside, and challenges me to the battle you'd usually have as soon as you enter Hearthome (if I recall correctly). Geist is able to defeat his Staravia easily and, because Sabre is still and will continue to be made of fail until he evolves (I feel like a bad parent saying all this, but ugh Kirlia is not fun to work with) and gets knocked out at the drop of a hat, his Buizel as well. His Monferno still likes to spam Leer a lot, but at least it finally has the sense to actually use Flame Wheel this time and KO Geist. Not that this is a good thing, but hey, at least the AI is getting a little smarter. :/ So anyway Ziska eventually beats Monferno and his Roselia, blah blah. After I heal up I set out for Solaceon for real, battling trainers and whatnot on the way.

After I reach Solaceon I decide to double back for a moment and go through the Lost Tower to the south. It's much darker than it was in DP, with blue stone floors instead of the astroturf or whatever was going on in there before. Upon reaching the third floor a thick fog sets in, and unlike the mist in Eterna Forest this is actual accuracy-obstructing-need-stupid-Defog-to-clear-it fog. By the time I blunder my way up to the top floor, however, the two old ladies refuse to give me Strength and the Cleanse Tag; they simply both say the same thing (whatever that might be). I suppose I'll have to come back when I get Defog. I'd better get something more interesting than a Cleanse Tag for this.

In other, sadder news that you probably won't care about unless you EV train, Cowgirl Shelley has apparently died and been replaced with a much less useful Cowgirl that only has one Ponyta instead of five Bidoof. D: Noooo… now I'm going to be really upset if they did mangle Andrew. D:

Around now I decide to go ahead and trade with Diamond for the Water and Dawn stones for Levi and Sabre. The Pal Pad has been redesigned, sporting a new yellow and gray look instead of pink and orange. Entering friend codes is also a little flashier-looking, and the new Wi-Fi Connection screen sparkles and has a new Pikachu and Pachirisu motif instead of Pikachu and Pichu. When actually connected, instead of seeing a list of the names of connected trainers and their proposed activities you enter a Union Room-like interface with the connected trainers' avatars standing around and a big screen at the back. If a trainer is just standing there, you can walk up to them and speak to them to initiate voice chat; trainers that are jumping up and down want to trade or battle. The touch screen shows a list of the names of your connected friends and I think details what they want to do; tapping on their name brings up a record of everything you've done with and "know about" that trainer. If you want to initiate a trade or battle you approach the flickering screen in the back and choose your option there. In addition to the usual single battle, double battle and trade options there are two other choices, both of which appear to be some sort of record-mixing function (I'm not sure why there are two or what the difference between them is). This function seems to be exclusive to Platinum, as my Diamond couldn't tell what my Platinum was doing when it tried to initiate the mixing.

By the way, does anyone who has a Japanese D/P know whether you can view the full ten-character names of traded Pokémon (and seven-character names of trainers) and Pokémon in battles, the trade window, etc.? I have a Japanese FireRed and it truncated all names at the five character mark, but Platinum doesn't do that. I'm just not sure if that's a Platinum-exclusive thing or something they'd already fixed in DP. Just curious.

Oh, and when trading in Platinum you can press B to have your cursor jump to the Quit button immediately. Why this was never possible in previous games I don't know, but it's there now and I like it.

Solaceon does not appear to have changed in the slightest and there is nothing of interest there as far as I can tell (the only thing I didn't check was the newspaper office, but I'd have no idea what they were looking for anyway so there's no point). Anyway, around now I'd decided that I wanted Ziska to reach her final stage before the rest of my team (barring Geist, of course, who doesn't evolve anyway), so I spent most of the trip to Veilstone trying to get her to level 32. She finally reaches it shortly before the end of the road, and I get my awesome new killer Torterra. (And then evolve Sabre and Levi right afterward… I shall not suffer under the shackles of Kirlia any longer! Levi's Adaptability was useful, though. Oh, well.)

Shortly after entering Veilstone I speak to a gentleman in a house by the Pokémon center, and he gives me a level 25 Porygon. While exploring the rest of the town I found a man sitting on one of the city's raised areas and I'm quite sure he wasn't there before. And when I talk to him… he speaks in English. With the English-language game font, even. WTF? He says:

"Hello, Trainer! Do you love Pokémon?" (Yes/No)

If Yes: "Excellent! So do I!"

If No: "I don't think so!! You travel with your Pokémon gaily!"

And that's it (verbatim, by the way). He seems to serve no purpose other than spouting slightly awkward English if you say no, but still seriously wtf.

I'm not ready to challenge Maylene at this point as Ziska is my only team member above level 30, so I head south to train the others and catch a few more. Psypoke says that wild Houndour lurk around here and there are some Chatot right by Pastoria, so that's where I look and what I catch next. While Seth the Houndour isn't going to be much use against a Fighting gym, Forte the Chatot will come in quite handy. I hope. And before I forget, there is a Magmarizer on Route 214. No Magby or Magmar in sight yet, but it's there if you're planning on getting one.

Now that my team is complete I focus on bringing everyone up to par, mostly teaching Geist Ominous Wind, teaching Sabre Psycho Cut, evolving Seth and your basic leveling. I take a moment to stop in to the hotel's restaurant for some battles; they're still pretty simple, but they now use slightly more advanced strategies—more item use, for example, or pairing a Finneon with a Lightningrod Rhyhorn. Nothing that important has changed and I'm still working on training right now, so I'll stop here and start in on the gym when we pick up again.

And hey, look at that! I'm actually up to date again. That means I can do something I've been meaning to do for a while but haven't been able to due to discrepancies between the blog, where I actually am and how well I'm keeping track of things: listing my team at the end of each post. Just in case you're curious, dunno.

Ziska (F) Geist (X) Sabre (M) Levi (M) Seth (M) Forte (F)
L32, Quirky, Overgrow L29, Modest, Levitate L31, Rash, Steadfast L27, Timid, Water Absorb L26, Lonely, Flash Fire L28, Sassy, Keen Eye
-Razor Leaf -Shock Wave -Psycho Cut -Quick Attack -Bite -Sing
-Earthquake -Confuse Ray -Magical Leaf -Tackle -Smog -Fury Attack
-Bite -Ominous Wind -Teleport -Sand-Attack -Roar -Chatter
-Mega Drain -Double Team -Swords Dance -Growl -Odor Sleuth -Taunt


Anyway, I'll do a better job keeping on top of things from now on. Really I promise this time. D: