aaaah college started majorly distracted does anyone have a spare attention span pleeeease


A brief detour to the game corner reveals nothing much of interest... other than Handsome, seated at one of the slots. No idea why. It's not like the game corner is a front for shady operations as it was in RBYFRLG... lazy bastard </hypocrite>. After I'm done panhandling in there I make my way over to Maylene's gym. I'd stopped by a little earlier and found Dawn standing outside; after she'd spoken to me, Crasher Wake came out of the gym and talked for a while as well. They left after that and haven't returned, so I'm free to go inside now.

Maylene's is the last gym that has received a makeover, if I recall. The basic principle is still the same: you have to push stuff aside in order to clear your path to the gym leader. Instead of random sliding door-things, however, you now need to push punching bags that have been suspended on rails into huge piles of tires. Why they have tires I do not know. But yes, so I work my way through the gym, swinging big red bags into their stolen car parts or whatever and battling the messy karate guys. What fun. Actually, it's not a terrible puzzle (more engaging than Eterna's puzzle at any rate) and the little swinging bag animation is kinda cool, but yeah the tires were distracting. Aaanyway. So I reach Maylene and Forte, Sabre and Ziska OHKO her Meditite, Machoke and Lucario easily. Wow, that went even faster than Roark. I've got the badge, moving along to someplace more interesting now.

Dawn runs up to me as soon as I leave, asking for help retrieving her Pokédex or whatever it was. After we battle the two grunts that took it Handsome shows up (late as usual) and takes me into the warehouse. He says something about the locked door towards the back and then directs my attention to an item on the ground by the entrance. That item is the Fly HM. He lets me leave after that, so I head on down to Pastoria.

There's a big board in the middle of the city that has a Croagunk picture on it; there's a hole cut out of it where the Croagunk's face would be, so you can get behind it and stick your face in it. It's... kind of random and pointless, honestly, but if you ever liked them when they were muscle men or women in bikinis at carnivals, then it's there, I guess. Of a little more interest was what I noticed when I stopped in briefly before (while I was down this way catching Chatot)—Larry was blocking the entrance to the Pastoria gym. I don't know if he was there in DP or not. He's gone now, but I'm not going into the gym just yet. I want to go check out the Great Marsh first.

The general layout of the marsh is exactly the same as it was in Diamond and Pearl, with six areas, three on each side of the train you can use to get from place to place. There is now less actual grass in the marshes, though; it's all along the edges. In addition, the regular brown marsh mud that got you stuck every few steps (I don't remember exactly what determined whether or not you got stuck) is now gone; in its place is new black, tarlike mud that is more likely to get you stuck the darker it is. In the lighter colored mud you generally won't stick very often; you are guaranteed to get stuck on every single step in the darker mud. There's almost as much grass on the dark mud as there is on the light mud, so you have to be very careful and can't just run around haphazardly as you could before. (And given the fact that just trying to get unstuck still decreases your step count, it'd have been nice of them to keep FRLG's 600 step limit. Ugh.) Broken and decaying tree trunks/stumps stick up out of the middle of most patches of mud, adding a nice little atmospheric touch.

I catch a few Pokémon—nothing too interesting, just a Yanma and some of the usual stuff you find there—and then make my way towards the Pastoria gym for my fifth badge. Larry comes back as I move to the door, however, looking for yet another battle. (Is it me, or is he more persistent than any other rival in the series? Hell, I could be wrong but I think he's asking for more battles than he did in DP.) This battle is less of a struggle than the last, seeing as Ziska can now Earthquake the crap out of Mr. Leer-Happy the Monferno and his friends, and so once Larry is out of the way I head into the gym.

Nothing has changed about the gym other than the Pokémon the trainers have, which includes significantly higher levels for Crasher Wake. He's stronger than Fantina was in his place, I think. He's definitely more annoying. I end up fighting him a number of times (not as many as Gardenia, thank god), mostly because I told myself I wanted Ziska to beat his Floatzel by herself, even though that is dumb because it is stronger and faster than she is and knows Ice Fang and Brine. Ah, hubris. I eventually manage to get a Razor Leaf in without Ziska flinching, and her Overgrow ability kicks in to make it an OHKO. After that (and, well, before, seeing as he sends out Gyarados first), his other two Pokémon are easily dealt with. Badge number five in hand, I leave the gym...

...only to be accosted by Larry again. Wake steps out of the gym right afterward and they talk for a while, presumably about the Galactic grunt that sits near the entrance to the Marsh and mutters to himself about a bomb or something. They run off to go make sure the Marsh is safe, and before I join them I stop in at the move tutor's to teach Sabre Leaf Blade. Which, in retrospect, I should've done before battling Wake so I could use that instead of Magical Leaf against his Quagsire. Oops. When I drop by the Great Marsh I see Wake standing guard outside. As I approach, though, I notice that he looks kind of... different. Like his eyes are closed or he's hanging his head or something. When I talk to him and Larry joins us, he looks up and then closes his eyes/hangs his head again... was he sleeping on the job or something? I only point this out because I'm pretty sure I've never seen a Pokémon overworld with two different expressions. I mean, come on. They don't even blink. So I guess Wake is special. Anyway, as we're talking there's an explosion, and the grunt comes running out. Wake goes into the Marsh to make sure it's okay, Larry stays outside to keep watch and so it's up to me to chase him down, as it was in DP. The chase is uneventful other than some intervention from Larry, and after the grunt drags himself away Cynthia appears to give me the Psyduck medicine and the Old Charm to give to her grandmother.

Stuff in hand I fly to Solaceon and make my way north towards Route 210. This route, if you don't remember, is the one riddled with heavy fog. It takes me a long time to work through it to Celestic Town without Defog, and the horrid accuracy caused by the weather conditions is a real pain in the neck (in case you weren't aware, "fog" is actually an acronym for Frigging Obnoxious Graystuff), but I finally manage to crawl out mostly alive. Thank god for Shock Wave D:

I can't access the Galactic grunt by Celestic's cave until I go to the elder's house, so I stop by there and then return. The battle with the grunt is uneventful, and afterwards Cynthia's grandmother comes up so I can give her the Old Charm. I go inside the cavern and examine the glyph depicting Uxie, Azelf and Mesprit. Cynthia's grandma joins me shortly and begins to explain, but before she can get very far a mysterious someone interrupts. That someone is Cyrus (but of course you didn't see that coming). He talks for a while and then asks me a question; I'm pretty sure it's something along the lines of "do you still dare to defy me?!", because if I say yes he attacks; I reset to see what would happen if I said no, and apparently I just let him pass and look at the glyph. I can talk to him, though, and he asks the same question.

Aanyway, Cyrus, who looks a lot older and more wrinkled (and actually has an animation, unlike his underlings) has a Sneasel, a Golbat and an obscenely annoying Murkrow that can hit hella hard when it wants to. Heck, it knows Drill Peck, which is normally only available to it as an egg move. It takes a lot of switching around and healing from Geist (stupid bird is even faster than it is... see why I'm upset about them taking it out of the wild in Platinum?) before I can finally get rid of the thing; luckily, Sneasel and Golbat go down much more quickly and quietly. Cyrus vanishes and Cynthia's grandma gives me Surf out of gratitude—this is a huge lifesaver, because now I don't have to have my Vaporeon struggle along with nothing but physical attacks and no Adaptability anymore to strengthen them... mm yay Surf now Levi sucks less. I teach it to him and try it out on one of the little ponds in town. Thankfully, the reports that they've increased the surfing speed are true. You can now surf at about the same speed as the bike in third (slower) gear, which is still quite respectable.

It is around now, by the way, when I'm scrolling through my bag to get Surf, that I notice that I've actually had the Defog HM for a while now. D< According to Psypoke I've apparently had it since the Solaceon Ruins (it was originally found in the Great Marsh, but I didn't even remember that well enough to look for it there and notice something had changed). Well, isn't that lovely? I glossed over crossing Route 210 and having to sit through battle after battle and miss after miss in the fog because it's exactly the same as DP, so you didn't get the full gist of just how much I was cursing at my DS, and now... ugh. The moral of the story is that I really need to pay attention to the random items I pick up off the ground. Just... just... D<D<D<!

I'm not teaching that waste-of-space HM to Forte so I'll need something else to use as a slave, and some of my minor explorations have required getting other HM slaves out of the computer. I'm getting tired of having to drag out a Budew and my old Onix whenever I need to go somewhere and I don't want to have to add a Zubat or whatever on top of that, so I figure now would be a pretty good time to go back to the Great Marsh and capture a Tropius to use as a Swiss army knife instead. I haven't had any luck as of late and it might take a few trips, so I'll end here and check back in when I've got one and am ready to finish up a few more things (the newly fog-filled Lost Tower, for one) before moving on to Canalave.


Mah boyz (uh and Ziska, Forte and Geist):

Ziska (F) Geist (X) Sabre (M) Levi (M) Seth (M) Forte (F)
L37, Quirky, Overgrow L35, Modest, Levitate L34, Rash, Steadfast L36, Timid, Water Absorb L34, Lonely, Flash Fire L35, Sassy, Keen Eye
-Razor Leaf -Shock Wave -Psycho Cut -Surf -Bite -Chatter
-Earthquake -Ominous Wind -Magical Leaf -Aurora Beam -Fire Fang -Sing
-Bite -Confuse Ray -Teleport -Bite -Smog -Roost
-Mega Drain -Double Team -Swords Dance -Quick Attack -Odor Sleuth -Fly least I'm not ahead of myself any more? D: