Author Topic: Kalos: Beautifully Empty  (Read 2064 times)

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Offline Utack and Swampy

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Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« on: September 21, 2014, 03:42 »
Now that the hype for Kalos has worn off, and returning to the greatest region ever Hoenn is just around the corner, I really do have to ask... Why is so much of Kalos empty!?

Granted, I'm not saying it isn't beautiful, because Kalos is stunning! The artwork of the game, the ability to take pictures of yourself at iconic landmarks, it's great! But... Going through the post-game, was I the only one who found it to have quite a bit more empty, wasted space, and also much more restricted than previous Pokémon games? In this topic, I'll go briefly through each town and route in Kalos, giving my thoughts on how their areas incorporate their graphics into a purposeful meaning. If you don't want to read all that, here's a summary of the areas I feel waste their space and graphics, and areas where you cannot surf in water, also resulting in wasted space:

Biggest Waste of Space and Graphic Offenders: Route 1, Aquacorde town, Lumiose Cafes dead-end alleyways, Shabboneau Castle, Various Hotels, Parfum Palace, Route 7's river, Geosenge town, Tower of Mastery, Sea Spirit Den, Route 13 Power Plants, Route 14 Park & Ghost House, Poke ball Factory, Anistar City's Sun Dial, Couriway town's railroad

Inaccessible Water: Aquacorde town, Route 2, Camphrier, Parfum Palace, Route 7, Cyllage City, Route 10,  Route 12/Azure Bay land, Coumarine City's lower half, Laverre City, Poke ball Factory, Route 16's fishing spot, Dendemille Town, Anistar City, Route 18, Couriway town

Alright, now let's take a trip through Kalos, starting at the very beginning! Be warned, this is quite a bit long and just a bit ranty...

Vaniville Town: Home Town
Now granted, the starting town is generally pretty empty in any Pokémon game, but it did have two buildings that tended to draw you back to it. Your Home, where you respawn after you beat the league, pretty much forcing you to visit the town quite often if you're trying to get a Pokémon to level 100, and the local Professor's lab, where you occasionally visit to have your pokedex checked in person, just for fun. But in Kalos, the Prof's lab has been moved to a different town, leaving it quite a bit emptier.

Route 1: Need I say more!?
The route is literally just a pathway to show off the graphics. No wild Pokémon encounters, no tall grass, no trainers, no npc interaction points, and a completely straight line. Literally just an empty path for you to walk down, in order to get to a different city, and thus, post-game, completely pointless.

Aquacorde Town: First Stop
Alright, so it's the first town you get to.. And yeah, they generally don't have much either... Even so, this brickwork town has quite large buildings stretching into the sky, but only THREE enter-able rooms! And these rooms consist of a knockoff Pokémon center, a building beside it that only sell potion, and a building across from it that only sell pokeball. Yeah, that's right, just an item to heal 20 hp, and the most basic of Pokémon catching devices. Neither of them upgrade from those two basic items post game... And why have them in two separate buildings!? I get that it adds 'flavor' to the town, but with only three places to enter that sell only the most basic of items, you're never going to go back there anyways, so why split them up? I don't know why this town lacks a proper Pokémon center and mart, or why they can't be properly marked... While the center does have a red overhang, both it and the potion shop share a potion symbol sign, while the pokeball shop has the pokeball symbol; the symbol we USUALLY associate with a center! Couldn't you have put the center and pokeball shop together then, or would it have annoyed me more, confusing the shop for the center? I dunno... To try and fill out the town a bit, there are 10 tables, and 30 chairs spread about, but all of them are completely empty! Sure, you can sit in any one of them, but talk about a desolate looking area! To exit it, you cross over a brickwork bridge overlooking a reflective river, which is quite stunning, but cannot be surfed or fished in. Kind of funny that you can't do anything with the water in AQUAcorde town, but I'll get more into that later on.

My main beef with this city is the lack of a real center and mart, and the small number of enter-able buildings. Other first towns in different regions are just as empty (I mean, whoever seriously goes back to Oldale in Hoenn eh?) but they at least function as a town, with a working center and mart... This means if you beat the league but didn’t have anyone with Fly in your party, you could at least get back to the PC in the next town over, a bit of a pain but didn’t take too long. This town has no center, and thus no pc, and so if you don't have a Pokémon with fly, you're going to have to travel even further to the next town over, just to be able to get anywhere else quickly.

Honestly, I felt that Vaniville and Aquacorde could have ditched Route 1 and fused into one beginning town for the player, and it would've made both of them feel much more complete as one big town, and have reduced quite a bit of empty space and game-time.

Route 2: This No-Surf zone going be a trend?
Route two is a pretty standard route. Some tall grass, a nearby river, first npc trainer, leads into a forest. Basic Kanto Viridian forest deal.. Except, oh look! Another large body of water you can't surf or fish in post-game, making half of the route wasted space! Gee, I hope this isn't going to be a reoccurring theme...

Santalune Forest: Familiar territory
Yeah, it's basically Viridian forest, but with updated, stunning Kalos graphics. You go through it to get your first Pokémon world experience, catch yourself some bugs and if you're lucky, a Pikachu, battles some trainers and get out. No real reason to return post game except if you missed some items or an elemental monkey, but certainly not empty in the regards that it had quite a few trainer encounters and lots of tall grass with a variety of beginning Pokémon.

Route 3: Ouvert means 'Open' in French
Another standard route, but this one has a small surf/fishable pond! Well, that's surprising! Most Pokémon on this route mimic the two before it, but still feels like a full, completely route, with a cut tree and circular ledge path. Again, nothing you'd feel the urge to visit post game, but served its purpose as a beginning route.

Santalune City: Where's my Lemonade!?
The first town with an actual center, with a mart built right in to maximize its utility! It's about time.. I had to travel through a town, two routes, and a forest to finally pick up my Talonflame to be able to fly again! So much wasted Repel... Now this feels more like a town! It's still got quite a bit of open space, but it has quite a bit more npcs with flavor text milling about, multiple rooms to enter, and both a gym, clothing store, and a trainer school, giving it at least some nostalgia reason to peak back in on it once in a while, and to also pick up any hats you might've missed first run through.. And yes, sitting and looking at the Roselia fountain is nice. However, what really irked me about this place was there were signs everywhere advertising French drinks, but nowhere could you buy them! Not even the tried and true Lemonade! Why advertise them, if they're nowhere to be found in town? Bah!

Route 22: Rhyhorn's can't race
Another standard route complete with trainer battles for exp, some new Pokémon, and a blocked ending that leads to Victory Road and the E4, of course preventing new trainers from going forward. Pretty much Route 22 from Kanto.. Except this route makes mention to Rhyhorn racing, and even has a Rhyhorn racing track the player can see to the north! Can you access this track and play a fun little Rhyhorn racing minigame? NOPE! It just takes up space and serves no real purpose other than to make you go 'Awh, I want to race Rhyhorns, why can't I?' Well, if you're from Hoenn like me, you'll recall the Pokedex mentioning:

Ruby: 'Rhyhorn runs in a straight line, smashing everything in its path. It is not bothered even if it rushes headlong into a block of steel. This Pokémon may feel some pain from the collision the next day, however.'

Sapphire: 'Rhyhorn's brain is very small. It is so dense, while on a run it forgets why it started running in the first place. It apparently remembers sometimes if it demolishes something. '

...And THAT is why we can't race Rhyhorn! There are multiple dex entries listing how much you should NOT try to race with this Pokémon, but we'd be here all day.

Also important to note, there is a surf/fishable river to the south of this route, which leads to a secret, higher-level Pokémon and trainer area. This river has waterfalls, and stops further progression down the river with the common 'Rocks in the water' technique we've seen since Kanto, which, due to past games, I find a perfectly acceptable way to prevent the river from spanning on forever and keep the route within itself, without seeming too restricted. There's also a special cave called the Chamber of Emptiness! ..Yeah, the name is just like it says, it's a giant empty room with two items, one pre one post-game, and no Pokémon. Great use of space.

Route 4: Pollen allergies beware!
This route emphasizes the way Route 1 should have been done! This route is a straight path with a large, impressive fountain in the middle, and can be quickly traveled to get to the next city.. Or, you can deviate from the path into the maze of hedges and flowers where you will encounter wild Pokémon and trainer battles! It also makes good use of the switching the two flower colors to add more depth to the route, leaving it with both utility, and beauty! Not much pre-game visiting required, but still feels like a full and developed route.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 14:32 by Utack and Swampy »


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Offline Utack and Swampy

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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2014, 03:43 »
Lumiose City: I call it Pokémon Paris
The biggest city in the Kalos region, so large it had to be broken up into three sections, and so daunting it made you freeze in place until some kind blokes, Nin and Tendo, came along and gave you a patch to keep your mouth from hanging open! This City certainly had a lot going on, and was quite fun during the game.. But it doesn't hold up Post game for the following reasons:

1. Empty Buildings and Cafes: These have no purpose other than flavor text, and Kalos is literally filled with cafes, most of them being in Lumiose. I studied French for a total of 5 years, so I know that France, and especially Paris is real big on small cafes where you just go and people watch... But in a Pokémon game, where everyone says the same flavor text day in and day out, it gets old really quick. With no battles, no wild Pokémon, and you can't even buy yourself un café au lait, there's no reason to go into any of them post-game, but to hear the repetitious npc flavor text, which was fine during your adventure, but doesn't hold your attention after you've heard it all once before in the post-game.

2. Empty Alleyways: This one gets its own section because while some of the connecting alleyways do have npc trainers you can battle, there are four dead end alleyways that literally have NOTHING in them, they only serve to be empty rooms for you to wander into during the Looker's end quest.. One of them will be full once, the rest are just dummy alleyways they know you'll most likely go down because you got lost in this massive city. They're literally just to trick you. If you encountered trainer gangs, or street rat children, or wild Pokémon, they'd have a reason for their existence, but they don't so they're just a complete waste of space.

3. Restaurants: Ok, these actually are a really good idea for post-game replaying, pay for a meal, get a battle royal with it.. But I just have to express my beef here, WHY is the decent leveled Pokémon one so expensive? I lose money going in there to train if I don't complete it perfectly AND have the amulet coin attached, which means someone has to lose their bonus lucky egg exp! I get that French food is really expensive, but with such a high price and the fact that the npcs can just use protect one turn to screw up the battle flow and have me get a cheaper reward for beating them, I find I can't go in there to train, and thus, never visit the restaurants, making them wasted space!

4. Lumiose Gym: Yeah, it's the Eiffel Tower, we all know it... But my problem is, while it's an impressive and large building that dominates the center of town, after you beat the gym, you NEVER go back into it, once again making it just a beautiful waste of space.

Also, it's important to note, that one small child looking down into one of the open faced waterways in the town, asks about what kind of fish swim down there.. Ironic, considering it's, yet again a unsurf/fishable body of water...

Route 5: Versant means 'Slope' in French
Pretty standard route, but they do have a fairly large skate park with absolutely no one in it, making it feel, once again, empty and desolate.

Camphrier Town: Empty Castle #1
There's nothing inside Shabboneau castle. Literally. It has a display case with a Pokeflute (I want that as a useable key item dangit!) and one guy. Another beautiful waste of space. Additionally, these various hotels scattered throughout Kalos really have very little in them. I know the npcs rotate and show up on certain days.. But they're mostly just flavor text, and there always seems to be one empty room. Oh, and look! More unsurf/fishable water! Both in the moat of Shabboneau, and in a secretish south area you find following a pathway from the town! Heck, that pathway itself is pretty much a waste of space, it just leads to a one-time secret item and a dead-end river.. Hardly worth the large walls and dramatic pillars leading to it.

Route 7: Breeder's Run
Skipping ahead slightly, this is the route you CB battlers visit quite often. A long pathway leading past the daycare, perfect for riding your bike uninterrupted and hatching eggs.. Well, almost perfect. Kalos saw fit to put a few obstacles in the way, so that even if you're a tiny, tiny bit off that narrow, golden breeding path, you'll end up getting stopped early... Specifically, the Connecting Cave sign, and the Camphrier Town fountain.. But this is supposed to be about emptiness, so I'll stop my griping.

A pretty standard breeding route, complete with a berry growing path at the beginning to the south, the battle chateau marking the midway point for post-game battles, and optional flower fields to enter for battles at your leisure. There's only one glaring problem with this route.. The RIVER! Mentioned in the map as one of the Kalos region's 'greatest rivers', it is, ONCE AGAIN, unsurf/fishable! That's right, the greatest river in all of Kalos, and you can't even throw a fishing line into it! So this results in, yet again, a huge area of the map that is an attractive visual, but otherwise a complete waste of space! I dunno, in every other Pokémon game you're able to jump into just about any body of water and ride along until some end-of-route rocks stop you.. But in Kalos, nope, you just get to look at it!

Route 6: Why couldn't Route 1 be like this!?
Backtracking a little slightly, this route splits off very early from Route 7 and leads to the Parfum Palace.. And is another great example of what Route 1 should have been! Small, straight pathway with a grove of trees that shows off the graphics of shadow with light streaming through them, with a few trainer battles, and the surprise option of Pokémon springing out from key bushes if you venture too close! It's a good, quick path, but also, on the way back, you can take an alternate route and deviate from the maintained path, into the wild very tall grass, where it's filled with interesting Pokémon, hidden items, and even better hidden trainers! And even this part of the route has a small pathway which will help you to avoid Pokémon, but surprise you with hidden trainer battles! All in all, an excellent route, what Route 1 SHOULD have been like!

Parfum Palace: Parfum means Scent in French... Yeah, I don't know why they named the palace that either
This is one of the BIGGEST offenders of wasted space in all of Kalos! Parfum palace, sure, it's a fantastic design, who isn't amazed and wowed the first time they visit? The sheer scale of the building, the golden Milotic statue upon first entering, the vibrant and decadent decor with suits of armor and Bisharp busts, the variety of camera angles showing off the balcony, bridge, and garden? It's all a stunning display of what the 3DS graphics can do!

But... Have you ever actually gone back there? Besides maybe getting a few items you missed, there's NOTHING to do there! Huge empty rooms, no post-game Pokémon battles, no court events, flavor-text npcs which frankly, quite a few are just bad puns from tourists, and MORE unsurfable water within the garden! At least this water is fishable.. Literally, the only wild Pokémon you'll find in the garden, which according to the butler by its entrance, 'Pokémon find themselves wanting to run around it' are a handful of Water types.. I guess he could have been referring to the local frolicking Gyarados, Crawdaunt and Seaking...

It would have made so much more sense to placed Route 7's Battle Chateau inside the Parfum Palace! It's even mentioned in flavor text that there was a '...room that served as a waiting room for Pokémon before they were brought out for battle.' It would have given this magnificent building a post-game purpose, and thus a reason to return and appreciate its beautiful artwork and graphics even more! It also would have served as a spring board to show off additional graphics further.. Decadent Gym Leader, E4, and Champion battles in the Garden? A stunning outdoor event, which the lord of the castle could preside over on his magnificent balcony! As opposed to the closed, dark, indoor battles the Chateau has us partake in currently...

Connecting Cave: OhgodtheZubatwhy!?
Standard cave, once you get strength it leads you to two different towns depending on the exit. Nothing else to say

Route 8: Muraille means 'Wall' in French
Another standard route, this time it's split into two; the rocky cliff side and the rocky coast, the two areas separated by Ambrette town. The cliff side really gives you a sense that you're high up by giving you a few areas where you can see down below to the coast, incorporating the graphics into the environment, without making them complete wasted space. The rock hopping section towards the end is a little unnecessary, but I suppose it adds to the charm of the route, although I personally think it would've been improved if the stones were replaced with pillars and looking down showed a sheer drop, rather than just mud. In my opinion, it would have incorporated the graphics much better.

The coast is a pretty standard beach route, complete with repeating cloud shadows moving across the sand, and with a view of areas where the camera pans out to reveal how high up the cliff side goes, where you were previously looking down. The water here is, thank goodness, surf/fishable, and this time they stopped you from going off route by deeper, bluer water.. For me, it's a bit of a meh for me, because in Hoenn that indicated a diving spot, but I suppose it's just as effective as rocks as a wall. You can travel along the coast or through the water to reach the next area.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 03:54 by Utack and Swampy »


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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2014, 03:44 »
Ambrette Town: Fish, Fossils, and little else
Not a lot going on in this town, but not a lot of wasted space either. The fossil lab has charm and serves to revive fossils, something you'll want to do occasionally for completing the pokedex, and the Aquarium has some nice visuals, and serves as an exit to the next route, giving it purpose and a reason to travel through it to observe the graphics. Another Hotel I'll never go into, but for what the town's for, it works to have reason to view its visuals, even post-game.

Route 9: Rhyhorn SUCKS!
This route's gimmick is you have to ride a Rhyhorn over the rough terrain in order to get to the area beyond it! Recall earlier when we were all excited to be a Rhyhorn racer, only to have our hopes dashed because the racing route was nothing more than a waste of space visual? Yeah, there's a reason for that. Rhyhorn is painfully slow! He moves at your walking pace, and has to come to a complete stop whenever you want to turn. Coupled with the fact that he has to smash rocks in your path, it's a rather tedious, slow ride that makes you wonder why Kalos is so enamored with your mother for being a Rhyhorn racer. I could literally outrun a Rhyhorn by just holding B, and with a few quick turns, easily lap it.

The terrain here also is rather dull compared to the rest of Kalos. Rocky ground is just marked by flat ground with a bit of gray rock texture.. Honestly, I would've confused it for normal ground for the route. Kind of disappointing, considering this is the sandstorm route.. Maybe I'm just spoiled from Hoenn's desert, I dunno.

Glittering Cave: And now for something completely different!
This cave is quite stunning, with a tilted camera so you're seeing it from behind the trainer (second person pov?) and the pathway isn't completely illuminated, so you don't know what's up ahead. Coupled with the fact that wild Pokémon encounters are ran into by walking into a patch of shadow, you'll find yourself quite surprised when they popped out, and quickly enjoying your romp through this cave. The only difficulty was sometimes when you go down a branching, always dead-end path, you end up forgetting which way is deeper into the cave, and which way is back outside when you return to the main path, often getting you turned around.

This part of the cave eventually leads you to a back area where you return to the overhead view. This area contains rocksmashable rocks that occasionally have fossils inside, making this area one you'll have to return to at least once if you want to collect all the fossils and revive the extinct mons.. Unless you're like me and cheat on the GTS. This area is still another example of good incorporation of the visuals, you have to go through the fantastic visual area in order to get to something you want, the fossils. If only the prior route to get there was just as stunning (and quicker), it'd be a much more enjoyable trip. Ah well, at least I can fly back post-game!

Cyllage City: Another race we'll never run
An alright town, it's most wasted space is the zigzagging path that leads up the cliff side to the gym and the second entrance to connecting cave. They mention races, and in following the track, it clearly connects in a loop, but you'll never see any in-game racing, making it more of a waste of potential than space.

Also, this town is where you get your second gym badge... This was by far the longest amount of time I've ever spent trying to get to JUST the second gym! I'm not saying it dragged, but at least I kind of felt like 'Oh yeah, Pokémon league challenge, I should be doing that huh?' by the time I got there.

Oh, and right before you exit, you cross a bridge over, you guessed it, MORE unsurf/fishable water! And this river leads out to the open sea areas of the western beach of Cyllage city, which is connected to Route 8! But the river is conveniently blocked off by rocks, making so you can't surf up it from Cyllage beach! Nghhh, it makes me grind my teeth!

Route 10: Menhirs are large, upstanding stones in French!
Unsurf/fishable water at the beginning of the route, lots of upstanding rocks. Moving on

Geosenge Town: Giant hole in the ground
It's so disappointing, because Genosenge town had some really cool visuals, even before the ultimate weapon came out. But post-game, it is literally a giant hole in the ground, and nothing else. A Pokémon center, a hotel and two buildings, and a giant hole. And a less small, but no less infuriating waste of space, an empty square area surrounded by sit-able rocks next to the center. It's as if it's saying 'We could have put something here, but just left it a giant empty patch of dirt #welovegiantemptyholes. Coupled with the fact that there's literally no reason you'll visit this town post-game, Geosenge is up in the top with giant empty areas.. and this one isn't even beautiful anymore!

Route 11: Miroir means Mirror in French.. But that one was kind obvious, huh?

Standard route, given some personality by the crystal outcroppings dotting the path towards Reflection Cave. Doubt you'll ever return to it post-game, but it doesn't waste much space.

Reflection Cave: I see you!
A cave with quite a bit of personality, the graphics mix with the purpose, and you use the reflective walls to help you find secret paths.. Although the paths themselves needed to be outlined a bit better in the reflection, I found them just looking like ground half the time. Works well, but unless you're interested in exploring the lower levels for items you missed, you really won't be coming back to this cave post-game.

Shalour City: Oh yeah, forgot about this one...
It's a town with some buildings and a gym. Has a purpose at the time, but you have no reason to visit it post-game. The route leading to the Tower of Mastery has some surf/fishable water, which was honestly surprising, I would have thought for so small an area, they would have just prevented me from splashing in it like they did with Couriway town, which we'll get to in a bit.

Tower of Mastery: A long climb for no gain
THERE'S NOTHING HERE. It has some nice graphics as you enter the bottom room and climb the stairs, letting you cool views of the Mega Lucario statue, and the visuals on the tower's balcony is nice... But there's nothing up there! The gym leader gives you some flavor text, and that's it! No battle, no Pokémon, no reason to return post-game, resulting in wasted space. And there's not even an elevator, so you have to climb all the way up.. At least you can fly off the top, saving you a trip back down.

Route 12: Fourrage means Animal Feed and Fodder in French
Standard route with surf/fishable water, which you have to cross with surf. Honestly, I get the feeling the only reason you have to surf across this path, instead of there being a bridge and making the water untouchable, is because this was the time you got surf in-game and they wanted to make sure you used it. This route has the Bass de Mer ranch (Skiddo sound by the sea) which has large open empty spaces, but are not quite wasted because you can enjoy riding the springy Skiddo in them. It could have been improved with some kind of Skiddo race or obstacle course minigame, but at least it works as far as open spaces go.

It also has nonsurf/fishable water that push into it from Azure Bay, so you can't win them all I guess.

Azure Bay: Surf's up!
Azure bay is mostly a water route, where you surf along the water that you previously couldn't access from Route 12, which is still incredibly dumb. Water is water, why can I swim in it if I enter from the beach, but not if I enter from the ranch?

In a twist of irony, this route has land you cannot walk on, large green grassy rock plateaus. Sky Trainers can get up there, but you can't, go fig? It also has sandy patches with grass for wild Pokémon, but again the large grass plateaus are just wasted space.

Sea Spirit's Den: Part-Time Giant Bird Roost
At the very end of Azure bay is the Sea Spirit's Den, where either Articuno, Zapods, or Moltres will be waiting for you after you randomly encounter them enough times. Otherwise, it's a big empty cave with no wild Pokémon.. Yippee...

Coumarine City: Boats, or not so boats?
Split in half by a monorail system, the bottom half consists of pretty much boat sprites and a hotel... And since whenever you always land on the upper half of it when you fly, unless you want that one random berry that appears on the cart once a day, you'll never visit the bottom, making all its graphics wasted.

One screenshot of a monorail later, the upper half is a pretty standard town. One of your rivals chills on a cliff overlooking the bottom half of the town, so if you're interested in showing him Pokémon with dance attacks for heart scales, you'll get to see the nice graphics, making it a decent integration of graphic and function. No visual from sitting on the bench though, which was disappointing. Otherwise, standard gym town.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 03:57 by Utack and Swampy »


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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2014, 03:45 »
Route 13: Bad times in the badlands
The route itself is pretty desolate and filled with large, open spaces, but it's badlands and they were clearly going for that with the digging dust cloud encounter for the Pokémon, giving you a potential chance to outrun them as they tried to encounter you, so in that manner the desolation works.

The real problem is the multiple, inaccessible power plants located across it. They each have a purpose and a unique method of creating power, and they even each have their own separate entrance door! But the doors are locked tight and you can't go inside them, making them, yet again completely wasted visuals. Perhaps they're meant to be unlocked with mystery gift items, but at the moment, they're nothing more than dummy doors.

Also, points taken off for the south entrance to the route having dark-colored rocks right in front of the doorway. You can step on them, but only there, everywhere else the dark brown rocks are border walls. Boo on you.

Route 14: Home sweet Swamp
The beginning area is a small park, that half the time seems to have its grass drowning in rain whenever I show up. It's sad that post-game you really won't have any reason to return to this park, and that it's quite desolate, no kids playing on it.. I guess it was to get that whole creepy vibe for the swamp ahead, maybe? Either way, intended or not, it feels like another desolate area, and in my opinion, more wasted potential.

The Swamp area is filled with character, especially due to the overarching branches of the dead trees, making it seem like something wicked is reaching out to grab you. Obstacles are fallen trees and stumps as well as rocks, adding to the swamp-like feel, and they do a good job of mixing the marshy water with the more solid dirt ground, just like you find in a typical swamp.

The Ghost house was only a plot point during the game, and while it does maintain that creepy atmosphere with the lights turned off, nothing happens when you return to it other than a piece of flavor text, making it another wasted potential.

Laverre City: Don't poison the well!
Large area of unsurfable water smack dab in the middle of town, complete with a 'Don't surf here' sign, although you can surprisingly fish in it. I guess they didn't want your filthy body getting dirty the only clean water in this swampy area... Otherwise, standard town, they have a clothing store and a rather nice looking gym and another cafe I won't be interested in visiting. Overall, you won't be visiting this town postgame much, except to snag any clothes you missed in-game, or to visit that one move tutor no one recalls because there's not a lot of in-game double battles. I suppose you could go get an effort ribbon and a massage from the Pokémon fan club, but with super training always telling me if I've maxed my Pokémon’s evs, there's very little point.

Poke ball Factory: Nowaitthatsavolto-BOOM!
Another large offender of pure wasted space, this thing has nothing to offer you post-game. Nice visuals and interesting building design both inside and out, but you can't encounter any wild Pokémon like you could the power plants in previous games, and the npcs are just flavor text. You'll only end up coming back if you're looking for dropped items you missed, making it a large waste of space.

Route 15: Brun means Brown in French... But honestly, it looks more orange
This route has quite a bit of character with its fallen leaves, autumn feel and the old worn down Lost Hotel, which have quite a bit of secret areas that will have you coming back a few times, allowing you to enjoy the graphics. I don't have any complaints against it, other than the fact that the river has some rocks in it that needlessly prevent you from surfing down it into Route 16.

Route 16: Why can't I surf!?
Standard tall grass maze and trainer route, except at the south entrance, where there's a dock area fishing shack, complete with fisherman and waterfalls leading into the basin. Can you fish? Yes! Can you surf? NO! At least, not without taking a lesser traveled path north, cutting down a tree, and then entering the river, only to have the south path back the way you came blocked by rocks, and the north leading you back through water you couldn't access from Route 15... Why can't I surf in the fishing spot!? I'd be entering off a dock, which we've done before in other games! It's even connected by the waterfall, which leads up to the exact same path I entered on but couldn't go down due to the rocks, I can follow it along the land! What's with the surf hate Kalos!?

Dendemille Town: Delete and Relearn
You'll come to this town most often for those two people, the move deleter and relearner. Sadly, their house is not put in the back area so you get to enjoy the windmill each time you come, but easily towards the front so you can get in and get out without having to bother looking at any of the graphics.

In addition to unsurf/fishable water running through the town, there's also a big empty field in the southeast corner.. C'mon Kalos, at least give me a Machop tamping the ground flat, I know nothing yummy is gonna grow in this cold place!

Frost Cavern
Unless you're going for ice types you missed, evolving a Glaceon, or hoard training against Vanillite, you won't see Frost Cavern very much. The trip out is nice, they did very well on the graphics concerning the trees and the long stretch at the end entering the cavern! You can even surf in their waters down a waterfall for a change, which leads to the icy rock to evolve Eevee into Glaceon with! The actual cavern itself is mostly blank white, with some blue ice patches. You have to walk/run inside it, so it's a bit of a slower go as well.

Route 17: And it's Mamoswine Army! ...Well, more like just one
Same as Route 9 with the Rhyhorn, you ride a slow moving, halting to turn, Mamoswine through the snow.. Except for the majority of the time Mamoswine is completely covered, so you don't even get to enjoy watching him plow. Another stark white area, always hailing, so really, not much to look at graphically here, it's a snow route. Moving on.

Anistar City: Oh my gosh a giant rock!
Plenty of nonsurf/fishable water in this town, this town is split into two halves, the town-town, and the sundial town. I know the sundial is supposed to have some plot point to mega evolution and finding all the hidden stones during a certain time of day, and it starts to spin during that time... But for the rest of the time, it's another beautiful waste of space. It doesn't even tell me the time, the one thing people USED sun dials for, and it's not like I had to look at it react before going to hunt for Mega stones, I just had to go searching for the stones when the right time hit. As a result, I actually didn't know it did anything until I just happened to look at it at the proper hour of the day. So yeah, giant, beautiful, waste of space.

Town has a clothes shop, cafe I won't visit, and Hidden power checker. He'll have you revisiting, but he's so close to the center you won't take in much of the graphics.

Route 18: Vallée Étroite is Narrow Valley, and an actual place in France
More unsurf/fishable water, a whole river running down the length of it! The Inverse Battle house may keep you coming back to this route, letting you enjoy the old mining carts and graphics of Terminus cave.

Terminus cave: It goes deep, man
It's a cave. It's got trainers and mining carts, making it feel like it was a man-made mine, and as you get deeper it becomes more natural, eventually leading to the legendary Zygarde. It's a bit of exploring and a fun romp as far as caves go, but after you catch him, there won't be much reason to return.

Couriway Town: All rails lead to nowhere
Another prime example of empty, wasted space is Couriway town. The map description says 'The railway brings people from great distances to see the huge, majestic falls. But the railway itself doesn't run, it's simply a landmark in the town, which arches over another unsurf/fishable river that spanned along Route 18. This also means you can't enjoy the Waterfall HM up their majestic falls either, the most you can do is sit on a bench and observe them which quickly gets old after a few moments, or snap a picture. Beautiful, but ultimately empty, and certainly not something strong enough to make you want to return to the town. There is one area hidden in the south where you can surf up a waterfall, but it's nowhere as grand as the main falls, and only leads to a small platform where there's a dropped item.

The town has a few buildings, another hotel, nothing overly remarkable.

Route 19: Grande Vallée Way is Big Valley in French
I enjoy how this route is split into the nice flowery patches above, and the run off from Couriway town and route 18 down below. However, except to search for secret items/Pokémon/trainer battles, there's no real reason to go down into the marsh, as it's ultimately a dead end, and you will have to travel back up to get to the next town. Otherwise, it's a standard route.

Snowbelle City: Frozen towns occur when mixing Snow White with Beauty and the Beast
Snow town. It's got a bit better graphics than our other snow areas, a bit more color to it due to the houses, but again very heavy on the white. There's a gym, and a move tutor here and there for a few legendary mons and the starters, but otherwise, not counting the clothing store, the houses just have flavor text.

Route 20: Don't get lost!
The Winding woods isn't that hard a maze, I find mostly it's just trying to avoid the tall grass Pokémon encounters. This is also the home to the mossy rock used to evolve Eevee into Leafeon, which may prompt some post-game return... Forest graphics are alright, makes it feel enclosed.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 03:58 by Utack and Swampy »


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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2014, 03:47 »
Pokémon Village: Leader Obamasnow was democratically elected!
Fairly large and covered in a lot of flowers, you'll mostly return to the village post-game to capture Mewtwo. Pretty simply route, but feels a little empty considering it’s supposed to be a Pokémon /village/. Its population consists of a few Furfrou, Fletching and Espurr.. Plus all the wild Pokémon, I guess, but they don't really count. Its visuals are not considered a waste of space, but not often sought out post-game either.

Route 21: Dernière means Last in French
Fitting name as we're reaching the end, this is a standard route, with only a small portion of water south of the bridge unreachable by the east exit. This route also holds the Draco Meteor tutor, so you'll be paying it a visit if you're a CB dragon trainer. Otherwise, not much else going on with this route, space is used well.

Victory Road: Almost to the League!
The visual entering, with all the badges on either side of you, is quite enjoyable, as is the atmosphere of the misty trail entering the cavern. This road combines both inside and outside sections with trainers, giving it the feel as if you're climbing a mountain, and this being one of the place where you'll encounter the region's strongest Pokémon means you'll get to enjoy coming back and training here in the mountain-esque atmosphere. The flaming torches marking doorways and the path occasionally are also a nice touch, and I'm very pleased they let me surf at least one of their precious waterfalls! All in all, a good use of graphics that are worked into the environment, which you will be interacting, or at least passing through, and thus gets to appreciate.

Pokémon League: I'm gonna be the very best!
A stunning building, especially when viewed at night with the starry background, and the rooms the E4 and Champion are in have wonderful graphics! This is the type of thing that puts areas like the Tower of Mastery and Sun Dial to shame.. You will often travel to the League post-game to train Pokémon, and each time you come you get to appreciate the graphics! As opposed to the other areas, where the graphics are beautiful, but out of the way and hidden in areas you have no reason to revisit, thus wasting them.

Kiloude City: Last stop, everyone off!
A nice town you will often be visiting, as it has the Battle Maison, the post-game cb battle scene much like the Battle Subway in Unova, and Battle Tower everywhere else. The visuals are nice and pleasant, a good thing for a town you'll be visiting often, and the inside of the Battle Maison, a building you will be visiting often, also has quite the interesting graphics. The only beef I have with this place is the Friend Safari.. For a post-game safari zone, its graphics are rather bland and uncreative, nothing more than a pen with tall grass in it, hardly the safari zone experience.
Edit: Oh yeah, a HUGE area of fenced off, unsurf/fishable water. How about that?
---

Final thoughts: What, you're still here!?

Overall, Kalos had some areas that worked well by incorporating their stunning graphics into the purpose of the area, by giving the player a real purpose to return to that area post-game, and thus getting to enjoy the visuals. The Pokémon League and Kiloude are prime examples, where you're returning to the town often to train or battle, and get to enjoy scenes that show off stunning graphics!

However, Kalos had MANY areas which did not incorporate the graphics well, and ultimately because there was no purpose to return, other than to marvel at the graphics, resulted in wasted space. Parfum Palace and The Tower of Mastery are both prime examples, and while the visuals are quite impressive, the buildings themselves are predominantly empty save for npc flavor text, which the player already received the first time through. And thus, with no reason to return to the area, the graphics go wasted.

Additionally, there were areas that were just made with nothing in them. Route 1, Shabboneau Castle, Lumiose dead-end alleyways, post-game Geosenge, they were all nothing but empty areas, which could have been filled with something enticing post-game!

Finally, I was severely annoyed by the sheer amount of water I was not allowed to surf in. It really brought me out of the experience, and almost resulted in me going 'Well, will the game let me surf in this body of water?' every time I encountered a new one. There are even points in the game where it specifically pointed out to me I wasn't allowed to surf, by having a 'No surfing' sign, particularly in places like Laverre city.

Why? Why can't I surf there? In previous Pokémon games, except for maybe one or two exceptions, wherever there was water, you could surf. It added to that open feel of the Pokémon world, that using Pokémon, you could go anywhere! But in Kalos, if there's a no surfing sign, then that water is off limits, and it ends up leaving a sense of restriction. Why can't I splash around in the small puddle in the middle of Laverre? Its water is no different than any other water, it's even at ground level, and not separated by that dumb ledge decline like you have on Route 7.

What was especially frustrating, is these river systems are not placed haphazardly, you can see on both the town map, and the in-game routes, and that they do interconnect in Kalos! Here's a small list of connecting water ways I notice while walking, but could not use to surf from one location to another:

  • Aquacorde connects to Route 2.
  • Camphrier town connects to Route 7.
  • Cyllage City connects to Route 8 Route 15 connects to Route 16.
  • Route 18 connects to Couriway town which connects to Route 19.

The Kalos map clearly shows rivers running along it outside of the routes, but many of them can't even be fished in, let alone surfed.. Leaving them as large, inaccessible spaces on the route. I understand that the route does have to end, and that's fine, place some rocks or deep blue water like you've done in previous Pokémon games. But when you forbid me to surf in the river at all.. Especially in Route 7, home to the Kalos region's greatest river, it feels like the game isn't complete, and the world is actually smaller than it really is.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 03:50 by Utack and Swampy »


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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2014, 05:32 »
This was a really interesting and insightful read, and I find myself agreeing with what you're saying, as I traveled along the map while reading each area. So many places had things they could have incorporated to not make them feel empty, but they just didn't.

My opinion on this is that X/Y was pretty clearly rushed. There was 1 year between B2/W2 (another game that felt rushed and is by far the most forgettable in the series for me), and a lot of time had to be spent on making 3D models for everything. I understand this, and it's why I forgive it for things like lack of a post-game, which they tried to make up for by making competitive breeding super easy to do, but it is very noticeable when it's all laid out like this.

But like you say, soon we're returning to Hoenn and now we have the 3D models done already, and Hoenn was already a well-made and interesting region, so ORAS pretty much has no way they can disappoint...

...until they put up the no surfing signs in the middle of the ocean.
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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2014, 12:16 »
Yeah, I agree that there is a large gap in the Kalos region. I played the post-game part of Pokémon Y and it felt boring.

Also, if you haven't noticed there were clouds in the Kalos map, and some fans had theorised that Kalos is somehow physically linked to Unova via some railway or other (a quick Google search of "kalos unova" or similar will come up with this). Also, Shauna said post-game that she will be visiting a faraway region next.......

Maybe in the third version there will be lot more of Kalos to explore; I mean, those clouds blocking the bottom and right parts of the map could indicate that the Kalos journey is far from over. Hopefully this will happen.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 12:21 by Joe_Pokemon2010- DE~NIS! DE~NIS! »

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Re: Kalos: Beautifully Empty
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2014, 13:24 »
You know, I hadn't even realised this until you spelled it out like this, but you're totally right. Geosenge was a personal gripe of mine for this.. it could have been such a beautiful, fleshed-out town, and it certainly has an implied history as the site where the old battle happened, but it's really just.. empty. For somewhere with such an important history, you never really get a feel for that. It's quite pretty in a peaceful way, but it's unnecessarily fiddly to navigate and the sparse few people there say almost nothing of note. You just get there, find your path is blocked, talk to an number of arbitrary people before finding the trigger to unblock the path, and then leave.

It is cool that they left the giant hole and knocked-over houses there postgame, from a location perspective, but as a full setting it feels lacking because nobody really reacts to it and there's no real gravitas to the situation.. people just leave it. You never have any reason to go back and, if you do, nobody seems that bothered about what happened. I really wish they'd done some sort of development with it as time progressed postgame, whether that was you being able to join in a rebuilding effort, or builders slowly appearing and progress being made over time, or even something like a bi-annual memorial event that took place at Geosenge. That would've made it a lot more poignant.

Totally agreeing on the restriction on Surfing as well, and all the wasted pretty graphics. I had been trying to pin down why I didn't like Kalos as much as I wanted to, and why it felt so small - I think you may have hit on that. Kalos is one of those regions that, when imagining it as a region itself outside of the context of the game I absolutely love; I just don't feel you get to experience it properly.




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