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It's another day at the guild!

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But, there seems to be something happening...

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Apparently, someone's hear to see us at the entrance to the guild. Something must be up, and I'm willing to bet Team Skull is up to it.

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As we go to see meet with our visitors, we find Marill and Azurill at the entrance to the guild! They've come to us for help finding their missing Water Float... Of course, that's the very item they'd gone to the beach to retreive, and we all know who happened to be listening in on that conversation...

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Well, that's a very distinctive laugh. Distinctive enough that Skuntank can't even resist writing it out on paper. While Pep is somehow completely oblivious, it's pretty clear who's involved in this mess and it looks like we'll need to go to a new dungeon, Amp Plains, in order to fix this.

Apparently, Marill has tried to recover the item himself but keeps getting knocked out trying to go through Amp Plains due to the prominence of electric pokemon, and that's why he's come to us for help since we rescued Azurill last time they found themselves in danger. Naturally, we agree to help them out!

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With our promise made, we now have access to our next dungeon!

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Before we go, I'd like to note that we got another Unexplored Dungeon mission, but I won't be looking into this one just yet since we're a bit caught up in the narrative at the moment, but next time we need to do bulletin board requests, you can bet we'll be doing this one.

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Team Outreach

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While we're talking about in-between stuff, why don't we go over what loot Team Outreach got during their previous expedition?

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The Cute Box held Cleffa Dew which boosts the Special Attack of the Cleffa line.

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And the three Deluxe Boxes opened up to a Yellow Gummi as well as two Heal Seeds. Not the most exciting haul, but it's certainly something!

==============

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After making our usual preparations, it's time to set out for Amp Plains!

===============

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We arrive at the entrance to the new dungeon and Pep seems quite peeved about the whole ordeal, and for good reason!

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Amp Plains

The music in this dungeon gives me major memories of Rescue Team's ost at parts, I'm pretty sure there was a track in that game that sounded just like the opening to this one. But beyond that, parts of the song also really remind me of Legend of Zelda Oracle of Seasons and Ages. It's certainly a bizarre song.

Anyway, Amp Plains is the first required dungeon that features monster houses. You can also find traps here, which is something that didn't appear in Rescue Team until the postgame! So we're certainly in for a treat going forward with this game... This is certainly where I think I'd say the game is starting to ramp up toward its more serious difficulty, so be prepared for a larger variety of challenges in future dungeons.

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Across all floors between both versions, you can find Poke, Pecha Scarves, Power, Special, and Stamina Bands, Iron Thorns, Apples, Cheri, Oran, and Pecha Berries, Blast, Heal, Pure, Reviver, and Sleep Seeds, Max Elixirs, TMs, and Wonder Orbs.

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The Pure Seed is an extremely valuable new item that's subtly slipped in here. If you find any of these, you're definitely going to want to save them. These seeds will warp you to the room with stairs, meaning they can essentially allow you to skip a floor entirely.

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Exclusive to Explorers of Darkness, you can find Twist Bands, Insomniscopes, Black, Clear, Gold, Gray, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal, and Yellow Gummis, Violent, and X-eye Seeds, and version exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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The Time exclusives include Blue, Brown, Grass, Green, Orange, Silver, Sky, and White Gummis, Stun, and Warp Seeds, and version exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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And then, of course, we have the fun of traps. Once again, the Trip Trap is the only trap consistent across both versions.

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Other than Trip Traps, Explorers of Darkness only has to be concerned with Slumber Traps.

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Meanwhile, Summon and Warp Traps are both found in Explorers of Time.

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Amp Plans [1F - 3F]

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For the first three floors, you'll find Plusle, Minun, Mareep, Phanpy, and Elekid.

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And it's on the first floor here that I actually got a new recruit!

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New Recruit: Team Persevere

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March (Mareep M); Lv. 17

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Item: None

Ability: Static | Moves: Tackle, Growl, ThunderShock, Thunder Wave

===============

Amp Plains [4F]

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The fourth floor introduces Shinx to the mix!

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Amp Plains [5F]

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On the fifth floor, Girafarig comes along as well.

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Amp Plains [6F - 7F]

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Plusle and Minun drop off on the 6th floor. There is something special about the 7th floor, but it's not going to become apparent until later on in the game.

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Amp Plains [8F]

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On the 8th floor, Mareep is replaced by its evolution, Flaaffy, which only has a 0.5% recruitment rate.

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Amp Plains [9F]

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On the 9th floor, Phanpy and Elekid are replaced with Yannmega! Yanmega has a negative recruitment rate, though, so don't expect to get one anytime soon.

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Amp Plains [10F]

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And finally, Electabuzz joins on the 10th floor. Its recruitment rate is notably low like Flaaffy.

=============

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The 11th floor of the dungeon is a rest area where you can heal up and save the game.

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Once you're prepared to continue toward the final stretch of the dungeon, head off to the north.

============

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Back in Treasure Town, it seems Marill and Azurill are chatting with Kecleon about what's going on. It seems we're starting to develop quite a positive reputation among the town!

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As the group are chatting, Dusknoir arrives and inquires about the conversation.

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Kecleon fills Dusknoir in on the updated story...

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After some back and forth about the villains responsible for this needlessly cruel prank, Dusknoir inquires about where exactly we had to go to retrieve this Water Float, which Marill answers, Amp Plains...

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...But this seems to get an unexpected rise out of Dusknoir. Apparently, we're in a lot more danger than we thought!

==============

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Far Amp Plains

The music changes in the second part of the dungeon and things get a bit hectic, strangely, this one gives me vibes of Pokemon Snap at times? Ironically, there happens to be a Kecleon Shop right here. It's just a shame Kecleon can't instantly communicate with his brethren.

Anyway, this part of the dungeon is the same in terms of items and traps.

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Far Amp Plains [1F]

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Shinx, Girafarig, Yanmega, Flaaffy, Electabuzz, and Tauros are all available on the first floor. Tauros has a low recruitment rate as well.

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Far Amp Plains [2F]

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Shinx falls off on the 2nd floor in favor of Dodrio.

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Far Amp Plains [3F - 4F]

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On the third floor, Girafarig is replaced with Electrike.

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On the 3rd floor, I obtained a Heavy Box and a new recruit!

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New Recruit: Team Persevere

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Charge (Electrike M); Lv. 20

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Item: None

Ability: Static, LightningRod | Moves: Leer, Howl, Quick Attack, Spark

===============

Far Amp Plains [5F]

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And on the fifth floor, you lose Yanmega in exchange for Luxio, who has a low recruitment rate.

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Far Amp Plains [6F - 9F]

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At floor 6, Flaaffy is replaced with its evolution, Ampharos. Ampharos has a negative recruitment rate.

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On the 8th floor, a pokemon happened to drop a Deluxe Box!

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Amp Clearing

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As we reach the depths of the Amp Plains, thunder strikes the ground forming a rather scary atmosphere.

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But as we press forward, we finally find the very Water Float we're after! It seems it's been left abandoned here!

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But as we grow to approach further, lightning strikes and the sky grows dark...

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A voice calls out to us, claiming that this territory belongs to them. Pep tries to hide, but they can still see us even in the darkness.

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When flushed out of hiding, Pep demands to know the source of the voice which identifies itself as Luxray, leader of the Luxio tribe!

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And when the darkness is cleared, we find that we're completely surrounded by Luxray and many Luxio!

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Team Persevere

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Aura (Chikorita M); Lv. 26

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Item: Sky Blue Bow WaterblueRibbon.png

Ability: Overgrow | Moves: Tackle, Razor Leaf, Reflect, Synthesis

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Pep (Piplup M); Lv. 26

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Torrent | Moves: Fury Attack, BubbleBeam, Growl, Peck

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Slick (Grimer F); Lv. 25

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Stench, Sticky Hold | Moves: Minimize, Disable, Sludge, Mud Bomb

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Cover (Tangela M); Lv. 23

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Chlorophyll, Leaf Guard | Moves: Sleep Powder + Poison Powder, Vine Whip, Growth

==============

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Vs. The Luxio Tribe

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This is a rather unique boss fight within the world of Mystery Dungeon. Essentially, it's a boss fight designed around the similar situation you might find yourself in within a Monster House. You're completely surrounded on all sides by Luxio while Luxray himself closes in from ahead. The Luxio are actually kinda pushovers on their own, so try to take them out quickly. The main threat here is, of course, Luxio, but you can thankfully use some seeds to keep him out of the picture until the mooks are cleared out. You're going to need to put a lot of faith in your partners and manage their tactics and move restrictions appropriately. Watch their health and use Oran Berries to heal anyone in danger! If you're in a safe position, you can also swap places with a partner to prevent them from taking as much damage at the cost of forcing them to waste their turn moving. Try to pick off Luxio that are adjacent to the partner surrounded by the most of them to keep the damage spread fairly even, unless that pokemon happens to also be extremely bulky. Slick's stench could potentially come in useful here by discouraging Luxio that attack him.

Just be wary that, as a boss fight, wonder orbs like Spurn Orbs or Totter Orbs which are normally solid answers to Monster Houses aren't going to be usable here.

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Starting right off the bat, you're positioned in such a way at the start where only one target is in range unless you have a room-wide attack like Vacuum Cut that can target all of the Luxio in the room. You can either throw a Seed or Spike at this Luxio, or use a ranged attack like Razor Leaf in my case. The Luxio went down pretty quick, so only 7 remain! Your partners that don't have enemies in their immediate range will close in on your position unless you change their tactics away from "Let's go together". This is generally pretty wise, but keep this behavior in mind when you feel it might compromise their position. Remember you can set their tactics to "Go after foes", "Get away from here" or "Wait there" if necessary to alter their behavior.

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As the enemies start to close in, more of them will be in range of your attacks. As soon as Luxray was in range, I immediately threw a Sleep Seed at him to stop him in his place and render him helpless so I could focus on the smaller guys.

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Cover's focus here was to keep his side locked down while I came along to give him some assistance. He doesn't have a whole lot of HP, so he can go down very quickly

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Since Cover's surrounding Luxio were all asleep at the moment, I focused my attention on the Luxio southeast of me so that I could both reduce the damage input for Slick as well as free up a potential escape route for Cover if necessary, this lead to KOing the third Luxio! Meanwhile, Pep decided to focus his efforts on taking out Luxray which ultimately proved successful! With his range, he'd also be able to pick off the Luxio circling around from behind the rock!

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Cover's Vine Whip took out the third of the 8 Luxio.

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I tried to use an Oran Berry to heal off Cover, hoping he'd be capable of picking off the Luxio that was still asleep while I try and distract the others.

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Unfortunately, due to some bad luck with Luxio waking up early, Cover found himself getting KO'd and had to take a Reviver Seed. But each of us took out one of the remaining four Luxio, leaving only one more. And with a simple Tackle, that one was defeated quickly.

I'll be honest, this was a boss fight that I was a lot more nervous about than I should've been. I thought these guys would be a lot more dangerous than they ended up being. I also was under the impression that all of them having Intimidate would make them a lot more threatening. In hindsight,t he only one that was even affected by Intimidate appears to be Slick. The Luxio all went down to one solid hit and Luxray could be easily disabled with items just found lying around in the dungeon.

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Team Outreach

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Liz (Charmander F); Lv. 25

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Item: Red Bow RedRibbon.png

Ability: Blaze | Moves: Fire Fang, SmokeScreen + Scary Face, Ember

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Sprout (Turtwig M); Lv. 25

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Overgrow | Moves: Bite, Withdraw, Razor Leaf, Mega Drain

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Strength (Machop F); Lv. 23

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Guts, No Guard | Moves: Foresight + Leer, Focus Energy + Karate Chop

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Shelly (Shellos M); Lv. 21

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Storm Drain, Sticky Hold | Moves: Mud-Slap + Harden, Water Pulse, Mud Bomb

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Team Outreach's experience with the Luxio tribe was even more of a joke. With their more offensive presence, we could easily wipe out the Luxio without any problems. An X-Eye Seed was all that was needed to keep Luxray out of the picture while we picked off his underlings and the rest just fell into place as we each of them fell one after another before we were able to surround Luxray and finish the fight.

==============

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Upon defeat, Luxray only grows even angrier at our determination to fight back and threatens to attack us even more ferociously!

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Pep tries to call reason with Luxray, but he won't have it and prepares a powerful attack!

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Suddenly, a voice interrupts the standoff!

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It's Dusknoir! He's come to our aid!

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Dusknoir does what he can to justify our presence here and absolve Luxray of his anger and to apologize for our trespassing on our behalf.

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Luxray seems surprised by his knowledge about the history of the Luxio clan and ultimately chooses to believe him when he claims we are here only to run an errand and allows us to claim the Water Float for our mission on the promise that we be on our way immediately after.

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Pep is certainly relieved that Dusknoir came in to resolve tensions at just the right time.

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Apparently the Luxio Tribe are a nomadic tribe that stays on the move and the Amp Plans are where they choose to dwell due to the constant thunderstorms around this time of year. However, at one point, they were attacked by a powerful enemy here and suffered great injuries, so they have become increasingly violent to anyone who trespasses into this area they claim to be their territory so as not to give anyone the chance to catch them by surprise again.

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We quickly run up to the Water Float, which Dusknoir confirms the identity of.

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Ever slow on the uptake, Pep asks how the Water Float would've ended up in a place like this, to which Dusknoir explains the obvious, that it was placed here intentionally to put us in danger.

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A bit more interesting, however, is that Dusknoir seems to be aware of the presence of some others watching us from afar.

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And who would it be besides Team Skull?

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Team Skull shamelessly confesses to their dirty plan to defeat us, and admits that Dusknoir's intervention made things go far less smoothly for them than they would've liked.

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The spineless Skuntank knows he's no match for Dusknoir, so he decides to back down once again to avoid another round of humiliation just like with Wigglytuff.

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Dusknoir insists that it would be a waste of time to give chase to Team Skull and instead draws our eattnetion back to delivering the Water Float to the brothers back in Treasure Town. They're going to be delighted to finally have their precious Water Float back!

===============

And that's where we're going to be putting things off for today. Next time we'll return the Water Float and perhaps get to know Dusknoir a little better in the process?

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As expected, Azurill and Marill are absolutely delighted to finally have their Water Float back! This item has put them through a lot of trouble after having lost it, and it simply must mean a lot!

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Kecleon seems to have nothing but high praise for the both of us after being witness to our heroics multiple times!

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As Kecleon brings up our previous rescue of Azurill, Pep explains how we were able to locate Azurill so quickly, mentioning the vision I'd had before...

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This explanation seems to peak Dusknoir's interest, which makes Pep realize that he very well could know something about our ability!

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He proceeds to explain everything we know about these dizzy spells and visions.

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Dusknoir seems to immediately identify the phenomenon! It even has a name! "The Dimensional Scream"! That name sounds a bit foreboding, but I'm sure everything's fine...

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Realizing just how extensive Dusknoir's wealth of knowledge seems to be, we just might be able to get a new lead out of him by asking some questions...

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We explain where I came from as we walk to the beach where we were found. Pep explains that all we could remember was our name and that we were previously a human...

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Even Dusknoir can't seem to wrap his mind around a human randomly transforming into a pokemon, so I suppose he has no knowledge of the events of Rescue Team... I suppose it's not impossible to assume Rescue Team simply exists in a different universe or this game takes place before Rescue Team. It seems like the protagonist from the first game being a human would've been a pretty prominent headline around the world, especially for someone who values infromation as much as Dusknoir. It seems a bit odd they wouldn't take the opportunity to slip a reference here, but I'm sure there's some reason he wouldn't have that knowledge.

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Dusknoir ponders the idea of a human with the Dimensional Scream ability before asking our name...

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When we tell him our name, Dusknoir claims it doesn't mean anything to him, yet he seems to react strangely to Pep's question... My first time seeing this cutscene, I was suspecting that maybe he knew me as a human somehow and was waiting to reveal that for some reason, but looking back, I'm starting to wonder if, perhaps, he's glad he doesn't recognize our name. I'm wondering if our little Time Gear Thief happens to also be a human with the dimensional scream ability? It does seem as though the ability would be necessary to track down the Time Gears as efficiently as this thief seems to be... Perhaps Dusknoir might've been suspicious of us for a little bit and been relieved that we're not the one he's after? Again, I'm just spitballing with speculation here. By this point, I am in 100% blind territory, so absolutely everything from her on is completely new to me, I've managed to avoid spoilers pretty thoroughly for this game, so I'm genuinely curious where this story will go from here!

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Dusknoir apologizes for being unable to help us about our past, but goes on to explain the Dimensional Scream in a bit more detail. He explains that it is unknown how to learn or inherit the ability, but that it causes sounds and images to slice through the boundaries of time and reach pokemon with the ability through objects they touch. These images and sounds are then manifested as visions of the past or future during our dizzy spells.

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Dusknoir offers his cooperation in helping us to uncover the mystery of our transformation into a pokemon, and perhaps he'll help us master the dimensional scream as well? If my theory about the Time Gear thief being a human with the Dimensional Scream holds true, then perhaps Dusknoir's interest in helping us investigate this mystery is related to his search for the thief. Finding out how we became a pokemon could help as a lead to understanding how the thief might've transformed as well.

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As we speak, a couple of Pelipper suddenly fly by overhead...

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There are a lot of Pelipper flying around, perhaps there's some serious news spreading right now...

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It seems there's an emergency meeting at the guild. It must be related to the Pelipper...

=================

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Now that the name Grovyle is dropped, I suppose I can stop playing coy about the identity of the thief. Not that the game has been particularly subtle. Just like Wigglytuff in the vision at Waterfall Cave, his silhouette isn't exactly hard to identify. Not to mention there's actually a flash of lightning in the first scene that shows him, revealing his full color. I just happened to miss it when taking screenshots. But, I've been dancing around saying his name because the game hasn't outright dropped it yet.

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There seems to be a commotion at the Outlaw Notice Board.

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It seems that yet another Time Gear has been stolen...

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Chatot seems to have a difficult time bringing up where the gear was stolen from this time...

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Indeed, the Time Gear was stolen from Fogbound Lake.

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The gear being stolen from the lake is absolutely mysterious. How could the thief have known if we're the only ones ever to see it without having our memories wiped? Pep brings up the possibility that maybe somebody leaked it, but the guild members immediately take offense to the suggestion. It doesn't seem like anybody would've leaked the info... Even still, the timing is incredibly suspicious. This happens just after our expedition to the lake?

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Dusknoir is, of course, confused by the sudden revelation that there was a Time Gear at Fogbound Lake since he was told our expedition was a failure.

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Wigglytuff apologizes to Dusknoir and explains the promise the guild made with Uxie.

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Apparently this thief arrived alone at Fogbound Lake, took out Uxie, and stole the Time Gear. Thankfully, Uxie is alright and now under the protection of Magnezone and his squad, but with Uxie's safety means we now have a witness to the identity of the thief who's been stealing these Time Gears...

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The thief's name is Grovyle. No doubt a highly dangerous foe... This wanted poster must be what all those Pelipper were delivering around the world. This must be the most wanted criminal in the world right now.

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All this negativity seems to be bothering the guildmaster...

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His rage seems to be building again, and the room starts to rumble...

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It seems that Wigglytuff has been spurred into action! The guildmaster's wrath is full-set on Grovyle, so at this point you almost hav eto feel sorry for him!

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And so, Chatot makes the official announcement that, going forward, the guild will be putting its full focus on capturing Grovyle.

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The whole guild seems to be on board!

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And so, Dusknoir announces to Wigglytuff that he will work with the guild to pursue Grovyle. Once again, I have my suspicions that seeking Grovyle was his intention from the very start, but I suppose that hasn't been outright stated yet.

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So, Chatot and Wigglytuff take the time to devise a strategy for catching Grovyle off guard. In the meantime, he urges us all to prepare for exploration!

==============

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Before long, we find ourselves back in Treasure Town to make preparations as needed!

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First thing's first, I've got some more treasure boxes to open!

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The Deluxe Box opened up to a Marill Dew, which boosts the defense of the Azurill line.

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And the Heavy Box opened to a Magby Claw which boosts the attack of the Magby line.

===============

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Team Outreach

----------------

Team Outreach also had some treasure boxes to open, though I failed to take note of the first one, so take it with a grain of salt, but I believe it was a heavy box.

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This opened into a TM for Flamethrower.

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The Light Box opened into Monfer Hair.

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And the Shiny Box opened into an Insomniscope.

==============

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Once you've finished making preparations in Treasure Town, you'll need to make your way back to the Guild in order to proceed. Don't worry, you'll get a chance to access Chimecho Assembly soon before doing any dungeon exploration.

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Chatot begins our meeting by explaining that, since Grovyle has been after the Time Gears, the best course of action for capturing him would be to find another Time Gear and ambush him when he arrives to steal it. Of course, the first step to that plan is to actually find a Time Gear before Grovyle. And if Fogbound Lake was anything to go off of, that's not going to be a very easy task.

With the help of Dusknoir, the guild is able to narrow down some locations that are suspect as locations of Time Gears. The plan is to split the group into several squads and investigate these suspicious locations.

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Loudred and Corphish will be headed to the Eastern Forest.

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Bidoof, Dugtrio, and Sunflora are all set for Crystal Cave.

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And finally, we're told to go to search the Northern Desert. Hopefully at least one of these locations will turn out to be the location of a Time Gear which we can use.

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Diglett, Chimecho, and Croagunk will remain at the guild to maintain their duties. Chatot doesn't want to leave the guild unguarded, after all.

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Pep asks about the location of this desert, which Chatot decides to show us on our map.

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Just like Fogbound Lake, the desert is covered on the map with clouds due to being unexplored, but it is rumored a vast desert extends beyond this point on the map due to the dry terrain in the area. Dusknoir and Chatot suspect a Time Gear to be hidden in the depths of the desert.

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Wigglytuff encourages everyone on their journeys and we immediately get to work tracking down the remaining time gears!

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Dusknoir gives us a heads-up that the Northern Desert is riddled with Sandstorms. It might not be that hard to deduce, but do consider that on floors with sandstorms, your natural recovery will be a lot slower. Packing some extra Oran Berries or Sunny and Rainy Orbs and the like might be beneficial.

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Real quick, I want to stop by Chimecho Assembly to finally make a long-overdue change to our team. We finally have a fourth party member that doesn't share a type with anyone else on the team! In fact, we have two between March and Charge, but Charge is the one we're going with! He'll be traveling with us going forward!

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And finally, we do have some more diary entries to look into!

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Sunflora's 10th entry is all just gushing about Dusknoir. It's kinda cute, actually.

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Bidoof's, on the other hand, is focusing on his inability to sleep due to Croagunk creeping him out recently. Apparently Croagunk used to sleep by his Swap Cauldron most of the time, leaving Bidoof alone with Loudred, but recently, Croagunk's been sleeping in his bed a lot more and continues with his... rather poor social skills leading to really creepy interactions that make the poor Bidoof uncomfortable. It's really hard to gauge whether or not Croagunk does this on purpose or is even aware of the effect he has on people. He's a strange one.

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Anyway, once you've made your final preparations, you can head out for the Northern Desert!

================

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==============

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Northern Desert

This desert stretching to the far north is a bit of an endurance challenge with no checkpoints along the way, the first point where dungeons start to get a little bit longer, but as you know, they'll certainly get a lot longer with time. Items available throughout the dungeon are a bit more limited than the usual selection as well. Notably, there's no food besides Grimy Food, so you might want to bring at least one Apple in case you have bad luck finding the stairs. Since the game's still pulling its punches a bit, there are no monster houses, but you do still have to be worried about traps.

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The only items you can find throughout the dungeon are Poke, Iron Thorns, Grimy Food, and Wonder Orbs.

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In Explorers of Darkness, you can also find Sticks. (Oh... boy?) Of course, there are also version exclusive Wonder Orbs between the two versions.

The selection of traps are the same as Amp Plains.

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The Trip Trap is consistent between versions.

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The Slumber Trap is only in Explorers of Darkness,

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while the Summon and Warp traps are in Explorers of Time.

------------------

Northern Desert [1F - 6F]

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For the first six floors, you'll run into Baltoy, Cubone, Aron, Cacnea, Larvitar, Sandshrew, and Trapinch. Cubone and Cacnea are probably the most threatening of these foes due to their ranged attacks that can hit you multiple times, Bonemerang and Pin Missile. Approach them carefully and attack form range if you can! Trapinch's Arena Trap can also be a bit annoying as it'll temporarily freeze a pokemon in place even after it's defeated.

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Starting on the fourth floor in Explorers of Darkness, you can begin to find Silver Spikes!

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And on the sixth floor, a sandstorm is brewing which will damage everybody except Ground, Rock, and Steel types for 3 HP every 5 turns. You'll heal off the damage through your natural healing as you walk around, but it'll make healing from damage after battle take a lot longer, so watch your and your partners' HP! In addition, this will trigger abilities like Sandshrew and Cacnea's Sand Veil, so be a bit more wary of them. If you have any means such as an orb or weather move, floors with sandstorms are a good place to change the weather to remove their negative effects.

--------------------

Northern Desert [7F]

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Carnivine joins the fun on the 7th floor.

----------------------

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Northern Desert [8F]

The atmosphere of the desert changes on the 8th floor, it looks like the sun's setting which means the weather's probably getting a bit cooler, too.

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Baltoy is gone on this floor in favor of Rhyhorn.

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Northern Desert [9F]

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Cubone leaves on the 9th floor while Aron and Cacnea are replaced with their evolutions Lairon and Cacturne.

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Northern Desert [10F - 15F]

Floors 10 and 11 are shrouded in sandstorms.

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Larvitar drops off here.

================

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As we reach the end of the dungeon, we'll come across the depths of the desert where there are large pools of quicksand that are too dangerous to approach. This is unfortunately looking like a dead end with no Time Gear in sight... how unfortunate...

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...and yet, I seem to be getting the same strange deja vu sensation that I had back at Fogbound Lake...

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Well, with no clear way forward, Pep decides it's time to go back. Recognizing that we're lost in thought, he decides to push us along... kind of rude! I really don't think this feeling is something to ignore given that last time it happened was near a Time Gear! But, there's just nothing we can do but trust everything will sort out okay.

=============

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As we return home, we can chart out the new territory, expanding the world map that much further!

==============

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It seems that we weren't alone in our failure to discover any Time Gears. None of the squads were able to gather any information. The only thing to come out of these adventures was Bidoof who happened to pick up a small crystal from the cave because he thought it was pretty, at the berating of his teammates, of course, for not having his focus on the job.

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Dusknoir is disappointed to hear that the locations he'd singled out seemed not to hold any Time Gears at all.

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And so, Dusknoir and Chatot decide to revise their plans and come up with a new plan tomorrow.

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And with that, it's off to dinner and then bed! It's sounding like things are gonna be a bit busy for a while.

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The next day, the whole guild is assigned a simple task: While Dusknoir and Chatot discuss their options for seeking out the Time Gears, we're all to search for them of our own volition.

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Remembering the strange feeling of deja vu we experienced back at the desert the previous day, we decide to take that feeling as a lead for today. We explain the situation to Pep and now he's on board with setting out to Quicksand Desert! If only we'd blurted that out sooner, dammit!

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Before we take our leave, though, there are some new journal entries!

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Sunflora's entry doesn't really say much, it just talks about how badly she wants to capture Grovyle and make him pay for his reckless crimes. It also comments on Bidoof being little help during the exploration of Crystal Cave and that, apparently, he has a rather sinister grin when he's up to something like stealing a crystal from the cave for himself.

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Bidoof's entry continues his little story from before about not being able to sleep around Croagunk. He's taken to taking midnight strolls around the guild. He weirdly gets curious about everyone else while they're asleep. He peeked into our room, which is pretty creepy, but thankfully notes that he wouldn't peek into Sunflora and Chimecho's room because that would be rude. I guess the writers didn't factor in the possibility that you and your partner can both be female, too? Anyway, Bidoof goes on to explain how scary it was to peek into the guildmaster's room, so he chose not to, and notes that Chatot sleeps on the top of the ladder in the guild! Apparently Chatot thought Bidoof was trying to run away when they bumped into each other, so he got a pretty stern talking to. Yeah, that Bidoof is a bit of a mess after all, isn't he?

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Anyway, after making some preparations, it's time to head out for Quicksand Desert!

=============

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Pep seems totally enamored by the lack of... anything here where we last left. It seems really needlessly dangerous to progress forward with all of these quicksand pits everywhere and there doesn't seem to be anything special about the way forward.

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As we mull over this feeling of deja vu that tells us this must be the location of a Time Gear, we begin to piece together the solution to the puzzle before us... if there really is nothing but quicksand, then maybe the quicksand itself is what we need to look at!

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Of course, Pep isn't too peppy about the idea of jumping into the quicksand. And quite frankly, I wouldn't be, either! Even if we had pulled through before it was only because of a vision! There could be all sorts of explanations why there's no clear way forward! Why would the Time Gear be hidden underneath a pit of quicksand!? We should at least make sure there's something pointing us to one in particular! What if this whole process is a trap to eliminate thieves like Grovyle!?

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In spite of how crazy it sounds, though, Pep calls back to how he felt when we discovered Waterfall Cave and agrees to our plan.

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And so, we jump right into the center of the quicksand pit!

=============

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Shockingly enough, it seems our hunch was correct! Falling through the quicksand on the surface dropped us into a strange cave! But our job isn't done yet, it seems we've got another Mystery Dungeon ahead of us...

===============

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Quicksand Cave

This dungeon is essentially the disjointed "part 2" of Northern Desert. It's mostly the dame dungeon but with slightly tougher enemies and more aggressive Sandstorms... though not natural ones, this time around. You'll see what I mean soon enough. And, yes, just like Northern Desert, you might run into traps and Monster Houses in here. To be prepared!

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The only items you'll find between the two versions, again, are Poke, Iron Thorns, Grimy Food, and Wonder Orbs.

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In Explorers of Darkness, you'll find Silver Spikes and version exclusive Wonder Orbs.

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Meanwhile, Explorers of Time features the much more exciting Silver Gummi along with its own version-exclusive Wonder Orbs.

Trap-wise, we have the same selection as before as well.

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Trip Traps between both versions,

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Slumber Traps in Darkness,

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Summon and Warp Traps in Time.

==============

Quicksand Pit [B1F - B7F]

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The pokemon you'll find down here are Nincada, Vibrava, Pupitar, Skorupi, and Sandslash. Be wary of Skorupi's Pin Missile as always. Sandslash's Fury Swipes can be dangerous, too, especially under Sand Veil. Even though there aren't natural sandstorms, Pupitar is capable of setting up with the move Sandstorm. This dungeon will quickly make you hate evasive techniques like this and you'll start to groan every time you have to fight a Sandslash in a Sandstorm. Don't understimate them! It's a blessing to have always-hitting moves like Aerial Ace and Swift.

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Quicksand Pit [B8F - B9F]

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Mawhile joins the fray on the 8th floor. It doesn't really do much, though Fake Tears might cause some undue stress. B8F is the first floor you can encounter Monster Houses on, so be wary!

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On the 9th floor, I stumbled across a Gorgeous Box!

------------------

Quicksand Pit [B10F]

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Vibrava is gone on the 10th floor.

================

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Partway through, we'll find ourselves in a checkpoint leading to the later half of the dungeon, which I suppose we can kind of consider a part 3 to Northern Desert?

===============

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Quicksand Pit

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The selection of items and traps found down here are identical to those in Quicksand Cave, so don't get your hopes up for better items here. In addition, the selection of pokemon down here are even thougher and you'll be facing off against Sandstorms more frequently in spite of the lack of natural sandstorms. Unlike Quicksand Cave, Monster Houses can be found throughout the dungeon.

===============

Quicksand Pit [B1F]

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On the first floor, you'll find Pupitar, Skorupi, Mawile, and Sandslash.

-----------------

Quicksand Pit [B2F]

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With the introduction of Tyranitar on the second floor, it should be all too clear what I've been meaning by the prominence of sandstorms in spite of natural ones. Tyranitar's Sand Stream ability triggers as soon as it spawns in and effects the entire floor, so as long as he's around, you can expect the weather to essentially be Sand for that floor. Even if you use a move or item to change the weather, if another spawns in at any point while exploring, the weather will simply change right back to Sand, so when dealing with Sand Stream, you might very well just have to deal with it. They aren't pushovers in-battle, either. Their Dark Pulse will damage all adjacent pokemon, so try to take them out quickly or you'll suffer some serious damage.

----------------

Quicksand Pit [B3F - B4F]

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Hippopotas joins in on the third floor, doubling down on the Sand Stream users and making Sandslash all the more agonizing.

-----------------

Quicksand Pit [B5F]

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Starting on the 5th floor, you can find Ninjask who are very easy to pick off quickly, but can set up some evasive tactics with Double Team and make things troublesome with Quick Attack, so you'll want to pick them off before they get out of pocket.

-------------------

Quicksand Pit [B6F - B10F]

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Skorupi and Mawile drop off here. I think I'd rather take Ninjask than Skorupi, though, but I really wish Sandlsash could've gone with them. Oh well.

==============

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Underground Lake

We soon arrive at another marvelous sight: An underground lake sprawling under the vast desert. And just like at Fogbound Lake, there seems to be a familiar green glow off in the distace. It seems our feelings were correct after all!

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But when we approach, it seems we are less than welcome here...

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As expected, it seems the guardian of the Time Gear here isn't too terribly fond of the idea of allowing anybody to approach the gear after what happened at Fogbound Lake.

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The guardian reveals herself to be Mesprit, the spirit of emotion! And it seems she has no intention of allowing us to go any further.

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That's right, we've got a boss fight ahead of us!

=============

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Team Persevere

-----------------

Aura (Chikorita M); Lv. 28

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Item: Sky Blue Bow WaterblueRibbon.png

Ability: Overgrow | Moves: Tackle, Razor Leaf, Reflect, Synthesis

----------------

Pep (Piplup M); Lv. 28

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Torrent | Moves: BubbleBeam + Growl, Peck, Fury Attack

---------------

Slick (Grimer F); Lv. 28

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Stench, Sticky Hold | Moves: Disable + Minimize, Rock Slide, Sludge

---------------

Charge (Electrike M); Lv. 24

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Static, Lightningrod | Moves: Leer + Spark, Quick Attack, Thunder Wave

=============

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Vs. Mesprit

This boss fight is a bit of a joke, honestly. Due to your starting formation, it may take some finaggling to surround her, though. You've always gotta get used to your partners not moving in quite the way you expect.

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While waiting for everyone to group up into a better position, I threw a Geo Pebble at Mesprit to get in some free damage.

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I took the next few steps to try and position my teammates strategically to where Charge could attack with Quick Attack from behind Slick while Slick and Pep pummeled Mesprit with a barrage of attacks. Remember that stepping into your partners will force them to swap places with you, which is great for getting them into position at the cost of your own moves. Slick's Rock Slide causing Mesprit to cringe occasionally was a big help in this setup. Along with that, even though she has the type disadvantage, she does have Minimize and Disable on her side, too!

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Once everybody was in place I decided to take the long way around to close in on Mesprit myself. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I opted to do this instead of just continuing to head diagonally. Maybe I was worried Electrike would follow, I can't really say.

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Unfortunately, Mesprit got a Protect up to put a wrench in my plans. In addition, Electrike decided to follow me up anyway because fuck my plans I guess. Oh well, I suppose having another pokemon here to paralyze Mesprit and keep her from attacking isn't a bad thing.

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Under the Protect status, all moves will fail against Mesprit, so the only way to damage her is to just throw items at her until the Protect Status fades. In the meantime, I need to turn off all of my partners' moves or they'll just keep wasting PP.

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Of course, this leads to Pep moving bizarrely further away for some reason (I didn't change his tactics at all, he just decided he wanted to take a step back, I guess).

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Eventually, Protect wore off so it was time to go in on the all-out offensive!

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Before long, Mesprit was defeated.

==============

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Team Outreach

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Liz (Charmander F); Lv. 27

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Item: Red Bow RedRibbon.png

Ability: Blaze | Moves: SmokeScreen + Scary Face, Ember, Fire Fang

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Sprout (Turtwig M); Lv. 27

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Overgrow | Moves: Mega Drain + Withdraw, Bite, Razor Leaf

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Strength (Machop M); Lv. 26

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Guts, No Guard | Moves: Foresight + Leer, Focus Energy + Karate Chop

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Shelly (Shellos M); Lv. 24

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Sticky Hold, Storm Drain | Moves: Mud-Slap, Water Pulse, Rain Dance, Mud Bomb

While Rain Dance doesn't have a whole lot of synergy with the rest of the squad, you can imagine it was a huge boon in a dungeon filled with sandstorms, making Sandslash far easier to deal with in this trip!

===============

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As per usual, Team Outreach had a much easier time dominating this boss fight. It was just a matter of hitting Mesprit with SmokeScreen and Scary Face and layering on attacks from there. She didn't even get the chance to set up Protect!

==============

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Even after defeat, Mesprit stubbornly persists in protecting the Time Gear.

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Pep persists in trying to explain why we're here but Mesprit refuses to believe our explanation.

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And here comes a rather bizarre explanation for this behavior that really poses more questions than it should and I honestly think addressing it only makes things a bit more awkward here. Apparently, Mesprit is so defensive because she received word from Uxie through telepathy that the time gear was stolen, yet Uxie, who identified the thief to the police perfectly, failed to mention to Mesprit so much as the species of pokemon who stole the Time Gear? This is Telepathy, for crying out loud! It's not like Uxie gets bad cell service! This seems like pretty important information to share to your fellow guardians! I suppose Mesprit is the spirit of emotion, though, so maybe she was just too angry at the thief of the time gear to think rationally. Oh well, I guess they just wanted an excuse to have a boss fight with Mesprit.

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Of course, Mesprit suggests that we were the ones who stole the gear, which we deny, of ocurse, and Mesprit asks about the thief, to which a mysterious third party answers...

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This is it! The very Grovyle that's been causing so many problems! This is our chance to stop him!

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Or... perhaps he'll just bowl right through us.

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Refusing to stand down, Mesprit leaves Grovyle with no choice but to knock her out in one swift attack.

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Grovyle may be a criminal, but he seems to operate on some sort of code of honor. He wants to avoid a fight where he can and insists Mesprit stay down when she's clearly outmatched so he doesn't have to hurt her more than necessary.

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We of course step up to try and stop him ourselves, so Grovyle mournfully apologizes before preparing to do the same for us.

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Grovyle is just far too fast for us to even have a hope of keeping up with him. This is not going to be an easy foe to defeat.

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Unable to stop him, we have no choice but to watch helplessly as Grovyle marches on ahead and makes claim of the Time Gear of the Underground Lake.

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Mesprit apologizes for her err in judgment before...

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A powerful rumble begins to shake the cave! This alerts Mesprit to the fact that we have to leave immediately!

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As the Time Gear is stolen by Grovyle, we see the color begin to rapidly drain from the nearby area as time begins to stop! This can't be good!

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Just like what happened in Treeshroud Forest, time will stop in the area surrounding the Underground Lake without the Time Gear! If we don't leave now, we'll be trapped in time!

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And so, we all make haste out of the cave.

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It's a bit of a bittersweet reward, but upon reaching deeper into the desert, more clouds are lifted on our wonder map and we can now see even more of the continent including the Quicksand Cave and the rest of the Arid Area!

And this is where we'll be stopping for now. Now that we've come face to face with our enemy, the story is starting to get a lot more exciting! I get the feeling we're coming up on something big. I imagine next time we'll be reporting back to the guild and Dusknoir will help us come up with a plan to stop Grovyle.

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When we return to the guild, we hear from Magnezone that Mesprit is now under protection and that they are still in hot pursuit of Grovyle. He asks for our continued assistance in the case before taking his leave.

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Chatot is amazed to learn of our discovery in the Northern Desert.

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Of course, Pep is bothered by the fact that we were unable to stop Grovyle from stealing the Time Gear.

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Bidoof and Corphish try to reassure us that we did an excellent job in discovering the Time Gear.

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But now, we find ourselves back at square one with no lead toward the next time gear.

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However, it seems that Dusknoir is onto a trail of logic...

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Dusknoir begins to recount an old legend involving the Being of Knowledge: Uxie, and the Being of Emotion: Mesprit along with a third pokemon, the Being of Willpower: Azelf, who together represent the spiritual world. He reasons that if Uxie and Mesprit were both guarding Time Gears, it stands to reason that Azelf may also be guarding a third. Not only that, Uxie and Mesprit were both encountered at lakes in unusual places. One in a plateau high above a forest and another deep underneath a vast desert. So, what we're after may be lake in an unusual location in which Azelf may reside. While there is a handful of speculation, with nothing else to go off of, it's a reasonable enough conclusion to jump to. But where would this lake be found?

The last time Dusknoir provided his insight, one of the locations we searched ultimately turned out to be the location of a Time Gear, so it's quite possible that the other two areas he cited might also be the locations of Time Gears if we were to search more thoroughly. This gives Dusknoir yet another idea for how to further narrow down the location of the third lake.

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Dusknoir asks Bidoof if he could borrow the crystal Bidoof took from the Crystal Cave. Bidoof initially declines because the crystal is his personal treasure, but Dusknoir assures him he has no intention of taking the crystal from him.

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He soon elaborates on his idea by calling out to me, at which point his idea is clear. He wants me to touch the crystal in hopes of receiving a vision from the Dimensional Scream.

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Of course, Dusknoir's explanation of his idea leads us to a brief moment where Pep has to explain the dimensional scream to everyone, which is a surprise to the whole guild.

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Of course, after a bit of peer pressure, Bidoof has no choice but to allow us to touch the crystal.

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After touching the crystal, we indeed begin to get another dizzy spell which can only mean one thing...

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The dimensional scream reveals to us another unsetting scene. One in which a pokemon, presumed to be Azelf, seems to have been defeated by Grovyle and he's on his way to steal the Time Gear.

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We explain our vision to everyone, to the guild's bewilderment.

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Of course, some questions come along, too. Was that pokemon in our vision Azelf? But, more concerningly, Chimecho's question poses something a bit more serious.

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Was our vision from the past, or the future? We've received visions from both previously, though most of them have been from the future there's no way we can just assume a vision is from the future.

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Of course, this realization leads some members of the guild to take a more pessimistic view of this occasion, but Dusknoir steps in to quell these concerns.

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Dusknoir asks for us to recall the events at the Underground Lake in which Mesprit claimed she'd learned from Uxie that the Time Gear was stolen from Fogbound Lake. He specifically requests us to recall if there was any mention of Azelf and the third lake at all, to which we're reminded this is the first time we've heard of this third pokemon. Dusknoir suggests that, had this been a vision from the past, it's most likely that Grovyle would have already stolen this Time Gear by this point, and Mesprit would've mentioned the gear being stolen from Azelf as well. Therefore, it's much more likely that our vision is from the future and that we must make haste for Crystal Cave at once!

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This particular line from Dusknoir stood out to me. 'The vision indicated the presence of a Time Gear." In hindsight, I'm probably looking a bit too deeply into this and he's probably just referring to the fact that the Time Gear was mentioned during the vision I experienced, but this line still definitely got the gears turning in my head a little bit. What if the Dimensional Scream only occurs in areas that hold Time Gears? Across all of the areas we've received visions from, only two of them have yet to be revealed as locations of Time Gears. There was Mt. Bristle and Waterfall Cave. Most notably, Waterfall Cave was a location discovered by Wigglytuff who kept silent about it until after he was asked if he'd been there. What if he actually had discovered a Time Gear there at some point? And at Mt. Bristle, Drowzee mentioned a Thieve's Hideout filled with treasure rumored to be at its peak. What if that hideout was set up there because of a nearby Time Gear?

Once again, I'm just theory crafting and this is all information I'm sure will be confirmed or not by the game's narrative, but I'm loving that I'm invested enough in the game to even be thinking this far ahead!

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With that, Dusknoir makes the call for action to investigate Crystal Cave once again!

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Everyone is now hyped up and ready to investigate Crystal Cave!

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Chatot of course agrees and turns to the Guildmaster to issue the official order to let the whole guild pursue Grovyle by heading to Crystal Cave!

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Only... the Guildmaster doesn't exactly seem... present at the moment.

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Of course, noticing the Guildmaster snoozing along, people start to murmur while Chatot panics trying to get Wigglytuff to wake up before anyone notices he's been snoozing this whole time.

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Chatot, in a panic, continues trying to wake Wigglytuff up, so when he finally does awaken, Chatot is surprised in a quirky little moment.

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As Chatot decides to recite where the discussion has gone, Wigglytuff just immediately makes the blanket announcement that we're all going after Grovyle!

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Of course, everyone is on board and so the task has been officially assigned!

=============

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During our preparations, I opened up a Gorgeous Box to reveal a Clef-Claw which boosts the attack of the Cleffa line.

============

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As for Team Outreach, their Deluxe Boxes from their previous expedition opened up to some rather exciting results!

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One opened up to an Eevee Card which boosts the Sp. Defense of the Eevee line, of course.

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The other one, however, was a Charme-Fang, an item named after Charmeleon which means it affects Charmander! By carrying the Charme-Fang in my bag, Liz's Special Attack will be boosted!

===========

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Anyway, once we're fully prepared, it's off to Crystal Cave!

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==============

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Crystal Cave

This dungeon actually felt a lot easier to handle than Northern Desert, mainly because of the lack of sandstorms and multi-hit attacks. The dungeon is beautiful with the crystals lining the walls, I can see why Bidoof would feel inspired to bring one with him! Anyway, this dungeon does expand the types of traps you'll be running into as you progress through the game. There's nothing new from Tiny Meadow, but they are new among required dungeons. Monster Houses can be encountered here as well, so come prepared! There's also a handful of new items available in this dungeon, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Items available regardless of version include Poke, Pecha Scarves, Persim, Power, and Special Bands, Geo Pebbles, Iron Thorns, Apples, Cheri, Oran, and Pecha Berries, Blast, Heal, Pure, Revival, and Sleep Seeds, Max Elixirs, and TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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Items exclusive to Explorers of Darkness include the Insomniscope, Scope Lens, Twist Band, Silver Spikes, Black, Clear, Gold, Gray, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal, and Yellow Gummis, Vile and X-Eye Seeds, and Darkness-exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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The Scope Lens is a held item that increases the holder's chance of inflicting critical hits, just like in the main series.

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the Time exclusives include Defense Scarves, Heal and Joy Ribbons, Zinc Bands, Sticks, Blue, Brown, Grass, Green, Orange, Silver, Sky, and White Gummis, Stun and Warp Seeds, and version-exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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The Defense Scarf is a held item that increases the holder's physical defense.

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The Heal Ribbon increases the holder's rate of natural healing at the cost of increasing their hunger, it's not an item I like to use personally, but you might find use in taking it on and off when you need to heal. Just be mindful of it and don't walk around with it on if you don't need the healing at the moment! Be resourceful!

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The Joy Ribbon is one of my favorites from Rescue Team and it's a shame it's version-exclusive here. Any damage you receive while equipped with the Joy Ribbon will be gained as Exp as long as you survive the attack. This can really help tough pokemon level up faster than they normally would when facing tough opponents. It'll also cause a steady stream of Exp gain if you're traveling in sandstorms or hail.

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The Zinc Band increases the holder's special defense.

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As for traps, once again the only one that can be found in both version is the Trip Trap.

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In Darkness, you'll find Poison, Slumber, and Spin Traps.

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While in Time, you'll find Slow, Summon, and Warp Traps.

=============

Crystal Cave [B1F - B3F]

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For the first three floors, you'll only encounter Graveler, Seviper, Beldum, and Sandy-cloak Wormadam. Other than Graveler's SelfDestruct, there isn't too much to be concerned with here. Use your strong attacks to take out Graveler quickly if he happens to be bordering a valuable item, though!

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On the third floor, I actually ran into a Kecleon who was selling a Link Box for a, frankly, absolutely disrespectful price! 9000P?? Considering you can Link your moves as much as you like for only 500 in town, this is a major ripoff! The only advantage a Link Box has over linking in town is that you can do it in the middle of a dungeon, so you can potentially re-link moves that were de-linked at some point, but I can't in any way justify this absurd price. Hard pass.

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Anyway, the Link Box is a new item we haven't seen yet, so I suppose I can cover it here. Just as I mentioned, this item works identically to its counterpart in Rescue Team, essentially being a portable version of Electivire's Link Shop that allows one pokemon to link their moves on the go. The typical appeal of this is that it's completely free and you'll just find these things lying around in dungeons.

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Crystal Cave [B4F]

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On the fourth floor, exclusive to Explorers of Time, you can find the fan-favorite Riolu! Force Palm can paralyze you, and it's got range with Quick Attack, so be wary!

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Crystal Cave [B5F]

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Cranidos can be found on the 5th floor, watch out for its physical attacks! It should go down pretty easily, though.

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On B5F, I stumbled across a Heavy Box!

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Crystal Cave [B6F]

Starting on this floor, the blue crystals are replaced with pretty pink ones! I suppose this is a not-so-subtle reference to the primary colors of Diamond and Pearl. Make no mistake, though, this is still the same dungeon and the items and traps are no different!

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You can find Donphan here. These guys surprised me with the move Thunder Fang! But Charge's LightningRod is capable of rendering that move effectively useless. But be warned!

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Crystal Cave [B7F]

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Starting on the 7th floor, Graveler is replaced with Shieldon who can take a few more hits and is more resistant to Normal-type attacks, but also isn't very threatening.

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I actually ran into yet another Kecleon Shop that was selling another new item! This time, a Racket Band!

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The Racket Band is just as useless here as it was in Rescue Team. I'm still not sure what purpose this item could possibly have, but while equipped, a pokemon will make more noise as it moves, causing pokemon that are asleep in the dungeon to wake up and attack! Why would you ever want this as opposed to just getting the drop on them while they're asleep or simply sneaking right on by? Who knows! But it's an option.

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Crystal Cave [B8F]

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Golem joins on the following floor as a tougher counterpart to Graveler, but it's all the same difference.

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It was on this floor that Pep tried to learn Brine, but I figured BubbleBeam was preferred due to its long reach. Brine only reaches directly in front of him and doesn't have enough PP to warrant replacing Peck which I currently use as a generic attack.

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Crystal Cave [B9F]

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Riolu is gone on the 9th floor.

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Charge learned Odor Sleuth here, which I replaced Tackle with since he had both Quick Attack and Spark to lean on as generic attacks. Odor Slueth can help reduce frustration against pokemon like Sandslash and also make Ghost-types a lot more vulnerable!

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Crystal Cave [B10F - B11F]

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And Cranidos is gone on the 10th floor.

==============

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Crystal Cave Depths

We soon arrive at the deepest part of the cave!

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Pep is amazed by the sight of the three giant crystals! Of course, they must be clues to the whereabouts of the lake!

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Recalling how we were able to find the other two lakes, we'd reached a dead end just like this and had to solve some sort of puzzle in order to reveal the location of the lake. It makes sense that this one would be no different.

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Pep quickly discovers that, by touching the crystals, they seem to change color.

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We end up touching a crystal twice and change its color from Yellow to Blue to Red. The others changed from Purple to Orange and from Red to Green. This must be related to the puzzle we need to solve...

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While the puzzle doesn't seem too terribly confusing and could probably be solved with a bit of playing around, it seems our heroes like to think things through a bit more than I do.

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And, while doing so, we're of course met with another Dimensional Scream.

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We hear a voice, just as we did with the Groudon's statue. There are some rather large leaps in logic, but the voice sounds convinced. Azelf is the being of willpower, willpower is a unifying power, unifying means to make one, so the colors of the three crystals must be made as one. In other words, the crystals need to match. But what color should they be?

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Perhaps the crystals should reflect the spirit of Azelf.

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Of course, we're still perplexed as to why we only heard a voice these last two times. I have my own running theory in this regard. The game seems to be discrediting the moment we only heard Azurill's scream in the beginning which tells me that maybe at the time we simply didn't see the vision because we didn't know to look for it. That leaves only this time and the Groudon Statue that we've only heard a voice. With that explanation in mind, I've been theorizing that the voice we're hearing is our own memory from the past. Perhaps as a human we were exploring these unknown lands for some reason and it was our seeking of the Time Gears that led to us being transformed into a pokemon and losing our memories? The voice at the Groudon statue mentioned a partner as well, and though Dusknoir said my name meant nothing to him, he seemed to smile. I wonder if he might've been acquainted with us when we were human? Again, I'm just spitballing these thoughts as they come into mind. I'm really excited to see all these pieces come together!

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Pep notices our zoning out and recognizes that we must've experienced another Dimensional Scream!

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We begin to mull over what the voice said... The crystals must be the same color, the color of Willpower... but what color is willpower?

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We begin to think the puzzle through. Crystal Lake in the depths of Crystal Cave... should the color be as clear as crystal? Maybe... crystal blue?

They are certainly not leaving the solution to this puzzle very up in the air, but I suppose it isn't much of a puzzle game and they don't want to leave anyone guessing for the answer.

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Regardless, I've played a little ahead in Explorers of Darkness this time, and I know that this is a good stopping point as once we solve this puzzle we'll immediately be forced into the next dungeon. So, I recommend stopping by this Kangaskhan Statue and managing your inventory before saving. Next time, we'll pick up from here, solve the puzzle, and see if we can't stop Grovyle from getting his hands on that Time Gear! The narrative really feels like it's starting to pick up the pace and things are really starting to get exciting!

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So, where we last left off, we were at an apparent dead end with a puzzle before us: Three crystals that we've concluded must be changed to match the color of Azelf's spirit. The game hasn't exactly been subtle about the solution to this puzzle, but it's neat that they still allow you to put the final pieces together yourself, I suppose.

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Interacting with a crystal will cause it to change color, and it'll cycle through various colors.

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Eventually, it'll turn blue! This is the color we want all three crystals to match.

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So, we stop by the other two crystals and change their colors to blue as well! And when we do...

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The ground begins to shake and the crystals start to share some sort of powerful energy!

 

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A giant crystal tower suddenly sprouts out from the ground between the three crystals! This is undoubtedly the way forward toward the Time Gear! As warned last time, you'll be immediately forced into the next dungeon upon completing the puzzle, so make sure you've prepared beforehand!

=================

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Crystal Crossing

Just like Steam Cave and Quicksand Cave, Crystal Crossing is the deeper part of Crystal Cave, there must be a time gear here! This dungeon differs a bit more from its predecessor than Quicksand Cave did, but it's overall generally easier.

As you've probably come to expect, the items here are identical to the ones in Crystal Cave.

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Both versions have access to Poke, Pecha Scarves, Persim, Power, and Special Bands, Iron Thorns, Apples, Cheri, Oran, and Pecha Berries, Blast, Heal, Pure, Reviver, and Sleep Seeds, Max Elixirs, TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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Darkness features the Insomniscope, Scope Lens, Twist Band, Silver Spike, Black, Clear, Gold, Gray, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal, and Yellow Gummis, Violent and X-Eye Seeds, and version exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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While Time has access to Defense Scarves, Heal and Joy Ribbons, Zinc Bands, Blue, Brown, Grass, Green, Orange, Silver, Sky, and White Gummis, Stun and Warp Seeds, and exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

However, the types of traps you'll have to watch out for actually do differ a bit from the previous dungeon.

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The Trip Trap is still the only trap that's consistent between versions.

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In Darkness, the Gust Trap is added to the list of hazards you'll have to watch out for.

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In Time, though, you still only have to deal with Slow, Summon, and Warp Traps.

===============

Crystal Crossing [B1F - B6F]

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For the first three floors, you'll be running into Floatzel, Bagon, and Wormadam. Wormadam's Protect can make it annoying to deal with, but remember that your throwables can pierce through their Protection and you should be good. Floatzel are the biggest threats here by far. Not only can they attack from range with Aqua Jet, but they can travel across the water that dots these floors, so be careful when walking at the water's edge, especially if a teammate is weak to their attacks. Try to avoid water if you can help it!

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On B4F, I found a Nifty Box!

-----------------

Crystal Crossing [B7F]

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The following floor, Glameow becomes available. They were pretty easy to pick off and never seemed to do anything particularly scary.

-----------------

Crystal Crossing [B8F]

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On the 8th floor, Floatzel and Bagon are replaced by Absol and Glalie. Absol is a pokemon you want to pick off ASAP or you'll have to answer to its beefed up attack thanks to Swords Dance. Just be wary about Pressure when fighting it! It's usually pretty easy to take out. Glalie is scary for its Icy Wind attack. Try to take it out as soon as it's in range!

-----------------

Crystal Crossing [B9F - B13F]

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Wormadam leaves for the rest of the dungeon starting on the 9th floor.

=============

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Crystal Lake

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It isn't long at all before we finally arrive at the Crystal Lake. We must be in the right place!

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Just like Fogbound Lake, the Crystal Lake is quite beautiful to behold. And in the distance there's a familiar green glow, as well. By this point, we should all be on the same page about what this means.

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Pep seems to notice someone at the island in the center of the lake, so of course, we quickly rush to make our way over.

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As we rush over to the island to get a closer look, we see an ominously familiar sight.

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It's the scene presented to us by the Dimensional Scream! The vision didn't end on a good note but now we'll get to see the scene play out in full, and hopefully sway things in our favor!

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As Grovyle goes to collect the Time Gear, Azelf drops his name, which comes as a surprise to the thief and causes him to hesitate for a brief moment.

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Azelf reveals that he's heard from Uxie and Mesprit about him.

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Azelf goes on to explain that he knew from the beginning he may very well lose just as Uxie and Mesprit had, so he prepared a plan B to stop Grovyle from getting the Time Gear.

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Suddenly, the ground starts to shake, and for the first time, Grovyle seems to be caught off guard!

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Suddenly, large crystals begin to form all over the surface of the lake, making diving into the water an impossibility!

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Grovyle is shocked by this desperate maneuver to protect the gear and becomes enraged!

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It seems that as long as Azelf lives, these Crystals will persist over the lake, rendering the time gear impossible to obtain.

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Grovyle still seems determined to get his hands on the time gear. He insists that he needs it and is desperate enough even if it means having to kill Azelf!

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We immediately jump into action to protect Azelf! Grovyle insists we stand aside because he has no interest in fighting us,

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but we refuse, making ourselves further obstacles for him to deal with.

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=============

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Team Persevere

-----------------

Aura (Chikorita M); Lv. 29

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Item: Sky Blue Bow Garments.png

Ability: Overgrow | Moves: Tackle, Reflect, Razor Leaf, Synthesis

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Pep (Piplup M); Lv. 29

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Torrent | Moves: BubbleBeam + Growl, Peck, Fury Attack

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Slick (Grimer F); Lv. 29

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Stench, Sticky Hold | Moves: Harden + Minimize, Rock Slide, Sludge

-----------------

Charge (Electrike M); Lv. 26

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Item: Power Band Garments.png

Ability: LightningRod | Moves: Leer + Spark, Quick Attack, Odor Sleuth

=============

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Vs. Grovyle

----------------

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This is a rather intimidating boss fight that was built up as something terrifying, but... I suppose catching Grovyle on edge means he's not exactly fighting at his best.

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I opened up by setting up Reflect, allowing my team to step into place.

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From here, I did some maneuvering to get everyone into place. By this point, my teammates had layered enough damage on him that it was kinda pathetic. We just tore right through Grovyle's HP. Adding items ot the mix just seemed unnecessary. It wasn't long at all before the fool went down.

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Of course, this is an rpg, so even though we completely dominated that battle, the canon coverage is that we were actually completely overwhelmed by his strength! Or something... Yeah, I'm not really sure why RPGs have these boss fights you're expected to beat but then present the narrative like you lost the battle anyway. Always been a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I guess we'll just pretend that fight didn't happen. I'll likely sum up Team Outreach's experience here in a future post, but their experience with this fight went about how you'd expect. Even easier than this one.

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After that fight, we're all rendered weak and helpless, yet Pep still refuses to budge from his position and compromise Azelf's safety no matter what it means for his well-being.

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Unfortunately for him, Grovyle's already made up his mind that he'll do what he needs to do in order tog et his hands on that Time Gear.

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Of course, we want to come to his aid, but we're just too weak to get up...!

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Grovyle prepares to attack once again before lunging after Pep!

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When suddenly, his attack is stopped by none other than Dusknoir!

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Dusknoir insists we allow him to handle things with Grovyle from here. As if we really have much of a choice in the matter.

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Dusknoir tosses Grovyle back with ease, and suddenly drops a pretty heavy bombshell that apparently they've both known each other for a long time!

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This news is a shock to Pep! I can't say it's too terribly surprising to me from a narrative standpoint, but in-universe I can definitely see it being a huge surprise!

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It seems that my assumption that Dusknoir had been in pursuit of Grovyle this entire time holds true! Point 1 for me!

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It seems the two seem to have a mutual agreement to settle some long-term conflict with a fight before Grovyle suddenly vanishes into thin air! It must've been a ruse to get away!

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Dusknoir scoffs at this but isn't about to give up so easily.

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Dusknoir disappears soon after as well, leaving us alone with Azelf! We've got a lot of questions now, but we're all far too exhausted to think about them...

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Not long after, Pep finally succumbs to his exhaustion and the rest of the guild finally arrives on scene to come to our rescue!

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the clouds on our Wonder Map are whisked away once again, revealing the dungeons we've just explored. And with that, we're done for the day. I imagine we'll be back to a standard gameplay loop of clearing bulletin board jobs while we wait for answers about whatever just happened, but it seems like things are gong to return to relative normalcy. Only time will tell, though!

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Last session was pretty eventful! We had an altercation with Grovyle again and fought for all we were worth! While we were weakened from the fight, Dusknoir arrived just in time to save us and Azelf from his assault! Grovyle fled the scene and Dusknoir disappeared in pursuit of him. The Time Gear has been successfully protected! At least for now...

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While we were unconscious, the guildmembers arrived and carried us back to safety to treat our injuries, and we wake up in our beds at the guild!

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It takes a little bit for the memories of what happened to come back to Pep.

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As soon as he remembers, Pep asks about Azelf and Chimecho confirms that he's okay. Our injuries were much worse than Azelf's.

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Chimecho signals to the rest of the guild to announce that we're awake!

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Everyone comes rushing in at the sound of the news! It's heartwarming to see the whole guild run up to us like this! But it's not like it's the first time something like this has happened, still, this is probably the furthest we've been pushed so far.

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Pep decides he needs to share everything that's happened with the rest of the guild, but this is something everyone needs to hear. So, we gather the whole guild together to share the news!

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We catch everybody up on what we've learned, that Dusknoir had been pursuing Grovyle from another world and that Grovyle escaped with Dusknoir in hot pursuit, leaving us in the dark from there.

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As we are discussing this, an emergency siren goes off! Magnezone has sent out an emergency call for everyone to report to Treasure Town's main square for an important announcement. This call is for everyone, not just the guild, but the regular townsfolk and local exploration teams as well. It doesn't sound like there's time to waste!

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The townsfolk are surprised to see the guild being called for the emergency meeting, this fills the air with an uneasy atmosphere.

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One touching moment, though, is to see the three Lake Spirits reunited!

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Azelf assures the other spirits that the Time Gear is protected for now due to his defensive measure, but something still must be done about Grovyle...

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Dusknoir is here, as well! He seems relieved to see that we're okay. Though Grovyle doesn't seem to be present...

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When asked about what happened to Grovyle, Dusknoir explains that he was unfortunately able to slip away yet again.

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As Pep begins to ask about the conversation we'd overheard, Magnezone interrupts and explains that the topic will be covered in the emergency announcement. So it looks like we just have to be a little patient.

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Magnezone goes on to sum up what's been happening so far, elaborating on Grovyle's crimes of stealing time gears and the consequences it's had on the surrounding areas, but he announces that Grovyle has failed to steal one!

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Of course, credit for protecting the time gear is given to Azelf and Dusknoir. To be fair, Dusknoir really was the one to stop Grovyle. Without him we certainly would've failed the mission, so I suppose it's only fair that credit goes to him. All we really contributed was stalling for time.

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Of course, Dusknoir interjects because this meeting isn't quite about celebration the way the townsfolk are responding.

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Dusknoir announces to the public that Grovyle has not been captured yet and will no doubt continue attempting to steal Time Gears. We cannot simply assume the Time Gear will be safe forever.

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But, Dusknoir adds that there is another important matter to bring up.

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Dusknoir confirms Pep's question from before and announces that he did indeed know Grovyle from before, prefacing his follow-up by announcing that he's going to reveal something that everyone will find difficult to believe...

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Dusknoir goes on to explain that Grovyle comes from the future, which of course sounds absolutely insane to the townsfolk and guildmembers alike. Is something like time travel even possible? It sounds absolutely crazy, but then again, Grovyle's motivations have been unknown and this does seem to explain why he came out of no where and knows so much about the Time Gears... Dusknoir continues to explain that Grovyle fled through time in order to avoid the punishment for his crimes in the world of the future. And upon arriving here in the past, he came up with a terrible plan.

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Grovyle's plan was to cause the planet's paralysis.

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As we know, when a Time Gear is stolen, time slows to a stop in the surrounding area. As more are stolen, a larger and larger area is affected until the last one is stolen from its place and time on the entire planet comes to a full stop, leaving the planet in a state of total paralysis.

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Dusknoir describes in rather heavy detail about what a paralyzed world is like. It's quite similar to how Chatot explained what happened in Treeshroud Forest. No winds bow, the day never comes, the seasons never change, and the world is cast into total darkness. The world becomes completely ruined.

This is why time has been out of control recently and why there have been so many strange occurences of pokemon going bad. And it's also why protecting the Time Gears is such an important job.

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During all of this explanation, Corphish pipes up with a question of his own.

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Corphish poses a very significant question: Why does Dusknoir know so much? Even as wise as he is, he's talking about things that have no precedent, an event that so far has only existed purely in hypotheticals, yet he speaks of them with certainty as if he's witnessed them firsthand.

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And it's here that Dusknoir drops the bombshell that I think we all could've inferred by this point: Much like Grovyle, Dusknoir is also from the future. This is, in fact, how he's so knowledgeable about our world. Knowing he needed every advantage he could over Grovyle, he studied up on everything there was to know about our world before traveling here.

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Dusknoir's reason for not announcing his identity from the start was twofold: One, nobody would believe him, and two, he wanted to avoid alerting Grovyle to his presence... not that "The Great Dusknoir who mysteriously appeared one day and took the world by storm" is a very clever way of masking your presence, but I suppose it must've worked to some degree. But, Dusknoir appologizes for having deceived us all regardless, to which he's reassured that he did nothing wrong and had no choice.

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Everyone from the guild offers to help out Dusknoir in any way they can, the Lake Spirits as well.

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Dusknoir thanks everyone for their cooperation and insists that everyone will need to work together in order to capture Grovyle!

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Azelf brings up that, in order to retrieve the Time Gear, he must be defeated in battle. Knowing this, Grovyle is likely to come after him. This is significant because it's one element that makes Grovyle's moves predictable. The three Lake Spirits devise a plan to use that knowledge to set up a trap for Grovyle at the Crystal Lake. This is met with some reluctance by Dusknoir to put them in harm's way, but they insist that they're willing to go through the danger if it means capturing Grovyle once and for all. Therefore, Dusknoir contributes his own ideas to the plan.

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The townsfolk are asked to spread a rumor far and wide that Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf are going to the Crystal Lake to permanently seal away the Time Gear to prevent it from ever being stolen. This rumor will pressure Grovyle into making the gear at Crystal Lake his top priority.

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Of course, rumor alone won't necessarily be enough to convince Grovyle. So, Dusknoir asks that the three Lake Spirits travel to Crystal Lake in order to add credence to the rumor and pressure Grovyle into acting immediately at risk of permanently losing the time gear.

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Of course, many exploration team members and the local authorities offer to pitch in with the ambush at Crystal Lake.

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However, Dusknoir insists that he go alone for the ambush. He suggests that too many pokemon gathered around in one area would cause Grovyle to become suspicious. So instead, the guildmembers are best suited to return to normal operations as we did before so as not to rouse suspicion.

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With that, Chatot and Wigglytuff make the official call for the guild to return to normal operations until further notice.

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When we return to the guild, we're given the standard task of doing jobs from the bulletin boards. Normally, I would continue on from here, but that was actually a pretty long cutscene with a lot of important information to process, so I think this is a good place to stop the session for now. We do already have a mission we've been holding onto promising a new dungeon to explore, after all!

Instead, I want to recap how Team Outreach has been handling these recent events!

============

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Team Outreach

------------------

To start out, Team Outreach has a setup that's actually looking real solid.

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In Crystal Cave, they stumbled across a Cute Box holding a Pachi-Tooth, and a Glittery Box holding a Piplup Card (It's a shame this isn't Team Persevere, huh?)

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The Pachi-Tooth increases the attack of Pachirisu.

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Meanwhile the Piplup Card, as you've probably come to expect, increases the Special Defense of Piplup and its evolutions.

The most exciting update in this regard, however, is their new recruit!

==============

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New Recruit: Team Outreach

----------------

Cranium (Glalie M); Lv. 30

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Item: None

Ability: Inner Focus, Ice Body | Moves: Icy Wind, Headbutt, Protect, Ice Fang

Glalie here only has a 0.5% recruitment rate, so this one is a bit of a miracle! Beyond that, he's incredibly helpful because of one major detail.

Bringing him by Electivire's Link Shop, I can have him relearn a very significant move: Powder Snow! This is a room-wide attack that can help tremendously in wiping out Monster Houses! I haven't been troubled by many Monster Houses so far, but they can really ruin your day sometimes and with this single move, they can often be cleared out in only a couple of turns. A move like this is simply a must-have for any high-tier exploration squad. Needless to say, going forward, this guy is going to be taking Shelly's place. The only downside to this decision is that, obviously, I don't have an easy out to Sandstorms. But, Glalie does benefit a bit from Hail thanks to Ice Body!

Still, Shelly isn't without her use so I can't totally rule her out as a partner. I might bring her along if we ever find ourselves struggling with Water-types.

==============

Of course, we've also got a boss fight to cover, albeit really quickly.

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Team Outreach

-----------------

Liz (Charmander F); Lv. 28

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Item: Red Bow RedRibbon.png

Ability: Blaze | Moves: SmokeScreen + Scary Face, Ember, Fire Fang

-----------------

Sprout (Turtwig M); Lv. 28

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Overgrow | Moves: Mega Drain + Withdraw, Razor Leaf, Bite

-----------------

Strength (Machop F); Lv. 27

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Item: Persim Band Garments.png

Ability: Guts, No Guard | Moves: Leer + Foresight, Focus Energy + Karate Chop

----------------

Shelly (Shellos M); Lv. 26

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Item: Pecha Scarf Garments.png

Ability: Sticky Hold, Storm Drain | Moves: Mud-Slap, Water Pulse, Mud Bomb, Rain Dance

Shelly's Storm Drain was actually a big help throughout Crystal Crossing since it protected Liz from Floatzel's Aqua Jet which otherwise would've been a lot scarier.

==============

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Vs. Grovyle

Like I alluded to before, this fight was even more of a pushover than it was for Team Persevere. Once Grovyle was cornered with Smoke Screen and Scary Face, he was completely done. Liz's Fire Fang did a ton of damage, especially coupled with Strength's Leers and Focus Energy Karate Chops. We cut through Grovyle like paper!

==============

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We're also going to poke a bit further ahead into some expeditions for mission clearing and cover some more items they've collected!

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They retrieved two Sinister Boxes which held a Mantyke Beam and Combus-Claw respectively.

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The Mantyke Beam boosts the Special Attack of Mantyke and Mantine.

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And the Combus-Claw boosts the Attack of the Torchic line.

=============

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New Recruits: Team Outreach

----------------

Drift (Phanpy F); Lv. 17

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Item: None

Ability: Pickup | Moves: Defense Curl, Flail, Take Down, Rollout

If I didn't already have Strength, I might consider putting Drift on the main squad, but I'll have to pass here. Strength has been pulling her weight from the moment she was recruited.

-----------------

Plug (Elekid F); Lv. 14

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Item: None

Ability: Static | Moves: Quick Attack, Leer, ThunderShock, Low Kick

Another pretty solid contender, especially since Electric gummis are prominent in Explorers of Darkness, but I don't think there's enough demand for an electric type on this squad as there was for Team Persevere. There's no way I can justify Plug over Cranium.

-----------------

Claw (Krabby M); Lv. 1

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Item: None

Ability: Hyper Cutter, Shell Armor | Moves: Mud Sport, Bubble

Krabby was recruited via a mission reward, meaning he's underlevel and probably not likely to see any action anytime soon.

=============

Now that we're caught up, and a bit ahead, from Team Outreach's perspective, next time, Team Persevere will be exploring a new dungeon as we await the results of the plan to capture Grovyle.

I'll be honest, I did play even further ahead with Team Outreach, but I'll say no more. Let's just say, things are about to really start getting interesting! We've got a wild ride ahead of us! But it's gonna take a few posts to get there.

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We're back! Last time, a plan was hatched to bait, ambush, and finally capture Grovyle at Crystal Lake. At Dusknoir's request, we have no choice but to trust that this plan will be successful. As we await the news, we'll just have to continue with job duty as normal. One particular request I want to handle is another unknown dungeon mission! This time we'll be exploring uncharted territory with Hoothoot as our client!

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Upon accepting the job, we'll gain access to another optional dungeon: Lush Prarie!

==============

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As you can probably expect, each of the shopkeepers has something to say about the events surrounding Dusknoir, as well as the townsfolk. Chansey has an especially odd assertion that even she doesn't seem to understand herself. "Pokemon hatching from an egg is a bit like a pokemon coming from the future." ...Sure. Maybe this is foreshadowing some feature yet to come? Who can really say at this point in the game. But this was a particularly odd line to me.

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Anyway, from our previous journey through Crystal Cave, we'd obtained a Heavy Box and a Nifty Box. It's time to open them up and we what we got!

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From the Heavy Box, we got a Gar-Fang which boosts the Special Attack of the Gible line.

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From the Nifty Box, we got the Feral-Claw which boosts the Attack of the Totodile line. Unfortunately again, we don't have Allia from Rescue Team along for the ride.

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Once we're prepared, it's time to set out for Lush Prarie!

============

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Lush Prairie

This is another optional dungeon that you can randomly gain access to via the job bulletin board. Just like Tiny Meadow, it's a bit of a pushover compared to the main story dungeons, but you do have to be a little more careful about traps. Monster Houses don't appear here, however.

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Throughout the dungeon across both versions, you can find Cheri, Oran, and Pecha Berries, Max Elixirs, Heal Seeds, and assorted Wonder Orbs.

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In Explorers of Darkness, you can find Blast Seeds and version-exclusive Wonder Orbs. Time only offers its own Wonder Orbs.

As for Traps,

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The Trip Trap is the only trap found in both versions. A surprise, I'm sure.

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Explorers of Darkness brings Gust, Poison, Pokemon, Slumber, and Spin Traps.

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Explorers of Time brings in the Grimy, SelfDestruct, Slow, Summon, and Warp Traps.

----------------

Lush Prarie [1F - 4F]

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The pokemon aviailable throughout this dungeon include Exeggcute, Skiploom, Yanma, Silcoon, Beautifly, Cascoon, and Burmy. Burmy is exclusive to Explorers of Darkness. You'll want to watch out for Exeggcute's Hypnosis and Yanma's Double Team and SonicBoom attacks as well as their Speed Boost ability. But all of these pokemon are pretty low level, so they should be easy to take out regardless of any complications they may present.

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And for the first four floors only, you can find Poke, Apples, and Iron Thorns.

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On the first floor, I got a new recruit!

==============

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New Recruit: Team Persevere

----------------

Scramble (Exeggcute M); Lv. 17

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Item: None

Ability: Chlorophyll | Moves: Hypnosis, Reflect, Leech Seed, Bullet Seed

Unfortunately I don't really think this guy has a place on our team, being a Grass-type, so this will have to be a pass. But Execute certainly wouldn't be a bad option to consider under other circumstances.

=============

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On the third floor, the music changes from that of Mt. Horn to Cave and Side Path. In addition, the weather becomes Cloudy here.

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On the 4th floor, the music changes again to that of Drenched Bluff.

------------------

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Lush Prairie [5F]

Here, the music switches back to that of Mt. Horn.

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The pokemon on this floor are the same.

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The only difference here is that you can no longer find the Poke, Apples, and Iron Thorn items. This feels pretty arbitrary considering these aren't exactly valuable items and it's only one floor in the entire dungeon. But it's certainly not the only bizarre design decision in this series, so I suppose I won't dwell on it too much.

------------------

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Lush Prairie [6F]

The final floor of this dungeon is a treasure floor!

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This is home to two more Deluxe Chests that pull from the same selection of items as the others. I suppose it's fair to say all Deluxe Boxes, or at least the ones from these floors, share the same item pool. We'll see what these boxes obtain when we open them later on.

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Once you've claimed your prize, work your way to the Warp Zone to complete the dungeon!

==============

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Once we finish the dungeon, we claim our reward for the completed mission and have dinner at the guild before turning in for the night.

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As we sleep, Pep starts to talk about how he wishes we could be the ones to apprehend Grovyle, but admits that he's just not up to the task. A fact he's been made brutally aware by the close encounter he experienced at the Crystal Lake. We have no choice but to trust in Dusknoir. With that, he drifts off to sleep and we'll pick up where we left off next time.

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Unfortunately, it seems even the next morning there's still no news on the happenings at Crystal Lake. Everybody is anxious to hear the news of whether Azelf is okay or Grovyle was successfully captured. But we really have no choice but to wait it out.

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In the meantime, it's once again back to normal operations!

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And again, we're given the oh-so-surprising task of completing jobs from the bulletin boards.

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While I was planning on clearing out some of these Foggy Forest requests I've been holding onto for a while, yet another unexplored dungeon request showed up! So, I guess that's where our priorities lie!

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Our client this time is a Paras who requests we help them explore a place called Oran Forest which seems to border the Apple Woods.

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Of course, before we head out, we'll want to prepare for the trip. Let's start by opening our Deluxe Boxes from the previous day!

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The first contained a Heal Seed while the other contained a Reviver Seed. The Reviver Seed is nice, but I really would like to get Gummis out of these since it's one of the only ways to get some of the other version's exclusive gummis.

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Anyway, I also recommend stopping by Kangaskhan and clearing out some space in storage if you haven't recently... No... particular reason, it's just nice to have some extra space, y'know? If you play like I do, you might have a lot of junk piled up in here that you're never going to use, so you may as well sell it while you're here... especially right now. cough

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And on our way to save, we find some new Diary entries have been added!

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Predictably, Sunflora's latest entry details her shock at finding out Grovyle and Dusknoir are from the future. She also talks about how she trusts that Dusknoir will be successful in capturing Grovyle this time and wishes him luck.

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Likewise, Bidoof's entry is also about his sock with the discovery that Grovyle and Dusknoir are time travelers! He focuses more on what he can do to help, by contributing to spreading the word about the Lake Spirits sealing the Time Gear. Another small moment to really appreciate!

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Anyway, with our preparations made, let's make our trip to the Oran Forest alongside Paras!

==============

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Oran Forest

Oran Forest is perhaps the most basic of these optional dungeons so far. There are no traps or monster houses to worry about.

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As the name implies, the main draw here is the fact that Oran Berries can easily be found here! They can be found alongside Apples and Max Elixirs. There are no version-exclusive items to worry about here at all.

-------------------

Oran Forest [1F - 4F]

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Throughout the dungeon, you'll run into Caterpie, Hoppip, Starly, Budew, Oddish, and Wurmple. In Explorers of Darkness only, you'll also find Trash Cloak Burmy here.

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The weather on the second floor is foggy.

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It was on this floor that I nabbed a Dainty Box!

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The foggy weather continues on the third floor.

----------------

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Oran Forest [5F]

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And of course, at the end of the dungeon our reward is two Deluxe Boxes on a relaxed floor.

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As always, claim your prize and make your way to the Warp Zone to clear the dungeon.

==============

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After we're done exploring, it's off to dinner and then back to bed.

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That night, Pep once again talks to us. He can't sleep worrying so much about what's happening at the lake. He also poses the question of how strange the idea of pokemon coming from the future really is. Is it even possible?

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We wind up lost in that train of thought and it leads us to wondering what the world of the future is like... Who can really say?

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Well, there isn't much time to think, so we slowly drift off to sleep in preparation for the next day. Again, I'd normally continue from here, but since we bumped into another new dungeon, I'll be stopping here. Next time, we'll see if we have any new info on Grovyle's capture!

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A bit of an apology for the lack of updates yesterday, it was my birthday so I was a bit preoccupied with some irl stuff, but I had a good time! On an unrelated note, today's update might seem a bit small, but we've got a lot of story to cover in this last session so I figured a certain stopping point had presented itself well enough that I'd take advantage of that to avoid this post getting too terribly long. An unfortunate consequence of that is that this particular post isn't going to have any actual gameplay attached to it. It's all story here.

Normally in situations like this, I'd blend a summary of any standout events during bulletin board job expeditions, but both of our opportunities for that were eaten up by unknown dungeon exploration requests which, in my format, demanded their own posts.

===============

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In the morning announcements, Chatot once again reports that there is no news on Grovyle's capture to everyone's disappointment. So it seems we're once again left in the dark.

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That is, until a siren goes off and Diglett announces that Debuty Magnemite has arrived with a message from Officer Magnezone!

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The announcement is that Grovyle has finally been captured! No more worries about the Time Gears being stolen!

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Of course, everyone's excited to here such news! But there's more.

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Dusknoir has apparently revealed that he intends to return to the future with Grovyle.

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Of course, this is some sad news for everyone, but it makes sense. Dusknoir came here to pursuit Grovyle, so he'll naturally return home once he's gotten what he's after. Loudred poses a valid question, though. How does one go back to the future? We don't exactly have a DeLoreon laying around.

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Magnemite explains that he doesn't know the process, but has been told Dusknoir will be traveling through a dimensional hole he'd opened in the Town Square. He wishes to say goodbye before he departs!

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The guild immediately heads out to Treasure Town Square to say goodbye to Dusknoir!

==============

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Everyone seems to already be here! Well, if by "everyone" you mean Ursaring, Teddiursa, Kecleon, Magnezone and the lake spirits. I know, I know, sprite limitations or whatever but I still think it's a funny observation. This isn't the first time this happened but there's even fewer residents here than last time!

Anyway, the most eye-catching part of this scene is the distorted field before us all! This must be the dimensional hole that Dusknoir will use to travel to the future!

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Magnezone explains what it is and Bidoof, who tries to examine the dimensional hole, is urged to stand clear as touching the hole will instantly transport you into the future. With no knowledge of how to get back, that could be quite dangerous!

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More significantly than the dimensional hole, though, are the lake spirits, who are all safe and reunited!

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Azelf recounts that Dusknoir captured Grovyle flawlessly and all of the Time Gears have been recovered!

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Dusknoir has been sighted!

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We see Dusknoir arrive with Grovyle bound and muzzled in rope and two Sableye. A bit odd to have these Sableye with him since he supposedly operates alone, but maybe they joined after the fact?

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Dusknoir stands before the crowd and officially announces the capture of Grovyle to everyone's delight! He thanks everyone for their contributions.

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Dusknoir assures everyone that, witht he vicious and wicked Grovyle captured, we can live and enjoy lasting peace. This seems to set Grovyle off in a desperate fury, but his muzzle prevents him from speaking. Something doesn't quite feel right to me about this. I'd like to know more about Grovyle's motivations. While he may be a criminal in the world of the future, he's committed crimes here as well. I'd think he should at least have a chance to explain himself before being sent back.

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With that announcement made, Dusknoir bids his farewall to everyone.

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Dusknoir entrusts the return of the Time Gears to their rightful places to the three lake spirits.

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Magnezone thanks Dusknoir for his contributions to have saving the world, to which he politely declines, stating that Magnezone has been incredibly helpful in his efforts as well.

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The two Sableye push Gorvyle into the dimensional hole before leaping in after him, leaving Dusknoir behind with us for a little longer.

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Dusknoir turns to make his leave, to everyone's dismay. But before he does, he seems to suddenly remember something.

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He calls out to us!

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We get one final goodbye...

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...?

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Instead of leaving it at goodbye, Dusknoir suddenly grabs us and pulls us through the dimensional hole with no explanation! The dimensional hole closes leaving everyone perplexed.

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Meanwhile, we fall through the hole to the other side. What will the future be like? It seems we're right on the cusp of figuring that out... next time...

===============

So yeah, like I said at the beginning of the post, bit of a short update here. If I continue past this point though, I think this post will end up way too long so I think it makes sense to cut it at the save prompt that immediately follows this scene because this is where the story starts to get real and the games' namesake starts to come into play! We'll need to prepare to start exploring through time... and darkness.

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Apologies once again for the lack of updates yesterday! But we're back to hopefully a more consistent schedule again!

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Anyway, in the last update we had an unexpected surprise when Dusknoir returned with Grovyle to the future, only to grab Pep and me at the last minute, too! Today, we pick up after that strange cliffhanger...

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We wake up briefly in total darkness before slipping back into unconsciousness with no knowledge of hwere we are...

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The camera cuts to a strange arrangement of floating rocks surrounded by foreboding dark clouds.

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We see Dusnkoir reporting to his Master, Dialga, which certainly explains the time travel aspect of all this. He seems to be speaking into an empty void as if there's someone there.

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When Dialga's eyes begin to glow along with its markings, but something doesn't look quite right with it...

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Suddenly our perspective on Dusknoir is a bit different. He seems to be some sort of dimensional guard who seeks out and eliminates those who seek to alter the course of history. At this point, it's difficult to say whether or not he's trustworthy, looking at the state this world seems to be in. Perhaps it's people altering the course of history that led to the world's destruction, or perhaps this is the natural course of history? Either way, if there's something wrong with Dialga and Dialga is his leader, then this can't be good from any perspective...

================

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When we next awake, we're shaken awake by Pep!

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When we come to, we seem to be trapped in some sort of jail cell!

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We're shortly given the opportunity to explore, but there's really nothing here except for the gate which is locked shut. We really are trapped!

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As Pep recalls the events from before, he has a bit of an existential crisis when he comes to the conclusion that we must have been taken to the future! How does that work? Are we trapped? Will we be able to get back? How would we even start?

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Suddenly, the gate opens!

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In comes a squad of four Sableye, presumably operating under the orders of Dusknoir, who aren't about to answer any of our questions just yet.

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Suddenly, we're blindfolded and taken out of the cell!

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When our blindfold is removed, the first thing we see is our partner, tied up to a pillar.

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Pep struggles and tries to break free, but he can't!

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Soon, we notice each other and continue trying to break free to no avail.

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Suddenly, a third voice speaks out to us, noting that we have no idea just how bad things are right now...

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We quickly identify the voice as belong to Grovyle! The criminal we helped Dusnkoir to capture!

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Grovyle tells us that they're preparing to... "get rid of us for good." Is this... an execution!? We're naturally perplexed as to how we could've possibly gotten ourselves into this mess, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's related to our Dimensional Scream ability. After all, Dusknoir seemed to take particular interest in that and I noted there could be serveral reasons for the odd way he responded to our name...

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Grovyle dismisses us and suggests that we must've done something for them to put us here, which offends Pep that he would insist we're the same! By this point, I'm genuinely thinking Grovyle isn't as much of a villain as he might seem to be if Dusknoir is grouping us with him... perhaps there's a reason he's rebelling against him?

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Grovyle dismisses his outburst and tells him it's not worth the effort focusing so much on something so trivial as it seems the execution is about to begin soon.

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The Sableye appear once again and Grovyle explains that they're Dusknoir's underlings, which somehow comes as a shock to Pep, but we've established he's always a bit slow on the uptake.

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Dusknoir soon arrives. Pep tries to call out to Dusknoir and reason with him, but he simply ignores him and confirms that there was indeed no mistake in capturing us. He then tells the Sableye to get ready.

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The Sableye surround us while Pep starts to blurt out his questions for Dusknoir who continues to ingore him.

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Grovyle, however, maintains a level head and tells us to keep our voices down to se can discuss a plan to escape. Pep is reluctant to listen, of course, but under the circumstances we don't exactly have much of a choice.

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Grovyle turns his attention to us and asks us what we can do. Selecting "Use an item" or "Use a move" doesn't achieve much. Grovyle's reasoning being that we're tied down so these options are impossible, even though we definitely should be capable of using Razor Leaf like this! And Pep should be able to use BubbleBeam! But regardless, I suppose this logic doesn't apply to all possible pokemon that could be in this situation. The only generic option here is our standard Attack! I'm not really sure why that's any different honestly, but I'm sure there's some sort of logic there.

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After we suggest the idea of using a standard attack, Pep joins in on the plan as well, though he's still a bit reluctant to listen to Grovyle.

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The Sableye report to Dusknoir that they're ready and Dusknoir warns them not to take their eyes off of us, especially Grovyle.

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At Dusknoir's command, the Sableye close in on us again.

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As they close in, Grovyle maintains his level head and explains the plan.

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Grovyle intends to use the Sableye's attacks against them. Their reckless attacks with Fury Swipes are likely to damage the ropes. Once the ropes are weakened, we might be able to break out with a well-timed attack!

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As the Sableye prepare to attack, Pep expresses his concern that they might not rely on Fury Swipes at all...

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Suddenly, they all begin to attack! It hurts but we have no choice but to keep holding on!

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Just as we start to lose hop, the ropes begin to break!

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When the time is just right, Grovyle makes the call and in one swift move, we break right through the ropes and knock the Sableye back!

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Before they can retaliate, Grovyle drops a Luminous Orb flooding the room with a bright light that makes it impossible to see.

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When the light clears up, we're nowhere to be seen! Frustrated, Dusknoir leads the Sableye off to hunt us down!

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As it turns out, Grovyle used Dig to hide himself and us underground under the cover of the Luminous Orb, a classic ruse to escape! This should get Dusnkoir and the Sableye off our tails for just a little bit buying us a better chance of getting away! But we can't just wait around! We have to get going right away!

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As we run off, Grovyle tells us we need to pick up the pace, but Pep can't seem to keep up and seems to be slowing him down.

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I like to imagine Grovyle's response to Pep asking if this is the future is sarcastic. I don't mean to be so down on Pep all the time, but come on, he is rather slow to figure out rather mundane things.

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Pep questions if it'll even possible to get back home, but Grovyle insists that what is most important is to get away with our lives, first. He tells Pep to run faster as the exit is approaching!

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We finally make it outside, but the imagery out here....

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...Isn't so pleasant...

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If it isn't obvious what's happened in this ruined world by now, Pep's description should be familiar enough to help you piece together that this is a world under paralysis. Presumably as a result of the Time Gears being stolen... Did Grovyle cause this to happen? Or is there a larger evil at play?

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We suddenly hear the Sableye nearby and decide we need to get moving again.

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Once again, Pep complains that he's exhausted, but Grovyle insists there's no time to rest and that we need to tough it out, but he quickly recognizes that Pep is at his limit. And this is a really cool moment to me that shows Grovyle's character. He's already been holding himself back presumably this whole time so that Pep can keep up with him, so you'd think he'd respond to Pep's insistance that he needs a rest by simply leaving him behind. Instead, he actually gives in and decides to help find a way for Pep to get his rest.

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Grovyle seeks out a hiding place where Pep can get a quick rest before we have to get moving again.

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Pep seems alarmed by the fact that Grovyle seems to be treating us like we're suddenly allies just because we escaped together. Quite frankly, I do agree that it's important to stick together under the circumstances, but Pep seems to have his own views on the matter.

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Grovyle doesn't hesitate to contradict Pep's views, pointing out the cruelty of Dusknoir's behavior just now. And I can't lie, it's hard to trust Dusknoir after that. Even outside of the game, I can't quite come up with an easy explanation. I wouldn't want to think him a villain, but it's seeming that way at the moment. I have a suspicion that he might have good intentions related to preserving the natural order with ignorance to the oddities surrounding Dialga, but that could just be wishful thinking. At the moment, there really seems no reason to trust Dusknoir as an ally. And from that perspective, I'd say it's worth trusting Grovyle, but again, Pep seems to be of a different opinion. We've spent so long chasing Grovyle as the number one criminal in the world and now we're supposed to side with him? To be fair, that, too, is difficult to really get behind. It's clear to me that there's a lot more to this story, though, and I think sticking with Grovyle would be the best way to go about that.

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Unfortunately, Pep's views make it clear to Grovyle that we won't be able to make a good team. Perhaps out of respect or understanding of Pep's views, Grovyle acknowledges that Pep won't be able to trust him. Interesting to note, though, is that he seems to imply he's willing to trust us despite the fact that we've been enemies up until this point.

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Grovyle decides we'll be splitting up here. He'll continue onward and recommends we get moving again as soon as we can lest we get caught by Dusknoir or the Sableye.

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Pep seems confused by this plan. We've found a good place to rest and it's really dark. He insists it would be better to wait for morning before we get moving again so we have light to travel by.

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To this, Grovyle replies waiting for morning is impossible because... there is no morning here.

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When asked, he finally spells it out to Pep: The planet has indeed been paralyzed.

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Pep recalls Dusknoir's explanation of planetary paralysis and notes that it indeed sounds just like the explanation of our world, but...

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He finds it hard to believe the world's been paralyzed after all they've gone through to stop Grovyle. Honestly? If Grovyle was capable of getting as far as he did, I'm not sure I'd say it's so unbelievable.

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Grovyle's wasted enough time debating these things with Pep. Once again, if we aren't going to believe his words then there's no reason to gather information from him. It's a pretty solid point. He reiterates that we should leave soon before taking his leave.

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Pep seems to be going through a crisis as he mulls over all of this information. How can the world still be paralyzed after everything we've gone through to save it? We stopped Grovyle from stealing the Time Gears and the Lake Spirits were supposed to return them to their rightful places. How could it be possible that they were stolen again anyway? What was even the point of everything we've done up until now? Have we even been doing the right thing? He's frustrated at not having these answers! And I can definitely see where he's coming from when I think about things from that perspective. Maybe he's choosing to make an enemy of Grovyle because he refuses to believe the possibility that they might've been on the wrong side this whole time...

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Suddenly, we hear the Sableye approaching again! We've got to get going like Grovyle warned!

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There's a Kangaskhan Satatue here that we can save at in preparation for the dungeon that lies ahead of us. Once again, under normal circumstances I'd continue into covering this dungeon right here, but again, I think I'm going to break this off into the next post. These long cutscenes take a lot of time to cover and I don't wanna push myself too hard! Going forward, we should be able to get into a smoother flow of dungeons. So next time, we'll get moving and see what lies ahead of ourselves here in the paralyzed world of the future!

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Okay, so our previous updates were a crazy collection of plot progression. A lot of things happened in a very short amount of time! Dusknoir successfully captured Grovyle at the Crystal Lake and upon returning to the future with him in tow, he suddenly grabbed us and brought us into the future as well! We woke up in a prison cell and a squadron of Sableye blindfolded us and took us to an execution! Dusknoir seems to be working for Dialga, though something doesn't seem right with Dialga. The two seem to have something against those who seek to alter the flow of the timeline and decide to eliminate us alongside Grovyle. Thankfully, we managed to escape our execution and are now on the run from our firing squad!

Wow, this story got real heavy real fast. I've been tired the last couple of days from working on a personal project recently, so forgive me for not contributing a whole lot of enthusiasm for the last couple posts. Anyway, if you recall, I described the expedition as this game's counterpart to Rescue Team's fugitive arc. I suppose in hindsight that's a bit inaccurate. It's perhaps more accurate in terms of how the dungeon progress works with your ability to take side paths to stock up on items and experience if you find yourself lacking. But this section is more akin to the fugitive arc in just about every other way, including the fact that we're actually fugitives!

This section of the game is a bit more rough on you as you no longer have alternate paths to take to build up, you only have one path to take and that's forward. If you find the dungeons too tough, you'll just have to tough it out!

Interesting to note, though, is that these Kangaskhan Statues do still allow you to access your storage, which is why I encouraged you to make sure you have space. You're not gonna be able to access the market, so you won't have a chance to sell all your junk if you haven't done it already. I suppose all the items you've had stored are still good all this time later, though.

Anyway, last time, we ended on the note of hearing the Sableye's laughter, so we'd better stop dawdling around and get going into the first of many dungeons of the future!

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Chasm Cave

Alright, elephant in the room, somehow I accidentally forgot to take a screenshot of the first floor of this dungeon, so here's the shot from bulbapedia. Sorry! I'll try to stay on top of this more in the future!

The music in here is rather intense and for good reason! We're certainly in a scary environment! This dungeon is unique in that it doesn't have any walls. Instead, each floor is just a maze of paths floating in a void. Pokemon capable of crossing pits can navigate through these freely, but since there's no walls to hide inside, they're still much less threatening than Ghost-types. Still, you should be wary in narrow paths, especially considering the darkness can make them hard to see. Make sure your partner is capable of defending themselves and support them where necessary!

Another fact here is that, since we're trapped in the future, we can't recruit any pokemon to Chimecho's assembly. And beyond that, we can't bring any party members with us. We're alone with our partner! These dungeons are going to be a bit lonely.

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Between both versions, you can find Poke, Pecha Scarves, Persim, Power, Stamina, and Special Bands, Gravelerocks, Apples, Cheri, Oran, and Pecha Berries, Blast, Heal, Pure, Reviver, and Sleep Seeds, Max Elixirs, and assorted TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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This is the first dungeon where we can find Gravelerocks! They're just stronger versions of the Geo Pebbles we've been lugging around. This is a good time to make the switch, especially if you already have some from mission rewards.

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In Explorers of Darkness, you can find the Insomniscope, Scope Lens, Twist Band, Hunger, Violent, and X-Eye Seeds, and version-exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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In Explorers of Time, you'll find the Def. Scarf, Heal and Joy Ribbons, Zinc Bands, Stun, Vile, and Warp Seeds, and version-exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

Monster Houses cannot appear in this dungeon.

As for traps, there are actually no traps that are common between both of these versions.

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In Darkness, you'll want to watch out for Gust, Poison, Slumber, and Spin Traps. The Gust Traps can be especially powerful in this dungeon without walls. If you get blown into a pit, you'll be warped to a random open tile on the floor which could likely separate you from your partner.

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Of course, Explorers of Time brings along Slow, Summon, and Warp Traps.

Traps actually start to appear more aggressively here, so be extra careful when navigating dungeons going forward.

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Chasm Cave [B1F - B2F]

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For the first couple of floors, you'll find Magnemite, Skarmory, Ditto, Grumpig, and Drifloon. Magnemite and Drifloon are capable of crossing over the pits, making them a bit more threatening than usual. In addition, Drifloon has the unique Aftermath ability which can be potentially devastating at a bad time. It will randomly cause Drifloon to SelfDestruct upon being KO'd, causing the same sort of damage to its surroundings that the move would. It can blow up walls, destroy items, and deal massive damage to surrounding pokemon. You want to pick them off from a distance and lure them away from valuable items. Of course, Grumpig's ability to confuse you is also annoying. Moreover, Ditto can disguise itself as any other pokemon on the floor, but it won't copy that pokemon's attacks so it'll be left only with its basic attack and Struggle.

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Chasm Cave [B3F - B4F]

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Onix can be found on the next floor! He's huge and intimidating! But it's just an Onix at the end of the day, don't let its size intimidate you.

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Chasm Cave [B5F]

The atmosphere changes a bit on the fifth floor with a more bluish look to the ground.

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It's down here that you'll start to find Drifblim which are bulkier versions of Drifloon. The same strategies apply, but it might take a few more hits to take them out.

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Chasm Cave [B6F - B8F]

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Skarmory dips on the sixth floor and Magnemite is replaced with its evolution: Magneton.

===============

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At the end of the dungeon, we find the exit!

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Having gotten a breakaway from the hunting party, we decide to take a rest. Pep finds some water nearby, only...

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The water is completely stagnant despite being a waterfall. Even the particles of water surrounding it are just floating there, completely still.

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Pep is once again down in the dumps as he thinks back to how Dusknoir betrayed us and that he's just seeing more and more evidence that Grovyle was being honest...

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Suddenly, Pep gets an idea! If we can use our dimensional scream, maybe we can learn something about what happened!

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Unfortunately, to Pep's disappointment, we don't receive anything upon touching the water. We still have no idea how to control the ability, after all, and there's no guarantee it would even work in a paralyzed world.

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Pep brings up that we've wasted enough time dawdling around and we need to get going again to get some more distance on the Sableye.

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But, there's another Kangaskhan Rock here meaning it's time to save! We'll continue our little journey into the unknown next time.

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We're still on the run from Dusknoir's squad! Once you've rested up at the Kangaskhan rock, it's time to get moving onward!

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Dark Hill

This is our second dungeon of the future, so you can naturally expect things to get a bit tougher. Monster Houses once again don't appear in this dungeon, so you don't have to worry about that, but continue to be wary of those pesky traps!

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The selection of items is fairly similar to the previous dungeon. Common items across both versions include Poke, Def and Pecha Scarves, Persim, Power, and Stamina Bands, Gravelerocks, Apples, Cheri, Oran, and Pecha Berries, Blast, Heal, Pure, Reviver, and Sleep Seeds, Max Elixirs, and assorted TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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In Explorers of Darkness, you can find the Insomniscope, Scope Lens, Patsy and Twist Bands, Hunger, Violent, and X-eye Seeds, and exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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The Patsy Band is just as situational here as in Rescue Team. It just makes attacks on the equipped pokemon more likely to be critical hits and I'm still not really sure what situations you'd want this for outside of maybe wanting to get more damage out of moves like Counter or Destiny Bond. I really couldn't tell ya.

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In Explorers of Time, you'll find Special and Zinc Bands, Stun, Vile, and Warp Seeds, and exclusive TMs and Wonder Orbs.

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The Trip Trap is back, and of course present in both versions.

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Explorers of Darkness brings the Gust, Poison, Pokemon, Slumber, and Spin Traps

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Explorers of Time has the Chestnut, Grimey, SelfDestruct, Slow, Summon, and Warp Traps.

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The Chestnut Trap is a fairly useless trap returning from Rescue Team that drops Chestnuts on your head and deals 10 HP.

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Dark Hill [1F - 4F]

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On the first few floors, you'll find Gastly, Banette, Misdreavus, and Gliscor. The former three won't let you forget about Ghost-type's abilities to pass through walls. Be wary as you walk through the corridors and keep your Gravelerocks at the ready just in case! These guys are annoying in all the ways they typically are, but they're fairly easily dispatched, too. Be wary of Shadow Sneak's range, though! Gliscor will be present throughout the dungeon but didn't really stand out to me in any particular way.

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Dark Hill [5F - 6F]

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Claydol joins the fray on the 5th floor. Once again, it didn't really stand out to me in any particular way, just be wary of Levitate making it immune to Ground-type attacks.

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Dark Hill [7F]

The aesthetic is changed up a bit with the redder walls taking on a more blueish color.

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Gastly is replaced with its evolution, Haunter, on the 7th floor.

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Dark Hill [8F]

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The 8th floor drops Banette in favor of the much more obnoxious Dusclops whose Pressure ability makes you want to avoid conflict with them wherever possible.

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Dark Hill [9F - 11F]

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Misdreavus is gone on the 8th floor.

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One thing that might be good to note is that the move Synthesis seems to work at full power even in a world of eternal darkness! I guess there must be sunlight... somewhere!

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Dark Hill [12F - 15F]

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Haunter is replaced with its evolution, Gengar, on the 12th floor! KEH KEH KEH!

=================

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As we reach the end of the dungeon, Pep seems attracted to a pretty sight before him. We stop and take in the view, only...

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It seems even natural beauty is lost on Pep in this moment as he quickly recognizes the lights he sees as those around the stockade where Dusknoir betrayed us.

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Pep just starts to unload all his feelings onto us. This is all getting to him really bad, it's clear. He's conflicted. He grew to respect Dusknoir so much after all the time we've spent together so it's impossible for him to consider that it was all pretense... None of what's happening makes any sense at all...

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And then he begins to reminisce about the guild. Things really did change for the worst really fast, didn't it? Just one quick moment and our whole lives were uprooted with no explanation. The more you think about it, the more cruel it seems, doesn't it?

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It's important that we cheer Pep up or those Sableye will catch us. He's on the verge of giving up and we can't have that, we need each other and we're not about to stop here!

But there is some line of hope we can follow. Let's not forget that Grovyle managed to travel back in time before. Even though we don't know how he did it, he seems to have a plan and he knows this world better than we do. He seemed to want to team up with us, so maybe if we can find him again we can find a way back home. Of course, that does mean trusting him to some extent which is clear Pep wouldn't be too keen on. After all, traveling back in time with Grovyle likely means he'd just try to steal the Time Gears again... Still, maybe we can gleam some info from him?

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So, we explain this idea to Pep and he reacts rather predictably. He's very reluctant to just go along with the idea.

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After an emotional outburst, Pep mulls it over a bit longer and comes to the realization that we really don't have any choice.

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After a moment of silence, he finally seems to come to agreement.

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After talking some pep into Pep, he seems a bit more enthusiastic. Even though he doesn't like the idea of trusting with Grovyle, we do have a plan now. It may not be much, but it's something to keep us going forward for just a bit longer.

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As we go to leave, Pep gives us a heart-felt thanks for what we've done for him, but he recognizes now that he has no need to worry alone.

And so, it's time to get going!

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Pep notes that we've been on a linear path this whole time, so Grovyle has to be ahead of us through this next cave! Of course, you know what that means.

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We'll be resting up at this Kangaskhan Rock and next time continue with yet another dungeon!

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