I’ve not had much time at all to play today what with attending both my jobs for some amount of time (I know, so busy!) But, I have now beaten the next gym, which specialised in the psychic type. When you enter, you are in an ordinary look room, but stepping onto the rug the background warps and you find yourself on narrow pathways suspended above what seems to be nothing. There is not much a puzzle here and navigating your way through to the leader isn’t too difficult. The leader’s Slowking is an awkward one, as it knows yawn. I was running out of Pokémon to use not because they’d fainted, but simply because they were sleeping. If you haven’t got this far yet, I’d definitely advise getting them to hold berries or at least go prepared with awakenings.
Step out the gym and strange guy Lysander contacts you. He seemed to be on your side, but now he is threatening anyone who isn’t in team Flare – bastard! So, let’s go and try to hunt him down… somehow… Before heading on a wild goose chase, Calem gives the clue to search in Lumiose City. Entering loads of different buildings, I soon came across a Flare member outside a red café near the centre in Magenta Plaza – this was as good a bet as any and it did the trick. Beating two undercover members in there gives you the clues to discover the secret entrance to Lysander Labs.
Now, Lysander challenges you as soon as you step through the doorway so beware. He’s not easy, but he’s not too tough either, you’ll be pleased to know. I was anyway. Now you’re free to explore the lab and the bigger picture is finally beginning to truly unfold. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the encounter with the version’s legendary was coming up soon.
This lab works like the Team Rocket base in the original games in the way that there are panels on entryways with arrows that send you spinning in that direction until you hit a wall. You’ll run into a lot of grunts, but why not eh? It’s just chance to train some more and get some more money behind you. It’s all a bit of a maze, but explore enough and you’ll eventually get everything out of it you went in for. There are a good amount of trainers to battle actually rather than just a couple like in some past places. Then again, I suppose you’d expect that from the centre of the operation.
One little room sees you taking on two higher-ups who you’ve come across in the past. Remember the strange stones on Route 10? I knew they’d be significant. The great thing about these games is that things aren’t clear at first, but you gradually get to piece things together. Therefore, the story is almost as important if not more so than the battling and gym badges. In another room is the member you took on last in the ice cave, and beating her gives you access to the elevator key. This is it, the moment we’ve been waiting for. We might just now be able to find out exactly what the ultimate weapon is. Ooh, the tall mysterious guy with the long white hair we briefly met once before? I’d forgotten about him. Now for a cool, unpokemonlike history in the form of storytelling with sketched pictures and captions. I’ll leave the story for you to discover, but it is an interesting spectacle.
Finally, you are launched into battle with the boss of Team Flare. This guy has two Pokémon, but is a bit nastier than the grunts we’re used to going against, but again, not too bad. It’s just about the right level of difficulty, offering challenge and strategy without being frustratingly complicated.
It’s dilemma time. I get to choose which button behind him to press – blue or red. One activates the weapon and one does not. Oh god. Can this change the direction of the game? No, press the right button and he presses the other one anyway. This is slightly disappointing and kills the rush of anticipation, but at least you can’t mess everything up. Now that would be infuriating. A monitor shows a snazzy video of the large rocks as they plunge underground, replaced with one bigger something-or-other. The weapon opens up and pulses rays of light. This looks bloody serious stuff, demolishing the rest of the small town. Now seems like a good place to stop for the night as I’m working again tomorrow, but things are just starting to get very interesting indeed and I can’t wait to investigate tomorrow. When a game leaves you wanting more, that’s just the kind of thing you want and expect.