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TEEN: Battle With Me: Pokémon XD Gale of Darkness

It seems the game has saved my exact position and rotation in 3D space, as well as which specific doors I've opened.
If only Zelda could do that...
Do you younger folks in the audience even know what a PDA is?
The only reason I know what a PDA is is because of the Build-a-Bear Workshop MMO, where the menu was called a PawDA.
E-mail is just NPCs sending us text boxes with no back-and-forth
There were emails in Pikmin 2 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, too. Was that a trend?
probably because all the other dialogue is bland as tofu.
That's probably why main series Pokémon dialogue has never stuck with me. Pokémon localisation feels really... pedestrian. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, it just lacks personality, not to mention all the repeating. I didn't realise this until I replayed Spirit Tracks and Explores of Time at the same time.
Just give me my bionic arm, please!
I remember when I first saw Michael, I thought he was a cyborg.
I almost forgot! In TamashiiHiroka's review of this game, she says that it lacks themes. Someone in the comments said that the theme is continuing your father's legacy, since the Eevee apparently belonged to him.
I almost forgot! In TamashiiHiroka's review of this game, she says that it lacks themes. Someone in the comments said that the theme is continuing your father's legacy, since the Eevee apparently belonged to him.
So far, I've heard no mention of Eevee belonging to our father amongst the NPCs. Old Man Loose Lips is the only mention of our father so far, or at least, the only one I've encountered. I can do a small detour and investigate; XD's NPCs say different things at different times, so it's possible speaking to them before entering the plot office or after learning Jovi's suspected location might reveal additional information. Plus there's a whole plot ahead; while our avatar eventually starts travelling on their own, the HQ Lab's NPCs continue to alter dialogue. I kept a backup save that skips the opening cutscene/battle just in case; I'll play around with it a bit and FAHT CHEHK!
Reader FAHT CHEHK #1: Father's Eevee

Reader FAHT CHEHK #1:
Father's Eevee

Ello! So I made a promise to a reader that I'd investigate a rumor they heard, and me being me, I went overboard. I wound up with enough material for a mini-chapter, so I'm making this a thing! Time to FAHT CHEHK!


I almost forgot! In TamashiiHiroka's review of this game, she says that it lacks themes. Someone in the comments said that the theme is continuing your father's legacy, since the Eevee apparently belonged to him.


Replay opening and record all dialogue from any NPC that mentions Eevee. Take the elevator and canvass the lab before entering the plot office in hopes of triggering new dialogue. Re-canvass the lab again after learning sister's location.


Some interesting discoveries, very little of which has anything to do with the rumor. Let's start with the absolute first mention of Eevee in the plot: the battle couch's dialogue.

BATTLE COACH (Win): All right, DRAKE. This will do for today! Yes, sir! That was a well-played battle! DRAKE, your battle skills have improved by an amazing amount. I mean, it was impressive the way you handled that big Pokémon with aplomb. You took command of it as if it were the same as your EEVEE. Don't you think it's time you considered raising other POKéMON besides your EEVEE?

BATTLE COACH (Lose): All right, DRAKE. This will do for today! Hm...Nice try, DRAKE. You came up just a little short. Did you find it a little disconcerting to be without your trusty EEVEE? Still, your aptitude for battling is very acute. If you keep up your training, you will get tougher for sure!

I'm not picking up any hints here. Let's try Old Man Loose Lips:

OLD MAN LOOSE LIPS: Hello, DRAKE. Are you done with training for now? You must be tired. But seeing you like this...my, DRAKE, you've grown up to be a fine young lad! DRAKE, if only your father were here to see how much you've grown...Oh! Sorry! I promised that I wouldn't mention that! Please, pay it no heed!

So we have a mention of Eevee, followed by a mention of our father, yet no connecting tissue. Time to start canvassing.

By avoiding the plot office, I found two NPCs change their dialogue. The grandmother-looking NPC in the bedroom corridor changes from "I don't know where Jovi is" to "Why isn't Jovi with you?“, which doesn't matter much. And Adon's flavor text changes, and it's adorable:

ADON: Sshh, DRAKE. Don't blow my cover. JOVI will find me. I've been playing hide-and-seek with my KECLEON. I guess I've been hiding here for around two hours now. I must be a genius at hide-and-seek!

Oh, dramatic irony. I also found an additional dialogue flag: talk to the man in the leftmost room of the reception area, and he'll mention he's working on "a special machine for catching POKéMON" Similarly, the scientists in the rightmost room don't mention the Purify Chamber in their flavor text, only mentioning a "project"...until the guy sitting in the chair gives an exposition dump, including our first mention of Shadow Pokémon. Then all the scientists incorporate the Purify Chamber into their dialogue. The man in the leftmost room even mentions his machine is "related" to the Purify Chamber. The missed opportunity for a collective facepalm when the Purify Chamber gets mentioned pretty adequately sums up the Pokémon HQ Lab's shortcomings ("...what, did I say something?").

I also tested this with an NPC in the top floor bedroom office who mentions the Purify Chamber ("What big project? Why, it's the PURIFY CHAMBER, of course. Didn't you know?"), but he doesn't seem to trigger the "learned about Purify Chamber" flag. I'll keep this flag in mind for future chapters, but so far we haven't found anything related to Eevee or our father. Though if I may comment on the results so far; if only someone tweaked the HQ Lab's dialogue slightly, it might have had at least some personality.

Oh, and this door's locked "from the inside", but it's actually only locked until you enter the plot office:

Lying Lock of Liers.png

As for dialogue that changes after you learn about Jovi's location? Again, nothing related to Eevee. I talked to every NPC and the only flavor text that changes is Professor Krane dryly commenting on the P★DA and the bedroom hallway grandma mentioning Jovi was asking about the place, which is the exact same info Adon gave us, thank you for wasting our time Bedroom Hallway Grandma. I also replayed the optional battle that becomes available, but "Supertrainer Aferd" makes no mention of Eevee in any of his text.

However, I did accidentally stumble across a short cutscene triggered by not entering the break room before talking to Adon:

Surprise Plot Rails.png

We are now forcibly warped in front of the TV to watch the news reel. The scientist doesn't add any important dialogue, but it's interesting how blunt Genius Sonority can get if you don't stumble into their exposition.


While it's a little early in the plot to scream FAHT CHEHKED!, I doubt any more information's coming up soon. Thus, I'm going to file this one under Unlikely for now. I'll make sure to re-canvass the HQ Lab every so often in case new information presents itself. As it stands, it seems this faht was whisked out of thin air.
I thought you were trying to keep the Purify Chamber a secret?
Was mentioned in some NPC's dialogue I quoted in CH6. Cat's out of the bag, and it's information the player has access to anyways. The only secret I'm holding is a setup for a "this rug really ties the room together" joke.
Hello! No chapter this week, but I have an interesting enough update that I think warrants its own post. It's a little mini-story of trying to deal with the heck'n heat in my recording environment.

Brief recap: my play environment is an attic cubby with a skylight. The skylight has no screens. There is no air conditioning. Therefore, it gets hot. Hot enough that I was seriously considering a hiatus after a week of hot and humid summer air. I had an opening for CH7 typed up on my phone, but I hit a brick wall once I started needing gameplay. So I waited for cooler weather, but it never came.

But I am not one to give up so easily! Just yesterday, my roommates hooked up a window-mounted air conditioner downstairs. This made a huge different...until you walked up the steps to the attic, because heat rises. It became apparent that the skylight was the main source of heat, as apparent by a piece of metal I left directly underneath it. The skylight needed to be blocked at all costs.

Unfortunately, I'm broke, so costs were limited. But I'm a creative young man. After much trial, error, and sweaty t-shirts, I found a solution.
Skylight Problems.jpg

Duct tape and used shower curtain, motherfuckers.​

In addition, I've setup a fan in my cubby and duct taped a hole in the attic corridor that was leaking air from the rafters (it was a slot for a smoke detector. The battery died, so my landlord removed the smoke detector. My landlord's a creative individual). All together, the temperature in my cubby has dropped a good 20-30° Fahrenheit overnight. Which means I can finally play Gale of Darkness again! Hooray, white trash solutions!

As mentioned, I've already started work on CH7, so I'm aiming to have something posted this week. It won't be an especially long chapter as I have some research to do, but I can confirm the game's finally getting interesting. In XD's defense, my main save's playtime is about thirty minutes having intentionally talked to every HQ lab NPC and explored every nook and cranny, though for this analysis's purposes it feels like forever. Finally, the pace will pick up!

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CH7: Chobin's Number One Chapter

CH7: Chobin's Number One Chapter

My previous chapter, I ended with a simple question: what was XD's theme? And I've been thinking about that a lot, and I have a theory.

Throughout this slow start, there's one thing I could not criticize. Gale of Darkness's world has been thought through. The HQ Lab was laid out in a way that (in-universe) makes sense. Our avatar's family dynamic makes sense. And if I may quote the hive mind one more time:

"I wanted to create a world that was a little different, a little more grown up than the Pokémon world we’ve known up until now...it might be a little different from the image we have of the Pokémon universe you have now."^
—Genius Sonority which is apparently a hive mind​

I think Genius Sonority wanted to make a world first, a game second. I don't have much proof besides the game itself, but it's the only explanation I have that's survived gameplay. And while I'm totally down for that approach, I don't think it jives with linear RPGs.

Don't get me wrong, I think it can work. But you need to ace everything. The dialogue, the music, the level design; they are part of your world. And right now, as much as I can immerse myself in the world, I don't want to. I'm stuck doing mundane tasks instead of interacting with, you know, Pokémon. That IP you're using? Forget the failed edgy "Gale of Darkness" in the title, the drought of Pokémon so far has been the most mind-numbing experience yet. I spent thirty minutes game time in the lab and all I got was training SIMs and one optional curb-stomp battle. Genius Sonority has made a world, but without that flawless execution, they haven't made an enjoyable world. A better world.

So far.

If I didn't have future plot knowledge, I'd be tempted to quit right here and now. But let's ride this storm of mediocrity out just a little while longer. I promise, there's a bionic arm light at the end of the tunnel.

★ ★ ★​

So we're at the world map. We pick our destination, and a little cutscene plays of us travelling. And it's, uh, well...

They See Me Rollin.png

We're riding a motorized scooter. Of all the transportation options a kid could have (skateboard, bicycle, etc), we get this.

It's not even a futuristic scooter, something made by the lab. Why not give me a skateboard or bicycle, give it a futuristic look, and attach a motor? Electric skateboards are fast and cool,^^, and take the pedals away from an electric bicycle and you have a motorcycle. Seriously, just a motorcycle that resembles a futuristic bicycle. It's a polite nod towards the "Pokémon protagonists ride bicycles" trope while distinguishing your protagonist as having the faster, more high-tech, just plain cooler alternative. Or go with a scooter, I guess.

Anyways, brief animation of our avatar travelling, and we arrive at Dr. Kaminko's...

Kaminko Manor Reveal.png

Uhh...yeah...and here's the music:

I don't think you need an in-depth analysis for this piece. It speaks for itself.

We spawn just inside the mansion's front gate. The courtyard appears empty, excluding a stone Groudon statue. The only entrance appears to be the double doors in the manor's front. There's frequent lightning. Everything looks fine.

But, as a critic, I have to set aside my nostalgia and point out one major flaw. We are here to locate our sister Jovi. But as the player, we haven't actually met Jovi. We have some character development by proxy — NPC flavor text implies Jovi is young, immature, but also close to the main character. But putting myself in the shoes of a new player (and recalling my first childhood playthrough), I'm not particularly invested in this rescue mission. We don't know if Jovi is a sympathetic character or not, and this place looks dangerous. But the plot rails beckon; time to go inside.

Who Goes There.png

Oh, this is going to be interesting.

Chobin Profile.png

CHOBIN: Wait! Who goes there?! You must be a burglar! CHOBIN will put you straight! Don't you move! CHOBIN is the name! And CHOBIN is the number-one assistant to DR. KAMINKO! CHOBIN is the only assistant, so CHOBIN has to be the number-one assistant!

And we're whisked away into a battle! And we're still in tutorial mode (if we didn't find that optional battle earlier, this would've been our first "real" battle). It goes as you'd expect:

Chobin Lost.png

CHOBIN: You've made CHOBIN angry now! Even though CHOBIN lost, you're still not getting past CHOBIN! (shocked emote) Huh? Closer inspection reveals that the subject is a child. Ergo, the subject is not a burglar! Ahaha! CHOBIN wishes you spoke up right away. You're DRAKE? CHOBIN apologizes for jumping to the wrong conclusion.

I've been in this level approximately one minute and already it has more personality and action than the HQ Lab. Aside from the music and initial atmosphere dissolving upon Chobin's arrival, Chobin himself is just an adorable character. His short dialogue and hilariois non-seethrough glasses shows he's clearly incompetent, but since he's already leaked information about the inner workings of Dr. Kaminko's lab ("Chobin is the only assistant"), he clearly isn't much if a threat. And the third-person pronouns just scream "socially awkward". This, right here, is how you make an NPC worth talking to. An outfit, a paragraph or two of quirky dialogue, plus a battle if appropriate to add some gameplay variety. Chobin's only Pokémon is a Level 5 Sunkern, by the way. Sunkern is the weakest Pokémon in Pokémon behind Magikarp.

I think things are finally on the up, peoples! As long as our sister isn't completely nonsensical-

Jovi Introduction.png

-and our sister comes running out of the house being completely nonsensical. Just as I was...it's okay, she's exiting the story soon. Keep calm, MC Snuggles. This is what the pills are for.

Let's break this down in detail:

JOVI: Oh! Big brother! What are you doing here? Oh! JOVI gets it! Big brother, you got lost, didn't you?

First things first: why is Jovi referring to herself in third person? With Chobin, it was incompetent quirkyness that fit with his established incompetency. But Jovi isn't showing any signs of incompetency. She's a mischevious child that trashes our room, runs off without permission, and twists the story so she's rescuing us. She isn't incompetent, so what's the point of her third person pronouns?

I can actually answer that question. Well, make an educated guess. I'm having to rely on Wikipedia once again due to the language barrier (Wikipedia does cite a study, but it's in Japanese and I couldn't find an English translation),^^ but long story short it seems referring to oneself in third person is "cute" in Japanese. And this seems to line up with anecdotal internet reports, as well.^^ Which means Jovi referring to herself as Jovi is intended to be cutesy, because Japan.

I think now's a good time to discuss the currently playing background music.

Herpity depy 2.0. There's even an xylophone. Yeah, Jovi's intended to be cute. Problem is, unlike bumbling assistant Chobin, Jovi is incredibly annoying.

Jovi is immature. Fine, she's a kid. Problem is, everything we know about Jovi so far is that she's obnoxious and self-centered, AKA not cute. Remember this?


And then she abandons Adon in the middle of a game without telling him or her parents to investigate a creepy and potentially dangerous manor. In effect, she's the root cause for this entire slow open. And when you finally find her, she insists she is the one rescuing you! No apology, nothing! You even get a YES/NO dialogue box where you can contest her rescue claim, only for her to flat-out dismiss your answer:

JOVI: Uh-uh-uh! There's no hiding stuff from JOVI! Because JOVI knows!

And the worst part? It all makes perfect sense. Dad is missing, Mom is busy with work. Of course Jovi's going to be immature. Problem is, as a mute protagonist, we can't give her the verbal smackdown she needs. And so Jovi will continue to be annoying until...actually, she never stops being annoying, but she's only around for about the first hour of gameplay, at least. Unfortunately, the first hour is where players are experiencing first impressions, and Jovi does not leave a good first impression. Not just as a character, but on the game itself.

Ugh. Remember how I was talking before that our avatar is the responsible sibling? That theory's sliding down the toilet. No responsible caregiver would allow Jovi to exist. Her first reaction on seeing you should've been "oh, crap! Brother's here!" Instead, she's walking all over us, and our avatar looks like a walking doormat. Not exactly an avatar I want to identify with. Jovi's cutesy-ness isn't fooling me; shut up and go home so I can start the real plot, darnit! I want my bionic arm!

Naturally, Jovi runs back inside the manor because she's annoying and wants to delay as much as possible, but Chobin seems to be on the same page as us:

CHOBIN: DRAKE, you are that girl's older brother? Sometimes, she comes here. She wanders around everywhere. CHOBIN finds it hard keeping an eye on her so that she does not bother the DOCTOR.

And Chobin gracefully invites us inside to "look at Dr. Kaminko's inventions", so into the manor we go! And Jovi's run off, so at least we'll get some more Chobin. Thank you, Chobin. You are the light in the darkness.

Unfortunately, Bulbapedia doesn't have a layout image of the manor, so I'll have to describe it instead. Luckily, only two rooms are currently accessible: an entryway with a TV and a bunch of dilapidated-looking machinery complete with randomly flickering car gauges, and an office to the left with bookshelves and a desk. The whole place is more rough around the edges than the cutting-edge Pokémon HQ Lab, with a little more greasy brown in the color pallette instead of shiny-steal white. There's the sense this "lab" was cobbled together with whatever Dr. Kaminko could steal from his local scrapyard.

And in case Chobin hasn't made it perfectly clear, the background music wants you to know Dr. Kaminko's manor is held together by duct tape:

Glass jugs, metallic bangs, fart synths, and 3rd-grade music class wind. I'm assuming all these are actually synthesized, but this just goes to show more expensive ≠ more expressive. And also...herpity derp? But not in a bad way?

Kaminko's Lab is the second location you visit. It, like the HQ Lab, is a laboratory. But that's where the similarities end. The Pokémon HQ Lab is a professional workplace with about a dozen NPCs. Dr. Kaminko's Lab has Chobin. The Pokémon HQ Lab is on the cutting edge of R&D while complying with any and all safety regulations. Dr. Kaminko's Lab looks like it could explode at any minute. It's a perfect foot in the door for worldbuilding purposes, while also highlighting the two locations' unique traits. While I'm bitter I'm not wearing a robot arm and our sister isn't getting any comeuppance, I'm starting to see why this slow open approach was chosen. The execution has been a rollercoaster ride of quality, but I have a feeling Chobin's about to give us some highs.

There's a fair bit of dialogue as we enter the manor. First up, Chobin explains why Dr. Kaminko's inventions are number one in the world.

CHOBIN: DR. KAMINKO's inventions, it needs to be said, are number one in the world! CHOBIN is full of admiration! Oh? Why does CHOBIN know that they are number one worldwide? That needs explaining? In the whole wide world, no one but DR. KAMINKO would invent such inventions! Therefore, they are number one without question!

...I don't know how to respond to this. Chobin, that's...excellent dialogue that should've been at the Pokémon HQ Lab, but all the NPCs had the personality of cardboard! Thank you, Chobin, for bringing us out of the dark ages. What else you got?

CHOBIN: Uh-oh! That girl is at DR. KAMINKO's side again! CHOBIN hopes she is causing no disturbance.

And he's riffing into our sister, as she deserves. Chobin, I'm not sure how you were written into the same game as the Pokémon HQ Lab, but I savor every sentence.


Oh my god, a VCR. This game was released in 2005; VCRs were outdated even at the time. This is intentional. This really is a mad scientist's laboratory.

Wonderful Framing.png

I think my head just exploded.

The uncomfortable close-up. The useless invention. And Chobin's so proud of all of it. He's like a puppy presenting you a stick he's found on the sidewalk. Chobin so clearly doesn't understand the world he lives in, but he's so adorably harmless you can't help but smile. Chobin is better than my nostalgia remembers him, and I cannot communicate how wide I'm smiling.

Chobin gives us an open invitation to view Chobin's home videos "at any time", which lets us discover many of Dr. Kaminko's wonderful inventions. Such as:

• The Power-Draining Light Bulb!
• The Discount Calendar!
• The Haunted Radio!
• The Poké Pole! (it's a pole)

My god! Dr. Kaminko is clearly the most vile of villains! Quick, we must rescue Jovi! To the room immediately to our left!

Jovi, of course, is bugging Dr. Kaminko. We talk to Jovi, who continues to dodge responsibility and insist we're the ones who got lost. She offers to help guide us home. Whatever, let's go find the plot.

Jovi Joined The Party.png


On the other hand, this "party" mechanic is actually a repurposed holdover from Pokémom: Colosseum. It's being repurposed in Gale of Darkness to allow NPCs to briefly follow you. Thankfully, we won't be saddled with Jovi for long.

On the other other hand, this party mechanic will never be used for the obvious: Multi Battles. Despite having legacy code that could allow some extra gameplay variety, Genius Sonority never capitalizes. This will be a more long-term problem I'll probably complain about eventually, but we're really close to getting a robot arm. Let's get on with it.

Jovi's finally following us out the manor. We can get a couple bonus conversations where she annoys Chobin and Kaminko if we talk to them again, because somehow Jovi's a bigger troll than Dr. Kaminko. But enough of this; it's time to head home.

Next time: robot arm! Also, the plot!
No wonder I could never get into any let's plays of this game. The furthest I remember seeing is chuggaconroy in Gateon Port. (Some say it's called that because you get Eeveelution items there.)
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