Welcome to Diary Entry 7 of our in-depth coverage of Pokémon Black/White (Japanese version). The aim of this series of weekly articles is to allow readers to understand what new features and changes they can expect to see from Pokémon Black/White without spoiling the experience for them. We hope you enjoy them!
The climb up the mountain that leads to the Elite Four is pretty arduous. This time, the dungeon is long, the trainers are hard, and the wild Pokémon are, for the most part, tough.
I was very happy to have stocked plenty of Escape Ropes beforehand, and I loved Gold Sprays. The Aiant (iron ant Pokémon) in particular are common and very difficult to cope with.
I cursed their existence, since they’re a very tough type to counter and Pokémon Black’s lack of good Fire Pokémon (unless you picked the Fire starter, which I didn’t) makes beating a Steel/Bug type hard. Not to mention, Aiants have a high Attack, high Defense, and high Speed.
Pokémon Black is very much upping the learning curve, and despite the fact that we’re on our way to the Elite Four, there’s quite a bit of game left to go, a lot of which is equally brutal. We’ll talk more about post-game content in future entries.
Usually, I would escape the pre-Elite Four battles because they’re annoyingly common, don’t give any experience (especially with the level handicap), and are too easy. Now, they’re too hard and have too fun a time knocking my entire team out. That would call some special training after I climbed all the way up the mountain. That said, it’s unfair that this is the area with the highest-level wild Pokémon so far, but it doesn’t contain any evolved Pokémon, which would give one more EXP.
I loved the setup for the Elite Four. The buildings, which have thus far been more realistic in size with relation to your sprite, are now huge. The second you step out of the cave and into the sun (or the moonlight, depending on your time of day), a wooden suspension bridge spreads out before you, crossing over a grand ravine. Across, you find two old, Greek-style pillars and an ancient-looking plaza. Even the Pokémon Center and the shop to the side look like they’re made from plaster or stone.
Once you’ve made sure you’re ready, and take a step into the plaza, the gate closes behind you. Nothing new in relation to previous generations, but this time, you find yourself with four options. There are four paths before you, spread out in a circle and a statue of a hooded figure in the center of the court. The floor is tiled and each cobblestone path leading up to the door takes you to one of the Elite Four.
One is a Ghost trainer, who resides in a dark library that lights up with lightning flashes every few seconds. As you approach the carpeted staircase, you’re spirited (pun unintended) up the tower by will o’ wisps.
One is a Dark trainer, and as you ride the red-carpet conveyer belt in a spiral up to where he stands, the torches flare to life behind you. Overhead, the chandelier illuminates the room dimly, showing the barred windows beyond and iron bar-gated doors below.
One is a Psychic trainer, and no road leads up to her. However, psychic powers transfer you up to the platform supported by two pillars and two frivolous-looking yellow ribbons amidst a background of glittering stars. The top is draped with curtains, and at the center is a giant pale yellow tent topped by a ribbon. When you approach, the center of the tent opens to reveal a bed where the Elite 4 trainer in question awakens.
The last one is a Fighting trainer, and his realm is the most down-to-earth yet. A motor engine rolls at the bottom, and you’re transferred up in a rickety-looking metal cart with steam blowing off in the distance. At the top, you walk into a bona fide wrestling ring with spotlights swirling in the background.
Their Pokémon are pretty high level at this point in the game, but I loved how there’s a bit of a connection between the Elite Four’s Pokémon this time around. Each one is weak to at least one of the other types, and each one is resistant to at least one of the other types. Of course, you shouldn’t let this fool you into thinking of their Pokémon as one-trick ponies. Not only have they taken advantage of TMs, but most of the Elite Four Pokémon also have a second type.
For example, the Ghost trainer has a pure Ghost type, a Water/Ghost, a Ground/Ghost, and a Fire/Ghost. The Fighting trainer, even if all his Pokémon are pure Fighting type, all have one Rock move to counter Flying Pokémon as well as at least one other “out there” attack, such as Grass Knot, U-Turn (a Bug move to counter Psychic Pokémon), or Payback (a Dark move).
Given these formidable challenges, I honestly didn’t expect to win without a few tries, and my predictions were spot-on. It took a few more level-ups before I was able to beat them, and even that required a bit of luck to turn the tide in my favor.
After all four are defeated, it’s time for the Champion! The teleportation device in front of the statue at the center of the plaza activates, and you go down into an empty room that is designed like a maze at first sight. Outside, a whole mountain of stairs wait, and then up above, the Champion sta–
No, wait! Someone’s reached him before you and beat him!
I won’t say what happens next as it involves heavy spoilers, but let’s just say that within the following minutes, one of the game’s primary conflicts reaches its climax. The story comes to an end, and there are plenty of background details provided, some of which made me feel rather attached to a certain character. The pseudo-dungeon design is excellent, and the presentation leading up to the confrontation is great.
At the end of it all, the ultimate showdown with your rival, N, awaits.
Credit for the images used goes to Bulbapedia. In case you missed the previous entries in our Pokémon Black/White Diary series, you can catch up on them below: