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The Media Man Review: The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero Part 2: The Indigo Disk

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Part 1 came out back in September and I've covered it already. Now it's time to review Part 2. Here we are with Part 2, The Indigo Disk.


In my review of The Teal Mask, I said the DLC had more effort put into the story than expected even if the execution was fumbled and it was a DLC that fizzles out very quickly and is practically barren once you've done everything. It was kinda underwhelming honestly and didn't feel worth the price-tag unlike The Isle of Armour over on Sword and Shield where that DLC at least has replay value and while the story barely even classifies as a story, that ironically makes it better than the story for The Teal Mask because it didn't have all the problems I had with the latter's plot.


So going into The Indigo Disk, I was more than hoping that would have more to offer and feel more worth the price tag. Needless to say, it was hyped up to the max with all sorts of content promised and even those who got a hands-on preview of the game were talking about how surprisingly challenging it was. Going in, I was excited as all hell let me tell you and I knew I had to play it.


So is The Indigo Disk any better a DLC than The Teal Mask was? Or the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero not really worth digging up in the end? Let's find out as I review this DLC...


Section 1: The Story


Following on from the events of The Teal Mask, the player character is invited to participate as an exchange student in studies abroad in a prestigious academy known as Blueberry Academy all the way over in the Unova region. Whilst there, the player takes part in the BB League in where they'll have to use all their skills as a Pokémon trainer to defeat the Elite Four and Kieran. But at the same time, another trip down into Area Zero will uncover the hidden treasure of the place once and for all...


The story here feels a bit of a downgrade compared to last time. I say that in the sense that...well, this DLC doesn't really have a plot. It's basically just "beat the BB League" with a thinly woven narrative around trying to snap Kieran out of his aggressive and power-obsessed funk as some kind of attempt to make it a story. Even the encounter with Terapagos at the end doesn't really make this feel like a story. Rather it's just a random fetch quest added at the end of the game but it doesn't really work because the Terapagos plot and the BB League plot barely have any connection to each other outside of "Kieran wants to beat the player". You could've just skipped the BB League plot and had Kieran go straight for Terapagos or have Kieran's arc end at the BB League plot and you wouldn't feel like you missed anything. If Terapagos had been built up a little more and had more of a direct tie-in to the main story than these two plots would've felt better connected.


The Terapagos plot itself is especially damning because they put so much effort into developing Ogerpon's story and adding so much interesting lore to The Teal Mask's story that we felt connected to Ogerpon and like we really got to know her. Terapagos is just a plot device with no character to it whatsoever and is just a motivator to get our characters into Area Zero in the first place. Sure there's some interesting lore behind it as the Pokémon that seems to be responsible for the terastal phenomenon in the first place but that's about all we get. It still feels like we didn't get all the answers we seek about the crystal turtle Pokémon and it doesn't even get characterized. It feels so weird that they put so much effort into the Ogerpon story and then didn't bother with Terapagos.


Even the titular Indigo Disk feels like an afterthought here. I mean this thing is what the DLC is titled after and it's just...a random plot device that's given to us by Geeta out of nowhere. Come on guys, that's terrible writing and you know it. =P They could've done more with it than just going the lazy route like so. What makes it even sillier is they try to explain it as Geeta being absent-minded during some unique dialogue with Rika. Yeah, I don't buy it writers. Geeta never once gives the impression of being absent-minded so I don't think for a minute she just "forgot" to give us the Indigo Disk.


As is, this DLC has a very thin plot that feels like I'm being generous in calling it a story at all. And yet weirdly enough, I had a better time with this story than The Teal Mask. Why? Because it's as simple and straight-forward as it gets, ergo we don't have any of the issues that held The Teal Mask back like how forced Kieran's fall from grace was and how ridiculously easily Ogerpon's story was resolved. There's no extraneous crap here, what we see is what we get and it does at least tell this simple story well. I got invested in Kieran's struggle and how Blueberry Academy seems troubled by his sudden change in behaviour. I also thought it was interesting how Drayton essentially manipulates events so we can beat him and get him to snap out of it. It was surprisingly compelling and with how bad the game made me feel in crushing Kieran's dreams and stealing Ogerpon from him, I was genuinely rooting for him to get his redemption and was keen to see how it played out. Making it so that his actions going too far and nearly getting everyone killed was the perfect way for him to snap out of it in the end and felt like a satisfying conclusion to his arc to me.


Also as underdeveloped as the Terapagos story is, the encounter itself makes up for it in spectacle by feeling suitably epic and intense, very much akin to the battle with Eternatus, and it at least sells how powerful this thing is with its Stellar form and how when we terastilize, it keeps stealing our power so the best we can do is try to survive. It was surprisingly nail-biting to be honest!


And also the world-building is as effective as ever, as is expected from Pokémon. Blueberry Academy is a fascinating place to explore and we get all sorts of new info and lore about the Unova region we've never had before such this academy's very existence or how characters like Drayton and Lacey are related to two of Unova's Gym Leaders. The game also adds further depth to the Paldean characters with the special coach feature allowing for character interactions with the Gym Leaders and teachers and all that so that's nice of them. It reminds me of how the Galarian Star Tournament in Sword and Shield further fleshed out its characters with some unique character interactions between the Gym Leaders and other characters.


So yeah, The Indigo Disk barely has a plot, yet it somehow managed to tell its story better than its predecessor did because of how the plot is so simple and straight-forward so there's little room to mess up with. It just goes to show that sometimes a simpler story can be better than a more complex one and that execution is key to everything in a story...


Section 2: The Characters


As this is a follow up from The Teal Mask, how does the story continue for these characters? So-so I say. What do I mean? Let's cover them.


The big one to cover of course is Kieran. Still salty over his losses in Kitakami, he's had a severe change in attitude where he's more aloof, aggressive and battle-hardened and has one thing in his mind: power. He only cares about being stronger and it's to the point he's closed off from any relationships he may have with his sister or his friends and his behaviour is so troubling that Drayton feels the need to manipulate events to his liking just to set up his fall and hopefully snap him out of it. His arc hits its climax during the Terapagos plot in where his desire for strength and power almost causes disaster for everyone and in the end, he sees the error of his ways and helps us to defeat Terapagos. Some might feel his arc was "rushed" but I disagree on that. His arc was perfectly handled and this moment was the perfect moment for him to see the light again. I was so glad he got his redemption and didn't become a striaght-up villain in the end.


Carmine on the other hand, I feel no different about after last time. While troubled by Kieran's behaviour, she's still as flippant about it as ever, dismissing it as "going through a rebellious phase" and the whole experience with her brother going off the deep end doesn't change her in anyway. She's still as rude and abrasive to him as ever and her attitude hasn't changed, so it comes off as if she hasn't learned anything by the end. She never once even sees that her attitude towards Kieran is part of the problem and NEVER apologizes for treating him like crap so it's like she doesn't think she's responsible for his turn to darkness or has her head so far up her own arse that she can't see it. Once again, they over-emphasized the "jerk" part of "jerk with a heart of gold" so she just feels like a jerk and like she just isn't a nice person at all. If you want an example of how NOT to develop a character, Carmine's your girl.


Oh and remember how in my review of The Teal Mask I was totally convinced that Briar was a villain? Well...I was wrong. And I hate that. I'm not sore about being wrong, rather I'm sore about the fact they clearly set her up as an obvious bad guy and then...did nothing with it. Why wasn't Briar the villain here? All they did was miss out on a big opportunity to add more conflict to the story by making it so Briar's manipulating Kieran to get what she wants and she's so obsessed with finding Terapagos that she'll do whatever it takes even if the methods are less than ideal. The set-up is sitting RIGHT there for this character and it just doesn't happen. Briar SHOULD have been the villain of this DLC instead of just being a well-meaning history buff who just wants to prove her ancestor was right. It just made her feel underdeveloped and like she had no real role to play in the end. I get making her the villain would've been too obvious but NOT making her the villain just gave her nothing to do in the end. Had I written this story, I would've made it so she was driven mad by her obsession to prove her ancestor was right and so her drive to find Terapagos makes her manipulate events to get what she wants and her ultimate goal is to wreak havoc on those who laughed at her and her ancestor for years. That would've done SOMETHING for her!


In terms of new characters, there's not much to say about them as they're less "characters" and more like obstacles you have to overcome. There's Director Cyrano who is the absent-minded principal of Blueberry Academy and there's the BB Elite Four, consisting of Drayton, Amarys, Crispin and Lacey. Drayton is the most involved in the story as he schemes behind the scenes and sets Kieran up to fall at our hands while the others are just opponents we have to defeat and nothing more. Their simple personalities still make them fun characters at least and they're equally as fun opponents to battle with their challenging teams and skilled move sets. Out of the four, Lacey is my favourite for being the nice one of the group, her cute design and how she cares a lot for everyone in the academy. Her "That's just not right!" catchphrase is also surprisingly cute too.


And as mentioned before, Terapagos is the big new legendary we have for this DLC and it's just that, a new legendary Pokémon. It has no character and barely any story to it unlike Kubfu, Calyrex and Ogerpon before it and so by the time we reach this plot, we have no connection to it and thus it doesn't feel as important as it should do. It's all backstory and no character with this thing, which really makes the overall hidden treasure of Area Zero feel so hollow a discovery in the end. It says a lot when Koraidon and Miraidon feel more important by comparison and they're not even Legendries introduced in the DLC!


So overall, the game stuck the landing with Kieran but dropped the ball with Carmine and Briar, did nothing with Terapagos aside from making it the MacGuffin to find and the new characters barely even qualify as characters. Not the finest cast in a Pokémon game and they definitely could've been better...


Section 3: The Gameplay


Like last time, I'm skipping the graphics section as there's nothing to talk about aside from the new environments so I'm ending with the gameplay. Unlike The Teal Mask, the gameplay has A LOT to offer and it doesn't fizzle out so quickly by the end.


I'm not kidding when I say this DLC is PACKED with stuff to do and it's great! It actually makes it feel worth the price in the end much like how the Sword and Shield DLCs felt worthwhile because of everything they had to offer. I may have to do bullet points so I can cover it all as sufficiently as I can. So let's start with the big one:


Blueberry Academy is stated in-universe to be a state-of-the-art facility that specializes in Pokémon battles and they really hold up to that reputation. There are lots of trainers to battle in each of the biomes and of course, the Elite Four and Kieran themselves to face and they're all really well handled in terms of the difficulty factor. All battles in the Terarium are double battles and everybody in there has their teams tailor-made to fit the double battles format and their Pokémon are cherry-picked with useful held items and crafty move sets to pull off complex strategies that you might see in an actual competitive Pokémon team such as one trainer with a double Intimidate strategy or how Crispin has an Exeggutor with an ability that activates when it's sunny or how Amarys abuses Trick Room and Stealth Rock strategies and has two Pokémon that can survive one hit KOs right at the start or how Lacey has a Prankster Whimsicott to use its status moves before we can make a move.


Even Kieran's team is competitively viable with a Dragonite and Politoed combo to set off rain and have Dragonite abuse moves like Thunder and Hurricane (which have perfect accuracy when it's raining) or a Prankster Grimmsnarl to set up status moves or a Porygon-Z holding a Life Orb. Many of the trainers here also have Pokémon with very useful abilities like the aforementioned Prankster mons or how both Kieran and Drayton use a Dragonite with Multiscale to tank super-effective hits better at full health and so much more. Needless to say, you will NOT have an easy time with these people and I outright lost to one of the Elite Four despite cherry-picking my team to counter them. Even if you're using a team of Level 100 Pokémon, you're not going to beat them without losing at least one mon as they're that powerful. Those that think Pokémon games are "too easy" (which is wrong, the games haven't gotten easier, we've gotten more experienced at them) will be satisfied to know that this DLC will give them the challenge they're seeking. It says a lot when I, a guy who never bothers with held items when playing the games, actually had to resort to using them just so I could put up a better fight against these trainers!


Hell, they actually managed to improve GEETA of all people by making her use Glimmora and Kingambit in the right order, improving her Espartha's moveset and she changes Veluza and Gogat for Chesnaught and Dragapult! Better still, her Kingambit even Terastilizes into a Flying-type to eliminate all its usual weaknesses and even gain a type-advantage over Flying-types! Who knew it was possible to make GEETA of all characters actually strong after all? Where was THIS Geeta when we fought her in the main game? XD


Oh and the best part? Unlike The Teal Mask, this DLC has replay value! If you're in your League Club Room, you can talk to members of the Elite Four or any special coach you invite for a visit (more on them later) and you can rematch them after talking to them enough times. So don't worry, there's still stuff to do when the game's over unlike last time. And of course, I must bring up the fact that if you fight them enough times, they will offer to make a trade with you. The BB Elite Four, the Paldean Gym Leaders, the Paldean Elite Four and all your teachers at your Academy will trade a Pokémon with you and it's acknowledged as such with their names being part of the Pokémon's name such as Iono's Magnemite or Crispin's Magby for example.


Speaking of the special coaches, one of the features in the League Club Room is that you can invite characters from Paldea such as the Gym Leaders, the Elite Four, Geeta and the Academy teachers over. You'll get unique interactions between two of them at a time and you'll be able to battle them. To unlock more characters, you have to trade with a certain number of people for certain ones, you have to befriend all your teachers at your school to unlock them and trading with eight characters will unlock a secret boss fight with Director Cyrano in where defeating him earns you a trade where he gives you a shiny Blitzle. That's a nice gift from him. ^^ This does sound a bit tedious, especially as you have to invite them over at least three times before you can trade with them and inviting them over to trade or battle always costs BB Points so you always need to replenish your supply but hey, nothing wrong with getting to rematch as many times as you want if it means training up your Pokémon some more am I right?


Oh and if you're confused why there's three spots remaining and you can't seem to unlock them, there's a reason for that. Nemona, Penny and Arven are locked behind a side quest called Mochi Mayhem, which at the time of writing is NOT accessible yet. In the future, there will be some kind of giveaway event where you'll receive an item and unlock said side quest so you'll have to wait for the time being. Also completing the Mochi Mayhem quest will make it so Kieran and Carmine will appear in the League Club Room too and they're also ones you can rematch and trade with too. When will this event be available? January the 11th and it's free to those who already have the DLC so if you have it, you'll be able to play it come next month, which is great.


The League Club Room itself has many features to it. Using BB Points that you earn when doing BBQs (Blueberry Quests), you can spend them to do a variety of things like redecorating the room itself, adding in a speaker, adding in an Item Printer to create lots of items you wish to create or even changing your throwing style. But the most important ones of course are inviting over the special coaches as I mentioned before...and unlocking all the starter Pokémon from the previous 8 gens. Yep, every single starter from Bulbasaur to Sobble is available in this game and they're all catchable in this DLC. Trouble is unlocking them costs 3,000 BB Points per biome so you have to grind for a lot of BB Points, which is already a chore to do because you get so few BB Points per BBQ you complete so solo players like me have a lot of grinding to do while those who can play with others online have an easier time. That just annoys the crap out of me and I wish GameFreak would stop punishing solo players like so.


Another thing that annoys me is that features like changing your throwing style or gaining the ability to fly are just things you can do here in this DLC when they should've been available from the start. Like what was the point of the gliding feature for our Legendary? Why not just make it so it can fly from the start? This did not need to be a thing we unlock right at the end of the game in the second half of the DLC. It's not like the Max Soup thing being introduced in The Isle of Armor where we can access that much earlier when playing through Sword and Shield with both DLC unlocked. This is something in the second DLC that we unlock after beating the post-game so there's not really much of a reason to go flying around as we've pretty much done everything.


But those are the only real nitpicks I have here. The gameplay still has lots of great things about it and I still haven't talked about all of it yet. One really fun feature this DLC gives us is the Synchro Machine. This device lets us LITERALLY play as our Pokémon. You have no idea how awesome and fun that feature is and while we can only use it in the Terarium, it's still fun to play around as. Ceruledge is especially great with how fast it runs or any Flying-type Pokémon you can still fly around as them or walk around and those that can swim, you can do just that. While it's not an important new feature and honestly feels like a fancy gimmick they just slapped onto the DLC for good measure, it's still a fun feature and it's great we have a mainline Pokémon game actually letting you play as your Pokémon for once. It would've been nice if there was a jump button though, it feels a bit daft that they didn't include one and thus your Pokémon can't get everywhere with even a slight edge to it because you can't jump. If this feature returns in future games, hopefully they'll include one.


The Terarium is also a huge place to explore and with its four themed biomes, you'll find all kinds of Pokémon roaming around in them so it's easy to just get lost going around exploring or catching all the new Pokémon you can find. There's lots of returning Pokémon of course such as the Rhyhorn, Doduo, Magmar, Electabuzz and Lapras lines but there's a handful of new ones to play with too such as Archaludon which evolves from Duraludon, Hydrapple which evolves from Dipplin, Terapagos (of course) and two version exclusive Paradox Pokémon that you can unlock after completing a Perrin side-quest where you need to register 200 Pokémon in the Blueberry Pokédex. Perrin sure loves rewarding us with Pokémon doesn't she? There's also Pecharunt but you can't get that one yet as it's a Mythical Pokémon locked behind the inaccessible Mochi Mayhem quest for now so again, you'll have to wait until January the 11th before you can do that.


However, there's actually a way to catch a Meloetta in this game so there's at least ONE Mythical you can catch in-game here. There's a windy spot somewhere in one of the biomes where you can find it but you also need to spin around in the windy spot clockwise for ten seconds, then use your camera with the sepia filter on in order to get Meloetta to appear. It's like how The Crown Tundra requires a very specific action just to get Keldeo to appear. It's nice how certain Mythicals are being made catchable in game nowadays and they're not always stuck behind events like they used to be.


And there's still more stuff to do outside of Blueberry Academy! You can do your Academy Tournaments at school again in Paldea but the participants all have a power boost to their teams, there's a secret Team Star quest where you help them out with settling back into school and even get to see the team outside of their uniforms, there's a cutscene with the professor of the game you're playing you can unlock when taking Terapagos to Crystal Pool in Kitakami and of course, you can go Legendary hunting. Talking with Snacksworth (yes, that's his name) and completing enough BBQs will earn you a treat that unlocks a certain Legendary Pokémon and you can fly around Paldea looking for them and catching them. Kubfu and the Legendary Kanto birds are available in both versions while Scarlet players can catch Groudon, Reshiram, Ho-Oh, Solgaleo, Glastrier, Latios and the Legendary Beasts from Johto while Violet players can catch Lugia, Lunala, Zekrom, Spectrier, Latias and the Swords of Justice. Annoyingly, Rayquaza, Necrozma and Kyurem are exclusive only to those that complete Group Quests in the Terarium so solo players like me are out of luck. Good thing I had a spare Rayquaza and Kyurem leftover from Sword and Shield so I still got them. XD


So bottom line, this DLC is jam-packed with content and unlike its predecessor, there's actualy replay value so you'll keep coming back for more unlike in The Teal Mask where that DLC is bractically barren once you're done. There's so much to do and I guarantee you may take a while just doing aboslutely everything there is you can do there. For those who feel The Teal Mask may not have given them their money's worth for the DLC, this DLC will definitely make it feel worth the price and you'll have a great time playing it as I have. Sure some things are only accessible to those who play in multiplayer groups, which is annoying, and some things like the ability to fly should've been available from the start but the game more than makes up for what it has to offer with how full of content it is. I know I'm happy with the money I've spent on this DLC...


Overall


The Indigo Disk is a huge mixed bag. I say it's better than The Teal Mask at least and the gameplay made it worth the price but they could've done better with the story and characters to make it even better. As is, the gameplay saves this DLC and gives us some of the most challenging and fun content ever put into a Pokémon game while giving us a lot to do in the meantime. I'd probably say that Sword and Shield had the better DLC by comparison as I have fewer complaints with that than I do with Scarlet and Violet's DLCs but I still say give Scarlet and Violet's DLCs a play through. The Indigo Disk especially makes the experience worthwhile and for those who enjoy a challenge, they'll got their money's worth out of it. I hope GameFreak will learn from their mistakes with these DLCs and next time they make DLC for a Pokémon game, they'll make it even better and truly give us an experience worth paying for...


And that's all I have for this review. I hope you enjoyed it and feel free to share your thoughts down below. Do you like The Indigo Disk? Do you not like it? Comment away and let me know.


Next time we say goodbye to 2023 as I put the year in review and summarize all the content I've checked out this year. See you then everyone!


1 Comment


It has been a good DLC. Even if the Indigo Disc itself was not really important int he end there is still a lot to enjoy about it.

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