Reviews Switch

Isle of Armor shows that not every Magikarp can become a Gyarados

The first part of the Pokemon Shield and Sword's set of DLC takes you to paradise, but is it all that it's cracked up to be?

Our journey to the isle started in earnest, after being told to head to Wedgehurst Station. There, we encountered an unexpected delay, in the form of a strange, multicolored Slowpoke. Catching it, per the request of a unique new character allowed us to embark on the short trip to the island itself, which lies just northwest off the main island.

The island itself, surrounded by Sharpedo infested waters, features a number of new areas, home to a variety of Pokemon, most of which you may have encountered previously. Like the Wild Area that takes up a sizable portion of the original, most of the island is covered with items to find, Pokemon to catch and raids to battle in.

Stepping onto the Isle of Armor proper, your first view is that of a massive new Wild Area, with a plethora of wandering Pokemon, places for raids, and fellow trainers. Several buildings are also scattered about the island and one of the closest ones is the Dojo at the top of the hill, where we are discouraged from going by a mysterious local.

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Hey, how did Shin Akuma get into the game anyway?!

At the Dojo, we are introduced to the mysterious Master Mustard and his assistant, Honey. Even though your name may not be Guybrush Threepwood, you’ll still have to complete the three trials, which will take you on a tour of the island and culminate in a gauntlet of battles.

The first trial, which is handed out to you and the other students of the Dojo by the enigmatic Mustard, is to catch three groups of Galarian Slowpoke, though very much unlike their names and contrary to their very nature themselves, are running around a nearby field at top speed in circles. Catching them results in a battle with a level 12 Slowpoke, which is a stark contrast to the rest of the wild Pokemon on the island, who have a minimum level of 60.

Presumably, this is to keep the barrier to entry low, however, one could argue that established players who have completed the main game most likely have at least one Pokemon, probably a good several Pokemon that are at least level 60.

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Easy does it, Slowpoke!

Defeating all three not-so-slowpokes earn you a rather nice reward in the form of a Gen 1 starter Pokemon with a Gigantamax ability, in Bulbasaur or Squirtle, to go with your Charmander from making it through the main game of Pokemon Sword/Shield. You’ll need to do a bit of leveling up, however, as only its final form is able to Gigantamax.

The second trial involves you traversing the island to a specific cave in order to find a set of three Max Mushrooms to add to the Dojo’s infamous mushroom soup. As a bonus, you’ll get a bowl of soup on demand from the Dojo’s kitchen. This on-demand Dynamax Soup will let you enable any Pokemon that has a Gigantamax form to enable that form, effectively making them competitively viable, whereas before, only Pokemon captured in Max Raid battles that have a Gigantamax form could use it.

Your final trial takes place in the large arena behind the Dojo and has you facing off against Avery, your newest mini rival and Isle of Armor’s chief antagonist. Avery is a budding Psychic gym leader, and even though you may have battled him a couple times before, this time he brings his A game. His level 65-67 team includes Galarian Ponyta (psychic), Swoobat (psychic/flying), Kadabra (psychic), and Galarian Slowbro (poison/psychic), which he will Dynamax at the earliest opportunity. Avery will also occasionally appear as an ally in raid battles on the island once defeated. You can also rematch him and his Pokemon will feature higher levels, evolved forms and additional moves.

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Yellow suits you!

Once your trials are complete, reporting back to Mustard rewards you with a cute but fierce Pokemon, a KubFu. It’s primarily a fighting type, but can learn several handy non fighting type moves, such as Aerial Ace, Zen Headbutt and Thunder Punch, just to name a few. Mustard also gives you special permission to have your lead Pokemon walk alongside you outside of a poke ball while on the island, and bids you to raise your friendship level with KubFu by taking him on a mini tour of the isle itself.

There are a good six or seven vantage points you can select to drag your new forced friend to and gaze in awe at the Dojo from, but you really only need to stop at three of them to prove your everlasting love and devotion to your new furry friend. Once you’re both BFFs, you can report back to Mustard for your final challenge.

Your final task for Mustard involves selecting one of the two tall towers on opposing sides of the island that you may have come across but were closed off to you until this point. These are the aptly named Tower of Waters and Tower of Darkness. Whichever one you select as your final destination means that the one you elected not to choose will be closed to you forever. The differences between them are simply the Pokemon type used against you in battle as well as KubFu’s dual type upon reaching the top and managing to evolve.

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Ha-YA!

Before accessing the tower, a guard at the bottom lets you know that your KubFu should be around Level 70 before you attempt to climb it, and with good reason. Inside you’ll face four trainers, with one Pokemon each, either a dark or water type, typically in the mid to high 60s in levels. Defeating them rewards you with access to the next floor. At the top of the tower stands Mustard, who challenges you to battle his own level 70 KubFu (plot twist!) and beating it means your KubFu can finally evolve.

There are a few things you can do after defeating Mustard. You can get a free outfit from one of the Dojo students (not to mention a free Porygon who’s just hanging out in the main room!). You can also access the training area behind the Dojo for the purposes of Restricted Sparring. In Restricted Sparring, your Pokemon type will be restricted. You’ll form a party of 3 and fight 5 battles, generally against Pokemon strong against your Pokemon’s type. You can heal in between battles twice and you can Dynamax or Gigantamax your Pokemon. You’re rewarded with BP after every fight you manage to win. If you have Watts burning a hole in your pocket, you can hand them over at the Dojo to improve the place a bit, by adding a hair salon, terminal and vending machine, which you can stock with cheap drinks and snacks.

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Where shall we go to first?

If the main island quest itself leaves you wanting, due to its short length, then the main draw of this expansion, at least for completionists, are the 107 new Pokemon that have returned from past generations and who now each occupy a spot in the island’s new Pokedex.

This brings the total number of Pokemon you can encounter on the island to 211, many of whom are sporting new Galarian and Gigantamax forms. There’s also a mini game involving finding 150 Diglett scattered about the island itself, doing so will net you a reward of one of the Gen 7 starters, which are mysteriously absent from your Pokedex.

In the end, your enjoyment of the Isle of Armor will depend on how strong your desire is to complete the new Pokedex, which is the main course and experience the short quest as something of a side dish. 

 

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