On a Pokemon journey, after working hard to collect all eight Gym Badges and defeating the Evil Team Plot, only one obstacle stands between the player and the PokÃ©mon League: Victory Road. Packed with the toughest trainers and the coolest wild PokÃ©mon, this usually twisty road gives players a chance to level up their squad before the final battle with the Elite Four.
This has been a constant feature of Pokemon games from the very beginning, which means gamers have gone through a whole host of different designs over the years. When the road is visually very similar every time, designers must develop exciting ways to make the Victory Road of each new game unique.
Generations 1 and 2
Although the bulk of their games take place in different regions, Kanto and Johto’s Victory Road are, in fact, the same location. As the two regions connect, the PokÃ©mon League and, therefore, Victory Road serve as the border between the two. It means both Kanto Pokemon Red and Blue protagonist and Johto’s Gold and Money the protagonist crosses the same area on his way to fight the Elite Four.
The designs aren’t quite the same, but the average gamer would be forgiven for thinking they were. PokÃ©mon Gold and Money saw fit to remove some of the force boulders around the caves and, more interestingly, there are no coaches in the Johto region version. The rival, who fights the player at the end of the road, comments on this, portraying him as a dangerous place that most coaches are afraid to step on.
Ultimately, this version of Victory Road is pretty straightforward. There haven’t been many attempts to make it a confusing road like future generations would. There is only one or two chances of making a detour for an item. It’s good in Pokemon Red and Blue because there are trainers along the way, but this makes Gold and money rather dull version to navigate.
Although Hoenn is famous for being waterlogged to ridiculous proportions, Victory Road is relatively dry. The lower level sees a lake with a few waterfalls, but there isn’t much to see beyond. Instead, there are many different elevation levels in this cave that make it a bit more difficult to navigate.
It was the first iteration of the road to become more curvy and interconnected. Entering 1F, players will descend through B1F and B2F only to find the way up and back to 1F. This makes the progression of the route very clear and is aided by the wide choice of PokÃ©mon Trainer Battles along the way, which also contain a variety of PokÃ©mon.
However, despite being much more curvy than previous generations, the way forward is still pretty clear. Players don’t have the option to detour until the very end, which means they’ll never be challenged to find the right path forward. It’s probably intentional, but it makes the experience more dull, especially when the other Hoenn Caves are more complex.
Sinnoh’s road to victory is one of the most interesting as players can explore it more than once, accessing different areas the second time around. The first pass will be nice, but rather than going all the way down and then going up again, like in Hoenn, players will continually return to the middle floor.
Starting at 1F, players will find a path down into B1F, which will eventually lead them back to a different section of 1F. From there a path to 2F will be found which will eventually loop back into another section of 1F. It’s a bit more complex but gives players a much more complete understanding of the land layout, as they can quickly identify when they’ve reached an area they previously found unreachable.
The coaches along the way also make it interesting, as there are even more of them than Hoenn and just as strong. There are also a lot of detours, and while a lot of them are short joggers for picking up solid objects, it’s still better than what has been done so far.
The second trip is great too. Having Marley as a PokÃ©mon training companion, there are a few new areas to explore, which are much simpler than the originals. It’s a little treat once players earn their spot in the Hall of Fame.
Unova is the only generation to date to present direct sequelae within a single generation. This means that there are two versions of Victory Road. From the original Black and White, this version of the cave system reigns supreme when it comes to a complex path that is difficult to navigate properly.
In an extremely clever move, rather than having a cave entirely contained within a continuous interior, this Victory Road has both an interior and an exterior area that unexpectedly connect. Starting at the bottom of a huge sloping hill, players need to climb higher up the hill, then use their stance to slide down the hill and reach an entrance they couldn’t before. There is a wonderful combination of entrances and winding interior paths that players will need to think about and get a good mind map of the area to successfully navigate.
Black and White 2 uses a concept similar to the original, but doesn’t take it quite to the extreme. In the story, a landslide destroyed the original Victory Road, so the remaining caves have a slightly rambling feeling. It’s still a bit tricky to navigate – using a smaller outdoor area – but the way forward is often more obvious than in the originals. Instead, the plot of it comes from seeing some of the features of the original road that are now buried and in pieces underground. Perhaps most interestingly, this route has a slightly different path depending on the version of the game being played.
Kalos is often ridiculed by fans for being a lot easier than others Pokemon generations. Whether this is true for the game as a whole is up for debate, but the Victory Road in Pokemon X and Y are certainly not child’s play. They may not reach the winding heights that Black and White done, but a lot of the design lessons that have been learned over the years are implemented in fantastic ways.
Again, this version mixes up indoor and outdoor spaces for a total of four of each. Unfortunately, the outer areas let the experience down a bit, as these are almost all straightforward paths for players to follow. The interior areas, however, are a different story. They have well-planned layouts with plenty of possibilities to detour and potentially get lost. They make good use of all of the HMs in the game, allowing players to surf various areas and complete a Force HM puzzle and ledge puzzle along the way.
Alola’s story is about Professor Kukui who created Alola’s very first PokÃ©mon League. So it makes sense that this generation’s road to victory is not called that, but rather the existing Mount Lanakila. This mountain uses all of the techniques seen in designs so far, but toned down those aspects a bit and made them easier to navigate.
With a total of eight areas, again, players will continuously move between the inner caves and the outer ledges. However, the path between each is entirely linear, and once a player leaves an area, the path to follow never requires them to return unlike previous designs. The detours for items are short and give players an easy path to the correct route once they have their gifts.
The only area where this road stands out is that of coaches. Generation 7 took up the challenge again (especially in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon), and the coaches on the side of this mountain are sure to test the player teams before their final challenge. In addition, in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, players will get a new story rhythm, as this is where they will have the chance to capture Necrozma, allowing them to take an incredibly powerful Pokemon to the Pokemon League.
Galar is where all the advancement and design finesse of the previous seven generations is wasted, for there is no road to victory in the region. After exiting Hammerlocke Station, players will be thrown onto Route 10, an incredibly straightforward path connecting Wyndon, where the PokÃ©mon League is located.
Considering the layout and atmosphere of Galar, having a long, winding cave wouldn’t really make sense right in front of the larger city of Galar, but it’s a shame players were deprived of a last challenge before reaching the climax of the story.
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