Part II: The Chapters of Unova

For the anniversary of the release of Pokémon Black and White, we continue our tribute to the games. Part II focuses on the main storyline and its synthesis of narrative and gameplay.

And She’s Buying a Tower to Heaven

One of the many ways towers can manifest in literature are as vertical bridges, symbolically thought to connect heaven and earth.1 This is exactly what the Celestial Tower does as the resting place for deceased Pokémon. This also comes across in its Japanese name, loaned entirely from the English words “Tower of Heaven.”

In this place of rest, however, there are plenty of Trainers to battle. They’re here to pay their respects, but if your eyes meet, you must cause a commotion and fight. A young lady says the Pokémon all “rest here quietly,” but between the crowded tombstones your room for avoiding these battles is slim. The Psychic Trainer class can feel their powers increasing in this place teeming with spiritual energy, but is it really appropriate for them to be training here, where the deceased are trying to rest? One Poké Fan here begins his battle by reminding you that “When Pokémon Trainers meet, what we do is, of course, engage in a Pokémon battle,” drawing explicit attention to the situation. While he consoles himself afterward by expressing gratitude for having met so many people this way, you can’t help but wonder that if perhaps the rules, the formulas, of this world were changed, perhaps a place of rest such as this could truly be peaceful without Trainers battling each other when their eyes meet.

The top of Celestial Tower is above the clouds, literally reaching into the heavens. It’s no surprise that only the Gym Leader Skyla, piloting her cargo plane, was able to see the sick Pokémon atop here. Skyla invites you to ring the bell to soothe the souls of the resting Pokémon, and after remarking that the sound reflects your kind and strong character, she takes her leave. You can next find her at the Mistralton City Gym, where victory results in receiving the Jet Badge.

In Icirrus City, Juniper’s father, Cedric, tells you a story about Dragonspiral Tower. “Dragonspiral Tower is said to be the Unova region’s oldest building. Stories say it’s the place where legendary Pokémon came to life or where they remain in deep slumber.” And that’s all he, or anyone, knows—it’s a very mysterious place that no one has ever set foot into, supposedly. Both he and his daughter have wanted to investigate the tower to learn more, describing the feeling of knowing that there’s something you don’t know as “pure adventure”—the act of discovery inherently positive and thrilling. There’s no shame in admitting there are things you don’t understand, and learning new things is how people grow, a theme continually brought up throughout Black and White. He heads northward to explore the tower, and you’re free to roam as you please.

Nearby, a group of four young people dance and twirl, clapping a merry melody that can only be heard in their vicinity. They dance for “two dragons,” not only one. But the woman nearby speaks again of the same dragon as the man near the Pokémon Center—either Zekrom and its “fierce lightning” or Reshiram with its “columns of fire.” Both “shared its wisdom with the hero and defied foes,” and “the hero and that Pokémon were as close as a parent and child. People were filled with awe and looked up to them, and that is said to be the beginning of what became ancient Unova.” An old man inside the nearby house claims that Dragonspiral Tower was created when “ideals intermingled with truth,” and “it has been there, watching us, for thousands of years,” although he admits he doesn’t know if this is fact.

It’s no surprise that such a quaint little place at the foot of an ancient tower would be knowledgeable about the myths of ancient Unova. But are any of the myths actually true? The mysteries surrounding the tower and ancient Unova create tension and intrigue—just as Cedric said earlier, there’s something you do not know, and that is exciting.

A young man just outside the Pokémon Center tells a story about a legendary Pokémon that assisted a hero who sought either ideals or truths which resulted in the creation of the region. “Then, when its physical form was lost,” the Pokémon in question became a stone, and currently “wait[s] patiently for a new hero.” The color of the stone this Pokémon became doesn’t match the stone that sits in Nacrene Museum, however. You will soon discover this different stone is the one Team Plasma has obtained for their lord N. Thus far, all the worldbuilding has been pointing towards N as the hero—not you. N claims you’ve been “chosen,” but he’s the only one who’s said so. All references to the legendary dragon who helped found the Unova region that don’t mention the twin dynamic have only discussed the dragon that N receives. While you may be the protagonist, the hero of the game, N is just as much a hero, a main character, in his own right, staking claim on the other dragon—the dragon whose color matches the name of the game you play. Two sides of the same coin, both are represented on the very box of the game you possess.

Icirrus beautifully transitions into both Route 8 and Dragonspiral Tower, and its elevation and use of shallow water makes it feel almost as if Route 8 is simply an extension of the city. If you sneak ahead, you find two Team Plasma Grunts blocking the way to the next bridge. They claim some Team Plasma members “are working in Dragonspiral Tower,” but how? Cedric claimed no one has ever set foot in there. And indeed, if you head on back to check, Cedric waits just outside. No matter how much you search, there is absolutely no way into the tower. Just how can Team Plasma be inside?

Cedric lets you know that the tower has existed since even before the Unova region’s founding, and that “on the top floor, so it’s been told, the legendary Pokémon is waiting for a person … to appear,” one who is pursuing either ideals or truth—and it does indeed align with whichever N himself is seeking.

After challenging the Icirrus Gym and receiving the Freeze Badge from Brycen, both Cheren and Bianca await you outside. This is the first time in a long while that all three of you are back together again. Your friends discuss where they are in their journeys of self-discovery, Cheren still confused about what he should do, and Bianca still searching for what she is capable of doing.

Suddenly, Brycen exits the Gym. “Who are you?” he asks. When Bianca introduces herself and Cheren, he ignores her. “I know you are there! Why don’t you show yourselves?”

Out of nowhere the Shadow Triad appear. One of these shadows is impressed by Brycen’s ability to notice them. They wanted to speak only to the player, but now have no choice but to speak to everyone. “Ghetsis has a message for you: come to Dragonspiral Tower. It is there that our lord N waits for you.” Brycen demands to know what’s going on, but the three shadows, their mission complete, disappear without a trace.

Gym challenges must wait. Brycen, Cheren, Bianca, and yourself all head northward towards Dragonspiral Tower. Something big, huge enough to create a region, will soon be upon you.

1. Hans Biedermann, Dictionary of Symbolism, trans. James Hulbert (New York: Meridian, 1992).