8.8: IGN's review of Sky, as a result of claiming that it was just a rehash of Time/Darkness, bashing on the graphics and sounds, and the fact that the reviewer had only played up to Apple Woods.
Froghand "It isn't a universally-liked game; it wasn't even liked that much on release, and it was barely given a footnote in Nintendo history, if gaming history at large... It's one of those very few games I felt personally invested in, personally attached to, like it mattered that I was playing it and not just as a distraction from the grave. It is a joy to play and a joy to experience and at the same time will make you really, truly, sad if you let it."
Anticlimax Boss: Unless you're really playing with the worst possible duo to fight that boss, Kabutops and the Omastar brothers in the Brine Cave. They're dramatically hyped-up in-story as "vicious Pokemon" that Chatot and Wigglytuff barely managed to survive encountering in the past. They also take out Team Skull effortlessly. They all happen to be Rock/Water types, though, so if you or the partner is a Grass type, the battle is pathetically easy. Even some Fire type starters can win the battle without much difficulty, especially if they're able to exploit the Rock type of the enemies, for example, with Fighting-type moves (Focus Punch can deal massive damage to them, if not one-hit-kill the Omastar brothers). And then there is Discharge with Pikachu and Shinx.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: RANDOM LUDICOLO DANCE SEQUENCE! Though admittedly, it's only for winning the jackpot in the recycle lottery, rather than a random thing in the story.
Complete Monster: Darkrai serves as the true Big Bad. He was responsible for the collapsing of Temporal Tower that lead to the Bad Future, tortures an innocent child with violent nightmares to lure out the Player Character and their partner, and makes several attempts to assassinate them so he can try his plans again. One of his most heinous acts involves trying to have the heroes willingly commit suicide by tricking them into thinking their existence is threatening the space-time continuum due to time travel shenanigans. A Manipulative Bastard par excellence, he has no regrets for his crimes and wishes nothing more than the complete and utter destruction of the world, just so he can rule the tattered remains.
Critical Dissonance: Critics gave it a tepid-at-best reception. Fans on the other hand have given it Cult Classic status for its powerful and moving story, and it is widely considered to be among the best Pokémon spinoffs.
Cult Classic: Due mainly to its narrative and a soundtrack brimming with great music, this side-game has almost as many fans as any entry of the main Pokémon series, and it still remains a popular and well-regarded game even years after its debut—if anything, after some Contested Sequels in both the main franchise and the Mystery Dungeon subseries, it's gotten more popular with time. Sky in particular is well-regarded for adding in the Special Episodes, increasing the number of playable Pokemon, and letting players experience the soundtrack whenever they want with the Sky Jukebox.
Venomoth reprises its role from Rescue Team as an infuriating spammer of Supersonic and Silver Wind, though it appears much earlier this time.
Buneary in Foggy Forest can deal 45 fixed damage to you with Frustration, which can easily KO you with only minor chip damage.
Anything with Bug Bite, including Combee and Yanmega, can deliver what is functionally a one-hit KO if it eats a Reviver Seed from your inventory.
Sandshrew and Sandslash, while not posing much of an offensive threat, can be a source of immense frustration if they spawn on a floor with Sandstorm thanks to their Sand Veil ability.
Both Glameow and Purugly can annoy you with status moves like Swagger, Charm, and Hypnosis. They can also take a more direct approach and eviscerate you with Fury Swipes.
Bronzor can't be hit super-effectively, so it can easily survive whatever you throw at it and put you out of commission with Hypnosis, Confuse Ray, or Imprison.
Porygon-2 and Porygon-Z are infamous for spamming Discharge and Agility, which can potentially end your run right then and there if you encounter them in a monster house.
Both genders of Nidoran in Mystifying Forest can rough you up, simply due to the surprise factor. The dungeon spawns plenty of low-level unevolved Pokémon, so you'll likely have your guard down... right before Nidoran tanks your strongest hit and wipes out more than half your HP bar with Poison Jab.
Starter Pokémon all have excellent stats, but you won't be pleased to hear that once you start encountering them in dungeons like Crevice Cave and Dark Crater.
Although both Explorers and Rescue Team were received about the same by critics (that is, lukewarm), most fans agree that Explorers has a better storyline and character development. Rescue Team had a decent, if slightly unoriginal premise of natural disasters and a rather bland supporting cast. Then Explorers arrived, with the player's status as a human and their own character being far more important, a more fleshed-out and unique supporting cast, a wider variety of Pokémon as prominent characters even with the expected focus on Sinnoh Pokémon, and considerably better game mechanics.
Doubly so for the Sky version, which averts the One Game for the Price of Two elements from Time and Darkness, brings more starter Pokémon, adds a handful of side-stories for more character depth, and introduced a few aspects that, much to the chagrin of the fanbase, weren't used again in future sequels, like Spinda's Café and the Lookalike items.
Primal Dialga is widely remembered among the fanbase, particularly after the release of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which introduced Primal Groudon and Kyogre (Primal in both versions, as oppose to English only), as this opened up the thought of the cover legends of the next set of remakes in line - the Sinnoh games - having the Primal forms from this game.note Primal Palkia doesn't exist, and Primal Dialga is known as Dark Dialga in Japanese, but the fanart alone speaks volumes.
Fridge Horror: When you first meet her, Celebi makes an off-hand comment about how Grovyle needs to hurry up because she's tired of being stuck in such a dreary world. Once you learn that Grovyle will be effectively erasing their existence, her words take on a borderline suicidal undertone.
Fridge Logic: In a world where the sun never shines, the water doesn't flow and the seasons are non-existent, how do the native Pokemon stay alive when their food sources are frozen in time and thus can't grow anything?
Maybe Celebi uses the Passage of Time to travel to the past and get whatever food and water they need.
Apples, berries, and seeds randomly generate in the future dungeons just as well as they do in the past dungeons. Whether or not this is some kind of weird Gameplay and Story Segregation may be up to interpretation, though.
The randomly generated food in dungeons would give inhabitants of the Bad Future some things to eat, but since food still isn't quite plentiful, it's very likely that starvation is an issue for many Pokemon. Notice that in the dungeons in the future, nearly 1/3 of the encountered enemy species are Ghost-type...
Game-Breaker: As one might expect from a spin-off game with hundreds of playable characters, there are several.
Perish Song hits every enemy on the floor, but has extremely poor accuracy. However, the latter problem disappears if you have the Sure Shot status, meaning that Smeargle (and Politoed, if hatched with Mind Reader) can completely empty a floor in exactly four turns. Somewhat balanced by the fact that no experience is gained from this.
While it takes quite a lot of time and effort to unlock, Smeargle can eventually copy Lunar Dance from Cresselia. This grants infinite PP to any team that contains both Smeargle and Cresselia. It helps that the drawback to using Lunar Dance is far less harsh than it is in the main series (reducing the user's HP to 1 rather than fainting it outright).
Certain exclusive items (such as those for Nidorino, Budew, and Wingull) have a chance to restore PP upon taking damage. This seems mildly useful at best, until you realize that it is also triggered by hunger damage, meaning that as long as their belly is zero, those Pokémon have effectively infinite PP. The hunger damage itself can be healed off by using Rest, which also has effectively infinite PP. The cherry on top is that the belly-draining effect of Mobile Scarf becomes irrelevant when using this strategy, so you can easily camp inside walls and beat down on enemies who can't do anything to fight back.
The Sky Gem and Fighting Gem double movement speed for their respective types during clear weather. This allows you to kite your enemies by alternating between attacking and moving backwards, never giving them a chance to attack with a close-ranged move. It won't work outside of clear weather, but that can be remedied by equipping a Weather Band.
The widely-distributed move Agility is just as broken as it was in Rescue Team. After using Agility, you can perform any action for free, and use Agility again. This can be repeated until you reach quadruple speed, and your teammates will also receive a free action after each use of Agility. In short, you can perform four offensive actions alone and sixteen as a team before an enemy can even move.
Ominous Wind is widely hated when encountered on enemy Drifloon and Drifblim, and for good reason: it can strike your entire team, it executes twice thanks to the Unburden ability, and it has a good chance to increase the user's speed, allowing it to attack with Ominous Wind yet again. Of course, it is just as devastating when you're the one using it.
Harsher in Hindsight: Darkrai revealing how the player and Grovyle were separated. Darkrai attacked them returning to the past, and the player was separated after they shielded Grovyle from the attack. The scene made harsher is Grovyle's Heroic Sacrifice against Dusknoir, where he similarly shields the player and then is forced to separate himself permanently from his partner. Hammering the point home is both characters using the same boss theme.
Wigglytuff proves his Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass credentials by defeating Team Skull in an off-screen battle. It becomes even more impressive as of Pokémon X and Y, which makes Wigglytuff a Fairy-type and thus particularly weak against the Poison-type attacks that constitute Team Skull's primary offense.
In Sky, most evolutionary families get a 3-star exclusive item that, when in the inventory, has the Pokemon healed by damaging moves of a certain type, instead of taking damage. Said type is usually one that would deal super effective damage otherwise, but there are exceptions. One of such is the Bronzor evolutionary family, who get healed by Ghost-type moves, which dealt neutral damage to themnote Because of the way Abilities work in these games, they normally had no weaknesses. Fast-forward into Generation VI, and now Bronzor and Bronzong are indeed weak to Ghost-type moves thanks to the changes in the type chart.
Two localization-only examples. Koffing, Zubat and Skuntank's team was named "Team Skull" in the English version, which ended up being the name of the villainous team in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Similarly, "Primal Dialga" (who was called Dark Dialga in Japan) became this after the remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire introduced Primal Reversion.
It Was His Sled: Would you believe that Darkrai is never mentioned until respectably far into the post-game storyline? Rather than be surprising, it's common knowledge among the fandom that not only does he exist, but his entire role in the story.
Love to Hate: Darkrai is quite well liked by the fandom. Helps that he's both cool as well as one of the franchises' most evil villains.
Dusknoir is Primal Dialga's right-hand man who pursues the player and Grovyle into the past. He poses as a friendly explorer while using his knowledge of the future in order to pick up information. He successfully deceives Treasure Town into helping him capture Grovyle, thereby dooming the future to paralysis, and even drags the amnesic player back to the future as a precaution. Once Grovyle, the player, and their partner escape, Dusknoir allows them to find Celebi, intending to capture her once she reveals herself. He brings along Primal Dialga to accompany him and the party is barely able to escape him. Despite his ruined reputation, he lies in wait in the past and forces Grovyle to sacrifice himself by dragging them both back to the future. Once they arrive in the future, he earns Grovyle's trust and lures him into a trap in an attempt to hijack his body. If it wasn't for the conscience he'd developed convincing him otherwise; Dusknoir's plan would gone off flawlessly.
Darkrai is the true mastermind behind the destruction of Temporal Tower, which he sabotaged so he could create a world of darkness to rule. When Grovyle and the player traveled back in time to stop it, Darkrai attacked them within the Passage of Time. This separated the two, as well as giving the player amnesia and transforming them into a Pokémon. After Temporal Tower is saved, Darkrai decided to distort space in order to create a world of eternal nightmares. Disguising himself as Cresselia, Darkrai blamed the player and their partner for the distortions, and convinced Palkia that their deaths would restore everything back to normal. Once his ruse was revealed, he retreats to Dark Crater and puts the player in an illusion to convince them to join him. When that fails, he reveals an army of six other Pokémon to help him kill the player. As a final back-up plan, he has a dimensional hole ready for a quick getaway, only being stopped by the timely arrival of Palkia.
Drowzee was this in the main series thanks to its Pokédex entries; the mission where you have to rescue a child from him only escalated his status as one.
According to Bidoof's Diary, Croagunk sneaks into the men's bedroom and watches Bidoof sleep while smiling creepily.
Never Live It Down: Chatot has never fully been forgiven for not allowing the player's partner to explain what caused them to not bring back the Perfect Apples from Apple Woods, and punishing their failure for it by starving them for the night. This is despite the fact he has some nice moments to to the team throughout the game and even takes a blow when the heroes were about to be attacked in Brine Cave. (Though he never made it clear that it was for the incident, which is why many might still hold a grudge towards him.)
Paranoia Fuel: A conversation with your partner about killing yourselves ends abruptly as the two of you go to sleep. When you wake up, your partner's bed is empty.
Player Punch: The ending of Special Episode 2 in Sky, Igglybuff the Prodigy. Igglybuff has befriended his loyal, trustworthy master (a retired explorer), they've explored and found heaps of treasure. Then, after they beat a remote dungeon, Igglybuff's friends and parents turn up to reveal that Igglybuff's mentor, Armaldo, is actually a B-rank outlaw. You can practically see Igglybuff's world ending as Armaldo's taken into police custody. Can be considered a Bittersweet Ending as well, due to Armaldo's changes in his behavior hinting that he legitimately wants to clean his slate at the end, after spending so much time with a child like Igglybuff. The ending of the chapter all but spells it out.
Sacred Cow: Probably the closest thing to one in the entire franchise, now remembered in fandom as a masterpiece that codified the Mystery Dungeon series as a whole as the best of the Pokémon spinoff lines.
Self-Imposed Challenge: Most veterans agree that the starter/partner combination of Phanpy/Eevee is the worst combo one could possibly use, due to the former's lack of usable Ground-type moves (apart from Natural Gift) and the latter's crippling Run Away ability. As such, nearly everyone who used this team knew exactly what they were signing up for.
Sequel Displacement: While not as bad as some examples of this trope, some believe that Explorers were the originals and don't know about Rescue Team or just ignore them. The remake of Rescue Team may have later rectified this.
The reveal of the Bad Future and Dusknoir's betrayal is a shocking plot twist, and a punch in the gut for those who wanted to believe that a pure Ghost-type could have been one of the good guys.
Grovyle's Heroic Sacrifice, cementing him as one of the most memorable characters in the franchise's entire history.
Special Effect Failure: Evolving your hero or partner after the postgame storyline will result in them not having a proper sleeping animation at their bed at Sharpedo Bluff anymore. For some reason, they will walk in place instead. This is extra jarring since Rescue Team avoided this problem by making the evolved starters use the animation for the Sleep status effect instead.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: You should never be alone with a person you dont know well for the Drowzee mission which is an especially important aesop for the young target audience of this game, and Some people arent as nice as they seem for both the Drowzee mission and Dusknoir arc.
Final Boss Primal Dialga is notorious for being one of the hardest final bosses in the franchise. His typing is very strong defensively (Dragon/Steel resists just about every common attacking type and is only weak to Fighting or Ground, which are realistically only available through TM); at Level 48, he could easily be more than 10 levels higher than you; he packs a ton of HP and powerful attacks; and he has the Intimidator IQ Skill, which causes every 1 out of 3 of your close-ranged attacks to fail (unless you are Riolu). But, worst of all, he has Roar of Time, a deceptively accurate move that deals absolutely ludicrous damage, is impossible to resist (there are no Steel-type starters) and hits the whole map, meaning he can dish out an instant Total Party Kill before you can even approach him. The upside to this is that he will leave himself vulnerable for the next turn, but prepare for him to spam it nearly every turn he can. You better hope you brought a ton of consumables and Reviver Seeds, because if you lose you have to clear Temporal Tower again.
Palkia in the postgame can be troublesome if he feels like spamming Spacial Rend, which, like Roar of Time, hits the whole map, deals obnoxiously high damage, and, being a Dragon-type move, is resisted only by Steel-types, which neither you nor your partner can be at that point. Unlike Dialga's Roar of Time, however, he doesn't have to spend a turn recharging. In addition to this, he has the usual massive pool of HP, can stop your attacks with Intimidator, and has a single type weakness that no starter Pokémon can readily exploit. Fortunately, Hunger Seeds aren't an uncommon find in Spacial Rift, so you can cheese him out with Hungry Pal if all else fails.
Darkrai as the True Final Boss. Being the scumbag he is, he traps you in a seven-versus-three battle. While his team consists of himself and 6 fully-evolved Pokemon, you, on the other hand, have to deal with Cresselia, who is usually useless, has horrendous AI, and has a weakness to Darkrai, meaning that she will usually run into battle and get herself knocked out in less than three turns. The main way to mitigate this is either to stock up on Reviver Seeds or take out Darkrai as soon as possible, since Cresselia can safely tank the majority of the other minions. This, by the way, is easier said than done, given that Darkrai has Double Team to make him harder to hit.
Temporal Tower (and, by extension, Temporal Spire) may perhaps hold one of the most punishing difficulty spikes in recent years, thanks to a myriad of reasons. The penultimate stage of the main story is long as hell and filled to the brim with deadly traps and enemies (most infamously, Porygon's evolutionary line, which will constantly spam Agility and Discharge). Not to mention it only allows you and your partner in, meaning if either one of the two are any sort of weak to the many traps and strong Pokemon in the dungeon, then grinding for experience or items will be required until a winning combination has been made.
Any of the Legendary dungeons, i.e. Bottomless Ocean, Giant Volcano, etc.
In particular, the Sky Stairway. Remember Sky Tower from Rescue Teams? With the annoying Ghost-type Pokémon that can fight your team from the walls, where they can't be hurt? Well this dungeon is the same, but longer and has no midpoints.
Mt. Bristle is the first "hard" dungeon, mostly because you're not quite strong yet. It's not helped by the fact that Drowzee might be a bit of an Early-Bird Boss, if you get unlucky and his Forewarn ability activates a lot or if you or your partner are weak to Psychic attacks.
Treeshroud Forest. It's a very long forest with a variety of Pokemon types (mostly psychic) that hit HARD. And while it's not as long as Hidden Land or Temporal Tower, it's still somewhat long with 20 floors... and there's no Kanghastan Rock in the middle of it. You have to brave 20 floors of nonstop barrages of Pokemon and traps to get to the end. One can only hope that they still have some items left in their Kangaskhan storage rock at the beginning of the forest, as they had just had the standard chain of dungeons without a visit to the Hubworld that they tend to have in the PMD series.
Dark Crater. For the love of everything that is holy, Dark Crater. A long, grueling final dungeon with incredibly high-leveled Pokémon, Camerupt that can snipe you from miles away with Earth Power (Arceus help you if you and your partner are a Fire and Electric-type), Hippowdon who'll spawn a Sandstorm to chip at your HP throughout a floor, Ghost-types that can attack from inside the walls where they can't be hit, and evolved Fire-type starters whose Blaze ability can make their already powerful STAB attacks downright lethal if you fail to take them out in one hit. And this isn't even touching on the worst part - that's Cresselia, the Pokémon you have to escort through the entire dungeon who will unhesitatingly throw herself into trouble and rarely accomplish anything beyond eating up your Reviver Seeds. And that's to say nothing of the boss itself, who comes after 14 floors of suffering that will likely bleed your items dry, and can be read about above underneath That One Boss. All-in-all, Dark Crater combines some of the most brutal elements a dungeon could have, and with its general look, it isn't hard to believe it may very well be the most accurate portrayal of hell in any form of Pokémon media.
Quicksand Cave can be brutal for the first time through. Just like Northern Desert, there are two food sources in the dungeon, one of them being Grimy Food. Sandstorms regularly appear on certain floors, which allows Sandslash to avoid most of your moves because of Sand Veil. The other half of the dungeon, Quicksand Pit, is even worse, as past a certain points, Hippopotas start to show up, which means guaranteed sandstorms on each floor. And then at the end, you have to fight Mesprit, who despite being only level 18, hits surprisingly hard with her psychic type moves, which can also end up hitting even harder if you or your partner are Riolu or Bulbasaur. Bringing lots of food and Reviver Seeds is key to getting through this dungeon without tearing your hair out.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The role of Giratina. You would think that Giratina would be the game's True Final Boss, what with being a Pokémon on par with Dialga and Palkia, as well as having a pre-established relationship with Dialga, Palkia, and Arceus. Obviously, if the game were to have a greater villain, Giratina would be the one, right? Nope, Giratina is a mere treasure-guarder, while Darkrai, a lesser legendary with the same stat total as pseudo-legendaries, no relation to Dialga/Palkia/Arceus beyond the one movie and no plausible way to overpower the likes of Dialga, is the True Final Boss. To be fair, Darkrai being unrelentingly evil was VERY well-received. In fact, when you recruit Giratina and talk to him in Spinda's Cafe, he's a perfectly friendly guy and more than willing to help out in your adventures. Not exactly Ultimate Evil material...
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Cresselia. Not only do you have to escort her to the end of the dungeon (which contains tons and tons of lava for her to float over and burn herself with), but she also takes part in the final battle against Darkrai. That being said, she at least has the Lava Evader IQ Skill, so she won't go onto the lava on her own.
True Art Is Angsty: As noted several times throughout this page, the game's sad and heartfelt story is widely considered the best thing about it.
What an Idiot!: Halfway through the game, Dusknoir has, with some manipulation and the help of the heroes, finally managed to capture Grovyle, and is ready to return to the future to execute him from trying to stop Primal Dialga's plans. Also, a few days before this, Dusknoir also discovers the fate of Grovyle's partner, AKA the player: they lost their memories while traveling to the present. You'd expect: Dusknoir to take Grovyle to the future for his execution and do nothing else. While the player is left alive, they don't remember anything, and are actually on Dusknoir's side at this point in the story. There's effectively no one that would try to gather the Time Gears. Instead: He takes the player AND the partner to the future to have them executed as well, immediately exposing his evil nature. The result: The player and the partner side with Grovyle, escape to the past, recover the Time Gears and eventually stop the collapse of the Temporal Tower.
The partner. They're a young Pokémon (directly referred to as a kid by some NPCs) who were bullied by Team Skull, a coward who only got the strength to join the guild from the player, gone without dinner after one mission because of Team Skull and Chatot, and their best friend/life partner disappears into light before their eyes, leaving them to go home alone and breaking down several months afterwards after they arrive again at the place where they first met the player. Things seem to be looking up for them when they return, only to have Cresselia (actually Darkrai in disguise) tells them to kill themselves along with the player because they are an anomaly.
The Player themselves. For starters, they're an amnesiac from the future who has lost their family and turned into a Pokémon. Especially when finding out they exist only because of a Bad Future and they'll disappear once Primal Dialga is defeated.
Pretty much everyone from the Bad Future could qualify. Grovyle for being an idealist who wants to change the past even if it means he won't exist, Celebi for using most of her energy to send Grovyle, the player, and your partner to the present day and risking being murdered by Dusknoir's Sableye. It only gets worse after the post game story where Cresselia (actually Darkrai) asks you and your partner to kill yourselves to save the world, you're hunted by a well-meaning Palkia, and nearly killed by Darkrai in a nightmare when you dare to interfere with his plans.
Manaphy could also qualify, being a baby who ended up living away from his adoptive parents (you and the partner), and missing the sea despite the fact he enjoys being with you. Fortunately, he returns once he's grown up enough.
Azurill as well. He's a small child whose mother is sick, and therefore he and his brother have to take care of all the shopping and household chores. Shortly after being introduced, he gets kidnapped by an infamous outlaw, and much later he nearly gets trapped in one of Darkrai's nightmares forever.