Like many other gamers, I’ve been busy playing the new Pokémon game the last few weeks. It took me a while to finish it, but hey, the more time I had to enjoy it. And I did enjoy it. The last two gens were kinda ‘meh’ for me, but I’m all sucked up in this one again.
It’s well known that the Pokémon regions are referring to real world regions or countries. The first region, Kanto, is the most obvious one. It’s name is the same as the Kanto region in Japan. The second region, Johto, is based on Kansai and western Chubu. Hoenn is based on Kyūshū, and Sinnoh on Hokkaido. While all these regions are based on parts of Japan, the creators took a different turn with Unova, which is mainly based on Manhattan. You can read a lot of information about that here: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_world_in_relation_to_the_real_world#Kalos
A quick glance at the new Kalos region is enough to identify what this region is based on. France. And there are tons of in-game references too. The most obvious reference is the position of Lumiose City. It’s the main capital in the game and it’s in the exact same position as Paris. If that wasn’t obvious enough, there is a sort of antenna-tower-thing in the middle. The name of the city, Lumiose, looks like the French word for light: ‘lumiere’. And I think it’s safe to say that Paris is always shining with light, day and night. And let’s not forget the sight of the Eiffel Tower at night.
Characters in the game randomly shout French words or phrases like ‘très bien’,and routes, some cities and Pokémon can be translated from French. Here are a few examples:
Translates to Holy Moon city (random brainfart: since it’s one of the first towns you encounter, maybe this is a reference to Monday, the first day of the week),
Looks like the French word for green, ‘vert’, and since it’s a town in the woods it’s safe to say it means something like ‘the green city’.
Looks like a abbreviation of ‘geo’ and ‘Stonehenge’
This one is funny. It sure sounds French, but the translation of ‘mill’ is ‘moulin’. It seems like an abbreviation of the name of the new Pokémon Dedenne (which is in his turn based on the French word ‘antenne’) and ‘mill’.
Abbreviation of ‘fleur’ (flower) and ‘bébé’ (baby).
These are just a few examples. There are plenty more, but I want to discuss other things in this blog too.
At some point in the game, there is a guy who says: ‘Pokemon sind im Pokeball. Ich sitze auf dem stuhl’. Well, that’s not French. That’s German for ‘Pokemon are in pokéballs. I sit on the chair’. This makes me think; is Kalos solely based on France, or are there references to other European countries as well? So I went looking for some of the lesser obvious or lesser known references in the Kalos region.
Let’s look at route 8, which is also called Muraille Coast (which translates to Mural Coast), the name explains itself but I’ll show you a picture of it.
The rocks going straight up from the sea resemble the coast of Normandy, but also the coast of some parts of the UK (it’s proven that the two coasts were connected a long time ago, so it’s not that weird that the coasts look like each other).
Now let’s look at Geosenge Town (look out, spoiler alert!). This town is known for it’s mysterious stones that are there for as long as people can remember. This town is directly based on Carnac, because of it’s placement and the fact that Carnac is famous for its menhirs. But stones like that can be found all over Europe. Think about Stonehenge in the UK. I immediately thought about dolmen, which can be found all over Europe, and resemble the entrance to the Team Flare base in Geosenge, and the entrances of Geosenge itself. While the stones in Carnac and Stonehenge were probably used for rituals regarding the measurement of time or honouring ancestors, dolmen were used as graves, which is also the use of the stones in Geosenge. So it looks like the stones in Geosenge are a mix between dolmen and the menhirs in Carnac and Stonehenge.
Another part of Kalos that peaked my interest is route 14 and 15. It’s obviously fall in this region and somehow I associated it with the Ardennes, a region that overlaps parts of Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Geographically, the position in Kalos is the same as where the French Ardennes are.
From there you encounter Dendemille town. The entry on the in-game map says: ‘A rural town where Pokémon and windmills work together to farm the land in a chilly latitude’. I think I speak for the majority of Dutch players that that rang a bell. The Netherlands is known for it’s chilly climate and it’s windmills. And there is lots of agriculture here. Visiting the town, you can see that the houses are very close to each other and the roads overlap, which made me think of big cities in the Netherlands like Rotterdam, The Hague or Amsterdam. But maybe I’m a bit biased on this one. A friend on facebook pointed out some big differences with the Netherlands; in Dendemille it almost constantly snows, the Netherlands only has 1-2 weeks of snow a year, and north of Dendemille there is an icy cave. Except for some old mines, there are no caves in the Netherlands.
Now there are coming some major spoilers. This theory is a bit far fetched and I think I may be a bit controversial on this one, but bear with me. These are just theories and I actually don’t think that Nintendo would refer to this consciously, but I couldn’t help but notice some things.
The big evil guy in Pokemon X and Y is called Lysandre. Lysandre is the inventor of the Holo Caster, a device that let you holo-chat with your friends. Now this name is really poorly chosen because of the similarity with the word Holocaust. Why not name it Holo Phone of Holo Communicator? Nope, Holo Caster. Lysandre ideology is to erase the world from all humans except for a few chosen ones (his followers) and erase all Pokémon from existence, to create a new and better world. Where have I heard that before? Wasn’t there some mustached German guy about 70 years ago who had similar ideas? Lysandre often refers to a war 3000 years ago, where an ultimate weapon was used to end the war and make the world a better place, as he wanted to recreate those events. This makes me think about the way Hilter referred to the Holy Roman Emprire and the German Empire as the First Reich and the Second Reich (witch Nazi Germany as the Third Reich).. Like I said, this may be far fetched. Second World War is still a very sensitive subject in Europe and it isn’t like Nintendo at all to make references to such events. But maybe, in a historical sense… It’s fun to speculate. Let’s leave it at that.
There are many more references in Pokémon X and Y than the ones that I just discussed. But this blog will become way too long and I don’t have enough time to discuss them all. Of you’re intrested, play the game yourself to find out if you can find references yourself or google it! I’m going to write a review about Pokémon X soon, so I’ll see you then!