|Reviews for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Canon Breakage|
| invertigo chapter 6 . 10/16/2020
Nice, welcome back.
| CuriousQuinlan chapter 6 . 7/22/2020
This has to be my top 3 fav PMD fics now
| Legion29 chapter 6 . 7/13/2020
Hmm i like it so far turkey good job.
| Shadow of Antioch chapter 6 . 5/9/2020
Wasn’t it obvious already that she had her own secrets, Mike? The whole… parents situation?
Hi, Turk. I write to let you know that I’ve finally read chapter 6. And that you’re a damn good writer. So please update, it’s a good story.
I say that because with every chapter you release, I can feel your quality going up. This one was indisputably your best so far; the banter between Mike and Aria, always your strong point, flowed like an oil lubricant and squeezed every drop of characterisation it could from your duo. In the absence of a real plot, your only card was the characters, and fuck me if you’ve played them well.
You manage to make even relatively minor conflict feel real and important, such as the anticipation from Mike deciding when to ask Aria about her motives. And then she manages to flip the question on him! I loved that finale—I wanted to see more, read Mike confess to the full extent of his past, but alas, it made sense for him to be reluctant. It only makes me more excited to read more. What happened to Aria’s parents? Why is Mike aura-immune, and how could that help him in fights? I can only shudder at the thought of him striding up to Dialga as one Roar of Time after another fails miserably.
I’ll repeat myself, but it truly is amazing how much of an interesting story you’ve managed to tell without a real plot. I can sense one lurking in the background, but it hasn’t arrived yet. I truly hope it does; your story title has proven true so far, and I want to see just how far you can break canon. Keep going. And keep describing food, because that scene made me hungry.
Oh—and before I forget, you better feature the Cyndaquil and Piplup duo again. Those two are ADORABLE. Your amazing characterisation and dialogue skills came useful once again, eh? Although… what if THEY’RE the protagonists from the game? And Mike and Aria were just an unforeseen variable that’s altered the timeline? By the gods…
| Just-A-Reader0Love chapter 2 . 4/4/2020
A mandatory exposition dump, eh? Really like the humor going on here. Ah, the introduction to treasure town, very nicely done. Some cash to buy some grub, makes sense. Mike keeping up the amnesia act is quite nice. Shopping made even better by the casual chatter. It is obvious that aria is rather well known if she is on a nickname basis with the shop. Amazing apple, but how would it stack up against a perfect apple.
Sharpedo bluff, aka, aria’s home. A nice description of aria’s home, and a nice rest for Mike. An odd awakening, and memories of realizing where he is. Oooh, sparing. MIke gets rolled over by the doggo train. Ah moves, good point. Using moves is like knowing how to breath, is natural. aura/ soul energy makes moves possible.
Huh, why would Aria be caught off guard? Aria is freaking out a little about Mike being unable to use moves, as even a hatchling can use moves. No need to use moves to be an explorer. Hmm, aria finds mike interesting, nice. Huh, Mike the packmule, that is quite funny. Back for the apples, noice.
Ah, the guild. Yeah, a staircase would make more sense than a ladder. Oh my, the grate scene is amazing, and you know that aria has quite a relationship with the guild. Ooh, a little bit of a cliffhanger, noice.
"Oh, it's not so bad, Lissa. Just a healthy little stroll!" - Fire Emblem Awakening
Keep up the great work, have an amazing day!
| Neirdae chapter 5 . 2/21/2020
That's... possibly overpowered.
Looking forward to him becoming a tank, cannon included.
| TheG0AT chapter 5 . 2/21/2020
I wasn’t going to read this for a bit given its current position on my reading list, but Castaway’s kindhearted reviews motivated me to give you one as well. Gotta share in the love, eh?
I’ve hashed out my personal complaints about the banter between Mike and Aria already, so consider this a copy-paste of what I said about it in my last review, but for this chapter instead. It’s still a thing in chapter 5. I hate to admit it, but at this point there’s so much banter that its impact is starting to feel desaturated.
I liked the subtle detail of Mike revealing a bit too much via his knowledge of egg moves, or more specifically, that Aria noticed it to begin with. It’s no wonder she’s suspicious of his amnesia story. Also, you perfectly segued it into Aria concisely explaining STAB bonuses, so that was cool as well.
I’ve found myself inclined to pay the narration more attention than the dialogue, which is super weird since I’m often the other way around when reading just about anything. I guess it’s because with the dialogue I can usually expect a few witty (but admittedly repetitive) jokes and semi-relevant exposition, but with narration I can often expect actual progression and hilarious description/one-liners. Although, even the narration can get bogged down af times, like when you were describing Drenched Bluff and its water-warp mechanics in the middle of the chapter. I love your unique writing style either way, but pacing is not one of its strong suits in my opinion. It may be something worth bringing up with your betas; I feel like every fourth or fifth sentence you write could be cut out. At the expense of a tiny bit of detail here and there, I think it would improve the reading experience a lot.
The mention of Mike’s childhood days caught my interest immediately… until nothing was done with it. Understandably, you wouldn’t want to kill the pacing with a big wall of text talking about it, but I felt like it ended way too abruptly. You could remove the tiny section about it, starting with “Though loath to admit it” and ending with “He missed those days” and there would be just as much continuity in the passage. It just felt random for it to be mentioned, and even get its own narrative one-liner, but then not get expanded upon at all. We’ll get more on it later, then? Hopefully?
So, I always smile whenever Mike finds a blast seed.
And I like how you describe his thought process for actually using it (or saving it for later) instead of just saying he found one and leaving it at that.
I also, once again, liked the ending to the chapter. Even the banter. It all feels more natural when Mike and Aria are being serious with one another and experimenting with Mike’s circumstances.
That’s all for now. Good work as always!
| C. Pariah chapter 4 . 1/30/2020
Y'know, I was waiting for a bus the other day and was bored out of my skull. This story was just right for that situation!
| C. Pariah chapter 3 . 1/12/2020
I can't recommend this story enough.
| Just-A-Reader0Love chapter 1 . 1/10/2020
Lets see how this chapter plays out.
First off the introduction to Mike, really well done. You nail the confusion and frustration that befalls him in a comedic manner. Not to mention the gallows humor that he seems fond of. The meta knowledge that Mike keeps spouting off (as well as that rather rude tongue) points out that mike is an avid PMD fan.
A change of events from the story, quite cheeky I must say. It’s also in character for the Zubat and Koffing to be mugging a guy on the beach. Hmm, a slight diversion from the typical cowardly partner in the beginning of explorers brings quite a bit of mystery to the Riolu.
The beach interaction is definitely an interesting change to the cannon, as is the “lying spree”. The funny thought that the PMD hero could be faking amnesia is very intriguing. Just going with the flow and acting like they don’t know any better when they do, either to preserve “cannon” or to get away with other things.
The riolu definitely does not have a problem with confidence, not at all! I’m with mike, they look like they are out for blood! Also nice point about running with a Treeko body, it must be weird as all get out.
Huh, mike is a little lousy with using the bystander syndrome as an excuse for not doing anything, but it is understandable. The Riolu’s name is revealed, Aria! Speaking of her, she is quite a bit sassy, (though, in PMD explorers, the personality test for Riolu is sassy, so that does check out.) Blast seeds, “little explosives that are fun for the whole family.” Mike is doing good with the amnesia game so far.
Ah, the personal treasure that is the relic stone is now a gift from aria’s parents. And judging from what the Zubat and Koffing have said about them, they seem to be well off. Quite a few changes to the “cannon” that add a hint of mystery to the story. Also like the little details of the reflected water lighting up the cave.
Heh, poking fun at eating a blast seed, it always made me wonder why that type of seed was one seed you should eat instead of throwing it at the enemy. Also, gotta agree with the brokenness of blast seeds in early game. Drenched bluff is great for apple and oran’s due to being able to complete the dungeon without any food.
Pfft, Aria looking at mike like his a loon, nice. Wowza, Aria packs a punch. Huh, turns out no Pokémon can be recruited from beach cave (tested it on PMD sky), nice bit of trivia then. Space time stairs, perfection. Hmm, seems Mike is becoming quite he bit obsessed with blast seeds. Ah, the shortcut thingy at the end of dungeons, I always assumed that it was just an off screen walking through the dungeon.
An ambush and the appearance of that damnable skunk, always hated that scumbag. Explosives to the rescue! I can just imagine Aria’s eye’s dilating, her mind racing with ‘shit, oh shit, oh shit,run!’ Right, totally calculated. A doggo bonks the lizard on the head, nice. Aria is very prideful. Mmm, a sleep seed, nasty stuff. Ah, some nice information about vanish seed and the plan, this team skull has a few tricks up its sleeve. Hmm, sentient dungeons and explanations of rest floors, nice work! … doggo can jump good. Exploration team go!
… bob, skull and sonic, my lord, pfft.
Music for you!
Tales of Symphonia Music Extended - Fighting of the Spirit
Tales of Symphonia Music Extended - Fatalize
Keep up the amazing work! Have a wonderful day!
| Zion of Arcadia chapter 5 . 12/25/2019
As a word of warning, I’m a) in a bit of a food coma and b) just a tad bit tipsy, so this might be less coherent than the last review. Let’s do this.
I liked this chapter a lot better than the last one. We learned a lot about mystery dungeons, the way moves work, and even had a few glimpses into Mike’s psyche-not to mention plot was accomplished. Forward momentum is good. There’s still just a touch too much world building at the expense of draining all the tension out of scenes like a popped balloon, but hopefully now that we know how things work we can look at applying them in useful and creative ways.
Another thing I noted was that the prose-to-dialogue ratio shifted quite dramatically in this chapter. Before it was, hmm, let’s ballpark 75% dialogue to 25% prose, while here it seemed more even. Not sure if it naturally panned out that way or if you adjusted based on feedback, but it’s probably a change for the better. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
This was probably the most interested I’ve been in Mike. His impotence had a strong effect on his confidence. There are multiple strong signs that Mike has severe self-esteem issues, and pairing him with Aria will likely exacerbate his inferiority complex.
We again had a few quick peeks into his past, which was a nice way to further differentiate Mike from the blank slate MC in the games. I particularly enjoyed the paragraph briefly mentioning his parents and how he enjoyed being tossed up in the air. That was a nice touch. I’m also curious to learn why he hates feeling useless, since it seems to trace back to something that happened in his world. Maybe some sort of accident happened?
I liked the approach to Drenched Bluff. The way it was written and a lot of the explanations about things like moves-and how Mike is like the anti-move man-feel very game-y conceptually. Again, fairly ambivalent on the explanations themselves, although now that everything is laid out I’m interested in seeing how everything established is used creatively. Like blaze kick lighting up the area. That was cool.
[If she'd seen the move often despite it being as rare as it was, then it had likely been from a singular source, and he had a fairly good guess as to who that source could be.]
My heart says arcanine but my head says it’s Aria’s mother (?).
One thing I disliked about this chapter was the complete and utter lack of tension throughout most of it. I know you’ve mentioned in the past that Aria is intentionally written to be an uber strong cheat code of sorts, but they might as well be back in Treasure Town holding forward given how little challenge anything in the dungeon holds for them. And yeah, tension isn’t quite as important in a comedy as a drama, but there are a number of dramatic elements in this story, leading me to take it more seriously, only to get hit with a joke that takes all the potential drama out of the situation.
I thought once Mike got separated from Aria we would finally get some tension. Maybe a scene where he hides from a feral, or… something. Something to show off what he can do, instead of the constant lamentations about what he can’t. But instead, we get a quick joke and then Aria finds him right away.
The narration also sometimes takes on this weird joke-y tone and I don’t think I like it. It feels forced and not particularly funny. Or maybe the way it vacillates between humorous and serious gives it a jarring sense of tonal dissonance. I’ll have to think about that a bit more.
["Well, uh…" Aria grinned awkwardly, "I maaay have thrown the bag at you. Needed to knock you outside, though I did try my best not to just knock you out coldinstead."]
Typo. But my actual question is, didn’t Aria throw the bag up and smack Mike in the face with it? So how did she get it back to hit him out of bounds with it? Seems like a slight continuity error, although it would be pretty easy to fix by having Aria quickly climb up after him or have Mike throw the bag back down to her (I like this option because it gives Mike something proactive to do).
As an aside, I legit thought Mike would open the bag and find the Jolteon stuffed in the bag already when Aria found him again.
I liked the way you translated one of the tactics in the game here. The idea of having to chase down a warping bandit is a lot of fun and has a lot of room for clever ideas that doesn’t just involve brute force. Although the way it was executed… leaves a lot to be desired.
Okay, this brings me to probably my biggest issue with this chapter. I like the reveal that Mike can’t be harmed by anything aura-related. It seems like a cool and fun ability. What I don’t like is how, up to that point, Mike has done nothing to prove he’s actually useful and is ultimately saved not by his own intelligence, not by his genre-saviness, but by some weird power he didn’t even know he had.
Unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re trying to accomplish with Mike, the character its core is meant to be a shining example of human ingenuity. He isn’t as fast or strong as a character like Aria, but he compensates for that with his mind. But we don’t ever see any examples of that in this chapter (except his 200 iq puns of course) and it makes him feel like a character without agency, just being pulled along by either Aria or the plot.
Let’s recap. Mike struggles to get up a flight of stairs. Mike watches Aria beat up a bunch of pokemon. Mike struggles to climb the bluff and gets tossed up by gets tossed off the cliff by jolteon and saved by Aria. Mike wanders around, untroubled by any wild pokemon, finds a blast seed, displays potential signs of being an arsonist, is surprised by a sound and chucks said blast seed up at the ceiling, is lucky that Aria turns up and not a garchomp, stands around before getting attacked out of nowhere for some reason by Jolteon, and is ultimately saved not by anything he could control, but due to an ability he was unaware of finally proccing fully. Mike feels like a passenger in his own story.
And it’s even more frustrating because all the pieces are there. Have Mike come up with a plan to draw the Jolteon out of hiding. Maybe he uses himself as bait. Maybe he somehow uses the teleporting of Drenched Bluff to his advantage. And during the final confrontation Jolteon tries to shock him and then we get the reveal.
Mike is set up view himself as useless but to have uses despite his lack of traditional strength. But nothing in this chapter demonstrates that. What I just read indicates that he’s cowardly, he’s stupid, and he’s lucky. And that doesn’t seem like the direction you want to take Mike considering everything you’ve said about him.
Hmm, that ended on a more negative note than I wanted. I thought this was one of the funnier chapters-there were a lot of good zingers-and like I mentioned, I’m excited to see where you take the ideas you’ve established here.
A couple more quick notes on prose:
[Mike was too stunned to think of a response that was more complex than simply nodding and doing as asked.]
Once again, this seems much longer and messier than it needs to be. You also rely quite heavily on the verb ‘to be’ and conjunctions such as ‘that’. I did a quick re-write to slim down the sentence a bit:
“Stunned, Mike simply nodded and followed orders.”
[Adding on to that was the fact that he simply couldn't afford to sit back and relax as time froze over, and the conversation having taken a unsalvageable turn in that direction had caused him to panic.]
Also has some of the issues I mentioned above, but more importantly, the compound sentence reads out-of-sequence, not to mention the two main ideas feel disconnected from each. Make them their own sentences and the conversation ‘turning unsalvageable’ should probably be discussed first.
My brain feels like putty so I think I’m going to call it there. Have a good one.
| Zion of Arcadia chapter 4 . 12/24/2019
Happy holidays, mate. This is part one of your Secret Santa gift; the second review will be posted tomorrow. Peace, joy, love, and all that jazz.
Hmm. I’ll admit, I was rather lukewarm on this chapter. But part of the problem is that one of the core conceits of the story is about exploring (heh) and contrasting the differences between a world within a game and a world written to be realistic. Actually, realistic might not be the right word, because I wouldn’t necessarily describe the world of canon breakage as realistic. But it is naturalistic, while PMD is a game with a series of unnatural parameters that provide the player character win conditions to strive toward. Regardless, while I understand the appeal of this approach, it isn’t exactly my cup of tea.
The plot in this chapter ground to a complete and utter standstill as Mike and Aria essentially walked forward and explained the world around them. It’s odd to me that someone so prickly about their prose spent-double checks-about 4k words writing what could’ve been boiled down into one sentence; Mike and Aria went to Kangaskhan Storage to get supplies.
Speaking of prose, there were quite a number of times where I legit wondered if someone else had taken over your body and mind and written passages in your stead, given how…different from your usual style they sounded. That or one of your betas (or a reviewer?) told you to expand on a concept and it somehow ballooned into something borderline verbose. Here’s an example:
[During his time as a college student, he had once been shocked by a toaster in his dorm that had grown tired of his abuse. The experience had been unpleasant enough to remain ingrained in his memory, and as a result he wasn't in a hurry to find out what weaponized electricity felt like. He briefly entertained the idea of letting Aria handle it by herself, considering that she seemed perfectly capable of doing that, but he quelled the thought as soon as it appeared.]
The first sentence reads strangely, almost as if you’re personifying the toaster. The second sentence is a compound sentence, with the first half using more formal diction like ‘experience’ and ‘ingrained’ while the second slides toward informal diction (‘he wasn’t in a hurry’ is a colloquialism). And the final sentence runs quite long for a thought Mike quelled as soon as it appeared. Also… quelled? It reads so jarring compared to everything else, like you grabbed a thesaurus and picked the first word that kind of fit. I would’ve gone with either ‘quieted’ because the hard ‘t’ has synergy with the hard consonants of ‘thought’ (as well as perfecTly), or maybe shushed/hushed.
[This left Mike speechless for a moment. The entire concept sounded bizarre to him, but only because humans didn't shed anything useful. It was nothing more than culture shock, and he could deal with that without much trouble.]
I’m skipping ahead a little, but this is an example where the prose is incongruous to what’s being shown. Mike is clearly taken aback by Aria’s story, but the final sentence concludes that he can ‘deal with it without much trouble’. This is quite the abstraction, as I’m not sure what he’s necessarily referring to (‘dealing with’ in relation to what, exactly?), and also doesn’t line up with what the preceding sentences imply. I THINK I get what you’re saying, but this paragraph is in serious need of clarification and concrete detail.
Little moments like that felt quite different from what I remember. The first couple chapters were spartan, the prose simple but allowing the character actions and dialogue to shine. A lot of the prose here read as labored in comparison. Then again, I haven’t read the older chapters in a while, so perhaps I’m misremembering.
The dialogue is still superb, even if it’s a little self-indulgent at times. Also, my guy, you have to start figuring out new ways to convey exposition, because Aria just explaining everything to Mike was old about two chapters back when you lampshaded it in the chapter title.
I enjoyed Aria’s story about the garchomp. There was a lot to unpack there; Aria’s strong, yes, but can still be outmatched by powerful foes. She’s resourceful in a pinch, capable of thinking quickly to take advantage of a swing in fortune. Aria epitomizes the calm, cool, collected badass, but she doesn’t feel like cartoonish wish fulfillment the way a lot of these characters do, even though she kind of is. She has these little moments that give her depth while still keeping the fun entertainment factor that stems from ultra competence a la Saitama as opposed to, say, Kirito. It helps that you surround her with grounded characters like Mike as well (and her familiarity with Treasure Town natives also enriches her as a character).
One thing your dialogue has a lot of-and probably the reason it’s sometimes cited as formulaic-is call and response. Essentially, Aria will be speaking, explaining a world building element or a bit of her backstory, and then her statements will be punctuated by the listener, AKA Mike. I’m not sure it necessarily needs to fixed, although perhaps varying your dialogue with more soliloquies might help ease back on the repetitive over-reliance on the pattern. Some examples:
[Aria snorted. "Nope, I punched him where it counts and snatched his bag while he was down."]
["…What exactly do you mean by punching him where it counts?" Despite the victim being an outlaw, he found himself hoping it wasn't what he suspected it was.]
["Well, keyword here is 'him'. I'm sure you can figure out the rest."]
[Mike grimaced. "I can… and I think I can feel it too…"]
And so on and so forth.
The banter is solid as ever. Lot’s of funny exchanges between Aria and Mike, although the way she dumpsters on him feels like something you’d see out of friends who’ve known each other for a few months (at least) as opposed to a few days. There’s also quite a bit of self-deprecating humor directed toward Mike, to the point where I actually felt bad for him. A character being treated as the butt of the joke-even when they’re in on the joke-isn’t all that funny to me. But that might be my own tendency to self-deprecate to protect my low self-esteem shining through.
That said, your love for these two characters shines through every conversation they have. There are so many little nuances to their back-and-forths, a quiet give-and-take in the quips that I enjoy. Mike in particular had two moments that stood out for me:
[The ease with which she had agreed to drop the matter was a source of unease for Mike, but he could do nothing about it at the moment. He had put his foot in his mouth and anything else he said would just shove it in deeper, so he made the wise decision to stay quiet and avoid deepthroating himself.]
It’s a subtle shift in the way their relationship is framed, and the way Mike reacts not with his normal nonchalance or self-deprecation further drives that difference home. It shows how Aria, despite her ribbing, will back off and respect any boundaries Mike lays down. It’s that undercurrent of respect that let’s this relationship function and blossom in my humble opinion. And I also wonder if respect is something Mike has rarely experienced and secretly craves, hence his unease upon noticing it.
Mike’s tumble down the steps was another moment I enjoyed for several reasons. For one, it reinforces how Mike’s readjusting to his new body. I’m not sure if Mike’s past weight problems will ever be discussed in detail, but it still gives us a before and after that helps ground him as a character.
For another, this was worldbuilding done right, and I’d like to see more of it in this vein. You introduce the larger-than-normal stairs through prose, explain their surprising size quickly, and then payoff the observation by having Mike interact with the worldbuilding concept in a specific, concrete way. In other words, the setting is synergizing and interacting with the characters instead of simply being observed by the characters, if that makes sense.
Which brings me back to my main complaint from my beginning of the review. There are a lot interesting worldbuilding elements introduced, but so much of the time they’re just talked about. And then dropped. And it just feels like cleverness for cleverness sake at times, and other times it’s like… why is this even being discussed? How is this relevant? Why should I care? Here’s an example of one of the worst offenders, in my humble opinion:
[Hold on, are you telling me Kangaskhan Storage is underground?"
"Yup," she confirmed. "Why so surprised? It's not like this is the first time you're hearing something like this."
Which was true, except Mike had known about it beforehand the first time. He decided to keep that bit of information to himself. "I guess you have a point there," he said with a shrug. "But that makes me wonder… if digging underneath the town isn't a problem, why didn't the guild just do that instead of setting up shop on some random cliff outside the town?"
She opened her mouth to reply, but shut it again after a moment, frowning in thought. "That's a good question, actually. I… I never thought about that."
Mike snorted. "And neither did Chunsoft…"]
This passage just came off as strange to me. For one thing, the underground bit is something, you, the author, established for Kangaskhan Storage. Which then turns into ‘why isn’t the guild also like this’ which turns into a weird dig at Chunsoft. You’ve essentially created a logical explanation for one element of Treasure Town and then blamed the fact that your world building element doesn’t necessarily make sense with what’s established in the games on the developers.
Plus there’s also occam’s razor at play; the guild’s locale is aesthetically pleasing, same as Sharpedo Bluff, and aesthetics often play a role in people setting up shop somewhere or developer’s designing a set piece location. It came off as convoluted cleverness, tongue-and-cheek ribbing at a problem that was never actually a problem in the first place, and a major distraction for me, personally. And that’s just one example-multiple times Aria would explain a world building element and Mike would either marvel at it or sort of guess it in advance, leading to this weirdly self-satsified loop as if the world building is this incredibly ingenious thing in comparison to the game. And like, yeah, there are elements of the games that don’t make logical sense. But I guess I find pointing that out and grandstanding over it to be far less interesting than, say, Aria’s backstory, or the gradual exploration of Aria and Mike’s relationship.
But I also admit that the idea of “breaking canon’ is one of the main concepts the story is built on, so I'll concede that particular element is mostly just a me thing. Also, the specific example critiqued DID segue into the character interaction between Aria and Mike highlighted above, so there’s that.
We end with further discussion of Aria’s old teammates and the reveal that Mike can’t use items, apparently. I find it a tad bit annoying that we get to an interesting shift in Mike’s predicament and then the chapter just ends. Honestly, the chapter should’ve started with that reveal and spiraled out from there. Instead we waded through many thousands of words only to get cockblocked by a cliffhanger. Although I am interested in reading more, so it’s a good ending hook at least.
I’m certainly curious to see the ramifications of this discovery. I’ve mentioned in the past that limitations breed creativity, and putting Mike at such a disadvantage is certainly going to make his approaches to fight a lot more tactical than they might’ve been otherwise. Anyway, let’s move on and discuss the next part of this Drenched Bluff arc in the next review. See you again tomorrow.
| NebulaDreams chapter 6 . 12/13/2019
Okay, so I decided to check this out after hearing bits and pieces about it on Discord. I haven't really read much of traditional PMD stories where the character is unmistakably human, but from the way things are going, the story will be anything but traditional compared to Sky.
So, what happens when you take someone who has played PMD and gets to retain his memories about it upon being isekai'd into the PMD world as a Treecko? Lots of complicated stuff, if this fic is any indication. For real though, I've enjoyed this take on the Sky game so far because of the way the protagonist is used. He is genre savvy, but it just so happens to be the wrong sort of savvy where he expects things to go his way. But not only can he literally not fight, he also stands in the shadow of other Pokemon explorers like Aria, and I found that a really interesting sort of character arc. It removes the problem of the protagonist being overpowered for plot convenience and adds a lot more conflict to the fights knowing that he could be a liability. Even though it eventually turns out that his move-ineptitude also comes with advantages in chapters 5 and 6, that also adds an extra layer to the battles, since the characters will have to rely more on their wits and using Mike to get around sticky situations. I imagine that will also play a part in his arc later on, with how he comes to terms with his weaknesses and turns them into strengths. I could see him being the Sokka to Aria's Katara; the brains/idea guy of the team.
Aria is also a treat to read about (we need more female Riolus/Carios in fics), as well as the other bits about this particular PMD world like its underground systems and its taverns and all that. I also appreciate the effort you put into justifying and lampooning some of the world's more questionable choices.
I do have a few criticisms with this story that unfortunately get in the way of me fully enjoying the story. Not so much the story content itself since that's fine, but a lot of it is to do with the dialogue. And that's strange because on its own, the dialogue is fine. The way the characters talk feels natural (though you could argue they slip too comfortably into banter when they still barely know each other yet), and since banter is a huge part of it, it's very enjoyable to read when its at its best. The main problem is that there's too much of it. It's good where appropriate, but certain scenes drag on for longer than necessary, since it has a tendency to keep on going once the main point of the conversation has been reached. Mostly in how the other characters try to one-up each other with the banter. It doesn't help that the banter can be rather formulaic. Mike says/does something stupid. Aria insults him for it. Mike snipes back. Rinse and repeat. There isn't much of a change in this dynamic, and by chapter 4 or 5, I'm just like 'yes, I get it, these two are very good at bickering, just get the plot moving already'. Again, on its own, its fine, but it happens so often that a lot of the jokes lose their impact since nothing stands out. If everything is snarky, then nothing is snarky.
And since it appears a lot, that really hampers the pacing of the piece. Something that probably could've been told in one chapter (the Team Skull chapter had great pacing for this) is padded out into three with the Drenched Bluff chapters, though to be fair, chapter 5 and 6 strikes a good balance between dialogue and description for the most part. My advice going forward with future chapters is limit the conversations so that it gets the necessary bits out of the way for what's required of the story/characterization, and then have fun with adding whatever the characters would come up with in their natural situation.
Other than that, I also have a few minor complaints. While it isn't huge to the point of distraction since Mike is intriguing in his own right, I do sort of wonder about Mike's character sometimes and whether him having amnesia or not would've made a lot of difference. Of course, his game knowledge is supposed to highlight how different Canon Breakage plays out compared to Sky, but tidbits about his personal life don't really add up to that much in terms of being significant to his character arc. Why does he want to go home? What is there for him to look forward to? I don't know what's motivating him outside of morbid curiosity in this story. You were onto something with his implied self-loathing over his situation, with the way he snaps at Aria at one point about being the load of the team, so exploring more of that would've added more weight to his story.
I also feel like Aria is a more interesting character since she might have some sort of similar baggage (my crackpot theory is that she's hiding the fact she's human too), but in any case, despite the overwhelming amount of banter, Mike is a good foil to her with his powers and personality.
My last complaint is the swearing. I'm not saying this to be prudish, but I don't really think it matches the tone of the rest of the story all that well and feels gratuitous most of the time. Again, similar to the thing about characters constantly making quips, if all of the characters constantly swear, then it sort of robs those swears of their impact to the point it just becomes another word. I would either reserve it for really shocking moments or to highlight how one character is more vulgar than the other.
Sorry if the tone of this has been rather negative. With all of that said, I'm still intrigued in the story. I have noticed a gradual improvement in the writing as the chapters have gone on, since the descriptions have a lot more flavour to them, and what's hooking me into the story is to see how these two protagonists will develop, the extent Mike's neutral powers will be used, and how different things will be from Sky, hence the name.
| C. Pariah chapter 2 . 12/8/2019
Canon Breakage is the best story about a human waking up in another world having been transformed into a Treecko and partnering up with a Riolu only to discover he doesn't have the powers a normal Treecko would that I've ever seen.
| TheG0AT chapter 4 . 12/3/2019
So, Chapter 4.
I’d like to comment further on the dialogue—firstly, how much of it there is. Chapter one was a fantastic hook without a doubt, and I felt had a good balance of action, narration, and dialogue. That chapter did cover the entire Beach Cave arc, after all, and it did so concisely. Since then, the pacing has slowed significantly. A lot of that is owed to how dialogue-dominated the leadup to Drenched Bluff has been. I was sort of trying to ignore it the past couple chapters, but when this one opened with yet another long back-and-forth conversation that more or less spanned the entire chapter, I had to say something. Especially since not a lot happened (besides dialogue and exposition) in the two previous chapters either.
Another issue I have with the dialogue involves the banter intertwined within. In the ongoing conversation Mike and Aria had throughout the chapter, their banter got very repetitive very quickly. The individual lines that you’re using are often crisp and witty, which can make for a quick chuckle… but it gets old when I feel like you’re trying to beat the conversation over my head, especially this early on when Mike and Aria are still supposed to hardly know each other—keywords being ‘supposed to’. Maybe you disagree, but I don’t think that these two have developed enough (especially given the somewhat-vitriolic relationship you want for them, which would take a bit extra time given the relatively insensitive nature of some of their jokes) to justify a lot of their banter. They’re both too comfortable, especially Aria.
Anyway, it was only at the end of the chapter that I really perked up. I was worried I’d be turned off by the previously mentioned stuff and not be motivated to read more today, but you finished the chapter off in a way that’s really piqued my interest further. I’m liking the disparity that comes with Mike: he thinks he knows the bare-bone basics of what he’s doing, where he is, and where he’s headed, and yet new diversions from the ‘canon’ plot continue to crop up. Now, it’s very clear even his own body is not quite normal, and you’ve done excellent to maintain the intrigue that comes with it. Normally I’m not so interested in why things are the way they are this early on, and I think your performance here explains why your story is doing so well at this early stage in its life. Good job.
It’s also worth mentioning that you had some decent tidbits of worldbuilding tossed in from time to time in this chapter, even if it was usually brief. Namely, the storage being underground and a bit more background on Aria’s team, and how Mike related those things to his knowledge of PMD2. Again, this sort of adds to the intrigue, and also gives this story that weird but strangely appealing status of being a game adaptation but also an original in its own right.