Notes From A Small Cartridge: Isle of Armor

Your go-to guide to seeing everything the Isle of Armor has to offer (and how it takes inspiration from the Isle of Man)

Notes From A Small Cartridge: Isle of Armor
Isle of Armor. Source: Nintendo.

Considering that tourism is the Isle of Man’s primary business, it’s surprisingly difficult to get to the small island between the English and Irish coasts. The same can be said for the Manx-inspired Pokémon region The Isle of Armor.

Hop on a train from rural Wedgwurst station over on the Galar mainland — providing you’ve got a valid ticket (read: expansion pass), and then hail a Corviknight taxi to take you the rest of the way. The combination of wheels and wings seems overly complex, but as soon as you step out of the station and feel the sand of the Isle of Armor between your wriggling Pokétoes, the word remote holds new meaning.

Life’s a beach. Source: Author.

It’s a far cry from the almighty heights of Rose Tower brushing the heavens and the onyx walls of Hammerlocke protecting a bustling city like the mouth of a giant, ebony clam refusing access to the pearled city within. In fact, there are only three buildings on the whole of the Isle of Armor.

Like the British island that inspired it, the Isle of Armor has a very small population, and thrives mostly on the tourist business — predominately from trainers aiming to conquer the Dojo Challenge. That is, of course, why you’re here; to best every other trainer with identical intentions and walk away with the Secret Armor. But as it happens, that challenge is soon pushed to the back of your mind as you explore the breath taking locations the Isle has to offer.

It feels like more than a coincidence that the beautiful nature of the island is where it really comes into its own — because this is where Armor draws the most inspiration from Mann.

The best place to start your trip is at the top. Climb to the Isle of Armor’s highest peak at the top of Challenge Road and stand at the foot of the Tower of Darkness. The tower’s foreboding majesty dwarfs you, but put your back against its cold walls and the reason we’ve ventured through cave and atop cliff becomes immediately clear.

The whole of the Isle of Armor stretches out before you, from lush forest and sandy beach to your right and a sheer drop of slate cliffs to your left, everything framed by endless, enchanting sea.

It is said that from the 620m-high summit of Mt Snaefell on the Isle of Man you can see six kingdoms: those of Mann, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and Heaven. On a clear day you can see six kingdoms from atop Challenge Road also; Fields of Honor, Forest of Focus, Workout Sea, Challenge Beach, Stepping-stone Sea, and the rocky way down Challenge Road itself. Whether or not this is by design is insignificant; it’s beautiful.

It’s also the perfect starting point for any tour of the isle’s varied topography, simply point at a kingdom and follow your finger. For the purposes of our tour, we’ll dive straight off the perilous cliffs and splash deep into the sapphire oceans. In reality, we have to wind our way down rocky paths and traipse through tunnels or forests, but whichever direction you head will lead you, eventually, to the sea. Whether it is gently lapping against the sandy beaches of Loop Lagoon or crashing at the base of the towering cliffs that hold up Challenge Road, the sea has eroded and shaped the Isle of Armor like no other force could.

A cave new world. Source: Author.

The island that can withstand the powerful throes of Dynamax energy, but the constant abrasion of the sea has formed an archipelago of smaller islands dotted about the surrounding seas and a maze of caves and tunnels under the Isle’s very bedrock.

If its real-life equivalent is anything to go by, these very caves were likely once home to smugglers and pirates, likely illegally poaching the unique Slowpoke that live peacefully on the beaches to sell their tails on the black market. However, nowadays pirates are no longer heard of, and the caves are once more a home to Pokémon, nature reclaiming its own creations and providing a habitat for wild Pokémon to thrive once more.

As well as moulding the mainland, the seas are littered with smaller islands, tiny nameless patches of sand that pop up like the hills of a great aquatic mole patrolling the perimeter of the island. Use your upgraded bike to surf over to these islets and you’ll find that they are beautiful training spots, but don’t be surprised if you see other travellers hunting for treasures in their golden sands, or using them as temporary respite from the Sharpedos that rule the waves.

Of all these islets, Honeycalm Island draws the most interest. Trainers who have completed their Dojo Challenge will know that the great tree in the centre is a power spot that radiates dynamax energy, but there is reason to believe it may draw this energy from an even greater mythological power.

Is Dynamax energy a form of magic? It’s a mys-tree. Source: Author.

Mannish legends are thick and steeped in mystery. Drawing on both Irish and Scottish mythos, the island’s isolation has led to a mythological culture independent of each. We don’t learn a lot about the folklore of the Isle of Armor during our time there, but trees and woodland such as the Forest of Focus are known areas that fairies and other fae roam. We see on mainland Galar that Glimwood Tangle is home to such spirits, and the Isle of Armor is no different.

The mythos of the two lands is intrinsically intertwined, much like that of Man and the larger countries that it treads water between. But there is one legend that towers above the rest both literally and figuratively, and that is the legend of Mann’s creation.

Fionn mac Cumhaill is a giant of Irish legend. The story goes that he ripped a huge chunk of Ireland to launch at a rival giant in Scotland, across the sea. However, his throw fell dismally short and landed in the ocean, forming the Isle of Man.

While we don’t know for sure whether the Isle of Armor has a similar creation myth, sections of the Wild Area in Galar suggest that it just may be the case. Giant’s Cap, Giant’s Seat, and Giant’s Mirror all suggest the existence of such creatures — in mythology at least — and the latter is a fairly sizeable lake — could this have been the land ripped from the ground and thrown, inadvertently creating the Isle of Armor?

But who was this giant, and what land was he aiming for? Many would hope he was trying to hit a beautifully remade Sinnoh region, but there’s no way of knowing for certain. Perhaps the giant is a relative of AZ, and perhaps therefore it was Kalos our Galarian friend was aiming for. Or, maybe more likely, the giant of Galarian and Armorian legend is a dynamaxed Pokémon, a force of nature ripping chunks from the Galar landscape and inadvertently creating the Isle of Armor.

For now, all we can do is explore the beautiful landscapes of the Isle, so clearly inspired by Mann both geographically and spiritually. From culture to contour, the island is a melting pot of Mannish influences, and it’s all yours to explore. What are you waiting for?


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