Last week, Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Isle of Armour expansion introduced plenty of cool new features to Nintendo’s latest monster hunting/gathering game. Some hits include the fact Pokémon that follow you (Gen IV-style) and a pair of deliciously snarky rivals. But the real star of the show is a roundhouse-kicking bear named Kubfu.
You get Kubfu about midway through the Isle of Armour expansion. When you show up at the Master Dojo, Dojo Master Mustard puts you through three trials. Complete those (they’re as straightforward as Pokémon tasks get) and Mustard will give you a level-10 Kubfu.
After that, you have to build up your Affection bond with the little fella. Longtime players will understand what that means, but, for newcomers, you basically just have to level it up a bit and keep it in the top slot of your party. In a divergence from series formula, though, it also means heading to various sightseeing spots around the Isle of Armour, where you’ll take in the sights and generally just be best buds.
Even when there’s not much to see, Kubfu has a blast:
Once you and Kubfu are thick as thieves, first, aww. Second, you’ll have to tackle a final challenge by climbing — and defeating all of the trainers within — one of two towers: the Tower of Darkness or the Tower of Waters. Whichever one you don’t choose will be closed off for good. Whichever one you do choose will dictate which of Kubfu’s two evolutions you receive. The game recommends that you train it up to level 70 before visiting the Tower, but that’s not exactly necessary. Somewhere in the mid-60s or so should suffice.
Some players suggest hunting down wild Chansey to battle for lightning-fast grinding. These pink evil egg monsters give a staggering amount of experience points upon defeat and are weak to Kubfu’s fighting-type moves, so it’s a sound strategy. It’s not the one I took.
I found success chasing down Sharpedo in the Workout Sea. Defeating a Sharpedo grants a decent EXP boost. They’re also everywhere. Honestly, when consoling a newly single friend, you should make liberal use of the phrase, “Plenty of Sharpedo in the sea.” While surfing the Workout Sea, they pop up, I kid you not, every five seconds. You can even just sit still and they’ll beeline straight toward you, like so:
What’s more, Sharpedo grants two effort value points for the attack stat. Training exclusively on Sharpedo will send your Kubfu’s attack stat into the stratosphere — something that will help you tackle the Tower you chose.
The first four opponents are total pushovers. At the top, you face off against Mustard. Without spoiling his Pokémon, I’ll just say this: Make sure your Kubfu has Detect and Aerial Ace in its moveset. And open up the battle with Detect.
Once you defeat Mustard, your Kubfu will evolve into Urshifu. Those who complete the Tower of Waters will end up with Rapid Strike Urshifu, a water-fighting-type Pokémon with five weaknesses. Conquerors of the Tower of Darkness get the fighting-dark-type Single Strike Urshifu, who has just two weaknesses (though is, to be fair, extra weak to fairy-type moves). I completed the Tower of Darkness, and was met with a Pokémon that looked nothing like the adorable teddy bear I’ve grown to love:
At least it’s a beast. Rapid Strike Urshifu learns the water-type move Surging Strikes, which has a power of 25 and hits thrice in a row. Single Strike Urshifu are blessed with Wicked Blow, a dark-type move with a power of 80. Both moves result in a critical hit. Outside of that, other than some learnable attacks through technical machines, there’s not much daylight between the two forms. According to the exhaustive research over at Serebii, Urshifu’s base stats are the same for both forms. (Come on. The choice is obvious.)
My new Urshifu may be a master of martial arts — an unstoppable hulk of a bear with killer stats and an even more killer moveset. My opponents cower at its ferocity and indomitable strength. Victory is all but a guarantee.
Cool. I miss Kubfu.
More dispatches from the Isle of Armour:
What do you get if you take the original 151 Pokémon and replace them with carbon copies of an eighth generation reimagining of one the more forgettable ones? The Isle of Armour expansion for Pokémon Sword and Shield, out last week for Nintendo Switch, answers that head-scratcher. Kinda.Read more
Just a few hours in, I’m already enjoying Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Isle of Armour DLC more than the base game. While much smaller in size, it feels more free flowing and open ended. There’s a lot to explore, and plenty more Pokémon to catch, including a bunch of my...Read more