By the time you reach the NYC-inspired Castelia City a few hours in you're already pounding familiar pavements, but there are subtle changes all over the place. Route 4 is all concrete slabs rather than sandy pathways - those workmen evidently didn't spend all their time battling passing trainers - while those delicious Castelia Cones are available any day of the week as long as it's not winter. And - bonus! - you don't have to queue up for them anymore.
Elsewhere, though your badge case may eventually house a similar collection - from the third gym onwards it's mostly the same ones in a slightly different order - the leader battles take place in new buildings with new gimmicks. From Mistralton's windswept hangar through Nimbasa's glitzy catwalk to Castelia's webs of intrigue, they freshen up otherwise formulaic scraps.
And after the mid-game revisits old ground, the later stages give you plenty of new sights to see: there's an undersea tunnel, a waterlogged city, and a fully-functioning airport. Best of all, a new mountain town hosts the spookiest house in any Pokémon game, a creepy maze of rattling furniture and fleeting apparitions with a chilling theme whose spell is only broken by doltish hikers challenging you to a fight.
Talking of tunes, the musical additions here are a rousing success: thudding beats for battles, juddering J-Pop for Nimbasa's runway, and a spiky singalong from Roxie celebrating her favourite 'Mon, Koffing.
A new achievement system, offering medals for a variety of accomplishments, is a very welcome addition, encouraging extended play and providing a nice bit of positive reinforcement throughout. Pokémon can be frugal with its rewards at times, particularly when experience meters are positively crawling and you're slowly trudging through a cave only to be stopped by Zubats every five steps.
Two hundred shiny reminders that you are making progress makes the grind more palatable. At least the horror of repeated random encounters against weaker 'Mon in the underground areas is eased by a new feature which offers you the chance to use a new Repel when the old one runs out without dipping into the menu.
Another pleasing inclusion is the Pokéwood movie studio. As asides go, it's silly and fairly slight, pitting you against other trainers against a green-screen backdrop, with a choice of one-liners that can affect the course of battle and determine whether the audience will give a thumbs-up to the finished film or doze off in the auditorium. Even if it's inconsequential it's still good fun, and another way to take time out from the serious business of battling Team Plasma.