September 4, 2016
Two gyms down and two and a half hours in; I was feeling pretty upbeat, perhaps surprisingly so, given that it had taken me three attempts to defeat Misty and obtain the Cascade Badge. My high spirits were mainly down to the fact I knew I had one of my favourite sections of the game coming up. The orange hue of Vermilion has always been pleasing to me and the SS Anne multiple useful items and amusing trainer battles to enjoy.
Of course before I could go south to visit that sunny city I had to head north to help out pokemaniac Bill, who despite initial indications, was neither a pokemon or a maniac. Understandably disappointed I moved on towards Vermilion, picking up the ‘dig’ TM on my way down. In town I popped in to see the pokemon fan club to grab the bike voucher from their esteemed (and really weird) chairman. That said, he wasn’t as worrying as one of the other members who may need some pointers on caring for her pokemon.
I also went to see the fishing guy to grab the fishing rod. ‘Oh boy’, I thought, ‘now I can catch me a water pokemon to round out my team a bit’. Turns out the only fish that thing can hook are Magikarp, but it’s fine, it only took me about 15 pointless battles against those level 5 ‘splash’ monsters for me to realise. Useless fishing equipment aside I made the decision to go east, past the Diglett cave so as to level up my Paras a bit who was still trailing behind Nidorino and Charmeleon strength wise. There weren’t any especially challenging fights, though I did have to do a little double take the first time I came across one of the gambler type trainers.
The long grass around the area also presented me with a couple of monsters I’d have been sorely tempted to capture had I not already agreed to only catch pokemon my fellow pickymon players had not. Ekans’ ‘wrap’ attack caused me enough frustration to seriously want it in my arsenal, plus I didn’t remember Drowzee being available this early in the game and he’s pretty bad ass.
I continued a bit further on but regrettably there was nothing for me here other than the offer of an itemfinder from professor Oak’s aide if I could show him 30 entries in my pokedex. Even on a normal run I don’t think I’d bother with that thing.
So, with Paras suitably beefed up I healed the gang and boarded the SS Anne. As mentioned, I just love this part of the game; unlike every other area where trainers feel they can challenge you for daring to walk near them, on the SS Anne you can basically choose who you battle and then leave again to refresh at any point. Of course the main battle here is against our rival but once again he didn’t prove too much of a concern aside from his Pidgeotto who knocked Paras’ health down to single digits. With Luigi dispatched I went to the sea captain and did what was needed to get the ‘cut’ HM.
I decided to teach ‘cut’ to Charmeleon, replacing the move I had taught him barely an hour before (‘mega punch’), due to the fact that the punch’s accuracy was turning out to be somewhat less than mega. I also used the opportunity to teach Nidorino ‘body slam’ and ‘dig’ to Paras who after another couple of boat battles changed his appearance.
A team of revitalised pocket monsters now felt ready to face off against Lt Surge. Even with the annoying bin switches the third gym was by far the easiest we’d faced up to this point; literally every one of his creatures got one hit KO’d and as a reward I got the Thunder badge which allows the use of the ‘fly’ HM outside of battle and… nothing else. Here was me expecting it to allow my pokemon to get up to level 40 without them disobeying me but no such luck. So now I had to face the challenge of Rock Tunnel without ‘flash’ and my trio all at level 28; just two levels away from potential rebellion.
Next stop on the journey was Rock Tunnel which I was kind of dreading, and it turns out I had good reason to. Initially things were looking up as Paras’ new move ‘dig’ was able to decimate most of the creatures we met. Then, just as I was starting to get cocky, I met hiker after hiker, all of whom liked to get their Geodudes to use the hugely damaging self-destruct’ move against us and even with 7 super potions in my bag I couldn’t fight the inevitable.
After suffering so much damage from pokemon harikiri on my first run through I was tempted to pick up an Onix whilst I was in there, however I had water types on my mind and couldn’t shake how awful Brock’s Onix had been back in Pewter City so I left it. On the upside the second time in Rock Tunnel was a breeze as I’d already taken care of most of the errant trainers. It probably didn’t cost me more than about five extra minutes (and some dignity). Once out of the cave I did a little air punch, because I’m cool, and plodded down in to the next town. Then I heard it. The creepy, plinky plonky, evil music of Lavender Town. I urge you to go and listen to it online if you’ve not played the games for a while. For me, this was too much though and had to call it a day before I did a little ‘self-destruct’ of my own.