September 7, 2016
Given Pokemon Red’s age it’s easy to overlook its soundtrack and rather than enjoy it, perhaps load up spotify to listen to your favourite playlist, which would be a shame, because despite its limitations the music of this game is incredibly effective at what it does. Take Lavender Town for instance, the quiet, haunted little corner of Kanto has some of the eeriest music I have ever heard in a video game. It’s so unsettling in fact, that the moment I stepped foot in town I promptly left again. In no mood to be freaked out by a twenty year old game I instead high-tailed it to Celadon City.
In reality it wasn’t just the music that pushed me forward on my journey; by now my three monsters were all over level 30 and so certainly ready to face off against gym leader Erika. Picking Charmander as a starter gave me no favours early game but allowed me to make light work of all the trainers I faced in Celadon’s grass type gym, though I deliberately tried to fight as few of them as possible (speed run and all that). Unfortunately the gym leader herself seemed in less of a rush to get down to business.
As expected she really wasn’t too concerning, apart from her Gloom that managed to put all of my pokemon to sleep for a few turns. That aside we grabbed the badge and headed out, ready to face the next challenge, only for the life of me I couldn’t remember what that was. I’ve been reading the updates of my fellow pickymon players so knew I had the pokemon tower to contend with at some point soon but didn’t think it was now (or rather hoped it wasn’t so I didn’t have to return to that god forsaken music). Instead I bummed around Celadon for a bit, got the Fly HM, stocked up on potions and laughed at the local signage.
Eventually I decided to face off against team rocket at game corner but again tried to avoid as many fights as possible, a policy which has served me well in real life as much as it has in game. This tactic almost cost me some precious time though as I forgot you need to defeat one specific rocket goon to actually get the key card for the lift. Thankfully he seemed to be one of the dumbest of the henchmen I faced, so I finished him off with ease, but not before calling his Grimer an ugly ball of sludge.
Lift key obtained I went straight down, or up maybe (I get confused with basement numbering) to face Giovanni. The leader of team rocket has by far the most interesting selection of pokemon we’ve seen so far in the game, which makes it all the worse that every one of his goons are stuck with Ekans and Koffing, or perhaps a Sandshrew if they’ve been good. Even with his exciting team Giovanni was steam-rolled by Parasect’s ‘dig’ attack and thus the silph scope was in the rightful hands of a ten year old boy. It’s fine, Mario has already hiked through a pitch black tunnel, now he’s taken on a bunch of pokemon gangsters; communing with the dead is just the next logical step.
Of course this required me to retrace my steps back to Lavender Town, which meant ‘that’ music again. As I entered pokemon tower I was pleased to find the music altered, unfortunately it was a track just as creepy as the one before. I resolved to try and clear the tower as fast as possible so I could move on to part of the game that didn’t make me feel like I’d been cursed by a strange gypsy woman.
Once again we bumped into Luigi and once again all but his Pidgeotto went down without much of a grumble from my team. Even after five straight defeats the smug so-and-so still had a sarky comment for me. Luckily for him I had to get on and save Mr Fuji because… reasons. I found the ghost type pokemon a bit of a challenge traveling up the tower; their combination of abilities which allowed them to both paralyse and confuse all my monsters caused me more than a little difficulty. Luckily, after a few battles I found a particularly useful tactic.
Thankfully the rocket goons at the top hadn’t bothered to catch any of the local ghost types, so they were far easier to dispatch, even with every member of my trio paralysed. Then after saving the thoroughly ungrateful Mr Fuji I was bestowed with the pokeflute which meaning I could leave Lavender Town forever (hurray!).
By this point in my run it was high time I and added the fourth member to my roster. I’ve already mentioned that we picked up the Fly HM earlier so one option was to catch a Doduo, found on the cycling road, and use that to speed up my travels. However I’ve never been a fan of any of the pokemon with more than one head, whether that be Doduo, Dugtrio or Magneton. I’ve just always found it a bit weird and can’t get my head round how they work as creatures. Though I did see this picture that might explain things a bit.
Anyway, I needed a water type pokemon, not only to round out my team but also to learn ‘surf’ to get me across to Cinnabar Island later in the game. So, after grabbing the super rod and battling a host of Magikarp, Tentacool, Krabby and Slowpokes, I finally came across the thing that I wanted…
With the newest member of our team at the front we jumped over to Saffron to face the ‘other’ gym, mainly to train up li’l Poliwhirl. Unfortunately the gym leader doesn’t give out a badge and doesn’t even have a name. He did offer me a free pokemon but us pickymon players are a bit fussy so wouldn’t want to take one unless I have too. That said I may be returning here in the next episode if none of the team i’ve already assembled can learn ‘strength’, guess we’ll have to wait and see.