September 14, 2016
The last time we saw our hero, he had just defeated Koga in Fuschia City to earn the SOULBADGE; after an exciting adventure in the Safari Zone that wielded the Surf AND Strength HMs – and he reluctantly was forced to teach both to Kevin Slowens after a misjudgement on abilities. Can K-Slow cope with the pressure of holding the key to both moves? How will they continue from here? Find out… right now!
After a LONG time trekking the path between Lavender Town and Fuschia City, I discovered I actually kinda missed the constant run-ins with Team Rocket, of which I had none. SO… I guess I’ll go to Saffron City and mess some dudes up, then. At least I’ll get some thrilling conversation out of it!
Okay. Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve just met the least subtle gangster in the history of crime (which is saying something for Team Rocket) and have a natter with this dude outside the door to this huge, important looking building:
The fact there’s a Rocketer, ahem, “guarding” the door means that I should probably just take a little peek in here and see what’s going on. Turns out it’s the Silph Company; a hugely important company in Kanto who made the Silph Scope that I used in Lavender Town, and are also believed to run the Pokémarts. If Team Rocket are here… it looks like I’ve got some work to do.
The Rocketers chosen to take control of Silph Co. are all as dull and stupid as all the other Rocketers, so I set about dispatching them and their boring Pokémon. I discover with glee that Grimer does not fare well against fire attacks, so Evee Marie shares a lot of the glory with Jericho (Zubats) and Kevin Slowens (everything else) in this building. K-Slow, in fact, sets the bar high at the end of the first fight.
I’m happy to find a Scientist; hoping to get a bit of insight into why Rocket are here, but am quickly downtrodden to discover he’s a freakin’ TRAITOR.
If there’s one thing I hate more than gangster, it’s SCIENCE GANGSTERS. Especially the ones who tell me to go home. He has no idea how far Pallet Town is from Saffron City. It’d take ages. Nah, I’ve got a better idea.
My early confidence is quickly shattered when I realise that this is the building with all the damn teleporters. I hate teleporters. Especially the teleporters in Pokémon, because there’s no way of knowing where they actually go until you try them. Friggin’ things are more irritating than having your tag partner walk out on you mid-match.
After far too long fighting scientists and random goons while bouncing around in teleporters at random, I decide to start taking the game seriously… when I am reminded how stupid it really can be.
I only face 3 of the Rocket Brothers, which I am glad of, as their presence suggests to me that that game designers simply ran out of idiotic dialogue to give to the Team Rocket members. Luckily, that wasn’t the weirdest guy I found in Silph Co.
Unlike in Pokémon Tower, I managed to find the point where you can heal within Silph Co. before reaching the point where I felt like I needed to leave to heal. Luckily, this quite happily coincided with me finding the right combination of teleporters, and soon end up here:
There is absolutely no way that the rival is not associated with Team Rocket in some way. He always seems to be right in the mix of all Team Rocket’s shady deals, but never seems to be taking them on like I am. There’s no way he’d be this deep inside Silph Co. and completely unharmed if he wasn’t in league with them in some way… and I intend to find out. But first, I need to rectify a mistake I made in the last Rival Battle.
Byron’s been busy since Lavender Town (probably being an arsehole) and this battle is much more difficult than the last; partially because I keep putting Slowens out to take each new Pokémon on first to test his resolve. It’s a hard slog that we eventually win, but not before taking this amazing screenshot:
I can’t remember if that felled the beast in one shot (I think it did), and we quickly teleport back downstairs before heading up to the C.E.O’s office… after hearing Byron spout nonsense again.
I am genuinely interested to discover the link the Rival has with Team Rocket. When I named him Byron, I didn’t realise he was going to be this much of a prick… but never mind. With all the Rocketers beaten and the teleporter system figured out, I am enthused to discover that, following our last encounter, Giovanni is not as prepared to let me get up to the same hi-jinx as last time.
I didn’t take any screenshots during the battle because I was concentrating SO HARD, but after a tough battle we came out on top. I couldn’t help but notice that all of Giovanni’s Pokémon appear to be of similar types; all “normal” with various fighting/grass/ground traits. That’s almost like he’s a Gym Leader! How very odd. Most likely an enormous coincidence.
Of course, as is traditional in Kanto, when a 10 year old child rescues your enormous company because you apparently forgot to hire any kind of security and half of your workforce are treacherous scum (wait, is Silph Co. a wing of the Labour Party?); an offer is made:
That sounds like I’ll get to choose my reward! Given that Silph Co. are responsible for so many trainer aides, something awesome like a Rare Candy or a bunch of Hyper Potions would be great, as they’re exactly the thing I need to complete this ridiculous challe-
With that disappointing climax, we’re off again; this time to challenge Sabrina The Teenage Bitch and her gym full of Psychic Pokémon. I know that her gym is in the North of the city (’cause I came from the South, over the Watford Gap) and quickly make my way up there.
Right. Saffron has TWO gyms; the official gym with Sabrina and her psychic nonsense, and the unofficial gym that is home to fighting-type Pokémon! So… that one’s a dojo.
Well, actually, they’re all technically dojo because that’s what a gym is in Japan… but this one is definitely a dojo. Because of all the karate. This seems like the obvious first step; I might be able to learn a very important technique which could be helpful in the Psychic gym.
I do not learn Unagi in this gym, because all of these dudes are ridiculous.
Booker D and Koko take the lead on all of these fights, with Dig and Fly proving very effective against all the battlers. After defeating the gym leader (simply called Blackbelt; you know it isn’t a real gym ’cause he doesn’t have an actual name); he offers me a choice of Hitmonlee or Hitmonchan to take with me. I choose…
Urgh. More teleporters. It’s a good thing I don’t have any antimatter on me.
Turns out luck was with me much more readily in this gym, as I get to Sabrina in about 4 moves – which may actually have been the fastest possible route. I’m genuinely not sure, but I’m glad that there has been minimalised risk of me accidentally bonding with one of my Pokémon like Bill does, especially when given a glimpse of what is yet to come in my stable’s future:
Luckily, before long:
This was far and away the hardest Gym Leader battle so far; not least because her Kadabra kept using Recover like a jerk. K-Slow ended up jobbing out to her Alakazam, much to my dismay – that Psybeam is a hell of an attack – and it fell to Booker D to pick up the final win. Turns out you can’t Psybeam a Pokémon which is underground, which might not make sense but what does?
We end the day here, having conquered another official Pokémon gym, smashing an unofficial gym and running Team Rocket out of ANOTHER city; which leaves us all looking like this:
I don’t know whether we see much of Team Rocket after this point; I can’t remember who’s waiting at the PowerPlant, Pokémon Mansion or Victory Road – but regardless, I do feel like I found the most idiotic piece of Rocket dialogue in Silph Co.
Until next time…
*The Marshbadge being related to Psychic Pokémon is most likely a reference to the number of folk tales from around the world. that reference psychic creatures living in marshland or bogs. In Ireland, for example, everything from leprechauns to banshees are found out in the marshes and forests. An English folk tale called The Tiddy Mun references a “marsh spirit”. Numerous Japanese folk tales, including The Bamboo Cutter And The Moon Maiden (which was recently turned into the film The Tale Of Princess Kaguya by Studio Ghibli), reference psychic entities living in marshlands.
September 6, 2016
We last saw our hero in Lavender Town… again. Except this time, he’s defeated Team Rocket in Celadon City AND Lavender Town and rescued Mr. Fuji from the Pokémon Tower. Where will he go from here? Find out… right now!
With Mr. Fuji safely returned home, the time has come to leave Lavender Town behind – hopefully forever. With Cut and Fly in effect and the opportunities to use Surf and Strength now available, the next logical step seems to be heading south to Fuchsia City and the Safari Zone to acquire the HMs for both moves. So we head to Route 12, Pokéflute at the ready – but we’re cut off quickly by trainer battles.
We trawl through the litany of fishermen and discover that spending all of your time holding your rod in the hot sun can be bad for you.
Before long we encounter a sleeping Pokémon blocking the path! Only one thing to do…
Now luckily, for those of us who have seen the Pokémon cartoon, we know that waking a Snorlax will just mean it goes off and gets something eat before going back to sle-
THE TV SHOW LIED
I had forgotten how much of a complete pain Snorlax was to battle. It keeps using Rest and regaining all of its health, then Headbutting like it thinks it’s a member of the Anoa’i family*. Evee Marie takes a kicking before I switch out to Booker D; who uses Dig whenever Snorlax wakes up from Rest to avoid the Headbutt. It’s a tactic that works and, after very nearly catching it by accident ’cause I forgot what I was doing, we dispatch it into the wild or kick it into the river or something and head on. During the next section we meet my favourite male trainer character:
Soon, we arrive at a house of the Fishing Guru’s brother; who is presumably the older, better brother as he gives us a Super Rod! No, not that kind of super rod; it’s a really good fishing rod. That’s all. Get your mind out of the gutter, reader.
Interested to see what I can get on Route 16, I decide to use it straight away! Having not thought it through even remotely, we end up with this situation.
After quickly checking Bulbapedia for where I can actually find the Pokémon I want, I decide to press on without anymore fishing. After all, it looks like I’ll be able to find what I need when I reach my destination…
The trainer battles are fairly run of the mill on the way down; but I realise that I have NO recollection of this dude at all:
I have no idea what it is about bird Pokémon that has led these dudes to rocking mohawks and wearing dunagrees, but I am so into punk-rock painters with Pidgeys that I’m considering some fanfic on the side of this project. The team are smashing through these trainers like a Fire Blast through butter, and as Fuchsia City quickly draws near, i am suddenly perturbed by an upcoming battle.
After being disappointed to discover that the creepy girls are actually two more of the “Beauties”, I set about school Niantic for their sexist character designs by beating their “girly” Clefairy’s. Not because I think Clefairy’s are girly, but because I like to win things. I did look away for 5 seconds though, which was a mistake.
Next up I encounter my first Fearow; which looks like one of those turkeys that voted for Christmas that people keep banging on about.
It is at THIS point, dear Reader, where disaster strikes. No, Jericho doesn’t get beaten by a bird covered in gravy and Brussels sprouts; the ROM crashes and my phone wipes out entirely. This is unusual; my phone hasn’t crashed before at all; and there was no indication of any further issue. The worst part, though, is that instead of being a sensible and responsible Pokémon trainer and saving regularly along the way… I haven’t saved at all. I have lost over an hour of gametime and I am back in GORRAM LAVENDER TOWN.
However, I am presented with a unique opportunity. Did I make some poor choices when I started earlier? Possibly. Maybe this is a chance to switch up the gameplan and take other factors into account. Right, let’s do it differently this time. HERE WE GO.
We quickly smash through the trainers on Route 16 and get to the Fishing Guru’s brother’s house. His enthusiasm for fishing is still weird, but I take his goddamn Super Rod and, rather than progressing, Koko flies us back to Celadon City. Remember I mentioned the weird house that’s blocked off by a tiny lake? We go straight there. We start fishing. The first Pokémon we hook is the one we want. The problem is, that Pokémon is Level 15. My entire stable is minimum Level 30. One use of Scratch from Booker D knocks it out entirlely, which is incredibly inconvenient. So, we continue to fish. After more than a few complete misses and about 800000 Poliwhirls and one exaggeration later, we finally snag the one we want again. And this time, with Evee Marie at the front of the party, a careful use of Ember takes off just enough health. It’s at this moment I realise I have literally one Great Ball in my inventory and this could be my only opportunity to catch it without another tedious fishing grind. I throw the ball.
It twitches again.
It twitches a third time.
And then it stops.
Welcome to the team…
The addition of Kevin Slowens results in a FULL STABLE! With my Sinister 6 assembled, the time has come to push to the finish. The problem? KSlow is about half the Levels of the rest of the party and, as we’ve learned from my Pickymon compadrés, the grind is the worst part of this whole experience. So I make a bold decision to fly to Vermilion, hop on my bike, and continue on the journey to Fuchsia City. Aside from a quick ride up and down Diglett’s Cave once, KSlow is not to be subjected to any more of a grind than I had already done before the ROM crash. He’s going to have to step up or get to the back of the line.
His quality showing out in the Diglett’s Cave sees him move up 4 levels alone, so we continue our ride back to Route 16. Before long, we’re back round to where we were before the crash.
A few more trainer battles, and while KSlow has levelled at an incredible rate; all of his attacks have almost entirely run out of PP and he is SCREWED. So we avoid as many trainer battles as possible and push on to Fuchsia City to rest and crack on with the important issues at hand. Namely, going into the Safari Zone and getting those HMs. We encounter a few people that we couldn’t avoid, but before long, we make it to Fuchsia City.
At this stage, I remember about the Gold Teeth. You get the Gold Teeth in the Safari Zone and bring them to the Warden, so he gives you the Strength HM. This is All Good, I’m fine with this. I also remember that the hut you get Surf from is at the furthest possible point from the entrance to the Safari Zone. This is Also All Good, I am also fine with that. What I have forgotten runs 4 fold:
With all of those things suitably forgotten, I pay my money and head into the Safari Zone. The first 2 attempts see me pick up a lot of interesting inventory, but not the Gold Teeth, and visit a number of huts, but not the one with Surf. The encounters in these huts are all suitably riveting.
The third time is the charm, as I find the right path to the hut and manage to get Surf and immediately teach it Kevin . However, I still don’t have the Gold Teeth and head back out – finding them almost immediately. My nonsense memory of this section sends me back to the house and, two paces from the front door, my time runs out and I’m sent out of the park.
So I go back in.
And I burn it to the hut.
And it isn’t the warden. It isn’t the warden at all. It’s just some guy.
I pissed off that Rhydon on the way here for nothing.
I run out the clock in the Safari Zone and head out into Fuchsia City to try and find the Warden’s House. I find it depressingly quickly (as in, it’s literally the first building I go in to) and return his teeth to him, without questioning how a man who operates a conservation project can afford a full set of dentures made out of gold. In return, he gives me the Strength HM, and I immediately go to teach it to Evee Marie.
But I can’t.
I’m so shocked, I forget to screencap. Evee Marie says Not Able. I’ve either misread the chart, or I’ve read a chart with incorrect information. Maybe a chart for a later generation of Pokémon games? It doesn’t matter.
There’s only one Pokémon in my stable who can learn Strength, and it’s Kevin Slowens. KSlow, who has already learned Surf – and is the only Pokémon who can learn Surf – has suddenly become my saviour, my guiding light, my salvation. Kevin Slowens learns Strength. My tactics must now change dramatically – KSlow was to be my Water, Psychic AND Ice guy. Now he’s my Strength guy too.
Kevin Slowens must never job out. Kevin Slowens must be protected.
The next stop is the Fuchsia City gym. This is the Psychic gym; arguably the gym in which I have the strongest disadvantage. Not only because of the Psychic type advantages, but also because it appears I’ve taken this run in a slightly unusual order and I shouldn’t actually be here yet. Regardless, I prepare myself for the dangerous challenge that a gym full of psychic ninjas will present.
These are meant to be psychic ninjas, not freakin’ jugglers! However, I was wrong to take him lightly as his Level 38 Hypno nearly wipes me out entirely. I end up taking this gym literally one trainer at a time; often heading back out to the Pokémon Centre to heal the team before heading back in. Kevin Slowens is still taking the lead, clawing essential experience points against Pokémon that are consistently 5-10 levels stronger than him, but hangs in there the whole way. At no point against the Psychic onslaught do any of them drop; but we’re taken by surprised by a Tamer who, having missed the memo on Psychic Pokémon, sends out a gorram Sandslash:
Finally, having fought tooth and claw through the trainers, we make it to Koga, who gives it The Big I Am straight away.
The fight with Koga is as difficult as anticipated; his team leaning heavily towards Poison types with a few Psychic attacks thrown in as well. The stable shares the load, but Evee Marie’s Ember attack proves the most effective at dealing with his army of Koffings and Weezings – which makes sense. After all, one of the most popular things to do with toxic gas is set it on fire. The battle takes its toll on her though and, just before the last Weezing takes her out, I go to give her my only Hyper Potion to push us through the rest of the fight. Unfortunately, it seems that Koga’s Weezing knows A Dick Move.
As disappointing as it is that Evee Marie misses out on the experience from Koga’s most powerful Pokémon, the team have accomplished a mammoth task here and come out on top, resulting in the SOULBADGE!
The most important lesson from today is that I need to save the game much more often than I do. But the second chance was worth it, as Kevin Slowens has smashed up 15 Levels since being caught and is nearly on equal strength to the rest of the stable, which leaves us looking like this:
And with that, it’s back to the Pokémon Centre to heal, eat and rest; as tomorrow is a new day with new adventures. But in the meantime, we must turn our thoughts to the sacrifice made by the brave, daring and beautiful Evee Marie to help us come this far… as her role could be even more important than we ever could’ve thought before we began todays’ adventure…
*The Anoa’i family are the Samoan wrestling dynasty that have produced such incredible wrestlers as “The High Chief” Peter Maivia, Rocky Johnson, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rikishi, Umaga, Roman Reigns and Nia Jax. The only people who have headbutted a Samoan wrestler and survived are The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Sheamus and… Mojo Rawley.
September 3, 2016
Last time we saw our hero, he had just navigated the Rock Tunnel in the dark and made it to Lavender Town; a small town full of big problems, especially in the Pokémon Tower…
It’s a new day (yes, it is) in Lavender Town; where Dave and his stable have just awoken. Near the Pokémon Centre looms the Pokémon Tower; a creepy mass burial site for dead Pokémon which is just weird and makes me uncomfortable; especially after some quick Google searches about Lavender Town (mainly looking for the Dead Raticate article) revealed the ridiculous story of Lavender Town Syndrome, which is as stupid and incomprehensible as it is creepy and unsettling. Anyway, let’s not get bogged down on that now; there’s work to do.
Visits to the houses reveal that Mr. Fuji, a kindly old man who cares for lost or needy Pokémon, has disappeared and may be trapped in the Pokémon Tower. Now, I know I can’t complete the Pokémon Tower to my personal satisfaction right now. I can do the fight with Byron, sure, but I can’t fight wild ghost Pokémon without getting the Silph Scope first. So:
Hey, look, it’s Celadon City! We all know what’s going on here. Illegal gambling operations, the grass-type gym, a dude who blocked off every entrance to his house with fencing and a small lake, and Kanto’s Biggest Pokémon Store! There’s also that weird mansion which hosts the game creators, who appear to have built the game world from within the game world. I can’t get on board with that. And, in fact, I ignore it completely; because I literally only care about the back door to that building, and the prize which awaits on the roof.
Another day, another theft in broad daylight, another step closer to joining Team Rocket (and probably enacting a coup d’etat, at this stage). I have abandoned part of my initial game plan and gone for an Eevee – partially because it gives Matt Holmes some more options for his ludicrous run, and partially… well, I’ll explain the rest later. The next stop is straight round to the Pokémart to make TWO very important things happen:
That’s right: the Greatest Of All Time has evolved into Raichu, and now I can finally reveal why he’s called Jericho – because Jericho shouts “RAICHU!” when he throws chops.
So, that’s the Thunderstone. But I still have an Eevee to level and I have two obvious choices; for my team continues to be devoid of a Fire type and a Water type Pokémon. The smart move strategically is to try and ensure I have one of each; there are enough Pokémon in the Elite Four and Final Rival battles that are weak to both types that having them is a sensible choice. But as my party stands, I could potentially be sacrificing Ghost, Psychic and Fighting types if I carry on this path. In fact, there is an argument that catching a Pikachu simply because I wanted to make the Raichu joke was reckless and foolhardy. But to be honest, anyone who makes that argument can SHUT UP, because I’m willing to stick to my guns. ANYWAY
That’s right. Eevee evolves into Flareon; the most stylish, elegant, bewitching, eternally beguiling, continuously charismatic and fantastically fascinating Pokémon to appear in this or any other game. Allow yourself to be seduced, enchanted, dazzled and entranced by Evee Marie!
With the stable up to 5 Pokémon, it’s time to investigate the rest of this town; namely the illegal gambling/Pokémon smuggling operation being run by those dastardly Team Rocket goons. Though, I imagine the ordinary folk in Celadon City don’t know anything about the operation, or else they would’ve stopped it already; right?
Seems like a good time to investigate the Game Corner itself. Of course, there won’t be any obvious clues as to where the secret switch that definitely isn’t behind the poster on the back wall actually is, will there?
As with everything in this world, we have a Pokémon battle – and as with nearly every other Pokémon battle, I win decisively.
Now, let’s just remember something vital here. The members of Team Rocket are all identifiable as adults. Like, at their youngest, they’re 18. The closest in character style to them in the game are the Junior Trainers (who I’m starting to think may be like a Team Rocket version of the Hitler Youth, to be honest). So this guy here, a fully-paid up member of Team Rocket, who is guarding the switch that leads to the secret entrance of the goddamn Pokémon Mafia, is an adult goddamn human male who has just been ousted by a 10 year old – A CHILD – in a fight using domesticated magic animals. D’you know what his next step should be here? He should hit me in the head with a goddamn wrench. What does he actually do?
Good. Fine. I guess I’ll just come in, then, shall I? Not gonna lie, a lot of the screenshots I remember to take over the next 30 minutes or so of game time are just this:
There are a few things during my incomprehensible raid of Team Rocket’s underground lair that were worth noting, though. For a start, the launch pads that Rocket apparently stole from a mid-90’s Sonic The Hedgehog level caused me more problems than I’m willing to fully admit. In terms of battles though, Evee Marie takes the lead and, as the most underdeveloped member of the party, does run into trouble once or twice.
A healthy supply of Super Potions and Ethers keeps us underground for the whole run, and I take great enjoyment from the bafflingly stupid discourse from the Team Rocket goons along the way.
After not torturing any of them at all and getting all the information I need, I eventually get a hold of the lift key and head to the bottom floor, ready to face Giovanni for the first time. He is a sensible man, and has hidden himself behind a large door – but it’s easier to get through than Surge’s because I just have to defeat two of his idiots. This is my first encounter with an Arbok in this game though, and I had forgotten how incredible the character design is for it:
It also turns out that being an utter failure can see you being promoted in Pokémon as well as in real life.
Losing to a child in a mountain gets you the job of security for the boss it seems. Also, that SuperNerd by the fossils – he was working for Team Rocket, right? Or was he literally just a scientist who manages to escape with a fossil because you’ve stopped Team Rocket catching him? I can’t remember what he says when you beat him and I didn’t screencap it…
Anyway, I finally get into Giovanni’s… office, I guess? And it’s amazing how he isn’t immediately outraged that there’s a random child in the secret lair of his illegal Pokémon smuggling/gambling operation.
Eventually he realises I’m in the room with him and… we have a Pokémon battle. Seriously, these are the worst gangsters in the history of video games. Well, that is, until I realise that his Pokémon collection is a menagerie of TERRIFYING BEASTS!
Seriously, the character designs in this game are outstanding. 20 years old, this is. Well done, Nintendo. Anyway, after beating Giovanni he does a weird speech about how impressed he is with the love and care you show towards your Pokémon, which I was too stunned by to screencap. Like, seriously; you’re THE MAFIA. This is a weird outlook for you to have, Giovanni.
And then he just VANISHES. He doesn’t even have any Psychic Pokémon who can learn Teleport. So Weird. Anyway, with the Silph Scope in my cavernous backpack, at least I’m done with Team Rocket for now, so off I go to-
With Team Rocket DEALT WITH, Christ, I head out. I still have the gym to look forward to but there’s something else I want to take care of before I head in there. I hop on my bike and quickly head out West, to a little house tucked away behind Route 16, where I meet a young girl, who makes some remarks which could be taken the wrong way if presented out of context…
The outcome? I’m now in possession of Fly, which leaves Koko’s move-set looking like THIS:
So it’s straight back to Celadon City, and into Erika’s Gym, trying not to be grossed out by the old pervert staring through the window on the way in. There’s a LOT of other trainers in here – but I guess that’s what happens when you create a gym environment which doubles up as a safe space for women to train, develop and grow; while simultaneously using the landscape of your video game to try and promote positive gender attitudes, right society?
The grass-based fights are no problem for Evee Marie, who’s levelled up enough to learn Ember through a combination of the Rocket grind and a couple of Rare Candies (which I don’t need to save for a horrendous grind later, like Charles did, because Evee Marie can learn Strength); and any time she’s in trouble I switch out to Koko or Booker D; whose Fly/Dig combinations make short work of the others.
FYI, this gym does counter the hatred I have for the “Beauty” by being home to my favourite trainer type in the game:
Sadly, I forget that beating a gym leader means you can’t face any of the other trainers in the gym and make the mistake of skipping forward to Erika – but only because I want to beat her before I head out to heal up. She’s a very exciting young woman.
Vileplume looks stupid. Just putting it out there. Most of the other character designs are at least interestings… Vileplume is just a pod with huge leaves. Dumb. I take much joy in smashing it to pieces, along with her other Pokémon.
Ignoring the wider constructs surrounding notions of news media, free speech and invasion of privacy, I leave the Celadon Gym to continue on my journey. Koko flies out to Lavender Town and it’s straight into the Pokémon Tower to find Mr. Fuji.
While I’d been off dealing with Team Rocket, I’d forgotten that I was going to run into Byron here. I can’t be bothered with him. It’s getting late in the real world, but I want to scale Pokémon Tower before I stop for the night so I can put it behind me on the next playthrough. But… there’s no way around him. Cocks.
This is the most difficult Rival battle yet, but it’s definitely made easier by the fact I went to Celadon City first. He’s picked up an Eggsecute since I last saw him, which gets promptly scrambled by Evee Marie.
His Kadabra has learned enough attacks to make it a genuine threat, and I end up bringing Booker D in to take it out; his Pidgeotto falls victim to a one-shot Thunderbolt from Jericho and his Charmeleon is dealt with in short order too; but I’m careful not to get too cocky at this stage, even though he’s still being a dick about things.
Isn’t it interesting how you always seem to find Byron hanging out in places where Team Rocket are up to something? And that he never seems to do anything about stopping them (since we know that simply beating them in a Pokémon battle will drive them away)? Hmmm…
Anyway, into the Tower. I remember hating this in the past but it isn’t too bad this time round. I do hate the Channelers, though.
They seem like a classic example of Phony Mediums Conning Vulnerable People, and I for one am glad that they’ve all been possessed by Ghastly’s and forced to do… oh, actually, I probably could’ve done without having a thousand trainer battles in here so I’ll maybe take back the last bit.
This section also allows me to meet one of my favourite Pokémon of all time, and I am sad that I can’t have one on this play-through.
That Haunter nearly totals the entire stable because it just kept using Confuse Ray like a jerkface, so we duck out to the Pokémon Centre and grind our way back up – to find that we were literally moments away from this thing:
There’s only two more Channelers to go and they’re my favourites.
And, finally, we find the supposed cause of all this trouble.
We take the bonehead down (and I realise I haven’t encountered any wild Cubones in here, which is weird) and are about to head upstairs…
I don’t want to have another existential crisis here, and I know that canonically that Marowak was dead – but that Marowak wasn’t dead. There are only 3 ghost Pokémon and Marowak isn’t one of them. I KILLED A MAROWAK.
Quelle surprise, upstairs are a bunch of Team Rocket goons, who appear to have Mr. Fuji trapped in a small corridor, for some inexplicable reason. Actually, I’m genuinely not sure what they’re doing here at all, and we don’t appear to actually find out.
FYI; Golbat is genuinely terrifying.
The Team Rocket battles are fought and won in typical style:
Finally, after a long day, 2 encounters with Team Rocket, one gym battle, 2 Pokémon evolutions and more ghosts than the entire run of Scooby Doo, I make it to Mr. Fuji ready to take him and his racist salt* back down to his home, safe and sound.
It turns out Mr. Fuji wasn’t being held captive by Team Rocket at all; certainly not to his knowledge. So, seriously, what were they even doing there in the first place? This whole Lavender Town segment is just weird. Either way, we down to the house and he passes on the Pokéflute, so now I can wake up those damned Snorlax blocking all the roads. As I’m about to save, I realise I still have a Rare Candy on me, so I decide to just give it Bulbtista for kicks.
And that’s where we finish today; ready to head on to the next adventure. But where to next? There’s still an empty space in that stable…
*Mr. Fuji’s racist salt is a reference to a segment on The Edge And Christian Show That Totally Reeks Of Awesomeness (or TEACSTTROA for short) on the WWE Network (available now for just £/$9.99), in which they discuss the fact that former WWE manager, Mr. Fuji, used to throw salt in peoples’ eyes, and that was super racist. This was in the 80’s and 90’s when people didn’t know any better though.
Of course, it’s difficult to do a wrestling-themed run through and not mention the passing of Mr. Fuji this week; especially as his in-game equivalent is intricately involved in a story around that very theme. So, I’ll finish off with this.
August 31, 2016
Last time we saw our hero, he had just arrived in Vermilion City having defeated Misty, Byron AND Team Rocket, all in one day; and made a new friend in Booker D, the five time, five time, five time, five time, five time World Heavyweight Champion Diglett! What adventures await aboard the St. Anne? Will he be able to beat Lt. Surge? Find out… now!
With Booker D now in the stable and the party all rested up, we head over to the S.S. Anne. The approach to the S.S. Anne makes me truly realise for the first time that I’m playing this game on a GameBoy Colour ROM, something I hadn’t really registered properly beforehand.
I’m not wearing my T-Pain hat, but it is fair to say that I am on a boat. In usual fashion, I have also completely missed the party, so I decide to vent my frustration by barging into peoples’ cabins, challenging them to Pokémon battles and stealing anything which they happen to have lying around. I keep fighting Team Rocket for trying to steal stuff… then taking what they were stealing. Now I’m stealing things from boats. I start to have an existential crisis about my own morality, when I’m suddenly greeted with a striking reminder of how much worse I could be as a person.
For some reason, Byron is surprised to see me on this boat which has just hosted a party for Pokémon trainers.
Byron’s team has come along quite a way since our last battle; with all 4 Pokémon reaching their second evolutionary stages after our last encounter. All are quite easily taken out – Ratticate by a particularly brutal combination of Thundershock and Dig which did NOT leaving it looking good – and Bryon wanders off, without handing out some Top Quality Advice before he leaves.
The battle with Byron has weakened the whole team, so I decide to Dig out and heal up – but I’m not able too because apparently Prof. Oak works for the Kanto Ministry of Health & Safety.
Grinding up on this boat was fairly straight-forward for the most part; with Booker D taking out most of the competition with Dig and leaving the errant water-types to Jericho. However, running into so many old dudes with these pesky little buggers is making me jealous.
A memory blank in the S.S. Anne’s layout brings me to the Captain’s cabin much earlier than I had originally planned to be there. Rather than leaving and coming back, I reckon I probably survive the rest of the battles without leaving the ship, and soon after:
For the most part, the battles look like this:
I found this guys’ reaction to losing to a WWE Hall of Famer a little over the top:
And this interaction just made me upset:
All is going well – including finding a Great Ball in the trash, because again, I am a child thief – until THIS GUY.
What should’ve been a run of the mill outing for Jericho turns into a disaster, as he misses multiple attacks on a Tentacool and ends up jobbing out entirely. Shocked, angered and slightly embarrassed, Bulbtista steps forward and smashes his Tentacool and his Staryu to pieces, fueled by my rage and sadness (not really; he’s just learned Cut so he’s pretty much untouchable on the boat).
With everyone defeated and everything stolen, I head back to the shore. The cut-scene where the S.S. Anne leaves is unnecessarily slow. THIS IS A SPEED RUN, NIANTIC. A quick trip to the Pokémon Centre later…
Vermilion City gym is full of bins. It’s just weird. Like, why would you hide all the controls to your electric fence in 2 of 16 bins? Why does that make sense? This is demonstrating worse survival skills than Solid Snake (who is a guy who literally just hides in a box). I don’t know who or what Surge is frightened of, but his methods of self-preservation are ridiculous. For a start, I would describe his followers as meek:
Surge presents absolutely no issue. Booker D deals with most of the battle without taking a whole lot of damage; my love of the cartoon sees me pitting Jericho against Raichu because if Ash’s disobedient Pikachu can beat him… turns out that wasn’t actually a good idea, because Jericho’s Quick Attack is not *that* good, so Booker D tags back in to deal the final blows. It was worth doing though as Jericho learns Swift off the back of the experience, and we end up here:
We leave Surge to treat his PTSD through electric shock therapy and head out into the world. Now, at this point, it starts to become apparent that I have forgotten how we’re meant to proceed from here. Even skimming back through the updates of people who have completed this stage before me proves unfruitful, so I make a decision to pop back to Cerulean City and pick up my BRAND NEW BICYCLE! The guy behind the counter initially seems upset that I have a voucher, which makes sense – if you were selling bikes for a million dollars, you’d be upset about giving one away for free too – and I use it… to head back to Vermilion City. Then I head out East; knowing, in my head, that Lavender Town is in that direction. So, off I go, taking on Gamblers, Junior trainers, Youngsters and THIS GUY:
He has one Pokémon. I can’t even remember what it was, but it was an electric type. It may have been a Magnemite. Whatever it was, it was met by Booker D; who used one round of Dig and KOed it. It landed zero attacks. It did literally nothing.
I was pretty incredulous at this suggestion too:
After giving all the trainers a good thrashing (and seeing off some errant Spearows), I head onwards. Imagine my surprise as I head through the guard post and chance upon… a sleeping Snorlax blocking my path! Bollocks. I’ve literally done it all wrong, like a tit. This the moment when I remember the other path out of Cerulean (WHICH I HAVE ALREADY BEEN BACK TO TODAY), the rocky path, the Rock Tun-oh. The Rock Tunnel. With no Flash. Goddamnit.
So, off I go, on my little bike, cycling back through Vermilion, back into the underground path, back round Cerulean and out to the East. You can tell when you’re in the North of Kanto because you keep meeting these idiots.
I can’t figure out what is so attractive about all these Weedles that people keep having, and then I remember my friend Heather sent this to me a few days ago and all suddenly becomes clear:
Koko leaps at the chance to take business into his own… wings, and thrash some Weedles into submission on this trek, though. I don’t want him to think I’ve been neglecting him (but there have been LOADS of Pikachus lately), and he’s getting pretty strong regardless.
A couple of trainers have some more diverse stables, and the battles leads to a beautiful thing happening:
And then, into Rock Tunnel. I don’t remember anything about this from previous play-throughs; not that it matters, because I can’t see a damn thing anyway. There’s a pretty worrying moment early on when my phone switches to Power Saver mode and the ROM freezes:
My worry turns to abject terror when the ROM unfreezes, and rather than loading the text normally, just snaps the whole conversation into frame immediately
Aside from this momentary glitch, my passage through is objectively quite easy-going. Jericho fronts the party, newly armed with Thunderbolt after the Surge win, and we spend most of our journey one-shotting Zubats; switching to the others only to deal with any Rock type Pokémon who spring up. Jericho learns Swift along the way, furthering his Cruiserweight credentials. Other trainers give no indication that I can’t see a thing.
Eventually, we emerge from the cave and head down South, finally landing in Lavender Town. I’ve suddenly got a lot of time to make up after all the unnecessary faffery outside Vermilion, so decide to call it a day, happy with the progress my stable has made on the run. Though I am worried about how close to Level 30 we’re all getting…
As we bed down for the night in the Pokémon Centre, I can’t help but think back to the S.S. Anne. I met a lot of interesting characters on that boat, despite missing the party – but the words of one particular individual have stuck with me all the way to Lavender Town. One gentleman, whose relationship with his Growlithe was so strong, he referred to it as his friend. As I look across at my sleeping Pokémon and think about the challenges we’ve faced, the battles we’ve won and the journey that lies ahead, his words in defeat echo around my drowsy head…
August 25, 2016
Last time we saw our hero, he had just arrived in Cerulean City with his trusty Pokémon stable, ready to take down the Cerulean City Gym and earn himself a Cascadebadge. What excitement does Cerulean City have in store? Find out… right now!
Ah, Cerulean City. Home of Kanto’s only water Pokémon gym, Kanto’s only bike shop (for some unbelievable reason), and the closest city to the home of Bill, the world’s foremost expert on Pokémon (or Pokémaniac, as Michael Gove would call him). There’s a lot of important stuff to take care of here, so I head straight into the bike shop to check it out – mainly because I have entirely forgotten where you get the bike voucher.
Remember kids – if you can’t see the price, you can’t afford it. I quickly leave the bike shop and head straight into the Cerulean Gym, and am surprised to see that somebody appears to have built an indoor pier over the top of a perfectly good Olympic-sized swimming pool, for some inconceivable reason. With Jericho taking the lead in the stable, we go about taking out Misty’s damp squibs who are supposedly training in her gym.
Without questioning exactly where the Swimmer was keeping his Pokéballs, Jericho and Bulbtista see off his paltry water Pokémon in convincing fashion.
The second challenge is a female Jr. Trainer who, despite only having one Goldeen and outwardly appearing to be a pushover, nearly squashes Jericho with an unexpectedly powerful Horn Attack (ooh-er). Bulbtista storms in and sees her off.
After some quick potions, we turn our attention to Misty, the gym leader.
Jericho quickly sees off Staryu with a sweet Thundershock – Thundershock – Quick Attack combo, but after a particularly damaging pair of Tackles from the giant starfish, he’s looking worse for wear. When Misty brings out Starmie, Jericho tags in Bulbtista, who pretty much flattens the organic trigonometry nightmare and results in this:
Misty, thoroughly admonished for having the audacity to partially board over a swimming pool, gives up the Cascadebadge – meaning that my Pokémon up to Level 30 will behave. Which is good, because they’re all already Level 20 and misbehaving is definitely on the horizon… but we’ll worry about that at Level 31. On the way out I accidentally engage the Swimmer again, and:
Next stop is Bill’s place so we can have a natter about Pokémon and get a ticket onto the SS Anne, so we heal up at the Pokémon Centre and head towards Nugget Bridge. I’m distracted by a police officer who say they’ve been having trouble finding a Team Rocketer who robbed the house.
No time to worry about that now (especially as I can’t get in), so off to Nugg-OH FOR GOD’S SAKE.
Byron’s got himself a good-looking team; consisting of a Pigeotto, Ratticate, Charmander and… an… Abra? Where the hell did he get that this early? His 4 Pokémon are stronger than my 3 and Pidgeotto gives Koko a run for his money before I switch out to Jericho to deal the deathblows. But it turns out his Abra only knows Teleport; so it gives a chance to heal up the stable before dispatching the rest of the team in short order.
The outcome of that fight has important consequences for the team:
And we advance onto Nugget Bridge, ready to take out the 5 trainers who guard the way from some inconceivable reason. The fights don’t provide a whole lot of trouble, and before long:
So, off to Bill’s… oh. I forgot about the myriad of trainers who are hanging around near Bill’s place. Well, we mustn’t shy away from the grind…
Finally, after too many battles with Caterpies (seriously, cut it out, Bug Catchers), I make it through to Bill’s place!
After saving him from his Goldblumian nightmare and not being given the opportunity to learn about his Pokémon (I really did want to know), he gives us his ticket to a trainer party at the S.S. Anne, because he has crippling social anxiety and would rather spend his time engaging in creepy metamorphosis experiments with animals; not that I’m judging or anything.
Of course, the path to Vermilion City is blocked by a large bush and, given that Kanto appears to have absolutely no form of tangible government or authority figure; there are no domestic services to deal with it. Other services facing issues are the police force, as that officer from earlier has decided to unblock the front door of the trashed house and let anyone wander into an active crime scene; even a 10 year old child. The offended parties are inside (conveniently not bothering to look out of the window into their garden), and explain that a Team Rocketer has stolen their HM for teach Dig. He was going to use it to teach a Diglett how to Dig. (That seems, to me, like a waste of an HM). I mosey out into the garden and challenge the Rocketer, subsequently beating him in the ensuing Pokémon match…
Except, if you go back inside, the old man decides he doesn’t even want the HM back. He’ll teach Diglett to Dig without it (which is what he should’ve done in the first place). So… I guess… I mean, I’m just going to keep it? This doesn’t feel morally correct at all. But I’ve tried to give it back… and the police officer doesn’t seem interested… I guess… *wanders off, whistling casually*
So, onto Vermilion City. I didn’t bother taking any screenshots because this was all very run-of-the-mill; taking on a few trainers with little fanfare, encounters with wild Pokémon that I don’t want to catch (Oddish gives me the creeps), until eventually I make it Vermilion City by passing through the underground tunnel.
My plan on arrival had been to head straight to the Vermilion City gym and take on Lt. Surge so that I could end my day with 3 badges. I had completely forgotten that you can’t get in without knowing Cut; and I wasn’t in the mood to do the entire S.S. Anne grind, so I wandered around town. The first thing was the old man who gave me a fishing rod because I lied about enjoying fishing*. Then I stumbled upon this sign:
I go in and speak to everyone, ending with the Fan Club President. He asks if I want to hear about his Pokémon; I say no, because I can’t be arsed. Then I hesitate. I can’t shake the feeling that this is relevant in some way… so I speak to him again. He asks, I say yes. He drones on for far too long, and then… a bike voucher! What a bizarre way to apologise for being a boring ol’ sod! But I’ll take it. In fact, I do take it; and once business is concluded in Vermilion, I intend to nip up to Cerulean and get that bike.
With nothing interesting left to do in the city, I stock up in the store and prepare to bed down for the evening, when I suddenly remember what lies just outside Vermilion to the East. So, I quickly pop out, and a few minutes later, I acquire THE FOURTH MEMBER OF MY STABLE:
Remember earlier when I questioned using an HM to teach Diglett to Dig? That exchange inspired me, and I knew as soon as I was within reach of Diglett’s Cave, I was going to grab one. I hadn’t expected that to come NEARLY this early, but there we are. Just two more Pokémon left to catch…
With Booker D ingratiated, we head to the Pokémon Centre and bed down for the night; we’re gonna need a lot of rest if we’re going to hit up and boat party AND smash through the Vermilion City Gym tomorrow… will our hero pull it off? Find out, next time!
August 24, 2016
When we last saw our hero, he had just defeated Brock in the Pewter City Gym and earned himself a BOULDERBADGE! With the ominous Mount Moon ahead of him, what will Dave’s next moves be? Find out… right now!
After a quick stop to the Pokémon Centre in Pewter City, I start to make my way east towards Mount Moon. As one of the only underground areas negotiable without Flash, I anticipate a fairly quick time running through – with obvious breaks to take on trainers and however thousand Zubat decide they want to try and munch on my head.
However, before I get there I have to deal with a multitude of trainers outside the mountain – presumably all trainers who are too chicken to go inside. It does raise a question though.
You have to be 10 years old before you can begin your Pokémon journey. Why the hell is this ABSOLUTE CHILD running around outside a mountain with a Ratata? Well, he isn’t now, because Bulbtista don’t take no prisoners.
Nothing can stop me rig-
When Bulbtista rejoins us and with all of those pesky kids dealt with, the stable prepares to head into the mountain – until a wild Pokémon appears. A wild Pokémon that places me in quite a dilemma. See, I don’t have the most sound of strategies heading into this project. After all, I only joined because I’m an idiot who can’t save games properly. So my “ideal team” has been constantly changing as I’ve been going through, and as I encounter different Pokémon, I keep facing difficult choices.
This time, I make a decision on the fly.
Koko joins the team but is under-powered in comparison and takes the lead in the team heading towards Mt. Moon. Rather than smashing out all the Zubat with Jericho’s Thundershock, I’m left in agony for AGES using Gust on them over and over again, like a jabroni. However, it eventually catches up in level and Jericho takes point, smashing through Zubat like the jobbers they are. The trainers in Mt. Moon are… interesting.
It wasn’t long before I remembered what I had forgotten – primarily, the route through the mountain. Luckily my detour resulted in me grabbing a few unexpectedly necessary items, as eventually I encountered the dastardly Team Rocket!
Unlike my colleagues, I suffered an unexpected casualty when Koko jobbed out to the first Rocketer’s Raticate. Luckily I had picked up an Escape Rope earlier in the mountain and, after quickly nipping out to the Pokémon Centre, I returned to smash through the rest of Team Rocket and head towards the fossils. Despite forgetting the way, I managed to remember both the locations of the secret items (an Ether and an extra Moon Stone), before facing the Super Nerd in a battle which was mostly unremarkable, aside from two important occurrences:
After grabbing the Dome fossil for a SECRET PLAN later on in the game, I head out of the mountain and down to Cerulean City’s Pokémon Centre to get everyone healed up. With that, we call it a day; safe in the knowledge that there are two winnable gym battles in the near future…
August 22, 2016
The sun rises on Dave’s 10th birthday; the day that he is due to start his adventure to become a Pokémon master. In whatever post-apocalyptic hellhole this game is set, apparently it’s perfectly normal for children to pack a rucksack and go out into the wild to find and catch small animals with the sole purpose of making them fight each other; be they wild or trained by other people of varying ages; in order to prove that they are the best at making the animals fight.
But who is Dave to question such a scenario? After all, Dave’s only 10. He doesn’t even have a soul yet.
So, he kisses his mother goodbye and heads off into Pallet Town to go and see Professor Oak. Oak is the foremost expert on all Pokémon matters; his knowledge so great that he has entirely forgotten the name of his (presumably only) grandson.
While Dave told his mother that he wants to be a Pokémon master; what he actually wants to do is shut Byron up, once and for all. I mean, look at him. He’s clearly a raging dork. I bet he even keeps his wallet in his back pocket, attached to a belt loop with a chain. What a loser.
We all know what happens here – Oak isn’t in the lab, so off we go into the tall grass, only to get called back to the lab at the last moment by the suddenly-present professor. Once there, I do the two most obvious things at this stage.
I quickly throw a Potion into Bulbtista to get us through the first stretch of wilderness. By the way, does anyone else find it weird that the guy in the store just hands over the parcel for Professor Oak to a random child?
Like, that seems dangerous; especially considering there’s a custom Pokéball inside. What if he’d picked the wrong kid and I’d just stolen the Pokéball? If he’d given the package to Byron, that thing would never have seen the inside of Oak’s lab. Luckily, he gave it to me, and I’m not an asshole, so:
After swinging by to see his sister and get a Town Map, I head off into the wild once more, focused on my next target – Pewter City, and a Boulderbadge. This is the fight I’m looking forward to the most, because in the Pokémon cartoon, Brock is an indefensible pervert. He hits on every young, attractive female character they meet; with the exceptions only of Misty and Jesse (and I’m fairly certain he’d hit on Jesse if she wasn’t always trying to fight them). Also, he never opens his eyes and I find it very unsettling.
At this stage in the game, I pretty much have no idea what my strategy is going to be for my team; other than giving them all wrestling-related names. The only two Pokémon that I knew I definitely wanted, however, both are attainable right at the beginning of the game; and before long…
Bulbtista gets his first stable-mate in Jericho and, after a little bit of time bullying Kakunas in the Veridian Forest, we head to the Pewter City gym. Brock’s minion presents more than a challenge than I had originally anticipated; but allowing Jericho to take down his Pokémon’s attacking power while absorbing damage for a few turns, before switching out to Bulbtista proves effective. It’s a tactic we repeat for Brock, forgetting that he’s a jerk with a Geodude; a Geodude that KEEP USING DEFENSE CURL and rendering Bulbtista’s Tackle so irrelevant that it takes an eternity to take him down; and leaves only 8 PP on the move for Onix.
Luckily, Bulbtista Levels Up after taking Geodude down… and learns Vine Whip. After a grueling struggle against a Pokémon that is literally just a rock with hands and a face, the enormous rock-snake that follows is beaten with a singular use of Vine Whip.
With the Boulderbadge in our possession, we head off to the PokéCenter to rest. Who knows what challenges await us next?
August 20, 2016
Imagine that two of your closest friends have started a super-nerdy project, involving a run-through of Pokémon Red where you can only catch 6 Pokémon in total. Imagine looking at that, and wanting to do it but… do you really have time? Can your phone, a Nokia Lumia running Windows 8, actually install an emulator which will work? Do you have any idea how you would even go about doing this task?
So, you decide not to partake at this time. Maybe at a later date, once the workload has dried up a little and you can denote a little more time to not catching them all. But… you have a Gameboy Advance upstairs… with Pokémon Red… maybe a little normal playthrough, just to familiarise yourself with the game. That’d be fine!
So, you start. And you pick Bulbasaur. And by the time you reach Brock’s gym in Pewter City, you’ve amassed a team of Ratata, Pidgey, Pikachu, Butterfree and Beedrill, all at Level 10 – which is a LOT of grinding. You take Brock down and get yourself a Boulder Badge.
And then you forget to save. And you haven’t saved since you first picked up Bulbasaur…
Let’s do this.