Here we are: Eterna City. There are several things we have to do here before moving on. To leave southward, we have to travel on Cycling Road, which requires a bicycle. To the east is Mount Coronet, the towering spine of the Sinnoh region. There are tunnels through the mountain to Celestic Town and Snowpoint City, but I need out-of-battle access to Strength to use them, which we won’t have for a while. To move on, we have to defeat both Eterna City’s gym leader, Gardenia, and the commander in charge of Team Galactic’s base here, Jupiter.
This is also where we first meet Cynthia, scholar-adventurer and champion of the Sinnoh League, although she doesn’t reveal her competitive title when introducing herself. If we were playing Platinum, we’d get a bonus Togepi egg from Cynthia here, but for Pearl, all she has to offer us is the HM for Cut. We’ll need this to get into Team Galactic’s base, but we’ll have to beat Gardenia first.
Neither Cynthia nor Gardenia seem to have any interest in dealing with Team Galactic themselves, despite the fact that they’ve been openly harassing the people of Eterna City and their Pokémon. Maybe it’s just because they’re so damn stylish, they couldn’t possibly evil!
Eterna City is also where we get access to the Sinnoh Underground, with help from this groovy old guy. You can dig up all kinds of useful things in the Underground, like evolution stones and this rock shaped like a Shieldon’s face. The rules of this run explicitly allow gift Pokémon; I don’t know if that’s absolutely airtight on allowing Pokémon reanimated from fossils, especially on Diamond and Pearl where you actually have to go a little bit out of your way to find fossils, but personally I prefer to allow it. Next time we’re in Oreburgh City we can turn this chonky fren into a nice lil’ Shieldon.
Even though we can’t really leave Eterna City yet, we do still have access to two new areas in the west: route 211 and the Mount Coronet caves. That means two more cards, and the first one is…
Two – You: You may catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area.
Thinking long-term, I actually kinda want another female Pokémon for balance, even if I can’t use one right now. In this area it’s possible to find Bidoof, Geodude, Meditite, Chingling, Ponyta, Hoothoot and Zubat (and I guess Magikarp, by fishing with an Old Rod). I am kinda tempted by Meditite, but I don’t have any way to check before catching one whether it has the incredible Pure Power ability or the useless Inner Focus. I already have a Geodude and a Bibarel, Ponyta kinda overlaps with King Louie’s Fire-type turf, Hoothoot is just kinda bad. I think Zubat makes the most sense, but also… y’know what, this might not even be my only chance to catch a Zubat or Golbat if I want one, and Chingling is so awful its awfulness sort of becomes a meme, and…
I’m gonna do it for the meme.
As for the caves in Mount Coronet, which have their own selection of wild Pokémon…
Ace – Waterfall: You cannot switch Pokémon unless one faints or is forced out of play, and cannot reorder your party except at a Pokémon Centre or other healing location. This rule is overwritten if you draw a Nine/Snake Eyes, and ends if you draw another Ace.
Okay, so, pros: the Nine and the Ace are both written to overwrite each other, so drawing the Ace ends the Snake Eyes rule. We get Brighteyes the Shinx back and I can safely train him up a couple of levels.
Cons: We were only a few battles away from losing Snake Eyes anyway by beating Gardenia, and now we have this bull$#!t where I can only use one Pokémon at a time, in an order I have to set in advance (and this rule doesn’t automatically disappear when you earn a gym badge).
Well, let’s deal with the good news first.
The team looks pretty well put-together now; the danger at the moment is that Jerry is not great at fighting Grass-types and Andi is just abysmal. And of course when we enter the gym…
…we have to take another card, which could easily mix things up all over again.
…ah. Well then.
Four – Elements: Your Pokémon may not use attacks that get a Same-Type Attack Bonus (unless they have no un-STABed damaging moves; note that moves with fixed damage like Dragon Rage and Nightshade do not have STAB). Pokémon in your active party with no un-STABed attacks must learn one as soon as they can (use a TM if necessary). This rule ends if you draw another Four. You may catch the first Pokémon you see in this area that does not share a type with any of your current party Pokémon.
So this is a situation I would describe as “not fantastic.” For the record, the moves currently available to my party Pokémon are:
King Louie: Scratch,
Mach Punch, Flame Wheel, Taunt
Water Gun, Hidden Power (Ground), Rollout, Headbutt
Brighteyes: Tackle, Leer, Charge, Bite
Andi Site: Magnitude, Rock Smash, Rock Throw, Rock Polish (as my champion, Andi can do whatever she wants – but against a Grass-type gym, that won’t help much)
I was really banking on King Louie to set everything in this gym on fire, but I guess it’s not to be.
The gimmick of Gardenia’s gym is that she and all her trainers start off hidden, and you have to find and challenge each of the other trainers amongst the trees before Gardenia will reveal herself. Each trainer also gives you a hint to the next one’s location. This is one of the very few places the game takes advantage of its ability to render things from multiple angles (courtesy of the stronger graphical capabilities of the Nintendo DS, compared to what previous Pokémon titles were working with). One of the hidden trainers is actually in this image, but only a few pixels of her hair are visible – but if we move over to the left…
There you are.
Unlike Cherubi or Budew, Roselia has the special attack stat to be actually pretty dangerous in the early game. Can’t switch out because of Waterfall, so I’ll have to heal.
Brighteyes gets Spark out of this battle, which is a little awkward. Normally I’d lose Tackle without a second thought, but with both Elements and Torment in play, having Bite as my only available direct-damage attack is not fantastic. Thinking long-term, I’d still prefer not to lose Charge or Leer, which are both good in conjunction with Spark (especially if that Torment rule sticks around), but I’m not exactly happy about it.
Trainer number two…
Charge’s main effect is to double the power of an Electric attack on your next turn, which is useless to me at the moment, but it also comes with a nice little bonus to special defence, which is not a bad opener in a Grass-type gym. In fact, the most dangerous thing about Gardenia’s team is easily her high-level Roserade’s powerful Grass Knot and Magical Leaf attacks – buffing Brighteyes’ special defence against her first couple of Pokémon might be a decent strategy to beat her without fire.
We’re pre-generation VI here, so Electric Pokémon can be afflicted with paralysis (even by Electric attacks like Thunder Wave). I can patch this up between battles, but I’ll have to watch out for it from Gardenia herself. To be honest, I still find it pretty bizarre that in the newer games Electric Pokémon get immunity to paralysis from sources that have nothing to do with electricity, like Stun Spore and Dragonbreath. But c’est la vie.
Here’s number three.
Gardenia has a Turtwig as well. Fortunately, they don’t get Ground attacks until much higher levels.
And number four.
Despite Brighteyes succumbing to poison and leaving Jerry to finish the job with Rollout, this battle ends up being pretty good proof-of-concept for the idea of using Charge to blunt the powerful special damage from Roserade’s Grass attacks. Would’ve been worth a few cool points to go through the whole gym without retreating to the Pokémon Centre, but there’s nothing in the current rules that says I have to. We’re also kinda at the point where potions won’t cut it for in-battle healing, so I’ll need to grab some super potions too.
Gardenia’s Pokémon are much higher in level than her lieutenants’, and easily a match for mine. But a Cherubi is still a Cherubi…
Cherubi boosting with Growth is a little bit scary, but I’m also buffing Brighteyes’ special defence with Charge. Even with a +3, Grass Knot isn’t all that scary.
Gardenia’s Turtwig opens with Reflect. I’m not really in any hurry to take it down; I’d rather wait out the Reflect so Roserade doesn’t get the protection. Turtwig’s Razor Leaf isn’t that scary, and I can use some of the time to heal damage Brighteyes has already taken. Eventually Gardenia winds up using her own super potion on Turtwig – which, again, is fine; that’s a resource she won’t be spending on her more dangerous Roserade. Throughout all of this, though, only being able to attack with Bite every other turn is a pretty big stumbling block. I can use Leer to weaken Turtwig, but it never really sticks, because Gardenia’s Turtwig also has Withdraw.
I open with my last super potion, which turns out to be the right move; Roserade is a fully evolved Pokémon with a sky-high special attack stat, and even with +4 special defence, Grass Knot stings. After that, Gardenia starts trying to be fancy, throwing around Poison Stings and Stun Spores. Things don’t really look good for Brighteyes, until…
As a Grass-type fan, I’m quite fond of Gardenia. Relative to her position in the game’s storyline, I think she’s probably the strongest Grass-type gym leader in any Pokémon game, largely because that Roserade is so powerful compared to almost anything a normal player is likely to have at this point. She can even potentially cover its biggest weakness – poor physical defence – by having her Turtwig set up Reflect first.
Anyway, that’s enough for one round. Beating Gardenia means we can use Cut to get into Team Galactic’s base – so next time, we’ll be burning the rot out of Eterna City.