Heart Gold Kingslocke: Episode 4

Introduction/rules here.

When we last left off, the cards had dealt me a new team of two Pokémon – Breeze the Pidgey and Trixie the Gastly.  Trixie is only level 4, so we’re just going to time-lapse over some grinding in Ilex Forest and skip to the good stuff.

Call from Liz: They're also working to bring back legendary Pokémon that haven't appeared in front of humans since long, long ago.  That's amazing isn't it?

I neglected to screenshot the first line of this call from Picnicker Liz (which was something like “the Kimono Girls aren’t just good dancers, you know!”), but it seems like she’s plugged into some surprisingly deep gossip!  The Kimono Girls and Professor Elm don’t even tell the player about this stuff until the end of the game, and you’re supposed to be helping them somehow!

Okay; I’m not not scared of Bugsy’s Scyther, but I think Trixie and Breeze both have some pretty good options against it.  We can paralyse it with Lick; we should be able to do a lot of damage with Gust or Night Shade; once Metapod and Kakuna are down we might be able to put a Curse on it.  We have options.

Hmm; maybe I should’ve gone with Night Shade.  I didn’t think it would stick around this long.

…I don’t like these defence drops one bit; I’m switching out.

Battle screen: my Pokémon is now Breeze the Pidgey, still facing Scyther.  Game text: The foe's Scyther used Leer!

…do I Whirlwind here?  Maybe???

Phew; okay, I was afraid it would U-Turn and mess me up.  Now we can deal with Kakuna and then switch back to Trixie.

…seriously?

ugh, maybe it’s worth taking a couple of turns to patch this up… Kakuna shouldn’t be able to damage Breeze faster than I can heal.  It’s a fµ¢£ing Kakuna.

Much better.

Battle screen: Trixie the Gastly is now facing Scyther again.  Scyther has taken only light damage.

Okay, defence drops are reset and its Focus Energy is off.  Based on how it acted last time, I think now I just try to put some damage on with Night Shade.

Not bad, but not great

Well, its nearly down… Trixie is at -2 defence and Scyther has a crit rate bonus, so U-Turn could one-shot, but if that happens, Breeze should be able to finish it with Quick Attack.  I don’t remember whether Bugsy uses any potions, but I think we’re probably good.

Scyther's HP has been restored and now stands at about 2/3.

Bugsy does, in fact, have a super potion.  Now I’m thinking maybe I need to switch again to reset those defence drops…

Nice!  That probably would have knocked out Trixie in one go.  Now I can stop to heal again, and Breeze should easily clean up Metapod.

While I’m doing that, here’s something I’ve never noticed before: Bugsy’s Pokémon are all female.  All the other Johto gym leaders exclusively use Pokémon whose gender matches their own (except Jasmine, who has “genderless” Magnemite).  I choose to interpret this as meaning that Bugsy is trans or non-binary.

Easy.

Trixie faces Scyther again.  Bugsy interjects: Even though it's my last Pokemon, Bug Pokémon are tough!

Now that Scyther has nowhere to hide, Trixie can Curse it.

We’ll switch to Breeze again…

That hurts, but so does Curse damage.  Let’s see if Quick Attack finishes it off.

The foe's Scyther used Quick Attack!

Oh, $#!t, I forgot, it has Quick Attack too!  But neither Scyther nor Breeze can quite knock out the other, and…

Both Breeze and Scyther are reduced to 1 HP.  Scyther is about to take Curse damage.

…curse finishes the job.

Bugsy: Aw, that's the end of it...
Huh?  Breeze stopped evolving!

Remember: I’m only allowed to use Breeze at the moment because the King of Pentacles is preventing the other cards from banning any Pokémon whose regional Pokédex number ends in a 0.  If she evolves now, she’ll be sent straight back to the Tower.

Well, it was tricky, but… two down!  That means we’re allowed to move on through Ilex Forest and towards Goldenrod City.

In Ilex Forest: many trees and flowers, light filtering through the canopy.  The only path forward is blocked by a smaller tree.  A boy with glasses stands close by.

To keep going north, we need the HM for Cut, which we are now allowed to use thanks to the Hive Badge.  We get it by solving this idiot’s problem.

So we do this little puzzle that revolves around using conspicuous noises to manipulate the two Farfetch’d so we can approach them from behind, and…

There, easy.

Now all we have to do is…

Both Trixie and Breeze are unable to learn Cut.

Ah.  We appear to be stuck.  No matter – we can seek the guidance of the Kingslocke core rules.  Rule 3, section 1, subsections 1 and 3 clearly state:

If you cannot progress further in the story without an HM move and have no usable Pokémon that can learn it, you may temporarily withdraw an “illegal” Pokémon from your PC to navigate the obstacle.  You must avoid using this Pokémon in battle at all costs.

As a last resort, if you do not own any Pokémon at all that can learn a required HM move, you may catch one to learn it.  Again, you must always avoid using this Pokémon in battle.

So I can catch an Oddish or a Paras to learn Cut if I absolutely have to, but the rules would much rather let me pull out one of the Pokémon locked in the Tower – just for long enough to get me through Ilex Forest, and only if I keep them at the back and avoid using them.

Fortunately, Charlotte the Observer is a skilled and cunning intelligence agent who can easily slip out of the Tower to give us a hand and return before her absence is noticed.

In the Ilex Forest, examining a Shinto shrine.  Game text: It's a tribute to the forest's protector...

This shrine honours Celebi, who is the traditional protector of Ilex Forest.  Back in the day, if you had a special event Celebi, you could bring it here to start a little quest involving Giovanni and some time travel shenanigans.  This was still in the era when event Pokémon were only distributed from physical locations, and we… tended not to get those distributions in New Zealand.

In Ilex Forest, talking to a man: I'm shaking trees using Headbutt.

This weird doofus who lives in the middle of the forest slamming his face into trees is actually a godsend in a Kingslocke.  You’re only allowed to use TMs in a Kingslocke when a card tells you to, but move tutors are unrestricted, because they’re normally either single-use or expect to be paid in rare items.  This guy, in the original Gold and Silver, just gave you a TM for Headbutt, but in this game he can teach Headbutt to as many Pokémon as you want, whenever you want.  There are a few other move tutors like this, but for the most part they either appear very late in the game or teach moves that are basically rubbish.  Headbutt dude is a special case, because Headbutt is actually a really good move for at least the first half of the game.  And he’s unique enough that I can’t be bothered to write a special exception into the rules just for him.

Unfortunately, neither Pidgey nor Gastly can actually learn Headbutt, but I’ll certainly be coming back here later to take advantage of his services when I have other Pokémon available.

Still in Ilex Forest, now talking to a Kimono Girl: Kimono Girl, Kimono Girl, lost and all alone.  Poor girl lost in the dark Ilex Forest.  What?  You remember me from Violet City?  You must be imagining.  Anyway, will you show me how to get out of this forest?

We can take a moment to help out a Kimono Girl here.

Gastly leaves the player's side and floats ahead.  Kimono Girl: Wow!  Are you going to show me how to get out?  You are such a smart Pokémon!

If you’re playing this game blind, you may not know at this point that there are several Kimono Girls (unless you were paying close attention to Picnicker Liz), so it might genuinely be puzzling to see this very distinctive, recognisable character that you thought you met already in Violet City, but who doesn’t seem to know who you are.

And we’re through the forest!  Time for another card.

A tarot card, the Five of Pentacles.

…it’s never bloody easy, is it?

Five – GuysOngoing: Your female Pokémon are banned (unless you have no male or genderless Pokémon).  This rule is revoked if you draw a Six/Chicks and cancels out if you draw another Five.
Immediate: You may catch the first male wild Pokémon you see in this area.

As you may have noticed, both Breeze and Trixie are female.  Of course, Breeze can’t be banned thanks to the King of Pentacles… but it gets even worse.

Five of Pentacles: Choose one male Pokémon that was in your party when you drew this card and make it a Champion.  Choose two female Pokémon that were in your party when you drew this card and petrify them.

There were no male Pokémon in my party when I drew the card (and based on that wording I don’t think I can nominate the Pokémon I’m about to catch – should I change that for the final version…?  No, I don’t think so; you shouldn’t be guaranteed the benefit).  Worse, the King of Pentacles doesn’t protect Pokémon from being petrified – he did in the first version of the Advanced Rules I tested, but I decided that was too strong.  So Breeze is going to have to leave us as well.

Well… let’s see what we catch.

eh, could be worse

I’m going to see if I can creep up to Goldenrod City without fighting any trainers so I can put Charlotte back in the Tower as soon as possible.

Outside a house by the sea on route 34.  Lyra: Hi Chris!

Oh yeah, Lyra has to introduce us to the daycare and teach us about the Delibirds and the Combees.

Using a computer inside the Day Care Centre.

And they actually have a PC here, come to think of it.

Order is restored.

Party list: Zoltar, a level 12 male Drowzee

…well.  Here we go again.  There are plenty more areas to explore before I have to fight Whitney, so it’s not important for Zoltar to be as high a level as Breeze and Trixie were, but I think I should get him to… say, 15?  That sounds safe.

Back in Ilex Forest with Zoltar, near a pool of water.

Training Zoltar in the Goldenrod side of Ilex Forest is probably safer than around the daycare.  Metapod are a good source of experience, and there are wild Rattata outside that are a high enough level to know Bite.

Also…

Talking to the Headbutt man in Ilex Forest.

Drowzee learns Headbutt at level 15 anyway, but there’s no harm in speeding things up a bit.

Yeah, that’ll do; let’s get back on the road.

Talking to a young boy in a cap on route 34: I'm trying hard so I can be the star in my class!

This is Youngster Ian, and he is the best Pokémon trainer in his class.  From this, we can tell that his class is really $#!t at Pokémon training.

Talking to a girl in a scout uniform standing in a puddle of water in the middle of a large area of long grass. 
 Girl: Whenever I see a strong Trainer, I want to be their cheerleader.

This is Picnicker Gina, and she may not have her ear to the ground on Johto’s mysterious occult conspiracies, but she can find you cool items (including, I think, a Leaf Stone), so she’s worth knowing.

Talking to a boy in a scout uniform on route 34, near where the dirt path turns into paved road.  Boy: Hmm... Maybe I should take them to Pokémon Day Care?  What should I do?

This is Camper Todd.  Todd has a Psyduck that he thinks is very cute and starting to look more like him.  Be nice to Todd.

holy $#!t that was close

I knew Pokéfan Brandon here had a Snubbull, so I deliberately left him until I’d fought all the other trainers on the route and Zoltar was level 17, and it was still barely enough; Snubbull’s Bite is vicious against a Psychic Pokémon with middling physical defence.  I only won that thanks to a well-timed Disable.

Anyway, here’s Goldenrod City, the metropolitan heart of Johto.  On a real map of Japan, it matches up with Ōsaka, Japan’s third largest city (and the largest outside of the Tōkyō Bay area).  I don’t know for sure which specific Ōsaka landmarks – if any – might have influenced Gold and Silver’s depiction of Goldenrod City, but I do feel compelled to borrow this image from Wikipedia of the Tennōji Park botanical garden with the iconic Tsūtentaku tower visible in the background:

A park in Japan: wide paved walkways between areas of grass and carefully maintained flowerbeds.  An ornamental fountain in the foreground, many trees in the background, an industrial-looking tower beyond those, bearing the name "Hitachi."  Many people are walking in the park.

Anyway, as per usual there are no trainers in Goldenrod City proper, so I’m free to look around the city – check out the Department Store, get a free bike, meet the Name Rater… play some high-stakes games of Voltorb Flip…

This is Mr. Game, and he will give you free $#!t in exchange for the entertainment of watching you blow yourself up playing his game.

A Voltorb Flip game board (rules for the game described further below).

His game, Voltorb Flip, is a sort of bastard child of Sudoku and Minesweeper, and it is the best change Heart Gold and Soul Silver made from the original games.  Fµ¢£ walking Pokémon, fµ¢£ the physical/special split, fµ¢£ EVs and natures, fµ¢£ full-colour graphics; this is where it’s at.  Winning enough money to do anything useful at the Game Corner slot machines in generations I, II or III, or even in Diamond and Pearl, is just about the most tedious thing you can do in a Pokémon game while still arguably being useful.  Most people I know prefer to just stand at the Game Corner counter buying prize coins, 50 at a time (at least in generations III and IV you can buy them 500 at a time) until they have enough for the prize they want, rather than even attempting to play the game.  Mr. Game won’t sell you coins, but his game is actually interesting and engaging.  Getting the highest payouts almost always requires a substantial dose of good luck, but there’s a lot of logic and puzzle-solving involved in improving your odds.  Jim the Editor can play this thing for hours (and, indeed, did play it for hours whenever I wanted a cool prize, back when these games were current and we lived in the same country).

A Voltorb Flip board mid-game.

Voltorb Flip presents you with a 5×5 grid of cards.  Flipping over a card reveals the number 1, 2 or 3, or a Voltorb.  You start each round with one coin, and flipping a 2 or 3 multiplies your winnings by that number, but flipping a Voltorb knocks you out of the game and explodes all the coins you’ve won in the current round.  The game tells you how many total points are on each row and column, as well as how many Voltorb there are.  You have to use that information (and a lot of good guesses) to find all the 2s and 3s without touching a single Voltorb (the 1s don’t matter).  The “memo” tool allows you to mark cards to keep track of what you’ve already figured out (as I’ve done in this image for all the cards that I know have to be either a Voltorb or a 1).  Each “level” of the game will have more points and more Voltorb on the board, letting you win more and more prize coins as you play longer.

…and with enough prize coins…

The TM selection is very cool but it takes a long time to earn that many coins.  The held items are also interesting, particularly the Wide Lens (which makes all moves slightly more accurate).  But the Pokémon on offer are the most intriguing, because Pokémon received as Game Corner prizes are allowed in the Kingslocke, and two of them are pretty cheap.  Abra is tricky to catch at the best of times, while Ekans is normally exclusive to Soul Silver (on Soul Silver, the Game Corner instead offers you Sandshrew, who is normally exclusive to Heart Gold).  Dratini is more expensive, but you’d normally have to wait until around the 8th gym to get one, and picking one up here means you can have Dragon Rage during the part of the game where it’s really broken.  I already have enough coins to buy an Abra and an Ekans and still have a bunch left over, just because I like this game and wanted to play it for a while.  It won’t be that hard to get enough coins to afford all three, and uh… as you may have noticed, I badly need to extend my roster.

All three of these Pokémon are generation I, so Judgement is no obstacle.  The Five of Pentacles unfortunately holds back Sesame because she’s female, but Hannah is not similarly limited because Ekans happens to be #50 in the Johto Pokédex!  She’s safe – at least until she evolves.  If only we could train up Sesame by one level, she’d evolve into Kadabra and be #90, but alas, we cannot.

There’s one other Pokémon I can get for free in Goldenrod City.

Speaking to a gatehouse guard: Excuse me, kid!  I received this letter the other day from a friend of mine.  Here's the reply that I wrote.  I am stuck here and was wondering if you could deliver it... Can you help a guy out?

In theory, you’re supposed to hand over Kenya the Spearow along with the mail she’s carrying.  However, if she’s evolved into Fearow by the time you get around to escorting her to the gate guard’s friend (which is pretty likely, since Kenya starts at level 20), or if you transfer the mail to any other Pokémon, you can just… flat-out steal her.  She’s your Pokémon now.  No questions asked.  In the original game, the guard’s friend would actually take whichever Pokémon was holding the mail, even if it wasn’t Kenya – so you could keep her if you wanted, but if you weren’t careful you could accidentally give away someone much more important!

Depositing Sesame and Kenya in a PC box labeled "Kitchen."

Anyway, Kenya is female, so unfortunately she has to get back in the kitchen for now.

There are several trainers who hang out in the Goldenrod Underground, so we’re going to need another card here.

A tarot card, the Fool.

Honestly, not a problem right now.

The FoolOngoing: Whenever you catch or receive a new non-legendary Pokémon, that Pokémon becomes compulsory.  The Fool can make up to three Pokémon at a time compulsory; if you obtain a fourth new Pokémon while the Fool is still in play, the first one stops being compulsory. In addition, as long as the Fool is in play, whenever another card tells you that you “may” catch a new Pokémon, you must catch one (or at least attempt to, if you are told to catch the first one you see).

“Compulsory,” if you’re not up to date with the lingo of the Third Revised Edition, means I have to use that Pokémon as much as I can, as long as my other cards allow it.  If I catch a female Pokémon, the Fool doesn’t override the Five of Pentacles.  However, and more worryingly, the Fool can force my hand on Judgement.  I’m allowed to switch the generation I’m using at any time – and if I can make a free choice that would let me use a compulsory Pokémon, I have to do that.

Dratini and Dragonair fall off in power quite a bit towards the end of Johto because they evolve so slowly, and you probably won’t reach Dragonite until long after becoming the Champion.  It also doesn’t help that they have one of the worst experience curves.  In the early- and mid-game, though?  Dragon Rage does 40 damage, guaranteed, regardless of stats or level; it’s nothing short of bonkers.

Outside the Goldenrod Gym, speaking to a gym trainer: The Gym Leader, Whitney, went flying by saying "I have got to get a Radio Card!"

Whitney isn’t home right now; we have to go fetch her.

I’m sure this guy is nothing to worry about.

In the lobby of the Radio Tower, speaking to a pink-haired girl with pigtails: Hi!  My name is Whitney!  I heard about the quiz to win a Radio Card, so I came here to get one... But this quiz is so hard!

The developers want you have your PokéGear’s radio function enabled for later, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually possible to skip this in the original game.  Hence, Whitney is preoccupied here so you have to come and get your radio card before she’ll go home.

Speaking to a receptionist at the front desk: Answer five questions correctly in a row to win a Radio Card!  Can you check the Town Map with your Pokégear?  Nidorina can only be female.  True?  Kurt, the Pokéball creator, uses apricots as ingredients?  It's impossible to use a TM on Magikarp.  True?  In Professor Oak's popular show, Pokémon Talk, is he on with Marie?

Most of these questions will be easy – you’ve had the town map for a while by now, and you’ve met Kurt and know about Apricorns.  New players might not be familiar with Nidorina or know that Magikarp can’t learn any TM moves, but it’s not super obscure trivia.  The only one that might trip you up is Professor Oak’s co-host, since (by definition) you can’t listen to the radio yet, but you can learn from one of the people sitting in the lobby that her name is actually Mary.

Whitney: Wow, you did it!  I thought the answer to the third question was surely apricots!  Oops!  It's time to go back to the Gym!

Whitney is so impressed by our performance in the quiz that she completely forgets she was here to get her own radio card.

Sign: Goldenrod City Pokémon Gym.  Leader: Whitney.

The Goldenrod Gym is now open, but, uh…

Party list: Hannah, a level 15 female Ekans; Abazigal, a level 16 male Dratini; Zoltar, a level 17 male Drowzee.

…I think we still have some work to do before we can challenge Whitney, and we’ve already covered a fair bit of ground today.  Before we finish up, let’s just see what card we’ll draw when we leave Goldenrod City to the north.

A tarot card, the Nine of Wands.

you know what

I’m not even mad.

Nine – Snake EyesOngoing: Any of your Pokémon that are defeated in battle are petrified.  This rule is revoked if you draw an Ace/Waterfall and cancels out if you draw another Nine.

The Nine of Wands, however, is especially wacky.

Nine of Wands: Pokémon are only petrified when they are knocked out by super-effective attack damage.  However, at the end of any battle in which a Pokémon was petrified by the Nine of Wands, all your party Pokémon who share the same weakness are petrified as well.

Fortunately, the three Pokémon in my party at the moment don’t share any weaknesses, so this is pure upside.  In theory, minimising shared weaknesses should always be at the back of your mind when constructing Pokémon teams.  In practice… I’ve definitely had moments where the Kingslocke rules have forced me to put together teams where three or four Pokémon all share a single weakness, so… there’s potential danger zones, put it that way.  Still, I wonder if the Nine of Wands might be a bit too weak in its current form (may be it should petrify even Pokémon in your PC that share the same weakness…?).  An interesting possible consideration here is that the Nine of Wands won’t punish you if you knock yourself out, so Selfdestruct might be a viable, if situational, way to evade consequences with this card.

Anyway, we’ve just reviewed the team, so let’s finish with a reminder of the cards I have in play…

Several tarot cards laid out on a table: the King of Cups, the King of Pentacles, the Tower, Judgement, the Fool, the Five of Pentacles and the Nine of Wands.

…and hope that next time I’ll be able to make it to Whitney with my team intact!

9 thoughts on “Heart Gold Kingslocke: Episode 4

  1. Oh wait, Game Corner Pokemon are fair game? I’ve been handicapping myself! But that does leave me with the question of whether that means you can just keep getting more Pokemon from there whenever you want. Free Abras seems a bit silly.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is one of those grey areas… the RBY, GSC or FRLG Game Corner would require you to actually spend your limited money on coins (or spend a truly ungodly amount of time gambling) to get enough, so I haven’t wanted to write anything general into the rules for it. I think one of each is fair, personally, but it’s something I’d prefer to leave to the player’s discretion.

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  2. Fun fact about Bugsy’s gender: In the original Johto games, his team were all male but he (and Will) used the *female* dialogue pool! So yeah, him and possibly Will being trans is heavily supported by the in-game data lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did read this while I was writing, but I don’t know what it actually means. I can’t recall anywhere in the original Gold/Silver where either Bugsy or Will would have reason to draw anything from a “dialogue pool”; everything they say is scripted. Are you in any position to shed light on that?

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      1. I haven’t delved into the code myself, but it’s my understanding that every trainer in the game refers to one or the other regardless of whether they actually use that function in the final game or not

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