One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
The day has finally come! Having reached at last the ripe old age of [data not found], you are ready to leave Pallet Town all on your own and quest for glory! A Pokémon trainer is you! Your Pokémon legend is about to unfold! Y’know, unless you get lost in the woods and starve to death. That can happen. I knew a guy once who that happened to. Poor Larry. Rest in peace, man.
Whatever, whatever. You’ve gotta be at Professor Oak’s lab, kid! You don’t want that other jerk to get a head start on you!
Remember, kid: this journey’s gonna be all about choices. It’s a crazy world and it’s easy to run out of time, so you won’t always have a chance to go back and try everything, and you gotta make your decisions carefully. Sometimes, especially if you get in a fight, you can try something that won’t be guaranteed to work, and you’ll have to use your head to decide what the best choice is. But remember: trying new things and being creative probably won’t get you killed! Larry… Larry was a special case; he was pretty dumb.
Oh, right; I was supposed to read the script. Uh, something something, dreams and adventures, blah blah, let’s get going!
[Each week’s polls will remain open from Friday morning until Monday evening (US Eastern time).]
What are your special skills? – Compassion: You are less of a $#!tbag than most kids your age, allowing you to empathise with people and Pokémon, and intuit their desires or concerns. – Science: You hang around Professor Oak’s lab a lot, and have picked up a lot of debatably useful trivia about everything from astronomy to marine biology. – Tactics: You watch televised Pokémon battles obsessively. You know Pokémon type advantages by heart, and know how certain moves can be used in creative ways.
What is your rival’s name? – I think it’s like a colour or something
Okay, let’s get on with it!
You’re at Professor Oak’s lab, ready for the beginning of the rest of your life! The floor is tiled in pristine white – or at least, it used to be; they do a lot of experiments here and the cleaners can’t keep up. You can still pick out most of the stains that are your fault. Thick textbooks on Pokémon behaviour and anatomy line every wall and are scattered over most of the tables, complex machines with lots of enticing buttons litter the main room, and the lab assistants are that particular kind of dishevelled that says “we barely know how to feed and clothe ourselves, but give us grant money and we’ll work 36 hours a day!” You nod cheerily to each of them as you pass. You have a lot of fun memories in this place – culturing bacteria in Petri dishes, mixing chemicals to create violent colours and beautiful explosions, learning to predict the weather from air pressure measurements, helping the Professor’s assistants to draw up charts of Kantonian habitats and biomes. It’s almost a shame to be leaving, but there’s so much to do out in the world: people and Pokémon to meet, natural phenomena to explore, battles to win! Professor Oak is standing, magisterial and dignified, but with a kindly smile on his face, just next to a high bench with three glittering round objects.
What do you do when Oak offers you a Pokémon? – Ask Professor Oak to let the Pokémon decide.
You turn to Professor Oak. All three of these Pokémon are great, you explain, and you feel confident that any of them would make a powerful and versatile partner, but it seems unfair to make this choice without their input. Maybe it should be up to them, which one goes with you? Blue rolls his eyes, but the Professor nods sagely and smiles at you. “I think that would be a very interesting way of making this decision! Well, everyone, come on out!” With a single fluid wave of his hand, he somehow activates all three Pokéballs at once, and the three Pokémon inside them emerge in a blaze of blue-white light: Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle.
How do you approach your first battle? – Play it safe and wear them out with Leech Seed
pretty confident you know all the angles here.
You and whatshisname are both using Pokémon you just met, and won’t be
able to try any funny business. Squirtle
is tougher than Bulbasaur thanks to its shell that it can hide inside at will,
so if they have any sense they’ll try to outlast your Grass attacks and then
counterattack with a shell slam or something.
But there’s an easy way to keep that from working…
order, the bulb on your Pokémon’s back pulses and fires a single glowing yellow
seed that arcs through the air towards Squirtle. The turtle Pokémon reacts instantly by
dropping to the floor and pulling its head and all its limbs into its shell,
quick as you can blink, but that won’t stop a Leech Seed. It hits Squirtle’s shell, sticks, and
immediately sprouts a web of green that grows with supernatural speed, climbing
around and into the shell. The other guy
is pretty shaken; you don’t think he’s actually seen this attack before. He manages to call counterattacks, and
Squirtle is able to fire Bubbles that knock your Bulbasaur off its feet, but
it’s no good. Water attacks deal only
superficial damage to Grass-types, the Leech Seed is gradually sapping
Squirtle’s strength, and all Bulbasaur has to do is use its vines to parry
attacks and occasionally lash out whenever Squirtle emerges from its shell for
too long. Eventually, Squirtle sinks to
its knees, too weak to go on attacking, and Professor Oak calls an end to the
Do you want to give Bulbasaur a nickname? – Let Jim the Editor name it
As you walk
through the soft, peaceful woodlands of route 1, you glance down at your
Bulbasaur, plodding contentedly along at your side. You suppose you ought to give it – no, him,
you’re pretty sure your Bulbasaur is male – a nickname; just calling him “Bulbasaur”
seems so impersonal. You think about it
for a while, mulling over the awesome responsibility of naming another sentient
being. Nothing comes to mind, until
suddenly you hear a voice, distant and ethereal, as if carried to you on a
about it for a moment, turning the name over in your mind. You seem to be seriously considering naming
your Pokémon after an onion. I’m…
weirded out, but not going to judge. You
say the name out loud, testing how it feels to say it, and it seems like your Bulbasaur
is totally on board with this development.
Scallion the Bulbasaur it is!
Do you want to give Minun a nickname? – Let the Narrator name it.
Me? Uh… I mean, yeah, I guess. Honestly I’m a little surprised you can ask me to do that; are you even consciously aware of me as a voice in your head? Whatever; by the power vested in me by… narratorial omniscience, I guess? I hereby name this Minun:
Nancy, the Negator
just Nancy to her friends.
Whatever. Nancy seems a little
bemused, like she thinks “The Negator” might be slightly grandiose for little
old her, but she does also think it’s kind of badass, so she’ll give it
ago. Well… by that, I mean she cocked
her head and made an inquisitive squeaking noise; I dunno how you got the rest
of it, but maybe you really are some sort of “Pokémon whisperer” or some
bull$#!t like that.
What will you do in Viridian City? – Seek out coffee.
What do you do next? – Leave Viridian City to the west.
Well, as long as you’re in the Viridian City area, you might as well look around and do some training. After your morning coffee, you and your Pokémon take the west road out of Viridian City and start exploring. The houses gradually thin out, the land begins to slope gently upward, and you follow a river valley into rockier, drier territory, where wild Pokémon scrap over sparse vegetation and small pools of water.
What do you say to Whatshisname? – Ask about the health of his Pokémon.
You’re honestly not sure how trainer etiquette is supposed to go in these situations, but it seems to you like the polite thing here is to ask the other guy about how his Pokémon is doing.
“Uh…” He blinks, fumbling for a second. “Squirtle’s doing great. Uh, aren’t you, buddy?” He glances down at Squirtle, who is poking
around some brush with Scallion.
Squirtle looks back up at him and replies with an affirmative-sounding
squeaky grunt. “You know a bunch of nerd
stuff, right? Think you’d be able to
tell if a Pokémon was sick or hurt?” You
do, of course, know a spectacular amount of dumb nerd $#!t, but most of it
isn’t directly related to Pokémon health.
You can certainly observe a Pokémon’s behaviour and take note of even
fairly subtle changes, and it does occur to you that Squirtle seems to have a
little more spring in its step, so you tell Prussian(?) as much. They’ve only been together a day and a half,
but some Pokémon seem to become more lively just from being in the company of humans;
it’s a phenomenon that Professor Oak has always been fascinated by.
How do you handle the battle between Thingummy’s Pidgey and your Minun, Nancy the Negator? – Bring Pidgey down with Thunder Wave and fight it on the ground.
the valley floor where Nancy is facing off against Sapphire’s Pidgey, flapping
its wings energetically to stay in the air.
Nancy can’t directly blast Pidgey with a Thundershock or something – as far
as you know, she just doesn’t know the techniques – and she isn’t going to be
able to fight an airborne opponent effectively with basic physical attacks. There are a lot of stray boulders, and Nancy
can gain some altitude by scaling the wall of the gorge, but this will still be
tricky. So… don’t fight it in the
air. There’s more than one way to skin a
Meowth, after all.
What do you do on route 22? – Train with Nancy, the Negator. – Perform an ecological survey.
Once Nancy is recovered from her battle, you decide to do an hour or so of basic training – exercises, attack drills, dodging Scallion’s Vine Whip attacks, that sort of thing. Everything you’ve seen from Nancy so far suggests that she’s a very gentle and mild-mannered Pokémon, but she takes battle and training very seriously, and celebrates her successes with gusto. You suppose that shouldn’t be surprising, for a Pokémon who approached and challenged a human trainer. It’ll take time for her to reach her full potential, obviously, but you can see some improvement even in the short time you have to spend. Once Nancy starts to tire of training, you take another look at the relatively meagre information your Pokédex has on Minun. The key words and phrases all seem to be about teamwork. In their native Hoenn, Minun often live closely with a sister species, Plusle, each amplifying the other’s electrical powers, but they can apparently team up with just about any Pokémon, given time to establish a bond. The Pokédex is considerably less clear about how a trainer might go about doing this, or exactly what advantages might accrue from it. One thing is clear, though – Minun love to cheer for their friends in battles. You try this out, getting Scallion to perform a couple of quick, very basic training exercises, and find that he is inexplicably faster and more accurate with Nancy’s active encouragement. Hmm.