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.
As the mountain cave fades away and the Clefairy’s strange song fills your head with fog, you come to realise, all of a sudden, that you’re back home, in Pallet Town. You’re at school, on your lunch break – and so is Blue, who is mid-sentence saying something about why studying Pokémon scientifically is dumb.
You were never close with Blue, back in Pallet Town. Obviously you knew him – you were at school together and he’s related to the Professor, so it would have been hard not to – you just didn’t feel like he had the qualities you wanted in a friendship. And, I mean, fair play to you; he’s a piece of $#!t. But you remember this day. Your Pokémon Studies teacher had asked the class why people become trainers, and you and Blue had gotten into a fairly spirited argument about how much trainers should value strength and power, which spilled over into lunchtime. You think it was about six months before you both left home.
You’re not going to pay any attention to the warnings, are you?
lol, no; follow Jane’s lead and keep going, quietly
yeah I figured, Larry said the same thing just before The Tangela Incident. God, he was a piece of $#!t (rest in peace, man).
Opting for a stealthy approach, you turn off the light on your Pokédex and put your trust in Jane’s impeccable night vision. Reaching down to touch her shoulder with one hand so she can lead you, you creep slowly forward, hearing the giggling grow incrementally louder. You think you can see a pinkish light source around another couple of bends. With any luck, you can peek around a corner and get a look at whoever – whatever – is hiding here without revealing your own presence. These caves are full of weird rock formations formed by the slow dripping of water and accretion of limestone; with Jane’s help, you move from one to the next as the light slowly gets better and you find yourself able to see properly. Finally, you crouch behind a big stalagmite right next to a bend in the tunnel, the strange pink light around the corner now almost as bright as torchlight. You slowly crane your head around the bend, and see… just a floating ball of soft pink light, hovering in a dead end. Puzzled, you stand and walk up to the light. There’s no heat coming off it, it’s just… light. Reminds you of the light that Pokémon glow with when they evolve, or when they channel energy for some of their more powerful techniques. You vaguely recall that some Psychic, Ghost and Fairy Pokémon can create spiritual light sources, a minor application of their abilities that doesn’t even rise to the level of a real battle technique like Flash.
There’s really no question here – even after hearing the transmissions he picked up, you’re not convinced that Miguel’s rambling about “the Enemy” represent an urgent threat. It’s just a bunch of code words and static; you have no reason to think it’s connected to the mysteries you’re here to investigate. Jane… well, you don’t know what she’s found, but she clearly thinks it’s worth investigating, and as a Pokémon trainer you feel like you have to trust your Pokémon’s instincts. Besides, the palaeontologists probably have Blue and Squirtle with them. They can handle anything that comes up, right?
Which Pokémon do you turn to? – Aura, the Beautifly
You need to do something about this smog before it chokes you – and hey, you’re a smart kid, you know exactly how to deal with that. You have a Flying Pokémon; time to use her. Aura appears from her Pokéball in a flash of light, and without even a word from you, she begins to flap her wings, using Gust to blow the clouds of choking, toxic smoke back into the cave it spewed out of.
Two things now happen at once. First, with the smog gone, your vision is now clear and you can see a squelching, purple goo-like Pokémon that you recognise as a Grimer, clearly trying to sneak up behind you using the heavy brown clouds as cover and just as clearly alarmed that it has now been exposed. Second, you hear a startled yelp from the ledge up above you, where the first enemy commands came from.
What moves should Scallion focus on? – Razor Leaf and Sleep Powder
What moves should Nancy keep? – Thunder Wave and Helping Hand
Now that Scallion’s bigger and can’t lift his own weight on his Vine Whips, they’re not as useful; may as well go into Razor Leaf specialisation instead. He’ll still have the vines, obviously; they just won’t be as versatile or effective without continual practice. As for Sleep Powder, it’s not only great in battle, it’s so useful for pacifying wild Pokémon – or potentially even people, if you run into “Team Rocket” again – that you can hardly pass it up. Nancy, on the other hand, you think should stick to what she’s already good at. Thunder Wave is just a great disabling technique, and Helping Hand fits her cheerleader schtick too well to get rid of it. The other moves she could learn instead might be useful, but you don’t think she really has the temperament for trickery to master them.
You really need to hurry to reach your destination and get on with that… mission… thingy… or whatever. I mean, not that I give a $#!t but it seemed important to you. The going’s going to be much slower now that you’re climbing the mountain and trekking through caves. Still, Mount Moon isn’t completely inhospitable. Yeah, the cave floors are pretty uneven – lots of stalagmites and unexpected potholes – and gravel and dust keep falling on your head in a very unsettling way. Your Pokédexes have GPS, but with so much rock over your heads they might as well be cardboard compasses. On the other hand, you and Blue both have torches (plus the glowing tail flame of Blue’s new Charmander) and Brock’s map shows the layout of the caves on your direct route in fairly high detail. There are even a couple of softly-glowing phosphor lanterns that must have been left by the dig team as waypoints. You more than once trip over an unruly Geodude, but Scallion and Aura both have Grass attacks that can quickly send them packing; with Blue’s Squirtle on your flank, they’re no trouble at all. There are also Zubat just… everywhere. You love all Pokémon, Professor Oak groomed you to be a paragon young trainer and scientist, but if there were ever a Pokémon that could stretch your patience to breaking point, it’d be the one constantly trying to perch on your shoulder and give you a quick anaesthetic bite so it can suck your blood unnoticed while you walk onward through the dark caves. Fortunately, Nancy the Negator isn’t having any of that bull$#!t. On top of everything else, you have this uncanny sensation of being watched by something just outside your torchlight. When you bring it up, the Pokémon just seem to think you’re being paranoid, but Blue bites his lip and mutters something about how it’s not paranoia if “they” really are out to get you.
You already know his name; the Narrator’s being a jerk
Excuse you, I am a fµ¢£ing delight. But whatever, if it’s that important to you I guess I’ll put in an effort. What’d you say his name was? “Blue”? God that’s so fµ¢£ing dumb. Blue is, like, at best a passable name for a small predatory dinosaur. Kids got no damn business being named Blue. Who gave him that, his dumb parents? Probably named him that so he’d be, like, “calm” and “sensible” or some bull$#!t? Ugh, no wonder he’s such a basket case. We gotta see about changing it.
Yeah, yeah, whatever, I heard you, get off my ass already.
Which Pokémon do you try to catch?
Try to find the source of the fires [you might not catch anything]
Aren’t you supposed to be, like… doing… something? Eh, whatever, not like it’s any of my business. Scallion and your other Pokémon have a pretty vague and subjective concept of time, and Blue has no sense of responsibility or commitment. Besides, you’ve made surprisingly good time this far, so if you want to spend a couple of hours clambering up and down dry dirt hillsides looking for an unknown Fire Pokémon, no one’s going to stop you.
What would you like to do as you head out towards Mount Moon? [Choose up to two]
Catch a Pokémon
Study the environment and ecosystem
Ask the other guy to join you?
Sure, why not?
The other g- I mean… Indigo or… whatever his name is- look, are you gonna learn his name at some point? ‘cause if you’re not gonna, I’m not gonna, and at some point it might start to seem rude if you’re hanging out together.
The light is swelling. You’re not afraid of it. Why would you be? You’ve studied with Professor Oak, so you know how evolution works – or at least, as much as anyone does – but you also know there’s a spiritual aspect to it. Evolution is the path to fulfilling a Pokémon’s potential, to realising their full powers and finding their place in the world. You’d never make Scallion evolve if he didn’t want to – but reassuring him that nothing bad will happen if he chooses this? That’s kind of your job. You tell him, in a few soft words, that it’s okay to let go; you’ll still be here on the other side. And he changes.
Which of the debaters at the museum do you agree with? – Hammond-Spruce: There’s so much science can learn from ancient Pokémon, and it isn’t fair to write them off as savage monsters that are too dangerous to bring back.
There’s obviously a lot of reason to be cautious about the technology they’re discussing – in fact, didn’t you see a disaster movie with this exact premise once? – but you think the bottom line on this one is pretty clear. The technology to return extinct species to the world is within humanity’s grasp; how can you not reach out and take it? Yeah, you’re pretty committed; research to resurrect extinct Pokémon is a good thing, full stop. I don’t know why that matters, of course; it’s not like you’re ever going to be in a position to make major world-changing decisions directly related to this topic. Why the hell would you be?