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.
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?
Surrounded by six huge spider Pokémon, what do you do?
Well, I’ve heard worse ideas. True, most of them were Larry’s, but under the circumstances I guess talking is relatively unlikely to get you all killed.
Abner, Stacey and Dane are standing back-to-back and glaring defiantly at the spider Pokémon surrounding them, with all their own Pokémon at the ready. Dane’s Weedle and Stacey’s Caterpie are clinging to their trainers’ arms, but are poised to fire String Shots; Abner’s Metapod and Kakuna are both on the ground, already using Harden; and Stacey’s Ledyba is zipping around their heads, glaring at each of the fierce-looking Bug Pokémon in turn. Ellis and his Beedrill move to join them, but you catch him by the elbow and hiss a warning. Between the five of you, with all your Pokémon, you have your attackers well and truly outnumbered, but frankly they’re bigger.
How much of the way our experience with “a pokémon trainer is you!” was based on the background we picked for our character? Obviously, there were the story beats with us doing ranger/biologist work besides training.
But I’m assuming that our capacity to find Pokémon that you usually only see in Kanto under special conditions (The Hoenn Radio In Soulsilver) is because our scientist background lets us examine the environment better? And our compassion is the reason we’ve had your first non-misanthrope character. I assume even if we weren’t a big battling fan we’d still know most, if not all, type matchups though? (The games and the anime pretending 10-year olds wouldn’t know that ground is immune to electric is just… the worst worldbuilding I’ve seen.. ever? )
Uh, but tangent aside- I meant to ask you about what you would do with each specialty! “Swords” seemed weird as fuck and I’m confused, but I’m pretty interested in Athlete- would that let us basically be our own HM pokémon?
[Before saying anything else: I do want to bring this back, but things are… well, crazy right now, as I think most people have probably noticed. When I do, it will probably be a two-week schedule rather than every week, because that was taking too much time away from articles.]
[…what is my life]
But yeah, the point of that “choose your background” question was basically to decide what kind of story this was going to be, what aspects of the Pokémon world we were going to focus on. Part of that is just dictating the kinds of details I emphasise and explore in the narration, but the character’s skills also determine some of the options I offer when we have a choice to make. I didn’t have everything planned out, but for every “special skill” I had some idea of a few things that it would let us do to take the story of Pokémon: Red and Blue off the rails, and a few ways that our character would react differently to the events of the story. The point is that the things we do to influence the world in significant ways should mainly come from those “special skills.”
What do you want to do tomorrow? – Explore the deep forest.
Part of you wants to focus on getting to Pewter City so you can get that whole gym challenge thing back on track after your frustrating false start in Viridian City. On the other hand, though… this forest is fascinating to you. People in Viridian City called it a “natural maze” because of the way the vegetation swallows any artificial path that isn’t constantly maintained, leaving a tangled mess of Pokémon migration paths, treefall clearings and hill crests as the only real landmarks. No one alive really knows Viridian Forest, and even your new friends who’ve spent time here before are only truly familiar with a small part of the southern reaches. Still, with your scientific knowledge, their wilderness skills and a bit of luck, you’re confident you can map out a sector of the forest and gain some valuable data about the ecosystem – maybe even find a cool new Pokémon or some kind of, like, lost treasure or whatever. You all pack up your gear and set off northward, most of your Pokémon out of their balls and playing together as you move.