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 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.
What should Scallion do? – Just make it a straightforward fight – Scallion should be favoured. – Brock’s tough; you should try to come up with something more creative.
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Well, it would really be a shame to waste all the interesting suggestions for option B that I got in the comments and my Q&A inbox…]
The next stage of the fight goes just as you predicted. Geodude is already tiring, and after a few rounds of dodging, circling and jabbing, you spot it lowering its guard and call out. With an almighty THWACK, Scallion springs a coiled Vine Whip forward and nails Geodude right between the eyes. Geodude lurches back, lists in its formerly smooth hover, spins around drunkenly and crashes to the arena floor. “Super effective, babyyy!” hollers Abner from the stands, tossing his Metapod up into the air and catching it in celebration. The bug catchers all cheer, and out of the corner of your eye you even notice Lilac(?) slowly clapping, an enigmatic smirk dancing across his face. Brock joins the applause as he strides out onto the field to help his Pokémon pick itself up. “Now that’s a Bulbasaur,” he exclaims approvingly, before crouching to take his Geodude’s hand. “Good job as always, Geodude.” He gives his Pokémon a quick once-over before recalling it to its Pokéball and returning to his end of the arena. Scallion joins you back at your end of the field as well. “Well, I guess that means it’s time to get serious.” Brock suddenly has another Pokéball in his hand, and throws it high, higher, up towards the ceiling. “Onix, go!”
Which Pokémon do you plan to open with against Brock? – Jane Doe, the Zorua
Which Pokémon would you like to talk with? – Jane
You’re a reasonably down-to-earth kid. You’re not going to go charging into your first gym battle with a Pokémon on your team that, frankly, you barely know. You’re going to figure out what Jane’s deal is. As far as Jane herself is concerned, her deal is primarily rolling over and receiving belly rubs, and to be clear, you are 100% down for this. She is a good girl and her fur is almost outrageously soft and silky. You still want to know what her powers do, though. Jane’s species isn’t even in your Pokédex, but the Pokémon Centre has a book room with a decent collection of field guides and textbooks. With a little help from Jane herself, who yaps encouragingly whenever you find pictures of Pokémon from forested central Unova, you quickly find a profile in a recent trainer’s almanac. Like I said, Jane Doe is a Zorua. She’s a Dark-type and a fiercely intelligent ambush predator. She should be able to learn a range of speed-based techniques, as well as attacks that strike at an opponent’s senses or mental state, and she has certain unique abilities that make your eyes pop out like an old cartoon character’s when you read the book’s description. This definitely warrants a little practice before you go to bed.
Do you want to give Zorua a nickname? – Let Jim the Editor name it. – Let the Narrator name it.
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: The dice say we give this one to the Narrator.]
Y’know kid, you shouldn’t make a habit of this; nicknames are personal and your Pokémon should have names you came up with for yourself. But yeah, all right; if you’re not feeling too creative I guess I can give you something. You don’t technically know this yet ‘cause it’s not in your Pokédex, but what you’ve got there is a Zorua, a rare Pokémon that can impersonate other Pokémon using illusion magic – keeping its true identity secret from all but the keenest observers. With that in mind, and by the power vested in me, I hereby name this Pokémon:
Jane seems pretty pleased with herself just for having a nickname at all. You gotta have an identity in order to conceal it, I guess.
How do you deal with the poachers? – Use your Bug Pokémon to create snares and set up an ambush.
If you get into a fight, which Pokémon will you use? – Scallion, the Bulbasaur – Nancy the Negator, the Minun
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Nancy can cheer for our other Pokémon from the sidelines, so let’s have Scallion take point.]
You think about the problem for a minute. Yeah, all things considered, Dane has a point; the five of you with all your Pokémon probably could take these clowns with a good battle plan, even if they do turn out to be a bit stronger than you individually. But why risk it? You all have Bug Pokémon that can spin silk (except maybe Ellis? You glance at him questioningly and he confirms that, yes, his Beedrill is still young enough to remember String Shot) – you can use them to create nets and webs, string them up between the trees, then lure the poachers into a trap. With any luck, you won’t even have to fight.
After receiving a mysterious “mission” from some potentially hostile Pokémon, what do you want to do? – Honour the agreement and investigate
…you really don’t know what’s good for you, do you, kiddo?
You’ve always been a curious kid, and there’s no way you can just let this go. A bunch of wild Pokémon, apparently asking you to… eliminate(???) another human in their territory? Who? And why? You don’t see how it can hurt to check it out; you can decide what to do about it once you know what “it” is. Besides, as you point out to persuade Dane, the Ariados could be watching to see if you’ll do as you’ve been told, and they can probably move faster than you through the dense forest. Before you leave, you take several more photos of the dirt-scratch map from a couple of different angles, just to make sure you’ll be able to find your way (and hey, if you have more images to show Professor Oak later, that’s just gravy). You notice that, quite close to the spiderweb symbol marking the Ariados’ nest, the map has another scratchy little glyph resembling a human caught in a web, which you realise is probably the campsite you just left, where most of your stuff is. If you hurry, you can get back before dark.
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.
Which Pokémon will battle Ellis’ Beedrill, and how? – Use Scallion the Bulbasaur, and try to think of an unconventional strategy.
A Beedrill is a tough opponent, especially for a Grass Pokémon like Scallion, and unlike the other bug catchers, Ellis seems to have experience to balance your knowledge of Pokémon and battle tactics. You’re going to need to pull some kind of bull$#!t to win this one. You glance around the clearing – tents, leaf litter, a couple of hillocks, tall trees all around…
You glance down at Scallion, catching his eye, and jerk your head at the tree branches. He follows your gaze and looks back at you in confusion. You jerk your head again and make a motion with your hands as if pulling on a rope. Scallion stares, baffled, then something clicks and his eyes widen. He looks at you nervously and tilts his head. You nod vigorously and give him a manic grin.
I gotta tell you, kid, I do not like where this is going.
Who would you like to go with? – Help Stacey find a Bug Pokémon that’s rare in Kanto.
Once everything is settled, Ellis has elected to follow Dane and look for battles with wild Pokémon while doing general exploration, and you have volunteered to search out some unusual Bug Pokémon with Stacey. Rather than join either pair, Abner decides to stay at the group’s base camp so he can try his experimental evolution ideas on his own. Sticking to the ground, you can see tell-tale signs that the vegetation has been invigorated by the presence of wild Grass Pokémon, and occasionally you spot intriguing blackened marks near the base of tree trunks that look to you like electrical burns. If you want to find different Bug-types, though, you suspect you’ll need to get off the ground and into the treetops. You’re not much of a climber, and Stacey is only a little better, but using Scallion’s Vine Whips and Aura’s String Shot, you’re able to create makeshift ropes and nets that help you up into the highest trees without breaking your fragile child necks. Of course, you make an awful racket in the process, and you can tell there are Pokémon fleeing just out of your sight, but once you get used to what you’re doing, you can move from one treetop to the next with surprising ease, thanks to the interlaced branches of Viridian Forest’s dense canopy. You suggest focusing on trees with sweet berries and listening carefully for the low-pitched hum of Bug Pokémon wings; Stacey catches on pretty quickly and leads the way. After half an hour picking your way through the upper levels of the forest, you stumble into a tree filled with red, black-spotted beetle Pokémon, which you vaguely recognise as Ledyba.
What will you do tomorrow? – Join up with some other trainers to explore.
You’re not the only trainer about to attempt a Viridian Forest expedition; a group of trainers from Viridian City, all friends, are also spending the night at the rest stop. You decide to sidle over and introduce yourself while they’re all chatting before lights-out. After all, Viridian Forest has kind of a dark reputation, and although you’ve already proven to yourself and your Pokémon that you can manage a couple of days in the wilderness on your own, it’d still be dumb to pass up company when it’s on offer.