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.
Chuck only has two Pokémon. They’re both much higher levels than mine – 29 and 31 – but they are also both open to manipulation, because Chuck’s signature move in this game is Focus Punch, which can be disrupted by attack damage. Only two of my Pokémon should be in danger of being petrified here, Paradise from Rock Slide and Killgore from Focus Punch, and in theory that shouldn’t be a problem for Killgore as long as he just keeps attacking. Even if we lose one or both of them, I’ll get one back if I can win the battle.
Where we left off, I had just drawn the Three of Pentacles on my way into Union Cave, which will allow me to catch the first Pokémon I see. I’m hoping for a Geodude or Onix; either one would be a pretty significant asset going into the next two gyms.
You could rush in, guns blazing. After all, there’s only two of them now, even if they were good enough to beat Blue; you reckon you could take ‘em. But why take the risk, right? You’re smarter than that. You might not be able to split the other two Rockets up like you did the first one, but you may as well seize the element of surprise – especially now that you now have a really cool opportunity for another trap.
Take the scenic route, explore a bit more of the mountain
You’re still feeling understandably salty over a bunch of wild Pokémon ambushing you, knocking you out and taking your stuff, so you decide to blow off some steam by wandering back down the mountain in the opposite direction to the way you came, looping back around by a longer path to return to your camp site from below. You still have your notebook; you don’t need a Pokédex to do some solid field research, and you can send Aura up to fly overhead and let you know if she spots anything interesting. You meander downward, stopping now and again to idly draw some of the plants or take a leaf rubbing; it’s all lichens, hardy mountain grasses and unpleasant thorny shrubs up here, only a couple of twisted, put-upon trees. It makes a lot of sense that you’ve only seen cave Pokémon like Zubat and Sandshrew. If you had all the time in the world to map the place out, you’d be interested to find all the springs and streams to see whether any cool Pokémon live there, although to be honest you doubt it.
What kind of Pokémon wanted to join you? – Creepy – Intelligent
The odd thing is, you didn’t see it at first. You mostly remember releasing Bug Pokémon from the cages – Caterpie, Weedle, Ledyba, Spinarak. There were some Pidgey, even a couple of Pikachu, who immediately fled into the underbrush. Not really anything you’re surprised to see; hell, aside from the Pikachu you aren’t even sure what Pokémon there are here that are even worth poaching. What is the business model of a Pokémon poacher, anyway? You make a mental note to ask your prisoners that. The point is, everything you consciously remember seeing is… well, not that you’d ever put it like this, but trash.
But when you glance over your shoulder at Scallion and Nancy, the Pokémon talking to them isn’t any of those. It’s… a four-legged, furry charcoal-grey Pokémon with a pointed face and keen, intelligent, almost sinister eyes. Did it just come out of the forest? No, you’re sure it walked over to them from the stream of Pokémon you were releasing from the cages. You saw it out of the corner of your eye.
What do you do with your prisoners? – Restrain Kevin so you can drag them both to the authorities.
You all take a moment to revel in your victory and high-five each other before doing anything else. You’ve got time; Ned is already pretty securely tied up, and Kevin… well, Kevin’s still moping over his unconscious Zubat. Poor guy seems like he’s having some kind of breakdown. Abner has his Pokémon start spinning more silk, and you help him tie up Kevin and attach some extra leads to Ned’s cocoon so you can drag him along the ground behind you. Meanwhile Stacey and Ellis tend to the injuries the Pokémon have suffered – including Zubat. You aren’t sure about the ethics of confiscating the loyal Pokémon of criminal trainers, and you don’t want to risk Ned’s Pokémon trying to fight you if you let them out, so you get Kevin to recall his Zubat and decide to let the police in Pewter City sort it out once you get there. Neither Kevin nor Ned seem to be in any mood to talk (even if Ned’s mouth weren’t muffled by the silk), and refuse to say anything about their operation. Once you’re sure Kevin’s hands are securely bound, you start moving back in the direction of the clearing where you found them.
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.
Is there a character you think was wasted? A character you think has potential to be fascinating, but ended up to be underused and forgettable?
I think I have to go with Archer, the leader of Team Rocket in Heart Gold and Soul Silver. The remakes make an effort to create these four characters – Proton, Petrel, Ariana, Archer – out of the faceless Team Rocket Executives from Gold and Silver, but they don’t… do a whole lot with them. Honestly I wouldn’t even have expected them to, and I’m basically satisfied with the handling of Proton, Ariana and Petrel, just putting names and unique designs on characters who were formerly indistinguishable. Once you’ve done that, though… it just sticks out that the leader of the organisation, the mastermind of the entire plan to take over Johto, has literally one scene in which he speaks nine lines of dialogue and says pretty much nothing that we haven’t already heard from his subordinates. Why were we scared of this guy? What was his motivation in trying to recall Giovanni, rather than just running Team Rocket himself? What does he actually want – money, power, a golden Magikarp? He’s just not as interesting as either Giovanni in the previous games, or Cyrus in the contemporary Diamond and Pearl. Even after his appearances in Let’s Go I have trouble giving two $#!ts about him. It’s a shame, because Team Rocket in Gold and Silver seem to have a kind of cult of personality around Giovanni, which is really interesting, and Archer is the “cult leader,” as it were, but he never gives us any inkling of why.