Monday, June 11, 2012

One Does Not Simply Restart A Pokémon Game

I know I haven't written anything in a week. I was preparing for this post. Also, warning you all now that the Star Wars tag is in relation to references only (I will post something truly Star Wars related this week, and try to get June's Anniversary Reviews started as well).

I've decided to restart my original Red and Blue games.

The catch-22 about Pokémon is this: It's most fun when you're starting a new adventure and raising your team for the first time, but you grow so attached to your high-level endgame team that you're reluctant to start over.

I had been wanting to start a new Pokégame for about a month, but all my teams (or so I thought) were solid and it would be rough saving certain characters and items. And since I'm broke, I can't buy one of the versions I don't have yet.

What made me look at the original Game Boy games was actually digging out Pokémon Stadium (well, Stadium 2) for my newly-replaced N64. I found my teams sorely lacking in usefulness.

So, since it's Stadium 2, why not use my old Gold/Silver/Crystal games which had more balanced teams? Well, sadly, Their batteries ran out and I can no longer save games (I had a Shiny Togetic in Silver too!)

'Nuff said.

So, using Stadium to save my Level 97 and 72 teams, I restarted Red and Blue. I was originally going to try Yellow again, but I had a full 151 pokedex in that one and besides, Pikachu is only useful when evolved into Raichu anyway. My original plan was to aim for the team lineup I used in FireRed and LeafGreen, since being a remake in Third Gen set up a good balance that Gen 1 lacked. However, there was one issue with this.

My team hinged on my Charizard being able to learn Fly. For some reason, in the original Red and Blue, he couldn't. Who would I have to leave behind? What would I choose?

Then I stumbled upon my answer: The Mew Glitch.

Apparently, sometime in the early '00s, someone figured out a way to get Mew in Red and Blue through a glitch. It was complicated, but no risk (unlike Missingno). This is what I will attempt in Red. Mew will take the place of his offspring, my favorite pokémon Mewtwo, but that's fine if it works. If it doesn't, well, I can always trade with Yellow where HM02 is compatible with Charizard. But I'm really hoping I won't have to play that game.

So I made the new saves last night and am in the middle of Viridian Forest with each. Here are my impressions going back in.

Even though I hate the color red, this was the first game I got and I got it to counteract my friend's blue version. Something I've liked doing with pokémon games is theme-naming the player and rival. With Gen 1 (and their remakes), the theme was duality. I'd pick a character that goes under aliases or physically transforms into another. The good personality is the hero, and the bad one is the rival. For this version, it was a no-brainer. I'm Anakin, and my rival is Vader.

Naturally in this game I started with Charmander, and it still feels like cheating when I have the chance to and don't. This time, I named him Axel after the Kingdom Hearts character.

I'm making an effort to keep the starting teams a little different from the norm, so I headed to Route 22 before the forest. For this game, I picked up a male Nidoran and named him Buster (as in Buster Bunny).

After that, it was a pretty standard team I picked up. I got a Pidgey, named it Pesto (what do you mean by that?). Nabbed a Weedle and named it Plainview (since Weedle - Beedrill - Drill - Drill for Oil - Oil Man), grabbed a Caterpie and named it Monarch (Butterfly).

Finally, I caught the only member in the starting team other than the Charmander that will be a final pick: a Pikachu. Of course, I named it Palpatine since they're both evil electric rats.

Three things truck me as I played. The first is that I've been taking for granted all the little improvements to the menus and gameplay over the various generations. It's comparatively difficult just to compare your team's stats in this one as opposed to the later games. Secondly, while I'm prepared for Psychic to be broken (since there's no good moves for the types it's weak against), I'm surprised at how out of whack the rest of the type balance is. For example, this is the only game where Poison is actually super-effective against Bug, and since Red Viridian Forest has more Weedles it makes leveling a pain.

Finally, it's the fact that I'm playing this game on a GB Advance SP, and it's choosing the colors for me. This version is Red with Green highlights, which is an interesting nod to the original Japanese Red and Green games.

Normally I'd level the team to 9 before facing Brock, but since those level-badge restrictions apply only to traded pokémon, I made my goal an even 10 (this will fully evolve the bugs for extra durability).

Where Red was Red and Green, Blue is truly Blue and Red. It's certainly nicer to look at.

It took me a while to figure out what split personality I'd name this set of characters, but I finally settled on the classic ur-example, Jekyll and Hyde (I'm Jekyll, he's Hyde).

Also, I made the unprecedented move (well, it would be if I didn't do the same thing in LeafGreen) of actually choosing Squirtle instead of Charmander (I named him Leonardo, because he's the blue one). It still feels a little wrong, but its what I do with every generation, I do genuinely like the Squirtle line, and it gives me an excuse to pick up a Vulpix and an Aerodactyl down the road.

For now, though, instead of a Pidgey and a Pikachu, I nabbed a Spearow (named Beaky after Beaky Buzzard) and a Rattata (named Nicodemus; see my Secret of NIMH review in the coming months). After that, it was simple case of mirrors: another Nidoran, female this time (named Babs, natch), another Caterpie (named Gratch after a children's book I read while working at the zoo entitled "Velma Gratch and the Way-Cool Butterfly"), and another Weedle (named Milkshake, continuing on with the There Will Be Blood theme).

Because the forest has more Caterpies in Blue, the leveling is much easier, if a little slow. My goal is still the same: level 10 and then face Brock.

I'll keep you all posted on new developments.

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