Growing up, I was never a huge fan of Role-Playing Games, video game or otherwise. The first one that I really got into was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. To this day, it remains one of my absolute favorite games, though that is a story for another post. I remember a few years later, the Pokémon craze hit North America. The commercials were on all the time, and involved an insane bus driver that reminded me of Chris Farley smushing the creatures into a Game Boy using a garbage press. It was strange, and my young mind could not care any less. As much as everyone else liked it, I had no interest.
For Christmas that year, my Nana bought my little brother Pokémon Blue. He tried it, choosing Squirtle as his starter. It didn’t take long before he was hooked, and when playing on the Super Game Boy, my older brother and I were drawn into it as well. In fact, when it turned out that one of the gifts he got needed to be returned, my little brother only asked for one thing to replace it: Pokémon Red.
The first experience of playing the game was more a collaboration. We took turns battling it out, got frustrated when we couldn’t catch the legendary Abra. Think about this for a moment: the instruction manual for the original games talks about Legendary Pokémon without giving any names while displaying a picture of Abra on the same page. As soon as we saw that sucker north of Cerulean City and it teleported away, we were enraged. The manual told us we only had one shot, and we blew it. Way to be, Game Freak…
Speaking of legendary, the one Pokémon that will forever live in the annals of history is the Legendary Clefable. This thing was a tank, absorbing attacks from the Elite Four, and dishing out Metronomes, Blizzards, Fire Blasts, and Solarbeams. It almost singlehandedly beat the rival. The monster could not be stopped. Until we reset the game. The poor guy couldn’t survive the Poké Purge of 1999.
I continued playing the new generations as they came out. I enjoyed Gold, though was less enthusiastic about Sapphire. Pearl was alright. White got me hooked again. White 2 was… well, I got sidetracked and only completed it after HeartGold came out. Pokémon Y broke me. I played it and got a badge, though right now, I have a Blastoise and whatever the final evolution of the fox in my party, all without getting my second badge. My lowest leveled Pokémon is still about ten levels above any trainer I come across. It stopped being challenging. I picked it up again recently since Nintendo is releasing downloads for Mythical Pokémon throughout the year, but I just can’t get into it. Nothing is as good as the original generation.
This is why I’m glad my little brother issued this challenge: another collaborative attempt at Pokémon Blue. Between the three brothers, one of us would have the cartridge and proceed through the game until we reach a milestone in the game (usually beating the next gym leader). We didn’t want to do a full-on Nuzlocke run, but we decided to incorporate the rules loosely in the following ways:
- Each brother may have (at maximum) two Pokémon they caught in the party. Each brother can only catch up to three Pokémon each round with any extras going into their respective box.
- Fainted Pokémon are out and relinquished to the death box (Box 12).
- Only one Pokémon per route or location. This need not be the first Pokémon encountered, though.
- No duplicates of already caught Pokémon.
- Each Pokémon must have a nickname.
- No brother can interfere with Pokémon caught by another brother (no stone evolutions or switching out the two Pokémon caught by a different person).
- The Pokémon used must be caught, which meant Squirt the Squirtle was boxed.
Once a brother finished their portion, the cartridge was passed along. This was a bit difficult at times since little bro lives at least two hours away from any other brother. We originally tried it through Raspberry Pi, but for whatever reason, the save file would not work when emailed. Oh well.
My little brother picked up the first leg of the journey. His picks were Grody the Caterpie, found on Route 2, which he evolved to a Butterfree. Taking a slight detour to Route 22, we also obtained Spike the Nidoran♂. He was also evolved into a Nidorino. The final Pokémon was Clepto the Pikachu. He had serious problems and was sent to the box. Brock was easily dispatched by Grody and Spike, leaving me to take the reins for Mt. Moon and Misty.
My first encounter on Route 3 was a Jigglypuff. Having a Normal type seemed pretty good, and we never really played one before (I approached this as using Pokémon we otherwise did not really use before). Unfortunately, all the jerk knew was Sing. I appropriately nicknamed it Wurst. While in Mt. Moon, I refused to catch a Zubat and decided to go for a Paras. To my surprise, I found a Clefairy first! Could this be a successor to the Legendary Clefable? I caught it, and with high hopes, named it Bhest and trained it like the dickens, which is to say I crippled Wursts’ leg (Classic literature reference. Keeping it classy, here). Bhest could Double Slap like a champ! Before facing Misty, I went through Nugget Bridge and caught an Abra on Route 24. I named him Sleepy Sam. He was, and still is, my favorite. Mostly, I caught him to perform a glitch in order to catch a Mew named Insomniac (more on that next post). Insomniac was permanently placed with Squirt, a backup should any brother lose all of theirs. After a bit of grinding to evolve Sleepy Sam into a Kadabra, our foursome was ready to tackle Misty. Bhest backhanded Staryu into next week. Bhest was getting mighty cocky at this time and decided to take on the horrifying Starmie. A critical hit permanently ended what could have been the greatest Pokémon to grace Kanto. In a blind fury, Grody took out the demon, and we were left to box the dead.
My older brother took on the journey leading up to Lt. Surge. On Route 4, he caught Sandford the Sandshrew, evolving it into a Sandslash. That guy don’t take no guff from anyone. Next came LEGS the Bellsprout from Route 5, going straight to a pun (he was immediately turned into a Victreebel). The reserve found on Route 6 was Bagawkers the Pidgey. I don’t believe we ever ended up using it.
Rotating back to the youngest, who took on Team Rocket and Erika. His contributions included Lagrange the Vulpix on Route 8. He died under mysterious circumstances. Half-Hydra the Doduo, found on Route 16, became a legend in its own right when it evolved into Dodrio. The backup was appropriately called Backup#2 the Magikarp, fished out of Celadon City. It found a permanent home in Box 1. At this point, the party consisted of Clepto, Half-Hydra, Sleepy Sam, Wurst (in a very begrudging way), LEGS, and Sandford.My turn again. Unfortunately for the game (but VERY fortunate for me), the game found its way to me days before my wedding. With little time, I ran the gambit between Lavender Town and Fuchsia City. In Pokémon Tower, I found a Ghastly named Luggalick to replace the appalling aberration known as Wurst. It was quickly found that without the use of good TMs, Ghastly and Haunter sucked noodles. Sorry, Luggalick, but you go in the box. The next one found was on Route 12. Stabbers the Goldeen was met with much criticism. The fact of the matter is we needed a Water type to Surf. I wasn’t getting a Game Over on a technicality. Outside of Fuchsia on Route 15, I found a Ditto I affectionately named Goop. Yeah, he was never used, either. I had forgotten how annoying Koga’s gym is. I felt Sleepy Sam could sweep the gym, but you have the idiot Jugglers with Psychic types like Drowzee and Hypno. Clepto and Half-Hydra made short work of them. Before handing it off, we evolved Sleepy Sam. Now he was Sleepy Sam the Alakazam. Goodness, that’s just fun to say!
Older brother took the fight to Team Rocket and Sabrina (heheh. Anyone who played the first generation of games knows Psychic types were beasts). He first went back to Route 6 to catch Sparkle the Meowth. On Cycling Road, he found Clamps the “very annoyed Krabby.” Finally, on Route 18, Bitey the Raticate became the newest pine warmer. LEGS and Sandford continued their rule of the coveted two spots on the team.
For all the hate my little brother gave Stabbers, he did not fare much better on his journey to Blaine. Both Clepto and Half-Hydra were benched to be replaced by new additions on this leg. The Safari Zone was previously skipped, but yielded TeenyWeeni the Dratini (he very quickly became a Dragonite). In Vermillion City, NotGoldeen the Shellder was caught and quickly executed by what my brother claims as a “lucky monkey.” While in Seafoam Island, Grazia the Seel was captured and boxed forever. Spike met his parole and was once again unleashed upon the world, this time as a Nidoking.
Since little brother caught Articuno in Seafoam Island (it was decided that Legendary Pokémon would be boxed along with the given Pokémon and not count toward the ‘three Pokémon’ rule), I had to tame the legendary Zapdos at the Power Plant. Along the way while surfing back to Pallet Town, I captured Ramen the Tangela along Route 21. He has deep-seated emotional issues, especially since his best friend was used to line Easter baskets. Since it was Easter time, the humane thing was to box him until the heat was off. In the Power Plant, I quickly captured the first non-Voltorb I found, Polaris the Magnemite, and used Repels to avoid Explosion-related casualties. Zapdos almost kicked the crap out of TeenyWeeni, leaving him with a scant 3 HP. Eventually, Zapdos was captured and dubbed Ragnorak. Sweet. Before leaving the area, I decided Stabbers needed the ol’ heave-ho and fished for a new friend outside of the Power Plant on Route 10. Torrential the Poliwhirl was found, and given a permanent spot on the team. After some grinding at the Pokémon Mansion and evolving Torrential to Poliwrath, Giovanni was obliterated through the team effort of Sleepy Sam and Torrential. Before handing it off once more, I sent the two to the Pokémon Mansion to level up. The two were at least level 55 before the final handoff.
Older brother caught who-the-crap-cares because he never used anyone besides LEGS and Sandford.
For the grand finale, we met up this past weekend to finish what we started on the Super Game Boy. We entered the Elite Four’s hall using LEGS, who knew Vine Whip but could not be bothered to learn Razor Leaf; Sandford, who honestly just looked happy to be invited; Spike, who was ready and willing to use Horn Drill at every opportunity; TeenyWeeni, our ace in the hole; Sleepy Sam, who was so ‘roided out that his spoons had popped veins; and Torrential, who could… swim. We all knew that Lorelei would be our greatest threat since Clepto was not game ready and our only Pokémon that could learn Electric or Fighting moves were weak to Ice. We went for a Hail Mary with LEGS. We were prepared for the worst (but not Wurst). Should we lose, we would have to level up our backups, and quite frankly, mine all sucked. I was really putting my best foot forward and betting all my chips on getting by it the first time.
LEGS took the lead against Lorelei. To our surprise, the first of her Pokémon, Dewgong, used Rest right away and was easily dispatched. Cloyster met the same fate after an attempted Aurora Beam did diddlysquat to LEGS. Slowbro was up next. This is when we remember that she also had a Jynx, so we were not pleased. We doubled down and kept LEGS out. Slowbro continued to use Amnesia (and looking at it after the fact, it doesn’t know any attacks other than Water Gun, so…). It died. Jynx used Thrash while LEGS decided to Cut it. She went down after a little while. Lapras, the final Pokémon, used Blizzard, though LEGS held out. The second Blizzard caught it, and LEGS was tragically destroyed. Torrential was forced to clean up both LEGS and the fight, though it took a while for Submission to finally connect. Rest well, LEGS. No one really believed in you.
Bruno and Agatha were pretty uneventful between Sleepy Sam, Torrential, and Sandford (just to make him feel appreciated). We had taught Ice Beam to Torrential and Thunderbolt to TeenyWeeni, so Lance was almost immediately destroyed.
Finally, we got to the rival: Oak Jr. (who was apparently Professor Oak’s grandson while being his son). TeenyWeeni took the lead, demolishing Pidgeot with a swift Thunderbolt. Alakazam took similar abuse with TeenyWeeni’s Hyper Beam. Torrential got some time in the sun by using Surf against Rhydon. TeenyWeeni made a reappearance to destroy Gyarados with another Thunderbolt. Arcanine met the same fate as Rhydon against Torrential. Finally, Venusaur suffered a critical-hit Psychic from the one and only Sleepy Sam. After several months of preparation, the Champion was bested. From the heavens, the Legendary Clefable gave a sly smile from the corner of its mouth, and slipping on its faux leather jacket (LC ain’t made of money), gave a slightly askew thumbs up before fading into the sunset.
At some point, we may do a follow up using the second generation. Until then, this adventure was able to do justice in recreating that feeling of being in elementary school, battling small creatures until well past bedtime.