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Cowabunga: Let's play Pokémon Radical Red

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Hello, what's this?



Pokémon Radical Red starts just like Fire Red. (In fact, the title screen is unchanged from the original game, which is uncharacteristically lazy for this hack.) Don't worry: we'll see where it departs before long.



So far, so good...



Yep, there we go.



So! First of all, Radical Red has a bunch of convenience features. We can already run.



Second of all, it has a built-in randomizer, which we'll be using. This makes the early game easier but effectively removes legendaries from the game. You can further toss in the Hard Mode variation on the randomizer, which prevents cool stuff from showing up. Of course we won't be doing that.

What's random? Encounters, trainers, and gifts, but not "boss battles." That means E4 and Gym Leaders, obviously, but also probably higher-ranking Rocket fights and a few others. Radical Red has more boss battles than Fire Red, though some are optional.

You can separately toggle random abilities and random learnsets. I've opted not to do either of these. I think a key feature of a good randomizer is keeping important things the same, and it's fairly important to know that most of the things you run across can't use Selfdestruct.



True facts.



Here's our selection of starters. Pretty uninspiring. Of these, I'll take the Fire Pokémon, Charmander.



Tim sends out Squirtle, and we're off to the races. Let's take a look at Charmander.

Every learnset in the game has been updated to emphasize competitive battling. The AI has also been overhauled. I strongly suspect Squirtle has a water move, so we're hosed (ha). I start with Bide, reasoning that if we survive long enough, it should seal the deal. Squirtle responds with Supersonic. Charmander hurts herself for 7 damage. She does have an Attack stat, folks.



In fact, she has terrible attack IVs and a Mild nature (+defense, -sp.atk), which seems like a bad deal all around. (Trapinch loses a lot of Attack when it evolves to Vibrava, but Flygon has Trapinch's Attack stat plus pretty well-rounded other stats. In the long run, we could build Charmander as a mixed attacker.)

Anyway, Charmander hits herself again, but she was holding an Oran Berry, so we're saved. Squirtle, for her part, seems to know nothing but Supersonic, although it's proved effective enough so far. But then Squirtle busts out Bubble, taking Charmander down to a single hit point. Squirtle uses Supersonic for the rest of the battle, and we squeak out a victory. This is a tutorial battle; we can't expect the game to go easy on us after this.



While delivering Oak's parcel, we get a preview of what's available on Route 1. You'll notice that there's a bit of chrome here that wasn't in Fire Red. The interface has been overhauled.

We spy Banette, Taillow, Croagunk, and Nidoran (female) on our way back to Palette Town. Charmander reaches level 8 and learns Bulldoze. We swap out Bite because it has the same power as Feint Attack and Charmander will never outspeed anything to make Bite's flinch relevant.



Our first encounter after receiving our Poké Balls is the most disappointing of the lot. I'm very unlikely to run a strict Nuzlocke, but I will restrict myself to the first capture on each route, and Nidoran is ours for route 1.

Charmander has nothing that won't kill the bunny outright, but she puts up no struggle and hops in the first ball I throw. I'll let you decide on nicknames for the rest of our companions.



The game does not remove the catch tutorial for some reason, but it does at least randomize the battle.

Who's that Pokémon? Emboar hails from Black/White, which is notably a couple generations ahead of when Fire Red was released. We'll see other unexpected faces before long, I bet.



We head west from Viridian City for our second encounter. I thought this would be a tough catch. It used Confusion to OHKO Nidoran, and I figured Feint Attack would return the favor, but Charmander took it to 40% health, and two Poké Balls added Claydol to our party. A great addition for our Ground-type gym-leader-to-be.

Claydol was worth a lot of experience that Nidoran didn't get, so I come back to play catch-up. I run into a Litleo and a Minccino, taking our two new members to level 5 and 6, respectively.



We run into someone from an even newer generation. I never played Sun/Moon, but I gather Oricorio comes in a variety of dance-themed formes. This one is Electric/Flying. He takes Nidoran to level 7, which I decide is good enough for now.



Our encounter for route 2 is Minccino. I have to double-check that this is a new route. (It is.) Minccino is a simple catch, but I don't know what she'll bring to the team, especially with Cute Charm as an ability.



En route to Viridian Forest, I learn I could have had a Dracozolt instead. Dracozolt is a powerhouse from Sword/Shield. That's right: Radical Red has the entire 'dex represented. This includes oddballs like Battle Bond Greninja that were never officially released.

About this time, I'm interrupted by Oak's aide, who gives me five Oran Berries and a Dex Nav. I understand the Dex Nav has something to do with hunting shinies or abilities or something. It certainly wasn't in Fire Red, so please help me understand why I care.



A bug catcher in Viridian Forest offers to teach Bug Bite in exchange for an Oran Berry. Charmander is the only one who can learn it, and it makes a nice replacement for Bide. There's apparently a whole bunch of these move trainers scattered across the game.



Our Viridian Forest encounter is Misdreavus, whom Nidoran can't touch. Claydol uses three shots of Confusion to bring her to a sliver of health, and it still takes four balls to catch her. Good thing I bought more.

Misdreavus evolves via Dusk Stone, so we'll keep our eyes out for one.



Our exploration is interrupted by some guy named Brendan who thinks he's the star of his own Pokémon adventure. Brendan has a Corphish with Bubble and Harden -- trouble for Charmander and Claydol, but Nidoran, now level 11, takes care of it -- and a Treecko, which, you know, same.

It's worth mentioning that battles are locked into Set and items are forbidden in trainer battles. Now that the lede has been properly buried, I should mention that Radical Red is a difficulty hack.

I manually switch to Misdreavus and back on the Treecko, because Nidoran is way ahead of everyone else on experience.



Brendan has just the thing, though. The difficulty does not come from a dearth of experience; instead, you get as much as you need, and you're level-capped. Before beating Brock, our mons will go no higher than level 15.

He also gives us the Stat Scanner, which reveals EVs and IVs for the target. Fun fact: Charmander has 1 Attack IV and 6 Defense. Everything else is in the 20s, though, so it's not worth complaining about.

The very next trainer has a Blissey. Our entire team gains a couple of levels. Blissey is also a standard encounter here. Half the team is level 15 before Pewter.



We can't enter the Gym without first visiting the museum.



This is absolutely 100% so that we're forced to encounter Falkner.



Of course, by "encounter," I mean "battle." Falkner is a Flying-type gym leader natively found in gen 2. He opens up with this Bulbasaur, which takes down Minccino but dies to Misdreavus.

His next mon is Emolga. I switch to Charmander, but Emolga is packing Air Cutter, which kills Charmander before she can even attack. Claydol dodges an Air Cutter and lands a Rock Tomb. Two of those would've killed Emolga, except he had an Oran Berry. He switches to Corvisquire before we can finish Emolga, but repeated Rock Tombs carry the battle to its conclusion. Falkner gives us TM51, Roost, and leaves.



With that, the Gym is open. Camper Liam has a Pumpkaboo and a Deerling, which are both easily dispatched by Charmander. (You know, the Fire Pokémon. It checks out.)



Brock opens with an Alolan Geodude (Rock/Electric instead of Rock/Ground). I open with Minccino because I'm not paying attention. I swap to Claydol, whose Mud-Slap is an easy OHKO except that Geodude has Sturdy.



Brock's next challenger is Vulpix, who is decidedly not Rock-type, but I think Brock had one in the anime. Vulpix hits Claydol with Ominous Wind, which is super effective and lands the 10% all-stats-up.



Vulpix doesn't quite take out Claydol, leaving Onix to do the rest of the work. I allow Claydol to fall to get a free switch to Misdreavus, largely because she's not at the level cap yet. She lowers Onix's attack a few times, then Charmander Bulldozes Onix into oblivion.

For our troubles, we're granted the Boulder Badge, TM 39 (Rock Tomb), and, most importantly, a much higher level cap. We're now free to level to 27.


Next time, we'll take on Mt. Moon and Misty. Until then, please give our pals a name!

New party members: Minccino (F), Nidoran (F), Misdreavus (F), Claydol (N)


...Oh, one more thing: I've spent some time blowing these images up to double their native resolution. If this is helpful, I will continue doing it. If it is not, then I'd rather upload images that look like this:



Please weigh in, and don't forget to hand out some nicknames!
 
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JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I like the larger images, FWIW, but I don't feel strongly about it.

Nidoran: Primus (first)
Mincinno: Dragonaugt ('cause it's not a dragon)
Misdreavus: Tipsy (in reference to the coloured tips)
Claydol : Owiiiil (too many 'i's, y'see)
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Stubbles
Prancessica
Ghoulio Englasias
Bucketron

I don’t know what the character limit is, but I feel strong about these names
 

Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
I like the larger images, FWIW, but I don't feel strongly about it.

Likewise. Whatever makes less work on your end!

I don’t know what the character limit is, but I feel strong about these names

Unfortunately, unless the author of this hack messed with it, I'm pretty sure the character limit is 12 across most of the games, including Fire Red/Leaf Green.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Unfortunately, unless the author of this hack messed with it, I'm pretty sure the character limit is 12 across most of the games, including Fire Red/Leaf Green.
10, in fact -- I always remember "Feraligatr."
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I prefer the larger pictures. I don't mind the smaller ones either, but I do have a clear preference. Still, do what you prefer, both work fine.

I would offer some names, but I'm really bad at finding good nicknames.
 

muteKi

As charming as a grinch
We swap out Bite because it has the same power as Feint Attack and Charmander will never outspeed anything to make Bite's flinch relevant.
I was going to ask if this game had implemented the physical-special attack distinction that started in gen IV. It looks like it has, but then I double-checked and in retrospect I don't know why I thought it was special. (Honestly there are a lot of positive repercussions from that change but Dark no longer being a special type might be the most important one.)


It's worth mentioning that battles are locked into Set and items are forbidden in trainer battles. Now that the lede has been properly buried, I should mention that Radical Red is a difficulty hack.

That's an interesting choice, for sure. I usually only have Set off so I can easily level-up lower-power Pokemon when grinding up levels. If anything I tend to be a little under-leveled in most games; many hard-fought elite four battles where I get them into the red, whereupon they use a full restore. If that took one attack, no problem. If it took 2, that's fine. If it took 3 or more, ack.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
This should be interesting. And your love of difficulty hacks (and natively difficult games) consistently impresses me.

I'd prefer the bigger pictures, if it's not too much trouble.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
I was going to ask if this game had implemented the physical-special attack distinction that started in gen IV. It looks like it has, but then I double-checked and in retrospect I don't know why I thought it was special. (Honestly there are a lot of positive repercussions from that change but Dark no longer being a special type might be the most important one.)
As far as I can tell, the game largely uses gen 8 mechanics while backfilling a lot of things gen 8 cut. We'll see a sample of these in the next update.
 

muteKi

As charming as a grinch
Also I realize now I wrote that tweet weirdly and meant specifically that I thought feint attack was special after the split, if it wasn't clear from context. (I think I thought that because swift is.) In any case, that's the biggest reason I have trouble going back to gen iii.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Yeah, the physical/special split is the best thing to happen to the series.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Chapter 2: Mt. Moon

Let's hop back in. First, our new friends have names now. Here's what I've chosen:

Nidoran: Primus
Minccino: Prancesica
Misdreavus: Marisa
Claydol: Bucketron

You can rename from the menu in Radical Red, but since I played ahead, the names won't show up in screenshots this update.




This is where you'd get the Running Shoes, but we can already run, so instead, we get...



...uh, the Dynamax Band.

My understanding was that there is no Dynamax/Gigantamax in this game. The creator thought it was a fundamentally unbalanced mechanic. Instead, G-Max forms are now Mega Evolutions, or something like that? I dunno, we'll find out together maybe.

Oak's aide says we can Dynamax, but only in Raid Battles, and I haven't played Sword/Shield, so I'm not sure how Raid Battles work.



Route 3 is a whole mess of trainers leading up to Mt. Moon. Primus evolves at level 16, so this happened very quickly.



Our encounter for this route is the fabulous Alolan Dugtrio. We run through about eight balls and fail to catch him. Bucketron is forced to put him down. Too bad; he really would've rounded out our all-Ground team.



I pay Magikarp dude 500 pokebucks for a Prankster Volbeat. Frankly, the Magikarp would've been more valuable, I think.



Slowbro is our Mt. Moon encounter. He uses Teleport on the second round. At least with Volbeat, we've got a team of six, but Slowbro would've been really nice to have.



There's a sewer entrance outside Mt. Moon that turns out to be a Raid Battle den. Recommended Lvl: 30, it says. You get your choice of NPC partners, then you pick three of your own mons.



Our opponent is a level 24 Dracozolt, which honestly doesn't seem like it should be a problem. I Dynamax Bucketron on the first round for a Max Quake, which crits for about 1/8 of Dracozolt's health, and I see that I might've misjudged.

Our partner's Klink used Infestation, which does a sliver of damage with its DOT. I follow up with Max Rockfall in round 2 to set up a sandstorm. Dracozolt uses Charge for the second time in a row, then it uses Aerial Ace once on each of us. I guess Raid Battles get to act multiple times per round sometimes.

I use Max Quake in my final Dynamax round, bringing us to +2 Sp. Def plus whatever it is sandstorm does for us. (I think it's an extra 50% Sp. Def, but I'm not sure.) Dracozolt does the Dragon Quest "reset everyone's stat changes" deal.



So Raid Battles just cheat. I guess that's fine.

Dracozolt takes out Klink with Max Lightning. My partner sends out Luxray, which has Helping Hand and Follow Me and is probably a better choice to begin with.



Oh, so Raid Battles don't even pretend not to cheat. I guess that's fine, too. Either I should've tried to capture it, or I took too long to beat it. We get an Oran Berry, a Stardust, 18 Muscle Wings, and 4 Coba Berries for our troubles.

I can't help but feel that level 30 would have been overkill.



At this point, I head back and clear out the Route 3 trainers before exploring Mt. Moon. You know about Mt. Moon: long, lots of trainers, and a few nice items. Of course, the items are randomized, but also I'm not fighting Zubats every few steps, so I think I come out ahead.



I thought the scientist guarding the fossils might have been considered a boss battle, but he had a Nidoran, a Gible, and a Darmanitan, and that strikes me as an unlikely trio.



You know what's more likely to be a boss battle? This guy.

He leads with Impidimp. I switch to Primus, who nearly kills him with two Poison Stings, but he Thunder Waves for paralysis and swaps to Houndour, whom Primus kills with a single Double Kick. Archer sends in a Mightyena, and by this time, Primus is in no condition to fight, so Volbeat steps in. I had this idea that Struggle Bug would carry the day, but Mightyena takes Volbeat in two Bites.

This looks bad. Charmander's at 5 HP, Primus at 20, and Marisa and Bucketron are weak to Bite. I send in Prancesica and use Sing. It misses, and Mightyena Howls for an attack boost. After that, Bite is a one-shot.



Mightyena outspeeds and OHKOs the rest of our team. I'd blame this on forgetting to heal Charmander after the scientist battle, but I'm not sure Charmander would've lived a Bite.



After a quick run back, I get the chance to test that. Mightyena Howls and takes out Bucketron, so I send in Charmander. Sure enough, he dies in one hit to a +1 Mightyena.

It's all on Primus now, but I saved her this time. She Double Kicks as Mightyena Howls again, but that triggers Mightyena's Berry Juice. Primus barely lives a +2 Bite, bringing Mightyena down to red. Our heavy hitters are down, and there's only one mon left that can possibly save us: Prankster Volbeat! Unfortunately, Confuse Ray whiffs, and we're delivered our second defeat. (There seems to be a bug with Confuse Ray -- it's listed as having 100% accuracy.)

The third time around, I learn that Mightyena has Ice Fang, which OHKOs Charmander even at neutral.



A few tries later, I find a way forward: Bucketron gets to +6 defenses with Cosmic Power before getting rid of Impidimp, but she doesn't have enough Ancient Powers to finish Mightyena. Fortunately, Mightyena doesn't Howl too much before downing Bucketron, and Primus tags in for a Double Kick. This leaves Mightyena low enough that a Hex from Marisa finishes the job. Only Houndour is left, and it's striking how much weaker Houndour is: it takes three Houndour Bites to fell Marisa.

Charmander takes over, but Houndour has a super effective Hidden Power, while Charmander whiffs a Rock Slide. As the only surviving member of the team, Volbeat picks up the pieces with Struggle Bug.



The martial artists who ordinarily train Mega Punch and Mega Kick give me the TM for Power Up Punch and a Macho Brace. I notice that the ledge near the exit to Mt. Moon is not one-way anymore, which will help if I want to backtrack to an area blocked by Rock Smash rocks.



Cerulean has a move tutor who will teach any(?) move for a Mushroom (or two?). I have no Mushrooms, and I'm not sure the randomizer will ever see fit to give me one, but I make a mental note.



There's also a woman selling an egg, and there's a groomer and a happiness evaluator next door to one another.



The gym is already open. Am I supposed to do Nugget Bridge first? I can never remember. Swimmer Luis has a Bruxish and a Gastly.



I back out because I remember that I forgot to get a Route 4 encounter. It's Delcatty. Prancesica and Volbeat have been better than I expected, so maybe Delcatty won't be box bait. Poison Sting puts her on a timer, but it only takes two balls.



Her IVs are fantastic, but her moveset -- and, I suspect, movepool -- are pretty awful.

At this point, I remember that I picked up some saleable goods, so I trade them in for an egg...



...and get disappointed. I know they can't all be winners, but it'd be nice if some of them were.

Oddly, Nidoran's moveset is Shadow Punch, Hypnosis, Lick, and Spite. Is one of his parents a Gengar? Shadow Punch alone makes him a little attractive. He also apparently counts as coming from another trainer, which will get him caught up in no time. I decide to swap out Volbeat for now.



Hey, Misty got a redesign!

She leads with Frogadier. I lead with Bucketron, vainly hoping to Cosmic Power to victory. Frogadier is Protean and has Grass Knot, Ice Punch, and Flip Turn. Frogadier knocks out Marisa and Primus and switches out for Floatzel, who tears a hole through my team with Water Pulse.



Comparatively, Tim is a pushover. He's got Kirlia, Rockruff, Wartortle, and Staravia. (I guess he ditched his starter.) Bucketron plows through the entire team.



Tim gives us Fly-on-a-stick. That's incredibly handy!



While crossing Nugget Bridge, several of our mons hit the level cap. I swap them for the ones in the PC.

The Rocket Grunt at the end has a Goodra and a Froakie. Goodra is fairly annoying for our team.



Importantly, we get two new encounters for crossing Nugget Bridge. From Route 24, Drifloon offers us one type we don't have, at least, and her Calm nature and natural bulk could come in handy very soon.



Route 25 gives us Crabrawler, who I'm disappointed to learn is pure Fighting. She is Mild (+Def, -Sp.Atk) with excellent defensive IVs, though, and she has Rock Smash, which I can put to use right away unless I need a gym badge to use it. I hoof it back to Mt. Moon only to learn that I'm unable to smash rocks.

Fortunately, one of Radical Red's big convenience features is that field moves that you have in TM/HM form can be used as if they were known by mons who could learn them. This means Bucketron can Teleport us back to Cerulean.



Bugsy, the second Johto gym leader, is waiting outside Bill's house, packing Ariados and I don't know what else because I got swept by Ariados. I don't have much to say in my defense except that this isn't my A-team. Bucketron got taken out by Fell Stinger, and it was all downhill from there.

On the second try, I lead Bucketron and use Psywave, barely winning the one-on-one. Bugsy moves on to Ledian, who U-Turns into Scyther, who uses Swords Dance and Wing Attack to take down most of my team. Ledian does the rest of the job.



I recall that Pewter also had an egg salesman. Flush with cash as I am, and with few options for Misty, I use my flying machine to go fetch it.

The egg hatches into a Litten, which is exciting but also not especially relevant against Misty. It does have incredible IVs, though: "S" in everything but defense and HP. Unlike our Nidoran, it only has garden-variety Growl and Scratch out of the egg.



Our eventual win against Bugsy comes from a tag-team of Charmander, Delcatty, and Drifloon. Even then, it would've been a difficult fight if Scyther hadn't gotten greedy with Swords Dances.

Bugsy gives us a TM for U-Turn and five Nest Balls.


We're now left with the unenviable task of assembling a team for Misty. Let's review:

  • Charmander, Bucketron, and [strike]Litten[/strike] Torracat are all weak to Water. Bucketron has decent bulk and Shore Up for healing, so it's not necessarily benched, but the other two won't bring anything to this fight.
  • Volbeat has Tail Glow (Sp.Atk up 3 stages) and Signal Beam (75 BP special Bug move). She'll probably make the team on those strengths alone, but she also has some of the highest defensive stats of the lot. I definitely underestimated him, although I'm still unconvinced a Gyarados wouldn't have been better.
  • Primus and Nidorino are neutral on attack and defense, with only Poison Sting for STAB Poison. They're not going to win the fight for us, but they're here reliably OK. I'd be surprised if neither is on the team.
  • Of our ghosts, Drifloon is more impressive than Marisa, but I wonder if Ice vulnerability is a liability. Marisa has much better defenses anyway, and that's probably going to count for a lot.
  • Our Normal-types, Delcatty and Prancesica, are fairly bland. Delcatty has good defenses but terrible moves.
  • Finally, Crabrawler has Power-Up Punch, but not enough staying power to make good on it.

What I wouldn't for a Grass-type right about now. We'll tackle Misty next time somehow. Until then, please give these friends a name:

Nidorino, Torracat (M), Delcatty (F), Volbeat (M), Crabrawler (F), Drifloon (F)
 
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Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Chapter 3: Vermilion

We've got names!

Nidorino: Pulcifer
Torracat: Sabin
Delcatty: Frickhouse
Volbeat: Staples Jr
Crabrawler: Flexx
Drifloon: Puzzlemaster

Again, I'm playing ahead, so the newest names won't appear until next time.

With that out of the way, it's time to tackle Misty.



Frogadier's fourth move is Rock Tomb, which puts to rest my hopes of sweeping with Staples Jr.

I try again with Flexx out front. Flexx and Pulcifer bring Frogadier to a sliver, and Fake Out from Frickhouse finishes the job.

Misty sends out Starmie next. Frickhouse lands a Sing, and Misty switches to Floatzel, who takes out Frickhouse while only losing about 25% HP. (Radical Red enforces Smogon's "sleep clause": no more than one mon asleep on a team.)

It's time to try Staples Jr. Floatzel uses Flip Turn as Staples uses Tail Glow, and Staples Jr now faces a sleeping Starmie. Staples uses Moonlight, but Starmie wakes up right away with a Psybeam. We come out ahead on HP, and I learn that Staples outspeeds Starmie.

...Or is it a speed tie? Starmie goes first with Psybeam the next round, bringing Staples Jr to red as he OHKOs with Signal Beam. Staples outspeeds Floatzel somehow and heals with Moonlight, but with the damage Water Pulse does, it's a wash (ha). Floatzel goes first in the following round, and I'm really confused until I remember Staples has Prankster. Whoops.

Next at bat is Marisa, who uses Confuse Ray and is taken below half by Flip Turn. Floatzel hits itself as Marisa uses Hex. Floatzel is down to about 10% HP now, but the confusion ends, and so does Marisa.



Puzzlemaster is our final hope, and the result is almost unbelievable: she survives Flip Kick with 1 HP remaining and uses Ominous Wind for the ominous win.

Misty gives me the TM for Flip Turn. It's U-Turn but Water.



Call me Wally, because our Route 5 encounter is a Ralts. Unfortunately, it dies in one hit to Lick, denying us a very valuable team member.

In happier news, Puzzlemaster evolves.



Our Route 6 encounter is the Steel/Dragon Duraludon, who will surely survive a Lick..?

In fact, he survives several, and Paralysis sticks on the last one. From there, it takes a couple of balls to convince him to join the party.

Duraludon has a Modest nature (-Atk, +Sp.Atk) and the Sp.Atk to back it up. It's very specially frail, though, and its current moveset is strictly physical.



We get the Old Rod in Vermilion City. This opens up a few city encounters for us. I'm not yet certain whether the randomizer has replaced one-to-one: will we always catch whatever replaced Magikarp with this?



Well, if this is a "Magikarp," more power to us, I suppose. Three Licks takes Magnezone down to a single pixel of HP, and a Nest Ball lands us a new team member.

I try fishing a couple more times and get another Magnezone and a Watchog. That means we can collect at least one other mon with the Old Rod, though I don't see myself getting excited about Watchog.



Vermilion offers us new opportunities. I'd gladly pay 2500 pokebucks for a nice Ice Punch or something, but we don't have many mons capable of learning it. Of the ones I'm currently toting, only Staples Jr can learn Ice Punch, and that's an odd mental image.



East of Vermilion, Brendan accosts us again. He wants to fight us, because that's all anyone wants to do in this game.

Brendan packs Loudred, Corphish, Lunatone, and Grovyle. I'm hauling around our new Duraludon and Magnezone, so I quickly lose twice to Brendan. I decide to head to the S.S. Anne first.



In the process, I earn myself a Super Smash Bros. and learn that our new level cap is 34. I guess that's fine -- we should be fighting Lt. Surge very soon. Charmander evolves at level 35, though.

Tim is not aboard the S.S. Anne, which is unusual. I guess Brendan takes the rival trainer spot for this game.

Cut is a 75 BP Steel move in this game, which is pretty decent. Remember that we don't need to have learned field moves, so long as we have the HM/TM and someone who could learn it. The animation is super quick, too -- no more "mon pops out and does its cry," it's just the tree getting slashed. After decades of waiting forever for field moves, it's indescribably satisfying.



I head back to Brendan. Bucketron carries the fight against this Hypnosis/Calm Mind Lunatone thanks to Cosmic Power and a couple Ancient Power boosts.

Brendan gives me two Lucky Eggs, but the game is so generous with experience that it's hard to imagine needing them. Maybe if we add a new member to the team.



Speaking of which, Brendan was blocking a couple of new encounters. Our first is Grapploct, a Water/Fighting aqualuchador. It jumps in the first ball we throw -- pretty generous considering I forgot to heal up before the attempt and Bucketron is our only surviving party member.

Our next encounter is a Ledyba courtesy of Diglett's Cave. Ledyba is the second wild encounter in the area, but the first is a duplicate: Nidoran (F). Ledyba nearly dies to a Frickhouse Fake Out. I don't see Ledyba being a long-term addition to the team.



I don't see a good reason to forestall Surge's gym. As before, the rank and file are extremely easy, and the trash can "puzzle" is annoying as ever.



This looks like it's going to be annoying, too.



...Oh.

I can't say I'm a fan.

Mega Manectric is packing a Hidden Power that's super effective against Bucketron. I don't take out a single one of his mons in this first attempt. I did see a Vikavolt on top of these two, at least.



Uh, I guess Whitney is hanging out east of Vermilion. I'll pass on her for now.



Vermilion also has an egg salesman. I was going to pass on this one, but after getting creamed by Surge, I decide to give it a chance. Ribombee is Bug/Fairy, which is a strange enough combination that I'll give it a try. She comes with Ember and a few Normal moves. I put a Lucky Egg on her and she goes from level 1 to 17 after a wild battle. Indeed, with the Egg, she reaches the level cap before some of our other mons.

In my training session, I bring in Ledyba, who evolves on gaining a level (he's well past the normal evolution level). Ledian is Bug/Fighting in this game, and ours has Iron Fist, which is actually pretty nice. He still has the approximate Defense stat of wet tissue paper, though. Looks like some of Ledian's stats got shuffled around. I still don't think this one's a winner, but the biggest praise I can give this hack at the moment is that it's really surprised me to find which mons end up being useful. (Part of that is the self-imposed catch limitation, to be sure.)



Crabrawler surprises me by evolving into Crabominable at level 30. This evolution is supposed to require snow. Also pictured: the hack finds creative ways to work within the 10-character limit.



I attempt another Raid Battle and catch a Helioptile. I did this on a lark and honestly didn't expect to come out of it with a new mon. I might release this one. Now that I halfway understand how Raid Battles work, I need to decide how I'll handle them. I could give myself one raid per gym badge, maybe? Anyway, Helioptile needs a Sun Stone to evolve, and I sure don't have one.

Anyway, at this point, I'm obviously stalling, right? But if I stall long enough, I'll get a crazy idea, like using a Rare Candy on Charmander.



And it works! I don't know if Charmeleon is the ace we need for Surge, but this does a lot to make her feel relevant again. This lowers her Attack by quite a bit in return for a sizeable boost to every other stat.



For our first earnest attempt against Surge, I've chosen this team. Mega Manectric clearly has something to take out my Ground-types -- I'd bet on HP Ice, making Charmeleon something of a liability -- but if we can find a way to get rid of him, then I think we can win this. Anyone with a Ground move and a Rock or Fire move has super-effective coverage against Surge's whole team, and for us, that's Flexx, Charmeleon, Bucketron, and Sabin. Magnezone is there to take hits and set up Light Screen, and I just got done complaining about Duraladon's Sp.Def stat, so that was an oversight and I'm replacing him with my most specially-bulky mon, who is... uh, it's Ledian.

Staples Jr is second, but it's not that close. I did just say that I keep being surprised by who ends up coming in handy. I dig through my TMs and teach Ledian Dig and Roost. His other two moves are Power-Up Punch and Mach Punch.



Bucketron is able to Cosmic Power up to +6 against Pincurchin, who knows Scald and sticks the Burn. We see Alolan Raichu as Surge's previously unknown fourth mon. Bucketron doesn't have many offensive options here, so Ancient Power is the pick for neutral damage. Raichu has Nasty Plot, but even at +2, it's only able to Psyshock for piddling damage. So far, so good -- but after downing Raichu, Bucketron has only four Shore Ups left.

Vikavolt is next. It's unfortunate that we just ran out of Ancient Power, but Extrasensory is at least neutral. Even at +6 defenses, Vikavolt's Bug Buzz hits like a truck, and Bucketron is down to 20 HP and one Shore Up after taking it out.

Manectric comes out. It outspeeds, and I'm pretty sure this is it for Bucketron, but Mega Manectric's attack is Flame Burst, which deals single-digit damage. (What happened to Hidden Power?)



Huh! After all that windup, Bucketron manages to solo Surge. Nice work, Bucketron! Cosmic Power + Shore Up is a great combination for battles like this.

Surge gives us the TM for Volt Switch, making him the third gym leader in a row to give us a switch hit TM.


OK, decision time! We need names for our new chums, and I want your input on what I should do with Raid Battles. Also, is Lt. Surge literally Guile from Street Fighter? Discuss.

New: Duraludon (M), Magnezone (N), Grapploct (F), Ledian (M), Ribombee (F), Helioptile (F)
 
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Albatoss

Mellotron enthusiast
(She/they)
Magnezone - PuPu
Grapploct - Octomamm
Helioptile - Skitters
 
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Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Chapter 4: Celadon

How about more names?

Grapploct: Octomamm
Magnezone: PuPu
Duraludon: RealDan
Ledian: Pillbus
Helioptile: Skitters
Ribombee: Flampy

I haven't been playing ahead as far as usual, thanks to Loop Hero, so there's only one image with a default name this time around.




It's time to fight Whitney, and I'm going to do it with the five mons that were benched for the Surge fight.

Whitney leads with Wigglytuff to my Magnezone. Wigglytuff really wants to Lovely Kiss, but Magnezone uses Thunder Wave followed by Flash Cannon, and instead of taking the KO, Whitney switches to Miltank, who takes over half from Flash Cannon and gets the Sp.Def drop. Joke's on me when Miltank uses Stomping Tantrum, taking Magnezone down to 2 HP. Miltank goes down, and Whitney sends in Vigoroth, who takes out Magnezone with Body Slam.

I bring out Crabominable, who uses Power-Up Punch twice against Vigoroth's Bulk Up. The second one crits, and Vigoroth uses Body Slam as Crabominable Ice Punches for the KO. Whitney sends out Wigglytuff, still paralyzed and unable to take a +2 Ice Punch.

Next from Whitney is Indeedee, whose Psybeam takes out Crabominable. I bring out Sabin, who uses Darkest Lariat after eating a Hyper Voice. Darkest Lariat crits and OHKOs.

Whitney's final mon is Drampa, which I just got is "dragon grampa." That's fantastic. Incineroar gets in a Double Kick before going down to Dragon Breath. I bring in Charmeleon to use her Dragon Breath, but while she manages to paralyze Drampa, Drampa's breath is mightier, and Charmeleon falls to one puff.

Lest we bring Claydol to the party, Ledian is left to defend our honor. I use Power-Up Punch as Drampa Roosts. Drampa is paralyzed as I go for another, and from there, Ledian is able to Mach Punch for a win.

Whitney gives me 8 Moomoo Milks and an Eviolite (which now also prevents evolution like an Everstone). I put the Eviolite on Charmeleon, who has issues surviving even after the evolution and who won't evolve anytime soon anyway.



Our Route 9 encounter is this waste of a Pokédex entry. I know I've been saying that the hack surprises me with how useful everything is, but this is a bridge too far. If Burmy (or Wormadam) makes the team, I'll eat my hat.

At this point, I rename everyone. You need to put a mon into your active party in order to rename, so it's time for a full party reorg. Here's who I'm taking today:
  • Charmeleon (Vibrava Lv36 w/ Eviolite). Our starter has a new lease on life after the evolution and Eviolite. She'll evolve again at level 45, so I'll try to remember to take off the Eviolite before then.
  • RealDan (Duraludon Lv34). RealDan has heavy special attack stats and all physical moves, but I'm hoping he comes into his own at some point.
  • PuPu (Magnezone Lv36 w/ Metal Coat). On the other hand, PuPu has Flash Cannon and Metal Coat, making it a force to be reckoned with. For Electric coverage, PuPu has Electro Ball, which deals damage based on how much faster you are than the target. It's OK, even when PuPu is slower than the target, but I'd rather have Thunderbolt.
  • Puzzlemaster (Drifblim Lv33). A Ghost is good to have, and Marisa wasn't scaling well. I haven't mentioned this before, but each Pokémon Center has a lady who'll change the nature of your mon for 7500 Pokébucks. We'll use that on Puzzlemaster should she become a long-term member of the team, because her +Atk -SpDef nature is doing her exactly zero favors.
  • Flexx (Crabominable Lv35). I was impressed by Flexx in the Whitney fight. With Ice Punch, Power-Up Punch, Rock Tomb, and Bulldoze, she's got great coverage.



We take Route 9 to the Center next to Rock Tunnel, where an aide gives us an Everstone. Apparently, it didn't get merged with Eviolite -- presumably, it still has its special breeding properties, but I've never cared enough about breeding to know exactly what those are.



Zigzagoon is our Rock Tunnel encounter. Rock Tunnel comes pre-lit. I'm not sure if that's because we could use Flash or because the hack doesn't have dark caves to begin with. Anyway, Zigzagoon? See my thoughts on Burmy. This is the worst possible encounter in Rock Tunnel by a good margin.



Terrakion is hiding out in here, but like so many other goodies I've passed up, we need Rock Smash to get there. (Of course, it won't be Terrakion, since it's randomized, but an encounter's an encounter.)

Speaking of goodies, a kid hanging out in here gives us the Rock Slide TM.



Here's a glitched-out sprite that gives us the TM for Iron Tail.

At this point, I escape Rock Tunnel and discover that our new level cap is 44, a number you may recognize as again being one short of evolution for Charmeleon. This is probably coincidental; what are the odds that they had it out for this evolution line in particular?



Morty is waiting in Lavender Town, which makes sense. I'll tackle him later.

Our Route 8 encounter (which I seem to have forgotten to screencap) is Riolu, which seems promising. Unfortunately, Octomamm OHKOs with Flip Turn. Octomamm is much stronger than I thought, in hindsight.

A trainer on this route tells us he'll only fight us once we have a Mega Ring. We knew thanks to Surge that Megas were in the game, but I don't know when we'll see a Mega Ring.



I head to Pokémon Tower, even though I won't be able to complete it without the Silph Scope. We get our first Mega Stone here.

I can't get an encounter here without the Silph Scope, and unlike the original games, it's not possible to Poké Doll past the ghost encounter.



A gentleman in Lavender will let us pay to grind Audinos. When I decline, he admits that "it do seem unethical."



Heading south, we get the Good Rod on Route 12. I use it and catch a level 8 Sandaconda.

Of course, the path is blocked by a Snorlax (note: may or may not be an actual Snorlax). I head west to Celadon, where I encounter and catch a Lombre. That's our first Grass-type as well as our first bulky Water-type! Or at least it will be bulky when it evolves.



There's a fossil guy in Celadon! That's new. He tells me that my fossil is an Omanyte, but it's actually a Cursola.



This is also... a thing that exists in this game. He'll do a single stat for just 70K, which is less bad, I suppose. "It's crazy expensive, but this is technically illegal!" The woman on the other couch gives us the Amulet Coin, and the person sitting next to her notes that the Vs Seeker is not in this game.



Also, there's an Eevee just sitting in a ball in this room. I think that might be vanilla?

Again, though, when I check the PC, Eevee ends up being Boltund. Actual question: how did they make Boltund without Disney suing?



I was wondering how they'd deal with trade evolutions in this hack. This is it, I guess.

But also, I think literally every evo item in the game is on offer here. I grab a Dusk Stone and a Sun Stone.



The girl on the rooftop gives us another Mega Stone (and then wanders away mid-conversation). It can't be too long before we get a Mega Ring, I think. Whether we find something that can Mega Evolve is another question altogether.



Erika's Gym is available at this point. I think we're probably good to go for it, but I detour to get our encounter west of Celadon: Floatzel. I very nearly kill it, but in the end, it joins the roster.



Before I forget, I evolve Marisa and Skitters. No idea if I'll put them on the team long-term, but the price of entry was pretty low as long as I don't plan on paying to max out anyone's IVs. Besides, I think I have a use case for Skitters pretty quickly here...



I head back and challenge Morty before tackling Erika. Morty leads off with Mimikyu, which looks like it's going to sweep my team with Play Rough and Shadow Claw, but after getting a couple of KOs, it uses Swords Dance against Sabin and then switches out to Chandelure. I don't get it -- it outsped and should've gone for the KO. But I'll take it. Darkest Lariat one-shots Chandelure, and then Sabin exchanges hits with a weakened Mimikyu.

Morty sends out Drifblim next. It outspeeds, gets the flinch on Air Slash, and finishes my team off. Well, that's what I get for bringing only half a team.

On my second attempt, I lead with Skitters and Thunder Wave as Mimikyu Swords Dances. Mimikyu eats a Lum Berry -- rats. At +2, Mimikyu easily sweeps my team.

Mimikyu is a huge problem. I get this idea that if I lead with Sabin (who has Intimidate) and land Burn off of Flamethrower, it'll be smooth sailing, but you know those are long odds. (Also, it doesn't occur to me that I'll need to land it twice, thanks to the Lum Berry.) After a few tries, I get lucky: I don't land the Burn, but I do get Sabin to survive a +3 Play Rough. From that point, I drag myself through most of Morty's team, and then this happens:



Aw, come on.

Morty's full team is Mimikyu, Weavile (notably not a ghost), Drifblim, Chandelure, and Mega Gengar. We have favorable matchups against three of those (notably, Pillbus counters Weavile while Skitters counters Drifblim), but we have no answer for Gengar or Mimikyu. I'm not sure there is a good answer for Mimikyu.

We'll have to come back to this one. Mimikyu's Fairy/Ghost STAB has excellent coverage, and Disguise prevents us from killing it before it can get off one really big hit; meanwhile, Gengar outspeeds and slaughters basically anything we can field right now.




So it's time for Erika. I've decided to lead with Pillbus, who takes out Rillaboom with Lunge but loses most of his health in the process. We get through Meganium but lose to Contrary Serperior.

Still, not bad for take 1. On our second attempt, I lead with Puzzlemaster, who doesn't fare as well against Rillaboom as I'd hoped: she's no better than Pillbus. (I thought Rillaboom was part Fighting.) Erika counters with Sudowoodo, which is Rock/Grass in this hack. Lileep fans know that's a pretty solid typing. Flexx takes out Sudowoodo but dies to Meganium. Serperior sweeps again.



It's becoming increasingly clear that speed is a huge issue with our team. On our third attempt, we make it to Erika's ace, a Mega Venusaur that loves using Sleep Powder. Our fastest team member is Flampy, nearly 30 points higher than the next best, and she's still getting outsped by several of Erika's mons.



Our breakthrough comes from adding Staples Jr to the team. I lead with Tail Glow and then Bug Buzz after getting hit by Grassy Glide. Meganium comes out next. It has an ability that gives its Grass-type moves priority, which is only an issue for Staples because it means he can't get a move off from low health. Otherwise, Staples is able to stall out all of Meganium's Ancient Power PP with Roost, and then Staples goes down after a nice, chunky Bug Buzz. Puzzlemaster finishes off Meganium but dies to Sudowoodo, Pillbus destroys Sudowoodo and takes a chunk out of Serperior, Flampy finishes Serperior but dies to Venusaur, and Venusaur whiffs like four Sleep Powders in a row to die to Sabin. Flexx doesn't make it off the bench.

We get the Giga Drain TM and the ability to use Strength out of battle (should we find it).


The game is showing its teeth now. I wonder if I'll find it necessary to do EV training. It is not something that I have done.

We've opened some exciting new possibilities by defeating Erika, but we'll cover those next time. For now, give our new compatriots some names:

Zigzagoon (M), Boltund (F), Burmy (F), Cursola (F), Lombre (M), Sandaconda (F), Floatzel (F)
 
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Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
First off; in this hack, Mega Gengar looks like he’s flipping the bird with both hands. This is a Very Gengar thing to do and I approve of it.

As for names;
Trumbilio
Hank Jr
Fiasco
Scarfy
Braincules
Megapixel
Floatzel Sr
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Chapter 5: Game Corner

We're going with the names Octo suggested, then!



Welcome to Game Corner! It now operates on Pokébucks rather than coins.

The TM shop is crazy good. It contains basically every competitive special move in the game: Scald, Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, Flash Cannon, Dazzling Gleam, Energy Ball, Ice Beam, and so on. Not a lot of physical moves, for whatever reason, but I'll take what I can get.

At the other counter, you can buy Pokémon from a fairly large list, largely comprised of pseudo-legendaries like Dratini and Larvitar. They cost 100K each, or you can upgrade to shiny for an extra 100K. This might be tempting except that the actual yields from this purchase are randomized. I tried Dratini and got a Zorua. If I'm going to get a random mon, I can get one for way cheaper. It is one-to-one replacement, so every Dratini I buy will be a Zorua. I go through the list and find that I can get an Electivire (posing as Jangmo-o), a Milotic (as Dreepy), or a Doublade (Toxel). If I get rich and desperate, I'll think about buying one of those. Nothing else on the list is noteworthy.

The actual Game Corner is unchanged, and since the Coin Case doesn't exist in Radical Red, you can't interact with anything.



Well, most anything, anyway.



A few Grunts into the Rocket Hideout, we get a Charizard!



Only '90s kids will remember how slow these tiles originally were.

I discover the new level cap as I traverse the hideout: it's 47. That says to me that Giovanni is our next blocker.



The hack leans into the Mafia angle on Don Gio. He leads with a Nidoking that uses Ice Beam on Charizard. It takes a few different mons cycling through to beat Nidoking. After that, he brings out a Honchkrow that no one left can handle.

So that was a quick wipe, but since it was exploratory, I'm not too concerned. Let's prep a team against Dark/Ground and see where that gets us.

As it happens, I have very little that resists Ice. Here are our considerations:

  • Flampy the Ribombee resists Ground and Dark, and she's neutral against Ice. She's weak to Poison, meaning I can't reasonably field her against Nidoking anyway, but she's worth a spot.
  • Staples Jr the Volbeat is good enough on his own merits to bring along. Tail Glow plus Roost gets us past a whole lot of stuff.
  • Octomamm the Grapploct is one of our better Nidoking counters as long as Nidoking isn't packing Energy Ball. I'll give her a try.
  • Flexx the Crabominable is also a decent pick against both of the mons we've seen so far.
  • Charizard has good coverage, and while she'll die to anything remotely chilly, I have faith she'll make up for it on the back end somehow.
  • Finally, Bucketron the Claydol has poor matchups against both of the mons we've seen so far, but it's gotten us through enough scrapes to give it a chance here.

I lead with Octomamm and start with Detect. Nidoking uses Thunderbolt -- of course. I don't see Octomamm surviving the next turn, and, sure enough, she doesn't. I send out Flexx, who takes an Earth Power and OHKOs with Ice Hammer. Honchkrow takes revenge with Drill Peck.

Charizard is our next choice. She outspeeds with Rock Slide and gets the flinch. Another one takes out Honchkrow with no damage taken. Giovanni sends out Kangaskhan, and I have a bad feeling about this...



Yeah, they went there. Kangaskhan outspeeds and sweeps our team.

It takes many tries to work out a strategy for Mega Kangaskhan. With Flexx in the lead, I can OHKO Nidoking no problem, and then Giovanni switches to either Rotom or Honchkrow. Charizard is our answer to either, using Crunch or Rock Slide, respectively. Regardless, Giovanni brings in Kangaskhan next. Octomamm takes over and uses Low Sweep to lower Kangaskhan's Speed, which allows Flampy to outspeed and Stun Spore -- or, occasionally, Bug Buzz for the KO. But Giovanni has Infernape in the wings, and that's a problem for most of our team.

Eventually, I determine the following:
  • Our current team is mostly there.
  • We need Charizard or Flampy for Honchkrow. No one else can deal with it.
  • We need a way of getting around Infernape's Focus Sash. Sandstorm would work.

I decide to switch Octomamm for Megapixel, who counters any damage with Sandstorm, can survive a hit from Kangaskhan, and knows Glare to paralyze. Leveling up just a little bit, however, has changed Giovanni's behavior: he now always sends out Infernape after Nidoking. After many attempts, I get to a decent workflow:

  • Flexx takes an Earth Power and OHKOs Nidoking with Ice Hammer. Giovanni sends in Infernape.
  • Flexx dies to Close Combat. If Flexx is at 63 HP or below, Infernape uses Thunder Punch, which can fail to KO, so I use Rock Tomb to get the speed drop.
  • If I didn't get the speed drop, I bring out Megapixel and Bulldoze while Infernape Swords Dances.
  • I switch to Bucketron, who uses Earth Power to KO Infernape. Giovanni brings in Honchkrow and KOs Bucketron.
  • Flampy comes in and uses Dazzling Gleam. Honchkrow almost always KOs with Drill Peck.
  • Honchkrow uses Sucker Punch and gets KO'd by Charizard. Charizard goes down to Kangaskhan.
  • Megapixel takes a Power-Up Punch and uses Glare to paralyze Kangaskhan. Megapixel uses Bulldoze until she dies. (Kangaskhan outspeeds Megapixel while paralyzed, though.)
  • Staples Jr prays for full paras while setting up Tail Glow.

Bucketron is the weak link in all of this -- Flampy can outspeed Infernape after a Bulldoze and KO with Dazzling Gleam.

Eventually, the stars align: Flampy OHKOs Honchkrow, allowing Charizard to be saved for after Megapixel. Kangaskhan gets two consecutive paras, allowing Charizard to KO, and Charizard wins against Rotom 1v1. Staples doesn't even leave the bench.



I'm as surprised as you!



Silph Scope in hand, we go back to Pokémon Tower. Our encounter here is Quagsire. I'll never turn down a bulky Water-type. This one has Water Absorb.



Our Marowak is a shiny Vanillite. I attempt to invoke the Shiny Clause, a long-honored tradition in challenge runs, to claim this Vanillite as my own, but this is apparently a boss battle, and I can't use items. Vanillite does the Sun/Moon Totem Battle thing where it boosts all its stats at the start, but it's still a Vanillite against a team of six.

(Vanillite has what is presumably Marowak's moveset, by the way. It would've been a great addition to the team.)

Also in the category of "what might've been," I encounter a wild Galarian Moltres in the tower.

By the way, we didn't run into our rival in the Tower, either. Has Tim fallen off the edge of the Earth?



It's time for Morty: The Revenge. I'm a little dismayed to find that Morty's levels have scaled along with mine. Charizard still doesn't outspeed Mimikyu, but Mimikyu missed the Play Rough, so it's 1-0 right off the bat. (Please ignore the "Charmeleon" in the screenshot. I'm lagging behind a bit on names.)

I switch in Sabin as Morty brings in Weavile. He eats an Ice Shard, knocks Weavile to critical, and KOs Chandelure before losing to Drifblim. Drifblim lands four consecutive flinches on Skitters and ends our first re-attempt.

It takes a few more tries before I remember that Sabin is our best matchup for Mimikyu, to the point that it's worth sacking someone else to keep Sabin around if Morty switches out (which he reliably does on the first move). Here's our playlist:

  • Sabin uses Darkest Lariat as Mimikyu switches out for Chandelure.
  • Mimikyu comes back in and Swords Dances as Sabin uses Flare Blitz.
  • Marisa switches in to take the KO. (This role can be played by anyone!)
  • Sabin comes back in, lowering Mimikyu's attack with Intimidate. He uses Flare Blitz to take out Mimikyu after taking a Play Rough.
  • Drifblim comes in for some reason, only to die to Darkest Lariat.
  • Mega Gengar comes in and uses Sludge Bomb to end Sabin.
  • Skitters comes in and lands a Thunder Wave as Gengar Nasty Plots.
  • Gengar gets in a Sludge Wave after a few tries.
  • Charizard finishes Gengar but dies to an Ice Shard from Weavile.
  • Flampy uses Quiver Dance then Dazzling Gleam to take care of Weavile.

As usual, it takes many attempts to figure this out, but with the right path, it's a relatively reliable win, especially since the AI consistently does things like the first-turn switch. Morty gives us the Shadow Ball TM and a Soothe Bell.

We'll stop there today. Next time, we'll explore Saffron, which at a glance appears to have at least as much exciting stuff in it as Celadon did. Until then, please give our Quagsire (F) a name!
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Chapter 6: Silph Co.

FlopSweat it is!



Now, this is a doozy. The "trainer fans" house is packed with features. Clockwise starting at the one we're looking at:

  • An EV remover. The total number of EVs a mon can have is limited, so this lets you get EVs in just the stats you want. He'll remove a specific stat's EVs or all EVs, and he'll do it for free.
  • This one switches which ball your mons show up in. It's purely aesthetic, but it's great, and it's free.
  • A vendor that sells Ability Pills (which change which ability your mon has, provided it has two non-hidden abilities) and the whole array of status-cure berries.
  • This one sets up a mon's IVs to achieve a specific Hidden Power, provided that mon has at least 30 in all IVs. So... I won't be using that.
  • This one sets an IV to 0. As it points out, this is mainly useful for Trick Room teams.
  • This one swaps a mon to its Hidden Ability at the cost of a Bottle Cap. We have exactly one of those, but a sign in town tells us there are a few wild species we could steal them from.



We take a break from Celadon to harass a Snorlax, who turns out to be an Alolan Persian, which we catch.



Hey, did you think the original games were artificially gated? Well, here's this!

Anyway, the other Snorlax is also Alolan Persian, and we don't need two.

We get the same message if we try to go to Cycling Road.



There is this guy at the entrance to Cycling Road, though, who wants to give us Mega Stones if we have Mega-capable starters. We don't.



Back to Saffron: the Fighting Dojo lets you try some doubles battles if you walk directly between the trainers. I haven't really mentioned it, but boss battles and regular trainers are in completely different leagues. That's good -- I can't imagine how exhausting this game would be if regular trainers took multiple attempts.



At the end, Chuck is waiting for us. He's got a Hitmontop with Triple Axel that murders most of my team. I have to look it up -- Triple Axel is an Ice-type move that hits with 20, 40, then 60 base power. That's 120 total, which is ridiculous for a 90% accurate move with no drawbacks.

We'll come back for Chuck. For now...



Let's check out Silph Co. We get the Dragon Dance TM here, which is fantastic. I also find Garbodorite, which is not something that existed in the actual games.



Hey, Tim's here! The team I was using to explore Silph Co. is not up to the task of defeating him. I do some rearranging.

PuPu is my lead against Tim's Staraptor. Megapixel comes out for Electivire. Then, Tim reveals a Shell Smashing Mega Blastoise, and I regret many of my decisions.

Next try: PuPu leads Thunder Wave, then uses the opening for Light Screen followed by Thunderbolt. When Blastoise comes out, I bring out Flampy for Stun Spore, get up two Quiver Dances, and proceed to sweep. Flampy is taken out by a Jumpluff, but the damage has been done, and I win the battle.

Our Lapras is a Shinx. We're kind of flush with Electric types at this point, but I'll give her a fair shake. Luxray distinguishes herself from Boltund primarily by being part-Dark (which is a departure from the regular games, where it is pure Electric), but I'm not sure how much that really adds.



"There's an upcoming tag battle, so put the 3 Pokémon you'd like to use in front. I've also healed your team. Have fun and stay safe out there! :)"

I appreciate the warning, but it's not like I wasn't saving before major battles anyway. That said... what's a tag battle?



Uh.

Despite the earlier warning, I'm then prompted to select three mons to bring into battle. I pick PuPu, Sabin, and Bucketron.



Archer is the goon we fought in Mt. Moon. His Impidimp is now a Grimmsnarl, and Ariana fields an Incineroar of her own. Brendan brings out a Gardevoir -- great choice, really.

Grimmsnarl Tricks a Lagging Tail onto PuPu, but that and a Light Screen are all it manages before going down. Incineroar uses Parting Shot on Gardevoir, bringing out a Mawile that you can bet is about to go Mega on us. Ariana brings out an Aegislash. The Steel-types easily down Gardevoir.

I Thunder Wave Mawile and switch to Bucketron, who picks up the KO with Earth Power. Aegislash uses Shadow Claw to take down Bucketron. Brendan uses an Exploud for a few rounds that doesn't do much of any consequence.

Ariana brings out Primarina at this point. Brendan brings out Sceptile, and I have PuPu target Primarina with Thunderbolt. Brendan's Sceptile Mega Evolves, but it doesn't do much against Primarina and her Dazzling Gleam.

It's down to Sabin against Incineroar and Aegislash. Archer switches Aegislash for Houndoom, while Sabin Double Kicks Incineroar and eats a very weak Darkest Lariat in return. Houndoom Mega Evolves, which makes me suddenly glad that I accidentally targeted it with Double Kick. However, two Scorching Sands from Houndoom seal the deal for us.



It's too bad -- Sabin was holding his own in a 2v1.



I'd like to say our eventual victory was due to some cleverness on my part, but I think the only real difference is that I spent more time throwing Thunder Waves around. Or maybe that wasn't even the winning run; they're kind of rolling together. All I know for sure is that Brendan pulled his weight to an unusual degree on this last attempt.

Oh, and here's FlopSweat -- I wanted something that could deal with Mawile and Aegislash without being weak to Primarina, but she turned out to be unnecessary.

I have to say, a Mega in every boss battle -- two in this one -- is getting pretty annoying.



Brendan gives us a parting gift. Treecko is actually a Tympole holding a Miracle Seed. I know I just said I was always up for more bulky Water-types, but I'd prefer one that's less redundant with FlopSweat.

Up next is Giovanni: The Revenge, and some preliminary scouting reveals that he's still packing Mega Kanga. Just spitballing here, but if Kangaskhan's answer to Ghost-types is Sucker Punch (which I believe it was last time), can I beat it with a Toxic Marisa?



Uh... no. Kangaskhan has Crunch, it turns out.

Here are the other things we have to look forward to:
  • Giovanni leads with a Hippowdon that uses Stealth Rock and Roar.
  • He's got a Shell Smash/White Herb Polteageist.
  • His Excadrill and Garchomp don't need a gimmick to be threatening.

But! I just looked it up, and our level cap increased by a whopping 1 after the Archer/Ariana fight. So we've got that going for us.

It's time to retool the team a bit. I'm dishing out the P$7500 per mon to change some natures. In the process, I realize that I had the colors backward: blue is the penalized stat, red is the boosted stat. Several of my mons had completely backwards natures. The interface for nature change is not as polished as the rest of the game: jamming A to get past the text boxes will purchase Adamant nature. I waste a chunk of cash this way.

I also try my hand at EV training, just to see how much of a slog it is. An unoptimized Charizard has 132 Attack and 141 Speed. After changing her nature to Jolly (+Spd -SpA) and doing some EV training, I get her to 152/162. (That's maxed Attack EVs and about half-maxed Speed.) If I want to drop 70K, I can get her 1 Atk IV to 31, which boosts her Attack by 17 points. It's a nice boost, but I'm not prepared to go that far just yet. Suffice it to say those are substantial gains, but I'm not sure I have the patience to grind out EVs when I'm not on a very specific type of work call. The one thing EV training has going for it in this game is that EVs are distributed to the entire party when Exp. Share is on. If I'm training Attack,I just need to load up on attackers, and I can get a six-for-one deal. (I absolutely did not do this while training Charizard.)

On the off chance you're interested enough in Pokémon to read an LP but not interested enough to be familiar with the mechanics of EVs: first of all, welcome to the club. Basically, when you defeat a mon, you get like 1 to 3 EVs in stats that are fixed per species. For example, defeating a Horsea will get you 1 SpA EV. If you're equipping the Macho Brace, those gains are doubled. Every 4 EVs equals a single stat point. I think in some games you need to gain a level to see those increases realized, but at least here, they're applied instantly (and silently). You can get up to 252 EVs in a single stat, which means +63 to the stat, and a mon can only get 510 EVs total, which is why the EV deleter in this game is so nice. In the series, there are berries that do the same thing, but you can imagine that's much less convenient.

Anyway, surely after going unoptimized the whole game so far, we can beat Giovanni 2 with the improvements we've made. Let's get back to it.



For our first attempt with our new and improved team, I lead Megapixel and Glare as Hippowdon uses Stealth Rock. I try to set up Coil, but Hippowdon Roars into Braincules, our Ludicolo. A Giga Drain and a Scald later, we're facing Mega Kangaskhan. I should've switched straight back into Megapixel, but I don't, and Braincules goes down. Megapixel gets off a Glare and an Earthquake against Kangaskhan.

Now, it's Charizard's time to shine. I use Dragon Dance as Giovanni switches in Garchomp. Unfortunately, Charizard's +1 Dragon Claw just barely misses the KO, and Garchomp uses Scale Shot, a multihit Dragon move I've never heard of, to KO Charizard. Garchomp gains Speed but loses Defense. +1 Speed is all Garchomp needs to sweep our team.

Next approach: I lead Flampy, Stun Spore Hippowdon, and set up two Quiver Dances. This lets me sweep through Hippowdon and Excadrill, but it barely misses taking out Kangaskhan. Megapixel and Kangaskhan take each other out, and Giovanni brings out Garchomp, so I bring out Braincules. Garchomp has the Ice-reducing berry, but Ice Beam lands the freeze! And then Garchomp defrosts turn 1 and uses that one move again :(

I bring in Sabin for the Intimidate and swap to PuPu to eat the Earthquake. I bring Sabin back in and switch to Charizard like I should've done the first time, since Earthquake doesn't affect Charizard. Charizard uses Dragon Dance and still nearly dies to a -2 Scale Shot. The next one misses, or I'd have been dead for sure. Giovanni brings out Polteageist, which Charizard OHKOs with Earthquake for the win.



This is how being rich works IRL.

The president gives me the Master Ball, as in vanilla. We won't encounter any actual legendaries due to the randomizer, so I'm not sure if we'll ever find an occasion to use this.


Next time: Chuck and Sabrina! But first, our new buddies need names:

Persian (F), Luxray (F), Tympole (M)
 
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