Pokemon Blue, Day Fifteen

So apparently lots of you viewed flash as entirely optional. To me, this gym is.

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Personally, my exact limit on real world references was when they start naming countries. I’m not sure why – I don’t have trouble with a similar space program happening on similar dates. Maybe it’s the combination of invoking a country and then directly connecting it to pokemon – had they said that the space shuttle that’s obviously identical to ours was pikachu-powered, I’d have found that ridiculous. Similarly, the idea of America existing and having similar soldiers fighting a similar war but doing so with pokemon just doesn’t work – pokemon would completely change how things would work.

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I get the sense someone thought this was just the cleverest thing ever, because why else would it be repeated in case you didn’t read the sign?
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Advice guy varies widely in helpfulness. In the first battle, he just blathers about team order. In the second, he gives good advice about what types to use against water types. Here, he’s just saying what to keep away from Surge – not useless, but not really that helpful either. He doesn’t even say what does defend well.

Electric types only have a single weakness, and there aren’t many around. If you don’t get a pikachu from Viridian Forest, you won’t have any idea ground types are immune to electricity. Even if you do, if you dump it off your team after it fails against Brock, you’re likely to think it’s the rock type that’s immune since that’s the type being emphasized. And ground moves are pretty rare as well up to this point, so the same issue applies there. It’s very easy to not put the two together before now.

Of course, if you’re a newbie, you’d probably stick that dugtrio you inevitably ran into on your team because it’s high level, so you’ll find out now. Maybe that’s what they were counting on.

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What this has to do with caution has always been beyond me. But thus begins the idea gym leaders can dick around with you and make it hard to face them. In any sane universe, this would be called cowardice.

Fun fact – I couldn’t figure this gym out the first time I played. I wasn’t the only one. When I asked my friend, she said her older cousin had done it for her so she didn’t know either.

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See, upon finding this lock, you have to pick which of the barrels around it have the second one. Pick wrong and everything resets. After trying and failing a couple times, I saved after finding the first one against a wall, then tried the adjourning barrels. Neither worked, to my bafflement. Apparently I had no problem with the idea there was an electric lock that spontaneously stops existing and appears in a new barrel should I make a mistake, but the idea the game was picking which barrel the second one was in at random each time I restarted was sheer nonsense.

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So I went on with the rest of the game. I only came back when it turned out that getting the other seven badges still wouldn’t convince Mr. Killjoy Where’s-Your-Thunderbadge to let me past.

And I didn’t even realize what I was doing then, clicking around randomly, was actually all the game had wanted from me. I figured I’d just do it until I happened upon the puzzle solution by accident or melted the game with my fury.

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This time I get it on the third try. The game knows, I’m telling you.

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…so you followed him here?

I mean, the fact he’s referred to as an American suggests this place isn’t America, although I guess you could take it to be the sort of jingoistic real America stuff people sometimes indulge in.

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This bugged and bugs me so much. If electric pokemon were such a great idea, both sides would have them. I mean, I guess it’s possible for him to be talking in the same way people might credit their guns or air force or whatever, but he sure sounds like he’s the only one who thought of this from the way he lectures you.

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At which point he presumably murdered them, although in fairness to the childfriendliness of the games, at the time I just thought it meant they couldn’t shoot him.

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Surge has issues.

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He’s got really weird posture, too. You usually see female characters doing the thing where they look over their shoulder while aiming their butt at you.

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His pokemon aren’t particularly high level, and he wastes his time on boosting the speed of already speedy pokemon.

Still, his raichu is pretty powerful. It’s an evolved pokemon, which is rare, and knows thunderbolt, which is the most powerful move that I’ve run across so far. It can one-shot pokemon easily, particularly since so many of the early pokemon you’re likely to build a team out of are stronger on the physical side than the special side.

But I picked a bulbasaur and grass resists electricity for some reason, so my life continues to be easy.

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So very optional.

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Still optional, actually. In some ways, possibly helpful, because the game’s path is linear and lacking fly is a good way to avoid being sidetracked when you’re inexperienced and not sure what you’re supposed to do next.

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I don’t believe it’s ever made clear if the gym leaders are supposed to hand out TMs or if it’s a special thing they do for you. Surge makes it sound solidly like the latter.

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Don’t teach it to an electric pokemon. Teach it to something that definitely won’t just learn it on its own.

Well, that’s all for Vermilion. Now to move on toward ghosty town.

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No longer can you mock me, bush! I hold your death in my hand.

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While I do like that beautifly is a violent asshole and its design is better/less cutesy, I still feel that by third gen, they were breaking the cardinal rule of pokemon diversity. Butterfree is already good for the deadly butterfly slot.

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WHERE DID YOU GET IT AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE YOU GIVE ME IT

As always, the inability to actually converse is painful.

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If you think about it, “catching” cocoon pokemon by just bringing them home with you is probably a major way of getting a first pokemon.

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As you can see, the game assumes that by now you’ve kicked bugs off your own team. What actually transpired here was that my beedrill took out both of his.

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The first area where there isn’t a new pokemon to reward your wandering.
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Not a total waste, though.

The next grassy area is more fruitful.

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I forget where the bit of text explicitly tying them to the invention of pokeballs is, but even without this, there’s the fact this is a creature whose natural habitat is power plants. You find it in the grass here, but a look at the map will give you a hint as to why – the power plant isn’t far.

Possibly they’re opportunistic and can live as well in the wild as pikachu. House sparrows are capable of living outside of human structures. Cockroaches have their own natural habitat even if they’re more easily found in our cities. But it doesn’t look particularly natural either – a round shape is only good for travel on smooth, generally manufactured ground, there’s no visible mouth as if it simply absorbs electricity…this is not a pokemon that looks like it lives in forests eating berries.

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And our introduction to selfdestruct. Oh, how I hate this move. Its only real purpose in the game is to deprive you of sweet experience points when it knocks out your pokemon along with it. It’s one of those moves that’s only viable in link battles, because otherwise knocking yourself out just to beat one pokemon isn’t worth it.

For some reason metronome likes to select this. My mew knew that move for a while and I erased it shortly after it nearly cost me a match with the elite four by selfdestructing at full health.

Fucking game.

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It’s unclear how common gym badges are. I always took this to mean they’re relatively rare – I mean, she’s not exactly a weakling trainer. Further confusing the issue is that she’s in an area that can only be reached by, on this end, using cut. (I suppose this might get into the time issue – maybe most trainers just wait for someone else to come by – or our avatar being a whiny baby while everyone else just squeezes through, just like he can’t climb ledges or travel across fences.)

And now,
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20 Comments

  1. Guest says:
    “You usually see female characters doing the thing where they look over their shoulder while aiming their butt at you.”

    I read somewhere that this is because it’s similar to a lordosis position, and inherently sexual. THE MORE YOU KNOW.




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    1. Farla says:
      I think it’s more that butts are sexual.



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      1. Ember says:
         And if they twist ridiculously at the waist too, you can get tits AND ass in the same shot!



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  2. Koby says:
     What this has to do with caution has always been beyond me.
    But thus begins the idea gym leaders can dick around with you and make
    it hard to face them. In any sane universe, this would be called
    cowardice.See this: http://www.rarecandytreatment.com/#cpageThe only one where I thought it made sense was Sabrina, as a test of mental/’psychic’ skill – you were supposed to remember the order of the teleport pads, or use your ‘psychic’ skill to guide you to Sabrina. But maybe that’s just because I like Sabrina.



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    1. Farla says:
      Well, Sabrina’s also is more a delay than an obstacle. You can always backtrack if your first choice didn’t work. I never had the impression it was meant to actually prevent anyone from getting there.



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  3. Jax says:
    Re, voltorb and poké balls:  Silver.

    As for the American part, maybe this is a moot point because you don’t learn about it until GSC, and I wasn’t old enough to wonder just what was up with the geography of the canon world until late GSC era stuff.  But in any case, I felt it was easier to swallow the idea that the United States exists because we also get another real-world location in the form of Kanto itself.  (The surrounding regions are basically other Japanese regions renamed and tweaked like all hell.  It’s definitely apparent with the maps for Hoenn and Sinnoh, but Johto’s culture in comparison with Kansai’s sort of makes it obvious too.)  Of course, then that would cause one to wonder why they would rename some locations but not others, but eh.

    Besides that, there’s the point about pokémon changing the way wars work.  While that’s true, I’d also say that I’d be surprised if that world never had war at all (as in, war as a concept, not as in “let’s take historical wars and throw pokémon in them”).  So, yeah, probably pokémon would change the way war works, but because we’re not given much of anything in terms of culture or history of any people in that world (beyond “pokémon pokémon omg everything must have to do with pokémon”), it’s hard to say what shape the world is in with pokémon in it.  For example, maybe some freakish chain of events led to the creation of an America in the same way some freakish chain of events led to the creation of a Kanto and a bunch of regions that somehow managed to match up with real-world areas.  Maybe their wars had very specific sets of laws (a la whatever dictated the idea that wars before World War I must be fought with two sides neatly coming together to clash on a defined battlefield) that led to each conflict having the same basic outcome as similar historical events.

    Or maybe we fans just massively overthink everything, and the creators are basically like, “LOL let’s throw real references in because what’s worldbuilding?  :D”  Which is frustrating because some of the most fascinating mysteries, I think, can be distilled down to, “No, really, what is this world’s culture/history/government/anything that doesn’t have to do with pokémon?”

    But mostly, I’m rambling on, but the point is someone now needs to write a fic that explores all the awesome ways war with pokémon instead of weapons would work.  Or perhaps Surge is the only one who thought of it because using animals in a situation where they’d be forced to fight to the death would be taboo/wasn’t something that crossed anyone else’s mind.  As in, what if people actually fought with guns until some American ass hole brought his raichu to the field and was like, “OKAY, SO LET’S GO ELECTROCUTE EVERYONE.”  I mean, it’d be like what would happen if someone raised a pet tiger and then proceeded to release that on a modern battlefield, right?  Of course, don’t get me wrong because that would be flipping awesome, but still.

    This subject was only covered in a paragraph of the let’s play.  How did this comment end up so long?




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    1. Farla says:
      How did this comment end up so long?

      Because it’s so interesting!

      It’s all about where you draw the line. I don’t mind the pokemon games taking place in altJapan, and I could handle it being exactly like Japan if the idea is that somehow the whole pokemon thing is a parallel culture and what we see in the games is like a kid thinking the whole world revolves around baseball. But have one guy realizing he can use his super baseball techniques to fight in Vietnam and my suspension of disbelief explodes.

      I mean, it’d be like what would happen if someone raised a pet tiger and then proceeded to release that on a modern battlefield, right?

      People used to use animals a lot and stopped because it didn’t work as well as guns and tanks. (Dogs, which are still useful, are still used.) If the one guy’s pet tiger turned out to work instead of getting shot to pieces, I could accept that but not the idea that the next year, both armies wouldn’t be trying out a pet tiger corps.

      Unless there’s some taboo against using pokemon in warfare in the same way people don’t like using dogs as suicide bombers, and in that case, Surge is probably a pariah, which then raises new questions about how he’s a gym leader and if perhaps that’s not as prestigious a position as people assume.




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      1. actonthat says:
        I always read it to mean that this is long in the future, and futurewars are fought with pokemon. For some reason his opponents all trained water types, maybe.

        EDIT: Also: RE: IRL refs, I actually like them. There’s one dex entry that compares someone to an “African elephant” and South America is where mew is discovered, and I always thought that was cool… dunno. Maybe I’m in the minority.




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        1. Farla says:
          I always read it to mean that this is long in the future, and futurewars are fought with pokemon. For some reason his opponents all trained water types, maybe.

          But see, why would they? If electric-types were good on the battlefield, then everyone would use those. And then to counter them you might bring in ground types, which everyone would also be using so Surge would have encountered opponents who were immune to electricity, and then to counter those you’d bring in grass types (because those resist the electric pokemon running around) and so on.

          The fact none of this seems to have played out makes it sound like Surge was the only one who thought to bring pokemon to the battlefield and he was paralyzing his human opponents. Maybe there’s some other factor about using pokemon in actual wars, sort of like how animals usually need enormous amounts of training for it, and so Surge was only able to use them because he’s a super-good trainer. Or something.

          IRL refs, I actually like them.

          It’s a very specific line for me. It’s okay to have the same continents, but if you say Mew was found in Brazil rather than South America my suspension of disbelief snaps.
          But it’s always been sort of hard to reconcile. Sure, saying raichu can electrocute an elephant sounds impressive, but then you’re left trying to figure out how elephants still exist in a world where lots of things that can instakill them are running around, and then you realize most things are easier to kill than elephants so what happens to them?




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          1. pokedude says:
            Dunno how much you’ve kept up with the anime recently (and by “recently” I mean “2006-ish”) but I remember the Lucario movie opening showing brief glimpses of a medieval war being fought with Pokemon alongside their knight trainers. Not much, but it’s something to add.



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      2. Jax says:
        Y’know, I’d offer up a witty response that involves jokes about Yu-Gi-Oh! and Hikaru no Go (among God knows what else that was put out by Japan, all of which seems to indicate the Japanese think literally everything can be used as a weapon no exceptions), but I figured it’d be more appropriate to leave you with the knowledge that the entire first paragraph to your comment has caused me to spend all of my work shift today mentally writing a Pokémon fic based on the ending to Apocalypse Now.  It may or may not exist as actual writing in the future.

        I feel like every time I talk to you, I walk away with plot bunnies for crack fics, as if it’s some kind of creativity STD.  Either this means I need to stop talking to you, or we’re going to have to start using protection.




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        1. Jax says:
          And I just realized how many typos are in that comment, and given the content of it, all I can say is I swear I’m sober right now.



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        2. Farla says:
          I’m deeply curious at to what exactly protection would involve here. Whatever it is, I disapprove on moral grounds. The more other people can be tricked into writing fanfic, the less I need to write it! I can just bask contently in the piles.



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    2. Ember says:
       ”

      But mostly, I’m rambling on, but the point is someone now needs to
      write a fic that explores all the awesome ways war with pokémon instead
      of weapons would work.”

      I just acquired Pokémon Conquest in hopes that it would be that fanfic.  It was not.  You know how in any shounen anime that goes on long enough there’s that one arc where for poorly explained reasons everyone decides to decide the fate of the land in a tournament?  This whole story is that one arc.

      (It’s also just really poorly and boringly written.  It would have been awesome to have a Pokémon Feudal Warfare game with PMD-level writing, but this isn’t even on the level of some of the earlier main series games.)




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      1. Jax says:
        Hm.  I was thinking about getting that game because it looks fantastically ridiculous, but it’s good to know that it’s one of those games where one shouldn’t be playing for the storyline.  (Or in other words, yay ROMs.)  Thanks for the heads up!

        In the meantime, appending the word “well-written” just before “fic that explores all the awesome ways war with pokémon instead of weapons would work.”




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      2. Farla says:
        How boring are we talking here? I was considering doing a Let’s Play once I’m done with everything else, but I haven’t checked it out at all myself.



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        1. Dragonfree says:
          Conquest is a pure strategy game; it’s just gameplay with an excuse plot. There are kingdoms, there are warriors in each kingdom, and when you come to conquer each kingdom there’s a bit of “Ha! You will never defeat me!” dialogue, and that’s basically it. People are going around conquering kingdoms because there’s a legend that anyone who controls the whole region will be blessed by Arceus, and you have to conquer all the kingdoms in order to stop Nobunaga from conquering all the kingdoms. There are a couple of minimal plot twists along the way, but yeah, it’s not attempting to tell a story so much as to give you a handwaved reason for why you’re doing this.

          I like its adaptation of the battle system and it has pretty art, but I can’t imagine a Let’s Play would be very interesting because in total the main storyline has maybe twenty minutes of dialogue tops, of which most is, like I said, the warlords you’re challenging telling you they’re going to crush you. (Then there’s the postgame, where you play as other warriors who have different excuses to want to conquer so-and-so many kingdoms with such-and-such restrictions.)




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          1. Ember says:
            Yep. I’m about half-way through, and I made a :/ face at the part where you and your allies all have lunch together because it felt like it was supposed to be a sort of nice story event to reward you for reaching a major milestone… except that there is no story and the characters involved are all complete ciphers, so it just fell bizarrely flat. The half minute or so it took was a half a minute I spent waiting to get back to the actual game, and I’m the kind of person who normally eats up even the tiniest scraps of story and characterization. So, that’s how boring. It’s clear no one was even trying.



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  4. Tyler says:
    I was just doing some quick research because I vaguely remembered Thunderbolt not actually being learned by Pokemon in Red/Blue, and none of them actually do apparently. In Yellow Pikachu can learn it, but nothing else, but nothing in Red/Blue actually can. I’m about eight months behind the ball here, but I just found this through TV Tropes so I’ve been reading my way through the whole Pokemon Blue playthrough.



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    1. Farla says:
      Yup, move learning is as gloriously broken as the rest of the game. Luckily the missingno glitch helps patch that problem.



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