Pokemon Blue, Day Thirty-nine

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So, people really like articuno.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the pokegods, because this is really the island for it. For those of you who missed those days, here’s a good representative site (although less extensive than many I remember). If you want something that actually makes sense, there’s also an actually coherent site available, which does a good job of getting into the phenomenon behind it all.

No one in my area originally had a gameshark and we were all little kids, so I was actually completely unaware of some of the finer details like the glitch pokemon needing to have a number over 151, or that the gameshark version of the codes worked to any degree at all.  (I actually viewed gameshark codes with far more suspicion, as they were just a bunch of letters and numbers – could be any old nonsense.) Pokegods, in our parlance, were godly/unique pokemon. It was never clear what, if any, difference there was between pokegods and legendaries, and things basically shook out along the lines of power – articuno were pokegods, togepi definitely weren’t, and pikablu, being unknown and rare, might be special, but barring additional rumors it was ungodly powerful, did not get any such title. I’m not sure if this version was unusual or if the recounting of things on the second site is assuming more homogeneity than there was with the whole business.

There are, I think, ultimately two sources for the pokegod beliefs:  Mew and the golden bird.

Throughout the game, you run into people talking about unknown pokemon, and then later you encounter them. Mew is the exception.

At the time, it was obvious Mew was hiding somewhere, because why would they mention a pokemon if it wasn’t hiding somewhere? A big component of the games was that there were no special boss pokemon. Everyone was drawing from the same pool of pokemon species, and every pokemon that existed could be captured and used. Catching all of them was the ultimate point! In this light, it doesn’t make sense to have a pokemon you can’t access. And this wasn’t some vague mention, like a character suggesting there could be more pokemon in other lands. Every single player of the game had a mewtwo, proof that there was a mew somewhere.

(It’s really odd to me to think that mew wasn’t always in the game. It’s one thing to hear about discarded pokemon or that some random pokemon was added at the last minute. It’s another for it to be the pokemon who’s not only a major part of some of the game backstory, but one whose existence is required for another one to exist.)

Then in the other direction, there’s the golden bird seen at the end of the first episode of the anime. Here was a pokemon with no evidence whatsoever in the games, yet its existence was even more certain – you actually see it, the characters see and acknowledge it, the pokedex states that no, it’s not just you seeing a different design for a known pokemon. And next Ash sees a bunch of images of legendary pokemon and makes it clear that whatever the golden bird was, it’s a legendary like the three birds (…and, apparently, arcanine. There was speculation on that, too.).

So that proved that not only were there pokemon like mew that you knew existed but couldn’t find, but there were other pokemon that had no evidence they existed in the game but were there anyway. Because again, the games were self-contained and a rule of the game was that all pokemon could be captured, and why would people just make up new pokemon?

(One of the various pokemon guidebooks that was released, a particularly shitty one, had cover art depicting pokemon the artist had made up on the spot. I bought it because I wanted to know what the charizard/hitmonchan thing was and assumed it would contain information on this definitely legitimate pokemon that totally existed. Canon was serious business. People couldn’t just make up whatever they felt like.)

Add in a critical mass of kids who just didn’t want the games to end believing it because it gave them something to do, and you get the pokegods thing.

The end result of all this amounted an inflated importance attached to the legendaries. The extra pokemon may never have materialized, but as the pokegod concept included them, they were therefore   not legendary but godly.

Mewtwo being able to destroy the world in the movie didn’t exactly discourage this sort of view, either.

To this day I prefer a conception of legendaries as gods, even if I’m fond of them being on a range from merely crazy powerful to actual godness. They should always be Things People Were Not Meant To Fuck Around With. (Also, to this day I picture pikablu as an actual stuffed teddybear with a zigzag tail, which was the first description I heard of it. Pikablu was the one I tried hardest to get, as it was the first one I learned of, the one with the most legitimate-sounding codes, and the one with in-game proof of its existence in the trade I mentioned earlier.)

Point is, let’s see what happens when I fight Blaine with my articuno!

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It’s kind of odd there’s no message about unlocking the door or anything. As soon as you get the right item, that whole locked door/forcing you a step back stops, as if the door was already open by the time you got there.
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In we go.
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No shit.
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After all the times you’ve failed to tell me what type is useful, you pick the type matchup everyone knows to explain? Why not warn me to keep ice pokemon away or that ground also works against them?
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Nope.
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Here’s the quiz side of things.
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You don’t have to get through all of these in one go to get to Blaine. As always, you can heal at any time, rendering such concerns foolish.
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You have to read this whole spiel every time. They really didn’t think to cut down the repetition.
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This question may lure you into a false sense of security…
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…mmm, nope.
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Despite his words, his sprite is still that of a burglar.
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As you can see, you can battle them even if you pass the test, and should because they’re full of money and experience.
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As you can see, despite its high level, there are few moves. High level pokemon like this tend to function very similarly to the Safari Zone exclusives and their small starting number of moves.

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And he’s still a burglar. A pokemon burglar, no less.

Baine has some interesting choices of people to hang out at his gym.

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Still pretty easy.
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This is what you get if you make a mistake, followed by the trainer in the room attacking you.

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I assume it can learn toxin as well, so the same toxin and lock strategy dratini came with can be used here.

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Not sure what’s up with this guy – he doesn’t do anything if you screw up the quiz, he’s just there to be another optional battle.
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As you see, tauros can easily take out unevolved pokemon.
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Flinched it to death.
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Always hate this. What if I wanted to listen?
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This one is trickier, since it’s a three line, but of course that means only only two evolutions.
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People here are really defensive.
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You’ll get your wish one day.

Well, unless you die in the eruption.

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Here’s where things get interesting…
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So, like Surge, Blaine is a devote of the type because of his experiences in a life or death situation.
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You may recall that articuno’s pokedex entry says it appears to the doomed in the mountains. This is clearly intended to set up a counterpoint (weirdly, one that kind of suggests the birds are of different alignments…) for the other bird, but it’s interesting to wonder how it’d go if instead of running across the game’s moltres he mistook a glittering bird of ice for a fire type.

Regardless, this is why it’s funny to use an articuno against him. It’s the doom bird, reappeared when he thought he was safely away from his mountainy death!

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Rapidash does not have the best sprite. The bent head is likely because it lets the overall sprite be bigger than if it was more stretched out, but it’s not exactly an attack position.
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I saw the anime first, so my association with rapidash is hearing that it’s the fastest pokemon there is. I always found that episode kind of dismal, actually… you have all these people racing different pokemon, but in the end it comes down to the rapidash winning because they’re the fastest species, not because that particular pokemon happened to be faster than that other particular pokemon. Kind of soured me on them, although  fire horses are always cool.
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Why Nintendo did this is a question for the ages. Okay, the trained pokemon getting a stat boost, that makes a degree of sense (although it’s really only an issue when dealing with the rare candy cheat, which was never supposed to be in the game in the first place…) but the differing base stats? So much of the game is quirky that it kind of makes sense they’d think to throw in some randomness, but that doesn’t explain why each new generation tries to make getting the right stats harder going on completely impossible.
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Why exactly Blaine’s gym is full of burglars is a mystery to me. Yes, they were just introduced, but there’s nothing about them that makes them particularly tied to fire types, and it wouldn’t be hard to just stick some of the kid sprites in here with a set of fire types instead.
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Also, fire types are pushovers.
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This question always reminds me of all those rumors. It sounds like one of the moves people would make up to go with the pokemon they made up.
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Like a number of elemental connections, this actually is a bit weird. Ice pokemon should take more energy to heat up, just like fire pokemon should be harder to cool. Now, if ice pokemon are far more sensitive to temperature fluctuation, that’d render them more vulnerable to the same amount of heat…but in that case the same could apply to water types. If anything ice types have an additional layer of safety, as ice has to absorb a particular amount of heat before it melts and the temperature actually changes.
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Let’s see what happens here.
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Care to explain the whole quiz thing?
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Because I’m just not seeing the quiz thing.
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I mean, it doesn’t even seem like the quiz thing is just to be an asshole, which would fit with the locked door and hidden key, because he seems like he’d enjoy crushing trainers in battle instead.
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…his ponyta keeps locking me with fire spin, then Blaine heals it during the attack so I can’t actually move, then when fire spin runs out and I attack again…
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He uses fire spin again, then heals it during the attack. Arg. I ended up having to switch to another pokemon.
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Then his stupid rapidash does the same thing. Cheating game.
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Even still, it’s all pitifully easy, just like the trainers on the way were. Fire type pokemon go down easily.
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Yup.

That’s probably the model the designers were going for, actually – powerful but shortlived.
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Like hydro pump, this not a particularly practical move, but with the smaller number of moves back in the day, it’s actually usable.
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They appear to have picked these pokemon at random on the basis they’re fire types, because this is not actually good advice.
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As gamers discovered, flamethrower was the real ultimate fire technique.
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This is a really weird comment. I guess it might mean don’t use the move against them, rather than don’t teach them the move, but the latter is what the conversation as a whole is about. Interestingly, two water types can learn this (gyarados and, for some reason, slowpoke/slowbro). It’s probably because the first games tended to emphasize knowing moves of a pokemon’s type over covering their weaknesses. I wonder if at some point there were plans for some sort of anti-STAB thing where a move would be weaker if the pokemon using it was the wrong type?
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So I did. He didn’t seem particularly fire-brandy, though. Just a bit shouty, like so many gym leaders.

3 Comments

  1. purplekitte says:
    The pokegods were such an interesting concept, but my experience with them was rather different. I heard a lot of the “gods of pokemon!” stuff on the internet, as it came about, but while the people I knew offline were always looking for new legendaries and pikablu and mew, we never used that term. Most of this pokemon discussion took place at religious camp, religious school, or just in schools of people who took their religions very seriously, so no one was going to let their gameboy be confiscated by sounding like they were worshiping the pagan gods therein.

    I got very confused by the “pokegods” talk on the internet, therefore, and came up with this whole complicated mythology involving both legendary pokemon and humanoid gods as from Greek myth, with the latter having created the world but eventually used themselves up and fallen out of power, and the former, who were once only their servants and having since degenerated and forgotten their original purposes, being the closest to being in charge now. I don’t really remember what I thought about the Kanto-only pokemon world, because all my involvement/interest in backstory/worldbuilding fandom started after Johto and all its things existed too.

    1. Farla says:
      Huh, I never even considered that as a factor. I knew there were people with issues about pokemon, but it all blurred into one giant mess or crazy rants about gambling and psychic power only coming from God, so I just figured either people were fine with it or there wasn’t anything they didn’t hate.

      Former servant creatures taking power is always a cool plot, though.

      1. purplekitte says:
        Our parents weren’t those far-out religious nuts who thought Harry Potter would make us worship Satan, because it was generally agreed that the books were nothing like that and magic was totally fake and our games of being witches was as innocuous as all other make-believe that we played constantly. They never even noticed the gambling or the psychics, nor would they have cared. But we all knew instinctively that if we started sounding like we were worshiping the idols of our video games, there would have been trouble.

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