I’m seven minutes away from the time I need to go to sleep if I want to successfully catch the earlier bus to work tomorrow, but the excitement is real over here, people. I need to get this all out.
Maybe it was the media attention surrounding the release of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow on the 3DS eShop earlier this year, or perhaps the discovery of my old Gameboy with Yellow stuffed in the cartridge slot and only 3 measly badges in the save game, or a little bit of both, but the day the original Pokemon games released on the eShop, I downloaded it immediately. I gotta say, they did a hell of a job promoting these re-releases – they sold it hard on nostalgia with the 20th Anniversary of Pokemon stuff, and it worked. Hell, just look at the name of this blog. If you will give me my childhood memories, I will give you my credit card.
I didn’t do anything for the next two weeks (aside from live the rest of my life outside of video games, I mean) except play this game, and I quickly accumulated a 20 hour game log. However, I ran into a slight issue, finding myself totally lost on what to do next. This had happened when I was younger and first played Red/Blue (Red, specifically). I did ultimately end up beating the hell out of the game, but there is definitely a lack of real direction in the earlier Pokemon franchise, and time was less valuable back then.
Or more plentiful? I forget.
Back to it, the game sat untouched for a while. After you lift the veil of nostalgia, sometimes you find slightly less appealing characteristics of a game that your fond childhood memories conveniently left out, because it knew better. Not that RBY aren’t great games, because they absolutely are. But they also came out in the mid-90s. And things were less than stellar back then. I’m planning on expanding this into an article by itself, so stay tuned for that!
Then Pokemon Go came out, and the torch was re-lit. So late last week, I fired it back up, took to GameFaqs, and figured out where I needed to go. Long story short: I beat the Elite Four about 20 minutes ago as of this writing, which is now 2:00am.
Before we get into it, let me just say that the Elite Four + Gary was some of the most intense game playing I’ve had in a while – Xenoblade Chronicles has provided me with some very epic moments thus far, but that game is also not at all punishing to failure. I managed to pull it off first attempt, but boy, it was a close call. Due to pure luck or the gods shining their light of mercy upon me, I had just enough items to bail my ass out as Gary absorbed everything I threw at him. Here was my team:
Articuno – Level 53
Zaptos – Level 53
Moltres – Level 51
Charizard – Level 43
Pikachu – Level 41
Gyrados – Level 40
If you haven’t played Red/Blue/Yellow in years (or at all), worth noting is that if all of your Pokemon faint, you lose half of your money and you’re sent back to a Poke Center. In the case of battling the Elite Four, this means you’re pretty boned, as you’ve lost items during the battle, and money after losing. Being the case, I decided if I was going to beat this game once and for all, I was all in. That is, no saving in between battles. If I failed, I had to start the whole Elite Four over from the start, probably much sweatier and definitely angrier. Might as well go for it, right?
Now, looking at my team list, you’ll most likely notice two things. Firstly, all three Legendary bird Pokemon are included. The second is that the other three Pokemon are severely under-leveled for end game.
Welp, you would be right. In fact, the only reason I even won was because I had two Max Revives that I fired off on Articuno, from a 3 HP Charizard. Every time Articuno would faint, I would switch to Charizard, throw a Max Revive on Articuno, Gary would use a potion or Recover, and I’d switch back to Articuno. The rest of the team was toast.
And the idea of having half of my final team being Legendaries that I didn’t even really have to train aside from a few trainer battles getting to Victory Road is debatably cheap. It was around the fifth badge that I realized I had made the classic Pokemon training mistake of trying to have “too diverse” of a selection of high leveled Pokemon.
It’s the strategic equivalent of trying to learn everything in college by reading 1 book on every subject. You end up just sucking slightly less at everything instead of having gained any actual knowledge of anything. I had both Nidorina and Nidorino, and I wanted the Queen and King evolutions. I had a Butterfree who had great status-inflicting moves. A Scyther who hit hard, but who would burn horribly against the Elite Four due to being a Bug type. A Marowak who I had never used but was enjoying. I really wanted to level up a Psychic type, so I tried leveling up three Psychic types. A stupid Pigeot, named BIRDJESUS of course, that simply sucked no matter what moves I taught it. You get the idea.
So this was the case. I had a Pokemon Box filled to the brim with level ~38s while I was already burning through the seventh and eighth badges. Call it getting caught up in nostalgia – every time I caught a new Pokemon, I wanted to watch it evolve and battle it against the Elite Four!
It was probably around the point where I caught Articuno when I realized something: these damn birds are going to be the only way I can pull this run off without grinding up a whole team until the end of time. I also realized I had never gone to the factory to catch Zaptos, so I had to backtrack and throw Ultra Balls until the end of time.
Long story short? The first generation of Pokemon games were hard, unless you had a lot of time to grind, or you figured out who you wanted your end-game team to be from early on. I changed my mind far too many times, and I ended up with a collection of hormonal teenagers instead of trained warriors.
I would like to call out my Gyrados, whom I named “Toaster” due to presumably standing near a toaster at the time, for taking out Gary’s 59 Alakazam at level 39. He crit on a Dragon move and somehow gave him a OHKO. Definitely my MVP! Charizard was decent at tanking, but as soon as something hit with a Special, he was done for. He was a good sponge and gets Honorary Mention. Pikachu died from the first ‘mon from the first of the Elite Four and I didn’t bother wasting a revive with Zaptos handling all of the electrical work. Zapdos was always my favorite.
All said and done, this was an epic end to a 30 hour ride, a super-close gym battle, and an extremely satisfying way to end a game series that was a wonderful part of my childhood.
Coming up next, I’m going to talk a little more about specific parts of Pokemon Yellow, and why they drove me a little crazy! Sometimes you just need to let things out, people.