Pokemon Pearl: The Solo Piplup Run – Munchkin’s Journey Begins (part 1)

Given the good news about Pokemon at the Nintendo E3 Presentation earlier today, I figured it was as good a time as ever to put together a write-up of my latest foray into the franchise. Read on!

I have a confession. I get nostalgic about things and then buy stuff. You could say.. my nostalgia gets… triggered. I should start a website!

The long and short of it was, I was visiting over at my comrade Isleif’s site That Extra Level!, a blog I’ve mentioned in the past and is linked over at the right and one you should totally check out if you love gaming and particularly classic RPGs. He has done a boast-worthy amount of solo runs in Pokemon, and most of the runs he has done are in the core Pokemon games that I never got a chance to play due to the many year long hiatus from the series, simply due to disinterest. The thing is, I loved reading (and still do!) about his solo ‘mon exploits, as I find it strange and yet oddly satisfying that one could avoid all temptation in his or her Pokemon travels, and focus training all towards a single one, turning it into a murder weapon to take out the Elite Four. Simply put, that’s badass.

After reading his latest post, I decided it was time to finally do one of my own. For whatever reason, I got a craving to go back and do it in an older game.

I had some yearning back to years past so that I could experience these older games from these solo run stories. Then it hit me – I could just buy a game and play it, right? Of course! How could I have missed something so obvious?! That’s when I decided, I was going to do a solo run of myself in one of these older gen games that I’d never played. That would ease my nostalgia-induced Pokemon cravings, as well as give me a nice bridge game before Ever Oasis comes out.

But before I could start a run, of course, I needed a game.

Acquiring the Hardware: A Short Story

As I just finished Pokemon Moon mere months ago, I was seeking a side project to attempt a solo run myself. But the only thing was, after reading the most recent post on That Extra Level!, I wanted to go back to the old school style of Pokemon and try something totally new. I actually bought the steel book Pokemon Sun/Moon collectors’ edition with the sole purpose of solo’ing Sun after completing Moon. But after getting heavily inspired reading about Black 2, I decided to go back and knock out an older game. Specifically, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

I can’t tell why exactly I settled on Pearl, but a certain eBay auction caught my eye. See, I could have taken the easy route and spent $25 on some random auction, got the game complete in box, and played it on my New 3DS, but as I just set up my beautiful shelf of handhelds, I decided it needed a little more color. I never had a Nintendo DSi and thought this would be a great time to buy a new system. Why not, right?

2017-05-26 13.48.48-2
Too much black and white!


What I didn’t expect was to accidentally snipe an auction selling a mint condition DSi in the color I wanted, with a complete in box copy of Pearl. I simply couldn’t believe it – I put in the bid at midnight on Tuesday with a max bid of $60, and I woke up at 8am to find I had won the auction, and no one else even bid on it. $30 + $8 shipping = an absolute steal. The eBay Gods have done bad things to me in the past, I suppose maybe this was redemption.

2017-06-13 23.29.16
Much better!

I started to feel like maybe this was meant to be.

How Does a Solo Run Work?

As I never actually figured out any sort of “official” rules to a solo run, I made up my own set. The first rule was obvious: I can only have one single Pokemon who battles. Of course, an issue quickly came up where I remembered: HMs. I realized that truly putting the entirety of the game on the back of one Pokemon wasn’t feasible. As I can’t have my Pokemon use only HMs (not to mention I’m pretty sure Piplup can’t learn all the HMs), I need an HM slave that handles the busy work, while my main does all the fighting.

As a result of this realization, I allowed myself to have Pokemon in my party to use these HMs.

2017-06-12 22.09.52-2
Gratuitous shot of this beautiful piece of machinery.

Of course, to balance this out, the Pokemon I choose to be my designated fighter must always remain alive, or else I need to reset the game and reload my save. It needs to count as a game over – an instant reset will do the trick just fine. In other words, I find myself saving the game quite a bit.

Aside from that, there weren’t and aren’t any other rules I can think of! One Pokemon to fight with, and that’s that! One life, in the hands of one Pokemon.

Piplup, I Choose You!

As soon as I got the package delivered, I eagerly fired up the game and got started.

The opening video didn’t have quite the pop as far as the music went, at least compared to Red/Blue, but I played along and realized I would have to get used to going back a few generations. Things changed throughout the series and I realized there were some different games in these middle generations.

Once the game started, it dawned on me: I don’t really know anything about this game. I knew it follows the typical pattern of 8 gym leaders to take out, some deadbeat group of mildly irritating bad guys who are as troublesome as they are lovable and G-rated (PEGI 3 for you Europeans!), and a choice between one of three starting Pokemon companions. Of course, I had no idea what my choices would be.

It was shortly into the game where I had to make an important decision: do I keep the starter, or do I go for something else out in the wild?

Realizing that the ‘mon you usually find in the wild so early into the game are usually terrible, I figured since I didn’t know who the starters were, I’d just pick one of them and stick to it. I ended up picking Piplup immediately – he’s a penguin who’s full of laughs and “has a strong sense of self-esteem.” Just look at this fella!

Meet: Munchkin

Following the typical entry into the story line, I strapped on my Running Shoes and bolted out of Twinleaf Town, first gym in my sights.

At the moment, I have my first badge, and I’m working on getting through a forest to make my way to Eterna City, to take on Gardenia and her Grass Pokemon! I’m keeping my move-set diversified, which is a necessity as you can imagine.

As Water attacks are halved by Grass, I’m going to be going into battle at a slight disadvantage. Of course, as I’ve been power-leveling a single Pokemon here, that probably evens out the odds a bit more. I’m sitting at level 23 and I can’t imagine anything else giving me much trouble. At this point I’m just enjoying the story and going along for the ride!

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Another confession: these screenshots aren’t ever going to get better.

Stay tuned for more updates as I continue my journey through Pokemon Pearl! It’s been a great time so far getting back into an older game like this, and a very refreshing return from the linearity of Pokemon Sun/Moon.


9 thoughts on “Pokemon Pearl: The Solo Piplup Run – Munchkin’s Journey Begins (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Pokemon Pearl: The Solo Run – Back on Track! (part 4) – nostalgia trigger

  2. Pingback: Breaking the Curse of “Gamer’s Block” – nostalgia trigger

  3. I remember trying a solo Master run on the NES Final Fantasy once. I never got around to finishing it, but I remember making it to the Dark Elf fight. Maybe I’ll give it another shot sometime…..


  4. I’m a bit jealous of your handheld display. Looks good!

    Last week I visited a gaming shop in Illinois and drooled over the display case with all sorts of retro Nintendo goodies. I almost bought one of the Pokémon games but decided to wait just a bit longer. I’m getting closer to diving into the franchise though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you thank you! I’m loving how it’s coming so far, the thing is – it’s very addicting and makes you want to collect everything out there (coughgameboymicrocough).

      It’s one of the most accessible franchises out there – grab any one you find and you won’t regret it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Imtiaz Ahmed

    Talks of solo run take me back. When Pokemon first came out, I settled on blue, and my starter was Charmander. Being very new to a genre that required you to train everyone, I inadvertently negelcted to do this and Charmander quickly became the only Pokemon I used. Especially early on, there wasn’t much choice to take on the first gyms which presented disadvantages to choosing a fire starter. Needless to say, I overleveled him and Charmander became a murdering machine as you say it. I would just plow through the rest of the game because he was just so damn strong as it is and being overleveled had its perks.

    I particular remember having my first local 1 v 1 against my good friend who turned me to Pokemon who played it properly, where all his poekmkne being at the second point of the game as me had all his poekmkne between levels 35-40. Me? We’ll majority of mine were around 20, and when that level 70 Charizard showed up and made minced BBQ meat of his team… Well let’s say he wasn’t too happy about it and didn’t hold back in expressing it. Ah good times with pokemon.

    BTW your handheld display is beautiful, love those stands. Where’d you get them? They don’t happen to charge the any of their respective handhelds do they?


    1. Glad it took you back, that’s the purpose of my blog after all! 🙂

      I think I did the same in Pokemon Red with my Bulbasaur, now that I think about it. Back in those earlier games, grinding up a ‘mon to a respectable level really took a damn long time, and before Exp Share was a thing, I think leveling up one or maybe two Pokemon was about all I had the patience for.

      It’s funny, because when you power-level a single Pokemon, you realize how important type matchups are. There gets to be a point where you can’t just steam-roll, or at least, if a stronger-typed enemy gets a shot in, it can be devastating. Currently running into that issue myself in Pearl! 10 levels higher yet still getting 50% of my health knocked out by one stronger move :O

      Thanks for the compliment on the display – I’ve been dreaming of the day I can make this display for years, and so I spent a bit of coin on it. I got all of them from RoseColoredGaming.com. I’ll be doing a bit of a write-up/follow-up to my office article as soon as I make some more progress, and detail things like pricing, but overall I spend a total of $70 on it so far for all the stands, + a replacement case and screen for the Gameboy Color. Great company to work with!

      To answer your question though, they do not. Just a sturdy acrylic stand. Actually, setting up the chargers in a nice clean fashion is one of the main things I’m trying to figure out…

      Liked by 1 person

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