Monday, May 12, 2014

The Psychic Shorts Nuzlocke Challenge, Part 1: The Trickster Messiah

So because I should really use this blog for more than just music reviews, I thought it would be a neat idea to spend the next couple entries talking about my experiences trying my hand at the Nuzlocke Challenge on Pokemon Red. For those who may be unfamiliar, the Nuzlocke Challenge is when you play a Pokemon game with three basic rules: 1) The only Pokemon you can catch are the first ones encountered in a given area, 2) All of your Pokemon have to be nicknamed, and 3) If a Pokemon faints, you must release it.

Naturally, these rules do make for an emotional and challenging game for even the most seasoned players. I have known about this method of play since college and had been afraid to try it until very recently. But as a person who has the first generation of Pokemon games more or less memorized, it was only inevitable that I would give it a shot and I was quite excited when my mom brought up a copy of Pokemon Red when she came to visit this past weekend.

Pictured: Me about to hit New Game

Before I go into details, I must admit that I had a hell of a time getting this show on the road. There were a few times when I started a file and had managed to get into a fight or two only for the game to suddenly freeze and force me to restart since I had forgotten to save. Perhaps I just have a cartridge that has seen better days. Perhaps there is some force out there that wanted me to start things off in a certain way and wouldn't stop glitching until I did...

Not that I want to start pointing fingers...
 But once I finally had a proper game going, things started out as they usually do. I chose Squirtle, my favorite starter, and nicknamed it Koopa right before I used it to win my first battle against my rival, Asshat (Truly, I am the beacon of maturity). From there, I caught a male Nidoran nicknamed King on Route 22 and a Caterpie named Madame which evolved into a Metapod while I was in Viridian Forest. After some quick grinding with the newcomers, I beat my rival a second time and earned my first badge as Brock was easily laid to waste with a few well placed Bubbles.

The game has a slight spike in difficulty once you clear the first Gym as more Trainers frequent the routes between cities and their Pokemon jump a couple levels, but progress continued to be made. Madame evolved into a Butterfree on Route 3 and a Zubat named Charles was the first Pokemon to be caught at Mt. Moon (to the collective surprise of no one) while Koopa and King respectively evolved to Wartortle and Nidorino as we mowed our way through the mountain's various residents.

Mt. Moon was also the site of the game's first moment of drama when a freshly evolved King fought against a Rocket Grunt's Level 16 Raticate, a battle that is one of the game's more obnoxious based on past experiences. A particularly brutal Hyper Fang resulted in the Nidorino's defeat and Koopa was forced to finish the Raticate off in his place. Having acquired the Moon Stone before this exchange, I decided to use it on the now felled King before I would release it as a tribute to what had become one of the team's most powerful members. However, the Stone actually resurrected him as his evolved form, Nidoking, thus allowing him to rejoin the quest. I can't tell if this could be considered cheating or not since I honestly did not know that such a revival would take place, but it appears that this adventure may have its own messiah in development.

Now what's this I hear about some kind of fossil?

Once Mt. Moon was cleared, the next challenge was at the Cerulean City Gym. Now, I actually think Misty may be the hardest Gym Leader in the game due to the limited options available at this point if you didn't start with Bulbasaur and my team didn't exactly have much of an advantage. Fortunately, Koopa was at a high enough Level where its Mega Punch could used victoriously against all of the Gym's Pokemon, including Misty's Level 21 Starmie. A third battle with Asshat was similarly victorious.

But another dramatic turn of events came about after the competitors on Nugget Bridge were all dealt with. I went into the tall grass of Route 25 searching for an Oddish to teach the Cut ability to only to find a Pidgey which was eliminated before it could be caught. Knowing that I now would have to add a Pidgey to my party as per the rules, I continued to wander about the grass only to find an Abra as my next encounter. On mere impulse, I attempted to catch it and was actually successful when its Teleport ability had failed. Knowing that this action was in open violation of the Nuzlocke rules and that I was in possession of the classic game breaking Psychic type, I decided to nickname it Cheater and it quickly became a Kadabra. Unfortunately, Route 25 was also the site of the Nuzlocke's first true casualty as Charles the Zubat fell to a Spearow's Fury Attack at Level 17.

Just make it look like an accident

After getting the SS Ticket from Bill and the Dig TM from a Rocket in Cerulean, the game got back to a simpler point while still offering some challenges in balancing out the team. A Level 15 Oddish named Weed was luckily caught on Route 6 and was soon evolved into a Gloom and taught the Cut ability while aboard the S.S. Anne. Once the ship had been cleared, Koopa's Dig ability in conjunction with King's Ground type made the Thunder Badge an especially easy one to earn. I decided to end the first part here as I had put in about four hours of gameplay at this point.

So far, the Nuzlocke Challenge has actually been a lot more manageable than I thought it would be. The fact that I do know this game so well has led to a lot of things being skewed in my favor but having to balance a team consisting of the first Pokemon caught in every area has made things tricky. It's especially interesting to use Pokemon like Zubat and Butterfree as they are ones that I have rarely caught on my more recent ventures. I am quite anxious to see what other Pokemon end up in my party and I promise that there won't be as many bent rules on my next installment. Until then, here's a look at the roster so far...

Current Lineup:
Koopa the Wartortle, Level 22
King the Nidoking: Level 23
Madame the Butterfree, Level 21
Cheater the Kadabra, Level 21
Weed the Gloom, Level 21

The Fallen:
Charles the Zubat, Level 17

No comments: