Pickymon, Chapter I: Haste and Hubris

Based on a concept from @ZombieHam on Twitter, Pickymon is what happens when you decide to play the original Pokémon Red with a simple twist – you only get one team of six for the entire game. The rules are simple:
  • Including your starter, you may only catch or purchase 6 pokémon throughout the entire game.
  • No glitching!
  • Trading is not allowed, and you can’t release a pokémon to catch another – once it’s in your team, it stays in your team to the end.
  • This includes Hitmonlee/Hitmonchan, Kabuto/Omanyte and Lapras – if you pick them up, you keep them.
  • Evolution is not only allowed, but required – you can only obtain Flash (HM05) by having ten pokémon in your Pokédex!
  • The game is over when you catch or defeat MewTwo.
Our intrepid writer Charles has taken the challenge. This is his story.

Here we go, then. Time for the depth of my knowledge and skill to be thoroughly exposed while I refuse to back down from talking a big game.

The first thing you do in any Pokémon game, of course, is pick your name. The default options always make things difficult – here, for example, the option of “Red” presents the intriguing possibility of playing through AND posting in-character as Red Foreman from That 70s Show, or Red from Orange is the New Black. But that’s an idea for another time.

I picked the boring option.

Your next crucial choice is naming your rival, who Prof Oak informs me is his grandson, and “has been your rival since you were a baby”, then promptly forgets his name. At this point, it occurred to me that it’s actually pretty logical to think “Yeah, maybe this senile man with a tendency to encourage infant combativeness shouldn’t take care of my 145 element-summoning battle monsters. I’d better just stick to six and keep them on me.” So there you go, we’ve got some lore all of our own. Up yours, Twitch Plays Pokémon.

Eager to get on, I racked my brains for the first thing I could think of that I didn’t like, and so:

He is called Mansplain. I had to be clever to make that work, but fortunately, I am clever. Mansplain is instantly painted as a villain because he says “yo” instead of a normal greeting, and has marginally more obnoxious hair than everyone else in the game.

A little wander around dear old Pallet Town, where a guy informs me I “can now store pokémon as data via PC!” (nope! Well, yes, but y’know.), then I’m on to Prof Oak’s lab and the game’s 3rd vital decision, my starter pokémon. Nothing exciting here – I went with the smart, early-gym-favourable choice of Bulbasaur, and called him SuperSalad.

Then things got interesting. For you. Because, for the first time ever, I lost the opening battle of the game! Mansplain pulled his first proper dick move by picking the pokémon with a type advantage over mine, but given that all they know at this point is Normal-type moves, I’ve got no excuses here. He scored a couple of critical hits, and beat me fair and square. The villain.

Post-humbling (which doesn’t cause you to black out, weirdly), I consult Oak for advice. He tells me to “raise your young pokémon by making it fight!” Like you do to babies, you creepy bastard?

Other features of Oak’s lab I noticed that have no narrative relevance: two identical-speaking Aides, which must provide limited research progress, and a book which is “encyclopaedia-like, but blank”, which, erm. Er. No, can’t figure out how that works.

Onwards, then. Half-remembering previous runs, I consult Mansplain’s sister, Internalised Misogyny, hoping to pick up a Town Map. No dice. So much for my memory!

On Route 1, I score that free potion, then run into a Pidgey that takes SuperSalad down to 4hp. When we run into a Rattatta immediately afterwards, I use the potion, then the Rattatta proceeds to use nothing but Tail Whip for the rest of the battle. BAH.

In Viridian City, I grab Oak’s parcel, run it back to him, and pick up the Pokédex that he probably should have given me before my long-sought-after means of leaving town forever. Mansplain says some jerk stuff at me, then I get that Town Map from his sister after all.

Now the adventure really begins – I breeze through Viridian City, discovering on my first Pokéball pickup that the shop that was giving out free potions as promotion doesn’t even sell potions, then head north to Route 2 to seek out the first addition to my team. To whit…

Boom. Another vanilla choice, but I feel like I’m gonna need Fly, and if I remember correctly, Pidge[y/otto/ot] has a couple of other useful tricks up its sleeve for later on. Do I remember correctly, though? We’ll find out later!

After that, I heal my team up, have a little putter around Viridian Forest to grab some XP, then nip over to The Route To Pokémon League I Can’t Remember The Name Of for the little-known second rival battle!

…which I also lose. But I head back for another go and knock him off this time, leaving my Pidgey (FlappyNerd) as my strongest pokémon, a discrepancy which usually takes me at least a few gyms to achieve. SS’s type advantage in the first two gyms will probably level things up neatly.

So, back to Viridian Forest, to stroll around looking for my next target – Caterpie. Yep, another boring one, yep, another bit of long-term thinking. It is, however, a lot rarer than I remember, apparently even more so than someone who popped up to give me a bit of a dilemma:

Y’see, in my rough sketches for this project, I had strongly considered a Pika/Raichu for my team, and its appearance this early (which I don’t believe I’d ever seen before!) made it a hugely tempting option given its type advantage in Cerulean City gym. I resisted, though, and shortly after…

Gotcha. And yep, terrifyingly, that’s half my team complete on day one. Caterpie is called Smol. Because it is Smol.

And always will be. Smol came into my team at level 3, so I set about a bit of light grinding, switching Smol in and out until it was strong enough to hold its own. The evolution of bug pokémon is unusually fast, and before long:

The impending learning of Harden should help see Smol through any tricky situations if SS and FN slip up in the upcoming Pewter gym battles.

Which I’d planned to do in part 2, but I got bored, so I dive straight in. This proves a slightly rash move – the Jr Trainer’s Diglett is disposed with more effort than I anticipated, leaving SS prone to the Sandshrew that follows it. A combination of SS’s last-ditch desperation Leech Seed and persistent Sand-Attacking almost sees Smol score a buttload of XP, but I neglect to perform the necessary tactical switch in time, and it’s left to FlappyNerd to finish things off.

A quick heal, and it’s time to take on the big dog. SS does most of the work on Brock’s Geodude before I switch in Smol to finish things off. Feeling full of bravado, I let Smol stay in to hit Onix with a couple of String Shots, before we go back to SS to bring it home with a frankly tedious combo of low-damage Tackles and Leech Seed yields. Our rewards are a level-up, the learning of Vine Whip (which would’ve been extremely useful about three minutes earlier) and, of course, my first badge, the BOULDERBADGE.

Bosh. My team’s taking shape and I’m 1/8th of the way to the Pokémon League. That’ll do nicely for day one, ta.

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About Charles Wheeler

Charles Wheeler is a casual and proud. He has exclusively owned Nintendo consoles for Zelda and Pokémon-related purposes, and invites you to consider the subjectivity of art instead of judging him. He is also a spoken word performer, socialist activist, pro wrestling referee, and owner-father to four rats.
View all posts by Charles Wheeler →

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