Pickymon, Chapter II: Grinding and Unexpected Advanced Biology

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.

Brock and his rocks behind me, I elect to be a rolling stone. Day 2 is underway!

I stroll onto route 3, with the most stirring locational music of any videogame of its generation (fite me IRL). The trainer banter here is an experience, taking in the aggressive (“Were you looking at me?”), the surreal (“I like shorts! They’re comfy and easy to wear!”), and the life advice I apparently took far too much to heart as a child (“Avoid fights by not letting people see you!”).

The battles here are noticeably more work than Viridian Forest, but it’s worth the effort, as I build up XP nice and evenly, and see Smol earn both this…

Hooray!

…and a valuable new addition to its arsenal in Confusion. That ought to earn me some respect from these weird-ass kids…

I move on, and tough it out through Mt Moon, gradually levelling the team up. The key event of this is:

Disclaimer: do not eat ivy in a salad

I have a brief panic at the end when I realise that the fossils, which the rules specify as one of your five permitted catches, actually block the exit of Mt Moon. Some frantic emailing and Facebooking later, I realise that they go into your bag, not your party, and thus qualify as an item until you choose to revive them. Phew.

Through the mountain and into Cerulean City, I decide to size things up by taking on the first trainer in Misty’s gym, who doesn’t pose too much of a challenge. Keeping my options open, I elect to head north and scope out the competition on the bridge up to Bill’s house, completely forgetting that heading that way triggers the third rival battle. Mansplain swaggers up to me, one Pokémon and a few levels ahead, with the element of surprise on his side. I take a gulp, and forge forwards into battle.

READER, I PWNED HIM.

His Pidgeotto wrecked FlappyNerd with minimal effort, but SS took care of that, and Smol stepped into its own by absoutely beasting his remaining 3 ‘mon with the very promising Sleep Powder/Confusion combo. Outmatched. Outlevelled. Ambushed. Victorious.

He proves himself a bad loser by insisting that I continue north and thank Bill for his hard work on the PC storage system. JERK.

I defy him by going back to take on the rest of the gym. Misty’s second trainer just manages to KO FlappyNerd, robbing us of some almost-heard-earned XP. It’s a different story against the leader herself, with FN taking out her Staryu, making heavy use of Sand and Quick Attacks to mitigate the level disadvantage. I switch in ‘Salad to take on Starmie, also outlevelled, but despite Misty’s big gun scoring three consecutive critical hits on Tackles, the type advantage pays dividends and we hold out to claim the CASCADEBADGE!

Which she communicates to us through interpretive dance.

Time to go north. “This is NUGGET BRIDGE,” the trainer proclaims, “beat us 5 trainers and win a prize!” I don’t wanna accuse a game marketed at children of spelling things out too much, so I will immediately end this sentence.

The NUGGET BRIDGE crew don’t prove too tricky, although I am taken by surprise at the end, having forgotten that the entire thing is a front for Team Rocket recruitment! Neither the surprise Grunt nor the rest of Route 25’s trainers get too much in on my team, though, and by the time I get to Bill’s, my whole team has levelled up past the 20 mark, which of course means…

Nerd? Who you callin’ nerd? Not this bird over here with this SLICK AS FUCK HAIRCUT, I know that much.

My streak of victory also causes some potential relationship problems:

Yeah?
*puts on sunglasses*

I then visit Bill, who doesn’t seem to be around, but I’m sure whatever problem he’s having is totally normal.

Um.

Well alright, I’m sure the solution is perfectly straightf-

Yes, this sounds like something I am definitely qualified to assist with.

Turns out it’s just pressing a button. Between that and the casual revival of fossils, not only is Gen 1 Pokemon rammed with fantasy science, it seems to be repeatedly insisting that it’s piss easy even for ten-year-olds. Maybe I should put off my complimentary SS Anne trip and swing by Geneva to sort out the Large Hadron Collider.

Alas, even the Magnet Train is a generation away, so I’m stuck in Kanto for the forseeable future. I head back to Cerulean, pick up TM28 (the very useful Dig) from a stray Rocket Grunt who’s smashed up some poor guy’s house, then strike out south through the underground tunnel and down towards Vermilion City. Once again, the trainers in the way are getting tougher, but they still fail to score a single KO on my gradually-strengthening team, which, at the close of play, looks like this:

Smol is still smolest, but not by much.

My destination reached, I spend far too long finding the Pokémon Centre, then swing by the Fishing Guru’s house to pick up the Old Rod (which won’t come into play for ages, if at all, but it’s nice to have it). My last stop is the Pokémon Fan Club, where I sit through the chairman’s lengthy Reader x Rapidash slashfic. He rewards me with a voucher for a bike, the single most expensive item in the game, because apparently this was before there were forums for that kind of thing and he just really needed somebody to listen. Frankly more exhausted by that than anything else I’ve encountered so far including a literal mountain, I decide to call it a day. 2 badges, 3 pokémon in the party, 7 in the Pokédex. It’s looking alright…

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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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