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.
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.
So then. I guess this is it.
One thing left.
Yep, it’s time for the little Charles in the screen to stop playing A Link to the Past, and go into an unnamed, unmarked cave to pit his beloved pets against a superpowered science fiction monster. All in a day’s work for the world-saving miracle child.
Step one of the journey is a short flight north to Cerulean City, after which I strike out north over the Nugget Bridge and round to the left, where I discover someone I missed earlier:
Luckily, his level 14 Rattata and Ekans don’t pose too much of a challenge for the reigning Pokémon League Champion, and this little tyke ends up paying out for the privilege of being the final trainer to battle me on this run:
A quick Surf later, and we’re here:
The cave is, pleasingly, one of the least direct in the game, with a cramped, twisting layout unfolding before your eyes the second you step inside:
Luckily, my older-than-some-parents dungeon-traversing skills guide me through, even bagging me a sweet treat when I decide to check out a rock that doesn’t look quite right:
I continue my rampant disrespect of sacred places of natural beauty:
I also come across a little glitch:
The funny thing there is that you can only move in one direction – up, which takes you back down a floor. This supplies a hilarious little headcanon – imagine you popped up out of that hole and found yourself trapped up a slope, and the only way you could move was to plunge back down a ladder on your bike. Now imagine this is happening in a world where these massive caves full of battling superpower animals are considered an inevitable part of an unsupervised, state-endorsed journey routinely taken by 10-year-old children. This world is a health-and-safety nightmare.
Speaking of, the wild Pokémon encounters here are a little bit terrifying:
Anyway, I’m not giving away the whole path, so suffice to say I end up here:
Before heading in, I cash in that Rare Candy for an extra point on my score:
And then, there’s nothing more for it. I fiddle my team around to my satisfaction, and then:
Now, as I have a full team, my mission here is to KO the beast, rather than capture it. I send SuperSalad out first, figuring that Sleep Powder is my best bet to start this off on the right foot, and that SS is the higher-levelled of my two team members who kno—
That’s the result of one Psychic. It’s easily forgotten that Venusaur is a dual Grass/Poison-type until something like that happens.
At this point, I gamble and send in Smol, and my instinct proves correct – Mewtwo’s next move is to use Barrier to massively raise its defence (a problem in itself, but we’ll come to that), allowing me to nail a Sleep Powder. I then decide to try out my one possible type advantage – Bug over Psychic – and send in Steevee to bust out Pin Missile.
Then hits, hard, but:
I switch Smol back in before Mewtwo wakes up, hitting some low-damage Psybeams. When it does wake up, I repeat one of my most irritating mistakes of the run – selecting Stun Spore by accident.
Then Mewtwo moves first, and hits Psychic, which takes Smol down to 8HP.
Then Stun Spore misses anyway.
And I’m the Champion.
Again, I invite you to imagine this kind of thing in an actual sport. It’s like [whichever goalkeeper won the World Cup] just barely saving a penalty, then dropping the ball into his own net when he tries to throw it away. It’s a farce. I’m a fraud.
Oh, also, Mewtwo can heal itself at will:
Recover is a right bugger of a move. Yet again, frame that in the context of a real sport. Imagine if FIFA, Madden or NBA 2K18 had a “be losing by less” button. One of the more valid criticisms of Red/Blue is that Psychics are a touch overpowered, and this move is a pretty key element of that. Then again, this is the final boss of the game, so I guess I’ll just suck it up.
After finally getting the bastard back to sleep, I decide it’s time to bring in the big guns. What damage can Caster do, you ask?
That’s after a Blizzard, by the way. And this…
…is after a Hyper Beam. We also missed another Hyper Beam. Because we just love wasting turns on recovering from our own moves.
I consider bringing one of the Sleep Powderers back in…
And so, the two titans battle on. This is how they look after a Psychic/Hyper Beam/Swift exchange:
Of course, Mewtwo pulls this shit again:
And shortly after that, Caster’s down.
I think hard. FlappyNerd’s my highest-level pokémon who’s still conscious, and Steevee’s up there too, but it’s much of a muchness considering how far ahead of us Mewtwo is. I decide to gamble, and send in FirePupper.
It starts kind of well and kind of not. FP gets a free shot without taking damage, as Mewtwo busts out Barrier again:
In fact, as well as a Recover, it does that a couple of times. This means FP’s otherwise mighty Fire Blast does next to nothing.
Now, that’s both an advantage and a disadvantage – it means almost KO’d is as good as KO’d, it’ll be starting a few HP down even after using Recover, and it can’t get rid of a burn without a trainer or an opponent that knows something like Haze. The downside is that this means I can’t use Sleep Powder on it any more.
In the midst of worrying about how much good Fire Blast will do, I remember that FP knows Agility! He eats a Psychic before busting it out, but after that, we’re in business – his speed is WAY up, and he’s now moving first! He takes full advantage, landing Fire Blast with a Critical Hit, and stays in the game when Mewtwo decides to use Barrier again. HOWEVER…
It’s maxed out its defence! It can’t go any higher! It’s on the ropes! Time for another big blow…
At this point I resign myself to losing FP from the battle… but Mewtwo uses the now-ineffective Barrier again! We’ve still got a shot! The next Fire Blast lands… and Mewtwo uses Barrier AGAIN, and its burn takes its health into the red!
It… its health’s in the red.
And we’ve got the next shot.
We’ve done it.
Why is it doing this?
Why isn’t it fighting back? It’s given us some of its best shots, but now it’s just standing there, persistently trying to raise its already-peak-level defence.
What’s it trying to tell us?
In the Pokémon Movie, as best I remember, Mewtwo actually talks to humans. I’m pretty sure the film ends with something along the lines of Mewtwo realising the fragility of human life, and being overcome with empathy and kindness, and choosing a life of peace.
What if this Mewtwo knows that?
I’ve been strolling happily through this game, both mocking and adoring it through my own hindsight, and not once did I think that maybe it’s not 1996 in Kanto anymore. Maybe this Kanto grew up with me, observing the changing world around it, but unable to progress itself due to being made of cold, hard videogame code. They’ve had contact from a time machine to 1999, where there’s a new, softened, sanitised version of their world, but other than that, they’re trapped in this state forever. But maybe they can see out.
Maybe they saw the Pokémon Movie.
Maybe Mewtwo saw it.
Maybe he’s trying to make a point. Showing me he could destroy me, but letting me take him down anyway. Letting me prove my own cynicism. Letting me expose my own cruelty, to myself as much as anyone else.
Maybe… maybe I should just run.
Maybe I should just let this noble beast live its life, and leave this dark, wild place to pursue something happier. Something more wholesome.
READER, I PWNED HIM.
And that, my friends, was my Pickymon adventure. Thanks for coming along for the ride.