Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge - Part Three

<< Part Two - Rockin' With BrockBack to the Pokémon CenterPart Four - Two Badges, Three Fallen Comrades >>

A very happy Tuesday to one and all, and welcome to the third part of my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge. As usual, I'll get the formalities out of the way first. If the word 'Nuzlocke' means nothing to you beyond looking like a loan-word of dubious origin, then I highly recommend checking out Part Zero of this series before you begin - it explains in detail the mechanics of this alternative way of playing Pokémon, and should answer any questions you might have. If you've missed any previous episodes, I'm now including handy-dandy navigation bars at the top and bottom of every blog so you can easily flick back and forth through the series. When the series is over, the 'Back to the Pokémon Center' option will turn into a link taking you to a 'hub blog' listing every episode. For those of you who have caught up, let's pick up our adventure where we left off - at the foot of the ominous Mount Moon...

Part Three - The Clownbat Under The Mountain

That dark entrance represents the start of a perilous journey through our most dangerous challenge yet. Also it's full of really annoying Zubat.

We resume our journey having just rested our party in the Pokémon Center at the foot of Mount Moon - a cavern linking Pewter City to Cerulean City, the next objective of our journey. Before delving into the mountain's depths, though, I decide to back-track a bit and get a bit more grinding done on Route 4. The time spent battling countless Spearow, Pidgey and Nidoran pays off as Rufus and Howard (a.k.a. "ManBugCow") once again evolve, this time to reach their final forms:

With the two buffed-up bugs taking residence in my team, and most of my other party members boasting a couple more levels under their belts too, I rest up at the Pokémon Center one last time before entering the ominous, towering mountain before me. First order of the day is, naturally, to run around like a headless chicken near the mountain entrance until we get our first encounter. Unsurprisingly, it's a Zubat. Disappointed that we couldn't have attracted a Geodude for a little bit of party diversity, I throw a Poké Ball and bring the flapping nuisance onto our side.

Practically nobody who reads this will understand the nickname, but I don't care. Long live the somewhat clownish Zubat!

Given that our party is currently comprised of a full six, Clownbat is automatically beamed over to Box 1 of Bill's PC. It's reassuring to know that I'm now at a point in the Nuzlocke where if anything bad happens to my team, I at least have some reserve Pokémon in the PC that I can fall back on. With our capture for the area secured I start moving deeper into Mount Moon, with Judi Drench fearlessly leading the way at the head of my party. With all the experience he's hoovering up, it doesn't come as much of a surprise when this happens fairly early on in my journey through the mountain:

Judi is definitely the figurehead of the challenge so far at this point. He's proving to be my hero, at least.

It's nice how, even at this fairly early stage in the run, my Pokémon are beginning to settle into defined 'roles' within the team. Judi Drench is the closest thing we have to a tank right now, his slightly higher level and access to Withdraw allowing him to soak up lots of physical damage without too much worry. Rosie the Mankey is our physical powerhouse while Rufus the Butterfree is establishing himself as the special attacker thanks to his recently-acquired Confusion attack. Finally, Beryl the Rattata and Bird Jesus the Pidgey are both super-speedy, letting them get hits in and take wild Pokémon down before they have a chance to even think. The only team member who hasn't really assumed a role is poor old Howard the Beedrill.

Our first showdown against the evil Team Rocket is pretty anticlimactic

A little ways into the mountain, I start to encounter members of the nefarious Team Rocket, who are apparently here to steal Pokémon fossils or something (man, this game's story is disjointed as fuck). It's around this point that I learn a valuable lesson and switch my team around so Rosie is my first Pokémon out in battle. The reason for this is that while she's a pretty strong physical attacker who's quick enough to get the one-up against most opponents, she's also my most frail Pokémon defensively. Switching her in to deal with this Rocket Grunt's Rattata leaves her open to a critical hit that very nearly kills her outright. Not wanting to take chances again, I switch my team up accordingly, and Rosie starts coming out first.

I genuinely picked this in the hope it might bestow some bad luck on the challenge at some point. Two fingers up to the mighty Helix!

The journey through Mount Moon isn't actually as bad as I'd hyped it up to be. In fact, I think it might have been a slightly calmer journey than my one through Viridian Forest in the last instalment. Sure, the wild Pokémon are stronger, but so are my team, and unlike the threat of Poison in the forest, there's no real long-term risks for being in here apart from the possibility of running out of Potions (and don't worry, I'm well-stocked with those at the moment). The fact I now have the added comfort of an Escape Rope in the inventory, just in case my fortunes suddenly turn, is also reassuring. As I come to the end of this subterranean mountain pass, I do battle with a Super Nerd who rewards my victory with a choice of two fossils. I pick the Dome Fossil, which I'll definitely be reviving on Cinnabar Island and counting as my capture for that area, if the run ever makes it that far.

*breathes in deeply* Ahhhhh, fresh air!

It's not far from there to the exit of Mount Moon, and I emerge once more into the warmth and light of the ever-present Kanto sun (seriously Game Freak, no day/night cycle? What gives?). This eastern terminus of Route 4 features a patch of grass, which means I once again have an opportunity to capture another reserve Pokémon for our PC. The candidate is an Ekans, a Pokémon I've never had the pleasure of training due to it being a (Fire)Red exclusive (I grew up with Blue, and later played LeafGreen). It doesn't put up much of a fight, surrendering to the iron grip of its Poké Ball with no real resistance. I name him Monty and bid him farewell as he zooms off to Bill in the ether of the data-stream. I think about the possibility of swapping him into the team in place of Howard, who seems to have exhausted what little usefulness he once had, but decide against it - if all goes well, I should be able to get hold of something much more useful in the short-term a little way ahead.

Monty the snake. Like Monty Python. Geddit?

From Monty's home in the long grass of Route 4, I keep moving east until I finally arrive in Cerulean City. As usual, the first ports of call are the city's Pokémon Center (to restore my weakened team after their arduous mountain journey) and Poké Mart (to replenish my stock of Potions and other healing items).

I love the music for this place. I love pretty much all the music in this game, come to think of it - it brings back a lot of fond childhood memories.

With my Pokémon healed and my item bag refilled, I have a decision to make - do I take on the Cerulean Gym Leader Misty now, or do I head north first to visit Bill and potentially get another couple of captures? I opt for the second choice, mainly because I stand a chance of meeting a Grass-type Pokémon on the northern routes, and catching one of those would put us in a much better position for Misty's gym. It also means a bit more training for my team, and the stronger we are when we face off against the next gym leader, the better. So I head north from the Pokémon Center, about to take my first step onto Route 24, when who should appear but our good friend Duncan.

I completely forgot this was going to happen. Oh shit.

Duncan's sudden arrival catches me completely off-guard - I'd forgotten that there's a rival battle here. What's worse is that although my team have made it unscathed through Mount Moon, they're still painfully underlevelled for this battle (Judi Drench, my highest-level Pokémon, is only level 17 at this point). I have foolishly walked into a battle that could very possibly result in the first death (or deaths) of the Nuzlocke. Duncan's first Pokémon out is a level 17 Pidgeotto, a monstrous threat that I elect to counter with Judi Drench. He soaks up the physical hits reassuringly well, and manages to whittle away at the bird with his Water Gun until it faints. Next up is his level 18 Bulbasaur, which doesn't stand a chance against the type advantage of the lower-levelled Bird Jesus. His level 16 Abra only seems to know the useless Teleport, which puts it at a huge disadvantage against Howard's Poison Sting and Fury Attack combo, and Rosie finishes the job by knocking out his level 15 Rattata with a single Karate Chop.

The levels may not have been in my favour, but thankfully strategy prevailed on this occasion.

Sensing that I have pretty much enough material to make up a whole blog at this point, I decide to do a quick run of Nugget Bridge, make my captures for Routes 24 and 25, and then head back to the Cerulean City Pokémon Center to save my progress. Nugget Bridge is the name for the trainer-laden bridge that makes up the western path of Route 24. Beat all five trainers and the sixth trainer at the end of the bridge gives you a shiny Nugget as a reward for your battling prowess.

Well that was easy. Almost annoyingly so. I hope this Nuzlocke starts to get a bit more taxing soon.

With the perils of Nugget Bridge now behind me, all that remains to be done is to grab my potential captures on these two Routes before I wrap this episode up. First up is Route 24, where it takes me a little while to find a new encounter (I am very happy I invoked the duplicates clause on this run). Eventually I stumble upon an Abra. Fuck is my instant reaction - Abra have an annoying habit of teleporting away on the very first turn of battle. My only hope is to just throw a Poké Ball at it, without wearing down its health at all, and crossing my fingers as tightly as possible. And, by some miracle delivered from the Nuzlocke gods themselves, the Abra doesn't break free, and I nail my capture for the route:

Because what else are you going to call a Pokémon that bends spoons? Shame about the terrible Nature, though...

My Route 25 capture is more straightforward, but also possibly more important to the run overall. It's a male Oddish, a Grass-type that's sure to come in handy if I intend to put Misty out to pasture.

Welcome to the team, Mandragora. Looks like we've got some trainin' to do...

With two more captures secured, I head south again, back across Nugget Bridge and into Cerulean City. After healing up my team at the Pokémon Center, my final act of this instalment is to make the first party switch of the challenge thus far. Mandragora comes in at the expense of Howard the Beedrill, who just wasn't pulling his weight within the team dynamic any more. He joins Clownbat, Monty and Uri Geller in the PC, where they shall most likely stay until such time as I need to call upon their assistance. With our slightly amended team ready to go, it's time to put in some hard work training before we can finally take on Misty for our second badge...

Progress Report:

Time: 4:38 --- Location: Cerulean City --- Deaths: 0

I guess that'll do it for Part Three of my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge. I'll be preparing Part Four this week so it can go up this weekend. If all goes to plan, Judi Drench and co. will be meeting Bill, battling Misty, and leaving for pastures new on the way to Vermilion City. You can expect the next part to go up this coming weekend (probably Sunday, as Saturday looks set to be a very busy day indeed for me). Until then, thanks very much for reading, take care, and I'll see you around.



Currently playing - Pokémon FireRed Version (GBA)

<< Part Two - Rockin' With BrockBack to the Pokémon CenterPart Four - Two Badges, Three Fallen Comrades >>
Posted by ThomasMayhew

There should be a bet on which Pokemon you'll lose first. I'm going to go for Bird Jesus.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

Welcome to the dark realization that pokemon is hella easy. While I'm sure you'll lose someone along the way, I wouldn't be surprised if most of your team here survives the entire game. The Elite Four might be a problem, but not a problem EV training and grinding won't solve.

Posted by Video_Game_King

(seriously Game Freak, no day/night cycle? What gives?)

Mount Moon sucks up all night for itself. The Moon shall never rise on the Kanto land.

Posted by UlquioKani

I thought you were going to lose someone for sure against your rival. Glad it worked out for you.

Your style of writing is really fun to read btw.

Posted by crusader8463

Good luck in your journey. I'm currently working my way through all the games up to the new ones to complete my childhood dream of catching them all. Got a friend doing the other half of the games with me so we can trade off at some point. I even made a ridiculously long Google document table we are using as a checklist to know what we are missing.

I came up with a game type like this that I plan to try at some point once the above mentioned is done. I call it the Team Rocket Challenge. You must try to beat the game using only Pokemon that team rocket use. I'm thinking of the team being Ratta, Ekans, Koffing, Meowth, Zubat, and the sixth slot being left for a HM whore that never gets used in battle but gets all the HM's you need to beat the game dumped on it. It does require you to already have the Pokemon in question and to trade it to a game as soon as you are able to. So I plan to breed them on some new game and trade them over. I think it would be a fun challenge to try and overcome the lack of type diversity.

I also plan to breed the mightiest koffing the world has ever seen and to name him in honour of Ryan Davis. Just gotta try to wrap my head around all the krazy stuff you gotta do to breed.

Posted by ShadowConqueror

Fucking dome fossil.

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

Wow, very lucky getting an abra your first try. Love reading the blog. It's very fun to follow. Keep up your journey of being a nuzlock pokemon master!

Posted by dankempster

@themanwithnoplan: I genuinely couldn't believe it. It was pretty much the only thing I could do in that situation, and I was incredibly lucky to have the ball stay intact. The great injustice of it all is, I may not even use that Abra - my inability to trade means it would never become an Alakazam, and I'm not sure a Kadabra would be resilient enough in a Nuzlocke run. Glad you're enjoying the blogs, and thanks for the feedback. Next one should be up on Sunday, all being well.

@crusader8463: And I wish you the best of luck in your endeavour, duder. I did a similar thing through the latter half of last year, playing through LeafGreen, SoulSilver, Emerald, Platinum and White in order to transfer as many Pokémon as possible into a single cartridge. Everything is now sitting in Pokémon Y and I'm pretty sure I have in excess of 500 individual species, with the ability to breed or evolve for all the non-legendary Pokémon I'm still missing. Your Team Rocket Challenge concept sounds really interesting, and I'd be really curious to see or hear how that pans out if you do decide to pursue it - any idea which game you'd attempt it in? Finally, I hope you succeed in breeding the Koffing of your dreams, although breeding itself is a very dark rabbit hole to go down, should you choose to. I typically breed for good Natures and the occasional Egg Move, but I draw the line at all this 'five perfect IVs' stuff - that's one step too far for me.

@arbitrarywater: Having watched a couple of Nuzlockes done by YouTube Let's-Players in preparation for this project, I think this is how the start of a Nuzlocke usually goes down - early deaths are more often caused by stupid mistakes than being truly overpowered by the AI. If what I've seen is any indication, this stuff will probably start getting legitimately difficult around the fourth or fifth gym. I'm not saying the team will start suddenlydropping like flies once we hit Celadon City, but I think some definite set-backs are in the future for Judi Drench and co.

@thomasmayhew: If I were an independent punter, my money would be on Rosie without hesitation. I don't see how her numerous brushes with death thus far can be anything other than subtle foreshadowing by unseen, divine forces.

@ulquiokani: Thanks, it's great to know you're enjoying the series so far. I'm just as surprised as you are that Team Judi Drench made it through the rival battle without any casualties, believe me - switching Rosie into that Rattata's line of fire was very nearly disastrous. As I said to Thomas above, I'm pretty sure Rosie will be the first one to bite the bullet at this point, she's so defensively fragile that it's only a matter of time before she squares up against something strong enough to one-shot-kill her. And thanks for the compliment on my writing style, too. It's definitely a fun little project to work on from a writer's perspective as well as a game-player's, and a welcome chance to flex my grey matter in a slightly different way from my usual writing style.