Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge - Part Two

<< Part One - It's A Team-Building ExerciseBack to the Pokémon CenterPart Three - The Clownbat Under The Mountain >>

Good day one and all, and welcome to Part Two of my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge. Over the next few weeks I'm planning to play through this remake of the original Pokémon Red, with a set of self-imposed rules intended to make the game both more challenging and more interesting, and periodically blogging about my progress along the way. If you're not familiar with the concept of a 'Nuzlocke' run, or if you are and want to know what variations of the core rules I've chosen to adopt, then you can read about the foundations for the series in this blog here. If you missed the previous episode, you can find Part One - It's A Team-Building Exercise here. The rest of us will be picking up rookie trainer Dan's journey right where we left off - at the entrance to the menacing Viridian Forest...

Part Two - Rockin' With Brock

Don't be fooled by the pleasant outward appearance - Viridian Forest is a hive of danger, where one Poison Sting could spell doom for Judi Drench and co.

Trekking through Viridian Forest is without a doubt the scariest thing I've had to face in this Nuzlocke run so far. Most of the wild Pokémon in here aren't that strong, and even thought the Bug Catcher trainers dotted around the forest boast high-level Bug-type Pokémon, they're either weak first-forms like Caterpie, or second-forms with no attacking moves like Metapod. The threat comes from the seemingly innocuous Weedle, and its Poison Sting attack - a move with pitiful base power, but that stands a decent chance of inflicting the Poison status effect on my my still-forming party. Because Poisoned Pokémon take damage outside of battle as well as in, and due to the distance I've come from the Pokémon Center in Viridian City, there's a very real possibility that untreated Poison could result in a Pokémon's premature demise.

As a precaution, I spend ALL of my spare cash on Antidotes. It may be a short-sighted investment, but if it means not dying of Poison, it's definitely worth it.

The first order of the day, being as I've just stepped into a new area, is to find and hopefully capture a new Pokémon to add to my blossoming band of critters. My first encounter is a Weedle, which I manage to wear down and trap in one of my Poké Balls without getting Poisoned. As I hinted at in the previous episode, I named the Weedle 'Howard', completing my 'ManBugCow' in-game double-act.

For some reason I didn't get a screenshot of Howard the Weedle's summary screen, so I guess this proof of capture will have to do. Also, so what if Howard's a girl?

After heading back to Viridian City Pokémon Center to heal up my new addition, I commit to blitzing through the forest as quickly as I possibly can. It's a fraught, tense journey in which I use up all but one of my precious Antidotes, and I very nearly lose Rosie the Mankey to the trainer with the level 9 Weedle hanging out near the forest's exit. When I finally do emerge on the other side of the forest, I breathe an audible sigh of relief. The nearby grass is still technically Route 2, so I can't actually capture anything here. Instead I head straight for Pewter City, to rest up in the Pokémon Center.

New places, new faces, but the same ol' red-roofed buildings.

The next important destination on my Pokémon journey is the Pewter City Gym, to take on the leader Brock for my first gym badge. However, there's a slight problem with this course of action - namely, my team is cripplingly under-levelled. Because I didn't have the luxury of being able to endure Poison in Viridian Forest, my team hasn't gained a great number of levels since the end of Part One. I decide to rectify this by heading south, into the patch of grass at the northern end of Route 2, and doing some grinding to bring my party a bit more up to scratch. The experience yield isn't as great as it would be in Viridian Forest, but there's less chance of running into any Weedle, and I'm closer to the Pokémon Center if anything does go terribly wrong. I get Rosie the Mankey up to lv11, Judi Drench to lv13, and pull the rest of my party up a few levels for good measure. It's here that I get my first evolutions of the Nuzlocke, with Rufus and Howard both evolving up to their second stage (Metapod and Kakuna respectively):

With my team in a slightly more competitive state after this spate of grinding, I head back to the Pokémon Center to heal and to plan my strategy against Brock. This isn't something I've ever really felt the need to do when playing a Pokémon game before, and definitely not in the case of the very first gym. Usually I can just fall back on my knowledge of the type chart and rely on the questionable trainer AI to make poor move decisions while I whale on their Pokémon with super-effective moves, but on this occasion I'm not willing to take that risk, even if it is a pretty small one. Brock's Rock-type Pokémon have weaknesses to Water- and Fighting-types, represented in my team by Judi Drench and Rosie respectively. However, they also have high physical defences, so I reason that I'll be better off leading with the special-oriented Judi Drench, keeping the physical-oriented Rosie in reserve. Judi Drench also has a higher physical defence stat which I can boost with Withdraw, so he'll stand a better chance of shrugging off Brock's powerful Rock-type attacking moves. With a plan in place, I head for the Pewter City Gym and our first big face-off of the Nuzlocke.

Let's dance, Brocko!

The regular trainer standing between myself and Brock goes down pretty easily, although his Sandshrew sticks around a little longer than I would've liked and manages to get a bit of damage off on Judi Drench. Thankfully it's nothing a Potion can't cure, and no sooner have I taken him down a peg than I'm standing in front of Brock himself. This is it, guys - our first gym battle...

At least Brock wears a shirt in this remake. His topless, arms-crossed stance always bothered me in Blue.

Brock leads with a level 12 Geodude, and I start with Judi Drench. Judi opens with a Withdraw to strengthen his shell against any physical onslaught, a wise decision as the opposing Geodude throws a Tackle in my direction. That's the only move Geodude manages to get off, as a Water Gun from Judi takes it down in one fell swoop. Next out is his ace, the level 14 Onix. It starts with Bind, locking Judi into battle and doing extra damage at the end of the turn to boot. Judi throws out another Water Gun, taking Onix's HP instantly down to the red zone. The helpless Onix's final action is to use Harden, a futile act considering its bolstered physical defence has no impact on the special-oriented damage of Judi's final Water Gun. Onix relinquishes its hold on Judi and faints as Brock calls it back to his Poké Ball. The battle is over, and we've won without any losses to our team. Judi Drench even goes up a level, to boot.

One badge down, seven to go. Maybe this Nuzlocke thing isn't going to be as difficult as I thought...

Brock hands over the Boulderbadge in recognition of our consummate victory, and also gives us the TM for Rock Tomb. I decide to teach it to Rosie to give her some move coverage against dangerous Flying types. I then skip back to the Pokémon Center to heal before taking the next step on our journey, east onto Route 3. At the route entrance, I'm stopped by one of Professor Oak's Aides, who has a special gift to pass on to me from my mother back in Pallet Town:

AT LAST! I CAN MOVE QUICKLY NOW!!!

Thinking this episode has gone on for quite a long time already, I vow to make my way through Route 3's trainers, pick up my capture for the route, and bring things to a halt when I reach the Pokémon Center at the entrance to Mount Moon. The trainers that populate the maze-like configuration at the route's entrance actually serve to give me a harder time than Brock, probably more because of the type diversity than anything else. There's a lot of switching in and out and quite a few Potions are used, necessitating a return to the Pewter City Poké Mart to restock my item supplies. Once all of the trainers are down for the count, though, it's smooth sailing to the route's main patch of grass where I encounter my potential capture for the area - a level 7 Pidgey. I try to go in lightly, but a Quick Attack from Beryl the Rattata winds up doing critical damage, and the Pidgey is left with only a sliver of HP remaining. I throw a Poké Ball next turn, which easily finds its mark and gives our team its sixth official member:

After all the Twitch Plays Pokémon goodness, there was no way I could nickname my Pidgey anything else.

With a full team of Pokémon at my command and one badge safely pinned to my chest, I'm beginning to feel a little more comfortable about things at this point. Next up is Mount Moon, which is almost as sure to prove a challenge as it is to throw a Zubat my way as my first capture...

Progress Report:

Time: 2:15 --- Location: Route 4 --- Deaths: 0

I think that high note closes Part Two of my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge quite nicely, if I do say no myself. The next episode will probably focus on our journey through the mountain caves and into Celadon City, and may even stretch as far as taking on Misty for our second badge. If all goes to plan, that episode should be up for your reading pleasure on Tuesday. Until then, thanks very much for reading, take care, and I'll see you around.

Dan

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Currently playing - Pokémon FireRed Version (GBA)

<< Part One - It's A Team-Building ExerciseBack to the Pokémon CenterPart Three - The Clownbat Under The Mountain >>
7 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King

Wait, are you cross-posting these blogs to the forums? Has that bug finally been fixed?

Posted by dankempster

@video_game_king: Yes I am, by some miracle/witchcraft. Turns out the forum search still works for attaching blog posts, but you have to put the full title of the thing you want to attach to or it won't come up. For example, typing 'pokemon firered' yielded no results, but when I typed in 'pokémon firered/leafgreen', the game's page appeared in the drop-down menu. I was also able to retroactively post the previous blogs in the series to the forum by editing them (a feature I wasn't aware of, but I'm grateful that it exists, even if it is only by accident).

Edited by UlquioKani

These have been awesome. Keep it up.

I can't imagine releasing/not using my pokemon if they faint. I do tend to nickname all my pokemon so I'm perhaps more attached to them.

Are you having more fun? I know this is your second playthrough so is it more fun or just nerve wrecking?

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

Loved reading this. I've actually been replaying the game myself for the umpteenth time. I think you're own self imposed rules actually make the game more interesting to me. Might have to try it myself at some point. Good luck on the rest of your Kanto journey and I look forward to reading more about it. :)

Posted by dankempster

@ulquiokani: Nicknaming is a new thing for me, as historically I've always stuck with the default names. I struggled to come up with names at first, but at this stage (I've just finished prepping to write Part Three) the names seem to be coming pretty naturally. It definitely does at least contribute to creating a stronger emotional attachment to the game and your Pokémon, though - I'm already more attached to Judi Drench than I've ever been to any of the numerous nondescript Squirtle I've chosen over the years. I'll definitely be gutted when the time comes to let some of these guys and gals go, but I guess that's the point of the Nuzlocke in the first place - to make you more invested in what's actually going on in-game.

As for whether or not I'm having more fun than a normal playthrough, I'm not entirely sure. I'm definitely enjoying the game, but I think at the moment that's more because I'm playing a Pokémon game than because I'm playing a Nuzlocke. It's certainly making me consider my actions a lot more carefully, because the consequences for lazy battling could be dire. The main reason I chose to do a Nuzlocke run is because I spent a significant portion of last year playing through a total of six Pokémon games, all of which were enjoyable but left me wanting a more challenging experience. In those terms, I'd say the Nuzlocke is definitely delivering so far.

Posted by ThomasMayhew

"His topless, arms-crossed stance always bothered me in Blue."

So you're not a fan of Brock's nipples?

Edited by dankempster

@thomasmayhew: Haha! Not the Brock's nipples, mate. Just one letter too many, I'm afraid.