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Hey guys, and welcome to the fifth episode of my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge, a blog series chronicling my playthrough of Pokémon FireRed Version with a set of self-imposed rules to make things more challenging. This instalment has come to light a little later than planned on account of my weekend being a little busier than I'd anticipated, but hey, the delay could have been much worse. As always, if this is your first time dipping into this series, I highly recommend starting with Part Zero. It explains the concept of a 'Nuzlocke' run, as well as laying out the rules I'm using for this playthrough. If you've missed any of the previous episodes, you can find them using the handy-dandy navigation links at the top and bottom of this blog to skip backwards and forwards through episodes. If you're bang up to date and know what to expect, then read on to find out what happens to Team Judi Drench on their arrival in Vermilion City...
Part Five - Grounded Lightning
We pick up where we left off just over a week ago, with our team camped outside the Vermilion City Pokémon Center, refreshed and ready to explore the new area for potential captures. Our first port of call is the house to the left of the Center, home to the local Fishing Guru. A quick chat yields a new item to add to our inventory:
Receiving the Old Rod means I can fish for Pokémon in bodies of water, opening possibilities to encounter potential captures in areas without any long grass. Admittedly, the Old Rod is somewhat.. limited in terms of the Pokémon it can catch, but I decide to use it in the waters of Vermilion City to snag my capture for this place.
Our first encounter with the Old Rod is - you guessed it - a female level 5 Magikarp. It's a pretty easy capture, and one that's quickly consigned to the PC. I don't anticipate needing it, but it's reassuring to know that if anything should happen to Judi Drench, there's another Water-type waiting in the wings.
There are two more places nearby where I can snag potential captures - the long grass of Route 11 to the east, and Diglett's Cave, the underground path connecting Vermilion City to Route 2. The latter of these is going to be crucial in the upcoming gym battle, as a Ground-type Diglett would be the perfect counter to Lt. Surge's party of powerful Electric-type Pokémon. First up is Route 11, where I'm hoping I'll bump into a Drowzee. No disrespect to Uri Geller, but his physical defences make him something of a liability in combat at the moment, and a bulkier Psychic-type would come in handy. My first new encounter in the long grass isn't a Drowzee, sadly, but a Spearow. I whittle it down and catch it, happy to see it whisked away and straight into the box. I forgot to grab a screenshot of its summary screen, so here it is in battle. I nicknamed him Boris, because I was listening to The Who's 'Boris the Spider' at the time of his capture.
Ah well. At least I know we'll have better luck in Diglett's Cave, because I'm pretty sure Diglett and Dugtrio are the only Pokemon available in that area. I head straight there from Route 11, and sure enough, my first encounter is with a level 18 Diglett. Right, I think, I'm not letting this one get away. I'm leading with Monty the Ekans at the moment, trying to push him up a few levels so he can hold his own with the rest of the party. I decide to keep him in and use his weaker attacks to subdue the slightly stronger Diglett to a point where it can be safely caught. Foolishly, I've forgotten basic type match-ups - Poison is weak to Ground.
I realise my mistake too late. Monty manages to inflict Poison on the Diglett before it unleashes a powerful Magnitude attack, knocking out the helpless snake in a single hit. Monty becomes the fourth casualty of the challenge, but his sacrifice comes with an important caveat - it allows me an opportunity to catch the Diglett and give my party a much-needed Ground-type in its ranks. One dies, so that another might live - one might call it 'Nuz-tural Se-locke-tion'.
Back at the Vermilion City Pokémon Center, I lay Monty to rest in 'the Graveyard'. He wasn't with us long, and didn't have much of an impact on the challenge as a whole, but it's still sad to say farewell to a party member. His passing at least negates the dilemma of having to decide who to drop in favour of our new Diglett, who's been nicknamed 'The Mole' (I fear her killing Monty is a sign that she's trying to bring down the Nuzlocke from within). Already at level 18 and with two Ground-type moves at her disposal in Magnitude and Dig, she slots comfortably into the line-up.
I decide to do a little training on Route 11, to bring the likes of Uri Geller and Kit-E-Kat the Meowth up to par with the rest of the team before we visit the S.S. Anne. It's around about this point that I start warming towards Uri Geller, for one simple fact - his access to the move Teleport.
Ordinarily, I ignore the move Teleport when I'm playing Pokémon. In battle it's useless, essentially amounting to running away. Outside of battle it has the beneficial effect of warping the player to the most recently visited Pokémon Center - a cool perk, but by no means essential. In the context of a Nuzlocke, though, the move becomes a saving grace, allowing me to quickly get out of compromising situations and back to a Pokémon Center with minimal risk. Say one of my team becomes Poisoned (something that happens a lot while training against the myriad Ekans on Route 11). Teleport lets me go straight to the Pokémon Center to heal, allowing me to conserve my valuable Antidotes without having to take the gamble of running all the way back. It proves incredibly useful in this latest bout of grinding, and I suspect Teleport will be a part of Uri Geller's move-set for quite some time to come.
When all six of my party Pokémon are at least level 18, I decide to finally pay the S.S. Anne a visit. The cruise liner is docked in Vermilion City port, and it's full to bursting with touring trainers and sailors just itching for battles. I'm only too happy to oblige, and with The Mole taking up the first party slot, she starts hoovering up a fair amount of the wealth of Exp available for the taking on the S.S. Anne. There are a couple of close calls, largely due to the pitifully low defence of Rosie and Uri Geller, but thankfully nothing does enough damage to put any of my team out of commission. The fact there's a lady in one of the cabins who'll heal your Pokémon certainly helps, even if I can't make use of Uri Geller's Teleport while on the ship.
I bump into Duncan once again on the upper deck of the S.S. Anne. Thankfully I'm much better prepared this time, and his team hasn't gotten much stronger than it was when I faced him in Cerulean City back in Part Three. He opens with his Pidgeotto, which I counter with my own Bird Jesus, knowing that her Keen Eye ability will nullify any of his attempts to use Sand Attack. A few Quick Attacks cut his bird down to size, which is then replaced by his Kadabra. I switch out to Judi Drench, who's still rocking the Dark-type attack Bite, which quickly disposes of the Psychic-type threat on the other side of the field. Third out is his starter, now evolved to an Ivysaur. I switch back in to Bird Jesus, who shakes off her opponent's Vine Whip and puts it down with a couple of well-place Gust attacks. His final Pokémon is his recently-evolved Raticate, which proves resistant to Bird Jesus's attacks and manages to score a critical hit with its Hyper Fang. Not wanting to lose Bird Jesus, I switch in to Rosie, a risky move considering her low defences. Luckily she switches into a non-damaging Tail Whip, giving her an opening to smite the already-weakened rat with her Karate Chop. Once again, Duncan is comfortably beaten.
After Duncan has left, muttering something about revenge under his breath, I head on up to the captain's quarters. The ship's captain is feeling a little seasick, but it's nothing a slightly awkward back-rub can't cure. The rejuvenated captain thanks me by giving me HM01, Cut - a field move that allows Pokémon to cut down small trees that block paths to new areas. New areas like, for instance, the Vermilion City gym. I immediately slap that HM on Kit-E-Kat - her usefulness in battle has been somewhat limited so far, so she was the most likely candidate for HM Slave status. I bid farewell to the S.S. Anne as it sails off to another part of the world, and return to the Vermilion City Pokémon Center to heal the team before our next big battle - our challenge for the Thunderbadge at the local gym.
The Vermilion City gym is defined by its notorious switch puzzle, a glorified game of Find the Lady that's equal parts educated guesswork and rotten luck. I'm certainly not as fortunate as the guys on the Twitch Plays Pokémon stream who managed to clear the puzzle on their first try. Nope, this thing takes me a good twenty minutes to clear on this occasion, which I'm pretty sure ranks as one of my worst attempts to clear this gym. Thankfully The Mole more than holds her own against the resident trainers, with Rosie the Mankey providing adequate back-up against the Ground-immune Magnemite and Magneton. Eventually I manage to find both switches and unlock the door to Lt. Surge.
Before facing off against 'The Lightning American', I check my team and confirm my strategy. The Mole is naturally going to be my leading Pokémon, as her Ground-typing makes her automatically immune to all of Lt. Surge's Electric-type attacks. She also has two Ground-type attacks to deal super-effective damage to all three members of his team. In the second and third spots I've chosen to put Rosie and Uri Geller respectively - both have reasonable Special Defence stats to reduce damage from Electric-type moves, and Rosie has the added advantage of now knowing Dig from the TM I picked up back in the last instalment. Needless to say, with their disadvantageous Flying- and Water-typings, I'll be keeping Bird Jesus and Judi Drench as far away from this battle as humanly possible.
Lt. Surge leads with his lv21 Voltorb. Thankfully The Mole quickly takes it down with a Dig (I use Dig over Magnitude because it guarantees consistently good damage, unlike Magnitude which has a randomised base power depending on the strength of the quake). Surge's next Pokémon is his level 18 Pikachu, but it only manages to get off one Quick Attack before it suffers the same fate as its spherical team-mate. In need of some serious good fortune, Surge sends out his final Pokémon - his level 24 Raichu. Here is where the troubles start. It opens with not one, but three Double Teams back-to-back, raising its evasiveness to dangerously high levels. It then proceeds to Quick Attack The Mole as her Dig attacks repeatedly miss their mark. I eventually withdraw The Mole and switch in to Rosie, hoping to have a little more luck with her. She manages to land one Dig, but it's not enough to knock the electric mouse out, and its Quick Attack once again finds its mark, pushing Rosie down to dangerously low health. Knowing it's a risky move against Raichu's physical bulk, I switch out and bring in Uri Geller to finish the job. Surge's first action is to attack not with Quick Attack but with Shock Wave, a special Electric-type move that Uri Geller eats up quite comfortably. Uri is then able to throw down a Psybeam attack, which luckily connects and shaves off the last bit of the Raichu's HP bar. Victory is ours, and the Thunderbadge is mine.
As a reward for our victory, Lt. Surge also presents us with the TM for Shock Wave. I don't currently have any Electric-types in my team, but could do with some Electric-type coverage, so I decide to teach it to Uri Geller to take advantage of his high Special Attack stat. On leaving the gym and returning to the Pokémon Center to heal the team, I spot one of Professor Oak's aides waiting nearby. He tells me that another of his colleagues is waiting on Route 2 with a special item to pass on to me. Not really sure why he couldn't just bring the item to Vermilion City with him and give it to me now, but oh well. Looks like the team's next destination has been decided...
As always, thanks very much for reading the latest entry in this blog series. I'm really enjoying putting this stuff together - it's been interesting taking a slightly more image-oriented approach to blogging, not to mention playing the game with all these different self-imposed caveats and rules. I'm off work this week with very little planned, so hopefully I'll be able to get another couple of episodes played and written before I return to work on Monday. I'm also pressing on full steam ahead with Final Fantasy VIII, which I've just reached the fourth and final disc of, so hopefully I'll be able to wrap that up this week as well. Take care guys, and I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Pokémon FireRed Version (GBA)
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