Last time: We sequence broke past Goldenrod City a little, then went back and beat Goldenrod City.
Since I parked in Goldenrod with my last save, I've been spending the workweek checking in with the daily lottery drawing at the radio tower. It generates a new five-digit number every day, then scans every Pokemon you have in your party and in all your combined PC boxes. If any of them have an Original Trainer number that matches, you win! The grand prize for matching all five digits is a Master Ball, which would be amazing to have. Not that that will ever happen, of course; unless I'm doing the math wrong that is a 1 in 100,000 chance of winning per unique trainer number I have on any of my Pokemon. To put that in perspective, the odds of encountering a Shiny Pokemon are 1 in 8,192 per random encounter.
Still, it's free, takes about ten seconds per day to check, and why not, right? The numbers from Muscle and Rocky have already matched one or two digits and gotten a few Ultra Balls and a PP Up as consolation prizes. My Trainer number has yet to win anything. This is why I mentioned in the last update that it's good to collect lots of other people's Pokemon, and why I made the trade for Muscle even though I was obviously never going to use him.
Speaking of trading, I... cheated? a little. This series leaves it up to the player to come up with their own personal code of ethics regarding whether using this or that Pokemon, this or that method of acquiring Pokemon, etc. is legitimate, or if it goes against the spirit of the run, or gives too much of an unfair advantage. Hell, some would argue that even all the Pokewalking I've been doing has been cheating. It gave me an entire team of Pokemon outside what I could normally acquire, after all. My Machop and Dratini came far earlier than they existed in-game (and without having to Voltorb Flip my way up to 2,100 coins for the latter,) and as of this writing, there is still no in-game way to catch a Murkrow or Magby. And on top of all that, I've also been getting more free experience and levels from it than if I had hacked myself a bunch of Rare Candies.
On the other hand, I would argue that it's legitimate, because the Pokewalker is part of the game. It comes with the game, and NPCs even tell you to use it, at least once you get to National Park.
So, like I said, this series gives you a lot of power and lets you decide how much of it is fair to use.
The questionable advantage I gave myself this time came from a little self-trading. I still have my Pokemon Diamond file, which I'd beaten and cleared, sank over a hundred hours into, ground my way up to a million of everything, and kept all those goodies unused and meticulously sorted and labeled in my bag, because I am a packrat. Nintendo WFC may be gone, but you can still trade with yourself as long as you have both games and a second DS in physical proximity. I have a second, third, and fourth DS, again, because I am a packrat.
I caught some random throwaway trade bait in the Pokewalker. On the Diamond end, I actually had an entire PC box full of other people's random traded Pokemon I could use. (Nintendo WFC was alive and well back then, I made a lot of trades through LiveJournal communities dedicated to that, and I collected all their trade bait because that game had a lottery too.) All I had to do was attach a few held items to the Diamond-end ones, and send them over.
I gave myself a Light Clay, Water Stone, Dusk Stone, Metal Coat (sort of), and the TMs for Earthquake and Psychic. I didn't get to keep the Metal Coat, since it was automatically used in the trading. As part of my general maneuvering, I sent Atlantis from SoulSilver to Diamond, put the Metal Coat on him, and sent him back. That consumed it, but in exchange, Atlantis automatically evolved into a Kamen Rider. Oops, excuse me, I mean into a Scizor. Same thing, really.
Aesthetically, this is a slight downgrade. Scyther is visually
However, the shift in typing to Bug/Steel leaves Scizor with only one weakness (4x to Fire) compared to nine resistances and one outright immunity (to Poison.) Scyther's Attack was already monstrous, as Bugsy demonstrated, and adding 20 to it effectively turns him into One-Punch Bug. Also, if said Punch is of the Bullet variety, it has Quick Attack-like move priority, so that low Speed doesn't even come up.
It is a good trade, is what I'm saying.
As for the other goodies, the Stones are for evolving other party members, but I'll save them until they raise their levels and learn a few specific moves I don't want them to miss. The Light Clay is for Empress after she grows and learns moves that use it, and the TMs are for later as well. Sometimes I spend more hours thinking ahead in this series than I spend actually playing it.
Finally, the fact that I used all those old LiveJournal community traders means I now have a total of five more random numbers. Of course, I got them all just in time to leave Goldenrod City. So it goes.
Team setting out: Atlantis, Nimbly, Auryn, Kracko, Empress, and Sweetie. Sweetie is a non-combatant there for HMs, as always. The rest are all one or two levels away from a move I want to learn.
Joey calls to inform me he tried to catch a Kakuna but failed. I glance over at my Scizor, then back to Joey on the phone. You're maybe a little behind me, but, uh... you'll... get there? Maybe? Keep... trying? Later on, he calls to brag about taking down a Hoothoot. So he is trying.
Going through the route north without skipping all the battles this time, we pick up Juggler Irwin's phone number. "Now I can call you at any time, whether something's up or not. You know, just to chat!" Well, at least he's honest about it. Firebreather Walt makes no promises when we get his number, other than that he won't breathe fire while he's talking on the phone.
Atlantis levels up enough to learn Metal Claw. Nimbly... gets burned in battle, and I just realized I forgot to sell all the Pearls and Stardusts and such I got from the Pokewalker, so I take a quick detour back to town to heal and shop. While I'm there, I check the TM corner, and Reflect and Light Screen are both right there. Empress was going to learn those by level eventually, and that's what the Light Clay was for. Teaching them early saves me some worrying about accidentally skipping those levels if I'm Pokewalker-leveling her. Also, I'm impatient and money is no object at this point.
I am effectively giving up on Empress as an offensive Super Effective Sweeper type Pokemon. As I've said many times before, the Chikorita line is just bad at this role, which makes going through the single-player campaign unfortunate when "go in with whatever beats that gym leader's element and hit them hard" is how the entire game works. There is one strategy in story mode, and Empress just can't do it. In original Silver, I tried my best to force it anyway (the Chikorita line technically learns Razor Leaf, even though it does almost no damage in their hands) and I ultimately boxed my starter when I found better Pokemon.
This time, I'm letting go of the idea that I even need a Grass-type STAB move, because my Electric and Water type Pokemon (both of whom are far better at doing damage anyway) should have those holes covered. Instead, I'm thinking of using Empress as a defensive setup specialist. Her role will be to lead and start the battle, put up a barrier or two depending on what I'm facing (Light Screen/Reflect cut incoming Special/Physical damage in half, eventually she'll learn Safeguard which prevents status ailments) and then switch out, so the heavy hitters can do their thing while getting hit a little less heavily in return.
It's not much of a strategy, but by single-player Pokemon standards, it's way more complicated than what I'm used to. If it weren't for the special emotional attachment, I should just box Empress and load up on more DPS, because that's normally how these games work. I'm basically making up this role just so she can do something, and have an excuse to stay relevant. Who knows, though! This could be an interesting play-style experiment. I've never had buffs before.
Heading back out, the guard in one of the random stations between routes wrote a letter he wants me to deliver to his friend back on Route 31. This being a Pokemon game, the easiest way for people to exchange letters in this world is to make me clear out a space in my party, then give me a live Spearow with the mail tied to its leg like a carrier pigeon. I'm not allowed to store it, so I need to put someone else in my team away to make room. Atlantis just got his move I'd been grinding for, so off he goes for now.
Because I'm nosy, his letter reads:
was fun, wasn't it?
ZUBAT was the one
thing I wanted to avoid..."
He is now the second in-game NPC to complain about Zubats, meaning by now GameFreak knew but decided to lampshade the problem instead of fixing it. Sigh.
Beating Bug Catcher Arnie earns me his number, plus enough experience for Nimbly to level and learn Night Shade. You know those Stones I said I was saving until after the Pokemon they were for learned certain moves? Night Shade was one of them. With that clear, the Dusk Stone turns Nimbly into a Honchkrow.
Empress was going to be next on the leveling tour because she was one off from learning Light Screen, but never mind, I guess. I can catch her up in the Pokewalker next week.
You know what, I changed my mind about the party makeup. I just had this horrible thought that what if something impossibly rare (like a Shiny) happens, and Atlantis (who has False Swipe) is in the PC? I've gone this far in the game without ever seeing one, and I'm likely to finish the entire run similarly luckless (1/8192 odds, remember) but what if. I head back to town, put Nimbly away (she has Night Shade and has evolved; she's done now,) and bring Atlantis back.
xyzzysqrl once asked how I function going through a game like this being as averse as I am to deliberate grinding. As you can see, between exploring every corner of a map and going back to town for every little thing, the amount of running back and forth I end up doing is enough that I accidentally do enough grinding for it to work out. Obviously I am... not being efficient with my explorations, here, but I am being efficient in that I'm accomplishing both goals at the same time. I feel like I'm still working toward making progress, even if it's slow, circuitous, and with enough backtracking to also get a grind in. I would much rather feel like that than reach my destination instantly, then go back out and run around in circles knowing it's for nothing but grinding.
The Pokeathlon dome! It is even bigger and more high tech than the Global Terminal, and actually seems to go out of its way to make its actual content less simple in presentation, as if it would rather you be wowed blown away by the big huge spectacle of this big huge dome than figure out it's actually... uh... what the hell is this place? A minigame collection, I guess?
A guy named Magnus cheerfully welcomes us to the dome, and Whitney makes a sudden return to give us a jersey, because obviously you need a jersey if you're going to be Pokeathloning.
I don't intend to fall too deep into this, but maybe just one minigame to see what this is all about before I run away forever. I mean, Whitney went to the trouble of getting me that jersey.
Oh geez, they're split up by stats. Uh... I choose the Skill Course, I guess? There are Speed/Power/Skill/Stamina/Jump stats for all my Pokemon, and I guess I want to pick the one with the most Skill, because I'm doing the Skill Course. That would be Empress, apparently.
Oh excuse me, this is a team event. So I want Empress, Auryn, and... everyone else is equally godawful at Skill but I need to pick someone, so Atlantis it is.
It turns out the Skill Course is several minigames. The first is a giant snowball fight in which I earn 24 points, which is enough for... a four-way tie, because every single trainer scored 24 points. The second event is a four-way soccer match. I get 2 points in that one, and it's enough to put me in a two-way tie for first this time. The third event is a mad "run out, grab as many flags as you can, and come back" scrum in which I got 18 points, which puts me in third. The actual scores are totaled up, then the judge adds in bonuses for one's place in each event, most effort(?), most hits, and basically the whole thing devolves into the ending of the first Harry Potter.
I didn't win the overall Pokeathlon, but I did get to keep the 250 points I racked up after everything. I can exchange those for cool prizes if I keep at it and save up several thousand of them. Or, I can say I tried the Pokeathlon and that was neat and all but my head is spinning and I'd like to go back to the actual game now please.
National Park's Relaxation Square makes for the perfect place to decompress after all that, though. Ahhh~
That photographer from National Park makes a surprise return in the passage leading out from the Pokeathlon Dome. What better time to get your team photo taken than when one of the party slots is commandeered by that random guard's random Spearow? Seriously, you guys, email exists in this setting; Ethan sent me one when the game started.
(Also, yes, I found a way to get better screenshots. It takes several layers of convoluted workarounds, so I can only do it for things I can go back and review at my leisure. The photo album is saved in the player's PC, for example, I went back and pulled this photo up again after everything else in this entry happened.)
(I also went back and updated the photo in the last Special Aside entry because I was going through the album and it was there.)
Venturing into National Park's grass areas and battling the trainers, we get the numbers for Pokefan Beverly, School Kid Jack, and Lass Krise.
Picnicker Liz calls me, very clearly says "Hi, Celine!" and then switches to, "Hi, Tania. How are you? This is Liz. I'm fine, but I'm bored silly!" She then acts like she has the wrong number (I'm not Tania) and hangs up. This would have been more convincing had she not called me Celine first. No, that was a very deliberate call, but then she changed her mind and backed out. Given every other interaction with her thus far has revolved around her awkwardly struggling with her obvious "new and confusing feelings" lesbianism, I'm going to assume that this call was her simply losing her nerve once again. Or perhaps her parents walked in or something. Either way, I find the fact that she pulled another woman's name as her emergency fake excuse rather telling.
After cleaning out all the trainers, it's getting late, so I head back to Goldenrod (again) just to rest at the Pokecenter and save and quit for the night. That way, I still can do Buena's Password and the lottery drawing tomorrow. Goodnight.
Good morning! None of my newly acquired numbers won anything. >:(
While I'm in Goldenrod again, I visit the Name Rater because I changed my mind about Atlantis. The Luca Turilli's Rhapsody reference is fine, of course, and I may reuse it later. If I do, though, it will be in a later game, in which the character limit has been extended and I can just go with my original plan for Dark Mantis. Atlantis works as a Plan B, sure, but... ehhh.
No, we're talking about a heavy-hitting capture Pokemon with a Technician-boosted False Swipe, who is a big tough scary and powerful weapon-armed mantis who's a better hunter than Hunter. I know what his name should be.
Today we are setting off with Auryn, Kracko, Sweetie, Empress, that guard's Spearow whom we're stuck with until I can find the other guard, and Omnihunter.
Random aside from battling an enemy trainer: Man the entire Abra line has nice legs and feet. ... What? Come on, I'm in the same universe as DJ Mary and Picnicker Liz, I'm allowed.
East from National Park, we get School Kid Alan's number after a surprisingly tough battle with a Lv. 17 Tangela. I almost lost, mostly because I stubbornly kept trying to beat it with Auryn or Kracko (because I was trying to level them) despite a severe type disadvantage. Once I realized I wasn't going to win, gave up, and let Omnihunter handle it, he... well, handled it. Scizor is a beast.
It works out, though, because Auryn hits 24 and learns Swift, which is a huge upgrade over Tackle. And... holding out for that before evolving it was unnecessary for several reasons, I only now realized. I could just relearn that one with a Heart Scale later if I want to, and it turns out I don't really want to anyway, because the move options once it evolves... it has better moves than that, shall we say.
Well. No sense moping about wasted effort; let's just do the thing. That Water Stone I traded myself yesterday turns Auryn into a Starmie. It gains a Psychic dual type, which will be very useful for type coverages, as I don't have a dedicated Psychic Pokemon on my team. That Psychic TM I traded myself in that same batch? Also for Auryn. STAB Psychic from a Starmie is one of the more devastating moves in the game for anyone who doesn't specifically resist it, putting Auryn up there even on the same tier as Omnihunter as far as being able to murder things in the face.
Psychic replaces... well, by all rights it should replace the freshly-acquired Swift, but I'm going to put it over Recover instead. I'm not netbattling on Smogon. I'm playing single-player. If I need an HP recovery move, it's called using a Potion on the thing. If I really want to try an item-free run, Recover is a move innate to Starmie and can be Heart Scale'd back later.
Kracko is next to gain a level and learn a move (Charge,) and oh hey, he evolves while he's at it, too. Meet my new Flaaffy!
Meanwhile, Empress is looking at the almost Dragonball Z-esque power creep on my team this update like o_o; and see, honey, this is why you're now on Screen support.
It turns out the route east from National Park is the same route as the one west from Violet City, way back when we were there, and we've now completed the loop. The route has a three-way fork (east to Violet, west to National Park, north further on to the rest of the game) and that's where that weird rock/tree-like Pokemon was parked, blocking the way. It is still there, but now we're armed with a deadly SquirtBottle.
Sudowoodo attacks! I lead with Omnihunter because eh, may as well go for a capture? It's there and it's catchable and the plot is emphasizing this, so why not. Unfortunately, it's fairly high level and resists Normal-type attacks, so False Swipe does almost no damage. On round two, I try to dial it up a little and go for Metal Claw instead, which is Super Effective and instantly detonates the thing into tiny pieces.
... I wasn't going to use that Pokemon anyway. *cough*
The guard's friend mercifully takes that Spearow, and gives us the TM for Rest, but the real prize here is getting that party slot back.
Bug Catcher Wade is the most patient trainer in the world, and all that badgering me for weeks ended up being for a single Persim Berry.
All the way back in New Bark Town... oh fuck, there's no PC to change party Pokemon in New Bark Town.
All the way back in Cherrygrove City, we put Sprinkles in the empty Spearow slot and buy some more Super Repels because fuck all these level 2 Pidgeys.
All the way back in New Bark Town again, Professor Elm notes that Sprinkles is not a Pokemon found anywhere in Johto. "Just like Mr. Pokemon said, the legendary Pokemon must be... oh, never mind. Anyway, I'm sure things will be happening around you, Celine!" My reward for going that far out of my way is some cryptic foreshadowing and an Everstone.
Also, unrelatedly, Joey calls about his top percentage Rattata again.
I can theoretically go back to Azalea Town, as well, but it's still huge pain to get to from either direction. I'll hold off on that one for now. Sorry, Kurt.
Other than that, I guess that's all the loose ends from this corner of the region wrapped up. Next time, we can go north from that junction, onward to new locations!
Oh, wait. There is one more thing left to do.
You got my team at a really inconvenient time, Pokeathlon Dome Photographer. Please retake that for me now that I've had a chance to assemble them into something that looks more like my actual team. Thank you.
(Too bad there wasn't enough room for Falkor, Atreyu, and Bam Bam in this update. This is the drawback of running a total party larger than your active one, I guess.)
(Well, maybe Bam Bam. Her spot is a bit endangered now that I have Omnihunter.)
This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/399364.html.