Greetings adventurers and welcome to the third installment of this, my dangerous journey through the game of Pokemon Omega Ruby. In the last chapter, I trained up my party of five and took on Roxanne, the first gym leader. At the end of the chapter I revealed that this playthrough is no ordinary Nuzlocke challenge – rather, I am playing a Restartlocke. What that means for me is that now that I finished the first gym, I have to whittle my team of five down to either three, two, or one members. Choosing three means I must choose less than three after the next gym; choosing two means that I cannot choose to keep those two again after the next gym. I opened the conversation to you, adventurers, to advise me on the path that I should take.
The general consensus after the last chapter seemed to be that folks didn’t feel confident in making recommendations about the choices that I should make. Choosing whether to keep three, two, or one Pokemon, and choosing which Pokemon would make the cut, has a lot of technical factors to consider. So rather than ask readers to choose my team, instead I’ll explain the thought process behind my decisions so that you can understand how to approach this key aspect of the Restartlocke challenge.
The Pokemon I knew for sure I wanted to keep was my starter, Slick. With evolution right around the corner, Mudkip would soon be Marshtomp and have one of the best typing combinations in the game, Water/Ground. With only one weakness, total immunity to electric attacks, and resistance to fire, Slick will be able to bring a lot to the table for the third and fourth gym battles. So assuming he survives, he’s gonna be worth keeping around for at least the first half of the game.
Now in addition to Slick, I also felt pretty good about keeping Wobbles. Wingull had already learned the very useful Wing Attack, a move that would serve me well in the second gym. Resistance to fighting meant that I had a little less to fear from Brawly’s Pokemon, so it seemed like a wise move to keep this Pokemon on my team as well. However, adding only Wobbles to the list would create a problem – if I kept two Pokemon, those two would have to be given up after the next gym. That would mean saying goodbye to Slick right when he was about to become a huge asset. In order to keep two and not lose Slick in the near future, I’d have to keep three instead.
I waffled a bit between Zagitha and Monday. In general I prefer Zigzagoon to Slakoth, although to be fair that’s less about loving Zigzagoon and more about disliking Slakoth. The truant ability really holds that Pokemon back for me, so at first it seemed obvious to let Monday go in favor of Zagitha. However, Monday had one redeeming quality that for me meant a lot more than what Zagitha could bring to the table: Yawn. This move is a guaranteed method of inflicting sleep on opponents and is one of my favorite moves in Pokemon. The strategic options it opens up are excellent, and it would be easier to get captures with Monday on the team.
Having worked all of that out in my head, I made my final decision: Slick, Wobbles, and Monday would all stay on the team. This would give me a distinct edge in the next gym, an advantage when trying to capture new team members, and a long-term investment in a Pokemon that would be key in the upcoming gyms. Of course, no matter what I chose, I’d be saying goodbye to at least two Pokemon, and in this case those two Pokemon were Herman and Zagitha. I walked solemnly to the PC in the Pokemon Center and navigated to the release button. While neither one really had time to bring much to the team, they helped me to survive the early days of my adventure: for that, they retired as heroes.
With only three companions at my side and the first gym conquered, I led my team north and east to pursue a Devon Researcher who was making a ruckus in town. Turns out that Team Magma had stolen some essential parts for some unnamed MacGuffin, so it was once again up to my ten-year-old tail to go and stop the bad guys. Where the heck are the police in this world? And who’s in charge of the town? Are the gym leaders supposed to take responsibility for this mess? Leaving behind the politics of Pokemon-land for the time being, I took off to Route 116 in order to stop Team Magma’s dastardly plot.
This route gave me an opportunity to do something which I hadn’t done since the first chapter of our journey – capture a Pokemon! In the tall grass of route 116 there are a few different Pokemon to encounter that I hadn’t met yet. Taillow the flying Pokemon would be a good catch here, giving me another bit of ammunition in Brawly’s gym. Nincada could also be interesting – while Bug isn’t super-effective against fighting, it does resist it, so Nincada could tank enemy attacks for me while I healed my more vulnerable flying types if needed (side note: why does bug resist fighting? Last time my hand met a bug it didn’t end well for the bug).
Unfortunately I got what is probably the worst encounter I could have picked up on this route: a Whismur. I’ll hold off for a few minutes on the big reason why this encounter was pretty lousy, but the little reason is that this Pokemon has no value for me going into Brawly’s gym. Normal has only one weakness, but that weakness happens to be fighting. Still, no point in wasting an encounter, so Monday put the Whismur to sleep, scratched it up a bit, and gave me the chance to throw a Pokeball. This new addition to my team was female, so since Whismur is known for its ear-splitting screams I chose to name the little lady Banshee.
With my capture for this route out of the way, I switched my focus to the upcoming trainers. If you’re doing your own Locke of this game, know that this route starts to up the ante a little as far as trickier opponents to face. A little knowledge goes a long way here. The first two trainers on the route are pretty simple – there’s even a Youngster Joey, but he’s not in the top ten percent of Youngster Joeys. His Machop can be a bit of a problem as it does have Focus Energy, so if you’re switch training it gets a free chance to increase its critical hit rate. In my case, it did use Focus Energy while I switched in Wobbles, but its follow-up attack was a simple Leer. It was playing the long game, but Wobbles wrapped things up before the fight could really get scary.
Lass Janice has only one Pokemon, a Marill, but that proved a challenge for me because it meant that I could switch Wobbles in safely. You see, Marill commonly run the move Rollout, a rock type attack that builds in power turn after turn. Since rock beats flying and Wobbles wouldn’t have a super-effective attack to take Marill out quickly, I needed to change strategies rather than relying on simple switch-training here. This was a good opportunity for Monday to bust out Yawn – assuming Marill had Rollout, I chose not to switch to Wobbles and instead focused on putting the Pokemon to sleep. Turns out I made the right call – Marill used Rollout first turn. Luckily once it was asleep Wobbles wasted no time finishing things up, scoring a critical hit before Marill could try anything.
The last trainer before reaching the tunnel at the end of the route was Hiker Clark. This guy packed the double-Geodude combo, and in case either of them was packing Rock Throw I decided to use Slick rather than Wobbles in this fight. This turned out to be a good decision – not because of Rock Throw, they just both used Defense Curl the whole time – but because this fight gave Slick the necessary experience to evolve from Mudkip into Marshtomp!
With his ground type now firmly in place, Slick only had one elemental weakness: grass type moves. As a little extra present, he also learned the move Mud Shot, a more powerful alternative to the Mud Slap he’d been using before. This was a game-changer as far as making my team more effective, so with a big smile on my face I proceeded to explore the northern half of route 116. Because of the cliffs here, you can only reach the upper section by getting to the end of the route and then looping back up, and only a Pokemon with the Cut move can clear the way.
Cut isn’t essential to clear this route, so if you’re doing your own Restartlocke and didn’t keep any Pokemon that could learn it, it won’t be a huge problem. However, there are two more trainers here and therefore two more opportunities to gain experience points for your team. With Wobbles still behind Slick in levels, I needed to make sure this bird caught up so he could deliver when it came time to face Brawly. My first opponent here, Schoolkid Jerry, busted out a Ralts at level 10. This is when Ralts starts getting a little scary, now knowing not only the attacking move Confusion but also the evasion-boosting move Double Team. Wobbles got confused on the first hit and Ralts used the opening to use Double Team, so I ended up having to switch in Slick and use the move Foresight in order to cancel the evasion bonus.
As irritating as that fight was, the next one would prove even more frustrating. Schoolkid Karen had a Shroomish on her team, the Absorbing Leech-Seeding Effect-Spore-having terror that gave Wobbles such a hard time in chapter two. This time, things got even tougher because the goofy thing was packing Stun Spore. As soon as Wobbles hit the battlefield – BAM – paralysis. Naturally when I tried to encourage Wobbles to push through and attack, he was fully paralyzed first turn. He finally managed to get a Wing Attack off and finish things up just after being hit with Leech Seed. Not wanting to deal with any more health drain, I switched in Monday against Karen’s Whismur and used the ole Yawn trick to make things easy. Slick was able to get a one-hit knockout with Mud Shot and wrap things up.
It was at this point that I checked my bag and realized I hadn’t gone and purchased any medication for my team. Luckily at some point I had found one paralysis heal lying around and I was able to use that to help Wobbles out. Medicine is essential in a Nuzlocke and makes all the difference between life and death, so I made a mental note to go shopping once I got back to town. And my reward for cutting the bushes and fighting these two trainers? An ether (which restores the power points for moves) and six chesto berries (which automatically wake up a Pokemon inflicted with sleep when held). Not too shabby, I suppose!
With the route cleared out, it was time for me to explore the Rusturf Tunnel. Now earlier I mentioned that there was a big reason why capturing a Whismur on route 116 was bad luck – Rusturf Tunnel is the reason. The only Pokemon that appears at this location is Whismur, which means that if I had caught something else on route 116, I could have still caught a Whismur here. But because I had Banshee already, there was no chance of me getting another Pokemon in Rusturf Tunnel. Note that this is due to my personal interpretation of the Dupes Clause which many players include in their Nuzlocke challenges – the rule states that you can re-encounter on a route where you meet a Pokemon that you already have. I have always felt that if you use the dupes clause to skip encounters, you shouldn’t just be able to turn it back off on routes where you have already caught everything. I’ve seen other players not treat the rule this way, so I suppose if you want to do something differently in your own Locke of this game then that’s up to you.
Now the only thing of note in Rusturf Tunnel right now is another battle with a Team Magma goon. Once again, our opponent’s only Pokemon is Poochyena, but this time Poochyena is a little more dangerous because it’s packing Bite. Bite has pretty good power for this point in the game – 60 base – and with STAB this Poochyena is flinging around a 90 power move that very few types are resistant to. Add the chance to flinch and you’ve got a potential recipe for trouble. That is, if Wobbles didn’t just crit this thing into oblivion before it could think twice about doing anything. Wobbles was a crit machine during these battles and it definitely made things easier.
After defeating Team Magma, I returned to Rustboro City, took a trip to the store to load up on much-needed medicine, and then met up with Mr. Briney to sail off to Dewford Town. Now Dewford is a small island with not a lot to explore, but there is a fellow here who shares with you the art of fishing. With an old rod in my possession I now had plenty of capture opportunities by fishing in Dewford and the routes nearby. However, with Dewford Gym on the horizon, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to start capturing a bunch of Pokemon. After all, thanks to my earlier decision I would only be able to keep one or two after defeating Brawly – if I fished for a bunch of new buddies now, I’d just lose them all immediately. As such, I decided to hold off on capturing and make my way straight to the gym.
Dewford Gym has an interesting theme – the central hallway is lit but obstructed by a series of treadmills which convey you backward if you try to walk across them. To get around this, you have to navigate the dark rooms beside the hall, which are filled with exercise equipment. You can step on light panels in the central hallway to show you the path, but it disappears once you move. Now how navigating around exercise machines in the dark is representative of fighting, I’m not really sure, but we’ll go with it for the time being.
The trainers here don’t end up being much of a challenge for me. They’re more annoying than anything else. Because I know Meditite can run Thunder Punch (a move which would quickly put Wobbles in the ground), I used Slick for some of these fights. The most annoying thing about Meditite is that it uses Detect pretty frequently, which causes your moves to fail and artificially extends the battle. Slick was able to handle those guys without much trouble, though, and Wobbles took care of an enemy Machop by trading crits with it. Three critical hits in one play session? Wobbles was either using performance enhancers or messing with some serious dark forces this time around.
Finally, after much wandering in the darkness, I came face to face with Brawly. This guy honed his skills by exercising in the tides and fighting in the darkness of Granite Cave (oh, I get it now!). Taking him down wouldn’t be easy, but I felt pretty confident in Wobbles and his Wing Attack. It certainly came through against Brawly’s Machop – it only took two hits to take the Machop down, and all Wobbles suffered for it was a single Leer, lowering his defense a little bit. Brawly’s second and final Pokemon was Makuhita, evenly leveled with Wobbles and starting at full health. Wobbles still had a little missing HP from his earlier fights, but with an Oran Berry held tightly I was confident that he could heal up from any damage Makuhita might dish out.
The next moment went by like a flash of lightning. It was there and it was gone again. Wobbles lashed out at Makuhita with a mighty Wing Attack, taking away about two-thirds of its health. Makuhita retaliated with Knock Off. I watched as all of Wobbles’ HP plummeted down towards zero. In the merest blink of an eye, Wobbles was gone, and my ace in this gym was spent. Luckily for me, Slick was at full health and Mud Shot was more than enough to finish up the match. Victory music played, but victory had come at a cost – Wobbles the Wingull.
So let’s analyze what went wrong here. My first mistake was not healing Wobbles before the gym leader match. Had Wobbles been carrying his full health bar it might have made all the difference. He was still in the green, but Wingull has pretty low defenses so a strong neutral hit would certainly pose a threat. My second mistake was not switching Wobbles after the Leer. Machop’s Leer attacked put Wobbles in a position where his already-low defense stat was compromised, making him that much more vulnerable to an incoming attack from Makuhita. My final mistake was equipping Wobbles with an Oran Berry. Knock Off already has a pretty impressive power at 65 – that power doubles when the move is knocking off an item. Wobbles got hit with a neutral blow at 130 power, without full health and with lowered defense – his fate was sealed. If you’re doing a Nuzlocke of ORAS, I recommend you remember not to hold items when facing off against Brawly.
With my second gym badge claimed, I returned to the Pokemon Center in Dewford Town to take care of some unpleasant business. I had a slain Pokemon to release, after all, but on top of that I had to make a decision. With only Slick, Monday, and Banshee remaining on my team, it was inevitable that I would be releasing more Pokemon. After all, because I chose three Pokemon after defeating Roxanne, I could only choose two or one Pokemon now. So who would stay and who would retire?
The loss of Wobbles hit hard, but it also made this decision a lot easier. If I picked two Pokemon, both of those Pokemon would have to retire after my gym battle against Watson – and I needed Slick for the fourth gym as well as the third. I couldn’t choose two and force myself to retire my most important asset. The one obvious choice here was to say goodbye to both Monday and Banshee in addition to Wobbles, leaving myself with only Slick to carry me through the next chapter of my adventure.
I claimed victory this time, but the future looks pretty bleak. The one bright side to this whole thing is that I had already anticipated that I would only be keeping Slick after this battle. Even if Wobbles had lived I would still be in this situation – the circumstances of his loss were irrelevant at this point. Because I knew Slick would be alone after the defeat of Brawly, I had saved myself a number of encounters. Dewford Town, the route just south of the town, route 106 to the north, Granite Cave – with a little luck I can spend some time on this island rebuilding my team. Like Brawly, who is hone by the battering waves and the inky darkness, I will use this island as a training ground and come out stronger on the other side.
So that’s it for today’s chapter, adventurers! I hope you enjoyed this installment and that, like me, you’re excited to meet all of my new team members next week. Assuming that Slick doesn’t just snap all of their necks like twigs…at any rate, if you have any questions about this chapter or have a favorite moment you want to share, be sure to leave a comment below. We’ll revisit Pokemon ORAS next Monday – until then, thanks for reading!