Greetings, adventurers, and welcome back to my ongoing journey of agony and suffering in the world of Pokemon. Although to be fair, it hasn’t been all that agonizing and suffer-izing so far. In the last chapter, I journeyed along Route 116 to Rusturf Tunnel to defeat a Team Magma grunt before heading to Dewford to take on the gym leader. Because chapter four exists, you can probably guess that I succeeded in defeating Brawly and claiming my second badge. However, in this Restartlocke challenge each victory also means a loss, and currently my Pokemon team only has one member in its ranks: Slick the Marshtomp, my loyal starter. As such, my first goal for today’s chapter was to gather together a new team.
I preserved the encounters around Dewford Town for this express purpose. Now here’s the thing about getting encounters in this area – because the only fishing rod available to you at this point in the game is the Old Rod, the only Pokemon you can catch here by fishing are Tentacool and Magikarp. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – neither one is particularly great for my battle against Wattson in the next gym, but both have potential to be helpful during the fourth gym. However, this also means that my team will have a pretty serious electrical weakness and it compounds the Grass-type problem I already have due to Slick’s 4x weakness. My only chance for an encounter that isn’t Water type was in Granite Cave, so I had high hopes for that particular capture. I also had some fear, though, because if I encountered an Abra and it teleported away, I’d only have a team of three water types.
In Dewford Town I encountered a Magikarp at level 10. That’s not too bad of a level to get one at – in 10 levels that useless fish could turn into a mighty Gyarados, a water Pokemon of impressive ability. I wanted Slick to go easy here so I used a basic Water Gun attack – and put Magikarp in the yellow. This means I did more than 50% of the Pokemon’s HP and it would not be safe to attack again. While Magikarp splashed all over the place, I threw a couple of Pokeballs and finally managed to get the goofy thing to sit still. I named him Floppy due to the way he kinda just flops around on the ground.
With Floppy now securely fastened into a Pokeball, I took a gander at his statistics – and immediately groaned in disappointment. Floppy is Timid, which is very nearly the worst possible nature I could have drawn for him. You see, as a Gyarados Floppy will rely pretty much exclusively on physical attacks – and a timid nature lowers his maximum potential for Attack. This won’t have a dramatic effect until later on, but Floppy’s overall potential to be a good team member will be affected by this. With that disappointing knowledge now at the forefront, I made off for route 106 to go and capture a Tentacool.
I had to ignore a few Magikarps to find what I was looking for, but finally a Tentacool came up on my screen. Unfortunately her level was quite low – a measly 5 in comparison to Slick’s level 18. This meant that I couldn’t attack at all for fear of defeating my new friend. Luckily the first Pokeball I threw managed to do the trick, and a new member joined Team Adventure Rules: MaiMai the Tentacool (named for the adorable little octopus creatures in A Link Between Worlds).
MaiMai has a naive nature, which lowers its special defense – another bad draw for natures. Tentacool is a good defensive specialist normally, but MaiMai won’t quite be able to handle that role. Still, I’m pretty excited about this capture as I’ve had good experiences with running Tentacruel in the past. She’ll be a good addition to the team once she gets leveled up.
My final encounter was in Granite Cave. There are lots of options in this location – a ground type like Geodude would be a great catch here, as it would give me someone other than Slick to utilize in the third gym battle. Even a fighting type like Makuhita could be worthwhile – fighting is supereffective against steel (the secondary typing of Wattson’s electric types) but will also be useful down the line at the fifth gym. As it were, I ended up encountering the one Pokemon I dreaded: Abra.
I just KNEW that this annoying little punk was going to break free of the Pokeball and teleport away. Without a Pokemon that had the ability to put it to sleep or to trap it so it couldn’t run away, my only option was to throw a Great Ball and hope that it all worked out. I sighed, chose the Great Ball from my menu, and watched with resignation as the ball shook once…then twice?…then thrice!…and I actually caught the Abra! Somehow against the typical odds of the Pokemon universe, I managed to catch a Pokemon at full health with no statuses on my first try.
“Uh, Ian, why did you name your Abra after diarrhea?”
Okay, I can explain. In my first Nuzlocke of Pokemon HeartGold, I encountered an Abra on a certain route and tried to catch in much in the way I tried in this playthrough. At that time, I didn’t succeed and the Abra used teleport to run away. On a later route, I encountered an Abra again and this time managed to catch it. In honor (or rather, out of spite) for the first Abra that I didn’t catch, I named the second one Runnypants. You know, because it runs away. It wasn’t until I told my wife the story later that I was reminded that “the runs” typically refers to a very different problem within someone’s pants. But I decided to stick to my guns, and to this day I nickname every Abra Runnypants. Those cowards!
Ironically, this Abra has a brave nature, which lowers speed to increase attack. That’s a terrible combination on this Pokemon, so I am three for three when it comes to bad natures during this particular capture excursion. However, I only consider Floppy’s nature to be truly gamebreaking, and my hope is that with training these three Pokemon will be ready to fight alongside Slick and carry my through to Mauville City and its gym. Of course, to do that, first I would have to do some serious training.
Now in Omega Ruby, probably the best method of training you can rely upon is the ability to rematch against trainers on the various routes. Most routes have at least one person who is willing to fight you in a rematch, and the levels of their Pokemon scale with your progress in the game. As such, instead of having my level 5 MaiMai train herself up against level 3 Pokemon, I could take on much bigger challenges and use switchtraining with Slick to get the team up to par faster. With that goal in mind, we all put on some sweatbands, piled into Mr. Briney’s boat, and headed back to the mainland while listening to the opening notes of Boss, a video game workout music compilation organized by fellow blogger The Well-Red Mage.
Most of the trainers in the opening areas of the game are on route 104 on either side of Petalburg Woods. There are also a couple of school kids on route 116 and even a youngster with a Zigzagoon all the way back at route 102. For many of these early battles I had to rely exclusively on switch-training; MaiMai’s only moves were Poison Sting and Constrict, two attacks with pitifully low power. Meanwhile, Floppy could only Splash and Runnypants could only Teleport. This meant that these Pokemon were often left to watch while Slick did all of the hard work, Mud Bombing and Water Gunning opponents into oblivion.
MaiMai proved early on, though, that she was able to learn much quicker than my other team members. This is partly because she was literally gaining more experience but also do to the fact that she has a lower experience curve than the other Pokemon. After only a couple of battles around Route 104 she had already doubled her starting level and learned the move Acid, a decent poison-type attack that would give MaiMai the ability to begin participating in battles at last.
A quick note for those who might be doing their own Restartlocke of this game – the rematch trainers on Route 116 are locked behind Cut bushes. If you’ve released your Cut Pokemon and don’t have anyone who can learn it, then you won’t be able to take on Schoolkid Jerry or Schoolkid Karen. Luckily MaiMai was able to pick up the move and open the way for some pretty beneficial battles – but also a particularly tough one. If you read the last chapter of my journey then you know all about Karen and her wicked Shroomish.
Shroomish has a seriously problematic combination of moves. Stun Spore inflicts paralysis, slowing down your Pokemon considerably and giving them a chance of not acting on some of their turns. Leech Seed constantly saps away health, ignoring type advantages to slowly whittle you down while keeping Shroomish healthy. And Mega Drain is a strong health-draining move that, when accompanied with Leech Seed, makes it difficult to work down Shroomish’s health without a strong type advantage. This combination of crippling you and then slowly bleeding you dry may not put you at much risk of suddenly losing a Pokemon, but it’s a tough strategy to overcome and makes battles against Shroomish time-consuming and expensive. To quote Kaze from Fire Emblem Fates: “your death need not come all at once.”
What made matters worse in my case is that my ace-in-the-hole, Slick, has a 4x weakness to grass that would quickly result in his death even with a pretty significant level advantage. Mega Drain’s normal power of 60 (40 base + STAB) would be multiplied to 240, which for perspective is nearly double the power of the Knock Off that killed Wobbles in the last chapter. With no way to safely send in Slick, I had to rely on MaiMai and a crud-ton of healing items to win the day. I tried to push things into my favor by inflicting poison with Poison Sting, but Leech Seed’s healing factor effectively canceled that out. Twice during this battle I had to switch in Runnypants to tank blows while I used potions and paralyze heals on MaiMai.
Now while heal-spamming or whatever might be boring content for a Let’s Play, if you’re playing through a Nuzlocke challenge and you get into desperate circumstances, don’t feel like you can’t use these tactics to win. Runnypants was a great stand-in for a more traditional defensive wall in this situation because he didn’t take a lot of damage from any of Shroomish’s attacks. He could take a beating for me so that I could spend time healing MaiMai from a place of safety. It’s a good strategy if your goal is to win the Nuzlocke. But hey, if you’re reading this and thinking “what’s the point of a challenge run if you can just spam potions?” then you might be ready for the next level. Add a potion limit to your Nuzlocke or a “heal only once per battle” rule in order to increase the challenge even further.
With my sweaty workout completed, I made my way back to Mr. Briney’s cottage and set sail for Route 109 near Slateport City. This route has two main areas to explore: a beach just south of the city and a shack called the Seashore House. Both are chock full of trainers to fight and really not much else. So it turns out that I had finished one workout only to dive right into another!
My first battle here was against Sailor Huey, who carried with him a level 15 Machop. Now while MaiMai resists fighting type moves, her physical defense is a little lacking so I didn’t particularly enjoy the idea of keeping her in against this Pokemon. Slick was able to take care of this fight pretty easily, but be wary – this Machop has Seismic Toss, a move which always does as much damage as the Pokemon’s level. This means Machop can inflict a guaranteed 15 damage, so if you’re not paying attention and fight it with a weakened Pokemon you’re running the risk of losing a team member here.
As Slick fought this battle, Runnypants sat and watched in the background, contemplating everything he’d learned during his first sweaty workout routine. Suddenly, everything began to make sense. All of his experience, which had sat dormant for so long, culminated together into an epiphany that unlocked the impressive powers of Runnypants’s mind and pushed him to the next stage of his evolution.
At level 16 Abra evolves into Kadabra and learns its first attacking move: Confusion. This is a strong STAB Psychic attack on a Pokemon with impressive special attack power – Runnypants can wreck shop with this move in his arsenal. Achieving this evolution changed my training method for the rest of my battles, allowing me to have Runnypants train MaiMai rather than having Slick do all of the hard work. This would also help Runnypants to catch up to Slick in levels.
I wasted no time in putting Runnypants into battle. Each fight started with MaiMai and ended with Runnypants, whose raw power of Confusion was enough to OHKO the majority of the enemies that I fought. If you’re playing your own Nuzlocke and get the opportunity to capture an Abra, this little guy (or gal) is absolutely worth babying for a little while. Once it evolves, your investment will reap significant returns. Of course, this is all assuming that the goofy thing doesn’t teleport away the minute you encounter it…
After beating up all of the sailors and little kids on the beach, I made my way into the Seashore House. This location presents you with an interesting challenge. Five other trainers are here relaxing with a cold drink or a meal – if you can clobber those people, the owner of the place will hook you up with some free drinks. This is an awesome opportunity to gain experience points, free medicine, and to line your pockets with cash; definitely do not skip out on the Seashore House!
On the left side of the shack, you have a delinquent and a street thug. These two trainer battles were not great for Runnypants because both trainers had Dark-type Pokemon. Psychic attacks can’t touch dark Pokemon at all, so I had to rely on MaiMai and Slick for these fights. Delinquent Destinee’s Sableye wasn’t that big of a problem, all it really did was annoyingly spam the move Detect. Street Thug Blair, though…that guy had a Carvanha that was pretty problematic. This thing runs Bite, an attack with 90 power (60 base + STAB) and the chance to flinch. Combined with Carvanha’s impressively-high Attack stat, that move was able to take MaiMai from full health to less than half in a single blow. If you’re fighting this match and Carvanha manages to get a Focus Energy off, you’ll want to be very careful – a crit would have definitely killed MaiMai there.
The other side of the room proved to be much easier to deal with. A young Tuber had nothing but an Azurill on his team, an easy Pokemon for Runnypants to destroy with a Confusion attack. As simple as that was, though, the next fight was even easier. Sailor Dwayne had both a Tentacool and a Machop, two Pokemon who are weak to psychic type attacks. MaiMai watched and learned as Runnypants blasted both of those Pokemon into oblivion, soaking up experience points while another Pokemon did the hard work.
The last trainer I fought was the Beauty in the center of the room (that’s not me being crass, there’s a trainer class called Bea- oh, you know. Cool). Now this fight was short but intense. Johanna fought with a Goldeen, so I started with MaiMai and switched to Runnypants. Once Runnypants was in battle, I hit Goldeen with a confusion that brought it almost all the way down to zero health. She then retaliated with Flail. Now for those who don’t know, Flail’s power scales with the health loss of the Pokemon using it. The lower their HP when they attack, the more damage it does. I watched as Runnypants’s HP bar plummeted lower and lower – mercifully stopping at 9 health. I breathed a sigh of relief and finished off the Goldeen, but wiser for the experience. If you see a Goldeen, be ready for the Flail move!
With the Seashore House battles completed, I was handed my reward: six bottles of delicious Soda Pop. Soda Pop is a healing item similar to a Potion, but it heals even more than a Super Potion (60 HP) and costs half as much ($300 versus $700). These suckers offer great healing for the value and I definitely recommend picking up a bunch while you are at the Seashore House. I invested in nine more to bring my total up to fifteen and then headed back outside. With Route 109 completed, it was time to head to Slateport City.
And that’s a good place to end today’s chapter, adventurers. We got a lot of stuff accomplished, from meeting three new team members to getting them all trained up and finally making a little bit of progress. In the next chapter, I anticipate traveling all the way from Slateport to Mauville and obtaining my third gym badge. I hope you’ll look forward to that journey and that this chapter was educational for you. If you’re enjoying your own Nuzlocke run right now, I’d love to hear about how you’re doing, so be sure to let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week for more Nuzlocke shenanigans!