As the curtain opens, we see our hero – me – sitting down on the couch with his 3DS.
“Ah yes,” I say, “the time has come for me to once again journey into the world of Pokemon.”
I start my 3DS and boot up Omega Ruby. I start, as I almost always do, in a Pokemon Center, standing right in the center of the Pokeball symbol on the floor. I immediately open the menu and go to look at my glorious team of six Pokemon that I built up last chapter. I press start, navigate to the Pokemon button, and press A. But wait – there are only four Pokemon here! I see Tank the Numel, Britney the Koffing, Nancy the Minun, and Petruchio the Sandshrew, but where are Luvbi the Swablu and Alucard the Zubat?
And wait – SANDSHREW?! Petruchio evolved last chapter!
It was then that I realized my mistake. I forgot to save at the end of my last play session, and my journey from Fallarbor Town to Meteor Falls was lost to the aether. I sighed, knowing this meant I would have to recover lost progress in addition to making new progress. I went back and forth for awhile about whether I should start again as if the original journey never happened, or try to recreate my original progress as best as possible. I decided that because my original run was already publicized for the internet to see, I needed to be as true to it as possible. I managed to recreate most of the conditions of my journey, the main difference being the nature and IVs of my captures, and one other thing – Alucard the Zubat is now a woman. To reflect the gender change in this parallel universe, I named her Ladycard. Other than that minor difference, everything else is about back to where it was when I left off in chapter eight.
Today’s journey begins in this parallel universe, in the cable car station at the base of Mt. Chimney. For those using this as a walkthrough of sorts, a quick warning here: the vending machines in the cable car stations overcharge for drinks. You don’t want to stock up on medicine here unless you have no other choice. I hopped into the cable car and took it all the way up to Mt. Chimney, where thugs working for Team Aqua and Team Magma were locked into “glorious” battle with one another. Although as stupid as their evil plans are, it’s more like two internet trolls getting into the stupidest argument on earth.
A grunt in service of Team Magma attacked me as I approached the center of the volcano, sending out a Poochyena to start things off. I switched from Petruchio to Tank, who immediately took a heavy hit that cut him to almost half health. I’m starting to realize that while Numel may be “immune to the sensation of pain,” it has a terrible defense stat that makes his name ironic in the way that Tiny is an ironic nickname for Andre the Giant. Tank’s Simple ability is also starting to give me problems, as accuracy-reducing moves like Koffing’s Smokescreen have double the effect on him. Despite these issues, Tank managed to handle the grunt with little issue.
My next opponent was Maxie’s right-hand woman, the admin named Tabitha that I fought for the first time at Meteor Falls. You’d think that she would have learned her lesson the first time, but whatever. Her first Pokemon was Koffing, and golly I just KNEW that the stupid thing was going to use Self-Destruct. I wanted to have Tank get the EXP for winning, but comparing his defense to the rest of my team, it was pretty much guaranteed that he’d be the one to die if anyone did. As such, I left in Petruchio. Luckily I made my decision based on that prediction because my prediction was totally right – Koffing exploded and Petruchio took it like a champ. Tabitha’s next Pokemon was Numel, and this fight was much more appropriate for Tank. I was able to move past the admin and have a romantically-charged conversation with Maxie.
Listen, Maxie may be smooth with his words, but he is the scummiest Pokemon battler on the face of Hoenn. I’m talking flinch hax, Swagger-spamming, and Roaring my Pokemon all over the place. It probably took me ten minutes to fight his Mightyena because the stupid thing kept Roaring all of my Pokemon out of the battle. This was particularly problematic when the Pokemon being Roared in was Luvbi, who is WAY behind in levels compared to the rest of my team. I managed to slowly whittle Mightyena down with attacks (when Swagger didn’t cause me to break my own legs) and Petruchio finally dealt the finishing blow.
Maxie’s next Pokemon was Camerupt, which was higher leveled than both Tank and Petruchio and easily the biggest threat to my team. A powerful fire move could take out Petruchio, but a powerful ground move would finish off Tank. And poor Nancy didn’t stand a chance in this fight. I decided that my best bet in this match was Petruchio, as his evolved form gave him better all-around defenses than any of my other team members. As uneasy as I was about facing Camerupt, this ended up being the easiest part of the fight – Bulldoze did over 50% and Camerupt used its one opportunity to hit me to use Amnesia and build up special defense. When he’s not playing dirty, Maxie is a total pushover.
Naturally, his last Pokemon was the dirtiest of all. This time I found myself facing down a Golbat, weaker than his Camerupt and at the perfect level for Petruchio to face. Petruchio carries Rock Tomb for this sort of thing, so I figured this battle would be straightforward. Golly, was I wrong. Golbat immediately used Confuse Ray and had my Sandslash smacking himself in the face. Its main attacking move was Air Cutter, a special flying move that has an increased critical hit rate. After a couple of strikes against himself and a crit Air Cutter, Petruchio was unfit for battle and had to be switched out. I switched in Britney to hold down the fort while I put focus on healing other team members more suited for the fight – instead, she lost her life to Golbat’s Air Cutter attack. Tank was ultimately able to defeat Golbat, but I’d already paid the price for victory in the form of my Koffing.
With Maxie defeated, I finally had the means to make my way to Lavaridge Town and face Flannery. It’s been many a chapter since I got a gym badge, but there’s a cost associated with that too – once I defeat Flannery, my team has to be whittled down to either three, two, or one Pokemon. My choice before Maxie was clear: Petruchio, Tank, and Britney were my highest leveled Pokemon that didn’t have to retire after the next gym. With Britney gone, I would either have to choose only two Pokemon (and therefore lose them after Petalburg) or I would have to bring either Luvbi or Ladycard along for the ride, attempting to catch them up despite their massive lag behind the rest of my party. Knowing that training up a third member would become important soon, I decided to choose Luvbi as my final keeper and placed her in the front of the party for switch-training.
The passage from Mt. Chimney to Lavaridge Town is a series of jumps and bike challenges called Jagged Pass. It counts as another capture chance, but I decided to save it for after Lavaridge Town. You see, after you beat Flannery, the next gym is in Petalburg, one of the first towns you reach in the game. There are no new capture opportunities between these gyms, which is highly problematic in a Restartlocke because it means I can’t rebuild my team after I cut it in half. The three Pokemon I choose after Lavaridge will immediately be cut down to two or one after Petalburg, so having an extra encounter saved up will make a big difference. The worst case scenario here would be failing to save any encounters for these two gyms and then only choosing two Pokemon after Flannery. With nothing else to capture and the rules compelling you to release your two keepers after defeating Norman, you’d literally have no Pokemon left. For those of you considering your own Restartlocke challenge, this is the sort of thing you have to think about – how are the gyms spaced apart, and how many keepers do you need to choose after each one to make sure you don’t accidentally lock yourself into a game over?
Having made that decision, I used a super repel to protect myself from encounters and made my way through Jagged Pass unscathed. Having at this point played two chapters of gameplay, I didn’t spend any time running around Lavaridge – my goal was to beat Flannery and call it a session. The Lavaridge Gym is based on a classic gym design in the Pokemon series – multiple teleportation pads that must be traversed in the proper order to make it to the gym leader. The difference between Lavaridge and some other gyms that have used this model is that it is very clear where each pad is going to take you, as the gym exists on two levels. Pads either drop you to the lower floor or lift you to the upper floor, which means there’s a logical relationship between the pads that makes it much easier to chart a course. I personally prefer this to the teleportation pad method, but to each their own.
Now while I enjoy the design of Lavaridge Gym, the challenge level leaves something to be desired. Most of the gym trainers here have some seriously basic Pokemon: Numel, Slugma, and Koffing are the most common. These Pokemon are easy to beat but also grant very little in the way of experience points. Tank and Petruchio were easily able to smash through the gym trainers but benefited almost nothing from the battles. I did manage to get a couple of levels on Luvbi, but nothing substantial enough to make her useful. The one thing I will warn you about is that some of the gym trainers have a Fire type with the move Overheat, which deals ridiculous damage at this point of the game (base power 130 + STAB 65 = total power 195 before stats and type effectiveness). I reached Flannery in no time and was soon embroiled in my fourth gym battle.
Flannery led with Slugma while I had Luvbi out front for switch training purposes. I brought her back in to send in Tank, but taking the time to switch-train had given Flannery an opening to cause me some problems. Slugma’s first move was to set up a Light Screen, which would give protection against special attacks to whichever of Flannery’s Pokemon was on the field for the next five turns. Because of the screen, Tank couldn’t finish Slugma and it also had the opportunity to set up a Sunny Day, increase the Fire power of Flannery’s moves. Word of warning, adventurers: do NOT switch train against Flannery. She is just waiting for an opportunity to set up against you.
Wanting to make sure that Flannery’s ace did not get the benefit of Light Screen or Sunny Day, I decided to slow down on beating her Pokemon a little bit. She actually helped me out with this by using a Hyper Potion on Slugma, burning an extra turn of each boost while causing me no additional harm. Flannery had her own Numel to face me with, and since Earth Power wouldn’t be doing as much damage due to the screens, I decided to bring in Petruchio for this fight. Numel was a joke to fight but took me just long enough to beat that all of the bonuses were gone for Flannery’s final Pokemon, Torkoal. I expected Torkoal to be a serious problem – I’m pretty sure from my previous playthroughs that it carries a White Herb to cancel out the negative effects of using Overheat, so I needed to expect two high-power Fire moves and be ready to survive them. In order to make that happen, I spent my first turn healing Tank to full health. Flannery used the opportunity to set up another Sunny Day, preparing for the ultimate Overheat attack. On my next turn, I hit Torkoal with Earth Power – and it was a crit! Tank put that Torkoal to bed in a single hit, taking all of my worries and wiping them away. Flannery was defeated and my fourth badge was claimed, no problem.
My fourth victory finally claimed, I made my way to the Pokemon Center to pay the price that comes with winning in a Restartlocke. It was time to bring my team down to only one, two, or three members. Nancy was officially off the table now – after defeating Wattson, she was one of only two that I chose to keep, which means she had no choice but to retire after this battle. I had already decided to go with Petruchio, Tank, and Luvbi, which meant that the other Pokemon I would release was the gender-swapped Zubat, Ladycard. I said farewell to my two retirees and braced myself for the next leg of my journey with Petruchio the Sandslash, Tank the Numel, and Luvbi the Swablu in tow.
That’s gonna wrap up this chapter, adventurers. Next time my plan is to navigate through Jagged Pass, the desert on route 111, and maybe do some grinding before taking on the Petalburg Gym. Regardless of whether or not grinding is involved, I will take on Norman in the next chapter unless some kind of crazy shenanigans prevent me from doing so. I want to wrap up this weird let’s play/walkthrough combo at some point and I’d love to do it before Blogger Blitz Black Sheep gets going, so I’m going to push a little harder by either including more content in each chapter or cutting the fluff that doesn’t feel as necessary (like the entirety of Lavaridge Gym!). I appreciate you taking the time to read, and I hope I see you next Monday as I lead my Pokemon crew to Petalburg to face our dad!