Cinnabar Island may be a volcano, but when we last left our heroes Fuzz and Block they were cold and sopping wet after an eventful journey through the Seafoam Islands. With Articuno snugly kept in an Ultra Ball, my first order of business after landing on the island was to hit the Pokemon Center. Once my team was rested up I decided to explore Cinnabar a little bit before heading into the Pokemon Mansion, my next destination in the Pokemon League journey. Cinnabar is a small island and there’s really only one notable feature to it outside of the gym and the mansion. That feature is the laboratory, where you can get a fossil Pokemon if you’re playing a Nuzlocke which allows that sort of thing. Me, all I got in the lab was a lousy Taunt TM.
Pokemon Mansion is the main obstacle standing in your way of fighting the gym leader on Cinnabar. All gyms have a requirement for entry and this one is to claim the secret key in the mansion’s basement. The mansion has four levels, three above ground and one below. Because the structure is falling apart some parts of each floor are blocked off by chasms or broken furniture. Other parts are blocked by sealed metal doors which can only be opened by activating switches hidden (not subtly hidden, but still hidden) in statues on each floor. The key to navigating the mansion is to turn the switches so that you can make your way to the basement where the secret key is located.
My first order of business in the mansion was to capture the Magmar that spawned the minute I walked into the door. At this point I was playing on my television so it took me a few throws to get the movement right – I’m terrible at the motion controls for this game and primarily play in handheld as a result. Once I caught the Magmar I named him Huey, thinking that was probably the name of the red-shirted nephew of Donald Duck (turns out I was right). Magmar had pretty solid stats and if needed would make a great replacement for Selkie the Ninetales, but my hope is not to need a replacement at all!
The trainers in the Pokemon Mansion have levels that are in the 44-45 range, and the most common typing you’ll face here is poison. In my case I typically led with Lucy the Golduck to give her some practice before the gym battle against Blaine – she knows Psychic so she can deal pretty solid damage to poison types. There’s a coach trainer here on the second floor who has a level 46 Graveler and Dugtrio and then a level 47 Poliwrath – I fought this team with Thorn the Victreebel and had quite an easy time thanks to Mega Drain. The coach trainer gives you rock slide, which is a decent TM but a move that my rock type Pokemon Grave the Golem already knows.
Let’s talk items. On the first floor, activating the statue switch opens a door that allows you to scoop up a Max Elixir. When you reach the second floor, head to the south room for an Ether. During my run of the mansion I didn’t press the second floor switch – there are two staircases leading up to the third floor from the second floor, and I took the set of stairs that were already opened up. I didn’t press any switches on the third floor at first either, looking around the rooms that were already open to pick up the Foul Play TM. Foul Play is a dark-type attack that deals damage based on the target’s attack power. It’s great as a neutral option against high-attack opponents, but I don’t have a Pokemon that I felt it really would fit.
The southeast staircase on the third floor leads to an area where you can pick up a Hyper Potion after battling another trainer. When I returned to the third floor, this time I flipped the switch and headed into the now-open southern room. This allowed me to reach the ladder that headed to the basement. The basement is where I wanted to be in order to get the secret key, of course, but there’s something else I was looking forward to scooping up down there: Sludge Bomb. This is a special poison-type move with 90 power, better than Poison Jab for Thorn the Victreebel both because of the power increase and the switch from physical to special (Thorn has higher special attack). Hit the statue switch in the Sludge Bomb room and when you exit the west door, head all the way down the hallway to scoop up a Max Potion off of the floor.
Something that really jumped out at me during the Pokemon Mansion sequence was the way in which Let’s Go does inevitable take some of the teeth out of the Nuzlocke challenge. As you befriend your Pokemon, they begin to receive bonuses during battle. These bonuses can make a huge difference in their performance and include things like surviving a killing blow with 1 HP, getting extra critical hits, and shaking off status problems as soon as they are inflicted. Lucy basically could not get poisoned during my entire mansion run because every time an attack poisoned her, she shook it off to make me happy. Since this is a feature that can’t be turned off, it’s something that will make a Let’s Go Nuzlocke a bit easier than challenge runs of other games in the series.
With the switch in the Sludge Bomb room pressed, you can head up north and press the switch in the bedroom next to a researcher you’ll need to battle. Having now pressed that switch, it’s a simple matter to head west into the basement laboratory and scoop up the secret key. Once I got ahold of it I simply used an escape rope to spin outta there and make my way to Cinnabar Gym.
Cinnabar doesn’t have a traditional gym puzzle based around navigation. Instead, you are presented with a series of quiz questions. Get them right and proceed forward without a battle; get them wrong and you have to face a trainer. In my case, anytime a game presents a challenge like this I prefer to get the questions wrong so I can get some EXP from the battles. The trainers in the Cinnabar Gym all use fire types around level 44-45. For Lucy the Golduck, this meant she could calmly Surf her way through all the trainer battles with little concern. If you don’t have a water type a solid rock type can be a good backup; just be careful of using a Pokemon with really low special defense. In my case, Grave the Golem wouldn’t have been a great choice because he often takes a significant amount of damage even from resisted special moves.
Blaine himself has three level 47 Pokemon and a level 48 ace. His Pokemon are Magmar, Rapidash, Ninetales, and Arcanine. Most of Blaine’s Pokemon were strong enough to survive one Surf attack from Lucy, so each time I had to brace myself to take some damage from the opponent. Magmar attempted to throw me off with a Confuse Ray but Lucy broke through confusion quite easily. Arcanine had Outrage, a powerful dragon-type move that did around 40% to Lucy. When Rapidash came in and hit her with a Flare Blitz, I needed to heal up a bit. Ninetales had the highest special defense on Blaine’s team but it also had the attack that did the least amount of damage to Lucy, and while Ninetales went first the first turn, the two of them were actually speed-tied so Lucy got to go first the second turn and finish things up. I walked away with a brand new Fire Blast TM and my seventh badge.
I had expected this chapter to end with Blaine but once I got to writing it was clear that I could fit in a little something extra, too, so I decided to go ahead and fly straight to Viridian City to take on Giovanni. There is a route between Cinnabar and Viridian where you can get an extra capture as well as fighting some trainers, but I decided to ignore that since another route probably wouldn’t fit in the article. Besides, fitting Giovanni into this chapter means that the next chapter may very well be the final one: Victory Road and the Elite Four all in one big finale!
There’s a bit of cutscene nonsense before you can enter the gym where you get the ability to Mega Evolve from Professor Oak and Blue. Once that’s done you can walk or fly back to Viridian City and the gym will be unlocked. Knowing that the eighth gym is for ground-type Pokemon, I put Lucy out in front with Thorn as a backup. The Viridian City gym has a number of spinning floor panels like the Team Rocket hideout, so the trick here is figuring out the pattern to the floors. I chose to go left first and initiate battle with the tamer there so that he wouldn’t interrupt me while trying to solve the puzzle later.
The trainers here have Pokemon in the level 47-48 range, most of which are ground type. However, note that there are some exceptions here as some of the trainers use pre-evolved forms of Pokemon that gain ground type later. That first tamer, for example, uses Nidorino, which becomes ground type when it becomes Nidoking but for now is only poison type. In those cases Lucy continued to be helpful thanks to knowing psychic, and it is because of Pokemon who have poison as part of their typing that I am not using Thorn as my primary in this gym.
So let’s talk about the pattern through this gym. Depending on whether or not you want to fight all the trainers you’ll need to go through the warp puzzle once or twice. It’s not possible to get all the trainers in one go, and two of the trainers require you to take wrong paths. From the door, walk up and right to take the warp pad pointing up. You’ll get stopped with some warp pads and an ace trainer on your left. You can skip the ace trainer by walking left to take the downward warp panel, which will put you on a yellow tile. If you want to fight all of the trainers, take the up panel directly above the yellow tile to spin into a battle with an ace trainer, then follow the green panels around the edge of the room to reach the ace trainer all the way in the southeast corner. There’s a revive past him that, because this is a Nuzlocke, is meaningless to you except for a bit of money.
Now back at the yellow panel, head down and take the blue warp panel pointing right to get warped into the square area where both a tamer and a karate master wait to face you. From there, the blue panel pointing up will warp you to a yellow tile where the lights will flicker on and reveal the gym leader for Viridian City: Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket! Gasp! Head up the long and foreboding hallway to initiate battle with him and end your journey for the gym badges.
Giovanni as a gym leader doesn’t use the same strategies we’ve gotten used to during our other battles with him. He leads with Dugtrio and I had some rotten luck starting out – Dugtrio got a crit Earthquake putting Lucy firmly into killing range, and my Surf didn’t quite do enough to finish it off (as little of a sliver as was left, you’d think the guy had Sturdy). I healed up with a Hyper Potion but Dugtrio’s Earthquake did just shy of 50% – a high roll could potentially take me out before I could finish it off. I broke out an X Defense to increase my protection against Earthquake and then healed again. Two Earthquakes from Dugtrio still did a good 45% but it at least allowed me to bring the thing down.
Giovanni’s next Pokemon was Nidoking, and I had to think here. Would it be safe for me to attack with only 55% of my health left? I decided not to risk it so I could test out just how powerful Nidoking’s attack against me would be. Nidoking did about the same damage as Dugrio, so I focused on attacking. One Surf and one Psychic later he was done for, and Giovanni’s next Pokemon was his ace, a level 50 Rhydon. Unfortunately for him, his best Pokemon also had the worst weakness to my Surf attack, so it was easy to sweep Rhydon aside without having to worry about healing. That brought in Nidoqueen, who I was able to take out after a pair of Surf attacks.
With Giovanni defeated only one challenge remains to end this Nuzlocke – Victory Road and the Pokemon League beyond it. Is that technically two challenges? Either way, my plan is to fit it all into one big finale chapter next Friday, so definitely be sure to swing by Adventure Rules at 9 AM EST for the epic conclusion of the Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee Fuzzblock – er, Nuzlocke!