I love the hell out of Pokemon. Since I was 10 years old pulling a holographic Clefairy from a starter deck I’ve been hooked, but things have been a little different since the 90’s. Instead of using allowance to buy cards, save for a cartridge (originally owned Blue, represent) and indulge in every bit of the fandom possible I have succumbed to the drudges of adulthood. My allowance comes from being a social media manager and indulgences are more of the food and booze variety, but with the re-release of Pokemon Yellow I’ve decided to treat my inner child with a trip down memory lane. Sorta.
“This son of a bitch started it all.”
Admission: I never actually played Pokemon Yellow. 10 year old me owned the Blue version, beat the hell out of it and had it stolen at a friend’s birthday party. I would eventually revisit the series on subsequent consoles but that one stung pretty hard. Yellow happened in that transitional time between defeat at the hands of human shittiness and learning that there are worse things than being out a Gameboy. So this journey is both new and old, and I’m going to log the hell out of it. Let’s start.
First, I had never seen this boot screen before. Pikachu is front and center, looking and sounding exactly like his show counterpart and evidently with the ability to surf. It’s goofy as hell without a nostalgia lens but I sorta dig it. All that aside, I was ready to partake in one of the most iconic parts of the Pokemon experience: Confrontation by the amnesiac Professor Oak (complete with Scorsese eyebrows). First thought: “How did they make an 8 bit sprite look so tired?” Oak observations aside, I was ready to delve into one of my favorite parts of Pokemon: Naming. Why naming? Because it makes the game much more personal, and potentially goofy as hell. Examples incoming.
“Burning the candle at both ends.”
Now I typically name myself “A” with any gaming profile and this was no exception, I started at 8:30 in the morning and thinking is hard sometimes. HOWEVER, I did get to name my rival: Re-entering the 10 year old mindset I went with the only logical choice: ASSFACE. So with the initial act of demeaning my pixelated rival set, it was time to start the journey.
“Alternate names were: ASSHEAD, LEDOUCHE and JAMES.”
Right away I turned off animated and switched the scrolling speed to fast as I’ll be damned if I get caught up actually reading what most of the CPUs say. My character had wasted no time attempting to venture into the yonder only to be turned down and told it’s too dangerous. Being from Riverside, this wasn’t exactly a new experience. Unlike Inland Empire adulthood, it wasn’t long before I had just about everything I needed to take a step into the tall grass. A clearly hungover professor Oak went ahead and caught a stray Pikachu (the only stray pikachu) right outside of town and rather nonchalantly told my character he can have it. At this point this is about the most non filler start to a game I’ve had in a good long while, they really don’t make em like they used to.I went ahead and named my Pikach “RUM HAM” based entirely on this:
“MAN CHEETAH was too many letters.”
After the usual back and forth between my rival spouting about how he wants to test his new Pokemon and my spamming of the A button, my first real battle started. It was’nt much of a bout really as Rum Ham had no trouble mopping the floor with Assface’s Eevee. After my rival’s subsequent bitch fit I was off.
The world beyond Pallet Town was much tougher to navigate than I remembered. The Rattata’s and Pidgey’s of the world seemed to hit harder than in recent games, likely a symptom of old school gaming mentality. What surprised me the most was Rum Ham’s viciousness. This little yellow bastard was the KING of critical hits. Nothing could escape it. I must have accidently murdered 3 Pidgeys before maiming one enough to catch it. That Pidgey’s name? SWEET DEE…. for obvious reasons. When I started to level these guys up I recalled a certain aspect of Pokemon that annoyed me to no end: useless moves. I didn’t touch growl or sand attack during my entire trip to the Veridian City, there really wasn’t a need. Rum Ham and Sweet Dee were cleaning house while my newly caught Rattata (FIEVEL, for those wondering) held its own in desperate times. At this point I think I’m doing pretty well, talking to CPU’s for no apparent reason and debating on which path I want to take. I mistakingly venture on a path that leads to Victory Road out of curiosity and guess who shows their smug visage? Assface.
I was not prepared for his team to actually not be terrible. Even with all the victories prior I was surprisingly under leveled. Did they expect 10 year olds to spend an absurd amount of time leveling up their characters before they got to the second town? It’s a one minute walk away with maybe three patches of grass in between. I would later find out that this battle is completely optional but at the time I had come across my first real test. Assface’s Spearow and Eevee put up a fight but ultimately were fairly weak in comparison to my three man team. Rum Ham’s critical hits were more, well, critical than ever. I should have taken a valuable lesson from this about being prepared for the major battles but my adult self has a surprising amount more ADD than expected as I just burned through the next portion of the game pretty quickly. Oh and I caught a Mankey and named him CAESAR because Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was on TV. What better way to honor CGI Andy Serkis?
Next was a venture in Virdian forest. Something about that battle with Assface must provided my team with a dickish confidence because they were cleaning house every step of the way. Sure, I was mostly fighting Metapods who only knew the move harden but their lack of doing any damage to me whatsoever made clearing out each of the trainers in the forest a breeze. The bug catchers and hikers shriveled at the sight of me and I was getting increasingly arrogant as each turn of a corner provided a chance for me to crush their dreams and send their weedles packing. I made one crucial mistake in my instinct to burn through this game as quickly as possible: I forgot to catch a Pokemon strong against rock types. I also forget to level up Mankey past 8, which would bite me in the ass immediately venturing to the next town.
Pewter City, generally pretty unremarkable but it has two things about it that are very important: A museum to which I can attain a fossil for a badass Pokemon and the first gym leader to rest my team against. Bad news is that up this point I had focused leveling up members of my team who can do precisely dick against Brock’s rock based Pokemon. I should have know this upon entering the gym right away. I only had to battled one person prior to meeting him and Caesar made due against that trainer’s team of Geodudes (The origina bro Pokemon). After a quick trip to the Pokemon center I set my team up so Caesar can lift most of the weight. I really didn’t want to grind. A mistake as Brock took him out almost immediately. My only course of action was to rely on Rum Ham (Pikachu), Sweet Dee (Pidgey) and Fievel (Rattata) who could all only do miniscule damage at their very best. Then a revelation came: those “weak” moves I relented with earlier in the game actually had a purpose.
Sweet Dee would start sand attacking Geodude, screwing with his accuracy and making nearly all his moves miss. After about three of those I used growl twice, which in effect weakened Geodude’s defense SIGNIFICANTLY. A few more quick attacks and he was done. The same strategy went toward Onyx but with less success as Sweet Dee had already taken too many hits and fainted on the second sand attack. At this point in the battle it’s a Brock’s giant rock serpent versus my two mouse Pokemon, but Feivel turned out to be the right amount of fodder. One more sand attack and growl before fainting and it was Rum Ham’s time to shine. I would like to think that this turn out the same way in the show, having Onix’s defense murdered by growls instead of a sprinkler, but I quick attacked my way to victory, treating Onix as I had the trail of dead Metapod’s in the forest prior.
The Boulder Badge was well earned. My team came out on top with the odds stacked against them and I legitimately had some fun trying to figure out what to do at such a disadvantage. Many new routes and badges awaited alongside a heap of new Pokemon to name based on my television habits. Find out how my venture goes through caves, grassy routes and a certain aquatic gym leader next time!