It’s part one. The beginning. Ground zero. Strap in,
ladies and gentlemen.
For the next several long, long weeks, myself and my internet tormentor Owen Grieve will be playing some Pokémon, for the delight of neither of us; and then writing about it on the internet, for the entertainment of ????
Also it is really difficult to find cool and funny Pokémon pictures that aren’t defaced by people with better jokes than us. So send us some.
This week: Pewter City!
There’s a sadistic twist of genius in your choice of game for this project – which I barely remember agreeing to do, by the way – and you know it. When I think of children’s computer games, there’s nothing that springs to mind ahead of Pokémon. I feel as though I missed the boat on that particular phenomenon when I was a kid; and I don’t really understand why it accompanies people into their adulthoods, beyond striking a chord with their cloying, feckless nostalgia.
The fact remains, however, that I’ve never captured a pokémon. I don’t even know enough of the jargon with which to formulate sarcastic jibes against its childish fanbase of accountant savants. And all JRPGs appear to be exercises in over-written statistical misery. For these, and other wholly intelligible reasons, I figured I would die with my pokémon hymen intact; nor was I in any particular hurry to bust it.
But a challenge is a challenge, and you laid the gauntlet very elegantly, so I decided there was no time like the present, dearest Owen. I took your advice and fired up a bad boy, and then I booted up the game.
You’re not gonna get me reading books about Wizard School though, no matter what.
We meet Professor Oak. He strokes his pink acorn while he explains, with all the blithe ethical libertarianism of the true sociopath, that forcing innocent wild animals into captivity for your own ruthless and bloodthirsty purposes is just what happens in the World of Pokémon. This much I already knew, however.
With no warning at all, this clown Oak somehow shrinks ♂COBRA♂, our avatar, and then teleports him into a bedroom only slightly less depressing than my own. To take his mind off what is starting to look like a malicious and irresponsible experiment on the part of a bad scientist, we settle ♂COBRA♂ down to some children’s computer gaming.
Downstairs, his mum explains how television informed her she should kick him out. So told, we head out and meander about the countryside, taking the air without a thing to spoil our mood. That is, until Oak puts in an appearance. He leads ♂COBRA♂ – a guileless young boy, remember - back to his house with a promise that we will get a pet in return. On my crime grid, I put a tick in green felt tip pen by Professor Oak’s name, under ‘suspected paedophile’. It’s next to the other tick I just made, under ‘kooky fucker’.
Here are my options: Fire lizard. Spunk tortoise. Also some sort of ambulatory plant called a Bulbasaur. There’s fuck all here to go on, so I just roll with the baby dragon and call it done, but not before I drop a sweet handle on my new best buddy.
Our rival AVIRGIN ends up with the spunk tortoise, and immediately starts either shit-talking, or flirting. I’m not sure which. We throw down, only to discover that, while WINTERBORN might be a fire guy, all he can do is scratch or growl. Fuck’s sake.
Nevertheless, AVIRGIN is summarily defeated. And ♂COBRA♂ cleans up to the tune of 175 pokébucks. It is fair to say this fight lacked tension. We head up the road toward the big smoke, kicking the shit out of some cute animals in the meantime. I wonder what our pokébucks can buy us.
Sign says ‘POKE’. I hope this is a brothel.
Sadly, it’s just some kind of pokémon hospital. There’s nothing here for us, so we fight every step of our way back home. Them meadows is mean, esé. Someone gave us a parcel for Oak, so we stop by.
It turns out the greatest ambition of Oak’s career was to catalogue every pokémon species abroad in this wonderful computer game world. He intended to compile a ‘hi-tech encyclopedia’ AKA ‘Pokédex’. But having spent his most fruitful years doing ????, he can no longer be arsed, so he’s passing this ‘honour’ on to us, a random idiot kid and his grandson AVIRGIN. Hey Owen, while I’m on, why doesn’t Professor Joke pitch in a wee bit? He’s too old to pit innocent creatures against one another in mortal combat while he stands by and watches them rip chunks off each other? None of this adds up. What exactly qualifies this chancer as a ‘pokémon authority’, Owen?
We go buy up a few poké balls and set about snaring a few of these slippery fellas to appease the senile bastard.
This bad ass bird I caught will carry your name forever, Owen. We continue to pad out our roster with a bit more hapless wildlife, then we make our way west. We run into AVIRGIN who insists on engaging us in a multiple-round title fight that I was unable to either skip or avoid, once I’d encountered him. This is even more tedious than the continual random battles, Owen. OWEN.
After AVIRGIN tastes inevitable defeat, we’re looking to join the big leagues, but the way is barred to us until we earn our stripes. To do that, we have to traverse the Woods of Dread and the Marsh of Ennui to get to Pewter City and tonk ourselves up at the gym. On arrival, we find out we must battle BROCK.
I hope WINTERBORN sets fire to his hair.
In the end it comes down to this. All USELESSBOB can do is ‘harden’ so he’s more difficult to hit. Consequently, all ONIX’s attacks are missing. My sole recourse is to hammer at my keyboard until something connects and we die. It takes forever to resolve. But now I know what I must do. I have to go out back into the grass, and toughen these little shitbags up. By this time, Owen, every time I run across something I can beat up, I am doing a little sigh of resignation. Sigh.
Here we have two males standing opposite each other, both using ‘harden’ over and over. The joke writes itself; and I assume it already did, a long time ago.
Eventually, I figure we’re up to another round with BROCK. I figured right, and BROCK is dispatched. The gym is ours. The community centre will stay open, and the evil suits from the big city won’t force the Donahues to sell their farm.
You were not wrong about this chapter being tedious, Owen, but I have my doubts that it’s going to get much better. I’m not really seeing this charming pocket-sized world you wrote to me about. I can’t even see how this appeals to kids. Did you never get sick of looking at the same battle screens over and over again, Owen? And are you expecting me to bother completing the entire pokédex?
I anxiously await your reply in the negative.
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