Pokémon: TPK

Exploring the Safari Zone yielded the two HMs that I was missing. In fact I really only needed one of them, as I had acquired in a trade a pokémon with the Strength skill. But the other one held the secret of Surf, which allows a swimming pokémon to carry its trainer over water. This is a pretty big deal, because it opens up the few remaining unexplored corners of the map. Choosing a random direction, I found myself at the Seafoam Islands.

Now, in this game, when you enter a new area for the first time, you immediately start encountering new types of pokémon. I picked up several new specimens in the water, and another in an island cave. Every single one of the new finds is a species that can evolve with experience, so it’s clear that I’m going to have to spend some time XP farming. An exploration into that cave shows that the random encounters are around level 30, the highest level I’ve seen yet, which makes it the ideal place for this. I go back to the nearest pokémon center 1 The pokémon centers are like your base camps. There’s one in every town, and you can access your stored pokémon and alter your party roster there, as well as heal your wounded pokémon for free. and pick out some water-resistant pokémon in in the 20-30 range that I want to advance. Blenkinsop I leave behind. He doesn’t need the exercise.

My first few sallies go according to the usual formula: I wander around looking for stuff to beat up until my own guys are significantly hurt, then fall back to the pokémon center for healing. But the center is inconveniently far away. What I really want to do is find a way through the cave, in the hope of finding a route to Cinnabar Island, where the next Pokémon Leader lives. I figure there’s got to be a pokémon center there, like in every other town I’ve been to. So I start delving deeper.

The caves contain a puzzle involving pushing boulders around to ultimately block a stream so you can get across it without being carried away by the current. There’s a little bit of Sokoban action involved, but mainly there’s a part where you push a boulder down a series of holes to successively lower levels, then climb back up to the first level, then push another boulder down a different series of holes. All the while fending off level 30 pokémon. By the time I finished this, a couple of my pokémon were down for the count — pokémon never really die in this game, they just fall unconscious until you revive them — and the rest were at least somewhat hurt. But it was a long way back, so I kept going.

Reaching an unexplored level, I spied a little bird sitting on a rock. I did what you always do on seeing something novel: I walked up to it and pressed the A button. It turned out to be Articuno, one of the three Legendary Birds, each unique. It’s level 50, and quite capable of wiping out anything I have with me in a single blow. So do I flee? Goodness no. This is a one-time encounter! If I flee, I’ll never get another chance to catch Articuno.

I suppose I should have used the unescapable Master Ball at this point, but it didn’t even occur to me. Instead, I had my first TPK 2 Total Party Kill in quite some time, and switched the Gameboy off without saving.

A TPK in Pokémon isn’t as bad as it is in most games. It doesn’t end the game, and the only consequence is that you get sent back to the last pokémon center with half your cash gone. If I had less cash, I might be willing to accept that price. My pokémon had gained a lot of XP in that last adventure, after all. But I’m saving up for a porygon. The porygon is a pokémon that can only be obtained from a Team Rocket casino as a prize. It costs 6500 coins, where coins are either obtained from slot machines (the only game the casino runs) or, if necessary, purchased outright from the casino, 1000 units of money 3 I don’t think the monetary unit in this game has a name! Strange that I never noticed this before. for 50 coins. Now, the slot machines have a skill element — it’s one of those things where pictures go whizzing by very fast and you press a button to make them stop. But this is difficult enough for me that I’ve pretty much given up on the prospect of ever winning 6500 coins, and have decided to just pay 130000 moneys for them. Which I’ve been very close to being able to afford for a while.

In fact, now that I’ve checked, I see that I now actually have enough. Next stop: the casino, where my wad of cash will no doubt help to fund Team Rocket’s nefarious activities well into the next year. And then: exploration without fear of death!

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1. The pokémon centers are like your base camps. There’s one in every town, and you can access your stored pokémon and alter your party roster there, as well as heal your wounded pokémon for free.
2. Total Party Kill
3. I don’t think the monetary unit in this game has a name! Strange that I never noticed this before.

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