Pokémon: Repetitive Activity

To expand on the last thing I said in the previous post: Pretty much all CRPGs reward repetitive activity to some degree, allowing the player to get by on effort alone if they can’t work out the efficient way to do things. This is an important part of the genre: it’s the thing that makes it possible to still make progress in every play session even if you’re stuck in the plot and puzzles (if there are any).

But few games are repetitive in the way that Pokémon is. In most games with a level grind, there’s an expectation that you’ll pass through each level only once. You go hunting for gnolls in Blackburrow or whatever, and eventually you’ve got enough experience that you can take on something stronger than gnolls, and so you leave Blackburrow behind. But in Pokémon, there’s a separate grind for each pokémon you capture. You can have everything in your party up to level 30, and then suddenly catch a new guy who’s level 15 and evolves at level 28. You can put him in a party with a bunch of strong guys, have him never actually participate in combat and just leech XP off the others, but he’s going to level faster if he can win fights by himself. Eventually, you’ll want to take him off to an area that’s appropriate to his level.

(Come to think of it, this is kind of what Wizardry was like. Except there, the reason you kept having to level up new characters was to replace the ones who died.)

Or consider the case of Georgeson the Sandslash. Georgeson is one of the first pokémon I caught, back when he was just a sandshrew. I levelled him up to the point of evolving, then just stuck him in storage and forgot about him. It was only when searching for a team to take on Zapdos that I found a new use for him. See, part of my plan (as detailed in the last post) was to use an accuracy-reduction attack, such as Sand Attack, to keep the fearsome avian from knocking out my guys in a single hit. I had used McNaughton the Pidgeotto for this purpose in the battle with Articuno, but flying pokémon are really vulnerable to electrical attacks. Whereas ground pokémon seem to be completely immune to them. Georgeson was the only ground-type I had that knew this attack — his time to shine! Except he was only level 22, hardly capable of hitting a level 50 flying opponent. I took him out, intending to level him up to 30 or so.

I still think this would have worked, too, if I hadn’t been so impatient. I got him as far as level 23, then threw caution to the wind. It all worked out well — Georgeson was taken out with a single non-electrical attack (Drill Peck), and without his protection, a couple of other members of the team went down as well. But I had brought a certain amount of redundancy along, two pokémon with sleep attacks, two with wrap, so it all came off regardless.

I’m still impatient, though. And I still have a lot of pokémon to evolve. I’m thinking that I’ll spend maybe a day or two more on this and then give it a break regardless of whether I’ve found Leader #8 by then or not.

2 Comments so far

  1. Merus on 24 Jul 2007

    I’m somewhat baffled: I think you’ve gotten turned about by the game’s clumsy attempts to keep the identity of the last gym leader secret. Don’t overthink it. He really isn’t that hard to find, nor is he supposed to be.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 24 Jul 2007

    Very likely my problem is just that it’s been so long since I played the first half of the game. Maybe there’s an obvious place to look that I’ve forgotten about. Heck, maybe I’ve passed right by his gym several times and wrongly assumed it was one that I had already beat.

    But looking in the wrong places netted me Zapdos, so I’m not complaining.

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