Pokémon: Winning

Well, I’ve won. The endgame consists of a sequence of elite trainer battles in which all of the opponent pokémon were substantially higher level than mine. Between battles, you get to apply any healing items you’ve brought with you, but you can’t alter your team. Fortunately, the elite trainers make the same mistake as all the other bosses: specializing. Lack of diversity makes your team weak. My final team consisted of Blenkinsop the Alakazam, Ellington the Dragonair, Stirbridge the Gyarados, and the three Legendary Birds: Loolah, Hoagie, and Brenda. That’s Psychic, Dragon, Water, Ice, Electric, and Fire types covered; despite the level gap, most of the enemies could be dispensed with in one or two hits from the right one. Ellington is pretty much the only one who didn’t pull his weight. Loolah actually gained a level and learned a new attack in the middle of one of the battles. It’s a good ending: it shows off how powerful you’ve become without actually being all that difficult.

After you win, Professor Oak, who sent you on the whole adventure in the first place, informs you that the reason you won is that you treat your pokémon with care and respect, or something like that. I suppose there’s some basis to this: in gameplay terms, it translates to training pokémon by hand, rather than taking shortcuts like catching them at high levels, or using Rare Candy or the Day Care Center to raise their level without combat. Doing things the hard way results in more powerful pokémon at a given level.

Not long ago, I mentioned how collection elements are shoehorned into games where they don’t really belong in order to provide “replay value”. Pokémon really stands in contrast to this. The collection is a natural part of the game; if anything, it’s “winning” that’s grafted on artificially. From a collector’s point of view, though, there’s still a point to finishing the story: it grants access to the Unknown Dungeon.

I had found the entrance to the Unknown Dungeon during my revisitng-everything phase. At the time, there was a guard standing in front of it saying that only the reigning Pokémon League champion was allowed in. Well, that’s me now. I’ve only explored the dungeon a little, but it’s full of high-level wild pokémon, including evolved forms of things that I had only seen unevolved in the wild previously. So suddenly there’s the option of completing my pokédex (to the extent possible) by catch-and-release means rather than through the level grind. After all, it’s “gotta catch ’em all”, not “gotta keep ’em all”.

At any rate, I’m going to take a break from this game for a while, but I don’t consider it to be off the Stack yet, even though I’ve won. I’ve still got a Master Ball with Mewtwo’s name on it. I haven’t decided yet what that name is, but there’s plenty of time for that later.


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