Well, here we are.
It’s my very first Nuzlocke challenge! I’m expecting fun, rage, heartache, tears of joy, the whole spectrum of human emotion all bundled up in one friendly little game for children which I have for some reason decided to turn into a devastating experience.
And with that… let’s begin.
This is Oak, Pokémon are creatures we can use as friend or for battle, et cetera. You all know the drill, so I won’t recap the Prof’s opening speech any further, other than to let you know that I’ll be playing as a boy called Chris. Usually I play as a girl with some sort of gaming/ anime reference for a name, but since this playthrough is aiming to form bonds with my team, I figure I ought to make my avatar as close to Actual Me as possible.
As for this guy… as per usual, Oak has no idea what his own grandson’s name is and, well, I’m under no obligation to call him anything sensible, so he’ll be Crombly. It’s meaningless.
First things first, starting in my bedroom: I grab a Potion that’s hanging out in my computer, then head down to see me ol’ mum. She has little to say except that the TV told her all boys would leave home one day and that Oak’s looking for me – it seems a logical leap to decide that this must mean I’m leaving home, but she happens to be right, so whatever. Bye, Mum!
I may not know all that much about Pokémon, but I do know Oak’s not in his lab. Nevertheless I wander over to flip the bird at Crombly, say hello to his aides, that sort of thing, and then I scoot northwards, where Oak stops me waddling into the tall grass and invites me back to his lab. Crombly has a bit of a moan about being tired of waiting; Oak thinks for a minute before remembering that oh, yes, he asked Crombly to come over (he’s not brilliant at remembering things when it comes to his own progeny, apparently), then offers me a Pokémon of my choice.
This is the first big choice of the game, and I specified in my rules that I had to make it at random. So I assign values to each of the possible starter ‘mons: Charmander gets 1 and 4, Bulbasaur 2 and 5, and Squirtle 3 and 6. Then I roll a six-sided die.
It’s a three, so it looks as if my partner’s going to be Squirtle! I take the ball with my new partner and, as per the rules, it’s time to give him a nickname and a backstory.
Sheldrake the Squirtle grew up in a deep blue lagoon: the perfect place for any young Squirtle, or so you might think. But Sheldrake, though the clear waters were a wonderful place to develop from a teeny-weeny babby into a full-grown adorable turtle thing, aspired to one day be a professor in the big city. So when he was big enough, he left the safety of the lake and simply waddled until he came across civilisation. It wasn’t the big city he’d hoped for, just a little town, but fortunately he was found by a nice man named Professor Oak who took him in. Sheldrake studied hard under the Prof, showing a particular aptitude for history and social anthropology, and now, with his tutor’s blessing, he seeks a nice trainer that he can embark on a journey with. He hopes to see the world, learn all sorts of things, and perhaps even visit libraries and universities – although of course, the Professor’s taught him that life experience out in the world is just as important as reading lots of books! (Sheldrake tends to get books a bit wet, anyway.)
I’m already really attached to this guy. Please don’t immediately die, friend.
Crombly takes the Bulbasaur, of course, and is kind of a dick about it. I make to leave the lab, but Crombly challenges us to a test of strength, and our first battle is underway!
Oak, though exasperated, gives me a quick explanation of how battles work. I stick to just using Tackle for this entire battle, which works out… er…
Well, I won, but that was nearly a TPK and game over in the very first battle. Anxiety levels rising.
Sheldrake’s up to level 6, and gets his health fully restored after the battle, which is nice; I check out his stats and see that he’s got a gentle nature. None of this means anything to me. Anyway, I go say goodbye to my mum and then we’re off to the next town. As we don’t have Pokéballs yet, I’m making the executive decision that none of the battles I have on the way count as my first catchable encounters; in other words, once I get the ability to catch a Pokémon, I’ll be allowed to do it on this route.
My new buddy and I have a couple of battles together along the way, enough for him to level up another time or two and learn Bubble, and I get a free Potion from a guy on the route. There aren’t any trainer battles to contend with just yet.
In Viridian City, I head to the Pokémon Centre as priority number 1, then to the Pokémart, where the guy behind the counter gives me a package to take back to Oak. He doesn’t let me buy anything from him yet, and I don’t really have anything else to do but head straight back (I can’t go through, thanks to some guy just lying in the road). Back to Pallet Town, then, where I deliver the parcel to Oak and get a Pokédex from him. Sorry, Prof, this is a Nuzlocke. Won’t be filling that one out too much, I’m afraid. Oak does give me five Poké Balls to help, which means I can now catch new friends – and that the next time I encounter a wild ‘mon, it’ll be my only chance to catch one in the area.
Crombly takes his own Pokédex and books it out of there, telling me that I definitely shouldn’t bother asking his sister if I can have a map. I ask her anyway. Luckily, she’s less of a loser than her brother. Back to Viridian, then, and the first Pokémon I encounter is…
It’s Pidgey! I’m happy with that; I’d rather have a potential Pidgeotto (if she survives that long) than a Raticate, despite my love for real-life rats. Sheldrake’s first hit is a critical, and I think for a second that I’ve gone and killed my one chance this route to catch a new companion, but her HP stops in the red and we catch her no problems. For Pidgey’s nickname, I check out the list of pigeons who won the Dicken Medal for their services during the Second World War, and stumble on ‘Mercury’. I’m not sure whether Mercury the Historically Valiant Pigeon was male or female, and I know Mercury the god was male, but I think the name suits my new friend anyway.
Mercury began her career as a simple delivery girl: letters, pizza, that sort of thing. When her friends fell in with the wrong crowd and started delivering some, er… illicit substances, Mercury was initially outraged, but the lure of Pokédollars was strong, and she soon found herself carrying all kinds of herbs and controlled goods from performance-enhancing EnergyPowder to MooMoo Milk smuggled across the Johto border. One day, she dropped a package containing some hallucinogenic Revival Herb, and in her haste to pick it up she accidentally imbibed some. She then had a vision of the three legendary birds, who told her that she needed to change her ways, or all would be lost. After that, Mercury got out, cleaned herself up, and now she spends her time teaching young Pokémon in the Pallet-Viridian area life skills, while also keeping her own skills sharp by flying in races. She’s quite the role model.
She’s also got a Sassy nature, so she’s pretty fun to have around. (Again, I’ve no idea what that does mechanically.)
We quickly pop home so that my mum can encourage us to have a quick rest, which restores Mercury to full health, and I put her in the front so she can train up a bit. She and Sheldrake get on alright, for the time being; my shelly friend isn’t all that much of a people person, whereas Mercury’s pretty talkative, but she gets the hint once he withdraws into his shell. She regales me with stories about the young ‘mons who look up to her, though, and I feel pretty inspired! Now that I’ve got two Pokémon, I also need to follow my rules by assigning them each a best friend – right now, it can only be each other, so that’s easy enough – and a favourite move. (If you’re wondering why I need to do this, take a second to review the CaringLocke rules!) Their favourite moves are something I may ask for votes on, actually, but for now I’ll make them Bubble for Sheldrake and Tackle for Mercury (it’s her only move at the mo).
With our obeisances made to the Holy And Sacred Rules That I Just Made Up The Other Day, we can head back to Viridian. Remember that I’m allowed to battle encountered Pokémon along the way, but I can’t catch any more on this route now I’ve got Mercury. We run into a few Rattata and Pidgey, which we work together to take out; Sheldrake seems to enjoy taking a bit of a protective role when Mercury needs someone to step in and lend a hand, actually. She gets to level 5 and learns Sand-Attack by the time we get back to Viridian.
Now, I think I’m supposed to keep heading north, past the guy who was lying on the floor before, but first I head west, to route 22. It’s mostly inaccessible to me at the moment – I’ll be coming back much later on – but I can reach a couple of patches of grass, and I decide that I may as well pick up a third teammate now.
Unfortunately, I forgot something important about going to this route early: Crombly shows up and challenges me to a battle, and while, like me, he only has two Pokémon right now, they’re a level 8 Pidgey (higher than Mercury, who’s only level 5, although taking out Crombly’s Pidgey gets Mercury to level 6 and Sheldrake to level 9) and a level 9 Bulbasaur (which now knows a type-advantage move against Sheldrake). I use both of my Potions to get through this, and I don’t have the best of luck – my moves miss pretty regularly – but we finally manage to overcome our foe. All I really used with either of my Pokémon was Tackle: Sheldrake knows Tail Whip, but I’ve never really thought that sort of move was worth using. Advice welcome, please!
Anyway, the headline here is that we do eventually overcome Crombly, though Mercury’s on 1HP at the end (she levels up again, though) and Sheldrake’s only in better shape because I just healed him up from red. Not good. That’s two Trainer battles so far, and I nearly lost the whole run on both of them.
You can say that again.
I head back to the Pokémon Centre, then do what I came here to do in the first place and encounter a Rattata, which we catch. She’s nicknamed Willow, after the rat who first made me realise that I actually really like rats (I now have two, Donatello and Raphael – or Donnie and Rafa – but they’re both boys, and also I don’t think I could take it if I named a Rattata after one of them and then lost it in battle).
Willow comes from a long line of world-famous chefs, but ran away from school (the very boarding school that had turned so many of her ancestors into Michelin-star culinary revolutionists) to pursue her true passion: wood-carving. Using her sharp teeth and dextrous claws, she crafts beautiful pieces even from tiny twigs. She’s also still pretty sharp in the kitchen, despite leaving her formal education early: some of that family skill must have passed down to her, whether she likes it or not! These days she spends as much time as possible creating her art, keeping herself Zen and cultivating a Calm nature, as much as she can. She’ll cook for her friends, but only if she wants to. Don’t ask her to cook. It doesn’t make her happy.
She knows Tackle and Tail Whip – we’ll make her favourite move Tackle for now. I realise, looking back at the rules, that I only specified that I could change the best-friend relationships after each Gym, but I think it’ll also have to happen each time I change my team, otherwise I’ll end up having ‘mons who are the best friend of multiple others, which isn’t what I was aiming for. So that’s something I didn’t think of, and a revision to the CaringLocke ruleset I’ll have to make for any future runs. Anyway, I am going to reshuffle them; I’m going to have Sheldrake’s best friend be Willow, because he’s impressed by her artistic skills, Willow’s best friend be Mercury, because she thinks it’s great that Mercury got out of a life she didn’t want to be in, and Mercury’s best friend be Sheldrake because he’s the first Pokémon she’s met in a while that treated her like a normal Pidgey.
With that, we’ll wrap it up for the day. This is going to be harder than I thought; I’ll have to be careful! I’m already feeling pretty attached to my three little friends, at least one of whom I’m expecting to die pretty soon, so I’ll just have to do my best to avoid that. Suggestions welcome!
See you next time, when we’ll hopefully make some progress and not die!
Chapter Closing Stats
Pokémon gained: Sheldrake, Mercury, Willow
Pokémon lost: None (thank Christ)
- Sheldrake (Squirtle, M, lv9) – knows Tackle, Tail Whip, Bubble. Favourite move: Bubble. Best friend: Willow. An aspiring academic, Sheldrake travels the land searching for knowledge of all kinds.
- Mercury (Pidgey, F, lvl7) – knows Tackle, Sand-Attack. Favourite move: Tackle. Best friend: Sheldrake. Having escaped a life of dirty deeds, Mercury hopes to be a role model to youngsters who might otherwise choose the wrong path.
- Willow (Rattata, F, lvl5) – knows Tackle, Tail Whip. Favourite move: Tackle. Best friend: Mercury. Chef by lineage, artist by nature.