Do You Even Lift? A Guide to the Gyms

By Rodan, tennisace, and Layell. Art by sandshrewz.
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Ah! The glory of stepping into the Gym and seeing sweaty men and women trying their hardest to get fit. Personally, I've never been to one of these things, but I have seen a lot of pictures of Ninahaza, so these aren't baseless assumptions. The ones I have been to contain many odd sights—warp panels, trivia machines, and the ever elusive garbage can.

In this article, me and my good pals tennisace0227 and Layell will be rating the Gyms of the Kanto region. Each section will be divided into four categories. Gym Layout ranks how fun or infuriating the puzzle is. Overall Strength is based on how hard the Gym leader is to defeat. For Spoils of War, we rank the prize you get for defeating these mighty Gym leaders. Finally, there's Cool Factor; this just rates how fucking cool they are.

Pewter City — Leader: Brock

Okay, picture this: you have just traversed through a forest of death. You arrive in Pewter City, but when you try to leave, a youngster drags you to this building. This will be your first encounter with a Gym. If only it was memorable.


Alright, this Gym layout is pretty barebones—it's just a camper and some walls. There's more to this Gym than meets the eye, however; believe it or not, this Gym is actually gigantic. The measurements are approximately 1 million light-years, as mentioned by generic camper #1!

Gym Layout: 1 million light-years/10


Brock's only really hard to defeat if you were an idiot and picked the worst RBY starter, Charmander. If you selected Squirtle or Bulbasaur, he really is kind of a pushover. BY THE WAY, I AM WELL AWARE CHARMANDER GETS METAL CLAW IN FR/LG, BUT THAT'S DUMB AND CHARMANDER IS STILL AWFUL. Ranting aside, Brock's a wimpy baby.

Strength: 2/10



Spoils of War: 0/10


Alright, this is where Brock gets major brownie points. He's pretty badass; not only is he shirtless in his RBY sprite, but he's also the only person of color up until BW. Does that make my previous statement about brownie points kinda racist?

Coolness: 8/10

Overall: All things considered, this Gym leader is ROCK SOLID (goddamn, I'm witty).

Cerulean City — Leader: Misty

So after exiting hell Mt. Moon, you're greeted by a nice little town filled with criminal syndicates and extremely overpriced bike shops. I say "filled with" because there isn't anything else of note actually in the city, aside from Misty's Gym.

Gym Layout

I'm not quite sure you can call this a puzzle, because it's literally just a walkway over a pool with a couple Trainers thrown in. You can Surf and fish in the Gym when those become available, but that really only becomes relevant in GSC (the generator part is hidden in the Gym, for some reason). I'm sad they didn't use the anime version, with girls in bikinis and Pokémon swimming around underwater.

Gym Layout: ho-hum/10


Misty really isn't so tough. People always talk about how hard her Starmie is to beat, but its best attack is BubbleBeam and it's only level 21. Heck, it doesn't even have Recover! There's a handy place to level up nearby in Nugget Bridge if your Pokémon are under-leveled. If you picked Charmander as your starter, you're still an idiot. However, this time, there are Bellsprout nearby past Nugget Bridge and Pikachu in Viridian Forest, so you're not 100% boned, I guess. People who picked Bulbasaur as their starter will have few problems with this Gym, as will people playing Pokémon Yellow, since you receive Bulbasaur as a gift before you have to battle the Gym and start with Pikachu to boot. People who started with Squirtle will probably have to grab either a Bellsprout or a Pikachu to help out, but resisting BubbleBeam helps tremendously.

Strength: 3/10 (stop picking Charmander in RBY, seriously)


For winning, you get TM11 BubbleBeam. If you have a Squirtle/Wartortle, it immediately becomes your best STAB attack, since you don't get Surf for a while. However, Squirtle/Wartortle will lose hard in the next two Gyms, so it's not as helpful as you would think. If you started with Bulbasaur/Charmander/Pikachu, then it's really not useful at all, considering you can't actually catch a Water-type that can use it before the Gym (you can buy a Magikarp but it can't learn any TMs right away). I guess you can teach it to a Nidoking or Clefable? Really, the big prize of the Gym is being able to use Cut outside of battle, which allows you to progress in the game.

Spoils of War: 4/10 (mostly because of Cut)


Even though Misty in the anime is every fanboy's wet dream, Misty in the game is decidedly less sassy and sexy. There is also a distinct lack of hot sisters or Pokémon aquarium shows.

Coolness: 2/10, would not bang

Vermillion City — Leader: Lt. Surge

Boats. Gotta love 'em. Also trees. In RBY, there were quite a few Gyms in borderline sadistic places. Well, actually only two, but whatever, this is the first one. You can CLEARLY see this Gym when you enter the city, but nope—cockblocked by a boat. Screw boats. And HM moves.


AAAAAAAH! This puzzle may have actually caused World War II. It is literally the worst thing Pokémon has ever done. This is even worse than Pokémon Channel. So I guess I should sum up the puzzle. In two words, I would have to say the best description is: garbage fuck. It is basically a 5x3 "puzzle" in which you need to find two keys in adjacent cans; the twist is that if you screw up, you gotta start over again. PRETTY STRESSFUL, IN MY OPINION.

Gym Layout: -10,000/10


Man, if Lt. Surge was actually even slightly hard to defeat, I'd be impressed. But alas, he is not; he is even more pathetic if you have a Ground-type. I am pretty sure he can legit not even touch you in Red/Blue. In Yellow, he's still quite weak, but he has Mega Kick Raichu, which is kind of a wrench. It's a shame Diglett's Cave is literally 20 steps away from his Gym. Bad location for a Gym, to be honest.

Strength: 3/10


TM24 contains Thunderbolt! This may be the absolute best prize in any Pokémon game. Not only is it early, but it's a ridiculous attack to teach to your Nidoking or whatever.

Spoils of War: 10/10


Lt. Surge fought in the war. I assume he looked like this while doing it:
Lt. Surge dressed up for war

Coolness: 10/10

Celadon City — Leader: Erika

Everyone in this town is pretty chill, y'know? Especially after that creepy Lavender Town place, where everyone is like, dead or a total square. There's, like, a giant department store here and they sell, like, everything, and a random casino type thing with flashing lights and shady looking people. The Gym though, it's really, like, the place to be. There's even this old guy who looks real sad and lonely and he keeps looking inside, longing for his days of old, like an old lost soul. I offered him some of these special Celadon brownies but he said something about being hungry for something younger, so I ate them myself, man; they are like WHOAAA.

Gym Layout

So, like, there are a bunch of Trainers and stuff, man, and they're all, like, Grass Trainers, y'know? But, like, there's not really a puzzle man, more of an anti-puzzle. Like, the mathematical inverse of a puzzle. I mean, the snack aisle at the Celadon Department Store, now THAT was a puzzle, man. Who even thought to put the Cheetos, like, at the very top of the shelves instead of, like, right in front of you? I mean all the Trainettes in this Gym were, like, all lined up in plain sight, man. But nooo, Cheetos, they gotta be on the top shelf, and you gotta grab them with, like, your fingertips. Man, what if, like, my fingertips extended?

Gym Layout: yeaaa, man, these are some dank Cheetos/10


So, like, this Erika chick. She's like, realll chill all the time, and she uses some pretty chill Pokémon. Like, you actually need to watch out for the chill powder they release, because it'll like, put your Pokémon to sleep. I think it's called like... Sleep Powder? Yeah, you probably want to avoid that. Also, like, that Tangela? It has Bind, which means that if it's faster than you, you can't, like, attack until it stops, like, using it or something. If you have a bird Pokémon or like a Growlithe or Vulpix though, you should be fine, dude, since all of Erika's Pokémon are, like, pretty weak to Fire and Flying. Even like, Kadabra or Drowzee work well because they can hit Vileplume and Victreebel super effectively.

Strength: 4/10 if you have a Fire-type or Flying-type, 6/10 otherwise


So after you beat Erika, she gives you some more brownies. Or maybe that was just me, I don't know. She also gave me TM21 Mega Drain, which is pretty okay until you realize that it's useless if you have a Grass-type, because chances are that Grass-type learns a better Grass-type move (either Razor Leaf or Petal Dance). You can also now use Strength outside of battle, which is really nice, because you kind of need it from here on out.

Spoils of War: 3/10, I'd rather have more Cheetos, man


Erika is really, really chill, y'know? The rest of the Gym is lame though since there's, like, no challenge man.

Coolness: 1/10, now someone give me back my Cheetos

Overall: 4.2/10

Fuchsia City — Gym Leader: Koga no Jutsu

Ah, Fuchsia City. After taking a break from 100,000 hours of looking for a Tauros, you should probably head to the Gym. I mean, it's pretty important.


I'm gonna relate this puzzle to my childhood. So back when I was like 5, I figured out that you could look really close to the screen and see the invisible walls. This indirectly led me to needing glasses.

Gym Layout: blindness/10


Alright! The first Gym I get to review that isn't a total pushover. Koga is literally the most annoying Generation 1 Gym leader. Feel free to argue (though I'm right). The main reason for this is because his entire team is tanky as hell and has a ton of status moves. Any smart player can easily outplay him though. He's not hard, but he is annoying.

And, anyway, you should have Alakazam because he's broken, making this a cakewalk.

Strength: 6/10 (use Alakazam)

Spoils of War

Toxic seems good, until you realize how RBY Toxic works.

Spoils of War: 2/10


Koga is a ninja. Ninjas are like historically the coolest thing (I am more of a pirate man myself, but I digress). Even if Koga wasn't cool looking, he would still earn at least a 7/10 for being a ninja alone. He has one major fault though—his anime episode was literally the worst Gym battle ever.

In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice: go ninja go ninja go!

Coolness: 9ja/10

Saffron City — Leader: Sabrina

After finally getting those asshole guards whatever drink you managed to purchase from Celadon City, your first instinct is of course to go right to the Gym. But wait... there are two Gyms? What in the name of Arceus is going on here? Turns out, Sabrina went and beat out that Fighting Dojo and now rules the school... or Gym. Even here, Game Freak knew that Psychic was clearly the best type in the first generation.


I hate these teleporters; really, everyone does. They are the bane of every speedrun, and it's more tedious than challenging. The small screen does you no help; it's really just guessing unless you managed to memorize the right pattern. Also, this is done right after Silph Co., which is also a habitat of the teleporting madness.

Gym Layout: tedious/10


Sabrina carries a whip with her in her Generation 1 sprite, and she will whip you. Psychic is the god tier of the types in RBY, and her Kadabra and Alakazam have both Recover and Psychic, so I hope you enjoy losing. Yellow version is really weird, since her levels are all upped to 50, but she only has the Abra line. Tremble in fear at the level 50 Abra with Flash and Teleport.

Strength: 9/10

Spoils of War

You get Psywave. It doesn't even deal super effective damage; it deals random damage based on the opponent's level, and you'll have received Psychic in the same city. But if you need another Psychic-type attack or need to destroy higher-level opponents, it's okay.

Spoils of War: 3/10


With that whip, I can only imagine she is a dominatrix. I don't really mind that. Sabrina can disable and confuse me any day of the week.

Coolness: 8/10

Overall: 7/10

Cinnabar Island — Gym Leader: Blaine

This island might as well be a thread in Other Metagames, because it is (Hot)! See, because there's a volcano... I am witty, I swear! But seriously, this island is my personal favorite location in Kanto; it OOZES personality—from the lab to the burned down lab.


TM28 IS TOMBSTONER Y/N? This question has undoubtedly been ingrained into your brain. I personally hope for the day that this either a) becomes a move or b) becomes a stoner doom metal band. BACK TO THE TOPIC! This puzzle is quite easy because you can answer incorrectly and it doesn't even make a difference.

Gym Layout: 0/10 (Caterpie evolves into Butterfree)


Flowchart: Do you have Surf? Yes → You win. No? → Get Surf → You win.

Strength: 0/10

Spoils of War

Gosh dang! This is a good TM! Fire Blast is super sexy; whether it be as a fourth Fire-type move on your Charizard, you terrible person, or just on a Nidoking (who is actually good in RBY), it fits every need... WITHOUT IT, YOU WOULD LACK FIREPOWER.


Overall: 5/10

Viridian City — Leader: Giovanni

Finally back to where you first tried to become a Gym master. Much has changed. Maybe that old guy who tried to teach you how to catch Pokémon has died, has he? Guess not. Well, the other old guy is no longer blocking you from entering the final Gym, so get on that. When you enter, you'll notice the advice guy has no idea who the leader even is, no idea at all. But it says Giovanni on the statue right beside him—right beside him. He really needs those glasses!


Hey, it's those swish puzzles from Team Rocket's Hideout. Remember how challenging those were? Nope, me neither.

Gym Layout: swoosh/10


The final Gym—expect to be grounded here. The Trainers have a solid variety of Ground-, Fighting-, and Poison-types, so the monotony of past Gyms is broken for a cycle. In R/B, Giovanni can easily crit you out with his Dugtrio, although his Nidoking and Nidoqueen are complete jokes with Tackle and Poison Sting levels of strength. Yellow ups the ante yet again by giving the Rocket Leader his Persian so Pikachu can do something; also, both of his Nidos have Double Kick, Thunder, and Earthquake, which means they could actually hurt you. Beating this slick guy feels really good for the third time, doesn't it?

Strength: 8.5/10

Spoils of War

The promise of Fissure is really enticing to a five-year-old. It will always kill, and I'll admit I taught it to my Dugtrio in order to be the best. Unfortunately, I had no idea of this thing called accuracy.

Spoils of War: miss/10


The leader of Team Rocket and the last Gym Leader in Kanto. Giovanni doesn't even try to hide that fact with the giant R badge on his suit. Even upon defeat, he decided he's too cool to stick around; in a black screen, he disappears, never to be seen again.

Coolness: 10/10, would battle again

Overall: 9/10

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