Let's Play! Herman Gigglethorpe's Pokemon Solo Playthroughs

To unwind a bit from the frustration of a Bravely Default solo Ringabel run, I've decided to try out a Pokemon solo.

White should be more of a challenge than the older games due to the diminishing returns on Experience Points for overleveled Pokemon.

I wanted something more original than a starter, but it obviously has to be an early game Pokemon. That, and the 5th generation starters are a disappointment anyway! So Panpour/Simipour it is. The "elemental monkeys" receive a lot of criticism on the Internet for their "lazy design", but I like them. They seem viable for the regular game without being overpowering, or too weak to be fun to play. Panpour is in the Medium Fast experience group according to Serebii.

To start out, I picked Snivy in order to get Panpour. Bianca, Cheren, and N were easy as usual. (Is the "ch" in "Cheren" pronounced like "ch", "sh", "k", or as in "L'Chaim"? The only episodes of the cartoon that I've watched were back in the RBY era.)

In the Dreamyard, I got my Panpour and condemned my starter to being frozen in time inside the PC for the rest of the game. Unova isn't Alola, so chances are there's no Poke Pelago for Snivy! Panpour has a Quirky nature and the "Somewhat stubborn" characteristic. I nicknamed him "DonkeyKong" for lack of any better ideas at the time. Maybe "SeeNoEvil" will be its new name upon reaching the Name Rater, wherever that character is in White. . .

Some NPC dialogue in Striaton City was entertaining:

"The Striaton City Gym Leader. No matter how often I challenge him, he always uses Pokemon that I don't like. . ."

-Are you insulting my Panpour? The Striaton Gym specializes in elemental monkeys.

"I think it is all right to move ahead with Pokemon you've trained well, even without thinking about type matchups."

-That's the motto of a solo run, according to the first trainer in the Striaton Gym.

EDIT: 3 million PokeDollars for a chef-prepared Potion advertised on TV in Accumula Town? The Unova economy must be suffering from hyperinflation if their equivalent of QVC advertises items that cost $3,000,000 to middle class families. . .

Whimsicott is the astrological sign for April. "Everyone around you probably respects your strong character". Hyper Potions are a Whimsicott sign's "lucky item". If you pay attention to the dialogue in this game, things get weird quickly. .
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Okay, this is going to be a long post. . .

Panpour defeated Chili the Striaton Gym Leader easily. I was a bit concerned at first that Chili’s Lillipup Work Up would buff it enough to kill Panpour in one hit eventually because I was at a Speed disadvantage. Chili never bothered to attack though, and I got a lucky critical hit. This gym is designed to force players to use Pokemon other than their starters, and that’s where the elemental monkeys come in. All Chili’s Pansear could do was use Incinerate to destroy Panpour’s Oran Berry.

After getting HM Cut from Fennel, I caught a Patrat and named her “HM CUT”. She won’t be used in battle, except in Doubles Trainer battles. In Doubles, Patrat will only use “useless” moves for Panpour like Work Up to simulate a solo battle.

My first loss was against the first Team Plasma Grunt of all things. A level 10 Patrat Bided on the first turn, and Water Gun didn’t do enough damage to kill it before it unleashed its stored power. Wait, I might actually have to use tactics during this playthrough?

Death Count: 1

To get even, I replaced Leer with Work Up. The Patrat Bided on the first turn, and I used the free turns to buff Panpour’s Special Attack. After it failed, I clicked Water Gun, and it got a critical hit! Now that’s overkill. The second Team Plasma Grunt sent out Purrloin and used Assist despite having no other Pokemon. The AI doesn’t check for number of remaining Pokemon, I guess.

Route 3 Cheren was easy, but I was still annoyed because I wasn’t expecting him to charge in out of nowhere. It’s been a while since I’ve played White. Tepig used Defense Curl, Odor Sleuth, and Tail Whip, and I decided to make Panpour Work Up while he had the type advantage. I was expecting him to send out an elemental monkey or something, but he chose the weak Purrloin instead. It only had time to get in one Sand Attack before falling to Water Guns.

Cheren did his part in the double battle against Team Plasma Grunts in Wellspring Cave. Panpour used Work Up on the first turn in case one of the Patrats Bided, while Tepig used Ember. Panpour defeated each Patrat with Water Gun after they were weakened.

A converted warehouse in Nacrene City sells stat buffing items (e.g. X Attack, Dire Hit). I’ll have to remember that. X Defends will come in handy for the Watchog in the local Gym.

Preschooler Juliet near the entrance to Pinwheel Forest almost increased the Death Count. Cottonee used Growth, Mega Drain, Stun Spore, and Leech Seed to great effect. Petilil used Mega Drain too. I had to use a Super Potion, a Paralyze Heal, and a bottle of water to make it through that fight at Level 17. Panpour had 2 HP left after I won! I wonder if the other trainers tell player characters to give up battling if they lose to a Preschooler. Preschooler Juliet’s dialogue after battle indicates that she knows unevolved Pokemon learn moves moe quickly. She’s a child prodigy!

Youngster Keita’s 3 Tympoles were another surprising challenge. The Tympoles’ Bubblebeam was weak, but they had Supersonic. It took a lot of Potions to keep Panpour from killing himself in confusion. They Growled so many times that it was safer to use Water Gun instead of Work Up + Scratch.

After that fight, I decided to replace Scratch with Rock Smash. Rock Smash has the same base power, can hit a few types for Super Effective damage, and has a Defense debuff too. Leveling up to 19 let me replace Lick with the superior Bite. Given that Panpour can learn Scald at level 22, chances are DonkeyKong will burn enemy Pokemon instead of paralyzing them with Lick.

Team Plasma Grunts in formation blocked the way to Pinwheel Forest. If they stick to this tactic instead of sending out low level Pokemon to fight young children, they could conquer the world. The grunt who’s second from the top says “We will steal Pokemon! You’ll never play together again!”. You’d think they’d at least try to hide their true intentions when they’re posing as an animal rights organization. Was the Japanese dialogue this unsubtle? Another Grunt at the Dreamyard talks about Ghetsis “tricking” people with his speeches. If N met any other member of his organization, he’d figure out the ruse in no time.

Back in Nacrene, a waitress at the Café Warehouse called her establishment “a stylish café in a rural area!” The “City” in Nacrene City should dispel any notions of the place being rural, but what do I know?

One of the professors of Castelia University is “Dr. Technic Al’Machine”. With a name like that, he has few prospects in life apart from appearing on talk shows and discussing Pokemon moves. . .such as Quiver Dance that doesn’t even have a TM!

Meeting N in front of the Nacrene City Gym was a surprise. Pidove was the biggest threat on his team, oddly enough. Panpour buffed himself with Work Up while Pidove Leered to lower Defense. Quick Attack hitting a –Defense Panpour did quite a bit of damage. Tympole went down to a single Bite, and Water Gun beat Timburr before it could unleash Bide.

The Nacrene Museum has an Armaldo fossil if you look closely enough. A “meteor that has a space virus attached to it” is another 3rd Generation reference. The guy with the sunglasses in the Gym is helpful enough to tell players that Normal types are weak to Fighting, and Fighting Pokemon live near Pinwheel Forest.

Patrats and Lillipups were easy prey for Rock Smash. Lenora’s Herdier and Watchog were not! I used my only X Defend to prepare for Watchog, but Herdier reduced it to normal with Leer. Take Downs hurt a lot too, and Lenora healed the recoil damage with a Super Potion. Force-feeding Panpour with Super Potions was required to win at Level 21. It may sound like a cheap trick, but you have to do that when you’re dealing with the 5th Generation experience point system with an unevolved Pokemon.

Panpour survived the Retaliate after Herdier died, and slowly took down Watchog with Rock Smashes when he didn’t have to chug Super Potions. He somehow managed to dodge a Hypnosis and avoid critical hits. I can see why this is one of the hardest Gyms in Unova. Beating Watchog gave Panpour Scald, the bane of physically attacking Pokemon in competitive battling.

Having an 80 Base Power move with Same Type Attack Bonus is overpowered for this point in the game. Gorm quoted Sun Tzu’s proverb about knowing your enemy before leaving. If he had followed the ancient Chinese author’s advice, he would have given his underlings stronger Pokemon than Patrat and Sandile. The TM for Grass Knot was available in Pinwheel Forest, which might come in handy if I have trouble with heavy Water types such as Carracosta.

GameFreak must have loved its graphics at the time. It shows in the Skyarrow Bridge design and the sweeping camera angles.

A nice person in Castelia City asked me which elemental monkey I wanted to evolve. After I chose “Panpour”, I received a Water Stone! Evolving Panpour probably isn’t a good idea right now. Panpour will get Crunch at level 43 if I can hold out long enough. Acrobatics is another level up move, but I can always use a TM later if I'm forced to evolve Panpour early.

Castelia City’s Battle Company was fairly easy. Bite’s flinch rate helped with the trainer with all 3 elemental monkeys. “Janitor” Geoff had a Trubbish and a Mincinno. Wouldn’t an alleged Janitor want a Pokemon that cleans the offices instead of a living pile of garbage? Trubbish poisoned Panpour with Sludge, which was a bit annoying, but not much of a threat. Mincinno nearly defeated me with Swift, though. I suspected something weird was happening when he gave me 4000 PokeDollars, far more than the office workers. Turns out he was in disguise to test trainers. He gave me an Experience Share that’s useless for a solo playthrough. Another worker handed me a Scope Lens. Extra critical hits may be worth it in some situations.

The Passerby Analytics HQ sounded dodgy, so I knew I had to check it out. One of the last questions on the questionnaire was “What would you like to become?”. One of the choices was “Team Plasma”. Are they checking for stupid people who’d openly admit to being Team Plasma sleeper agents? I answered “Pokemon” and left.

I went north to the desert and beat up a few Fisherman with Basculins. I’m surprised GameFreak didn’t make an evolution for it, because Basculin’s clearly meant to be the Unova version of Magikarp. Looking in the building near the north exit of Castelia paid off. A man was impressed by my Pokedex and gave me the Eviolite. Guess what item Panpour will use until it evolves!

Another building in the northern part of Castelia City had a party with people speaking in various languages. I know Spanish, so I can quote and (roughly) translate for you:

“¡Es la primera vez que vengo aquí!”=”It’s the first time I came here!” (“Vengo” is present tense, but it makes more sense as simple past in English in this context.)

“¡Pero este precioso paisaje hace que me sienta como en casa!”=”But this beautiful countryside makes me feel at home!”

“¡La próxima vez traeré a mis amigos!”=”Next time, I’ll bring my friends!”

I think the Italian-speaker is saying “Hello! Are you having fun? Don’t feel embarrassed.”, but that’s only because of possibly misleading Romance language cognates. I have no idea if I’m correct here. As for the German guy, I have absolutely no idea what he's saying.

One Team Plasma Grunt said being beaten by a solo Panpour was “Bad for Team Plasma! Or Plasbad, for short!” Bronius said that it would be “amusing” to build a hideout in front of a Gym, but Team Plasma wears Templar armor and garish robes instead of sensible disguises. Ghetsis had a slip of the tongue and said “we can easily create the world that I-I mean Team Plasma-desires!”. How is he fooling N and the citizens of Unova again?

At the Name Rater, I changed the Panpour’s name to “SeeNoEvil”.

The Castelia Gym’s Harlequins were easy to beat. SeeNoEvil used Bite on the Sewaddles, and Scald on the Venipedes and Dwebbles. Burgh, however, is quite difficult for an unevolved Water type. Whirlipede lowered my Physical Defense with Screech, and this forced me to use X Defends when Leavanny came out of its Poke Ball. A critical hit Razor Leaf had this result:

Death Count: 2

I reset when my Trainer “whites out”, because I’m paranoid about running out of money to buy items. The Death Count should be enough evidence of my shame! :p

On Take 2, Whirlipede poisoned SeeNoEvil with Poison Tail. I used a Dire Hit so SeeNoEvil could take out Whirlipede with a critical hit Scald. Using Bite on Leavanny didn’t get a critical hit or a flinch like I had hoped. A String Shot dashed any hopes of SeeNoEvil outspeeding his opponent. Leavanny then Razor Leafed Panpour twice, causing:

Death Count: 3

On the next try, I maxed out SeeNoEvil’s attacking stats with Work Up and gave him a Dire Hit. Whirlipede was as annoying as usual with Poison Tail and Screech. It took several Super Potions, a Soda Pop, and a Lemonade, but eventually Whirlipede fell to a non-critical Scald. Bite failed to get a critical hit or a flinch yet again, resulting in another Razor Leaf-induced failure. Even the Eviolite can’t save Panpour, it seems.

Death Count: 4

RNG-based losses are annoying, aren’t they? I played a bit more cautiously this time around, and used a few X Defends to mitigate Screech along with a Dire Hit. A Work Up boosted Scald beat Whirlipede as usual. Bite made Leavanny flinch and put it in critical health! Burgh healed it with a Hyper Potion, but it wasn’t enough to save Leavanny from a critical hit Bite! I thought Dwebble had Sturdy, so I used Bite again. It knocked it out in one shot. SeeNoEvil was angry after the previous 3 losses.

Unlike Cheren, Bianca was considerate enough to call on the Xtransceiver before fighting me. She wasted a few Super Potions on Herdier, so I eventually made SeeNoEvil use Rock Smash before finishing it off with Scald. I used Work Up to remove the Intimidate debuff from Herdier. Munna had enough time to get in one Psybeam before Panpour Bit it to death. A few Bites took care of Dewott, and SeeNoEvil defeated his rival monkey Pansear with one Scald.

Cheren in the Route 4 desert was a little trickier. Work Up on the first turn against Pidove allowed SeeNoEvil to power through the rest of the fight with Scald. Pansage got in a Vine Whip after SeeNoEvil failed to knock it out in one shot, but the sandstorm finished it off. Liepard’s Pursuit sent SeeNoEvil into critical HP, but fortunately a Scald defeated Pignite before it could act. Beating Cheren leveled Panpour to 31, so I replaced Rock Smash with Acrobatics.

The Route 4 and Relic Castle trainers were easy. Acrobatics took out the Grass types more efficiently than Bite, and Bite destroyed the Psychic and Water types. Scald beat everything else. One trainer was so pleased that someone noticed him that he gave me Soft Sand. Psychic Cybil is a fraud, by the way. She claims to know that I’m a Pokemon trainer through clairvoyance, but anyone could notice the Poke Balls on my character’s belt!

Defeating the Team Plasma Grunt with a Watchog and Trubbish impressed the old man from the Daycare, so he gave me a Bicycle.
This post will cover everything from Nimbasa City to the Cheren fight shortly before Twist Mountain.

When I tried to leave Nimbasa City through the western exit, Bianca marched me over to the Musical Theater. Putting a cane, opaque glasses, and a top hat on Panpour qualifies as “elegant” according to Nimbasa City standards, I guess. The musicals were funny, but I miss the Contests from Hoenn when I played this minigame.

Afterwards, SeeNoEvil beat up the trainers on Route 5, Route 16, and in Nimbasa City’s stadium. Striker Tony (?) said “Both my Pokemon and I still haven’t gotten enough practices. . .In terms of levels, that would be five. . .”. I thought character levels were an abstraction for the players’ convenience, but it turns out they really do exist within the story. :)

Fighting N at the amusement park was much easier than I had expected. I think I had a hard time with the Sigilyph on my first playthrough, but maybe that’s because I relied too much on Pignite at the time. I buffed SeeNoEvil with Work Up a couple of times until Sandile used Embargo. Disabling Eviolite was equivalent to a significant Defense and Special Defense debuff, so I decided to go on the offensive. SeeNoEvil defeated Sandile and Darumaka with Scald. Scraggy couldn’t handle Acrobatics. Sigilyph seemed threatening, but Bite killed it in one hit before it could do anything. Who knew having a level 35 Pokemon with boosted Attack and a super-effective move could make the fight anticlimactic?

I defeated Elesa on the first try, believe it or not. It involved stuffing SeeNoEvil with many X Defends and X Special Defenses at the beginning as the two Emolgas Volt Switched into each other. There were a few close calls with Volt Switch critical hits, but Lemonades and one Hyper Potion healed the damage. When I had a few “safe” turns (Volt Switch is never safe for Panpour!), SeeNoEvil increased his Special Attack with Work Up. I threw in a Dire Hit too.

The real reason for my victory was probably the AI’s refusal to use anything other than Volt Switch for Same Type Attack Bonus. After Scald killed the first Emolga, the second one switched into Zebstrika. A Scald therefore knocked out Elesa’s best Pokemon before it could act. One more Scald defeated the last Emolga. Chances are it was the Eviolite that won the battle. I’m not sure how SeeNoEvil would have fared as a Simipour.

Cheren rudely interrupted me on Route 5. Why can’t he call with the Xtransceiver like Bianca? Then Alder thought it was a good idea to make Cheren and me defeat a few Preschoolers and take their pocket change. Alder is a bully. :p

The Route 6 trainers were forgettable. Few in Unova bother to evolve their Pokemon, even after the 4th Gym, and their levels are stuck in the mid 20s. Worker Filipe in Cold Storage had a Gurdurr. At least that’s a start, but still a speedbump compared to my level 40 Panpour. The Team Plasma Grunts in the storage container attempted to stop me with their Sandiles, Watchogs, and Liepards, but they were at the same level as the Workers’ Pokemon. Cheren called them a “waste of oxygen”, an apt insult for gangsters who can’t beat up a few kids despite outnumbering them 4 to 1.

Clay and the other trainers in his Gym were weak to SeeNoEvil’s Water type. Scald killed everything quickly, and even the Water/Ground Palpitoads were neutral to Water at best. Give them a Gastrodon with Storm Drain at least, GameFreak! Clay’s Excadrill survived the first Scald because it’s a Pokemon good enough to be banned by Smogon’s “Overused” tier. Clay healed it with a Hyper Potion, but the second Scald was a critical hit. Palpitoad was burned by the first Scald when it appeared, and it only had time to use one Muddy Water before passing out. The elevator going down through the mine shaft was fun at least!

Bianca was harder than the Gym Leader. A bit surprising for a character who's supposed to be weak according to the story. Herdier wasn’t too much trouble, but Musharna was surprisingly sturdy even in the mid 20s level range. For the sake of comparison, Panpour is at level 42. It hit SeeNoEvil with a few Psybeams, and Bite wasn’t enough to take it down before Bianca could heal it. I took advantage of the predictable AI and used Work Up on the turn where she used a Hyper Potion, and then made SeeNoEvil Bite Musharna to death. Pansear fainted after one Scald, but Dewott was tough enough to take a couple of Bites and use Revenge. Revenge didn’t do much damage even with the boost that came from being attacked that turn, but I was worried about critical hits. SeeNoEvil still managed to win without chugging healing items in the end. Bianca gave me the Fly HM after I won, so I could go back to previous towns quickly.

Clay took out the previously impassable Galvantula web blocking Chargestone Cave with his Krokorok. The linearity in this game is a bit too obvious sometimes. . .N said I was a “neutral presence” compared to the power-hungry Cheren and the weak Bianca to emphasize the “blank slate” personality of all Pokemon protagonists. Then Professor Juniper showed up and gave me a Lucky Egg, an item that doubles Experience Points gained. It’s as if the game wants me to power level with a solo character! Beating up a random Hiker’s Gurdurr leveled SeeNoEvil up to 43, teaching him his final move Crunch. This was a significant upgrade over Bite, and a Dark type move would be needed for Caitlin of the Elite Four.

“Stone” evolutions are an interesting mechanic in Pokemon, as far as the main game is concerned. SeeNoEvil could have evolved as early as Castelia City if I wanted to, but Simipour doesn’t learn any new moves by leveling up, so delaying evolution was essential. Now that SeeNoEvil has exhausted his selection of moves anyway, it’s time to use the Water Stone!

Panpour Level 43

HP: 110

Attack: 74

Defense: 58

Special Attack: 54

Special Defense: 58

Speed: 72

Simipour Level 43

HP: 131

Attack: 113

Defense: 71

Special Attack: 93

Special Defense: 71

Speed: 103

Panpour would have roughly 87 in both Defense and Special Defense with the Eviolite equipped, so losing it is bittersweet. The gains in Attack, Special Attack, and especially Speed make Simipour superior overall. Offense is better than defense for the main game, since Pokemon have much lower health compared to bosses in other RPGs like Bravely Default.

Chargestone Cave was a breeze after evolving SeeNoEvil. Simipour’s Scald defeated all the Team Plasma Grunts and their weak Watchogs, Trubbishes, and Liepards. The Ace Trainers had the sense to carry Electric type Zebstrikas and Grass type Lilligants. They still couldn’t take Scald or Acrobatics. N’s Pokemon were all from Chargestone Cave, and included Boldore, Joltik, Klink, and Ferroseed. None of them could survive Scalds. N may be one of the more interesting Pokemon antagonists, but as a boss fight he’s weak until the end of the game.

A guy in the Mistralton City Pokemon Center told me SeeNoEvil’s Hidden Power was Psychic. Mistralton City has the Move Deleter and Move Reminder NPCs, but both were useless for my solo playthrough. Skyla the Gym Leader said there was a “sick Pokemon” at the Celestial Tower. I think GameFreak decided to recycle Jasmine’s characterization from the Johto games here. :p The Sky Drop TM was useless to me, as well as the Charge Beam TM in Route 7.

Route 7 and Celestial Tower trainers were smart enough to use fully evolved Pokemon occasionally. They were fond of the elemental monkeys and Swoobat in particular. Mistralton City’s Gym was a joke. SeeNoEvil killed all 3 of Skyla’s Pokemon in one hit! Crunch was super-effective on Swoobat, Scald punched through Unfezant’s low Special Defense, and a critical hit Crunch made the Water/Flying Swanna pass out.

Cheren at Route 7 wasn’t much harder. His team consisted of Unfezant, Pansage, Liepard, and Pignite. Three weak early game Pokemon and a second-stage starter. Come on, Cheren! Blue would have had an Emboar by now. Alder jumped off a cliff after the battle and gave Cheren and me the HM for Surf. It has more base power than Scald, so I’ll use it until I get Waterfall at least.

(If it seems like I'm overexplaining a few things, it's because I may put a version of these posts on the Realms Beyond forum where they probably aren't as acquainted with Pokemon as the average Smogonite.)
Twist Mountain was no match for SeeNoEvil with his Surf and Crunch attacks. The Boldores were a bit annoying because their Sturdy ability that enabled them to hold on with 1 HP after the first hit.

A bit of backtracking can sometimes help in these games, even with a solo Pokemon. Surfing west from the starter location Nuvema Town led me to the HM for Waterfall. A base 80 power Water physical move would be SeeNoEvil's main attack for the rest of the game.

The bridge leading to Driftveil City had Ducklett as a rare encounter. Even though I was only using Simipour in combat, I wanted a Ducklett because it could learn both Fly and Surf. Hidden Machines were a pain before Sun and Moon abolished them. Many of them were weak in battle, such as Cut or Flash, and many Pokemon could not learn any of them. This lead many players to find Pokemon such as Bibarel that could function as "HM Slaves" that were useful only for their non-combat abilities. I therefore nicknamed Ducklett "HM MULE" and released the Tranquill that was my previous Fly user. Catching a Gurdurr in Twist Mountain allowed me to use Strength to push boulders.

After going through the Icirrus Gym, I remembered why I had forgotten Brycen in the first place. He has no personality, and is yet another late game Ice specialist. Gold and Silver had a 7th Gym Leader with Ice Pokemon 11 years earlier. And then X and Y made the 8th Gym Ice. You'll appreciate Sun and Moon's Island Challenge more if you replay the older games and realize how stale the Gym formula had gotten. The Gym layout itself was somewhat more memorable. Sliding across ice over bottomless pits? Are there no building codes in Unova? I would ask the same question about Skyla's Gym, which involves shooting yourself out of cannons. . .

(Yes, I stepped in the path of the 4 dancers to block them and watch them run in place! :p)

Brycen had a Vanillish, a Beartic, and a Cryogonal. Before I switched out Surf for Waterfall, I had used Surf on one of the random Gym trainers' Cryogonals, and the fact that it survived surprised me. Sure, its base Special Defense is 135, but SeeNoEvil was almost level 60. It probably has a terrible Special Attack IV. The Gym Leader battle was another anticlimax. Vanillish died to one Waterfall. Beartic barely survived a Waterfall, so of course that meant Brycen would heal it with an item. I decided to Crunch to soften it up to avoid getting it into critical HP again, and I got a lucky Defense debuff. After that, I just clicked Crunch again. Cryogonal fell to one Waterfall. Maybe the real problem with Ice Gyms is that Ice is a terrible defensive type. Ice only resists itself. Compare that to the Rock type, another one with many weaknesses (Water, Grass, Ground, Fighting, and Steel). At least Rock can resist Normal, Fire, Poison, and Flying!

Simipour is now Level 60. Even the 5th generation experience curve can't stop SeeNoEvil from overleveling almost entirely on Trainer battles!

Dragonspiral Tower was full of Team Plasma Grunts who used mid-30s Scraggys, Liepards, and Watchogs. They managed to do the one thing they were good for: stalling for time. N reawakened the legendary Pokemon Reshiram at the top of the tower, and challenged me to use the other legendary dragon Zekrom against him. The Black Stone needed to revive Zekrom was at Relic Castle in the desert. Time for more backtracking!

The NPC blocking the way to the rest of Relic Castle, and was replaced by more Team Plasma Grunts with their crummy Liepards, Trubbishes, and Watchogs. (The "railroading" in this game is heavy handed. I miss the relative nonlinearity of the first two generations. . .) At least they're not as weak as Team Flare from X and Y! After beating them all, Juniper told me to go back to Nacrene City. Lenora gave me the Black Stone, and everyone said to go to Opelucid City to take on the final Gym Leader.

One thing I like about the story is that the Gym Leaders and the rival try to stop the villains, unlike the earlier games where they sat around doing nothing useful. Unfortunately, Bianca is relegated to "rear guard" duty because she's the main female character.
In the Route 8 swamp, Bianca battled me yet again with a Stoutland, a Musharna, a Simisear, and a Samurott, all in the late 30s-40 range. She actually evolves her starter! Why can’t she fight Team Plasma instead of Cheren? She even has the motivation to do so, because they stole her Munna in Castelia City.

On the Tubeline Bridge, Ghetsis bragged about how Team Plasma would be the only Pokemon trainers left after everyone else is beaten into submission. If our hero Solo had a tape recorder whenever he was near Team Plasma, the villains’ plans would fail once N learned the truth. As soon as I had crossed to the other side, a weird baseball player threw the TM Fling at me. Does he do this to everyone who goes to Opelucid City?

In Opelucid City proper, I checked out the Triple Battle building. Triple Battles were an experimental format that was axed in 2016’s Sun and Moon, and it’s a bit of a shame. They function similarly to Double Battles, but positioning is now a factor. A Pokemon on the far left, for example, cannot hit the opponent on the far right with Waterfall. “Shifting” a Pokemon to another position takes up a turn. As for how I did the Triple Battles, well, I sent out HM MULE the Ducklett and HMSTRENGTH the Gurdurr and had them attack each other. To keep the spirit of a solo run, I had to make sure the partner Pokemon were useless!

Surprisingly, SeeNoEvil couldn’t use the Frost Breath TM from the Icirrus City Gym, even though Water type Pokemon can usually learn Ice moves from TMs. So I had to rely on Crunch for neutral damage against most of the Fraxures, Deinos, and Druddigons that resisted Waterfall. Then I got the idea to replace Acrobatics with Return. Return increases in power when the hidden “Happiness” stat is at maximum, and since this is a solo playthrough, SeeNoEvil got all the “Happiness” points from winning battles.

Gym Leader Iris was yet another anticlimactic boss. I wanted to lower Fraxure’s HP to critical so Iris would heal it and give me a free turn to buff with Work Up, but Return knocked it out in one hit. Oops! Druddigon didn’t do much damage at all, so SeeNoEvil Worked Up twice and used Return again. Return at +2 Attack could kill both Druddigon and Haxorus in one hit. Cheren near Victory Road was another easy opponent. He still stuck with the weak early game Pokemon Simisage, Liepard, and Unfezant. At least he evolved his Pignite into Emboar this time!

SeeNoEvil the Simipour was at level 68, and the enemy trainers hover around the mid 40s at most. The Victory Road trainers used a variety of fully evolved Pokemon. One Stoutland managed to survive a Waterfall, so I guess the early game dog had better Defense and HP than I thought. By the end of Victory Road, SeeNoEvil's level reached 72. I bought many Full Restores and Full Heals at the Pokemon League and set off to challenge the Elite Four. . .

(Of course, I stuffed my HM users into the PC. The Hall of Fame looks so much better when there's only one Pokemon featured there!)
Here's the last update of Pokemon White's main game. And my viewers will be happy to see the return of the Death Count!

Most of the Elite 4 members were easy. Shauntal and Caitlin used Ghost and Psychic types respectively, which meant they were prey for Crunch. Shauntal’s Jellicent disabled Crunch with its Cursed Body ability when it died, but her Golurk and Chandelure had secondary types that were weak to Waterfall anyway. Caitlin’s Musharna got a critical hit Psychic that got the Special Defense debuff when Crunch took it down to critical health. This was concerning, but a second Crunch proved that the first one just had a bad damage roll and knocked Musharna out. Caitlin’s only Pokemon that wasn’t pure Psychic was the Psychic/Flying Sigilyph. There’s no Metagross, Malamar, or Medicham in Unova to make Dark attacks neutral with a secondary type.

The first one I fought, Grimsley, was the toughest. Scrafty and Bisharp were sturdy enough to require multiple Waterfalls to kill, so they got in a few Night Slashes and other attacks suitable for Dark types. His last Pokemon was Liepard. Why do even Elite Four members insist on using “PU” tier early game Pokemon?

When fighting the Fighting master Marshal, I made sure to buff with Work Ups against Throh before taking on the other Pokemon. I knew Sawk had the annoying Sturdy ability, so I tried to soften it up with a half damage Crunch before finishing it off. Unfortunately, a buffed Simipour was too strong to prevent it from going into critical HP. Conkeldurr was easy after having to fight an opponent that couldn’t be killed in one hit from max health!

N had defeated the Champion Alder right before I did. He thought becoming Champion of the Pokemon League made him emperor of Unova or something, so he was about to command everyone to release their Pokemon. Cheren beat the Elite Four right after I did, and stayed behind to help Alder while I was in Team Plasma’s castle. (How no one noticed a giant castle under the Pokemon League before is beyond me.) No wonder Grimsley said that there were an unusually high number of challengers recently! :p All the Gym Leaders except for the Striaton triplets showed up to battle the Seven Sages of Team Plasma while they were wasting time shouting ominous platitudes at me. The Shadow Triad gave me the opportunity to heal, probably because N was more honorable than the rest of Team Plasma and wanted a fair fight.

One scientist bragged about being able to hack into the PC system so they could steal all the Pokemon inside. This raises more questions, especially when you know PC Pokemon go to a physical resort island in Sun and Moon. . .Another Grunt said that “Team Galactic and Team Rocket drew too much attention to themselves”. How were they any less conspicuous than Team Plasma? Not many people run around in Templar armor and colorful robes. N and the rest of Team Plasma assume I can’t win without a legendary Pokemon, but they didn’t account for my level advantage, did they?

Catching Zekrom was required to advance the plot, so I threw the Master Ball at it on the first turn. The final N battle was supposed to be a showdown between the legendary Dragon types, but I switched out Zekrom for SeeNoEvil on turn 1 and never used it.

Reshiram dealt significant damage with Fusion Flare even though it was “not very effective” against Water Pokemon like my Simipour. Reshiram’s Reflect halving physical damage was annoying to deal with, because all of SeeNoEvil’s moves were based on Attack. It took a few healing items, but I was able to Work Up a few times and defeat the rest of his team with Waterfall and Return. Carracosta was knocked out in 2 hits from Return after Sturdy activated and N used a Full Restore on it. That’s how overpowered buffing can be in this series. Vanilluxe, Zoroark, and Archeops all died in one hit.

Ghetsis led with Cofagrigus and used Toxic when I switched out Zekrom on the first turn for my solo SeeNoEvil. It continued to poison Simipour whenever I cured it, but it occasionally gave me an opening when it used Shadow Ball or a failed Protect. I made sure to Work Up a few times to deal with the dreaded Dark/Dragon Hydreigon. That tactic paid off because Hydreigon died in one hit to Return. :)

The rest of Ghetsis’s team consisted of Bisharp, Bouffalant, Seismitoad, and Eelektross. All of them were in the 50s, and SeeNoEvil was at 76 by the end of the fight. Eelektross would have been a threat if I hadn’t outsped it and killed it with a Work Up-boosted Waterfall on the turn it came out of its Poke Ball.

After Ghetsis’s plans failed, N flew off into the sunset with Reshiram. The international police agent Looker appeared disguised as Solo’s mom, and asked me to hunt down the remaining Seven Sages of Team Plasma. He also gave me a Super Rod for no reason. That isn’t an exaggeration. Looker even said fishing had nothing to do with my quest! Yes, I will do the postgame. It doesn’t feel right to leave the eastern half of Unova unexplored. Cheren was too incompetent to prevent Ghetsis from escaping. I knew we should have sent Bianca instead.

Ace Trainer Glinda at the end of Marvelous Bridge introduced Rotation Battles, a weird variant of Single Battles where you have 3 Pokemon on the field and can switch one to the frontline without using up a turn. Unlike the typical Single Battle trainer, Glinda knew how to switch between her Beheeyem, Alomomola, and Klinklang to decent effect. All of them were about level 65, while Ghetsis’s strongest Pokemon is his level 54 Hydreigon. Glinda could save Unova by herself if she cared about Team Plasma at all! The average level of enemy Pokemon increases considerably in eastern Unova.

Pokefan Elliott had Gulpin, Drifloon, Spheal, and Swablu, all Pokemon from previous games. I knew it was officially the postgame once trainers stopped using only Unova Pokemon.

Pokemon Ranger Shelly on Route 15 had an Altaria and an Abomasnow. Altaria was simple to defeat with a Work Up, but its Cotton Guard (+3 Defense) and Dragon Dance (+1 Attack, +1 Speed) buffs were concerning. The Grass/Ice Abomasnow had slightly too much Defense and HP to die to a single +1 Return, and knocked both itself and SeeNoEvil with a Wood Hammer.

Death Count: 5

On the second attempt, I realized that Altaria’s Dragon Dances were wasted. It only attacked with the Special attack Dragon Pulse instead of a physical move like Dragon Claw. I could therefore safely use Work Up twice. A +2 Return made Abomasnow pass out on the first turn. SeeNoEvil had been avenged!

Hiker Kit took me by surprise. He spoke Italian as far as I could tell. If you’re going to speak a Romance language in this otherwise English script, at least pick Spanish so I can understand! :p His Hippowdon nearly knocked me out with gradual damage from Sandstorm. Work Up boosted Waterfalls defeated all his Pokemon in one hit, so no sixth Death Count yet! Professor Park told me about Poke Transfer, but solo playthroughs don’t care about getting Pokemon from Sinnoh or Johto.

The eastern end of Route 15 has one of two locations depending on your version. Since I’m playing White, Route 15 led to White Forest. This place has several annoying gimmicks. It seems the number of residents is based on time elapsed before you first entered. This punishes anyone who isn’t a speedrunner. Residents can be exchanged with Black City in Pokemon Black, but this requires use of Entralink, and Nintendo shut down the servers for DS games in 2014 or so. Pokemon from older games can be found here, but each one is tied to a different resident. One old man in my White Forest says Wooper lives there, for example.

White Forest also featured two Triple Battles. School Kid Shayne nearly defeated me with a Focus Punch Scrafty because SeeNoEvil attacked Cofagrigus with Crunch first. HM CUT the Patrat was about to become Watchog after the fight, but I pressed B. I wasn’t about to give a Pokemon that useless the dignity of evolution. :p
Here's the final update for the Unovan adventures of SeeNoEvil the Simipour. I may do another solo challenge with another Pokemon in a different game in this thread eventually.

Route 14 had the unfortunately named Ace Trainer Junko. Does she pronounce it “Hoonko” or “Yoonko”? She sent out a Purugly that confused SeeNoEvil with Swagger after I used Work Up. Using a Persim Berry cured SeeNoEvil, but I had to be careful with them. Most berries were tied to the discontinued Dream World if I’m correct, so I can’t grow any more. A +3 Waterfall defeated Purugly, and SeeNoEvil killed Espeon and Lapras with Crunches and Returns.

A random trainer with a Numel said “If we could greet anyone in the world with ‘Let’s have a Pokemon battle!’ that would be wonderful!” You know people do other things with Pokemon other than make them beat each other till they become unconscious, right? Giallo the Team Plasma Sage was standing near a waterfall, and decided to give me the Bulk Up TM. Unfortunately, SeeNoEvil can’t use it, so I had to stick with Work Up for my buffing move. Looker captured him almost immediately afterwards. Impressive for a guy who hands out fishing rods to potential investigators.

Youngster Wes at Landorus’s shrine must be MikkelDemey in disguise. Who else would level up a Caterpie to 61 without evolving it? (Yes, I know MikkelDemey used a Wurmple in his Pokemon Sapphire solo. :p)

Cynthia the Sinnoh Champion in Undella Town was the main postgame boss apart from Elite Four rematches. Her Spiritomb almost raised the Death Count, and likely would have if it got a critical hit Shadow Ball. I thought I was safe by Working Up against Spiritomb a few times, but Cynthia was smart enough to Double Team until Spiritomb’s Evasion became a pain. None of my Waterfalls would hit it, and Spiritomb gleefully hit me with Sucker Punches and Shadow Balls. Will O Wisp burned SeeNoEvil a couple of times, and only Full Restores could save him from failing. A single Crunch knocked out the troublesome Spiritomb after a while.

Boosted Returns and Waterfalls defeated Lucario, Milotic, Eelektross, Braviary, and even the level 77 Garchomp in one hit. SeeNoEvil went from level 82 to 84 by the end of the Cynthia match, and it was a fun boss fight!

The Swimmers in Undella Bay were easy and typically used unevolved Pokemon. Swimmer Bart (?) said there Water type gyms in Kanto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh. For someone from another country, he seems oddly familiar with “Poke Japan”. Or are Kanto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh countries themselves? It’s hard to tell because the only “government” in these games is the Pokemon League. Pokemon Red has Lt. Surge the “Lightning American”, and other Earth nations such as Guyana exist. The moon landing happened on the same date according to the Hoenn games if I remember correctly. Are Unova , Alola, and Orre part of “Poke America”? I’m curious.

Fisherman Mack on Route 14 was the obligatory 6 Magikarp trainer. Who levels up 6 Magikarp to 60 without evolving them? He’s not a player character, so he’s not doing a joke challenge run. After being defeated, he said “Is my fishing rod bad? Or is it my fishing skill that’s bad? I always catch the same Pokemon”. No, Mack, it’s because you press the B button every time your Pokemon try to evolve!

Youngster Astor may be the only Mothim trainer in existence. Even the most obscure Pokemon deserve a fan or two.

Lacunosa Town and the Village Bridge had interesting concepts, but there wasn’t much to them apart from a few battles. The only reason Lacunosa Town exists is to hint at Kyurem’s location and give it a bit of lore. Village Bridge was even more pointless. It’s a shame that it wasn’t earlier in the game, because a town on a bridge would have been an improvement on some of the main story locations.

Several people on Route 11 spoke French. Maybe they were from Kalos? The artifacts from the Abyssal Ruins date to 3000 years ago, the same time AZ fired the Ultimate Weapon to end the Kalos War. Unova and Kalos are mentioned to have close ties in X and Y. Was this foreshadowing?

The postgame has been a letdown apart from the surprise death to Abomasnow. No wonder I had forgotten everything about it except for Undella Bay! The only challenge left is the Elite Four rematch, apart from maybe killing legendary Pokemon.

After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that after SeeNoEvil defeated Reshiram, he wanted to prove Ghetsis’s statement that legendary Pokemon are not gods, and what better way to prove it than beating them up? (Except for Thundurus, because nobody can find roaming Pokemon. :p) The Giant Chasm had several TMs that would have been useful during the main story, including Ice Beam. Why did GameFreak put Ice Beam in a postgame dungeon? Some of the design choices were a little strange. Perhaps it was meant to encourage players to try out Vanilluxe, Beartic, or Cryogonal?

Kyurem was at level 75, and put up a decent fight. SeeNoEvil Worked Up twice, and I was fortunate that Kyurem wasted a turn using Imprison (prevents opponent from using moves that the Imprison user knows). A Dragon Pulse and an Endeavor (reduces opponent’s HP to your current HP) dropped SeeNoEvil to 77/268 HP, but a second Return was enough to finish off Kyurem and gain the 90th level. Lacunosa Town residents can now go out at night without fear.

Getting through Mistralton Cave to find Cobalion was more difficult than the fight itself. I had to withdraw Zekrom from the PC to teach it Flash. Snivy could have learned it too, but leaving my starter trapped in the PC and using a legendary solely for Flash was a funnier idea. Cobalion was in the low 40s, and used Helping Hand on the first turn. Helping Hand is useless in Single Battles! What were you thinking, Cobalion? One Waterfall was enough to knock out Cobalion and intimidate it into letting me find Virizion and Terrakion. A single Return felled level 42 Virizion in a secret area of Pinwheel Forest. Terrakion was weak to Water, so you can guess how that battle went.

The last thing to do before the Elite Four rematch was tracking down the remaining Sages of Team Plasma for Looker. Most of them surrendered without a fight. Bronius of Chargestone Cave sent a few Team Plasma Grunts with Pokemon in the mid-60s range. Some were more respectable, like Scrafty, but they were still using Watchogs and Liepards! Ryoku in Relic Castle had a single Grunt with a Krookodile. The Team Plasma Grunts and the random Psychics and Scientists in the Dreamyard leveled SeeNoEvil to 93.

The Elite Four now had Pokemon in the low 70s level range. Grimsley now included a few older Pokemon in his roster, such as the Dark/Poison Drapion and the Water/Dark Sharpedo. Scrafty was a threat with its 150 base power Head Smash, but a few Waterfalls took it out. Krookodile’s Intimidate lowered SeeNoEvil’s Attack to -1 when it appeared, forcing me to use Work Up to restore it. This allowed Krookodile to get in a hit. A few Max Potions were needed to survive Grimsley.

Remember how I said there was no Psychic type in Unova that was neutral to Dark type moves? Caitlin read my advice and brought the Steel/Psychic Metagross and Bronzong this time. Musharna put SeeNoEvil to sleep with Hypnosis and attacked with Dream Eater. Setting up on Musharna with turn 1 Work Up was not a good idea! A Full Restore was necessary to avoid another Death Count.

Metagross’s Giga Impact got a critical hit when a +1 Waterfall failed to knock it out in one hit. Fortunately, it only changed the music to the “critical health” track instead of killing SeeNoEvil. A Full Restore healed Simipour while Metagross had to recharge. Bronzong got in a hit with Payback, but it had much weaker offense than Metagross.

Shauntal’s Cofagrigus was as annoying as usual with Will O Wisp. It also had the Grass type Energy Ball to exploit SeeNoEvil’s weakness. One of her new Pokemon was a Drifblim that had Thunder, a base 120 Electric move. If that hit SeeNoEvil, it probably would have added to the Death Count, but fortunately its horrible accuracy saved me.

Marshal’s rematch was challenging too. His first Pokemon was the Grass/Fighting Breloom. Breloom always gave me trouble in competitive battles with its 100% accuracy sleep move, and SeeNoEvil also had a type disadvantage. Using Return on the first round triggered Effect Spore, an ability that afflicts the opponent with a random ailment. It’s odd when you’re happy that your Pokemon is poisoned! :p Breloom whiffed a Sky Uppercut, and a second Return finished it off.

Mienshao was a recurring annoyance with its powerful U-Turn (attack and switch Pokemon), and Hi Jump Kick took off about half of SeeNoEvil’s health when Mienshao decided to stay in the fight. Several Full Restores were needed for this fight. I softened up Sawk with Crunch before hitting it with Waterfall. A 120 base power Close Combat from a Fighting type hurts! Throh was Work Up bait because it was weaker than the rest of Marshal’s team.

Alder wasn’t interrupted by N this time, so I could have a proper Champion battle. He led with Accelgor, a fast and fragile Bug type that can know Energy Ball. A Return was barely too weak to kill it. Energy Ball drained about half of SeeNoEvil’s HP and lowered his Special Defense. I thought Escavalier would be Work Up bait at first. Then a critical hit Giga Impact from Escavalier had this effect:

Final Death Count: 6

Even at level 96, you can still have unlucky losses with a mediocre Pokemon like Simipour. On take 2, I Worked Up before taking out Accelgor. Escavalier decided to use Aerial Ace instead, a move less than half as powerful as Giga Impact. More Waterfall pressure defeated Escavalier. Volcarona is supposed to be the strongest Pokemon on Alder’s team, and is quite dangerous in competitive battles if you let it set up with Quiver Dances (+1 Speed, Special Attack, and Special Defense). Waterfall killed it in one shot. That’s a perk of being a Water type!

Bouffalant survived a Waterfall, only to kill itself with the recoil from Head Charge. Druddigon crumpled after a +1 Return, and a final Waterfall defeated Alder’s last Pokemon Vanilluxe. SeeNoEvil became the lone Hall of Fame Pokemon at level 97 at a play time of 25:46! Simipour was fun to use for a solo playthrough, though sometimes I wish I had used a weaker Pokemon for a greater challenge.

Out of curiosity, I used a few Rare Candies on SeeNoEvil after the credits to get to level 100 and check out its final stats. They are. . .

SeeNoEvil the Simipour

Quirky nature, “Somewhat stubborn”, Psychic Hidden Power
Gluttony ability

HP: 297
Attack: 272
Defense: 166
Special Attack: 215
Special Defense: 163
Speed: 253

Meeting only Unova Pokemon until after the Elite Four gives the region a unique character, even though the geography itself isn't especially interesting in Black and White. Castelia City, Nimbasa City, the desert, and Chargestone Cave were memorable locations, but the rest felt like it was mostly bridges and generic caves and forests. The linearity is a letdown compared to Kanto and Johto which let you go to a few areas out of order if you desire.

Team Plasma is dumber than I remembered. Ghetsis and a few Team Plasma Grunts give away their world domination agenda too early for what is allegedly an animal rights organization. N was one of the better Pokemon antagonists though.

(I never played Black 2, so I can't say if the region had improved in the sequels,)
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For my next solo adventure, I decided to do a Butterfree run of Pokemon Moon. Yesterday, I Wonder Traded my competitive Pokemon so at least someone could get some use out of them in the future. If you received Spanish language Pokemon from a trainer named "Herman", it might have been me.

It took around 20 minutes or so to get my starter. The start to 1st Pokemon time is way too long in this game. Is it better or worse in the Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon remakes? It took a few tries to find a Caterpie in the Route 1 grass. It was level 2 with an "Alocada" (Rash) nature and the "Es extremadamente curioso" characteristic. I accidentally left the screen without giving him a nickname. Maybe "Zhuangzi", after the Chinese philosopher? "Mariposa", because I'm playing in Spanish? Or possibly "Fireburn". He used to use a Butterfree in his 4th generation Wifi battles if I'm thinking of the right person. . .

A level 2 Caterpie wasn't going to survive on its own, so I did the bait-and-switch trick with Popplio to get it up to 3. At level 3, Caterpie could beat the Route 1 wild Pokemon. It's funny watching a Caterpie "Placaje" (Tackle) everything to death! I leveled Caterpie up to 5 this way.

The first trainer was a young boy who was throwing a Poke Ball up and down. He said "Cuando las miradas de dos Entrenadores se cruzan. . .¡Comienza el combate!" ("When the glances of two Trainers cross, the fight begins!") El Joven Luis sent out a level 3 Alolan Rattata. Its Tackles decreased Caterpie's HP to 8, so I was worried that I would have to add a Death Count this early. Fortunately, Rattata wasted its last turn using "Látigo" (Tail Whip. "Whip" is a literal translation) instead of Tackle. Luis said "¡Aaah! !He perdido, pero mi corazón late a mil por hora!" ("I have lost, but my heart beats a thousand times an hour!") Do kids quit Pokemon when they are defeated by a single Caterpie? :p
La Chica Úrsula on Route 1 said “Somos uña y carne” before the fight to emphasize her close relationship with her sister. Literally, this means “We’re fingernail and flesh”. It seems to be the Spanish equivalent of “two peas in a pod”. She sent out a level 3 Caterpie, so the fight was mostly a Tackle exchange. A “Disparo Demora” (String Shot, literally “Delay Shot”) reduced my Speed enough to make the enemy Caterpie go first, but that wasn’t enough for her to win. After my Caterpie defeated Úrsula, she said “Para ti hemos sido carne de cañón” (“For you, we have been cannon fodder”). Talking to Úrsula again revealed that she doesn’t actually have a sister. “Hermanita” is her Caterpie’s nickname because her dad caught it for her when she was born.

Caterpie couldn’t survive the battle with “Tilo” (Hau) without excessive grinding. Pichu outsped it and decreased its Attack to nothing with “Encanto” (Charm). Thundershock paralyzed it too. I had to resort to the bait-and-switch trick with Popplio to defeat both Pichu and Litten. I’ll have to do this at least until Caterpie gets to level 9 and learns Bug Bite. This isn’t like the White playthrough where SeeNoEvil was ready to go right away!

“Kaudan” (Hala) gave me the “Pulsera Z” (Z Bracelet) and introduced the primary new 7th generation mechanic. If a Pokemon holds a Z Crystal, it may power up one of its moves into a “Z Move” once per fight. Scald, for example, would become the much stronger Hydro Vortex. Kukui discussed the “Recorrido Insular” (Island Challenge, “Island Journey”), which is Pokemon Sun and Moon’s replacement for Gyms. Alola is a more traditional region than the rest of the Pokemon world, and doesn’t have a Pokemon League until the end of the story. Trainers therefore go on the Island Challenge and battle the 4 Kahunas and Totem Pokemon instead.

A trainer couldn’t control his Tauros, so it was blocking the way to the nearest city. The linearity of this game is as obvious as it was in White. “Lylia” (Lillie) prevented me from going back to “Pueblo Lilii” (Iki Town) by asking “¿Adónde vas?” (Where are you going?). Beating up wild Pokemon eventually brought Caterpie up to level 10 so it could be a viable solo at last! I delayed the Metapod evolution until level 9, because Caterpie learns “Picadura” (Bug Bite, “Sting/Bite from a bug/snake”) then, and a Bug type move would be super effective against the first Totem Pokemon later on.

After visiting Kukui, the Tauros moved out of the way and I could go to ”Ciudad Haouli” Hau’oli City. Lillie and Kukui frog-marched me to the Trainer School and told me to defeat 4 trainers. Anyone who complains about “hand-holding” in modern games has a point when it comes to Sun and Moon! The NPC hand gestures give them the same “uncanny valley” effect as the residents of Soleanna in Sonic 06, and my character has a creepy blank stare too.

The trainers were easy with an early fully evolved Pokemon like Butterfree. I was concerned about Bonsly because it was a Rock type, but all it did was use “Copión” to copy my Gust. Even though Bonsly’s Gust was super effective, it did very little damage because its Special Attack was abysmal. I equipped the “Garra Rápida” (Quick Claw) I acquired inside the school because I had no better items for Butterfree to hold at the time. Alolan Pokemon are so slow that Butterfree would probably outspeed them naturally anyway. The “Avivar” (Hone Claws, “Stoke Up”) TM was useless to Butterfree, as indicated by the “No puede” message.

One thing that confused me a bit was a difference in the Spanish language. After beating the trainers, I was told to go to the “primer piso” (1st floor). Then I remembered that they actually meant the 2nd floor, because “la planta baja” is used for the ground floor in Spanish. A Magnemite’s Thundershock led to the introduction of the Death Count.

Death Count: 1

Making my Butterfree chug Potions was the key to success against Profesora Julia’s Magnemite. I tried confusing it with. . .Confusión, but that didn’t work. A Bug Bite finished it off. I was paranoid about losing when Alolan Meowth appeared, so I gave Butterfree another Potion. One Bug Bite was enough to finish off the Dark type regional variant. “Capitán Liam” (Iliam) challenged me to come to “Cueva Sotobosque” (Verdant Cavern) and face the first trial of the Island Challenge.

Butterfree had to deal with something much worse than enemy Pokemon: unskippable cutscenes! Someone should tell Lillie and Hau to shut up every once in a while. The first Team Skull Grunt (“Recluta” in Spanish) appeared in the south side of the city, and his Zubat died in one hit to Confusion. Ilima was much more difficult. Yungoos wasn’t too much of a problem, but Smeargle outsped Butterfree and eventually did him in with a critical hit Tackle.

Death Count: 2

Good thing you lose less money when you get a Game Over in Moon than in the previous games! I knew it was going to be a hard playthrough when I lost to a Smeargle, a Pokemon renowned for its terrible stats.

A woman in a wide-brimmed hat gave me an X Defend and told me that X items now increase stats by two stages instead of 1 like in the older games. This makes many buffing moves irrelevant for the main story unless you’re doing a “no items in battle” playthrough, and X items will be quite useful for Butterfree if they’re commonly available. The man beside her gave me an X Attack. I might save that for the Totem Pokemon coming up.

Beating up a trainer’s Pikachu in the Hau’oli Cemetery leveled Butterfree up to 13 so he could learn “Somnífero” (Sleep Powder). Sleep Powder normally has an unreliable 75% accuracy, but the Compoundeyes ability increases it to the point where it rarely fails. Since generation 6, “powder” status ailment moves don’t work on Grass types, but both Bug and Flying are strong against Grass anyway, so Butterfree will have the advantage. I’ll be using Sleep Powder for the rest of the game on anything that Butterfree can’t kill in one turn.

Route 2 was easy even without using Sleep Powder most of the time. Team Skull’s Drowzee went down to a single Bug Bite because of its Psychic type. I’ll have to remember that Drowzee and Hypno have the Insomnia ability that grants Sleep immunity when fighting them in the future. The local Pokemon Center sold X items. The defensive versions of these items were noticeably more expensive. In the 7th generation, they have finally figured out supply and demand. A man outside of the Pokemon Center told me that critical hits only hit for 1.5 times normal damage instead of twice as much like in the older games.

A barricade prevented me from going north, so it was off to Verdant Cavern to face the first trial.
The Verdant Cavern trial involved fighting a few Alolan Rattatas that went down quickly to Bug Bite. Team Skull showed up to interrupt the trial, but I told them I didn’t remember them from the berry patch just to mess with them. After his Drowzee died to two Bug Bites, one Grunt said “¡No busques en diccionarios ni en tesauros, este Entrenador es más fuerte que un Tauros!” (“Don’t look in a dictionary or a thesaurus/This Trainer is stronger than a Tauros!”) Whatever flaws the Spanish translation has, it gets the silly rapper theme of Team Skull right. J

The Totem Pokemon was a level 12 Raticate that had an automatic Defense buff. Sleep Powder on the first turn disabled it for much of the fight, but it was still somehow able to summon an Alolan Rattata to fight by its side. The Rattata used Focus Energy to increase its critical hit rate and Tail Whip to reduce Butterfree’s Defense. Totem Raticate woke up after a while and used Scary Face to debuff Speed by 2 stages. A few lucky Quick Claw activations allowed Butterfree to get in the 3rd Bug Bite and kill the Totem Raticate. One more Bug Bite defeated the Rattata ally. This battle was why I delayed Caterpie’s evolution to Metapod to level 9, since the Alolan Rattata family is Dark type and therefore weak to Bug. No healing or X items were required to win at level 15. Butterfree faced the screen and flapped its wings triumphantly after the message “¡Has derrotado al Raticate dominante!” (“You’ve defeated the Totem Raticate!”) appeared.

The reward for the battle was the Normal Z Crystal, which was useless for Butterfree. Most Normal attacks are physical, and Butterfree’s not going to hit anything hard with Return with that base 45 Attack stat.

Professor Kukui gave a mandatory tutorial on Z moves, and used “Carrera Arrolladora” (Breakneck Blitz. The meaning is closer to “Overpowering Run” in Spanish). After finding Lillie’s Cosmog in the “Jardines de Melemele” (Melemele Meadow), Hau challenged me to another battle. Since both his Pokemon could hit Butterfree with super effective attacks, I made sure to put them to sleep. Confusion killed Pikachu, and Gust took out Litten. Sleep is such a powerful ailment in this series that competitive battlers have a house rule that prohibits you from putting more than one Pokemon on your opponent’s team to sleep at a time.

Defeating Entrenador Promesa Hugo’s Growlithe leveled Butterfree to 17 and let me replace the 50 base power Confusion with the superior base 65 “Psicorrayo” (Psybeam). Psybeam still has a confusion chance, so there was no reason to keep Confusion.

Everyone talks like a Spaniard in this translation. Characters say “tío” (“uncle”) to mean something like “dude” or “guy”, and “vale” to mean “OK”. Nobody says these things in the Mexican telenovelas I watch, or the Argentine comic strip Mafalda that I often read. The preterite tense is rare, and in general the present perfect tense is preferred. Is that a Spain thing, or is it because the game is meant for young children or something?

The only place left on Melemele Island was Iki Town, and it was time to fight the first Kahuna. Hala specialized in Fighting types, one of the few elements that Butterfree had an advantage against. I didn’t even have to bother putting Mankey and Makuhita to sleep. I should have used Psybeam on Mankey instead of Gust, but I wasn’t thinking properly at the time. Mankey got in a Pursuit, but Butterfree wasn’t switching out, so it only had 40 base power. Makuhita got in a Fake Out (high priority 40 base power Normal attack), which was irritating. Sleep Powder made Crabrawler useless while Butterfree zapped it with Psybeams. Crabrawler’s Z move would have been worthless since both Bug and Flying resist Fighting.

After enduring the post-battle cutscenes, I received the False Swipe TM, the Fighting Z Crystal, and the ability to ride Tauros outside of battle. One nice feature in Sun and Moon is the fact that you no longer need to teach Pokemon HM moves to navigate the world, since you can now summon non-combat Pokemon to do the same things. Tauros is a replacement for the Bicycle and the Rock Smash move.

On Akala Island, I renamed Butterfree “Firestorm” after the Smogon user who had a Butterfree in his Wifi battles. Firestorm unfortunately failed in the first battle with his new name against “Sina”. Butterfree couldn’t put Delibird to sleep due to its Vital Spirit ability, so its Presents took it down to about half health. Next came Glaceon, who took out Firestorm with one Icy Wind after it woke up.

Death Count: 3

I didn’t want to use X items so early in the game if I could avoid it, so this was probably a preventable death. The next route was easy, and led to the “Rancho Ohana” (Paniola Ranch). Hau greeted me with a battle, and his Pikachu decided to use Quick Attack instead of Thundershock. Maybe he knew it couldn’t stand up to Sleep Powder? Torracat outsped Butterfree and knocked it out in one hit with “Colmillo Ígneo” (Fire Fang).

Death Count: 4

Fortunately for me, the game advanced the plot with no loss other than pride. Never pick Popplio at the beginning if you’re playing a Bug solo, kids! Another trainer’s Carbink woke up early and hit Butterfree with the Rock type “Antiáereo” (Smack Down), for another addition to the

Death Count: 5

To avoid increasing the Death Count to the double digits before the 2nd trial, I’ll probably need to take advantage of Affection benefits as well as X items. Grinding wouldn’t help much thanks to the experience curve from Black and White punishing high level Pokemon. “Affection” refers to a feature introduced in the 6th generation that lets you feed Pokemon and pet them. This makes them like you more, and gives many benefits in the single player mode. A Pokemon with high Affection can sometimes dodge attacks more often, get more critical hits, gain more experience, and endure fatal attacks with 1 HP. When you’re using a solo Butterfree, you have to fight dirty, and I’ll be taking advantage of Pokemon Refresh.

I had to have my revenge on Aristócrata Regina, so I went back to try again. Carbink was asleep for a few turns before using Smack Down again. It left Firestorm with 4 HP, so I had some hope. . .until she used a Full Restore! Rich characters in Pokemon games often use Full Restores long before you can buy them. After putting Carbink to sleep again, it woke up early and used Sharpen to buff its Attack. Another Sleep Powder allowed me to use an X Special and hit it with Psybeams until it died. Fireburn gained a level and replaced Bug Bite with Silver Wind, a Bug type special move with the same base power that has a chance of buffing all stats.

Going near the Pokemon Center on Route 5 led me into a battle with Gladion, the other rival of this game. His Zubat died to a single Psybeam, but Type:Null was tougher. Type:Null is the only Pokemon I know of that has a different name in Spanish: Código Cero, or “Code Zero” in English. It can change types if it holds certain items, but here, it was in its default Normal type state. Putting it to sleep helped quite a bit. The second Silver Wind buffed all of Butterfree’s stats, but I ran out of PP and had to finish the fight with Psybeam. I had a close call with the Death Count when Type:Null got a critical hit Tackle, but it wasn’t enough to finish off Firestorm.

The next trial was at “Colina Saltagua” (Brooklet Hill, “Jumpwater Hill” literally), and was rather short. After defeating the small Wishiwashi, a giant one appeared as the 2nd Totem Pokemon. It had a Defense buff aura, and the weather effect was Rain to boost its Water attacks by 50%. Wishiwashi is a gimmick Pokemon with the ability Schooling. If Wishiwashi is at least level 20 and has more than 25% of its current HP, its base stats will be similar to legendary Pokemon, except for pitiful HP and Speed. If it’s at critical HP, it reverts to a tiny fish with most of its base stats in the 20s. Think of it as a less crippling version of Archeops’s Defeatist Ability.

Since there was no way my level 21 Butterfree was going to survive a Rain boosted Water attack from a Wishiwashi with base 140 Special Attack, I immediately used Sleep Powder. At the end of the turn, the Totem Pokemon summoned a small Wishiwashi that used Helping Hand to boost the big Wishiwashi’s attack power by 50%. The Totem Pokemon’s AI was stupid when it woke up and used Soak instead of an attacking move. Soak changes the target Pokemon’s type to pure Water. It has some uses in competitive matches, such as getting around poison immunities on Steel and Poison Pokemon, but it did no good here. Two or so Silver Winds reduced the Totem Wishiwashi to critical HP. It’s funny to look at a wimpy fish with the Totem aura! J Two more Silver Winds finished off both Wishiwashis.

Before that trial, Nereida gave me the ability to summon Lapras to ride on water. This is a replacement for the Surf HM from earlier games. However, Surf is one of the few HM moves that’s good in combat, and every special attacking Water type would have loved having that move so early. To compensate for this, some developer thought putting the Scald TM on Brooklet Hill was a good idea. If you’ve read my Pokemon White Simipour playthrough, you’d know how effective an early Scald can be. After completing the trial, Nereida awarded me the Water Z Crystal. Does anyone else think the Sun and Moon developers were overly fond of Water types?

Team Skull appeared again, and "Hela" (Hapu) said something about “como Pedro por su casa”. Who is Pedro? Well, it’s a Spanish expression that means “to feel at home”. Sometimes you learn things by playing Pokemon in your second language! The Team Skull Grunt sent out a Drowzee that died to one Silver Wind. The message “¡Toma ya! (“Take that!”) appeared when that happened. Maybe it was an Affection-triggered critical?

Everyone urged me to try out a Battle Royale at the local stadium, so of course I was forced to do it. Battle Royale is a new format where 4 people send out 1 Pokemon at a time and have them fight it out. Whoever has the most points at the end is the winner. Gladion had Type:Null, Hau had Torracat, and the “masked man” who’s obviously not Kukui had Rockruff.

GameFreak’s graphical ambitions for Sun and Moon were too great for older models of the 3DS, so my system lagged during this fight. I tried to use Sleep Powder on Rockruff, but it Protected on the first turn and its Vital Spirit ability blocked Sleep on the second. This is what I get for not looking up every Pokemon on Serebii before fighting them. On turn 2, everyone ganged up on poor Butterfree. Torracat used Breakneck Blitz, Type:Null used Tackle, and Rockruff used. . .some Rock move.

Death Count: 6

Kiawe was impressed by my failure and suggested going to Wela Volcano Park for the next trial. After defeating one trainer and his Kadabra, he said “¡Quiero que Kadabra evolucione! Pero no tengo a ningún amigo con quien intercambiarlo. . .” (“I want Kadabra to evolve! But I don’t have a friend to trade with. . .”) Everyone who’s played the older Pokemon games can sympathize with you, my friend. Trade evolutions shouldn’t exist. As you might expect, the Wela Volcano Park trial involves Fire type Pokemon. Yet another reason why Water types are favored in this game. . .

The first battle was against the Ghost/Fire Alolan Marowak. It woke up early from a Sleep Powder and started using Flame Wheel. Since the first Psybeam took it below half health, I thought I’d try to knock it out with a second instead of taking a chance of a first turn awakening with Sleep Powder. It barely missed the KO, and Marowak hit with a second Flame Wheel. Firestorm endured the hit with 1 HP thanks to its Affection!

Survive With 1 HP Count: 1

Magmar was easy because it used Clear Smog instead of a Fire attack. Totem Salazzle, on the other hand, was not. Salazzle’s 117 base Speed is not only fast for Alola, but places it well above many competitively viable Pokemon from previous generations too. There was no way Firestorm could outspeed it naturally.

On the first turn, it used Torment to prevent me from using the same move twice in a row. A Sleep Powder made it snooze for a while, but then its companion Salandit proved to be a pain too. It hit Firestorm with Poison attacks and Taunted him to disable Sleep Powder. Then Salazzle woke up and started hitting me with Flame Burst, a 70 base power Fire special attack. Firestorm endured the second one, but poison damage knocked him out anyway.

Survive With 1 HP Count: 2

Death Count: 7

The Quick Claw got in some lucky first strikes, but Salazzle still woke up too soon. Even with an X Special, it would take 2 hits with Psybeam unless I got a critical hit. Butterfree endured a hit again, but two Fire types pounding on him was too much.

Survive With 1 HP Count: 3

Death Count: 8

On the third try, I decided to use both Rare Candies to level Firestorm to 27. After Salazzle used Torment on the first turn, I put it to sleep. If I used both a Dire Hit and an X Special, I could knock out the Totem Pokemon in one hit with Psybeam if I got a critical hit. Firestorm did get a critical hit. . .via Affection, not the Dire Hit. The Quick Claw activated that turn too. Good job, Butterfree! He also dodged a couple of moves from the Salandit with Affection bonuses too. Affection may sound overpowered, but you need every advantage you can get with a solo Butterfree. You need luck too, because all the stars aligned properly for this attempt.

After winning, Kiawe gave me the option to Fly to towns that I had visited previously with Charizard. There was also the Fire Z Crystal, but that's another useless item for Butterfree.
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If you want to know how a lone Butterfree beats a Rock type Kahuna, the secret is "luck".

“Jungla Umbría” (Lush Jungle, “Shady Jungle” literally) had the easiest Totem Pokemon. Lurantis is normally an extremely slow Pokemon, but its aura increased its Speed to the point where it outsped Firestorm. I used an X Special on the first turn to ensure I would get a one hit KO when Butterfree used Silver Wind, even if that might not have been necessary. That’s probably because I had such a hard time with Lurantis the first time I played Moon. Solar Blade combined with Sun is a deadly combination to anything that doesn’t double resist Grass like Butterfree.

Lurantis’s ally Trumbeak was more dangerous than its master, so Sleep Powder was necessary to avoid Flying moves. Sleep Powder wouldn’t have affected Lurantis, so I went for Silver Wind. Lurantis died in one hit, so my plan worked! After winning the battle, I got the Grass Z Crystal, which is relevant to Firestorm for once. If Sleep Powder is used as a Z move, Butterfree gets a Speed buff. This is much more reliable than the Quick Claw, and I’ll likely use it for the remainder of the game.

Beating up the trainers in Diglett’s Tunnel, Memorial Hill, and Akala Outskirts leveled up Firestorm to 31, allowing me to replace Silver Wind with the far superior base 90 power Bug Buzz. Unfortunately, several of these trainers had Fairy types that resisted Bug. Bug was already a weak type, GameFreak! Why do you have to make your powerful new type resist it?

The next Kahuna “Mayla” (Olivia) used the worst type possible for Butterfree: Rock. The first attempt involved a lot of bad luck, since Nosepass kept waking up early from Sleep Powder. Butterfree hung on after the first “Avalancha” (Rock Slide), but the second was too much for him.

Survive With 1 HP Count: 4

Death Count: 9

I was much luckier on the second try. Not more skilled. On the turn Olivia used a Full Heal to wake up Nosepass, I used an X Special. A Psybeam and a Bug Buzz killed it after Olivia healed Nosepass with a Super Potion. I had the horrifying realization that Midnight Lycanroc had the Vital Spirit ability after attempting to use Sleep Powder on it, but Firestorm’s high Affection made it dodge a “Lanzarrocas” (Rock Throw). One boosted Bug Buzz took it out, since Lycanroc is unusually fragile for a Rock type. Good thing I used Z Sleep Powder for the Speed boost at the beginning! After that came Boldore, a more conventional defensive Rock type. Sleep Powder and Bug Buzzes kept it from being a problem, but Sturdy was annoying as usual.

Olivia gave me another useless Z Crystal after defeating her, and she told me to go to the Hano Grand Resort. Soon I would go to Ula’ula Island, the third and largest island of Alola.
Anyone who loves the Death Count will enjoy this post.

Before going to Ula'ula, a creepy guy in glasses named “Fabio” (Faba) wanted me to visit the artificial island Aether Paradise. “Samina” (Lusamine) told Hau and me about the Aether Foundation’s efforts to preserve endangered Pokemon and “Ultraentes” (Ultra Beasts, “Ultra Entities”). A monster that looked like a Heartless from Kingdom Hearts came out of a portal and challenged my Butterfree. Since that’s actually a fast Rock type called Nihilego, I doubted I could win. Nihilego’s AI chose Psywave instead of a decent attack, so Firestorm could use Z Sleep Powder on the first turn. About 3 Psybeams knocked it out after that. It's weird that I managed to KO the first Nihilego with a solo Butterfree of all things when I failed on my first playthrough.

The Aether Foundation awarded Tilo with a malasada, and me with the TM Psychic. Hau gets all the crummy rewards despite being a superior trainer! Psychic has been one of Butterfree’s staple attacks since the 1st generation of Pokemon, so I was glad to have it. There are enough Poison and Fighting types in Alola that Psychic would come in handy.

Upon reaching Ula’ula Island, Hau immediately challenged me to a battle. He was courteous enough to heal Firestorm before the fight, but his team meant Firestorm would be in the hospital again a few seconds later. I managed to survive one of Raichu’s Electric attacks and use Z Sleep Powder on it. One Bug Buzz took it out, because Raichu’s Alolan variant is also Psychic type. Torracat woke up after one round of sleeping and used “Hecatombe Pírica” (Inferno Overdrive, “Fiery Hecatomb”). There was no way Butterfree could survive a same type attack bonus Fire Z move no matter how much Affection he had.

Death Count: 10

Hau should be the Champion instead of me. It’s funny when your character is a total failure, yet the story still treats you as the superior trainer.

“Lario” (Molayne) challenged me to a battle on the peak of Mount Hokulani. His Steel/Flying Skarmory wasn’t as much of a threat as I thought, since it used its terrible Special Attack against me instead of its passable Attack. Getting a Special Defense debuff on Skarmory with Psychic helped along with an X Special. Metang fell to a Bug Buzz, and Alolan Dugtrio was fragile for a Steel type.

Another random death occurred on Mount Hokulani. “Montanero Iker” had a Boldore and an Alolan Geodude. Firestorm managed to endure twice from a Rock Blast and KO the Boldore. Then Alolan Geodude woke up from Sleep Powder early both times and killed Firestorm with Smack Down. Never do a solo Butterfree run, kids!

Survive With 1 HP Count: 5

Death Count: 11

The observatory on Mount Hokulani had another bad type matchup for Firestorm: the Electric Totem Pokemon. Vikavolt is sturdier than many Bug types, and the level 29 Totem version had an aura that buffed all its stats. I tried X Special Defenses to survive its attacks, but then it used the physical Spark to take me out anyway. Its Charjabug companion’s Thunder Wave paralysis move didn’t help either.

Death Count: 12

On the second try, I realized it would take 3 or 4 Bug Buzzes to KO Vikavolt without buffs. Firestorm shrugged off a Thunder Wave and endured one Spark, but then a minor attack from Charjabug finished him off again.

Survive With 1 HP Count: 6

Death Count: 13

The Bulbapedia website said Vikavolt couldn’t summon more than 2 ally Charjabugs, so I tried taking them out on take 3 of the Totem fight. It died to one Bug Buzz, but Vikavolt woke up early and took out Firestorm with one Spark. That must have been a high damage roll!

Death Count: 14

Take 4 was the successful attempt. Using an X Defense was the best idea here. It allowed Butterfree to survive a Spark with about half health, which I could restore with a Super Potion. Firestorm’s Affection made it dodge a second Spark. Vikavolt didn’t summon a second Charjabug until it was at critical health. Another Bug Buzz finished off the Totem Pokemon, and Firestorm shrugged off a Thunder Wave paralysis from the second Charjabug. After winning, I got the useless Electric and Steel Z Crystals.

One funny bit of trivia is that Sophocles has the much more mundane name “Chris” in Spanish!
Firestorm the Butterfree has cleared Ula'ula Island now, while my more competent rivals fail to defeat Team Skull. Not as many deaths this update!

“Guzmán” (Guzma in English, but the Spanish name is better), the leader of Team Skull, appeared at Malie Gardens to challengeFirestorm. A Z Sleep Powder and an X Special boosted Bug Buzz defeated his signature Bug/Water Golisopod. Ariados was weak to Psychic.

After beating a bunch of trainers on the south side of Ula’ula Island, “Zarala” (Acerola) told me to go to the abandoned "Supermercado Ultraganga" (Thrifty Megamart, "Ultrabargain Supermarket") to take the next trial. That involved photographing a Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar and then battling them. They were all Ghost/Poison, so one Psychic was enough to turn them back into ectoplasm. The Totem Pokemon was yet another one created specifically to make Butterfree miserable.

Mimikyu was one of the better Pokemon designs that GameFreak made for Sun and Moon. It looks like a bootleg Pikachu costume, and that’s a disguise for a Ghost Pokemon that kills people if they see its true form. Totem Mimkyu’s aura boosted all its stats, and it had the excellent typing of Ghost/Fairy. Fairies in general are more common in this game than they were in their debut games X and Y, and the fact that they resist Bug is a pain. It started the fight with “Carantoña” (Play Rough, “Sweet Talk”), and Firestorm lost more than half his health to it. Z Sleep Powder made Mimikyu snooze. . .for about 2 seconds, when it used its held berry to wake up again. Mimikyu also cannot be killed in one hit thanks to its Disguise Ability that gives it immunity to the first direct damage attack. After that nasty Chesto Berry surprise, another Play Rough killed Firestorm yet again.

Death Count: 15

For Round 2, I decided to use an X Defend to survive the Play Roughs and Shadow Claws. After that, I used up my Z Sleep Powder to get rid of its berry, and Gust to remove the Disguise once a second Sleep Powder sent Mimikyu to dreamland. Unfortunately, Mimikyu was still faster even after the Z move Speed buff. Maybe I should use the Quick Claw for future Totem battles? Firestorm chugged two X Specials in an attempt to knock Mimikyu out with one Psychic.

Firestorm’s mediocre Special Attack wasn’t enough to do the job even at +4, so Mimikyu went into critical HP and summoned a Gengar. The sleep counter favored me this time, so Mimikyu remained passive long enough for a second Psychic to knock it out. Gengar died to one last Psychic when Firestorm managed to outspeed something in this fight for once.

Team Skull showed up to steal a few Pokemon again, and headed off to their base in Po Town. “Francine” (Plumeria) sent out a Golbat and a Salazzle, but both were defeated by one Psychic. Then Grimsley from Pokemon White appeared for some reason and gave me the ability to summon Sharpedo outside of battle. Sharpedo is an upgrade to Lapras that lets you break rock barriers at sea, so I backtracked to the previous islands to look for items. Nothing was valuable to Butterfree. Beating the trainers on Route 15 leveled Firestorm to 43 so he could finally replace the 40 base power Gust with the 75 base power “Tajo Aéreo” (Air Slash). Air Slash’s 5% failure rate is negated by Compoundeyes, and if Firestorm can go first, Air Slash has a chance to make the enemy Pokemon flinch.

At the Po Town gate, two Team Skull Grunts presented Firestorm with a formidable obstacle: a mandatory Double Battle! There goes my solo run. For a bunch of gangsters, Team Skull strictly follows the rules of Pokemon battles. To humor them, I caught a female Caterpie on Route 1, named her “POKEPELAGO”, and had her Tackle Firestorm on her turns.

The level up messages took much longer than the fight against a Drowzee and a Haunter did. That 5th generation experience formula was obvious here! POKEPELAGO leveled up to 16 or so from that one battle, and then I stuffed it into the PC, where it could unlock the Poke Pelago features for me. Affection requires food, and Poke Pelago is an easy way to get more beans. POKEPELAGO may be a bench warmer, but she’s relaxing on the beach at least. Po Town itself is one of the most memorable locations in this game. It has high gates, which sounds strange for a technologically modern place. Why does Po Town have them? I don’t know, but it didn’t stop Team Skull. It has a shabby Pokemon Center, where you can pay Team Skull 10 Pokedollars to heal your team. Surprisingly, they are honorable and won’t poison your Pokemon like you’d expect.

As for the misadventures of Butterfree, Po Town was simple. It was always raining there because it’s based on a certain place in Hawaii, but does this game really need any more favoritism to Water types? All the Team Skull Grunts had pathetic mid 30s unevolved Pokemon such as Fomantis, Gastly, and Salandit. Guzmán wasn’t much tougher. One Air Slash defeated Golisopod, and one Psychic finished off Ariados. The only move Guzmán could use was Ariados’s base 80 physical priority attack “Golpe Bajo” (Sucker Punch, “Low Blow”). There was a Bug Z Crystal in the treasure chest beside him, because I guess Bug types aren’t favored enough by GameFreak to get a cutscene pose when learn their Z move.

After that, Team Skull somehow managed to kidnap Lillie despite Acerola and Hau being there. Team Skull loses to a single Butterfree, but can beat up a Torracat and an Alolan Raichu? Anyway, Gladion became enraged and battled me with a late 30s Golbat, Sneasel, and Type:Null. Firestorm flinched Type:Null with Air Slash, which makes me think this will be my go-to “tactic” for the rest of the playthrough against anything Butterfree can’t kill with one hit. Sneasel and Golbat were too easy to be worth mentioning.

Then “Denio” (Nanu) appeared and announced he was the Kahuna. I like Nanu’s animations, because it doesn’t look like he cares at all about fighting you. His team was Dark themed, which should have been easy because it’s weak to Bug. Sableye only took two Bug Buzzes, and then Alolan Persian appeared. I thought one Bug Buzz could take out a pure Dark type with low Special Defense, and it did. . .but then Persian went first and used Power Gem! Who would ever suspect that a common pure Dark type would learn a rare special Rock move? Then again, Firestorm is tougher than the average Butterfree, so he endured that hit.

Survive With 1 HP Count: 7

One more Bug Buzz took out the Dark/Ground Krokorok. Fighting the 3rd Kahuna leveled Firestorm to 47, teaching him his final level up move Quiver Dance. Quiver Dance is an overpowered buffing move normally given to Bug types that boosts Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed by one stage (i.e. 50% of the initial stat). Quiver Dance is so good it was worth sacrificing Psychic’s moveslot to include it!
Today's Butterfree update is a bit shorter, because I have other things I need to do in the afternoon.

To rescue Lillie and Cosmog, Gladion, Hau, and I set off for Aether Paradise. The Aether Foundation made for better villains than most of Team Plasma ever did. The Aether Foundation used evolved Pokemon that aren’t early route garbage like Liepard or Watchog! They have a pretty good variety too. Butterfree fought everything from Hypno to Porygon 2 to Slowbro in that place. The level gap between Firestorm and his enemies started to widen. Previously, it was about 10 levels above rival trainers, and now it’s about 12 or so. Firestorm reached level 50 in Aether Paradise, and here are his stats:

HP: 133
Attack: 62
Defense: 66
Special Attack: 127
Special Defense: 86
Speed: 96

Several Team Skull Grunts showed up to prevent me from getting to Lusamine, but they were easily defeated with Air Slashes and Bug Buzzes. Guzmán was stronger than I expected this time. Sure, Golisopod died to one Air Slash, but then a Masquerain of all things outsped me and used its own Air Slashes to make me lose most of my HP. It was the battle of the terrible Bug/Flying types. Firestorm flinched on the first turn, and I fed him Hyper Potions to “fish” for a miss. Eventually, Firestorm killed it with a Quiver Dance boosted Air Slash. . .and then lost on the next turn to a surprise priority “Sombra Vil” (Shadow Sneak, “Vile Shadow”) from Ariados. The thought of generation 6 Gale Wings Talonflame and its priority Brave Birds returning keeps Firestorm up at night.

Death Count: 16

On the second try, I was more careful. The “set up on the first Pokemon and sweep away the rest” tactic from the Pokemon White solo worked here too. A Z Sleep Powder made Golisopod snooze long enough to get in a Quiver Dance. When it woke up, it used Swords Dance, but Firestorm outsped it and got an unnecessary critical on Air Slash. Masquerain, Ariados, and Pinsir all died to one Air Slash each, though Ariados managed to get in a Sucker Punch first. Guzmán wondered why he couldn’t defeat me, apparently having forgotten my loss a few minutes earlier.

After a long unskippable cutscene featuring Tapu Koko fighting the Ultra Beast Pheromosa, it was time to fight the leader of the Aether Foundation, Lusamine. I started the fight by putting Clefable to sleep and using Quiver Dance a few times. Maybe I should have used it more, because several of her Pokemon had high Special Defense. Clefable took 3 Air Slashes even with Quiver Dance boosts, at least. Trying to use Bug Buzz on the Ghost type Mismagius resulted in a “not very effective” message and a surprise Fire attack. Some of the type matchups are obscure even to people who’ve been playing these games for 20 years. Firestorm defeated Bewear with an Air Slash, and Milotic was setup fodder for Quiver Dance. Milotic’s “Velo Sagrado” (Safeguard, “Holy Veil”) prevented status ailments for a few turns, which was a bit annoying. Lilligant fell to a single Air Slash.

Lillie decided dressing like a character from a Victorian novel was a bad idea, and decided to wear a ponytail and a backpack instead. She wished to become stronger, and Hau said he didn’t want to depend on my Pokemon all the time. Why did he say that when he keeps beating me in each rival battle? He’s too modest. Gladion suggested going to Poni Island, mostly because the legendary Pokemon could help Cosmog (now a Cosmoem).
This episode features the triumphant return of the Death Count. What do you expect when you try to solo the game with a PU Pokemon?

Hapu’s relative on Poni Island gave me the Machamp Push ability, so I could go back to earlier islands and find items. I picked up the Flying Z Crystal on Ten Carat Hill on Melemele, and the Energy Ball TM in the Lush Jungle. The Flying Z Crystal was on a totem, which made me think that there was supposed to be a trial boss there, but the developers ran out of time. Going back to Poni Island reminded me of Firestorm’s allergy to Rock types, since “Veraneante Silvia’s” Graveler woke up too early and killed him with a Rock Blast.

Death Count: 17

Sometimes fights are determined by luck if you’re playing a solo, unfortunately. Firestorm got his revenge on the second try. A few Team Skull Grunts blocked the path to Vast Poni Canyon, but they were as weak as usual. Plumeria was impressed by Lillie’s desire to rescue Guzmán from the Ultra Beast world, and decided to give me the Poison Z Crystal.

At the entrance to Vast Poni Canyon, the final Kahuna Hapu challenged Firestorm to a battle. Fortunately, she fought fair and refused to use those nasty Rock/Ground types! Alolan Dugtrio was a bit of a pain to fight because it outsped Butterfree and whacked him with Iron Head. A Z Sleep Powder was necessary for the Speed boost, and when Hapu wasted a turn using a Full Heal to awaken Dugtrio, I healed with a Hyper Potion. After that, another Sleep Powder let me set up with Quiver Dances. The rest of the fight against Gastrodon, Flygon, and Mudsdale wasn’t noteworthy other than an unlucky Accuracy debuff from Gastrodon’s Muddy Water.

Vast Poni Canyon itself is Victory Road in all but name, because it’s a long cave area filled with trainers with evolved Pokemon. A random “Montanero” and his Archeops defeated Firestorm in one hit with Acrobatics. There was nothing I could do against base 110 Speed. I may have to use stealth in a Pokemon game for once to get away from him! Firestorm can always get even later.

Death Count: 18

Veterana Rosa also had a team designed to kill Firestorm. Did the Vast Poni Canyon trainers form an anti-Butterfree alliance when they knew I’d show up? Rosa’s first Pokemon was a Starmie that was faster than Firestorm and had Power Gem! I’m certain Power Gem isn’t on Smogon’s recommended movesets for Starmie, and is only used by sadistic trainers who have it in for early game Bug types. Starmie’s Special Attack wasn’t quite high enough to one-shot Firestorm, so he could put it to sleep and buff with one Quiver Dance.

One Bug Buzz later, and I was very glad I used Quiver Dance. Remember how I said Talonflame keeps Butterfree up at night? Well, here it was, but either it didn’t have Gale Wings, or Rosa’s AI was too stupid to click Brave Bird. Sleep Powder and two Air Slashes defeated it. I was worried Shiinotic had some priority move or something, so I made sure to heal with a Hyper Potion before knocking it out with an Air Slash.

“El Científico Gregorio” had an Alolan Muk that hit hard with “Desarme” (Knock Off, “Disarm”) and Gunk Shot after a rare Sleep Powder miss. Compoundeyes doesn’t increase Accuracy by a flat 30%, but is instead a percentage of the Accuracy of the particular move. Next up was Magnezone, another scary Pokemon for Butterfree that potentially had Sturdy. Sleep Powder worked, and two Bug Buzzes were barely enough to kill it. Gregorio was tough for a guy who idolized Professor Birch of all people! (For those unfamiliar with the 3rd generation games, Birch didn’t have the sense to bring a Pokemon with him when going out into the wild, and the player character had to save him from a weak Zigzagoon.)

A “Chica Mala Jessy” hated Firestorm like the other Vast Poni Canyon trainers. Her Alolan Persian outsped him and had, you guessed it, Power Gem. Setting up with Sleep Powder and Quiver Dance let me finish it off. Her Honchkrow turned out to have Insomnia after Firestorm tried to use Sleep Powder on it, and finished him off with a Wing Attack.

Death Count: 19

Firestorm got his revenge on take 2. On the first turn, Alolan Persian tried to Taunt him instead of using Power Gem. Taunt would normally be bad for Butterfree because it would disable Quiver Dance and Sleep Powder, but an Affection dodge saved me once again. Honchkrow fell to a Bug Buzz.

In a blatant case of rushed development, a Captain named “Rika” (Mina) appeared and said she didn’t have a trial prepared for me. Then she gave me the Fairy Z Crystal as a memento of the meeting and left.

La Veterna Lara had the dreaded Klefki, but she wasted its Prankster priority status ailment potential. She instead used a move that disabled held items. This gave Firestorm the chance to Air Slash it to death. “Veterano Robus” had an Alolan Golem, one of Buttefree’s worst foes. It went down in one Quiver Dance boosted Bug Buzz because it had Magnet Pull instead of Sturdy.

At the end of Vast Poni Canyon lay the final Totem Pokemon, Kommo-o. The trial was another case of the developers not having enough time to complete the game. No Captain was there, and all I had to do before fighting Kommo-o was fight its two pre-evolutions Jangmo-o and Hakamo-o. The Totem Fight was easy for a change, and the enemy Pokemon didn’t bother attacking at all. Yes, they let me use Sleep Powder and Quiver Dance with impunity. The Hakamo-o ally spent all its turns buffing itself, and Kommo-o wasted a round Protecting when it woke up. After two Quiver Dances, one Air Slash took out both dragons. Dragon/Fighting is a cool offensive typing, but not the best defensive one due to the added Fairy, Flying, and Psychic weaknesses. Kommo-o is disappointingly slow for a Pokemon with a 600 base stat total, and is not often used in competitive battles if I’m not mistaken.
I'll throw in a bonus post today, since this is the last part of the story before the Elite Four. Who doesn't want to see Firestorm the Butterfree get his revenge against Montañero Josu and his Archeops?

At the Altar of the Moon, Lillie’s Cosmoem evolved into Lunala, and helpfully sent me to Ultra Space to find Guzmán and Lusamine. Ultra Space was a short corridor filled with cutscenes, and eventually Firestorm had to fight Lusamine merged with Nihilego. This wasn’t as interesting as it might sound, because I ended up fighting the same team from the first Lusamine battle. They all had a mini-Totem aura that boosted a particular stat by one stage. Milotic, for example, had an Attack buff.

Clefable was perfect setup bait for Quiver Dance after a Sleep Powder. There was one scary moment when it used Metronome (i.e. a randomly selected move), but it turned out to be a harmless Megahorn. The rest of the team fell one by one to Air Slashes and Bug Buzzes. Lusamine came back to her senses after the battle, and Lillie thanked me for being useless and making a level 60 Butterfree do all the work.

Lillie wanted me to use Lunala for some reason, although it would make more sense thematically if she had it as her first Pokemon. Like in my Pokemon White playthrough, my Pokemon Moon character thinks legendary Pokemon are false gods and must be destroyed. So Butterfree put Lunala to sleep and set up several Quiver Dances. Lunala did little more than buff its defenses with Cosmic Power and occasionally hit Butterfree with weak Shadow Balls. Upon defeating it, the game seemed to reset. I guess it’s like the Zekrom situation in Pokemon White where catching it is mandatory. On the first turn of round 2, I threw my Master Ball, caught it, and promptly stuffed it in the PC. You can make me catch an Uber tier Pokemon, but you can’t make me use it! (Besides, Lunala turned out to be Adamant, which is one of the worst natures a special attacker could have. +10% Attack, -10% Special Attack.)

Nanu informed me that the Pokemon League on Mount Lanakila had just opened, and it was time to see if I could become the first Champion. When fighting the Elite Four and Kukui, I’ll be sure to save scum. The Death Count will already be high enough without having to redo the entire gauntlet if I lose due to bad luck.

Gladion descended on the first Mount Lanakila elevator with his hand on his forehead like always. He thanked me for helping Lillie, and expressed his gratitude by leading with his Crobat and killing Firestorm with Acrobatics just like that hiker guy in Vast Poni Canyon.

Death Count: 20

Good thing I stockpiled a few Rare Candies! Finding a few more couldn’t hurt either, so I looked up their locations on YouTube. The guy at the Tapu Village café gave me another one for stuffing Butterfree with Poke Beans to raise Affection. I decided to order an “Expreso Granbull” out of gratitude. Firestorm started with these level 61 stats:

HP: 160
Attack: 77
Defense: 82
Special Attack: 156
Special Defense: 105
Speed: 117

Feeding him Rare Candies upgraded his stats to these values at level 73:

HP: 190
Attack: 91
Defense: 97
Special Attack: 185
Special Defense: 125
Speed: 140

Montañero Josu would be the Firestorm’s first victim at level 73. Butterfree could finally outspeed the level 44 Archeops and put it to sleep. A Bug Buzz and Air Slash avenged my earlier defeat. Then he sent out Rampardos, another concerning Rock type. Firestorm put it to sleep, but that wasn’t necessary because Bug Buzz killed it in one hit on the following turn. It’s sad when you celebrate victories over opponents about 30 levels lower than you, but hey, this is a Butterfree solo!

Gladion attempt 2 started off well. Firestorm couldn’t outspeed Crobat, but he survived the Acrobatics thanks to the extra HP and Defense and put it to sleep. One Quiver Dance and Air Slash later, and Crobat was done for. Silvally died to an Air Slash too. I tried Bug Buzz on Weavile, but then its priority Ice Shard was strong enough to finish off Firestorm.

Death Count: 21

Third time was the charm! Firestorm took out Crobat the same way he did before, but this time, I took advantage of Silvally to heal with Hyper Potions. Silvally’s Crunch lowered my Defense, so I needed an X Defend to make up for it. Healing paid off when Weavile failed to KO me with Ice Shard. One Air Slash defeated Lucario. Gladion handed me a Max Elixir after beating him, which I’ll probably use during the Elite Four to restore my PP.

Next up was Hau, and he started off with his most dangerous Pokemon. Alolan Raichu still outsped me even though Firestorm was about 20 levels higher than it. Butterfree could survive the Thunderbolt and exploit its weakness with Bug Buzz. Torracat actually lost Speed when it evolved into Incineroar, so I had enough of an advantage to send it to dreamland. I used an Air Slash just in case it woke up early, since there was still a flinch chance. Incineroar lost about half its health, so I knew a Bug Buzz would be a safe finisher.

Komala was a unique Pokemon. It had the ability “Letargo Perenne” (Comatose, “Perennial Lethargy”) that gave it permanent Sleep status, but with the ability to act as normal. I’ve tried using Komala both on my ingame team and in the postgame Battle Tree during my original Moon playthrough, and it stinks. It’s too slow and frail to do much of anything useful. That meant it was healing and Quiver Dance fodder for Butterfree. Komala often wasted turns trying Sucker Punch, which fails if the opponent isn’t using a direct attack that turn. A Bug Buzz killed it, along with Hau’s last Pokemon Leafeon. Hau gave me yet another useless Max Revive when I beat him. At least I can sell them later if I need to!

I bought a bunch of performance-enhancing X items, then headed off to the Elite Four. . .
It's time for the final update of Pokemon Moon's story! It won't be the last of Firestorm's misadventures. . .

In the Pokemon League, Kukui said that every region had an Elite Four. This makes me wonder more about whether the Pokemon League is more of a sports regulation authority (e.g. FIFA) or an international government. After I responded with “Suena difícil” (“It sounds difficult”), Kukui told me not to worry, because I had Butterfree by my side! That’s reassuring, Kukui. Remind me that I’m using a PU Pokemon.

The battle against Hala was anticlimactic except for his first Pokemon. Hariyama was rude, and decided to use Fake Out for a guaranteed first strike and flinch. It woke up from a Sleep Powder after only two turns, and punished me for using Quiver Dance by Knocking Off Firestorm’s Quick Claw and sending him into yellow HP range. One Air Slash defeated Hariyama, and Crabominable, Primeape, Poliwrath, and Bewear died one by one without getting in an attack.

Acerola was easier than Hala. She led with Sableye, or the best setup bait possible for Butterfree. Sableye is a Pokemon designed to inflict status ailments and occasionally take hits, but its offensive stats are quite weak. A Fake Out made Firestorm flinch, but a Sleep Powder allowed him to use Quiver Dance twice and sweep through Acerola’s team with Air Slash. Sableye, Dhelmise, Frosslass, and Palossand all died in one hit. Drifblim’s massive HP stat let it barely survive so Acerola could use a Full Restore on it, but I simply used Bug Buzz to send it within 2 hit KO range. GameFreak missed an opportunity for a pun, because “Acero” means Steel in Spanish, yet Acerola is a Ghost specialist.

Olivia, the next Elite Four member, was the scariest of all. She was a Rock specialist just like she was when she was the Akala Island Kahuna, and this battle had the potential to increase the Death Count many times. She led with Relicanth, and Sleep Powder lasted long enough for me to get in a couple of Quiver Dances and finish it off with Bug Buzz. Midnight Lycanroc also died to a single Bug Buzz. Carbink was a concern, due to its high Special Defense and the fact that it resisted both Bug Buzz and Air Slash. Stupid Fairy types! Why do you have to resist Bug, which is already one of the worst offensive types? Air Slashes slowly knocked it out while asleep.

Probopass also resisted both of Firestorm’s attacks thanks to its Steel typing. When Olivia kept using Full Restores on it, I had to use an Elixir because Firestorm’s PP ran too low. Probopass’s parting shot was a Thunder Wave, which Firestorm eventually shrugged off with Affection. Alolan Golem didn’t resist Bug Buzz, but it had Sturdy, giving it an extra chance to wake up and crush Butterfree. Fortunately, it didn’t, and Firestorm made it past Olivia without a single death! I made sure to play with Firestorm in Poke Relax and feed him Poke Beans after that victory.

Kahili the golfer was the final Elite Four member. I never saw her at any point during the game, while the other three members were Kahunas or Captains. GameFreak probably intended for her to appear at some point, but the rushed development cycle forced them to abandon that plan. She led with Skarmory, the bane of physical attackers everywhere. However wimpy Butterfree may be, he's a special attacker at heart. Sleep Powder made it snooze, and a critical hit Air Slash after two Quiver Dances activated Sturdy.

After Kahili used a Full Restore, I tried weakening it with Bug Buzz. That not only made Skarmory lose about half its health, but also debuffed its Special Defense. This double resisted attack scared Kahili so much that she switched to Toucannon. Remember, the AI in Pokemon games rarely switches even with an obvious type disadvantage. Butterfree’s Bug Buzz was so intimidating, it made Skarmory of all things retreat.

Kahili wasted a Full Restore on Toucannon, but one Air Slash knocked it out. One Bug Buzz killed the Dark/Flying Mandibuzz. Fire form Oricorio and Crobat died to one Air Slash each, and Air Slash ripped Skarmory’s metal feathers off. Butterfree somehow managed to win a fight against a Flying type specialist at full health!

The only fight left was Kukui, who wasn’t legally a Champion, but might as well have been because he was the fifth battle at the Pokemon League. He led with the worst possible Pokemon, Midday Lycanroc. It was faster than even a level 75 Butterfree, and impaled Firestorm on the first turn with Stone Edge.

Death Count: 22

Events like this are why I made sure to save right before reaching the Champion’s throne. On the second try, Firestorm dodged a Stone Edge thanks to Affection bonuses. That was enough to put Lycanroc to sleep, use Quiver Dance once, and finish it off with Bug Buzz. Braviary was next. Another Sleep Powder and Quiver Dance made sure Firestorm could beat it with one Air Slash.

Next came Decidueye, whose Grass type prevented Sleep Powder from working. One boosted Bug Buzz was enough to deal with it, though. Alolan Ninetails pummeled Butterfree with a Blizzard, but all those Quiver Dance Special Defense boosts ensured survival. An Air Slash killed that, but I think I used another Quiver Dance beforehand. Magnezone was the most dangerous opponent after Lycanroc, and I used a Full Restore to cure a Thunder Wave paralysis. I didn’t want to lose that late in the fight even if it required abusing healing items! An Air Slash softened it up so a Bug Buzz could KO it without risking Sturdy activations or Full Restores. Snorlax fell asleep under Firestorm’s influence, and an Air Slash followed by a Bug Buzz defeated Kukui’s last Pokemon.

Alola celebrated after being humiliated by a single Butterfree with an ending sequence much longer than a portable game has any right to have. Lillie was enamored with the player character’s psychopathic stare and snuck off with him to Tapu Koko’s lair. After her experience at the Altar of the Moon, she too wanted to see a 70 pound butterfly humble legendary Pokemon. Tapu Koko began the fight by using Agility, while I opened with a Quiver Dance. My opponent’s Electric Terrain would enhance its attacks, so I also used an X Special Defense to ensure Firestorm’s survival. After that, it used an Electric move and the fixed percentage damage Nature’s Madness. After Electric Terrain ran out, I could finally put Tapu Koko to sleep. An Air Slash and a Bug Buzz defeated the first Island Guardian, but only made it run away to potentially challenge Firestorm again.

Ten points from Gryffindor for this excessive ending. After I was finally allowed to save, my play time was 27:46. Congratulations, Firestorm the Butterfree! You will be sent out to lose in pointless online battles soon.

EDIT: Butterfree was level 76 when he beat Kukui. Keep in mind that Firestorm only got to such a high level after I stuffed him with Rare Candies right before the Mount Lanakila rival battles. Pokemon Moon has probably the least forgiving level curve for a solo out of any of the main series games. Even Pokemon White gave SeeNoEvil the Simipour the Lucky Egg shortly after the 5th gym.
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Butterfree vs. the postgame, Part 1:

Becoming the Champion allowed me to access the postgame areas of Poni Island. Why they allow random trainers who haven’t beaten the Elite Four inside puzzles me. Anyway, Dexio showed up to tell me about newfangled French Mega Evolution methods developed in Kalos, and challenged me to show them off. Unfortunately for him, he specialized in Psychic types which were all either weak or neutral to Bug! Espeon was a bit annoying because it stole my Quiver Dance Special Attack boosts with some move (Power Swap?), but was quickly taken out with a Bug Buzz. Everyone else died to one boosted Bug Buzz too, even Metagross, and Mega Alakazam. When I put Slowking to sleep, I used a Hyper Potion to heal that initial Espeon Psychic damage. After proving Mega Evolution was a dated mechanic from the 6th generation games, Dexio gave me the ability to use it.

After beating up a few random trainers, I found the Dark Pulse TM on the Poni Coast. A staple Dark move is restricted to the postgame? I guess I should be glad I didn’t try to solo with anything dependent on special Dark coverage. A cave had the Earthquake TM. Tough luck for Ground types who don’t naturally learn it! Ground doesn’t even get its Z move until right after the 4th Kahuna fight either. If you’re using Oricorio, keep in mind that the Ghost nectar isn’t available until the postgame too.

Defeating another “Montañero” gave me the quote
“En esta vida conviene tener presente que no todo el monte es orégano”. “Not all the mount is oregano” seems to be the Spanish equivalent of “it’s no rose garden”, but I’m not entirely sure that’s correct.

At the Battle Tree, Blue and Red from the 1st generation appeared, and asked me if I wanted to challenge one of them. I picked Blue, and the fight began well when he lead with Alakazam. Being a frail special Psychic Pokemon, Alakazam was good Quiver Dance fodder. Perhaps I should have set up more than two Quiver Dances, because Aerodactyl woke up early from sleep and crushed Firestorm with Rock Slide.

Death Count: 23

To wipe the smirk off Blue’s face, I decided to set up all 6 Quiver Dances on Alakazam. It may seem like overkill, but it’s not when you’re dealing with annoying Rock types. A Max Potion was needed to heal several “Premonición” (Future Sight) attacks, but that was the hardest part of the fight. With maxed Special Attack, Firestorm killed Aerodactyl with a single Bug Buzz, then beat Arcanine, Gyarados, Kanto Exeggutor, and Machamp with one Air Slash each. Why didn’t Blue get special theme music for this fight? He had the same music as any other random trainer.

The final notable trainer left was Rika the lazy Captain, but she refused to fight me unless I beat every other trainer on the route. This required withdrawing POKEPELAGO the Caterpie from the PC to “participate” in a Double Battle. All she did was Tackle Firestorm once, and then die to a Draining Kiss from a Comfey. Butterfree effectively took on the Double Battle by himself. Wishiwashi once froze Butterfree with an Ice Beam. How unfair! That kind of bad luck justified using a Full Restore. I made sure to keep Comfey alive for as long as possible due to its weak attacking stats, even though its Light Screen Special Defense team buff was annoying. Light Screen couldn’t save Wishiwashi, Turtonator, or Electivire from Bug Buzzes and Air Slashes. Being over level 80 will do that for you! When fighting Alomomola, I learned that priority moves go before Quick Claw activations. So Quick Claw is just a Speed boost, not a priority item.

POKEPELAGO did her job in one last Double Battle on the route, which was taking a Honchkrow’s attack for Firestorm. The other enemy Pokemon was a Midnight Lycanroc that fell to one Bug Buzz. After that, I deposited POKEPELAGO in the. . .Poke Pelago, so she could enjoy some time on the beach. Rika was yet another significant character who got the generic trainer music. Klefki was setup bait for Quiver Dances, since it was a support Pokemon rather than one with a threatening offense. Klefki, Wigglytuff, Shiinotic, Granbull, and Ribombee all crumpled when hit with Air Slashes. Rather anticlimactic for the final trainer battle of Poni Island!

At this point, the postgame consists of tracking down legendaries and Ultra Beasts. I’ll do that in another update, but let’s take Firestorm online first! A Focus Sash is an essential item for Pokemon with weak defenses in competitive battles. A Pokemon that holds one can survive an attack that would have knocked it out in one shot from full health. Focus Sashes disappear after being used, and are quite rare, making them impractical for the main story. Items consumed online or in the Battle Tree are restored after the fight, so I’ll slap a Focus Sash on Firestorm for those matches.

EDIT: I can't believe it. I actually won a match online using only a Butterfree with subpar IVs and a random EV spread.

See the Battle Video here: PJAG-WWWW-WWWL-6CQE

POKEPELAGO the Caterpie and a random Alolan Rattata were there purely for filler, because the game refuses to accept fewer than 3 Pokemon.
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Firestorm the Butterfree's online tour was mostly a series of defeats, as you might expect.

Then this happened:


For those who can't see the Battle Video, that's a match where an Arceus, a Mega Rayquaza, and a Mewtwo teamed up against Butterfree. . .and lost.

The match went like this:

Turn 1

The enemy Arceus used Blast Burn! It's super effective!
Butterfree hung on with its Focus Sash!
Butterfree used Sleep Powder! The enemy Arceus fell asleep!

Turn 2

The enemy Arceus has to recover from its attack!
Butterfree used Quiver Dance! (Speed, Special Attack, Special Defense boost)

Turn 3

The enemy Arceus switched out! Go, Rayquaza!
Butterfree used Quiver Dance!

Turn 4

The enemy Rayquaza Mega Evolved!
Butterfree used Sleep Powder!
The enemy Rayquaza is sleeping like a log!

Turn 5

Butterfree used Air Slash!
The enemy Rayquaza is sleeping like a log!

Turn 6

Butterfree used Air Slash!
The enemy Rayquaza fainted!

Turn 7

Go, Mewtwo!
Butterfree used Bug Buzz!
The enemy Mewtwo fainted!

Turn 8

Go, Arceus!
Butterfree used Air Slash!
The enemy Arceus is sleeping like a log!

Turn 9

Butterfree used Air Slash! A critical hit!
The enemy Arceus fainted! (Victory)

Since I'm playing this in Spanish, the battle messages may be different in English. Beating an Uber team with a single PU Pokemon is a good send-off to this playthrough. Next update will probably be the last, and it'll feature Butterfree beating up legendaries and Ultra Beasts.
The final update for the postgame will feature Firestorm beating up legendaries, as it should be. Round 2 with Tapu Koko was pretty much “2nd verse, same as the first”. X Special Defenses, Quiver Dances, and Max Potions enabled Butterfree to survive Electric attacks. When Electric Terrain’s Sleep-disabling effect wore off, a Sleep Powder followed by an Air Slash finished off the Melemele guardian.

Tapu Lele’s Psychic Terrain only disabled priority moves, not status ailments. I should have used Sleep Powder on the first turn, but for some reason I went with two Quiver Dances instead. A Max Potion healed Firestorm, and a single boosted Bug Buzz made the Akala guardian “vanish without a trace”.

Tapu Fini’s Misty Terrain disabled all status ailments, including Sleep. Nature’s Madness was a fixed damage attack that slashed Butterfree’s HP in half, so a Max Potion was necessary. Its Moonblast and Hydro Pump were much weaker thanks to Quiver Dance boosts. When the terrain expired, I didn’t bother with Sleep Powder, and Firestorm finished off the Poni guardian with one Air Slash.

Tapu Bulu was the easiest of all. As a Grass type, it was immune to Sleep Powder, but it also was weak to Air Slash. One use of that move made the Ula’ula guardian surrender and flee.

After slaying the Tapus, Firestorm and my player character felt confident enough to respond to a mysterious note from “Handsome” (Looker) asking for a meeting at the Route 8 motel. Looker asked me if I dealt with the Ultra Beast codenamed “Parásito”, otherwise known as Nihilego. His boss “Destra” (Anabel) challenged me to a Pokemon battle to prove I was worthy of fighting Ultra Beasts. And I had a round of some of the worst luck I’ve ever had in this playthrough. Alakazam woke up early and got two Psychics that rolled the Special Defense debuff. We all know what that means.

Death Count: 24

Firestorm wanted to avenge that death against Alakazam, so he dodged the Psychic with Affection. I didn’t want to set up here, so Butterfree knocked it out with one Bug Buzz. Mismagius woke up early (Drink!) and got the lucky paralysis on Thunderbolt. You’ll forgive me for using Full Restores, right? Two boosted Air Slashes beat Mismagius, and then Salamence woke up early (Chug!) and bit Firestorm’s wings off with Fire Fang.

Death Count: 25

Take 3 was the successful attempt. A Quiver Dance and a Bug Buzz defeated Alakazam, and Butterfree had an opportunity for another buff while Mismagius was sleeping. I didn’t bother putting Salamence to sleep, and Air Slashed it to death instead. Snorlax’s high Special Defense and early awakening (Drink!) proved to be annoying. Fortunately, Anabel the queen of luck didn’t get her paralysis chance with Body Slam, so Butterfree could beat Snorlax with two Air Slashes and a Bug Buzz. Weavile didn’t bother with Ice Shard, and Firestorm Bug Buzzed to achieve victory.

My first mission was to take on the two Nihilegos at Diglett’s Tunnel and Wela Volcano Park. The Diglett’s Cave Nihilego put up a significant fight. It woke up from sleep early at least twice, and its Power Gems hurt quite a bit. Being overleveled with Quiver Dance boosts helped survive the Rock attacks, and Firestorm managed to endure one unlucky roll.

Survive With 1 HP Count: 8

Nihilego’s Rock/Poison typing resisted Bug Buzz and Air Slash, and its aura boosted Special Defense. This fight took a while! Nihilego fainted eventually, but it was still on the loose, and the Ultra Beast music was still playing in Diglett’s Tunnel. Fine, this game is railroading me into catching them! They’ll go on Wonder Trade soon and infest some alternate universe instead. Most of the Ultra Beasts were easy to catch once asleep, except for Guzzlord. That’s to be expected, since Guzzlord killed Looker’s partner about 10 years ago. It only took one Thrash after Guzzlord woke up early (Drink!) to kill Butterfree.

Final Death Count: 26

After catching Guzzlord on the second try, Butterfree decided to murder Necrozma. The Lunala music played instead of the Ultra Beast theme, so I thought I could knock it out permanently with two Bug Buzzes. Instead, I got some experience and a text box saying the Pokemon was still around somewhere. Then I realized this was another attempt to railroad me into capturing a legendary instead of killing it. Round 2 took many Sleep Powders, an 1 HP endurance from a Prismatic Laser, and a Heavy Ball. All those Dusk Balls failed, but a Heavy Ball worked. Do the Pokemon at the Poke Pelago make jokes about Necrozma being fat now? Firestorm gained his final level of 84 after the fight.

Final Survive With 1 HP Count: 9

Firestorm the Butterfree’s final stats:

Level: 84

HP: 217

Attack: 104

Defense: 111

Special Attack: 213

Special Defense: 143

Speed: 160

Hidden Power type: Fighting

And that’s the end of the solo Butterfree Pokemon Moon playthrough! I hope you all enjoyed my failures. Don’t use Butterfree for your regular playthroughs, kids. The only way Firestorm succeeded was with overleveling, healing items, and Affection bonuses. Accurate sleep moves may sound great, but enemy Pokemon will wake up at inconvenient times and rip apart Butterfree’s paper thin defenses. Bug/Flying is a bad type to be in Alola due to all the super effective moves enemies will throw at you. SeeNoEvil the Simipour should be grateful he was a pure Water type with only Grass and Electric weaknesses!

The Alola generation has way too many cutscenes for my taste, but the Totem Pokemon made for fun boss fights. Getting rid of HMs was a nice gameplay convenience too. Pokemon Moon was noticeably more challenging for a solo run than Pokemon White. It’s a shame that the game was obviously rushed, but supposedly the Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon versions add in the scrapped content. As for my next playthrough, I’m considering either Sapphire or Pearl. With Sapphire, I could enter the Pokemon Contests with my solo character. With Pearl, I could give Sinnoh more of a fair shake. I’ve played Pearl more than any other Pokemon game because it was the first generation with online battling, but I hardly remember the main game at all.
(Note: I wrote this post last night for Realms Beyond, so if the time seems a bit off, that's why.)

I've been playing around a bit with Pokemon Sapphire tonight, since my DS Lite and GBA cartridges still seem to work. *Knock on wood*

Even though I've played Pokemon since the original Kanto games, Hoenn is probably my favorite region. It has similar terrain to Alola, but feels more satisfying to explore, and the colorful GBA graphics give the 3rd generation games that extra charm.

This will be a bit unusual for a solo run because the Pokemon I have in mind won't be available until shortly before the 2nd gym. Before that point, I'll use Mudkip to speed up the fights in the 1st gym.

It wouldn't be a Herman Gigglethorpe solo playthrough without weird failures, so the first rival battle against Brendan went poorly. Mudkip missed two Tackles in a row, while Brendan's Treecko debuffed my Defense with Leer a few times. Not even Potions could save Mudkip from Treecko's Pounds after that.

Death Count: 1

Immediately after that, I tried again and won. It's definitely possible to lose the first rival battle in some Pokemon games, and Blue in Pokemon Yellow even evolves his Eevee differently based on the outcome of the first two fights with him. I knew I had to play through Sapphire after losing to the first trainer battle!

You may have noticed that I picked May for this playthrough instead of the male trainer Brendan. I almost always play as the male trainers, but I wanted something different. Some of the dialogue is different, such as Brendan saying he expected Norman's kid to be a boy. (The player character you don't choose becomes Professor Birch's child, which leads me to suspect that Norman isn't your biological father.)

GBA cartridges are now so old that you can no longer grow Berries or perform other time-sensitive actions without replacing the battery. I like to think May's wandering through a post-apocalyptic Hoenn where time has stopped and no crops can grow. Team Magma and Team Aqua's plans would make a little more sense if they're acting out of desperation!
May caught a Zigzagoon and named it HM MULE like the Ducklett from my Simipour Pokemon White solo.

Upon reaching Petalburg Woods, May beat up a Team Aqua Grunt and his Poochyena. Why would a gang called Team AQUA give their Grunts a pure Dark type instead of a Water type like Lotad or Wingull? I guess no matter what their theme is, every evil organization must rely on early route trash.

Rustboro City looked distinct from other cities in the Pokemon series, mostly because of its color scheme. The graphics in the old Hoenn games are among the best in the series, and I'd hate to see what GameFreak did to the region with the 6th generation remakes.

Roxanne was the Gym Leader here, and you can guess what type she specialized in from the bad pun in her name. Since there weren't many Rock types at this point, all of her subordinates kept throwing Geodudes at me, which May's Mudkip easily defeated with Water Gun. Roxanne's Nosepass was pure Rock and had better Special Defense than the Geodudes, so it was a legitimate threat. A few Water Guns took Nosepass down to the point where Roxanne kept feeding it Potions, but it wasn't enough to stop May. The Gym Leader battle leveled Mudkip to 16, letting it evolve into Marshtomp and teaching it the Ground move Mud Shot.

Roxanne gave me the ability to use the Cut HM outside of battle and the TM Rock Tomb after May defeated her. Rock Tomb is a mediocre Rock attack that always debuffs the enemy's Speed if it hits.

A guy called the "Cutter" gave me the HM, but I didn't need it quite yet. Team Aqua was causing trouble once again, and stole some "Goods" from the Devon Corporation. May headed east into the unfinished Rusturf Tunnel, where the Team Aqua Grunt was stuck in a dead end. He sent out his easily defeated Poochyena, and then was forced to surrender the Devon Goods and Briney the sailor's Wingull.

As thanks for beating up Team Aqua, May became the Devon Corporation's errand girl. Devon's president ordered her to deliver the Goods to Slateport and a letter to his son Steven in Dewford Town. He was nice enough to give her the PokeNav, this game's equivalent of the Town Map.

I immediately took up Briney's offer of a ride to Dewford Town. Dewford may not be as visually interesting as some of the other towns in this game, but it at least has the gimmick of the "Trendy Sayings". One thing I'm wondering is why this seaside town has a Gym, but not a Poke Mart. The Pokemon League makes some strange choices sometimes.

May went directly to the 2nd floor of Granite Cave, where she finally caught her solo Pokemon of choice. Drumroll. . .


Sableye is one of the 3rd generation's most interesting Pokemon, and is also weak enough to make for an entertaining solo run. It's a Dark/Ghost type, meaning it has no elemental weaknesses! Well, at least until the 6th generation added Fairy types, but I'm playing a much older game than X and Y. Dark/Ghost also grants nice immunities to Normal, Fighting, and Psychic attacks. Then you look at its base stats and realize why Smogon lists it as "E rank" in its ingame viability tiers:

HP: 50
Attack: 75
Defense: 75
Special Attack: 65
Special Defense: 65
Speed: 50

Firestorm the Butterfree had 10 more base HP, 25 more Special Attack, 15 more base Special Defense, and 20 more base Speed. Sableye has better physical Attack and Defense, but that's it. Not having a single stat over 75 is terrible for a Pokemon that never evolves. Its ability Keen Eye prevents accuracy losses from Sand Attack, Mud Slap, etc., which is nice in certain situations. Later games gave Sableye the superior ability Prankster (non-attacking moves get extra priority), and the 6th generation remakes added a Mega Evolution with the ability Magic Bounce (non-attacking moves from the enemy team are reflected).

The next Gym is Fighting, a free win for Sableye.

(I considered doing a Breloom solo for a bit while I was in Petalburg Woods, but thought Sableye would be more fun.)
More of the misadventures of May and her Sableye:

WEAKENED MOVIE was the Dewford trendy saying at the time. No wonder there’s no Poke Mart in this town. No one wants to work near people who can’t even come up with a proper fad.

Brawly should have surrendered his badge as soon as he saw May’s Sableye enter his Gym. The Machops, Makuhitas, and Meditites could do nothing but Detect, Bulk Up, and Meditate while my Pokemon Scratched and Night Shaded them to death. Brawly’s Makuhita feebly attempted to damage Sableye with Knock Off. Sure, Brawly, a base 20 power special attack is going to increase the Death Count. Beating each trainer turned on the lights in the Gym, making me suspect Brawly is a miser and doesn’t want to pay the electric bill. After Brawly lost, he gave me the TM for Bulk Up. This would be a decent move if Sableye could learn it, because it buffs Attack and Defense by one stage. Getting the second badge let me use Flash outside of battle, but HM MULE couldn’t learn it!

Fortunately, Granite Cave was easier to navigate in the dark than Rock Tunnel was in Kanto. No trainers appeared to cause trouble either, so with a few Repels, May delivered the letter to Steven so she could sail to Slateport. Tuber Lola on the beach south of Slateport didn’t add to the Death Count, but I missed so many Rock Tombs against her Azurill that I ran out of PP and had to resort to Scratch. I know I called Rock Tomb “mediocre”, but Normal types are immune to Night Shade, and I can’t get anything better to deal with them for a little while. 80% accuracy is more like 8% in a Pokemon game, and Rock moves have terrible failure rates for some reason.

An interviewer asked May to describe her Sableye. Her response was SABLEYE ALONE CAN WIN OK?. She likes to shout her dialogue whenever possible.

Team Aqua Grunts were outside the museum, paying to enter like law-abiding citizens. What kind of a criminal syndicate is this? Team Plasma at least had the audacity to break into the Nacrene City museum like gangster s should. What made it worse is that the Grunts said they didn’t know what they were looking for inside the museum. Inside the museum, one Grunt remembered me and gave me the TM for Thief before running away scared. Another one said “I didn’t have $50, so it took a long time getting by the receptionist”. $50 Pokedollars is probably worth a nickel, so how poor is Team Aqua? Two Grunts appeared to challenge May when she handed the Goods to Stern. Carvanha was the only Water type they used, and the rest were random unevolved Pokemon like Zubat. After the battle, Archie told May she was too young to understand his dream of flooding the world and ran away.

Slateport had a Contest hall, and yes, Sableye will participate some day. There’s no way he could win without feeding him lots of Pokeblocks, and I can’t get the proper berries until later in the game. Sableye has a Mild nature, making him suited for the Beauty competition.

Pokefan Miguel was annoying to fight even if his Skitty couldn’t attack Sableye directly. He used Attract, and since it was a female Skitty, Sableye spent many of his turns “immobilized by love”. A Sing put Sableye to sleep too. Rock Tomb misses added to the frustration. Eventually, a Scratch finished off the Skitty. At least Pokefans are wealthy and give out generous rewards when defeated.

The cycling road route wasn’t noteworthy apart from the Brendan battle. One critical hit Rock Tomb defeated Numel. Wailmer wasted turns Splashing, so Rock Tomb and Night Shade could take it down. A few more Night Shades beat Grovyle. Grovyle is one of the few cases where the middle evolution looks better than the final form.

A TV in Mauville City featured the interview May had in Slateport. “The bit ‘OK?’ that really accentuates emotional impact!. . .If I had to score this letter, I’d give it 86 points.” An NPC in that house gave May the Rock Smash HM, which was needed to access the northern desert. On Route 117 west of Mauville, Sableye leveled to 29 and learned Faint Attack, a 60 base power Dark attack with perfect accuracy. It’s clear the translators for the Johto games meant “Feint” instead of “Faint”, since that error was corrected much later in the Pokemon series. Faint Attack would be Sableye’s first move that took advantage of same type attack bonus, since Night Shade deals damage equal to the user’s level. Having a move that could reliably hit Normal types was nice too.

May backtracked to Slateport in an attempt to think of a nickname for Sableye at the Name Rater’s house. She settled on “NOWEAKNESS” because of Sableye’s unique typing advantages. The nickname was in ALL CAPS because May liked to shout at random passerby in accordance with Hoenn custom.

The next stop was the Electric-themed Mauville Gym. Several of the trainers didn’t have Electric Pokemon at all, and used Zigzagoons and Meditites instead. This was a strange choice on the part of the developers, considering that several Electric types are available on Route 110 immediately south of Mauville. Not a single trainer in this Gym had a Plusle or Minun! Wattson had a complete disregard for trainer safety and decided to place electric barriers throughout his Gym. No wonder one of his building projects for Mauville failed.

Wattson led with a Magnemite that confused with Supersonic and paralyzed with its other moves. Good thing May had stocked up on Paralyze Heals! Magnemite’s Steel type forced NOWEAKNESS to use Night Shade instead of Faint Attack. Voltorb was surprisingly tough because it outsped Sableye and hit him with Spark. It paralyzed NOWEAKNESS at least once too. The last opponent was Magneton, with a high Special Attack and the perfect accuracy attack Shock Wave. Being over level 30 allowed NOWEAKNESS to scrap Magneton with two Night Shades. All of Wattson’s Pokemon were in the low 20s, a respectable range for this part of the game. Normal playthroughs often have problems with this Gym, especially if you pick Treecko as your starter and don’t have Marshtomp’s Ground type or Combusken’s Fire attacks to deal with Magneton.

Stopping by the east side of Rusturf Tunnel was rewarding. HM MULE smashed the rock separating the two lovers, so the man gave May the HM for Strength. The southern exit had a man looking for his glasses, and the Itemfinder revealed Black Glasses. Black Glasses were going to be useful for NOWEAKNESS because they provided a small boost to Dark attacks.

Getting through the desert was impossible at this point due to the sandstorm, so May had to take the long way around through Mt. Chimney. Mt. Chimney is a much better volcano than Wela Volcano Park from Moon, and it even spreads ash on Route 113! It’s a shame that GameFreak is being rushed with the newer games. . .

Lanette’s lab was west of Fallarbor Town. Her notes said “The name and wallpaper design of each BOX will be made changeable to please the stored Pokemon”. That raises more questions about what happens to Pokemon inside the PC. Judging by Lanette’s notes, they exist in a kind of limbo that has nice wallpaper. In Moon, stored Pokemon are sent to the Poke Pelago, an archipelago within the Alola region.

At Meteor Falls, Team Aqua Grunts laughed about how they were going to do something with a meteorite at Mt. Chimney. Team Magma chased after them, talking about how much they loved dry land. Professor Cozmo was probably confused about all the gangsters dressed in colorful outfits. May rode the Cable Car up to the Mt. Chimney summit. She immediately saw a Team Aqua Poochyena fighting a Team Magma Poochyena. I somehow don’t think Poochyena can “Hose them down!” without any Water type attacks, Team Aqua!

The first Team Aqua Grunt to challenge May told her that they wanted to expand the sea to “give people fun places to swim”. There’s a reason Team Aqua ranks near the bottom of the list of Pokemon villains. The Grunt and Admin didn’t have any Water Pokemon besides the Water/Dark Carvanha that has weak defenses. Come on, Team Aqua, at least throw in a Tentacool!

Even their leader Archie had only one Water type. His first two Pokemon were Mightyena and Golbat, which were Dark and Poison/Flying respectively. Sharpedo, the evolved form of Carvanha, was his signature Pokemon. However, it wasted both its turns using Focus Energy and Scary Face instead of attacking. The AI in this game is a little dim, as you might have guessed. At least Archie seemed to have more of a plan than his minions. He wanted to use the meteorite to make the volcano extinct, and then the crater would fill up with rain and make new habitats for Water Pokemon.

After thrashing several trainers, May wound up in Lavaridge Town to get the 4th Gym badge from the Fire specialist Flannery.
A solo Sableye playthrough update for the midgame:

Flannery's Gym was a bit like Wattson’s because there were a few trainers who didn’t use the theme at all. Kecleon? Meditite? Flannery needs to give her underlings a Torchic. Flannery’s Pokemon ranged from the mid to late 20s in level, and two of them were Slugmas. Sometimes I think the designers were a bit lazy with this game. Her final Pokemon was a female Torkoal. Why did I specify Torkoal’s gender? She knew Attract, of course! NOWEAKNESS spent many turns “immobilized with love” after Torkoal ran out of Overheats and whiffed with useless Flails and Body Slams. This Gym Leader battle was the biggest farce in the whole playthrough so far. Being level 40 made the fight easy, but I used a Soda Pop or two to be sure to survive Overheats.

After beating Flannery, I gained the ability to use Strength outside of battle, and Brendan handed May protective goggles to walk through the desert. While beating up the new trainers on Mt. Chimney’s peak, Sableye leveled to 41 and learned Shadow Ball. Shadow Ball has base 80 power and will be Sableye’s main physical attack for the rest of the game. Yes, a Ghost type attack is physical in Pokemon Sapphire. I think the developers meant for Dark to be physical and Ghost to be special, but made a coding error back in the Johto games. Almost all Dark moves became physical in the Sinnoh games, if you want evidence to back up my suspicions.

May now had 4 badges, so her dad Norman would deign to challenge her now at Petalburg. Norman’s specialty was Normal types, which meant another defensive type advantage for NOWEAKNESS. The trainers mostly used Linoones, Delcattys, and Zangoose (Zangeese?), and their shared gimmick was using a particular buffing item such as Dire Hit or X Defend. Faint Attack slaughtered all the Normal types. Norman was a little more threatening because he had two Slakings. For those who haven’t played the Hoenn games, Slaking is a gimmick Pokemon. Its base stats look like this:

HP: 150
Attack: 160
Defense: 100
Special Attack: 95
Special Defense: 65
Speed: 100

As you can see, Slaking’s stats are on par with the stronger legendaries. How does a Pokemon with no base stat over 75 defeat it? Slaking also comes with the crippling ability Truant that forces it to “loaf around” every other turn instead of using a move. If you can survive a hit from Slaking, you can heal or buff yourself on Truant turns. Since Slaking could only hit NOWEAKNESS with Faint Attack, it wasn’t much to worry about. The second Slaking fell to two Faint Attacks when one of them got a lucky critical. Norman’s other Pokemon was Vigoroth, a more conventional Normal type with the Sleep immunity ability Vital Spirit. That died to a Rock Tomb and a Faint Attack.

Defeating Norman gave me the Facade TM and the ability to use Surf outside of battle. Wally’s parents in Petalburg gave May the Surf HM as thanks for helping their son. One meme people often say about Hoenn is “7.8/10 Too Much Water”, derived from the infamous IGN review of the 6th generation remakes. Hoenn’s critics have a point, because there are an excessive amount of aquatic routes. However, there are ideas like the Abandoned Ship, the strong currents near Pacifidlog Town, and deep sea diving to make it more interesting than the seas of Kanto or Johto.

Imagine May riding on a tiny Zigzagoon across the ocean, and that’s what the next part of the game felt like. NOWEAKNESS bullied trainers who were swimming around Dewford Town with Faint Attacks and Shadow Balls. Sableye may have leveled into the late 40s doing this, but he still wasn’t guaranteed to KO Tentacools 23 levels lower with Faint Attack. That’s how bad NOWEAKNESS’s stats were for a Pokemon that overleveled.

Exploring the Abandoned Ship wasn’t profitable for NOWEAKNESS, but it would have been for many other Pokemon because the Ice Beam TM was there. Ice Beam is a staple attack in competitive battles, and any Water Pokemon that has decent Special Attack should consider learning it. Ice Beam is so overpowered relative to the story mode that Pokemon White placed its TM in a postgame cave. Pokemon Moon restricted its Ice Beam TM to Mt. Lanakila, or right before the Elite Four battles at the end of the story. I joke about how the Pokemon Moon developers were biased in favor of Water types, but Pokemon Sapphire is just as bad about that with Surf and Ice Beam right after the 5th Gym. Making two of the first 4 Gyms weak to Water, and giving the Water starter a Ground type to make the Electric Gym a cakewalk only makes me more suspicious. GameFreak should make a game where the Grass starter is the best as penance.

In Mauville, Wattson wanted May to shut down the defective generator in “New Mauville”. New Mauville was similar to the abandoned Power Plant in Kanto, and featured several Voltorbs disguised as items. Finding the generator was trivial, and Wattson rewarded May with the Thunderbolt TM. Thunderbolt is another classic special attack that any Pokemon capable of learning it should consider.
Route 119 was the next destination. The grass was too tall for my Acro Bike, so May had to walk through it and fight a bunch of trainers with assorted Bug and Flying types. Catching a Tropius here was necessary to get through the game with as few HM users as possible. May was lucky enough to find one early and catch it with an Ultra Ball. Night Shade isn’t just good for ignoring resistances, but makes for a decent Pokemon catching tool. May named her new friend “HM BRONTO”, because he would be on Strength and Fly duty for the rest of the game.

Team Aqua was causing trouble at the Weather Institute, so of course NOWEAKNESS had to whale on them. Sableye leveled up to 50 here, with these stats:

HP: 125
Attack: 95
Defense: 77
Special Attack: 84
Special Defense: 84
Speed: 77

Firestorm the Butterfree had better HP, Special Attack and Speed, but NOWEAKNESS the Sableye performed better everywhere else. The Dark/Ghost typing was far superior to Firestorm’s Bug/Flying, so defensive typing is more important than stats for solos. I’ve only had one death this whole playthrough, and that was an extremely unlucky rival battle with Mudkip.

Team Aqua still had a shortage of Water types other than Carvanha. Even Admin Shelly only had a Carvanha and a Mightyena in the late 20s. The Weather Institute scientists must have been wimps if Team Aqua of all people could intimidate them. One of them said “I’ve been researching rain for many years, but it’s ridiculous to think that humans can freely change the weather”. Clearly he didn’t know about the Rain Dance, Sunny Day, Hail, and Sandstorm TMs.

Brendan appeared to challenge me once again near the Weather Institute. His team was exactly the same as the fight south of Mauville, and was about level 30. Numel, Wailmer, and Grovyle all died in one hit. The Hoenn rival is probably the weakest in the Pokemon series. I don’t know why people hate Hau from Pokemon Moon so much. He’s quite competent compared to several other rivals. I don’t think Brendan will have the final form of his starter for his last battle in Lilycove City, if I remember this game well enough.

A Kecleon blocked the route to the Fortree City Gym, so May had to go east and get the Devon Scope from Steven. He said May’s battle style was “intriguing”. Yes, Steven, the “brute force” method requires great skill. Kecleon is another gimmick Pokemon whose ability Color Change alters its type to whatever attack hits it. If you use Surf on a Kecleon, for example, it will become a Water type. Human players can easily create weaknesses with Color Change and then exploit them, so Kecleon wasn’t common in competitive battles. Later games gave it the much better ability Protean, which changes a Pokemon’s type to the move that it uses.

Fortree City’s Gym was based on the Flying type, and yes, the trainers remembered to bring Pokemon that match the theme. They were mostly from the Swellow, Pelipper, and Altaria families at about level 30. Winona the Gym Leader had a more diverse team than previous Gym Leaders. None of this “two Slugmas” business. Swellow outsped NOWEAKNESS and used Double Team to increase Evasion, but Faint Attack never misses. Pelipper was sturdy enough to take a Shadow Ball, and Winona could heal it with a Hyper Potion. Another use for Night Shade is softening up strong Pokemon so you can knock them out in two hits without going through the “potion cycle”. NOWEAKNESS took advantage of this and knocked Pelipper out of the sky that way. Night Shade ignored Skarmory’s Steel typing and beat it in two hits. Altaria was the only concerning Pokemon due to its high defenses and ability to buff its Attack and Speed with Dragon Dance. Winona was too greedy to settle for only one Dragon Dance, so Shadow Balls could knock it out.

May received the Aerial Ace TM and the ability to use Fly outside of battle after defeating Winona. Fly isn’t necessary to beat the game or advance the plot, but being able to go back to a previous town at any time is too good a convenience to pass up. Sapphire is a less linear game than White or Moon, and you can save a few Gym Leaders for later if your team has a bad matchup. Brawly can be skipped because the event trigger for going to Slateport is delivering the letter to Steven instead of getting the second badge. Winona is another one you can save for later. Keep this in mind for any 3rd generation variants.
Here's a giant update for the end of Pokemon Sapphire's main story. There will be a postgame post eventually.

The next route was a rainy one, further emphasizing GameFreak’s favoritism to Water types. Explaining weather conditions in full would take up several pages at least, so for now, think of rain as “buff to Water attacks, debuff to Fire attacks”. Lilycove City didn’t have a Gym for some reason, but it did have Brendan waiting outside the department store to challenge me to a final battle with him. He shouldn’t have bothered. His Swellow, Numel, Wailmer, and Grovyle all died in one hit. No Sceptile after the 6th Gym? No Wailord or Camerupt either? What is wrong with you, Brendan? Or maybe he’s attempting a low level playthrough and failing. Team Aqua’s Wailmers blocked the path to the eastern sea. This meant May had to backtrack to Mt. Pyre, a Pokemon graveyard. One trainer inside mourned his Zigzagoon, which makes me wonder how long Pokemon live.

At the summit, Archie stole the Red Orb and fled to the Team Aqua hideout in Lilycove. May backtracked again and beat up all the Grunts easily. At least they tried to justify their weakness by saying they were “stalling for time”! Admin Matt was another unremarkable fight with a Mightyena and Sharpedo. Mightyena’s Swagger powered up NOWEAKNESS’s Shadow Ball to finish it off.

Archie then set off with his stolen submarine to try to find the legendary Water Pokemon Kyogre. May’s next move was to Surf to Mossdeep City to take on the next Gym Leaders. Yes, that plural form was intentional, as you’ll see in a bit. Steven was waiting inside his house and handed the Dive HM to May. Neither of my HM Pokemon could use it, so May fished for a Sharpedo.

Mossdeep’s Gym was Psychic type, which might have been difficult if it had existed in the 1st generation where Psychic Pokemon effectively had no weaknesses other than Bug moves with terrible base power. In the 2nd generation, the Dark and Steel types were created to counter Psychics, so NOWEAKNESS had an overpowering advantage. One hit with Shadow Ball destroyed the trainers who used the Natu, Abra, and Ralts lines, and a Faint Attack defeated a wise guy who thought the Normal/Psychic Girafarig could stop May. The Gym Leaders Liza and Tate were twins who refused to battle me if I didn’t have two Pokemon. I tried taking HM MULE out of the PC and making it faint to a wild Wingull, but Liza and Tate wouldn’t accept having an unconscious Pokemon as a partner. Fine! I’ll use a Revive!

To mimic a solo battle, I had HM MULE use a useless Normal attack on NOWEAKNESS. A Psychic from Lunatone knocked out the Zigzagoon on round 1 after Sableye beat Solrock with one Shadow Ball. Another Shadow Ball on the following turn ended the battle. Being level 58 before the Elite Four is a bit too much for the AI. This battle may have been easy, but I’m very fond of Double Battles. It’s disappointing that you don’t see more of them in the main series, especially because Double Battles are now the Nintendo-sponsored competitive format. Liza and Tate gave May the Calm Mind TM and the ability to use Dive outside of battle. Calm Mind is a great buff for specially oriented Pokemon because it boosts Special Attack and Special Defense simultaneously.

One area that I’d forgotten about was the Shoal Cave to the north of Mossdeep City. There’s a tide gimmick in the area based on the clock battery. Since mine is long dead, there’s no way I can complete the quest to get the Shell Bell, an item that heals you for a percentage of the damage you deal. It’s also one of the few cold places in Hoenn, so if you’re looking for Ice types, this is the place to visit.

Getting to Sootopolis City and the final Gym required Diving underwater to get into its volcanic crater. Along the way, I made sure to catch a Relicanth underwater. Why? It’s involved in a quest later on. . .Anyway, when May made it to Sootopolis, she found a karate master who gave her the Brick Break TM. According to him, “It’s a move so horrible that I can’t describe it”. Fortunately, the game describes Brick Break for us. It’s a 75 base power Fighting move that also destroys enemy Reflect and Light Screen. I was so happy to get rid of Rock Tomb and its stupid base 80 accuracy! GameFreak hasn’t created any Pokemon that resists both Fighting and Ghost as of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Maybe in the 8th generation, they’ll make a Normal/Ghost type?

The Gym was locked, so May had to find Team Aqua in an underwater cave. The Grunts and Admin Shelly were weak as usual, but Archie was probably the hardest fight for NOWEAKNESS in this whole playthrough. He lead with Mightyena, whose Intimidate prevented a one hit KO from Brick Break. It also knew Swagger, a move that both confuses an enemy and raises its Attack by two stages. Confusion damage is based on Attack vs. Defense, so a high Attack can cause a lot of damage to yourself if you fail the coin flip chance to attack normally. NOWEAKNESS hit himself several times with Confusion, and Mightyena’s Roar sometimes wasted turns switching out to one of my HM users. Crobat knew Confuse Ray to cause even more annoyance. Archie’s last Pokemon was Sharpedo, which was easily defeated by a single Brick Break.

Archie revived Kyogre with his Red Orb, but it started to rain far more than he desired. To prevent Hoenn from being flooded, May needed to go to Sootopolis City and confront Kyogre at the forbidden Cave of Origin. What would a Herman Gigglethorpe playthrough be without killing off legendaries with bottom-tier Pokemon?

May descended into the Cave of Origin, and the screen shook the further she went in. The music stopped when she reached the bottom floor with Kyogre. The fight began when May activated the Blue Orb, and I thought it would be a bit harder than it turned out to be. Kyogre has the Drizzle ability, which summons permanent rain unless someone changes the weather. Drizzle is so good an ability that it lifted otherwise mediocre Pokemon like Politoed and Pelipper into the “Overused” tier when they acquired it. Combine a team-friendly ability with legendary-caliber stats, and you have a Pokemon that ruled Ubers for several generations. The AI is extremely stupid for wild Pokemon, so I stood a chance with NOWEAKNESS. On the first turn, Kyogre buffed itself with Calm Mind. Then it blew any chance of victory by using Body Slam. Body Slam on a Ghost type is sure going to show me, Kyogre! Three Shadow Balls were enough to put Kyogre back to sleep and save Sootopolis. Who needs legendaries when you have a level 60 PU Pokemon?

Wallace’s Gym had mostly Water Pokemon with a level range in the low 40s. NOWEAKNESS Shadow Balled most of the random trainers, and Brick Break on someone who thought she was clever and used a Normal type Azurill. The Gym puzzle made me wonder if it was intended to be an Ice Gym early in development, because it involved stepping on all the ice tiles in the correct order.

Wallace was a bit more challenging than his female fans in the Gym basement. He led with Luvdisc, which died to one Shadow Ball because it’s a joke Pokemon. Whiscash could have been annoying, but NOWEAKNESS got a lucky critical hit with Shadow Ball and knocked it out in one shot. Sealeo was Water/Ice type, and that meant a super effective Brick Break. Seaking barely survived a Shadow Ball and used Rain Dance. For once, the AI used tactics! Seaking must have had Swift Swim, since it outsped me in the rain on the next turn and tried to confuse NOWEAKNESS with Water Pulse. It failed, and a Night Shade softened Seaking up for the Shadow Ball when Wallace healed it with a Hyper Potion. The defensive Milotic was the last opponent, but even that couldn’t take two Shadow Balls.

After beating Wallace, the only plot requirement was for May to become the Champion at Ever Grande City. Before that, it was time for a bit of backtracking. She Surfed southwest to Pacifidlog Town, and NOWEAKNESS gained a few levels from the swimmers along the way. Pacifidlog is another interesting Hoenn town. It’s built on a coral reef, and the residents give some clues about Hoenn’s legendary Pokemon. The currents are strong to the west, so you can only get to it from the eastern side of the ocean. Someone handed May the Return TM there. It’s a bit late for the staple Normal attack TM, GameFreak! (Correction: You can get Return earlier by handing the Meteorite to Professor Cozmo after you beat Team Aqua at Mt. Chimney.)

One boy asked May “Where did you come from?”. The only possible responses were YES and NO. Answering YES made him think May came from Yes Town, and choosing NO generated the response “No? That doesn’t make any sense. You have to come from somewhere. Oh! Wait! You’re not going to say you were born at the bottom of the sea?”.

After reaching the final town in the game, I needed to catch a Wailord for the same reason I needed Relicanth. Why? You’ll find out in the postgame. It was easy to find, because it was the first random encounter while May was Surfing on Route 129. After that, the only place left was Victory Road and Ever Grande City.

Hoenn’s Victory Road was similar to other Victory Roads, but it wasn’t as visually interesting as Vast Poni Canyon or Unova’s Victory Road. It required most of May’s HMs to get through, especially Strength, Surf, and Rock Smash. It was a dark cave too, so Flash helped. The trainers tended to carry Pokemon in the 40s level range, and NOWEAKNESS couldn’t one-shot all of them thanks to his lousy stats. They were still mostly easy. Wally appeared at the end to challenge me with his improved team of Altaria, Delcatty, Magneton, Roselia, and Gardevoir. Altaria took several hits to beat due to its high defenses and Wally using a Super Potion. NOWEAKNESS karate chopped Delcatty and Magneton with Brick Break. Shadow Ball took care of Roselia and Gardevoir.

Before taking on the Pokemon League, May bought some supplies and managed her inventory. One of the annoying things about the older Pokemon games is the limited inventory space. It isn’t like Etrian Odyssey where each item takes up one slot in an effort to prevent overuse of healing items. It’s the more annoying version where you can carry ridiculous amounts of Full Restores, but one Rare Candy won’t fit in your inventory. I had 6 Rare Candies left over, so NOWEAKNESS went up to level 74 with these stats:

HP: 181
Attack: 146
Defense: 117
Special Attack: 127
Special Defense: 124
Speed: 120

Sidney was the first Elite Four member, and his preferred type was Dark. There’s never been a Dark type Gym in a Pokemon game, but there have been several Dark Elite Four members (Karen, Sidney, Grimsley). Yes, the Dark type is “Evil” in Japan, but the games emphasize that Pokemon are only evil if a trainer forces them to be that way, so it doesn’t make much sense. Giovanni was both the villain and the Viridian City Gym Leader of the original games, so it’s not like GameFreak is averse to an “evil” Gym Leader. Alola doesn’t have Gyms, so I guess GameFreak thought a Dark type Kahuna was fine.
All of Sidney’s Pokemon were weak to Brick Break, so one karate chop took out Mightyena, Sharpedo, Cacturne, Shiftry, and Absol. Perhaps he should have considered adding a Sableye? The only “difficulty” during this battle came from Mightyena’s Intimidate forcing me to use an X Attack on the first turn to undo the debuff.

Next up was Phoebe, the Ghost type member. Ghosts are weak to their own attacks, so guess what that meant. Shadow Balls bowled over two Dusclops, and two Banettes. (Ghost was a very rare type for Pokemon then.) The greatest difficulty came from, ironically, a fellow Sableye! Shadow Ball from NOWEAKNESS wasn’t enough to take down his rival with one hit, and the enemy Sableye responded in kind. Two Night Shades defeated the doppelganger after Phoebe healed it with an item.

Glacia was more difficult than the first two, despite having even less variety than Phoebe. She was an Ice specialist, and she only had the Spheal and Snorunt lines. Lorelei from the Kanto games had more than that! Ice is a rare type in the Pokemon series, and Hoenn is a warm region. NOWEAKNESS’s subpar stats were beginning to catch up with him here. The first Glalie and Sealeo barely survived a Brick Break, and caused residual damage with Hail. Hail was new at the time of Sapphire, and is a weather effect that makes all non-Ice Pokemon lose 1/16 of their max HP per turn. Hailstones and Blizzard attacks kept making May feed Hyper Potions to Sableye so he could stand a chance. Is Sableye a good candidate for a no item solo run? NO!

Using a Night Shade before Brick Break helped to get around Full Restore healing. Another Sealeo and Glalie went down, and Glacia sent out her strongest Pokemon Walrein. Walrein could take away almost half of Sableye’s HP with Blizzard, and Hail damage meant he would die in about 2 hits without healing. A Night Shade and a Brick Break eventually clubbed the walrus to death.

Drake the Dragon master was the final Elite Four member. Like Phoebe and Glacia, he suffered from a low variety of Pokemon and had to use several from the same line. He led with Shelgon, the defensive middle form of Bagon. Starting with Rock Tomb lowered NOWEAKNESS’s Speed for the rest of the fight. Two Night Shades were enough to crack its shell. Next came Flygon, an annoying opponent. It used Sandstorm to inflict residual damage similar to Glacia’s Hail, and paralyzed Sableye at least twice with Dragonbreath. Dig allowed it to dodge an attack too. The Night Shade and Shadow Ball combo worked. The second Flygon and Altaria weren’t as bad. Salamence came with Intimidate and Fly to cause trouble. Trying to predict the AI’s Fly turns was useless, because it seems to act randomly at times. An X Attack undid Intimidate, and a Shadow Ball combined with a Night Shade slew the dragon.

Steven was the last opponent, and it was nice for a recurring character to be the Champion. In Pokemon X, you see Diantha only once in the game before it goes “Surprise! This character you barely know is the final boss!” Steven had everything the rest of the Elite Four lacked, including a decent variety of Pokemon. He led with a Skarmory that knew Toxic. Toxic doubles in strength every turn unlike the regular Poison status, so NOWEAKNESS was doomed for sure without Full Restores. Night Shades were needed because Skarmory was one of the best physical defenders in the game, and it resisted Faint Attack.

The Bug/Rock Armaldo was scary because it received a buff to all its stats from a lucky Ancientpower. Night Shades and Shadow Balls sent the fossil back to the museum. The Ground/Psychic Claydol set up Reflect and Light Screen for his team, but its Ghost weakness made it die to a Shadow Ball after Night Shade. Using Brick Break on the Steel/Rock Aggron not only capitalized on its weakness, but also destroyed Reflect. No, I wasn’t clever enough to think of Brick Break’s Reflect dispelling property at the time. Cradily also had Ancientpower, but it didn’t get that lucky buff to all stats. Brick Breaks smashed the Rock/Grass fossil.

Steven’s strongest Pokemon was Metagross, a Steel/Psychic spider with a 600 base stat total and only Fire and Ground weaknesses. Its signature move Meteor Mash made NOWEAKNESS lose more than half his health, so he never would have survived without an X Defend. Meteor Mash also has 80% accuracy, so a few misses gave me time to heal. It took 3 Shadow Balls to scrap Metagross because its Defense was so high. And after that came the shortest Hall of Fame scene ever! The play time was a little under 14 hours, but it was really less than that because I was writing these updates as I was playing.

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