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

Pokemon X Solo Volbeat Finale: Supreme Victory

Bug Buzz had run its course by the Elite 4. Many of the Pokemon from here on out would resist Bug, as I learned in the BEETRICE the Vespiquen playthrough. So JITTERBUG replaced his primary attack with Shadow Ball.

Malva the Fire master started with a level 63 Pyroar that tried to debuff Volbeat's Attack and Special Attack with its signature move Noble Roar. But that couldn't keep up with Tail Glow's +3 boost. A second Tail Glow was free because JITTERBUG used his Affection to dodge a Flamethrower. Thunderbolt and Shadow Ball made Pyroar, Talonflame, Torkoal, and Chandelure faint without any fuss.

Siebold the Water master suffered a similar fate. His level 63 Clawitzer must have cursed my time spent with Pokemon Amie as its Water Pulse missed. +3 Thunderbolts electrocuted Clawitzer, Barbaracle, Starmie, and Gyarados and prevented JITTERBUG from taking any damage.

Wikstrom the Steel master was a little trickier because his level 63 Probopass was one of the dreaded Sturdy Rock types. Sometimes it could cast Power Gem for some super effective damage too. This was the time to set up a second Tail Glow. Thunderbolt and Shadow Ball struck down Klefki, Scizor, and Aegislash, though I had to play around Torment's "no consecutive uses of the same move" restriction. JITTERBUG survived with 239/276 HP.

Drasna the Dragon master started with her best Pokemon, a level 63 Dragalge. I had replaced Thunderbolt with the Fairy attack Dazzling Gleam specifically for this fight. But it would only deal neutral damage because of Dragalge's secondary Poison type, and the seahorse was an outlier in terms of Special Defense. Dragalge's Sludge Bombs poisoned JITTERBUG, though fortunately not with the Toxic variety. A second Tail Glow and an Affection critical Dazzling Gleam ensured a one hit KO after Drasna stuffed Dragalge with Full Restores. Noivern, Altaria, and Druddigon were too slow to deal with their new 6th generation elemental weakness. JITTERBUG slew the Dragons with 231/276 HP.

Half of Champion Diantha's lineup happened to be weak to Fairy, and two were vulnerable to Ghost. That meant Shadow Ball and Dazzling Gleam made the perfect combination needed to take the throne. Her level 64 Hawlucha gave me a free turn to set up Tail Glow when it buffed with Swords Dance, and JITTERBUG thanked it for its patience with Dazzling Gleam. Out of Hawlucha, Tyrantrum, Goodra, Aurorus, Gourgeist, and Mega Gardevoir, only Aurorus the Ice/Rock type survived the first attack. Aurorus was smart enough to set up Light Screen, but that was just an excuse for a second Tail Glow. The already-inaccurate Blizzard had an even lower chance to hit with JITTERBUG's Affection. JITTERBUG became the Champion with full health.

The ending battle with the AZ Trainer featured another enemy Affection miss on the first turn, making me wonder if I had glitched the game somehow by rolling all these 6s. A single Tail Glow powered up Shadow Ball and killed Torkoal, Sigilyph, and Golurk.

Final Moveset

Shadow Ball
Dazzling Gleam
Tail Glow
Pokemon X Solo Volbeat Postscript

You'd think an early game Bug type that can never evolve and has base 47 in its primary offensive stat would make for a challenging no Battle Item solo run. But you might be surprised when you try it for yourself.

As soon as you get Volbeat, you have reasonable defenses, the recovery move Moonlight, and Confuse Ray to take out unfavorable matchups. Confuse Ray is somewhat unreliable, though, and can result in deaths if enemies can pass their 50% roll to attack. You'll also have the Thief and Return TMs to take advantage of Volbeat's passable Attack stat. These advantages make up for the Erratic experience group's slow leveling in the early game.

You'll need to learn Tail Glow at level 21, though it'll waste a spot in your moveset until you get Signal Beam at 25. This is around the time of the 2nd Gym if you fight the trainers near Geosenge Town. Tail Glow is one of the best buffs in Pokemon history, and boosting your Special Attack by +3 stages in a single turn can make even lousy stats look good. No wonder so few monsters learn it!

Volbeat doesn't learn non-Bug special moves until after the 5th Gym when you start getting compatible TMs. Before then, you'll want Zen Headbutt to deal with Poison and Fighting types that resist your primary move, and Power Up Punch for Clemont's Magneton and Heliolisk.

The late game is easy as long as you aren't unlucky with critical enemy Stone Edges. Erratic's experience curve will take you to the level cap before the final rival battle, let alone the Elite 4. Unlike some other Bug types, Volbeat can use Ghost, Electric, and Fairy coverage with TMs.

I sometimes thought about how easy a time JITTERBUG the Volbeat had to BEETRICE the Vespiquen, to the point of clearing some of the final battles without taking any damage. There are several reasons for this. Any form of attack buff combined with decent Speed will give you an easy time in most situations. Vespiquen makes the mistake of trying to be a slow defensive Pokemon, forgetting that Bug/Flying gives you some critical weaknesses. Vespiquen also lacks type coverage other than Bug and Flying for the most part. To beat the Elite 4, BEETRICE had to use Hidden Power Water and Flash of all things.

It's doubtful that I'll use another Erratic Pokemon in the future because it eliminates most challenge in the late game. (Although Moon might be an exception due to how stingy that game is with experience points. . .)
Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 1: Thank You For Playing King's Quest 5!

You may have noticed that I haven't done a Normal/Flying solo yet, and it's time to correct that. Johto's signature bird is the Hoothoot/Noctowl line. Its final form's base stats are uninspiring:

HP: 100
Attack: 50
Defense: 50
Special Attack: 76
Special Defense: 96
Speed: 70

Noctowl's movepool is also questionable. It gets no Attack or Special Attack boosting moves like JITTERBUG the Volbeat did. For a Normal/Flying type, it gets few attacks of either type by leveling. On the Normal side, it has Tackle and the recoil move Take Down. For Flying, there's. . .Peck. Noctowl is reliant on the Return TM from Goldenrod and the Fly HM from Cianwood if it wants to use its main typing. Steel Wing would be nice to counter Rock and Ice types, but that isn't until Rock Tunnel in Kanto!

What differentiates Noctowl from other Normal/Flying birds is that you can get the occasional Psychic move. Hoothoot learns the sleep move Hypnosis at level 16, which will probably be useful if the 60% accuracy doesn't fail me. Confusion is gained at 41, and Dream Eater is available at level 57 or by a late Kanto TM. Dream Eater has base 100 power, but only works on sleeping enemies. Psychic is more reliable, but is locked behind yet another Kanto TM.

EDIT: Noctowl doesn't learn Psychic in Crystal. If I were playing the Heart Gold/Soul Silver remake, Noctowl could use moves like Air Slash, Extrasensory, Psychic, Shadow Ball, and Roost.

To start the playthrough, I picked the male trainer and named him GRAHAM after the main character of several King's Quest games. Totodile leveled up enough at the beginning to learn Rage, which enabled me to easily win the first battle with the rival and his Chikorita. Our red-haired antagonist was named MORDACK after the evil wizard from King's Quest 5.

Once I caught a male Hoothoot, there was only one name to give him: CEDRIC. Anyone who's played or watched King's Quest 5 will consider Cedric the falsetto owl one of the most annoying characters in video games. He warns King Graham of danger, but only does so when it's too late. "Watch out for the hole in the boat!", he says after you're already far out at sea. Then the boat capsizes immediately, and all Graham can do is watch as Cedric flies away and abandons him to drown. The only use the original Cedric has in the game is to accidentally take a hit from Mordack's curse in your place. Let's hope he can redeem himself in Pokemon Crystal!

It wasn't easy for him to do so. He often whiffed his Tackles and had to run away from enemy Hoothoots. GRAHAM didn't feel comfortable fighting Youngster Joey until his owl companion reached level 6. The trainer battles after that were mostly easy despite CEDRIC's bad stats, because the enemy level curve in Crystal was worse. CEDRIC didn't get Peck until well into Sprout Tower after fighting various monks with Bellsprouts.

CEDRIC was at level 12 by the time he reached the Flying specialist Gym Leader Falkner, so GRAHAM forced him to train a little bit more to reach 13. Falkner led with a level 7 Pidgey, the diurnal bird of Kanto/Johto. CEDRIC Pecked it to death in 3 turns, while his rival rushed at him with Tackle. The level 9 Pidgeotto couldn't use the accuracy reducing move Mud Slap due to CEDRIC's Flying type, so it instead used the more powerful Gust. 4 Pecks and an auto-healing Berry were needed for CEDRIC to claim his 1st badge with 20/40 HP and prove himself the true Flying champion.

CEDRIC the Hoothoot Stats

Level 13 @ Nothing

HP: 40
Attack: 18
Defense: 17
Special Attack: 16
Special Defense: 22
Speed: 22


Mud Slap
Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 2: A POIsonous Snake!

CEDRIC the Hoothoot's journey through the routes south of Violet City and Union Cave were easier than a Normal/Flying type should have expected. Several enemy trainers had Geodudes and Onixes that resisted both Tackle and Peck. But Mud Slap could get past them. A weak Ground move is an odd choice for a TM for a Flying Gym, but perhaps countering the type's Rock weakness was the developer's intention.

The Slowpoke Well featured one of the funniest (to me) moments of any solo run. One Team Rocket Grunt had a level 9 Zubat that confused CEDRIC with Supersonic and made him hit himself multiple times. So far, this seemed like a normal if difficult battle. Then, the Team Rocket Grunt sent out a level 11 Ekans that poked CEDRIC with Poison Sting.

Death Count: 1

The first Game Over fit Cedric's dialogue in King's Quest 5 perfectly. For those who aren't familiar with that game, Cedric warns Graham about a "POIsonous snake", with emphasis on the first syllable. Walking towards the snake is the first possible death in King's Quest 5 if I'm not mistaken. It was the ultimate irony to see CEDRIC the Hoothoot lose to the Pokemon equivalent.

Azalea Town's Bug type Gym was free food for CEDRIC, and he evolved into Noctowl by defeating the subordinate trainers. Bugsy the Gym Leader was a pushover. He began with a level 14 Metapod that was cracked open with a single Peck. The level 14 Kakuna was either slightly tougher, or CEDRIC had a bad damage roll with the first Peck. Bugsy had Kakuna buff its Defense with Harden instead of using Poison Sting, so a second Peck defeated it. CEDRIC must have had a Speed tie with Bugsy's level 16 Scyther. Peck went before the first Fury Cutter, but the final blow happened after the second Fury Cutter. CEDRIC won his 2nd badge with 66/73 HP.

MORDACK the rival must have learned his battling techniques from Calem in the JITTERBUG the Volbeat solo. His level 12 Gastly failed to mesmerize CEDRIC with Hypnosis, and two Pecks exorcised it. A critical Peck pierced the level 14 Zubat. Another Peck critical hit dealt major damage to MORDACK's level 16 Bayleef. MORDACK's Grass starter tried to save itself with a Reflect Defense buff instead of attacking, so CEDRIC won a flawless victory with a second Peck.

Ilex Forest, the route south of Goldenrod, and Goldenrod City's Underground weren't particularly notable, with one exception. Officer Keith's level 17 Growlithe forced me to violate the solo rules for a turn. Cut was needed to get through Ilex Forest's trees, and that meant lugging around HM MULE the Totodile. Growlithe Roared every turn I switched in CEDRIC after the first Peck failed to KO. The only way to get around it was to have Totodile waste a turn using Leer in hopes that Growlithe would switch in CEDRIC again. It worked.

The next update probably won't happen tomorrow. This is because an NPC in Goldenrod's department store hands out the Return TM, but only on Sunday. CEDRIC has such limited options that he needs this 102 maximum base power attack. You can't go wrong with the same type attack bonus from CEDRIC's Normal element either.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Stats

Level 23 @ Berry

HP: 83
Attack: 38
Defense: 38
Special Attack: 45
Special Defense: 54
Speed: 47


Mud Slap
Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 3: Gym Rush

Now that it was Sunday, CEDRIC picked up the Return TM from a lady in the Goldenrod department store. This attack wasn't flashy, but its high base power combined with my solo's Normal type made it effective. When in doubt, consider Return for your solo runs unless you're using a pure special attacker.

CEDRIC mauled Whitney's level 18 Clefairy in one hit with Return, but the level 20 Miltank took finesse to beat. Whitney's Miltank is infamous among Johto game fans as being unusually difficult for an early Gym Leader. It can make male Pokemon be "immobilized by love" 50% of the time with Attract, heal itself for 50% with Milk Drink, and unleash a runaway Rock type Rollout combo if its accuracy rolls succeed.

To get around Miltank, CEDRIC put it to sleep with Hypnosis, then started debuffing its accuracy with Mud Slap. After it was at -2, Miltank woke up and started Stomping on my owl. Hypnosis missed twice in a row, but so did two of the Stomps. The 3rd Hypnosis was the charm, and CEDRIC Mud Slapped Miltank 4 more times until its accuracy was as low as it could go. CEDRIC's low base Attack let me down when its Return failed to slaughter the cow. Once it started Milk Drinking, I knew the only way to win was to put it to sleep again. One Hypnosis and 2 Returns later, and Whitney burst into tears. CEDRIC was at level 28 with 82/100 HP after the fight.

Sudowoodo dealt more damage to CEDRIC than both of Whitney's Pokemon. While CEDRIC was Mud Slapping the Rock type, Sudowoodo retaliated with Flail and Low Kick. A Rock Throw missed once its accuracy was shot. CEDRIC cleared the path to Ecruteak City with 74/100 HP.

The Kimono Girls guarding the Surf HM in Ecruteak were so easy that their Eevee evolutions could be killed with 1 or 2 Returns. Even Jolteon wasn't fast enough to outspeed CEDRIC.

CEDRIC's victory against MORDACK in the Burned Tower depended on some odd coding decisions. The rival's Haunter killed itself with the Ghost type Curse after CEDRIC Pecked it once. This put CEDRIC on a strict time limit to win the battle as 1/4 of his max HP was drained per turn. But poison and Curse works differently in Crystal than in later Pokemon games. Their damage activates after the afflicted Pokemon takes its turn. . .but not if it knocks out an enemy that turn. Mud Slap scrapped MORDACK's level 18 Magnemite, and Return clipped the level 20 Zubat's wings. Bayleef was level 22 and had higher Defense, so it took 2 Returns to kill. CEDRIC hooted his victory taunts with 85/111 HP at level 31.

Morty the Ghost Gym Leader was nearly a loss. His level 21 Gastly tried the same trick as MORDACK's Haunter and Cursed CEDRIC. The level 21 Haunter and level 25 Gengar both tried Hypnosis, and both died to 2 Pecks. (A critical hit against Gengar helped a lot!) Morty's final level 23 Haunter reduced Peck's PP with Spite, but that was fine because CEDRIC had plenty to spare. CEDRIC's Berry recovery mitigated the Curse damage a bit. CEDRIC celebrated his 4th Gym victory with 42/117 HP at level 33.

Route trainers in the ocean near Cianwood City and the Olivine lighthouse were so easy that their Pokemon could all be defeated with 1 Return, or occasionally a Peck if they were weak enough and I wanted to conserve PP.

CEDRIC may have been a Flying type, but he might as well have not had a type at all in Chuck's Fighting Gym. Unlike most Normal types, his secondary type prevented super effective damage from the enemies. Unlike some other Flying types, he didn't have a move better than Peck (base 35 power) at the time, so CEDRIC was better off clicking Return.

Chuck's level 27 Primeape was fragile enough to fall to 1 Return. The Gym Leader's level 30 Poliwrath could have given CEDRIC a difficult time if its coin flip accuracy Dynamicpunch had landed. Fighting moves in general weren't that great in Crystal. The best ones were Submission (recoil damage and mediocre power), High Jump Kick (extreme recoil damage if it misses), and Cross Chop (80% accuracy). Ingame Fighting types from Sapphire onwards should be grateful that they have the reliable Brick Break if all else fails! 2 Returns smacked the frog, and CEDRIC won a flawless victory.

Now that he had conquered Cianwood City, CEDRIC could finally get rid of Peck. Sometimes, Pokemon gives you the HM combat move before you can use its field effect, but that wasn't the case with Fly in Crystal. Chuck's wife only gave me the HM when I defeated her husband.

CEDRIC stood no chance against Jasmine the Steel Gym Leader in Olivine City. Her opening level 30 Magnemite paralyzed him with Thunder Wave, confused him with Supersonic, and jolted him with Thunderbolt. By the time CEDRIC demagnetized it with 2 Mud Slaps, failure was inevitable against the 2nd Magnemite.

Death Count: 2

Crystal's partially nonlinear structure allowed CEDRIC to skip Jasmine temporarily and train in Mahogany Town and the Lake of Rage. The Red Gyarados almost defeated him with fixed 40 damage Dragon Rages while I was trying to catch it to use as an HM FISH.

It was a good time to take a break before taking on the Team Rocket gauntlet in Mahogany Town and Pryce the Ice Gym Leader.

Noctowl feels like another "identity crisis" Pokemon. Its stat distribution and odd moves like Confusion, Hypnosis, and Dream Eater make me think that it wants to be Psychic/Flying instead of a Normal/Flying. But its typing combined with the lack of the physical/special split forces it to use its weaker Attack stat. Unfezant in White is perhaps the reverse scenario where a Normal/Flying Pokemon has good Attack, but learns more special moves.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Stats

Level 42 @ Nothing

HP: 149
Attack: 71
Defense: 70
Special Attack: 84
Special Defense: 101
Speed: 87


Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 4: Fluke Gym Battles

Team Rocket's hideout in Mahogany Town wasn't bad at all. There was nothing that CEDRIC couldn't defeat with Return, Fly, or Confusion. The latter move came in handy for conserving PP when low level Poison types appeared. Only 2 trips were needed, and that was because I had to go back to the Pokemon Center to restore PP after beating all the Grunts summoned by alarms.

It was harder to get past the ice sliding puzzle in the local Gym than to beat Pryce himself. His level 27 Seel and level 29 Dewgong went belly up after one Return each, and the level 31 Piloswine decided to prevent debuffs with Mist rather than attack CEDRIC. What should have been a disadvantageous type matchup for CEDRIC became a flawless victory.

Unfortunately, CEDRIC couldn't relearn Mud Slap to avenge his loss to Jasmine the Steel master. The 2 level 30 Magnemites sometimes paralyzed him with Thunder Wave and then started casting Thunderbolt, with the occasional Supersonic confusion to rub it in. 2 Returns were needed for each Magnemite instead of 1 because CEDRIC's Attack was so low compared to other Normal types.

If CEDRIC survived the Magnemites by Hypnotizing them, Jasmine's level 35 Steelix lashed him with Iron Tail and laughed at his meager Confusion damage. Steelix has base 200 Defense, so there was no way Return or Fly were going to work. The casualty rate looked like this:

Death Count: 6

Bizarrely, the successful attempt ended with CEDRIC at full HP. I couldn't believe it either when it happened! Both Magnemites were smothered in their sleep with Return. CEDRIC vs. Steelix was a farce involving long sleep counts and one turn of self-inflicted confusion damage. There may have been an Iron Tail miss too. (Anyone who followed my solo Breloom playthrough will know how accurate that move is.)

Now it was time for the dreaded tedious enemy team gauntlet at the Goldenrod Radio Tower.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Stats

Level 47 @ Nothing

HP: 167
Attack: 81
Defense: 80
Special Attack: 95
Special Defense: 114
Speed: 99


Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 5: Team Rocket Goes Out With a Whimper

Team Rocket in Goldenrod City was a pale imitation of its former self in the Kanto games, and its leaders didn't even have names. All of CEDRIC's opponents succumbed to Return, Fly, or Confusion. Since this wasn't a Psychic solo like CHEIBRIADS the Slowbro, I didn't even have to worry about the final enemy's Houndoom.

The only notable fight here was another MORDACK appearance in the department store basement. I tried using Confusion instead of Return on the level 30 Golbat to save PP, but this was a mistake. A weak Psychic move without same type attack bonus left Golbat with just enough HP to use Confuse Ray. CEDRIC wasted a turn hitting himself and being slashed by Wing Attack. One Return succeeded on the attack roll and finished off the bloated bat.

CEDRIC snapped out of confusion just in time for a one Return KO against the level 28 Magnemite. Fly was needed for the level 30 Haunter because of its Normal immunity. Sneasel hit with a token Quick Attack before CEDRIC swooped down for the KO again. MORDACK's level 32 Meganium had no chance against Fly, though it tried Poisonpowder while CEDRIC was in the sky. CEDRIC won this rival battle with 134/178 HP at level 50.

Along the way to Blackthorn City, I made sure to collect the Sleep Talk from the Goldenrod department store basement and Rest from the Ice Cave. If CEDRIC has trouble with the final Red battle, he could use the same tactic CHEIBRIADS the Slowbro did.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Stats

Level 54 @ Amulet Coin

HP: 193
Attack: 95
Defense: 94
Special Attack: 111
Special Defense: 132
Speed: 115


Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 6: CEDRIC the Owl Eats Your Dreams

CEDRIC cleared Blackthorn's Dragon Gym with level advantage and possibly badge buffs, not tactics. His same type attack bonus trashed the various Horsea and Dratini family Pokemon, including Clair's. Her three level 37 Dragonairs were free experience when CEDRIC killed them all with 1 Return each. Clair's dreaded level 40 Kingdra used. . .the accuracy debuff Smokescreen. One Return put Kingdra within enemy Hyper Potion range, but 2 more slew the sea horse. It was another flawless victory for CEDRIC.

None of the trainers on the first Kanto routes near Victory Road were much trouble either, since they tended to be in the 30s level range. It's sad when a Pokemon that doesn't get a 3 digit Attack stat until the high 50s can beat so many enemies with one hit.

MORDACK challenged GRAHAM and CEDRIC again in the short Victory Road cave. His level 34 Sneasel lead crumpled to the ground with one Return. The level 35 Magneton wasn't as bad as I feared, since CEDRIC Hypnotized it and broke it with 2 Returns. The level 36 Golbat and level 35 Kadabra were prey for Return, and swooping down with Fly sent the level 35 Haunter to heaven. MORDACK's level 38 Meganium, which I had picked specifically to give CEDRIC an easy time, proved the most vicious enemy. When CEDRIC ascended with Fly, Meganium buffed its Defense with a 5 turn Reflect. Body Slam paralyzed CEDRIC with its side effect, which once caused my solo to lose a turn. Return eventually finished off the Grass dinosaur. CEDRIC won with 156/211 HP and reached the Pokemon League at level 59.

Will the Psychic Elite 4 member began with a level 40 Xatu, which died to Return along with a level 41 Jynx. Will's level 41 Slowbro had high base Defense, so CEDRIC made sure to send it to dreamland with Hypnosis first. It didn't work long, and Slowbro buffed its Attack and Defense with Curse. But it still wasn't enough to avoid a 2 Return KO. Will's level 42 Xatu was a second verse same as the first. Fly plucked the level 41 Exeggutor out of the ground. CEDRIC scored yet another flawless victory.

Koga the Poison master was a little trickier. His level 40 Ariados dodged a Fly strike with Double Team's evasion buff, but that didn't stop a Return. Trying Fly on the level 43 Bug/Steel Forretress didn't work well either. It may have been the only neutral coverage I had, but Forretress could block it reliably with Protect because Fly was a 2 turn move. The bug tank mostly used Swift and Spikes after that, because its move selection in Crystal was rather poor. Dream Eater, which CEDRIC had learned at level 57 on the first Kanto routes, was the way to go. It only dealt half damage and only worked when the enemy was asleep, but Forretress had much lower Special Defense than Defense.

Muk barely survived the first Dream Eater due to a bad damage roll, but a second attack corrected that. The level 44 Crobat hung on after CEDRIC hit with Return, and started Double Teaming to try to avoid more hits. All that accomplished was stalling for a few turns. CEDRIC grabbed Koga's level 41 Venomoth with his talons after a Fly. My solo owl won with full HP thanks to Dream Eater's recovery.

Bruno the Fighting master opened with a level 42 Hitmontop that eventually died in its sleep when CEDRIC could land a critical Dream Eater. The first Hypnosis failed, and Hitmontop loved Quick Attack priority. Bruno's Onix was more suggestible with Hypnosis, and CEDRIC penetrated its weak Special Defense with a Dream Eater. Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee, and Machamp's martial arts only worked on the ground, not against Flying opponents. CEDRIC was mildly injured with 201/219 HP because of a Hitmonchan Mach Punch.

Karen the Dark master made up for the weaknesses of the rest of the Elite 4. Her tactics against CEDRIC depended on the first two Pokemon: a level 42 Umbreon, and a level 45 Gengar. Umbreon could debuff CEDRIC's accuracy with Sand Attack, or bamboozle him with Confuse Ray. Eevee's Dark evolution was guaranteed to use one of the two because it had high Defense and HP and could survive a non-critical Return. If CEDRIC outlasted Umbreon, Gengar would use the Ghost type Curse to drain 1/4 of CEDRIC's HP every time he failed to KO an opponent that turn. Trying Fly against Gengar once resulted in the Ghost taking CEDRIC down with the revenge move Destiny Bond.

Death Count: 8

Karen was the first enemy that had killed CEDRIC since Jasmine, and like that battle, the winning attempt was a supreme victory against the odds. Umbreon's Sand Attack failed to make CEDRIC miss a single attack. 2 Returns struck down Umbreon. Hypnosis and Dream Eater drained Gengar dry. Murkrow and Houndoom's dirty tricks couldn't stand up to Return brute force. Fly uprooted Vileplume, and CEDRIC won with full HP.

Lance the Champion's battle went well at first. CEDRIC fished up a Gyarados with 2 Returns, and defeated the first Dragonite with a combination of Dream Eater and Return. But the second Dragonite woke up early and paralyzed CEDRIC with Thunder Wave, leaving him vulnerable to Aerodactyl's super effective Rock Slide and its flinch side effect.

Death Count: 9

On the second try, Gyarados used Rain Dance for some reason instead of Return. The first Dragonite was slaughtered in its sleep with 2 Returns, but the second woke up early and cast Blizzard. Aerodactyl hung on with a sliver of HP after the first Dream Eater, but the next one got a better damage roll. Lance's Charizard opted for Hyper Beam, leaving it exposed for one free turn afterwards. Lance woke up his final level 50 Dragonite with a Full Restore after the first Hypnosis. I was surprised by this AI behavior because enemy trainers have a limited supply of healing items, unlike players who can buy as many as they want. The second Hypnosis missed, and Dragonite set up Safeguard to prevent status ailments for 5 turns. 2 Returns took CEDRIC to victory, though he had to take a critical hit from Outrage first. GRAHAM and his owl companion entered the Hall of Fame at level 63 with 99/226 HP.

Further updates will be on Kanto, since I don't consider a Crystal playthrough to be complete until Red is defeated.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Stats

Level 63 @ Amulet Coin

HP: 226
Attack: 113
Defense: 112
Special Attack: 132
Special Defense: 157
Speed: 137


Dream Eater
Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Part 7: Anemic Gym Leader Battles

Kanto trainers in general were such pushovers that I'm only going to cover the Gym Leaders in this part. And if it weren't for their social status, I might not have mentioned them either.

Lt. Surge would have been the first Gym Leader available because the ship docked in Vermilion City, but he was Electric type. It was a good idea to give CEDRIC a few more levels from the other Gyms first.

Sabrina's Espeon, Mr. Mime, and Alakazam had willing spirits but weak flesh, so one Return destroyed each. Misty had a Golduck, Lapras, Starmie, and Quagsire, but they still fell one by one to Return. (The critical hit against Lapras may have helped.)

Erika's Grass team was weak to Fly, so CEDRIC swooped down on Tangela, Victreebel, and Vileplume. Jumpluff wasn't known for its great Defense, so CEDRIC beat it down with Return to avoid the chance of a Fly miss. Janine's team of Crobat, 2 Weezings, a Venomoth, and an Ariados were as weak to Return as Misty's and Sabrina's squads.

Now that there were no other Gym Leaders GRAHAM could reach in central and eastern Kanto, it was time for CEDRIC to face his Electric weakness at last. Lt. Surge's Raichu, Electabuzz, and 2 Electrodes were more one hit Return victims. The only exception was Magneton, but CEDRIC managed to Hypnotize it on the first try and maul it with 2 Returns.

Kanto was so much of an anticlimax that CEDRIC defeated 5 of its Gym Leaders without losing a single Hit Point.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Stats

Level 72 @ Leftovers (acquired from the Celedon restaurant trash can)

HP: 261
Attack: 132
Defense: 131
Special Attack: 154
Special Defense: 182
Speed: 159


Dream Eater
Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Finale: Rival's Revenge

Brock's Gym was Rock type, and it probably wasn't a good idea to rely on Hypnosis's 60% accuracy to kill his Pokemon with Dream Eater. If only Noctowl could learn Psychic! Instead, CEDRIC learned Steel Wing from a TM in the Rock Tunnel. This is a standard move for bird Pokemon across the series, and for some reason you can get it before the second Gym in Sapphire.

Steel Wing pulverized Brock's Graveler, Onix, and Rhyhorn, but Omastar and Kabutops were Rock/Water and therefore neutral to the Steel attack. It took 2 hits to beat each of them, and they ended the flawless victory streak with Spike Cannon and Surf. With Leftovers recovery, CEDRIC only suffered a scratch with 258/261 HP.

Blaine the Fire Gym Leader began with a Fire/Rock Magcargo that buffed with Curse on the first turn instead of attacking, allowing CEDRIC to gash it twice with Steel Wing. Magmar and Rapidash were vulnerable to Return. Yet another supreme victory for CEDRIC.

Blue, unlike all the other Kanto Gym Leaders, actually had a team with decent levels. His weakest member was a level 54 Alakazam, compared to Blaine's strongest monster, a level 50 Rapidash. (Janine's team was in the 30s, or lower than Clair in Johto!) Pidgeot survived a Return and counterattacked with a Mirror Move version. Friendship must be set at the minimum for enemy AI Pokemon, because all the damage was healed with Leftovers at the end of the turn.

Rhydon set up a Sandstorm and then rained a Rock Slide down on CEDRIC. It took 3 Steel Wings to get past the Rock rhino's Defense. Sandstorm may have harmed Blue more than GRAHAM in the long run, since it meant CEDRIC didn't need maximum damage rolls to finish off Alakazam and Gyarados. Arcanine was bulky enough to require 2 Returns to kill, and its Flamethrower singed Noctowl. Exeggutor was another unexpectedly sturdy Pokemon, as it took 2 Fly attacks. The first one barely left the tree alive, but the second was a critical which knocked it out after Blue healed with a Full Restore. CEDRIC won his final badge with 99/269 HP at level 74.

The next opponent was optional, but it would have been dishonorable if CEDRIC didn't defeat MORDACK for the last time. He had a Sneasel, Magneton, Golbat, Gengar, Alakazam, and Meganium in the 40s range, but their status ailment abilities made up for their lower levels. Magneton paralyzed CEDRIC with Thunder Wave, Golbat befuddled him with Confuse Ray, and Gengar cast an HP draining Curse. My owl collapsed after a war of attrition.

Final Death Count: 10

Like some other battles in this solo challenge, the second take was a perfect victory. The trick to beating MORDACK was to pick up a berry to auto-cure paralysis on a route west of Lavender Town. This made Magneton waste a turn when it used Thunder Wave. Sneasel, Golbat, and Alakazam were smacked by Return. Steel Wing exorcised Gengar. Meganium failed to save itself with Reflect and instead missed with Body Slam right after CEDRIC Flew into the sky.

Before going to Silver Cave to fight the final battle, CEDRIC fought a few random route trainers to level to 76 and avoid wasting experience. GRAHAM stuffed 5 Rare Candies into CEDRIC's gizzard to bring him up to 81, the same as Red's highest level Pokemon. Hypnosis and Steel Wing were replaced by Rest and Sleep Talk in case things went badly and CEDRIC needed to heal or cure status ailments. This was the same tactic I used for CHEIBRIADS the Slowbro at the endgame.

Despite being a weaker species than Slowbro, Noctowl seemed to have less trouble with parts of the Red battle. One Return maimed Pikachu before it could cast any Electric spells. Blastoise missed with 2 Blizzards and set up a Rain Dance. Return, Fly, and then Return cracked open Blastoise's shell. Espeon survived a Return and buffed the team with Reflect. Fly finished off the Psychic Eevee evolution to waste turns.

The first hit against Snorlax was a Fly critical, but Return follow ups weren't enough to beat it before it Rested and restored its HP. However, the 2 turns of Snoring gave CEDRIC just enough time to make it flatline with Return. Fly was used to soften up Charizard and restore HP with extra Leftovers turns, but its Flamethrower still dealt significant damage to CEDRIC before the final Return. Two more hits with Fly and Return made Venusaur wilt. Red's final action in the battle was to shoot a half damage Solarbeam. CEDRIC passed the final test with 126/294 HP.

CEDRIC the Noctowl Final Stats

Level 81 @ Leftovers

HP: 294
Attack: 150
Defense: 149
Special Attack: 175
Special Defense: 207
Speed: 180


Sleep Talk
Pokemon Crystal Solo Noctowl Postscript

Noctowl's performance in a solo challenge will show you how strong Normal types are in Crystal. Return can destroy enemy Pokemon that aren't Rock, Steel, or Ghost, and the latter 2 types are rare after the midgame. Since CEDRIC often barely missed out on one hit KOs, imagine what a Normal type with a base Attack over 50 can do!

Noctowl isn't much of a Flying type despite its "Johto regional bird" status. Its only Flying type move via level up is Peck, and you don't even get that until you're almost finished with Sprout Tower where it would have been useful. The Fly HM comes right after Chuck's Fighting type Gym in another missed opportunity. Fly is only 70 power with 95% accuracy in Crystal too, so most of the time you'll click Return instead. Flying doesn't combine well with Normal either, because both Steel and Rock resist it.

Other moves in Noctowl's movepool are random Psychic type junk. Confusion comes at level 41, well after real Psychic types would want to move on to Psybeam or something. It would have been great for Morty, but even in a solo run you're not going to be at 41 before the 4th badge. The best that can be said for Confusion is that it saves PP for Return and Fly in the Team Rocket gauntlets.

Hypnosis's sleep ailment is a unique advantage for a bird in tough battles, but suffers from 60% accuracy. Dream Eater is more powerful than Psychic (which Noctowl can't learn) and restores some HP, though it requires setting up with Hypnosis first.

As for TMs, the only notable late game one is Steel Wing, which you'll want to use against Brock and possibly Blue and the Mt. Moon rival match. Rest and Sleep Talk are options for Red, but most Pokemon can use those.

Noctowl has several notable bad matchups. Jasmine's Steel team in Olivine City is the worst of all, because you have nothing that deals even neutral damage to Steel, and her Magnemites can paralyze and cast super effective Thunderbolts. Most bird Pokemon probably have the same issue against her, though stronger ones like Fearow (90 Attack) and Pidgeot (80 Attack) could probably muscle through the Magnemites with Return. They don't have Hypnosis for Steelix, however.

Other bad fights for Noctowl are Karen and Lance. Karen's Umbreon and Gengar can destroy the bird with various debuffs and gradual damage moves like Confuse Ray, Sand Attack, and the Ghost type Curse. Lance has an Aerodactyl with Rock Slide that will deal heavy damage if you can't put it to sleep quickly enough, and at least one Dragonite can paralyze with Thunder Wave.

In Kanto, most enemies can't touch you because they're so underleveled, with the possible exceptions of Lt. Surge and the Mt. Moon rival with their Magnetons if you're unlucky. Kanto in many solo runs is just bonus experience meant to prepare you for the final battle with Red.

Red himself will struggle to defeat a Noctowl in the low 80s. With enough effort values, Return will stop his Electric threat Pikachu cold. Rest and Sleep Talk can heal off the damage if necessary.

Supposedly, Noctowl distinguishes itself more in the Heart Gold and Soul Silver remakes with a wider selection of special attacks. In Crystal, it's just the weakest out of the common Normal/Flying birds.

EDIT: I probably should have mentioned that turning off the animations and ignoring some optional trainers made a big difference. My total playtime for CEDRIC the Noctowl was less than the time it took for CHEIBRIADS the Slowbro to clear Johto.
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Pokemon Crystal Solo Meganium Part 1: The Most Disadvantaged Starter of All

Normally, I don't pick starters for my solo runs, but Chikorita is an exception. Johto is infamous for its hostility to Grass types. Falkner, Bugsy, Morty, Jasmine, Pryce, Clair, Koga, and Lance all specialize in types that either resist Grass attacks or deal super effective damage to Pokemon of that type. And Will has his Xatus, Jynx, and Exeggutor.

The Pokemon government isn't the only faction that hates plants. Team Rocket members often use Poison and Flying types. What is a Chikorita to do to fight against this bias? Overlevel and learn various coverage moves, of course!

To start the game, I picked the female trainer with the giant blue pigtails and named her JUANA. (One of the default choices. It's nice that the English version threw in a Spanish name!) Chikorita was on the far right side of the starter Pokemon table in Professor Elm's lab, as if even he wanted to know if I was sure about doing this. I named her COFFEEWEED after an alternate name for the chicory plant. Yes, JUANA got a female Chikorita without even trying. This might come in handy later, since Whitney's Miltank can't use Attract against a female Pokemon.

COFFEEWEED leveled up to 7 on wild Pokemon before fighting the redhead rival for the first time. His level 5 Cyndaquil once used Leer, but other than that it was an exchange of Tackles. Chikorita left the sparring match with 12/24 HP, just a few experience points shy of level 8.

Sprout Tower made COFFEEWEED feel like Audrey II among a bunch of normal Venus flytraps. She resisted all the Bellsprouts' Vine Whips, and hit back with normal damage Tackles. When the occasional Hoothoot appeared, Chikorita shot out Razor Leaves since even at half damage it was better than Tackle.

By the time she reached Falkner, COFFEEWEED was at level 15, one level short of evolving into Bayleef. Chikorita set up a Defense boosting Reflect on the first turn, then started slashing Falkner's level 7 Pidgey with Razor Leaves. Pidgey hit with Tackle twice before Razor Leaf's high critical rate kicked in. Poisonpowder ensured the level 9 Pidgeotto would lose 1/8 HP per turn. Reflect wore off during the Pidgeotto phase, but a lucky Razor Leaf critical prevented Pidgeotto from releasing a third Gust. COFFEEWEED humiliated Falkner and his type advantage with 24/42 HP, without even having to use the held Berry to heal.

Now is probably a good time to compare Chikorita's line to other Grass types in southeastern Johto. Chikorita certainly has a moveset advantage. It learns Razor Leaf, the best single turn Grass attack, at level 8. Weepinbell doesn't get that until level 42! Hoppip's line doesn't learn Tackle until 10, and its one native Grass attack is the base 40 Mega Drain, acquired at level 44.

Meganium has the option of Iron Tail and Earthquake if it wants more type coverage, and Mud Slap will do in desperate situations. Synthesis is a healing move it shares with Hoppip, though Hoppip learns it first. Bellsprout's line differentiates itself with the Growth Special Attack buff and a same type attack bonus Sludge Bomb. Hoppip's line specializes in indirect damage and status ailments with moves like Sleep Powder and Leech Seed.

So I'll continue with Chikorita for now. Maybe if I have the patience, a Jumpluff run may be possible in the future.

COFFEEWEED the Chikorita Stats

Level 15 @ Berry

HP: 42
Attack: 21
Defense: 27
Special Attack: 21
Special Defense: 26
Speed: 23


Razor Leaf
Pokemon Crystal Solo Meganium Part 2: Scyther in the 2nd Gym is Fair, Right?

The routes south of Violet City along with Union Cave were easy, and COFFEEWEED even got a 10% Grass attack boosting item called the Miracle Seed.

Getting rid of Poisonpowder might have been a mistake for the next Gym Leader. But I needed Mud Slap at some point to deal with the Ghost/Poison Gastly family in the future, along with the Magnemites in Jasmine's Gym. One level 12 Beedrill used by one of Bugsy's minons reduced Bayleef to around half HP with Fury Attacks. When COFFEEWEED reached the boss, she was at level 22 and had a poison curing berry in case of unlucky Poison Sting rolls against the Kakuna.

Bugsy's Metapod and Kakuna went well for Bayleef, as they were weak even with a type advantage. But then he sent out a level 16 Scyther, a Pokemon with 70 base HP, 110 base Attack, 80 base Defense, and 105 base Speed. As you'd expect, the base 35 Tackle dealt little more than scratch the praying mantis. Scyther's Fury Cutter dealt double damage with consecutive hits, and it was also super effective.

Death Count: 1

I then wondered if it was possible to get the Headbutt TM in Ilex Forest before fighting Bugsy. Unfortunately, you need to be able to use Cut in the field to find it, and guess whose badge you need? The 2nd rival battle did activate, however. FIRBURN's whole team resisted Grass, but COFFEEWEED's level advantage could deal with that. Mud Slaps banished Gastly, and Tackle broke Zubat's bones. Mud Slap's accuracy debuff made all of Quilava's Embers miss.

The Cut HM was now available in Ilex Forest after clearing the Farfetch'd minigame. Now there was a dilemma. Should JUANA teach Cut to Bayleef now and have an easier time with Bugsy, at the cost of not being able to replace it with a better Normal move until the 8th Gym? Or stick with Tackle and grind a few levels, hoping to get lucky?

I went with the latter. More attempts against Bugsy's Scyther were no more successful than the first. COFFEEWEED only managed to win when she reached level 25, and even then she limped out of the arena with 6/73 HP.

Death Count: 6

COFFEEWEED the Bayleef Stats

Level 25 @ Berry

HP: 73
Attack: 41
Defense: 52
Special Attack: 41
Special Defense: 50
Speed: 46


Mud Slap
Razor Leaf
Pokemon Crystal Solo Meganium Part 3: Always Start Your Solos on SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!

I didn't think far enough ahead to set the ingame day to Saturday or Sunday at the start, so chances are COFFEEWEED won't get the Return TM. This will make the game harder, but probably not by much. Meganium's default Normal move will be the base 85 Body Slam instead. Perhaps its paralysis side effect chance will come in handy one day?

Bayleef battled the trainers in the Goldenrod City Underground and the local Gym to level up. One highlight was that COFFEEWEED failed to defeat a level 12 Lickitung with one Razor Leaf despite being level 27. That's how awful being a Grass type is in Crystal. Even its starter using the best move available can't defeat an enemy 15 levels lower in one shot.

Whitney's level 18 Clefairy had severe paper cuts from 2 Razor Leaves, and all it accomplished was missing with Doubleslap. The level 20 Miltank tried a Rollout combo after the first Razor Leaf, but COFFEEWEED reduced the likelihood for consecutive hits with Mud Slap's debuff. Another Razor Leaf followed by a Headbutt sent the cow back to Whitney's Poke Ball, but COFFEEWEED had a footprint on her face due to Stomp. Bayleef won at level 29 with 66/84 HP holding the Miracle Seed.

COFFEEWEED evolved into her final form Meganium upon defeating Twins Ann and Anne northwest of Sudowoodo. This was timely, as the higher stats allowed Meganium to Body Slam or Razor Leaf all the Kimono Girls' Eevee evolutions to death without any trouble. The most damage COFFEEWEED took was about 5 from Umbreon's Pursuit!

Next came the FIRBURN rival battle in the Burned Tower. His level 20 Haunter had terrible aim with its Lick after a single Mud Slap, and a second exorcised the Ghost type. Body Slam crushed the level 20 Zubat, and a critical Mud Slap grounded Magnemite at the end of the fight. FIRBURN's level 22 Quilava dealt minor super effective damage with Ember, but 2 Body Slams overcame the alleged type advantage. COFFEEWEED triumphed again with 91/108 HP at level 33.

Morty's subordinates used easily defeated Gastlys and Haunters. One "stupid AI" moment occurred when Medium Grace's last Haunter killed itself with Curse.

COFFEEWEED was level 35 and held a Berry when she first reached Morty, but it wasn't enough. His level 21 Gastly was so weak it could be killed with one Mud Slap (base 40 when super effective). But the level 21 Haunter Cursed COFFEEWEED before it died. Then Morty's star level 25 Gengar Hypnotized COFFEEWEED and started Eating her Dreams.

Death Count: 7

There was no way I was going to win this fight at level 35 without some better luck. So I decided to fight the trainers to the west and east of Ecruteak City, along with the NPCs in the Olivine City lighthouse. I needed to clear the latter area anyway.

COFFEEWEED's second Morty attempt occurred when she was level 39. The Gastly and first Haunter played out the same way as in the first try. Gengar repeatedly missed with Hypnosis this time, and 4 Mud Slaps busted it. The final level 23 Haunter faded away after attempting to lower Mud Slap's PP with Spite. COFFEEWEED held on with 44/127 HP.

COFFEEWEED the Meganium Stats

Level 39 @ Nothing

HP: 127
Attack: 80
Defense: 97
Special Attack: 81
Special Defense: 94
Speed: 89


Body Slam
Mud Slap
Razor Leaf

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