Now I begin the first of the two generations that I missed entirely. I was so close to getting this (well, the Gold or Silver version) back in 2000, but I simply didn't have room among all the amazing PSX RPGs we were getting at the time. 2000 was a time of wonderment: We still had a decent president... the economy was good... "The Real Slim Shady" was playing nonstop on MTV... MTV played music...
This binary gender choice would NEVER fly in 2016. Where are the other 58 genders?
Regardless, this is a new addition to Crystal. The original Gold and Silver only had a male hero. I'd like to play as the girl, but that'll have to wait for Gen III. Have a specific plan in mind for this one...
Our hero is in fighting game pose, which means it's time to name him. For a while I thought this one also starred Ash from the first game, but that isn't the case.
Behold, it's NERO.
Julius thought himself popular until he eventually found himself surrounded by knives.
Caligula was the star of a terrible movie.
NERO...has a propensity for fiddling. Not much else is known yet.
Here's his swank bachelor pad. He's got the latest 20-inch SDTV. A Ham Radio. A PC with 4 MB of RAM. Rad!
Right away the graphics are an upgrade from the previous gen, which they should be because we've landed on the Game Boy Color now.
I step outside and immediately see a cutie over there. Unfortunately, our hero lacks the confidence to talk to her. If only he had a Pokemon like all the successful people! Main Quest 1 Obtained: Find Pokemon, Get Poon. Or at least a polite conversation.
He meets up with Professor Elm next door, who...wait, what? Professor Elm? This is already getting confusing. We had Professor Oak, now we have Professor Elm two minutes later. Why didn't Oak just step aside for this one? LET THE NEW BLOOD RISE!
We have three choices for a starter here, as the era of the Special Pikachu Edition has ended. There's the grass-themed Chikorita, who is adorbs...and hands-down the worst choice. Some would say it's even one of the worst starters in the entire series. It has a lot of trouble with the first few gyms, and is essentially Hard Mode.
Next is Cyndaquil, the fire 'mon (and a popular new opioid cough syrup).
If you can get over the fact that it looks like it's blasting out a fire-fart, this overpowered starter is easily the best choice. It completely steamrolls the first few gyms and continues to be good throughout the game. Interesting that this game has such a clear choice for "best starter" considering how well-balanced the first gen was. I'll definitely go with this guy.
...wait, there's still one more:
Totodile, who is halfway between the above two in the usefulness/difficulty department. Essentially, he's Normal Mode, and close to the usual Pokemon starter power level. He's water-element and OH MY GOD I GOTTA HAVE HIM LOOK AT THAT FACE
GIVE IT HERE.
I am now ROLLING in honeys. No longer will our hero be afraid to talk to lasses outside! NO LONGER will he doubt his self-worth! This is the miracle of TOTODILE!
Unfortunately this magical day takes a turn for the worse when our hero bumps into some jerk with a streak of white in his hair. He mumbles something and wanders off. Weird. I'm sure we won't see HIM again.
The game is very similar to the previous game. Enemies attack in tall grass, and trainers abound to sass you. Music is still very good for the 8-bit hardware.
Finally, we get Totodile in action as he dishes out EYE BEAMS. Totodile has no mercy!
Insert lame Ghostbusters joke here. You get a phone and you can call various NPCs with it. Like Earthbound, except it's a portable phone. What a difference five years can make.
We're getting a lot of returning 'mons from the previous gen. I knew better, but on some level I was hoping for a completely new cast of 'mons for this game. Evidently some 'mons will appear multiple times if you put all of the Pokedexes together, and that's weird.
Whoa, Geodude returns. I'm going to make sure to catch one of these....whenever I can actually get Poke Balls. One of my goals with this game is to use Pokemen that I didn't use in Gen 1. Geodude appealed to me but I didn't have room for him. I'll make him a part of the team for this one, especially since he hits the weaknesses of early bosses effectively. I'll try to keep him around to turn into a Graveller, but unfortunately I can't get Golem for the same reason I couldn't get Allakhazam.
Got the map. This region is kinda similar to Gen 1's Kanto in that there isn't really an apparent linear path. I like this.
Pokemon Centers return, and like everything else they've gotten a visual upgrade. For example, if you look closely and are a little drunk, the NPC behind the counter is now WAY hotter.
As usual, Poke Ball shortages are a problem early on. Let me get started on catching things! I'm not getting any younger over here!
Eventually I meet Professor Oak...who is not Professor Elm from earlier, but IS the guy we met in the intro scene right before we met Professor Elm.
Prof. Elm calls our hero at this point (GAH, THIS IS CONFUSING) to report that some bastard with a streak in his hair just stole one of the Pokemon that I didn't choose. NO! CHIKORITA!
Totodile is ENRAGED at this turn of events! Behold his fury!
Our hero follows the sound of violin until he finds his rival lurking creepily nearby.
"I KNEW YOU'D COME!"
Chikorita is now Vanguard-2. Don't do it, Chikorita! You're better than this!
I don't know what's going on.
There's one left, much like the original games in Gen 1. I always thought it'd have been cool if the professor took the third one and fought you with it later as an optional uber-fight (even though his main would be weak to your main by process of elimination).
I...really need more letter space from these games. The rival is none other than Broken Matt Hardy, and his next battle with Brother Nero will be a Great War for the ages.
Nero takes a moment to talk to his mom before he leaves the area. Tomorrow I'll be gone, don't know when I'll be back.
A lot of NPCs are barging in all "Megaman Megaman!" to try and explain the game to me, and when I tell them "no thx" they get all rude. Just wait, soon my Totodile will be a rampaging behemoth, and then...and then...you WILL suffer ME!
Now that Pokeballs are available, I get my first sidekick-mon. No Pidgeys or Rattatas this time, for the above-outlined reasons. Geodude is so useful in the early going of this game that he practically replaces my starter at times.
We learn a fact about Geodudes that I wish I could go back to not knowing. Ironically, bashing against each other "to prove who is harder" is how I spent most of my days in D-Block. I've been a bitch, I've had a bitch.
WTF is that? Hoppip? Whatever it is, I've gotta get me one! TAG 'EM AND BAG 'EM, BOYS!
Well, that's lame. The one attack it possesses...doesn't do anything. Maybe this thing evolves into something rad later, but I'm going to put it in the bank. You just aren't cutting the mustard, brother.
Journeying on, our hero stumbles upon Stephanie McMahon. It's deep, dark, and many men have fallen in.
The trainer battles at this point are generally all pretty easy, and I'm seeing a surprising amount of Pokemon at their command. In the previous gen the early trainers usually topped out at two Pokemon.
Bellsprout could be a good addition to the team, and it's definitely one I didn't get any use out of in Gen 1. This can be my answer to any water Pokemon I encounter.
Protip: These weird-looking trees give up fruit when inspected. Pokemon can equip said fruit to get healed during battle.
Violet City is the first major city, with a gym and everything. Let's find out who the first boss will be...
There's a school here with no teacher. I know the education system struggles to get funding in the U.S., but this is ridiculous!
The teacher shows up...and makes no sense. A winner is me? How? HOW??
This guy trades you Onix for a Bellsprout. I'll take it, especially considering I can easily catch another Bellsprout.
It starts at the same level so any time spent leveling Bellsprout wasn't wasted. Also, Onix has an experience boost since it's technically a trade, so it'll level up quickly. I've got BOTH of Brock's rock-types now. Looking good. Only thing missing is a good fire-type and I'll have all of my early weaknesses covered.
Onix may get boosted experience, but he's also stuck with a lame name. You win some, you lose some.
The first gym is odd. It's a blue room where the floor is shaped like a dollar sign. In a way, it's fitting, given the fascists who lurk there. Within the gym, our hero must do battle with...
...Bird Keeper Abe, seen here taking time out of attending the Grand Dragon's meetings to raise birds of prey.
Get past the bird-keepers, and it's time to fight the efficient German hawk himself, Falkner. Or as he is known in the dialect of the Fatherland, "Volkner". That name is WAY too dramatic for this game.
I don't know what to make of this guy. Poofy pants, blue emo hair... what's his deal?
The weird thing is that his Pokemon...are Pidgey and Pidgeotto. Very weird choices for the first boss, especially considering how many Pidgeys you've already fought. This one is a little stronger than the usual, at least.
Pidgeotto is more of a real boss, playing the Onix role. And speaking of Onix, here he is to dish out punishment!
Ultimately Totodile finished the fight...barely. Even with his dismal Pokemon lineup, he wasn't an easy battle.
Protip: Once Geodude hits level 11 he can completely roll over flying-types, even Falkner's. I reset and did the fight a second time with one more level, and the second time I had a much easier go of it with Geodude's new ability.
At this point Prof. Oak sends his errand boy to saddle me with an EGG. I shouldn't have ever accepted this. It takes up a spot in the party and so far it hasn't hatched. I bet when it DOES finally hatch it's a Rattata or something.
This may seem creepy now, but By God, 2000 was a more innocent time! HE'S JUST A BOY DAMMIT! GIVE HIM YOUR NUMBER!
My need for a strong fire Pokemon is quickly answered. There's a particular spot north of Violet City where Growlithes can spawn, and I make CERTAIN to catch one. This magnificent red bastard evolves into Arcanine, an especially-good fire Pokemon.
Growlithe sounds like a grass-type, so it's pretty weird that it's essentially a fire cat. Regardless, this party looks really good aside from EGG taking up a valuable space. Damn EGG. I've got the bases of grass/water/fire all covered, with two strong rock-types bringing in the heavy offense. My starter is definitely taking a lesser role than in Gen 1 with such formidable allies so early.
Next stop: Sprout Tower. This is an actual dungeon, so the party will be put to the test as Pokemon Crystal continues.
Egg: "You will see things no one else can see. Do things no one else can do!"