Pokemon X: The Zangoose Solo Run

When I mentioned in my Seviper solo run report that I expected the snake and the mangoose of the Pokemon world to be polar opposites in terms of capabilities and fighting style, little did I know how utterly right and on the mark I was. While Seviper is a total pushover with useless features and very few good fighting options, Zangoose is a powerhouse with stats that go through the roof and the widest learnset of them all. This is a 'Mon tailor-made for solo runs, and I had tremendous amounts of fun cruising Kalos with that feline bipedal creature. In fact, I daresay that not only is my Zangoose solo run one of my best Gen VI solo runs, but it's also one of my best Pokemon solo runs full stop. Zangoose is on par with the best of them 'Mons — think Piplup or Primarina levels of brokenness and awesomeness — and can pretty much one-shoot its way through any obstacle. Heck, now I want to cruise solo with it in Ruby and see if it's as irresistible in its home region as in Kalos.

Zangoose's two main assets stats-wise are its high Speed and its ridiculously high Attack, which pretty much always allow it to strike first and one-shoot opponents — because hey, who wouldn't one-shoot everything that moves with an base Attack of bloody 115? My Zangoose had a Naughty Nature to boot, which meant an even impossibly higher Attack. At the end of my run at lv. 100, she boasted an attack of 331, which I'm pretty sure is one of the highest Attack — if not the highest — of all the 'Mons I ever ran solo with; Roggenrola and Charizard, which were already pretty broken in that department, don't even come close to my Zangoose's sheer offensive power. And what better to compliment such an impossibly high Attack than a learnset bristling with Physical Moves — and ludicrously powerful ones at that? All, and I mean all the offensive Moves Zangoose learns by levelling up are Physical Moves: no trolling à la Pidove, Zangoose is a pure physical attacker — and a beautifully efficient one at that, with Moves that boast a lot of PP and insane accuracy (100% for all Moves, bar two with 95%).

All this talk about Moves segues nicely into the next segment, which will be all about Zangoose's Type coverage. More like Zangoose's insane, ludicrous, completely broken Type coverage, really. Fun fact: before that run, I was pretty sure that Zangoose was an Ice 'Mon, due to his fluffiness and colour scheme. I was a trifle disappointed when I realized that I was actually dealing with a Normal 'Mon; but that disappointment evaporated upon discovering the sheer scale of Zangoose's learnset. Zangoose has its fingers in so many pies when it comes to Type coverage that it's actually faster to quote the few Types it cannot dabble in — and that would be Psychic, Water, Dragon, Fairy and Steel. This means a 72% coverage of the Type spectrum, and that's nothing to be sniffed at. While Zangoose's offensive leveling-up learnset comprises solely Normal, Fighting, Bug and Dark Moves, it can gain access to the other nine Types through TMs. For the record, I settled upon Rock Tomb, X-Scissor, Shadow Claw and Return in the late stages of my run, after experimenting with many Moves just for the sheer fun of it. And my, was it a blast.

My ode to Zangoose's sheer awesomeness wouldn't be complete without mentioning my intense fondness for that 'Mon. As a solo runner, I'm bound to get attached to my One and Only no matter what; however, there are undoubtedly 'Mons that I end up loving more than others, and Zangoose scores very high on my personal 'Mon Love Chart. So very high, in fact, that it can now claim the honour of being one of my favourite 'Mons ever. I love everything about the Cat Ferret Pokemon, from its colour scheme to its haughty air, without forgetting its wonderfully fluffy tail. I find it unbearably lovely despite its aggressive demeanour, and I couldn't resist petting my little Ivoire a bit in Pokemon Amie. (Although I got her affection up by two hearts only, that was enough to grant her extra XP in battle; combined to her erratic level-up rate, this allowed me to skip many Trainers during the last third of the game, confident that I would hit the big 100 anyway.) And sure, Zangoose is a bipedal 'Mon, and I'm usually not too fond of those; but unlike other 'Mons I won't mention here to preserve their dignity, it's not anthropomorphized to the point of looking ridiculous.

Long story short, I love Zangoose to pieces, my solo run with it was pure delight from beginning to end, and I'm totally going to cruise with it again. Heck, I'll even cruise with it in all the games it graces with its forbidding presence if I can pull it off. Thanks for reading as usual, dear fellow gamers, and drop by anytime!


Pokemon Y: The Seviper Solo Run

For some reason, I really like 'Mons that go in pairs. After having cruised Kalos with its two resident fossils Amaura and Tyrunt, I decided to lavish my attentions on Seviper and Zangoose, a.k.a. the sworn ennemies of the Pokemon world. With a long-running feud as a backstory, I expected that pair of 'Mons to sport opposing battling styles and Move pools, and I was curious to see what they had in store for me. I decided to start with Seviper, because I've been wanting to run solo with a pure Poison 'Mon for, like, ages. At the end of that much-awaited run, my main question was: why? Why does Seviper perform worse on the poisoning department than a 'Mon with Poison as secondary type such as Venipede? Why is Seviper such a one-trick pony, and a pony that cannot even pull out its main trick most of the time? Why so much wasted potential? Why, why, why?

Don't get me wrong, dear fellow gamers: I cruised Kalos just fine with the Poison snake, and reached the heights of the Pokemon League without breaking a sweat; so we're dealing with perfectly decent solo run material there. On the other hand, I just cannot wrap my head around how pointless Seviper is on the battlefield. Sure, he has high offensive stats, with a perfect balance between Attack and Sp.Attack; unfortunately, my Seviper's Moves were just a tad too weak to one-shoot everything with abandon, unless a Type weakness or particularly low defensive stats were involved. Seviper is also painfully slow probably because despite what his name implies, he's actually closer to an anaconda when it comes to measurements. As far as my run was concerned, this means that blows were traded more often than not: and with Seviper's HP and defensive stats being as crappy as they are, I suffered quite a lot of damage on a regular basis. Hits from opposing 'Mons routinely drained a good third, if not half of my Seviper's life bar, and I had to keep him on a constant potion diet I used more than 100 potions during that run, and that's my personal record in a Pokemon solo run. And mind you, all that happened with the benefit of overleveling. That probably means that in a regular run, Seviper can hardly ever strike first and cannot survive even one hit in most cases. So I have to ask: what's the point of that 'Mon? What's his fighting niche?

He's not a good poisoner, that's for sure. He doesn't have an awesome auto-poisoning ability such as Venipede's Poison Point, and his poisoning Moves fail most of the time because of the low probabilities involved. Take Poison Jab, a Move I spammed during most of my run: I can honestly count on the fingers of two hands, three at most, the number of times I managed to poison something. This means that Venoshock, a Move my Seviper also wielded and whose power is increased in case the target is poisoned, never got to live to its full potential. And weirdly enough, none of Seviper's Status Poison Moves can inflict poisoning: they are solely buffing and debuffing Moves that affect stats and abilities. Whats' the point of such Moves, when it's not even guaranteed that Seviper can strike first and survive the first hit? And how come a Poison 'Mon can poison so little? It doesn't help that Seviper's learnset is on the narrow side, with mostly Poison and Dark Moves at his disposal; as for his Shed Skin Ability, it would have been awesome if not for the fact that it only has a 30% chance of triggering. I can honestly count on the fingers of one hand the number of times Shed Skin triggered over the course of my run.

So let's sum up: serviceable yet not outstanding offensive stats, low defensive stats and low speed, Status Moves hampered by said low speed, shitty poisoning capabilities, narrow learnset and borderline useless Ability. We have to face the sad truth here: Seviper sucks hard, and I can only hope that Zangoose fares better when it comes to fighting prowess and overall balance. Let's check that without delay, now shall we? Until then, dear fellow gamers, thanks for reading as usual, and drop by anytime!


Pokemon White 2: The Audino Solo Run

Although things didn't quite work out between me and Omega Ruby, I couldn't get that Audino solo run out of my head. I really wanted to cruise around with that cute creature, preferably immediately. I wanted it so bad, in fact, that I even felt ready to renounce Mega Evolution for the time being. That's when I remembered that Audino is a Gen V 'Mon that appears really early on, and that I hadn't played White&Black 2 since 2017. And with that, the die was pretty much cast; and it wasn't long before I was rushing through Unova with abandon and that adorable pink and white creature by my side.

Audino's colour scheme actually reminded me of strawberry and vanilla ice cream, which is why I named him 'Gelato'. I fully expected him to be one of those 'Mons that are good for little beyond being unbearably cute; but he took me by surprise by holding his own like a boss on the battlefield. He held his own so well, in fact, that he became able to one-shoot the opposition right after the Second Gym and never stopped after that. Sure, his learnset is not quite tailor-made for solo runs, with way too many status effect Moves learnt upon leveling up; but he still managed to make the most of the few offensive Moves he had access to.

I had to rely on Return, Double Slap and Secret Power, complete with Refresh, during the early stages of my run; and while that Move pool was efficient enough given the benefit of the STAB, it still had the potential to land me in hot water against Ghost 'Mons. A change was in order; and as soon as I could, I traded Double Slap for Signal Beam soon followed by Shadow Ball and Psychic, which came to replace Refresh and Secret Power. Return obviously didn't go anywhere, and remained my surefire one-shooter all the way to the Pokemon League. I got to upgrade my Move pool once again right before Victory Road, when I got hold of Flamethrower, Ice Beam and Thunderbolt in one fell swoop better late than never, indeed! Needless to say, the Pokemon League was very much a one-shooting festival, and I was crowned Champion after 13 hours of delightful roaming.

I was actually surprised by the length of my run. Those 13 hours felt much shorter, and this is in no small part due to BW2's utterly stellar pacing. I'll say it: when it comes to all things pacing, that pair is my absolute favourite in the whole series. Never before or since, for that matter has progression been so smooth and effortless in a Pokemon game, with HMs being handed to you long before you even need them and milestones flowing naturally into one another. Dungeons are a delight to explore and open areas a delight to roam, leaving you sated without being bored. And beyond that most excellent pacing, there is a real sense of urgency at work in the whole game: battles are more frantic than ever before (or since), biking is crazy fast, you can run indoors, and the game does everything it can to spare you trips through the menu. I daresay that BW2 perfectly managed to capture and convey the feverish quality of urban american lifestyle; and my, was such a move very welcome indeed after the sheer sluggishness of Gen IV.

Rediscovering BW2 after a whole two years away from Gen V was pure and utter delight. I swear those games are just tailor-made for solo runs, with Return being handed to you right after the first Gym and the Lucky Egg right before the sixth, and tall grass teeming with wild Audinos. In fact, it makes things nearly too easy. Oh, who am I kidding? I just love it, and I totally wish all Pokemon games could emulate that awesome arrangement! I also came to terms with the fact that my Trainer plays somewhat of a secondary role in the narrative and just goes with the flow. There's actually something strangely refreshing in being a bit of an observer in other people's stories, and simply giving a hand as you go along instead of being the driving force behind all things narrative. At least I'm not pitted alone against a whole villain team this time around, and everybody cooperates and contributes to save Unova from a new ice age about time, shall I say!

I also have to admit that with hindsight, Hugh is actually my favourite of all the post-Gen IV friendly rivals. His tale of revenge and retrieval makes him kinda relatable, but not to the point of making him endearing: he remains standoffish enough to be stimulating to beat (gotta show that bossy prick I'm not his personal slave, indeed!) and there's always a modicum of welcome distance between my Trainer and him. I would describe our relation as a reluctant partnership: it's pretty clear we're not best buddies and probably won't ever be and as far as friendly rivalvry in Pokemon goes, I'd have this any day of the week over 'rivals' fawning over me or wanting to be my BFF.

Now that I reacquainted myself with the awesomeness of BW2, I have a number of solo runs lined up for the pair. Also, I officially declare that all my BW2 runs to come will solely feature the female Trainer; I just cannot for the life of me deal with how utterly crappy the male Trainer looks, from his horrendous haircut to his ugly outfit without forgetting his lousy poses. And why on earth does he look so much younger than the female Trainer? I totally feel like I'm Hugh's little b*tch when I play with that scrawny male Trainer, and I'm not having any of it. I'd rather have his more assertive and older-looking female counterpart, thank you very much! And with that, dear fellow gamers, I'll see you soon for more Gen V tidings. Thanks for reading as usual, and drop by anytime!


Pokemon Emerald: The Sceptile Solo Run

I'll tell you what, my dear fellow Pokefans: at that point, I thought I'd never live to see a dope Grass Starter with one-shooting potential. I had basically renounced the whole Type entirely and accepted the idea that Grass 'Mons in general, and Grass Starters in particular, were simply not good solo run material not strong enough to wipe the battlefield clean in one turn, and too fragile to wipe it clean in two turns. But that was before my little Rainforest came, and showed me the potential of his Type in the most brilliant and satisfying way. The little gecko decidedly breaks the Grass Starter mold by boasting high Speed and Sp.Attack along with really decent Attack, which in turns makes him a genuine one-shooter. I've long waited for the day I'd be able to wreak havoc on a region's fauna with Grass Moves, and Treecko was the one who humoured me at long last. He deserves every ounce of the praise that's been lavished on him since he appeared, and even more.

Treecko's learnset is pleasantly varied, especially for a Grass Starter: he has access to Fighting and Ground Moves despite being pure Grass Type, and I definitely made the most of that versatility. I operated with two Move pools over the course of my run: Secret Power, Pursuit, Leaf Blade and Absorb during the early stages, and Leaf Blade, Return, Brick Break and Earthquake during the late stages. I find pretty interesting that all three Gen III Starters can learn Earthquake and Brick Break; needless to say, those two Moves came in really handy in all things Pokemon League and before that, for that matter. As a Grass 'Mon, Treecko had the added benefit of wielding draining Moves and being able to heal himself while taking down the opposition, and I took full advantage of this. And Leaf Blade! With hindsight, that is the name I should have given my Treecko; because that Move was awesome indeed, and it stayed in my pool during my whole run, wreaking havoc on the battlefield with its high critical hit ratio. Oh, and the game was kind enough to offer me the Champion crown on a silver platter by pitting me against Wallace. Like, Wallace, the former Water Gym Leader. Easiest. Champion. Fight. EVAH.

Long story short, Treecko is dope, and I loved him to pieces. Alas, I cannot say that much about Emerald itself: that darn game aggravated me in ways I didn't think possible. I know it's supposed to be the ultimate Gen III entry; but honestly, I find Ruby and Sapphire ten times better. For once, they boast a much better pacing; Emerald, on the other hand, makes everything slower by sneaking in useless diversions and fluff. Having to invade Team Magma's brand-new hideout was totally superfluous and uncalled for, just like having to climb the Sky Pillar just to wake up Rayquaza especially when the game doesn't even have the decency to tell you exactly where said new hideout and Sky Pillar lie, preferring instead to feed you vague directions and let you fumble around like a fool.

Even worse is Emerald's compulsion to interrupt my swift progress by any means necessary. Not only did every Trainer and their brother force their Pokenav number on me after battle like total creeps, but there was also that Scott guy following me through Hoenn. (Never even found out what that guy's purpose was, beyond looking like a stalking pedo.) Wait, is that game actually trying to make me socialize? Anathema! Over my dead body! And then, you have those cursed Double Battles, which I despise with every fibre of my being. It's bad enough that Emerald forces you to tackle those battles upon eye contact, unlike Ruby and Sapphire where you had to talk to Trainer duos to engage them; but Emerald also literally tries to trick you into Double Battles by hiding Trainers behind scenery elements. How foul can you be, game? This is despicable! I really shouldn't have to watch my every step to avoid bumping into a Trainer viciously hidden behind a rock or a tree. Do you know how many times I had to reload my save just to spare myself the hassle of fighting yet another endless Double Battle and having precious XP diverted from my little Rainforest? I'll tell you: way too many times.

Sure. Prepare to DIE.
My run ended up clocking at a bloated 11 hours because of those constant nuisances and obstructions; that totally stank, especially after my super-swift Torchic and Mudkip runs. And thus I do declare that henceforth, Emerald is persona non grata as far as Gen III dealings are concerned. I'd much rather stick with the original Gen III entries and their perfectly efficient pacing, all the more so as Emerald adds literally nothing of value to those games as far as I'm concerned. But still; I did what I set out to do, i.e. polish off three Starters runs in all three Gen III instalments. And with that, I'm now sailing towards other, newer Pokemon Gens! Stay tuned for more solo Pokemon goodness, dear fellow gamers the 2019 Pokemon Summer Season is nowhere near done indeed! Thanks for reading as always, and drop by anytime!


Pokemon Sapphire: The Swampert Solo Run

Here we go again with Gen III! Dear fellow gamers, may I present you with my Mudkip run of Sapphire, featuring the aptly named Tidal Wave and clocking at a tiny 7h45 of delightful roaming my newest record! Gee, we're nearly treading on speedrun territory at that point! I'm getting much better at exploiting Hoenn's cleverly designed map to save playtime and enhance that sweet, sweet rushing feeling I love to get from my Pokemon runs in general, and from my Gen III runs in particular. I mean, Hoenn seems to have been designed with speed and efficiency in mind: if you play your cards right, you can cross the whole region without backtracking a single time! And some sections can be short-circuited entirely with no consequences whatsoever, such as Routes 120 to 134. I'm never setting foot again in Pacifidlog Town, let me tell you that.

With his supremely balanced stats and his double Water-Ground typing that leaves him with but a single weakness, Mudkip had the potential to be one of the most badass Water Starters like, Piplup levels of badassery; but alas, the little amphibian is severely let down by his learnset, which is infested with moves with low accuracy. Low accuracy and one-shooting at first turn don't go well together, and Tidal Wave's imprecise move pool really affected the smoothness of my progression. Or at least, it did until I cleared Petalburg City's Gym, after which the tables were suddenly turned move-wise: literally from one Gym to the next, I got hold of Surf, Ice Beam, Return and Earthquake, and the face of my run was changed forever. After that, it was pretty much guaranteed one-shooting all the way to the Champion no Battle Items, no hassle. One more Gen III Starter Run polished off with honours, next please!

I also got the answer to the question raised by my Torchic run, i.e. is May as much of a giant douchebag as Brendan? The answer is limpid: yes, she is although we're dealing with a different type of douchiness there. Her way of throwing shade at your Trainer is much subtler than Brendan's, and cuts all the deeper for it. She looks nice enough at first sight, with her cute shyness and apparent friendliness; but she reveals her true colours soon enough. See, May is so happy with herself and so darn self-sufficient that she couldn't care less about having a rival. I used to think that she was a loser for focusing on discovering all species of Pokemons more than on battling me; but I realize now that I was the loser here, at least in her eyes. As far as she's concerned, I'm totally not worthy of obsessing over, and thus she does her thing and royally ignores me. Ouch, the shade.

The only times May bothers giving me attention is when she wants to use me as a convenient foil to rub her overinflated ego and boy, does she try hard to take the credit indeed, claiming that I got stronger for her sake and that our past battles inspired me to better myself. Erm, excuse me? You're not the bloody centre of the Universe here, let alone the centre of my universe. And sure enough, she tried to sneak into the trophy room with me, just like that dirty little minx Brendan. Savage! And yet: even though I'm the butt of the joke here, I have to tip my hat to GameFreak for coming up with subtler styles of rivalvry that time around, as well as two vastly different yet just as potent brands of shadiness. Brendan and May are the most insulting and infuriating rivals ever, and that also makes them the most brilliant and efficient ones.

Two down, one to go! Treecko's stellar reputation preceeds him, and I sure hope he will offer me a Grass Starter solo run worthy of the name. I'll see you soon with lush tidings of Emerald, dear fellow gamers; until there, thanks for reading as usual, and drop by anytime!


Pokemon Omega Ruby: Count me out

I'm sorry, I cannot do this. I want to love and play that game, but it's just not working. At all.

It really should have, mind you. I love Gen III as a whole, and I chose one of my favourite 'Mons out there as my opener for those remakes, i.e. the adorable Skitty the idea being to polish off a solo run with a Cute Charm Delcatty, thus coming full circle in all matters Skitty. After my delightful run of Sapphire with a non-evolved Skitty, that run with the fully evolved feline should have been a total walk in the park; and yet, I found myself struggling. My Move pool is crappy beyond belief even after five darn Gyms, and my lv.52 Delcatty still has a hard time one-shooting foes. Bloody GameFreak locked Ice Beam behind the Dive wall, effectively preventing me from upgrading my Move pool early on; and since I have yet to go back to Fallarbor to snatch Return, I'm stuck with low-tier Moves such as Assist and Faint Attack. This is just not fun, and this is so not what I signed for: I expected to get an easier and smoother ride with a fully evolved Skitty, not a harder and more tedious one.

However, my unexpected struggles with Delcatty are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my issue with ORAS. I'm gonna try to say this as delicately as possible: from the bottom of my heart, I curse GameFreak for the changes they introduced in those remakes. Them fools basically destroyed what was in my opinion the biggest strengths of the Gen III games; namely the swift pacing, the adventurous feel and the near-perfect layout of Hoenn. Gone is the heady rush of running at a breakneck pace through the entire region, from beaches to mountain tops: progression in OR feels sluggish as all heck, a feeling considerably worsened by the abundance of useless cutscenes. It's not nearly as bad as in Sun&Moon, granted; but it's kinda worse than in X&Y, and progression really suffers from it. My save file reads 7:42, and yet I'm barely beyond the fifth Gym; in RSE, I'd already be lounging in Sootopolis, or even striding through Victory Road.

And you can also forget about cruising it your way in those remakes. RSE left you to your own devices, free to explore and roam around at will and leisure; ORAS, on the other hand, want you on rails and nowhere else. One telling example will suffice to express the depths of my contempt for that new approach: after showing my deadbeat dad who's the real family don in Petalburg City, I always fancy Surfing through Routes 105 to 109 and challenging all the Trainers on my way, before landing in Slateport and taking a right turn at Mauville to rally the newly opened Route 118. Smooth, effortless and perfect. That detour is my little treat; so why did GameFreak feel compelled to take that simple pleasure away from me and force me to follow Wally to Mauville right after I conquered the Petalburg Gym? This is my journey, dang it! Let me travel to places the way I see fit, and drop the bloody handholding already, will ya?

And since I'm mentioning Mauville... Why, GameFreak? WHY? What was wrong with the original Mauville, to make you want to overhaul it so completely? It was just perfect as it was, cosy and tiny and homely. The very last thing I wanted in my Pokemon was another architectural disaster of Lumiose City proportions! There was absolutely no need to make Mauville's so darn complicated and so ridiculously enormous. And the latter doesn't just affect Mauville, mind you: all scales have been enlarged, just because. Everything is way too big in ORAS, and the weird camera angles make things even worse. The marvelously efficient layout of RSE is shattered beyond belief, and the player is left with a disfigured Hoenn that's painfully confusing and tedious to scale in every darn sense of the word. GameFreak probably realized that they screwed up, because they kinda shrank things again in Sun&Moon; but the damage is done as far as ORAS as concerned.

Those nearly eight hours were a trudge, let me tell you that. It started nicely enough, mind you: the game's overall vibe stood pleasantly halfway between X&Y and Sun&Moon, and I was thrilled to rediscover Hoenn under that new graphical guise. But then came the handholding, the cutscenes and the enormous areas, and I had to endure obstruction after obstruction. I was sorely tempted to give up several times; yet the thought that better Moves and one-shooting were somewhere down the line kept me going, along with the desire to get my paws on some Mega Stones and pave the way for future runs. But ironically enough, that last point was actually my undoing: my will to crawl ORAS ultimately broke when Stephan kidnapped me on Route 123 and took me to some remote island to snatch the Key Stone. Oh heck no. I was on my merry way to the Weather Institute, and I just couldn't muster the strength to tackle that diversion even if my life depended on it.

And that's how I turned off my 2DS and shoved my OR cartridge back into its box, not to be touched for a very long time. See you, so long, goodbye, hooray! Mind you, I'm not swearing off those remakes just yet. I still hold onto my fantasy of an Audino Solo Run with ME included; and beyond that, I'm aware that a lot of my current repulsion towards ORAS stems from the sheer contrast with RSE. I simply cannot play the originals and the remakes at the same time or in quick succession; if I ever want to play the latter again, I have to let a lot of time pass, and get used to the idea that I'm basically dealing with a completely different pair of games, with an atmosphere of their own. I mean, it's pretty much like that with every single Pokemon remake; I just have to suck it up. And if it turns out during my next playthrough that I just cannot get used to these games after all, then I'll pawn them without regret. And that, dear fellow gamers, marks the end of all ORAS tidings for now. Thanks for reading as usual, and drop by anytime!


Pokemon Ruby: The Blaziken Solo Run

As I was cruising Hoenn with Dustox and Beautifly, a shocking fact suddenly dawned on me: Gen III was the only Pokemon gen whose starters I had yet to put to the solo run test. How could this happen? How on earth could I give those three a pass for so long? As I was busy trying to wrap my head around that unfathomable reality, another shocking fact fell on me like a ton of bricks: Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were still sitting unplayed in my collection! Oh, the shock! Once I was done recovering from the enormity of the situation, I obviously had to do something to fix it, and no later than right now. The best course of action would have been to kill two birds with one stone and play some Starter runs in ORAS; however, I was kinda reticent to do that. Not only does my purist mind rather want to experience the Gen III Starters in their original environment, so to speak; but I also absolutely hate their sprites in ORAS. And thus my decision was taken: those Starter Runs would unfold in the original Gen III entries, and I'd keep ORAS for other runs like, an Audino Solo Run with Mega Evolution on top.

And of course, I'd have the Starters' types match with the names and colours of the games just because I can, and because the correlation is too utterly perfect to let it slip. And since the games' names would be monopolized by my Trainers already, I would craft fancy names tied to the Starters' types. And thus: dear fellow gamers, please give a warm welcome to my little Fire Storm! He's every bit your typical Fire Starter: fast and powerful, and very much a one-shooter indeed. Cruising Hoenn with that bipedal bird was complete piece of cake, and I never had to worry about my HP bar whatsoever. Even the Rock Gym, which could have proved a handful due to poor timing and type matching, was a complete walk in the park due to my Torchic already wielding Double Kick at the time. From then on, it was pretty much a one-shooting festival all the way to the Pokemon League, despite my lacklustre Move pool.

Indeed, Torchic is not blessed with the same bottomless learnset as, say, fellow Fire Starter Charmander; instead, the little chick has to make do with a small variety of Moves that don't always take full advantage of his double type. I spent an inordinate amount of time hanging onto Double Kick and Ember, completed with Slash and whatever else I found on my way, from Aerial Ace to Hidden Power. Only in the latter stages of my run was I able to put together a Move pool worthy of a Starter namely Overheat, Brick Break, Earthquake and Return; and mind you, even that quatuor didn't completely solve my Move issues. Overheat in particular was really unwieldy due to its combined low PP, lack of precision and stat-lowering side effect, and it nearly put me in a bind against Phoebe's flying Ghost 'Mons. But everything worked fine in the end, and I was crowned Champion after roughly 9 hours of cruising through Hoenn making that run my shortest Pokemon solo run so far.

After five runs of Gen III, I though I knew those games well enough; but it turned out that there was still plenty of room for detail-spotting and quirky discoveries. Like, how could I not realize earlier that Wallace, the resident Water Gym Leader, keeps a whole harem in the basement of his Gym? That's hilariously pervy and creepy! Also, why do I always, always fall prey to that troll rider on the cycling road repeating 'Rydel' a million times? Next time I'll steer clear of him by a wide berth, I swear. And last but not least, how on earth did I fail to notice until now that Brendan is a massive douchebag, and probably one of the most unsufferable rivals to ever (dis)grace the series? The little prick hits you below the belt right away, when he sniffs at your Trainer being female despite being a Gym Leader's child. Now looka here, you dirty punk: I don't have a PhD in genetics, but I'm pretty sure there's no natural law stating that Gym Leaders have to sire male offspring only. Go and reread your Mendel, will ya?

How would you like my hand in your face?
And this is but the beginning, because bloody Brendan basically spends the rest of the game throwing shade at you all the way to the Pokemon League, where he dares butting in after your fight with the Champion to offer some advice (as if) and tries to sneak into the trophy room with you. The nerve! Trying to steal my spotlight like that, after hours spent scoffing and sneering at me? Why, you dirty little minx. The core issue with Brendan is that he basically doesn't acknowledge you as a rival, and deems you totally unworthy of his attention. Heck, you can nearly hear him roll his eyes and grimace in disgust every time he deigns talking to you; you betrayed his expectations by being a female, and from that point on, you're worth less to him than the dirt under his shoes. As I said: WORST. RIVAL. EVAH. Now I'm dying to play with the male Trainer and see if May is just as odious as him.

And since I'm mentioning this, it's time to wrap up that post and dive senselessly into Sapphire along Water Starter Mudkip! Stay tuned for the inevitable ensuing run report, dear fellow gamers; and as always, thanks a million for reading!