Memory Pak: Taking My First Starter Pokémon All The Way To The Elite Four

Ecruteak City LandscapeGame Freak

My first Pokémon was a Chikorita named Chicky, and I loved that tiny green horse-thing with all my heart. I came to Pokémon a little later than many of my friends and peers, having missed out on Pokémon Red and Blue by not owning a Game Boy, but I spent many hours watching others wander around Lavender Town’s creepy little graveyard, or showing off Pikachu’s smiling face in Pokémon Yellow.

I knew I wanted to be a part of this craze, so by the time I finally got my hands on a Game Boy Color, I made sure to tell my parents to get me Pokémon Gold. My little brother got Pokémon Silver, and we shared ownership of a Link Cable. It was a magical time.

This is not Chicky. This is some lesser Chikorita, from the anime
This is not Chicky. This is some lesser Chikorita, from the anime (Image: The Pokémon Company)

Back then, I didn’t know much about type advantages – and I didn’t really care, either. Pokémon, to most kids, is a game where you get a pet and make it fight other people’s pets, and although a rudimentary understanding of the basic rock-paper-scissors triangle of “Fire beats Grass, Water beats Fire, Grass beats Water” will get you pretty far, it gets a bit more complex when you try to come up with reasonings for Bug Type beating Psychic Type, or Fighting Type beating Normal Type. It’s best to just ignore all those things, and make sure to have a lot of moves that hit hard.

My dear Chicky was quickly joined by a host of other Pokémon that I mostly kept because they were cute. The Togepi that you get gifted early in the game was one of my favourites, named “Eggy” because children are terrible at coming up with creative names. He had Metronome, a move that randomly pulled from every available move, and although Metronome is not a good tactical Pokémon move, it made my battles unexpected and surprising each time.

Boy, that's a LOT of steps.
Boy, that’s a LOT of steps. (Image: Game Freak)

I had a Mareep too, named – points for guessing correctly – “Sheepy”, and a Golduck, “Ducky”, in an attempt to stuff my party with a little more power. My favourite of them all was – and still is – Swinub, the sort of pig-slime that, let’s be real, I probably named “Piggy”. I was incredibly disappointed when he turned into a big ugly Piloswine, but at least that meant we could be slightly fiercer in battle.

The Indigo Plateau is a bit of an anticlimax
The Indigo Plateau is a bit of an anticlimax

By the time I reached the seemingly endless maze of tunnels that formed the Victory Road towards the final step of the Pokémon League, I had a level 70 Meganium (Chicky), plus the Ho-Oh I’d just caught, and my brother’s Lugia which I made him trade me because I’m a terrible sister. My first time tackling the Elite Four – well, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that my team, made of Pokémon chosen for their cuteness, did not get very far.

Back to Victory Road to punch some Onixes, and a few hours later – still no joy. I spent all my money on Revives and Hyper Potions, but I barely had time to use them in between the Elite Four’s elite, one-hit-kill moves. It wasn’t looking great for my team – we were getting wiped out, over and over again, and I couldn’t help but imagine each one of the Elite Four seeing this idiot kid enter their room over and over again and feel a bit sorry for me. But I wasn’t about to give up. This was an era before “play something else” was an option. This was my game, and I was going to beat it, even if it took forever.

Time to get serious, then. Cue montage music.

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