Lavender & Black Roses

Pokemon Crystal 251

pokemon crystal start screen

The Second Generation

I may have started with the first generation of Pokemon, but it's the second generation I have the most nostalgia for. I was a little older and more able to grasp the game mechanics than when I played Yellow. Pokemon Crystal, in particular, is my favorite of the series.

For this playthrough, I wanted to dip my toes into romhacks. For my first venture I chose Pokemon Crystal 251, a hack that, as you might expect makes it possible to catch all 251 Pokemon at the time of the game's release on a single file. Besides that, it keeps very close to vanilla besides bugfixes and implementing a few beta areas to catch the missing pokemon in. I think this'll be a perfect way for me to re-experience Crystal.

player character being shown the sea  of Cherrygrove City by an NPC town guide

So far in game, I've completed the introductory events and the first gym. The nostalgia has been potent--I love the graphics, the peak of Gameboy colors aesthetics in my opinion. I love the improvements over Gen 1, like the animated front sprites and the female character option. I've even enjoyed the novelty of the real-time clock so far, though I'm sure it'll become an annoyance when catching those last few Pokemon.

All in all, I'm having a great time so far.

Back and Bugsy

It's been a while since I played. The hack I'm playing has had major updates, so I re-patched my game and took some time to make sure everything was hunky-dory. So far, so good.

One reason I stopped when I did was that just ahead was the one part of this game I decidedly disliked: the Ruins of Alph.

Unown glyphs on a brick wall

The panel puzzle was easy, it's those Unown I dread. I don't know if I'm up for the challenge of catching all 26 forms. That's definitely a "we'll see."

Still, I enjoyed getting back to the game. I particularly enjoyed the encounter with Team Rocket in the Slowpoke Well. I feel like evil teams got progressively goofier as the games went; despite their grand plans like world domination or reshaping the globe, it's hard to take them seriously as a threat when they're mostly goofy costumes and catchphrases. Here we have a group of people who are straight-up mutilating pokemon for money. I'd say that's about as dark as these games get!

My rival, Silver, is also interesting in his straightforwardness. As he explained in our encounter after my defeat of Bugsy, he hates weakness. He challenges me to prove to himself that he's not weak. When I see discussion online about Gen II, I see a lot of praise for Silver. He feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the unvariably wholesome relationships you get with most later rivals.

It's not that it's good because it's dark; I'm not wishing for edgy Pokemon here. But the choices here are interesting, and I think they help give this era of Pokemon its own distinctive place in the canon, one that potentially appeals to this day. Everybody knows about Genwunners and their love of the original Pokemon. I wonder if there's a group of Gentwoers out there?


Oh, Whitney. Yes, I was one of those kids that got pancaked by Miltank back in the day. It's telling of these games' general difficulty that just having a Gym leader with a basic strategy represents a significant difficulty spike. On base Crystal your best bet against her is to trade an Abra for a Machop, but this romhack changes all the ingame trades, making it difficult to get a type advantage.

So I went in with what I had. She actually managed to faint one of my Pokemon, but the braindead AI didn't press the advantage, so I pulled through in the end. Of course, then there's the other reason Whitney is infamous...

In Goldenrod Gym, Whitney is crying

She's memorable, for better or for worse, and that's more than you can say about most Gym leaders in this series.

Now that I've gotten to Goldenrod, I've also gained access to the Daycare. Of all the mechanics that G/S/C introduced, Pokemon breeding has got to be one of the biggest in terms of impact. I've never messed around much with breeding, whether for shinies or stats-- and to be honest, I'm not too eager to start now. Maybe in a later generation, when there's less clunk and more QOL features.