Silver Soul of Johto

by @Samakonda

The first time I’ve ever played a Pokemon game I was with my uncle. He was bringing me along to pick up my cousin from his mother. I was 8 and we were driving to another town 30 miles away. I couldn’t handle doing nothing for so long, so before we left my uncle handed me my cousin’s GameBoy Color. Now I had my own at the time so I knew how to use one but I only had two games Mario Golf and Star Wars Podracing. So when my uncle handed me this GameBoy I didn’t recognize the game. All I knew was it was a golden cartridge, now I know it was Gold Version. And so, I turned it on I took the first step on my Pokemon adventure

Now let me say again I was 8, this was my cousin’s game and I didn’t know anything about it. After turning on the game I selected New Game rather than Continue and potentially ended up erasing the previous saved data. All I can say is maybe I didn’t erase his game just because I wouldn’t know the importance of saving my own game. That being said, I’m sorry cousin for most likely erasing your game.

As far as this playthrough goes there’s not much worth mentioning as eventually I had to give the game back. However here’s the highlights I can remember of it. I started with a Cyndaquil, and I got as far as Goldenrod City and beating Whitney, Miltank ain’t got nothing me. That is all I can really remember from my first playthrough. Oh! I also named my rival “???” because that’s what he said his name was.

Later that day though I asked my parents if they would buy me that game. At first they said no. A few details on my family, we are a Christian family and back then I wasn’t allowed to play something so closely related to the occult. My Grandma didn’t like it that I had read Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”, which in hindsight I find really funny since at its core it’s a story of a boy and his grandma. Anyways, do you remember in the early days of Pokemon how many Christians believed that they games were evil for teaching children about demonology and whatnot? Well my parents believed that. Luckily for me my uncle was still around and told them that the game was harmless, and the next day my uncle, dad and I went to Wal-Mart to buy the game. Unfortunately for me Wal-Mart didn’t have Pokemon Gold and I was heartbroken. Fortunately for me Pokemon of course comes in two versions of the same game and the Wal-Mart employee knew that. So I walked out of the store with Pokemon Silver to begin my journey into Johto.

I can’t recall much other than the standard experience of the game so I won’t go into details about that stuff. Of course I beat the Gym Leaders, Elite Four, went through the #KantoNation, and fought Red.

Funny side note: as far as the games go, I remember buying Silver, Crystal, and Ruby, but I distinctly recall owning Gold, and Emerald. And as of Gen 2 and 3 I only have Silver and Sapphire, how I got Sapphire I have no clue. And starting with Heart Gold and Soul Silver I bought, and currently have, all games that have released. I also went back and bought Platinum while waiting for Black2 and White2 to release. But this brings me to the next part of the story.

So my adventure started in 2000 in Johto and I took it to Hoenn (Ruby/Sapphire) in 2003 and after skipping over a trip to Kanto (Fire Red/Leaf Green), sorry Nation, I went back to Hoenn with Emerald (2005) but that’s where I my adventure came to a screeching halt. I never played Diamond or Pearl, and for a number of reasons. First was I didn’t have a DS and my family thought that having an X-box and Gameboy [Advanced at that point {obviously (gen 3 games)}, though I had to get rid of my Color for it] was enough. Second and most blasphemous I didn’t care for Pokemon as a franchise. I had Silver and I loved it, I’ll always be a Johto boy, and I had Sapphire (somehow) and Emerald and I fell out of love with it. I had no interest in playing gen 1 or their remakes, again sorry #KantoNation. So at that point I just figured I only like Silver and not Pokemon.

Come 2008 I’m a sophmore in high school and on a whim, I started what would turn out to be my last playthrough of Silver (more on that later). In all my years of playing this game there’s one thing I didn’t do. I never started with a Chikorita. In this playthrough I would rectify that. As I’m playing through it I start developing habits that I still have to this day, the first starts with me hating Chikorita/Bayleef. I saw it as weak. It couldn’t handle the flying types of Falkner, or Bugsy’s bugs. So after it fainting so many times to random encounters, and trainer battles I do what I thought was unthinkable at the time. I boxed it. I had never abandoned a starter before and in doing so I thought to myself I need a new pokemon that can serve as my starter. Right on Route 35 in front of the Day Care I caught my first Nidoran(male). This is where I began to fall in love with my now favorite Pokemon Nidoking. I had just broken up with Bayleef and Nidoran may had been a rebound, but he’s been so good to me ever since. This game was also the first time I started naming my Pokemon, and with the Nido family I always name them after fictional royalty. Nidoran was named King Trent, a character from, at the time, my favorite book series (the Xanth series by Piers Anthony).

But one Pokemon does not a team make. So while staying on Route 35 I begin my hunt for an Abra. Kadabra had always been a staple on any game I’ve played be it Johto or Hoenn. And I do mean Kadabra because gaming had always been a solitary experience for me and to this day that still mostly remains true. My sisters are all older me and shared none of my gaming interest, and I didn’t have any friends with link cables. So I had to get my Kadabra and remembering my parents initial hesitation of buying me this game I named him El Diablo (The Devil for those who know absolutely no spanish).

The rest of my team was a Magmar named Dude Stick because I used to draw a stick figure dude that I called Dude Stick. A Poliwhirl (the first time I used one I didn’t know that he evolved with a water stone so I was deliberately not evolving it out of nostalgia) named Ali because I would eventually evolve it to Poliwrath and he’s like a boxer. A Haunter named Jordan, also a Xanth reference as there’s a ghost named Jordan in the series. My sixth was a Pidgeot named Snoozer, “the early bird gets the worm” but the late bird gets caught by me because “you snooze, you lose”. But I only kept the Pidgeot up until I got a Larvitar because who would keep a Pidgeot over a Tyranitar? The Tyranitar was named Sir Rex because I felt he had a kinship with Nidoking who would have knighted him, and he was T-Rex enough for me to consider him one. *Side note, funny how when Pokemon came out with an actual T-Rex Pokemon they also called him a Tyrant.

But then in real life I found out that my friend, who’s also named Sam, had also restarted his Pokemon game, Gold, and he had a trade cable, and he was looking for someone to trade with so he could evolve his Poliwhirl into a Politoed and Haunter to Gengar. I had only met Sam a year before so I didn’t know that he had Gold and a trade cable. So we traded our Pokemon to evolve them and for once I had an Alakazam, Gengar, and in honor of Sam a Politoed, afterwards I renamed the Politoed from Ali to Prince Poo. Which is an Earthbound reference as Prince Poo and Politoed are bald with a single curly hair, also Earthbound was Sam’s favorite game, and the name Prince Poo meshed well with King Trent and Sir Rex. It’s probably the best name I’ve ever named something. I have very few friends now and I’m proud to say that Sam is still one of them.

Two years go by and I hadn’t play a single new Pokemon game. Then Sam tells me that Silver and Gold were getting remakes. I still don’t have a DS so even though I loved Silver I tell him that I probably won’t get Soul Silver. He then told me that for 25$ [*I know the dollar sign is supposed to go in front of the amount but I refuse to put it that way as they way you say it is Twenty-Five Dollars, thus I put the symbol for “dollars” after the number*] I can have his old DS. And that’s when I got sucked back into Pokemon after. I love Soul Silver and I can say that it is my favorite game of all time. I loved everything in Silver and consider it a perfect game and Soul Silver is that old game I loved and it’s all polished up and the best part is I can see my best friends Nidoking and Alakazam right by my side.

The story goes on. As I have said earlier gaming has always been a solitary thing for me, so I don’t get into competitive battling. So I think back to my early days where it was just me, Poliwhirl, Hypnosis, and a bunch of Ultra balls. I took it upon myself starting with Black and White to “Catch ‘Em All” even going back to the previous games to send some unobtainable Pokemon up, it was at this point that I finally bought Platinum. Ever since I have maintained a Living Pokedex in each game, sending up them up one generation at a time. Silver was left untouched at this point since you can’t move up from Gen 2 to 3. My Pokemon have just been sitting there…. waiting for me to return. More on that later.

After completing the Living Dex I didn’t know where to go next. Do I break my solidarity and venture into the competitive scene? Maybe, I’ve dabbled a little bit. I would make a team and battle Sam, but that’s when I found out he was so much better that me because he would IV breed, EV train and really work hard at making a tough team. So I started learning all that stuff and while I regularly breed Competitive Pokemon I haven’t actually competed. I just liked the training. When Black2 and White2 introduced the Shiny Charm I found something for me to do. I’ve bred for a couple of Shinies in Soul Silver, Houndoom, Gengar, Metagross. But the Shiny Charm will make it easier. My new goal was a Shiny Living Dex. Currently I have something like 110 shinies so it’s still a work in progress.

When X and Y came out Shinies became even easier to find. But so had breeding, training, and leveling up. I gave myself a new goal, so that when shiny hunting gets too boring I can hope over to this new thing. I have a Living Dex but all the Pokemon are at random levels. Five at a time I take them into Cafe Le Wow in X, boost Exp. and Prize Money gained with O powers and go through triple battles with a Water Spout Kyogre. I’m taking all my pokemon up to level 100. I know that I can level up faster with Blissey bases in ORAS, but I can’t make nearly as much money. With the money I buy everything. I have thousands of various Pokeballs, Vitamins, Battle Items, and Medicines all in X. My new problem is that I always main the latest game. So all my items are useless to me while I play Alpha Sapphire. Pokemon has really became a time sink for me ever since Black and White, so I decided to start trading over my items from X one Pokemon hold item at a time.

Let’s pause on my Pokemon journey and allow me to get a little personal. I’ve always been distant from other people and it really started showing itself with the birth of my eldest niece back around 2005. Earlier this year I came across an article on Schizoid Personality Disorder and come to realize that it perfectly describes me. Basically the headlines are: A person with it have a hard time expressing emotion, prefer to spend time by themselves, usually described as a typical loner, takes pleasure in very few things, lacks many friends, and nearly always chooses solitary activities. There’s more that I won’t go into detail about, but nearly every symptom of it I can easily identify with.

Resume. Last year for Christmas (2014) I didn’t know what to get a couple of my nieces who were 9 and 7. I’ve never been close to them so I don’t know what they like. So I thought what did I like when I was their age? What did I like when I was 8? That’s when I thought about the story with my uncle and I knew what I was going to get them. I bought the two of the 2 2DSs and a copy of X and Y. I figured Pokemon is a great thing an uncle could introduce someone to.

Last Thanksgiving (2015) I went up to my hometown, Hanford, where my parents, and a couple of my sisters, including the sister with my nieces, still live. While visiting with my sister I saw that my nieces were playing on their DSs and it brought to me a smile. And a bigger smile when I saw they were playing Pokemon. So I pull out my DS load up my game and initiate a trade with them. I ended up giving them a Nidoking (Arthur) and an Alakazam (Merlin, since El Diablo I’ve always named Alakazams after wizards). Then my nieces started asking me all sorts of Pokemon questions that they’re parents were unable to answer. My sister said it was the warmest, friendliest and closest I have ever been with them, and went on to say she’s never seen me like that before. Tears started down her face and I felt uncomfortable.

Later when my nieces went off to bed I took a look at one of the games. She had a Blastoise named Sauce. Some background on that, I went up to Hanford for the Fourth of July that year and my youngest niece (2) couldn’t quite say “Uncle Sam” (I’m quite patriotic you know) but what she could say was something that sounds like “Uncle Sauce”. So one of my nieces named a Blastoise after me. I then looked at its moves and it had Hydro Pump, Water Gun, Waterfall, and Surf, which took me back to my first game of Silver where I had a Typhlosion with Ember, Flamethrower, Fire Blast, and Flame Wheel because even though I never heard of or knew about STAB I had a good idea that a fire Pokemon would have stronger fire moves. And thinking about that game got me to think about my last Silver playthrough… and I think it’s time to talk about it.

Last week, on my day off, I saw my roommate’s (Sam’s actually) old GameBoy Color and I took a look at it and searched for some AA batteries and grabbed my old Silver cartridge. After booting it up I was right where I left off. Standing in front of a P.C. in Goldenrod City. I take a look at the Pokemon in my party and sure enough there was King Trent, El Diablo, Sir Rex, Jordan, Dude Stick, and Prince Poo waiting for me like I had never left. I went through my boxes laughing at my Ho-oh named Ding Dong, finding Snoozer buried in there, a Smeargle named Rey after my uncle, who’s an artist. I had an Entei and Raikou. Luigia named Mairio. Even Bayleef was there. A quick look at the Hall of Fame Records showed I had gone through the Elite 4 over 150 times, like I said Pokemon has always been a time sink. All these memories came back to me. Then I decide to take a look and Sam’s Gold and see what he was up to. So I save, turn off the game and put his copy in.

I turned it on and the screen popped up saying that the internal battery has died. The game could no longer be saved and on the start menu was only “New Game” and “Options”. His previous save file was gone. I tried booting it up again thinking maybe the game didn’t load up correctly. After all, I had to blow the dust off my Silver because it didn’t load right the first time. But the result was the same. Internal battery has died. I took it out and looked at my game. One day, and probably soon, the internal battery will die and all my Pokemon with go away with it.

I put the games and the GameBoy down, and went about with the rest of my day. Before I went to bed I thought about all of my Pokemon journeys. I thought about the pokemon that were there by my side waiting for me to come back and how one day when I do come back they may not be there. Pokemon has meant so much to me, I was able to connect with my nieces like I never had before, my best friend was there with me evolving our Pokemon, and my Pokemon were always there by my side.

I booted up Silver yesterday for the last time. It turned on just fine, internal battery still working as hard as ever, but I had decided that this would be the last time. I grabbed Snoozer out of the P.C. and had him fly to the Indigo Plateau, put him back in the box and got my team ready for their last trip to the Hall of Fame. It was easy of course. I was 154 time champion after all. Everybody had long since turned to level 100. And after I beat Lance and the game restarted I went to get Snoozer again and this time I flew to Mt. Silver then back to the P.C. to get my team ready for my last fight, this time against Red. After the game restarted again I went back to get Snoozer for the last time and had him Fly me to Goldenrod City. The first time I played my cousin’s copy for whatever reason after beating Whitney I thought I had beat the game. Fitting that Goldenrod should be where I begin to end it all. I went through my boxes and started releasing all my Pokemon. I stopped when I only had 7 left, my core team and Snoozer. I flew to Mt. Silver and released Sir Rex, Ecruteak and released Dude Stick, Violet City for Jordan and Prince Poo. Then I went to Route 35 to say goodbye to El Diablo. My last flight was to Cherrygrove City and released Snoozer. I let go of my Pokemon to the spots closest to where I caught them. I’d like to imagine that they returned to become the guardians of their homes. Warding off those who mean the area harm, but allowing those they deem worthy to capture their brethren. 

That leaves me with King Trent the Nidoking in the next town over to New Bark. I start walking east. I turned on the GameBoy’s sound. This was actually the first time I’ve heard the music. As a child I was only allowed to play my Gameboy in the presence of my parents while the family was watching tv. So I wasn’t allowed sound and didn’t have headphones. This trait carried over through my life, handheld games are silent. Fire Emblem Awakening was actually the first handheld game I played with the sound on and I tried playing X with sound as it was the first Pokemon game to come out while was living alone, but it didn’t. Pokemon is a quiet game to me.

Finally I make it back to my house, up the stairs and stand in the middle of the room. Right where it all started. Press Start and save the game for the last time. Ending it with only my Nidoking.

This is by no way my departure from the Pokemon series. I will never go back into Gen 2. I know that there are ways to replace the internal battery, but that’s not something I was going to do. I wanted to end the game on my own terms. I wanted to say goodbye to the friends that waited by me for so long and give them a proper send off. Instead of trying to load up my game and find out they’ve disappeared. This is just my final goodbye to the game that introduced me to the world I love.

Maybe I’ll restart Soul Silver. After all, Johto’s in my soul.