Oh my. What a disaster. Two Pokemon dead in the water in one fell swoop. I trudged back to the Pokemon Centre and looked in my box. It was time to say goodbye to my feathered friend Pidgeotto and Gyarados, whose time on this earth was far too short. Of course, they’re not really dead; I’m just releasing them back into the wild. I briefly wondered if some other trainer would catch them again and be a better parent to them, or whether they’d live a peaceful life in the ocean or the forest forevermore, maybe have some little Magikarp or Pidgey kids… Then I snapped out of this madness and rode on that damned Rhyhorn all the way back to the Glittering Cave.
The Glittering Cave is a strange place. Unlike all the other dungeons in the Pokemon series, it affords you very little choice in where to go and the random encounter rate is basically zero. Instead, you only encounter Pokemon who fall from the ceiling – marked by shadows – or by walking into black walls that periodically appear around the “dungeon” but never respawn. I’ve always found this a bit of an unusual choice. On the one hand I’m thoroughly grateful to be traversing a cave where I’m not encountering Zubats or Geodudes every second step, but on the other hand it seems to defy the point of a “dungeon” in the most pure sense.
To balance this out slightly, Game Freak appeared to deliberately make the forced encounters just that little tiny bit harder than wailing on some of the most weak and common Pokemon known to man. This means there’s a good chance I could catch something relatively decent in here and pave over some of the cracks that have now appeared in my team. Unfortunately, I’ve never been a fan of rock or ground type Pokemon. I know a lot of people find them very useful and they can be brilliant defensive tanks, but the amount of Pokemon that can easily destroy them is ridiculous. When you think that water types are the most abundant species in the world, you begin to realise that carrying around a rock in a hardcore challenge doesn’t make a lot of sense. Nevertheless, I encounter a Cubone, a funny little critter that I’ve always found quite cute even though it wears the skull of its dead mother on its head. Grim as that may be, there’s something relatively adorable about its porgy form and the fact that it only has tiny widdle paws. In all seriousness though, I catch it under duress. I feel like I need to replenish my stocks somewhat. I’m actually quite lucky to encounter Cubone first in the cave. I could have come across a Rhyhorn, which isn’t too bad but is too slow for my liking. Lunatone and Solrock are interesting concepts – being both rock and psychic type – but don’t feel like anything more than a gimmick. They don’t evolve and, like Rhyhorn, they’re pretty damn slow. Though either of them would have been better than Woobat, the second, ahem, “beast” I found in the cave. Woobat is basically a flying fluff ball with a love heart for a nose and is about and threatening and tough as that sounds. In some ways, I’ve dodged a bullet.
There isn’t much to say about my traverse through Glittering Cave other than this. Walking down a corridor more boring than anything found on the first two discs of Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t make for great copy. At the end of it all though, I do get my first proper battle with Team Flare, yet another forgettable incarnation of the somewhat iconic Team Rocket from Red and Blue. I won’t be talking much about Flare in the rest of this playthrough because, quite frankly, there’s not really anything to discuss. Each member has roughly the same Pokemon, rotating often between Liepard, Poocheyna, Mightyena, Houndour and Houndoom. All of these Pokemon are easily dispatched; even the fire type Houndour doesn’t cause me a problem as Braixen smacks it in the face with psybeam. At least Team Rocket liked to use Pokemon that were vaguely annoying. Their Arboks and Muks could sometimes be quite challenging and thoroughly frustrating if they kept poisoning you. Team Flare don’t feel like a threat at all. They prove to be some of the weakest trainers in the game thanks to their predictability.
In any case, with Team Flare dispatched I’m free to talk to the scientist being held hostage. At least, that’s what I believe is happening. It’s difficult to tell as the man in the white coat seems completely oblivious to the situation that he’s in. You tap him on the shoulder only to learn that he’s been so wrapped up looking at the fossils that he didn’t even realise he’d been virtually kidnapped. Either that or he went down with a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome.
After explaining the situation, the scientist thanks you with the choice of two fossils that can be reanimated back in Ambrette Town. You have a choice of the Jaw Fossil or the Sail Fossil. Now, most people choose the Jaw Fossil. Why? Because you get a Tyrunt, a little dino who turns into a big dino and generally seems quite cool. He’s strong and has a relatively unique ground-dark type pairing that’s interesting and all, but leaves me personally a bit cold. Maybe it’s because I’m not the greatest fan of brute strength but Tyrunt doesn’t appeal to me. Now that I also have a Cubone, as well as my Honedge, I feel like I don’t really need anything that can pack a punch. Not that Tyrunt could punch anything with it’s tiny arms anyway… Instead, I’m plumping for the Sail Fossil. There’s probably a lot of people right now screaming at me for being dumb and picking the “weaker” option but I don’t think this is the case at all. Amaura has a very unique typing in ice and ground and this means it’s curiously strong against some tough opponents, including the legendary dragon Pokémon. Amaura is my first choice. Don’t judge me. Please.