Back at Mahogany Town, that jerkwad trying to scam us into buying ragecandy is finally gone.
What actually caused him to leave? Who knows. All I care about is that he left.
And that means we’re on to Route 44, Mahogany to Blackthorn. Where, presumably, the gym is run by a shotgun-wielding biker.
For now, though, let’s focus on the road.
Route 44 runs through a small forested area, at the center of which are two ponds. We all ride Galuf out into the water to make sure we’re not missing anything — and stumble upon this:
A little patch of tall grass tucked away behind the trees. And lurking in that grass?
Tangela. With Vivi gone, a new grass-type is a welcome surprise. But… capturing this guy turns out to be a bit of a problem.
It puts Umaro to sleep, so we have to pull him out.
It paralyzes Galuf; we pull him out.
Yang manages to throw the moon at tangela enough times to get it down in the red before it puts him to sleep too.
But then it resists capture. Really, game?
Well, Kain’s got Hypnosis. Maybe if it was asleep–
Never mind. Operation Replace Vivi is a bust.
But right up ahead is another chance to catch, well, something.
Route 44 ends at the entrance to the “Ice Path,” which is the last stretch before Blackthorn City.
Ice levels are my favorite.
I’m fine as long as there aren’t any sliding block puzzles.
Well, it’s not quite a block-sliding puzzle. They cut out the middle man; we are the block.
The cave opens up on a huge skating rink, basically, where whenever you move, you slide forward until you hit something. You’ve got to slide into the exit just above us — only it’s not that easy.
Man, it’s not like I’m a stranger to these puzzles. I know the deal — you have to work backwards from wherever you’re trying to get to. But for whatever reason, this one is stumping me. Maybe it’s just that I can’t see the whole puzzle at once.
After at least a dozen tries, I seriously end up putting the whole thing together in MSPaint…
Is that cheating? I dunno; I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.
We’re free! Up next is a little section where we have to push blocks around and down holes.
Which gives us stopping points on another ice rink on the floor below.
I’d heard bad things about the Ice Path, but I’m honestly really digging this dungeon. It’s a nice change of pace, and I’ve always wished jRPGs included more puzzles.
By the time we’re out the other side, we’ve had a nice little dose of brain-teasers — and even met a new friend.
Not swinub, sadly. But lookit how cute he is!
No, what we actually caught was…
We’ll name her after someone similarly unwelcome and lame.
So here we are at Blackthorn City.
Quiet’s not the way I would describe the Blackthorne I know. Unfortunately, my worst fears are confirmed:
The name is purely coincidental. The gym leader here isn’t Kyle Blackthorne; it’s Clair (though she is packing heat, in the form of dragon-type Pokemon).
We head straight in, eager to collect our final badge.
Blackthorn’s gym is a two-story behemoth, divided up by channels of bubbling lava, and just generally an unpleasant place to be.
The first battle, though, isn’t too bad. Three of these harmless-looking guys:
Of course, looks can be deceiving.
Still, the fight isn’t too bad. Galuf is able to trade Dragon Rages with the dratini until it goes down. Then Sabin jumps in to handle the other two.
You’re not the only one, bub.
Upstairs, we start pushing boulders down to use as bridges across the lava, but the battles are just beginning.
There’s this seadra fight on the second floor…
…and when we come back down, a level 37 dragonair.
It hits hard. Hard enough that we have to break out the potions for… what, only the second time in this entire playthrough?
I honestly have no idea why I did this, but rather than keeping Sabin in the ring to throw down rock attacks at what I’m guessing is a dragon/flying-type, once Sabin’s taken another big hit, I switch him out for Galuf.
Which requires yet another potion. Hyper this time.
Galuf’s able to handle the rest of the fight on his own, but not before going back into the yellow.
Given how hosed we’d have been without potions in that last fight, I’m not quite sure we’re ready to face Clair.
I think we’re gonna head back out for now. Might as well check out the area around town — maybe gain a few levels.
Just south of Blackthorn is Route 45.
It runs south to Route 46, but there should also be a cave right around here somewhere.
And there it is:
Pitch black. Of course.
And we don’t have Edward with us to light the place up — so for now we’ll see what we can catch and be on our way.
…a wild what? Nothing about this Pokemon makes any sense to me. I couldn’t even guess what type is it, so I don’t know what moves not to use.
Let’s try… water?
Thankfully, it doesn’t kill the thing. But it barely does anything.
Wobbuffet hits considerably harder.
Maybe if we could just put it to sleep…
No such luck. And the wobbuffet follows with whatever this is:
“Enemy Wobbuffet’s trying to take its opponent with it!” I don’t know what that means, but I don’t like the sound of it.
I refuse to lose Minwu to a wild Pokemon. And I ain’t missing another catch.
Screw this. We’re busting out the Ultra Balls.
Seriously? I… really didn’t expect that to work.
Statistically speaking, it shouldn’t have.
Were any girls watching?
Back outside, we decide to venture down Route 45 and 46 and see what there is to see.
The answer is not much.
Aside from a few items lying around, we hike through the grass and hop down the cliffsides and come across nothing particularly interesting.
There are a few trainers to battle, and another missed catch (phanpy this time)…
…and then we’ve hit the cliffs above the Dark Cave exit and Route 29, where ages ago we captured Sabin to be our secret weapon against the the murderous miltank of Goldenrod City.
Seems like forever ago.
When we return to the Silver Cave with Edward in tow, the big reveal is that it’s almost completely pointless.
All it is is a short tunnel that just serves to meet up with the Dark Cave, which we’ve already explored thoroughly.
Only thing in the whole place is this guy:
He gives us some “black-glasses” to power up one of our Pokemon’s dark-type moves. As it turns out, Shadow is dark-type, so they go straight to him. ‘Course, he’s pretty under-leveled and I don’t know if we’re ever going to use him, but it doesn’t hurt.
And that’s the end of that.
It dawns on me now that we’ve just finished exploring the entire region of Johto. Everything on the map, at least. We’ve been to every named location on there, with the exception of the Dragon’s Den directly behind the Blackthorn City gym.
Nothing left to do but return to Blackthorn and finish this badge-collecting business for good.
Ready or not, here we come. Mostly under-leveled, but at least Sabin and Galuf are at or above the average level of the dragons at Clair’s gym.
At the head of our party, Umaro. Fanboy at the entrance says ice is effective against dragons, and Umaro’s the only one with ice attacks, so we’ve brought him along.
Clair is waiting.
I am Clair. I’m the world’s best dragon master. I can hold my own against even the Pokemon League’s Elite Four.
As the team’s resident psychic, I feel compelled to point out that two of those three statements are patently false.
Don’t listen to that stupid owl. I’m the greatest, amazingest, most fashionable Pokemon trainer ever in history.
Her Pokemon are woefully under-leveled to battle the Elite Four. Also, Lance is a far better dragon Pokemon trainer, as I suspect we will soon discover. Er… spoilers.
Nuh-uh! I once had a Pokemon battle with Jesus and Buddha at the same time. And I won.
So what you’re saying is that the only true thing she’s said so far is that her name is Clair.
Correct.First thing’s first: we test out Fanboy’s little tip about ice attacks.
Umaro’s Aurora Beam move is (for some reason) ice-type. But while he does score a crit, it’s not super-effective.
You lied to me, Fanboy. I trusted you and you broke that trust.
In that case, there’s no reason to have Umaro in harm’s way. Galuf steps in to finish the job.
Not before he’s paralyzed, though. Standard procedure — Galuf comes out and Sabin rolls in with his rock attacks against the next one.
Which… aren’t that effective. Dragonair apparently is not flying-type.
Strength is shaping up to be the better choice.
Sabin deals it out in spades, but he’s also taking a lot of damage from the dragonair’s Dragon Breath.
It takes a Super Potion to keep him in the fight. Meanwhile, we cure Galuf’s paralysis and send him back in once the second dragonair is down.
Only to get paralyzed again.
But he’s going to stay out there. Frankly, Galuf’s just more expendable. I can find another magikarp no problem. But another geodude or graveler? Not likely.
So he keeps wailing on the third dragonair as best he can through the paralysis.
Dragonair’ll hit for almost half of Galuf’s health, then we heal him back up with a Hyper Potion.
It takes a while, and it feels super lame, but we make it to the last of Clair’s Pokemon.
And it looks like the end of Galuf…
Only it’s not. The kingdra’s Hyper Beam, for all flashy lights and effects, actually does less damage than the dragonair was doing. Plus the wasted round it needs to “recharge” afterward.
Once we know that, the battle’s all but won.
Uh… I mean, with the help of a couple more Hyper Potions, of course.
A wise man takes advantages of all the resources at his disposal.
Just keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel like less of a loser.
Whatever it took, the battle’s over.
I don’t believe it. There must be some mistake.
You don’t have to admit anything. Just hand over the badge.
I know — you should take the dragon user challenge. If you can do that, I will accept you as a worthy trainer.
That’s… not how this works. I beat you; you give me the badge.
I won’t give you a badge until you complete the challenge.
…is this because of the potions? You never said no potions! Don’t make me take this to the Pokemon League Rules Commission!