Pokémon X Nuzlocke Episode #3: Rockin’ All Night Long

Who needs balance (or a bullpen) when your A-team is on this kind of a roll?

When we last left Oliver, he was still fuming over the loss of his Ivysaur and wondering a) who would step up and cover the hole, and b) when Serena would finally test him like a true rival. By the end of this episode, the answers would…not be any clearer, as Ollie ended up tag-teaming with his “rival” and brute-forcing his way to a second badge like a bad search algorithm, somehow delaying the inevitable for another week. How did this happen?

Bullying The Team

After a brief detour to become a Viscount at the Battle Chateau, I gritted my teeth and made my way to the Connecting Cave, where I was certain another Zubat was waiting for me. Before I got there, however, I was stopped by Serena, who finally challenged me to a battle…except that she didn’t want to fight me, but instead suggested we pair up to beat down Tierno and Trevor. I was surprised, but I was also more than happy to delay my eventual showdown with the toughest of my rivals, so we tag-teamed to show our resident scholar and dance maniac who really ruled this region.

Are you kidding? All the Pokédex teaches you is weird trivia that never lets you look at your Ghost-type monsters the same way ever again.

With Serena’s bloodlust temporarily satiated, I took my leave and made my way through the Connecting Cave, where I was immediately confronted by…a Whismur? In fact, there were several of them waiting for me, and my Exploud from Pokémon Emerald meant they were ineligible for my squad. I managed to walk the path to Route 8 without encountering a single Pokémon I could catch, meaning that my inevitable Zubat would have to wait a while longer. Instead, my first catch of the episode would come from the surprising variety of monsters on Route 8, including Inkay (which Ollie the Octoling recoiled from), Zangooses (Zangeese?), Absols, Spoinks, and…


Drifloons were a once-a-week appearance at Valley Windworks back in Pokémon Pearl, so I didn’t bother to mess around with them at the time. Now, however, I was excited to actually have a Ghost-type to use after the “Gastly or nothing” situation in Pokémon FireRed, so despite adding another monster that conflicted with Birdo’s typing, I booted Hamilton from my top line and plugged “Amelia” (named after another deceased flyer) into the slot.

Drifloon’s level-up time was fairly quick, and once she started gaining access to some decent Ghost-type moves (first Ominous Wind, then Hex), she began to show off some decent power, and her massive HP pool helped cover her defensive deficiencies. I was pretty happy with the setup at the time, but I didn’t realize how much trouble I was setting myself up for at Gym #2…

Living In The Past

What’s the point of having so many towns in your game when they have so little to do in them?

Ambrette Town was about as exciting as Camphrier Town, with the Fossil Laboratory acting as little more than a plot device to convince me to explore the ruins east of town. (I did pick up an Old Rod, however, which will hopefully help me find decent backups for Patty at some point.) I’d used a Tyrantrum in Pokémon Y to great effect several years ago (and used Nessie the Lapras in my FireRed run to even greater effect last year), so the possibility of getting a Rock/Ice-type like Amaura was enough to make me take my horse to the Old Town Road Rhyhorn to Route 9 to dig up some ancient artifacts. There were, however, a couple of chances to add even more big bats to the bench between now and then…

Chance #1: Hippopotas (Route 9). Like Drifloon, this was a G4 monster that had intrigued me in the past, but I’d never found the right motivation to really use it. It provides Ground-type backup for Thumper if nothing else, and Sand Stream might come in handy for catching monsters later on. I give this catch two thumbs up.
Chance #2: Machop (Glittering Cave). Like Zubat and Weedle, this is one of those G1 monsters that just keeping popping up and ruining my chance to catch something cooler. Buff Fighting-types are never a bad thing to have around, however, and since Ride Pokémon are another generation away, it can at least help out as an HM carrier. It gets one thumb up.

There was little to note here besides the new additions to the team, but I did enjoy winning my first Sky Battle of the adventure a bit more than I should have. In Pokémon Y, I lost a few of these simply because the only Flying-type I carried around was Vivillon (and bugs don’t fare well against birds), but this time I had both Birdo and Amelia to bring the pain (doubling down on certain types has its advantages). Your honor has been restored at last, Vivillon!

A Flare-Up Of Violence

Ah, you must be the bad guy. Allow me to throw some cold water on your plans.

While the State Department has not put out a travel advisory for Glittering Cave, there had been scattered reports of Team Flare (G6’s answer to Team Rocket) activity in the area, and sure enough a few of these tackily-dressed individuals were channeling their inner archeologist in the cave. While their Dark-type monsters made using Amelia a bit of a challenge, they really weren’t much of a nuisance overall, especially when my “rival” showed up for yet another tag-team battle against them:

It’s nice to see you again Serena, but that Espurr of yours needs a lot more training.

At the very end of the cave was a clueless fossil researcher who had been completely lost in his work despite all the chaos around him. He gave me the Sail Fossil I wanted, however, so I swallowed my tongue and hurried back the the Fossil Lab to turn my new gift back into Pokémon form.

Now, it was decision time: Lv. 20 put Amaura a slight distance behind everyone else in the party (aside from Amelia, they were all in the high 20s at this point thanks to the Exp. Share), so do I step back and do some more grinding for this monster, or do I press forward with my current group? With Amelia still in her honeymoon phase and Reese being my only viable options for Bug and Poison, I decided to run with the status quo for a bit longer and see how things played out. (Whether or not this was the right decision remains up for debate, but it turned out not to matter in the end.)

Thump Up The Volume

Sadly, I discovered that Route 8 stretched beyond Ambrette and ran all the way to Cyllage City, which mean no more new Pokémon between now and my run-in with the second Gym. A dearth of Trainers and tall grass also meant that there wasn’t a lot of training to be done here either—what you had was what you had, so it had better be good.

Cyllage City itself didn’t offer much in the way of help, aside from providing the usual early-game bicycle to bump up your movement spee. I did, however, find some clothes at the boutique to more-closely match a look from Splatoon 2

Not an overly-fresh look, but we’re getting there.

With little else to do, I decided to see what the Cyllcye City Gym had to offer…and immediately discovered that it was a Rock-type establishment. Normally, this isn’t a problem: Rock gyms show up early in nearly every Pokémon game ever made, and the type has enough glaring holes to make finding a good matchup fairly easy. However, Rock is also super-effective against a few common type, including Bug (Reese), Flying (Birdo, Amelia), and Fire (Nala, Birdo again). In other words, four of my top six monsters were weak to Rock-types, which severely limited my options for taking on the Gym’s leader, Grant.

On the flip side, however, the options I had remaining (Patty and Thumper) both held a type advantage over Rock, as did a few of the monsters sitting on my bench (Amaura, Machop, Hippopotas, etc.). Therefore, the scenario boiled down to this: How much did I trust Patty and Thumper to handle Grant’s team?

Both monsters were darn near Lv. 30 by this point, so my answer was “A lot.” I stuck Thumper at the head of line, resolved to bring Patty in at the first sign of trouble, and stepped up to call out Grant.

Grant opened with the Amaura I had been waffling about adding to my team, which put Thumper on the defensive…or it might have put Thumper on the defensive had he not been carrying Double Kick. Tyrunt was summarily STABbed by Mud Shot, and for the second time in a row Patty never left her Poké Ball in a Gym match. Two shots from Thumper, two losses for Grant, two badges for Oliver.

Dude, you put up about as much of a fight as Brock did. Up your game!

I’m Gonna Need A Bigger Bullpen…

With Cyllage City conquered, Ollie decided that he was finally Octoling enough to face his Zubat fate, and took a quick detour back to the Connecting Cave to catch another monster. Instead, however, he got a surprise:

That doesn’t look like a Zubat…

I remembered running into Meditite and Medicham back in Pokémon Sapphire, but I was never a huge fan of their design and I mostly ignored them. After being slapped in the face with the party’s type imbalance in Cyllage City, however, having a Psychic/Fighting-type hanging around might not be a bad idea, so I stuffed this one in a Poké Ball and resolved once and for all to revisit the type issue once this week’s episode was complete.

While running around the cave to see just how long it would take to actually find a Zubat, Amelia evolved into her final form. Mess with this balloon at your own risk.

With that oversight taken care of, it was time to move onto Route 10 and its plethora of mystical stones that feel like one giant Dick Curless reference:

With a smaller Dragon Ball Z reference thrown in for good measure.

Yet another route meant yet another new Pokémon from a diverse set of interesting characters, so Oliver dove headfirst into the grass and found…

…seriously, are Fire-types going to be here what Poison-types were in FireRed? (BTW, shoutout to Hamilton for coming off the bench to help secure these catches.)

I’d always liked the design for Houndour and Houndoom, but just life so many other Pokémon, I’d never had the time and/or opportunity to really use one. With my team so top-heavy with regards to Fire-types, however, this guy probably won’t see much action unless disaster strikes.

Speaking of Fire-types, guess who else was hanging around?

No, you folks are just that incompetent.

Team Flare claimed they were researching the stones for their own evil purposes (although it looked to me like the only evil thing they were doing was loitering). Regardless of why they were there, my Pokémon made them regret their bad luck, and sent them scrambling for Geosenge Town.

 The Biggest Rocks Of All

I’ve heard that the Kalos region is based on France, but as I reached Geosenge I realized there was one striking similarity between this region and the United States: The drastic divide between its urban and rural areas. (Lumiose Town has all the money, people, and optimism; everything else seems to be slowly rotting away like the Rust Belt.) Once again, there was basically zero to do in town, and after learning some random trivia about the rock formations in town and chasing Team Flare to a dead-end in the northwest corner, I decided that this would be a good spot to end the episode and start thinking about what my team should look like in the future.

Don’t worry, I’ll deal with you jokers eventually.


Honestly, this episode felt kind of empty, and probably could have been summed up as “Caught a Drifloon, earned another badge.” Still, my near-Rock experience indicates that I really need to rethink my lineup going forward, because if anything will kill you in a Nuzlocke run, it’s a mismanaged type matchup. So how are my monsters trending right now?

  • Patty: She’s not only my starter, but she’s my only Water-type Pokémon and basically the team captain. She’s not going anywhere.
  • Birdo: As much as I like her, she’s become a bit redundant with Nala and Amelia around. She’s a potential candidate for benching.
  • Nala: Either her or Birdo should be sent to the bullpen, and Nala has the stronger attacks right now, although her Normal typing overlaps with Thumper a bit.
  • Thumper: He’s my best Ground- and Normal-type option right now, and he’s also the one I gave my new Strength HM to. He’s probably sticking around.
  • Amelia: Same sort of deal: Packs a decent punch and is my lone Ghost-type option. Expect her to hold a spot.
  • Reese: She’s stuck around this long, but even with Poison Jab coming I feel like there are better options for this slot. I don’t know what the Pokémon equivalent of a “Left-handed One Out GuY” is, but that’s probably Reese’s role.
  • Symmetra (Meditite): Psychic and Fighting? I feel like she could steal a spot on my top line.
  • Amaura: Ditto Symmetra, as adding Rock and Ice would help improve my type coverage a lot.
  • Hamilton (Gulpin): He’s been the long reliever up to this point, but I think Symmetra and Amaura have more potential right now, so his role likely won’t change.
  • Gertrude (Swirlix): With her evolution based on trading, her utility is dependent on whether or not I can get my hands on another 3DS in the next few weeks.
  • Conrad (Machop): Ditto Gertrude, as he needs a trade to reach his final form.
  • Buckner (Hippopotas): At Lv. 17, he’s best suited as a emergency fill-in for Thumper.
  • Strait (Houndour): Ditto Buckner, as Strait is the third quarterback behind Birdo and Nala.
  • Luke Combee: …Well, at least beer never broke his heart.

Tune in next week, when the new lineup is announced and we discover if Shalour or Coumarine Cities are any more interesting than the one-horse town we’ve found so far! Maybe Serena will want to challenge us by then…