I find myself at an entry station on the north end of the Viridian Forest similar to the one that had granted me access to its southern end. Several people of varying degrees of undesirability are milling about, but at least none of them are trying to attack me. One of them is a scary old man who asks me if I've noticed those skinny trees by the roadside - because that's clearly something worth noticing - and then tells me that they can be cut down by a special Pokemon move. Or, hey, maybe if somebody took up a job like "lumberjack" instead of "Pokemon Trainer" once in awhile, then people wouldn't go around saying stupid shit like that.
Trying my best to vacate the premesis post-haste, I'm next accosted by a tiny, blue-haired old lady who proceeds to grab my cheek and squeeze it like it's a six-pack of Charmin and Mr. Whipple has left the country. While she's busy cutting off the circulation to nearly half of my face, she tells me about something called the "evolution-cancel" technique, which is basically a way of allowing you to halt the evolutionary growth of a Pokemon and thus keep it locked in an immature state forever and ever and ever. It's the sort of sick shit you'd expect more from the villain in a Steven King novel and less from a game produced in the land of tentacle rape and horny shit demons.
Finally managing to leave the entry station, I continue north along the remainder of Route 2 before finally reaching the fabled town of Pewter City. I'm greeted there as I was when I'd first reached Viridian City: with another sign telling me stupid things that I already know. This one attempts to explain the unusual phenomenon responsible for how Bomber and Poundcake had continued to grow more powerful as a direct result of witnessing Motorbreth commit random acts of arson. It does, however, skimp on one important detail by failing to mention that this only works if the observing Pokemon doesn't somehow die in the process. Guess how I figured that out?
A small, fenced-in garden marks the town's proper entrance, along with another sign that reads, "Pewter City: a stone gray city". It should be noted that Pewter City is not actually gray - nor is it pewter. The streets are gray, I suppose, but that's about it. Viridian City may have gotten away with calling itself "The Eternally Green Paradise" because it at least had a lot of trees and hippies and shit. But now, these names are just getting stupid.
Loitering about in the totally-not-pewter garden is a creepy man who looks like someone I've seen in the sex offender registry and smells faintly of cheese. He approaches me and asks me if I want to know what he's doing. I respond, "no," but I'm apparently not clear enough on the "...and I don't WANT to know," part. He says that he's spraying "repel" to keep away wild Pokemon, but at the moment it's doing a much better job of repelling me. I run the hell away from him before he starts to tell me that I have pretty hair.
Inside town, my first stop is the Poke Center. As I head on inside, I notice that the place is packed. In the front area, two boys sit and negotiate a Pokemon trade, which appears to be a common activity amongst these people. I guess it's a lot easier to justify stuffing them into balls and forcing them to kill each other when you treat them like baseball cards instead of actual living things. One of the youths says that he really wants a Pikachu, so he's trading one of his really rare Pokemon to the other kid for a spare Pikachu that he apparently has lying around. Now I don't know about everyone else, but on my list of things that I really want, a Pikachu is just below the clap.
Near the back, another boy sits with a small, balloon-like object known as a Jigglypuff. Aside from being a Pokemon (which at this point should probably go without saying), a Jigglypuff is essentially an overgrown marshmallow that sings badly enough to put anyone who hears it into a coma, after which it will slap them around for awhile. Imagine Celine Dion, but with more of a mean streak. The Jigglypuff starts to sing, making everybody in the room drowsy - which technically classifies as terroristic biological warfare. The fact that nobody in this game has any problem with children walking around with these living weapons of mass destruction just raises further questions.
On the other side of the room, a crazed hobo reeking heavily of Boone's Farm rants nonsensically to himself and whatever pour soul approaches his general vicinity. Such random gibberish as "What!? Team Rocket Is At Mt. Moon? Huh!?" filled the air as I gleefully watch on, thoroughly amused by his crazy hobo antics. Upon noticing me, he yells, "I'm on the phone! Scram!" while trying to conceal his secret plot from my prying eyes. He then continues mumbling into what appears to be a moldy bread crust.
Next to the computer, a deranged girl continues to pester me about something she calls a "profile". I have no idea what this "profile" thing is, but the girl seems very unhappy that I won't tell her all about mine. She harasses me with the unyielding resolve of a schoolyard dope fiend until I finally give in and agreed to her demands. I am then presented with an interface in which I am made to choose up to four unrelated words from a list to create something that I feel describes me as a person. I select the words "I CAME INSIDE HER", which the girl agrees very much describes me. She then says that this new information makes her feel closer to me as a friend. I quickly turn to leave before she starts confiding in me about her cramps.
Back outside, I run into a fat kid who complains to me that there are no serious Pokemon trainers in Pewter City. "They're, like, all bug catchers. You know, just hobbyists," he whines, as if to somehow imply that going pro in a field like Pokemon is a productive use of one's time. "But," he says, "Pewter Gym's Brock isn't like that, not one bit." Again, this is not the sort of thing to brag about. This is the sort of thing that dooms you to a life of low-budget conventions where pimply, oily-faced geeks dress up in Star Trek uniforms and argue over who has the coolest lightsaber. Lamenting my inability to set fire to people outside of battle, I walk away from the sexless dork and go to explore the rest of the city.
As I nose around town in search of something to do, I discover a new hobby in walking into peoples' homes uninvited and speaking with the owners, none of whom express any shock or surprise whatsoever at me doing so. In one house on the edge of town, I meet an excitable young lad who tells me that adverse status conditions make Pokemon easier to catch. "Sleep, Poison, Burn, Paralysis... these are all effective," he explains without a hint of emotion or humanity in his voice. And if that doesn't sound like a future serial killer in the making, nothing does. Meanwhile, his grandfather tells me that although Pokemon learn new attacks naturally as they grow, some moves must be taught to them by people. Hey, Mr. Miyagi, why don't you try teaching your grandson to be less of a deranged psychopath?
In another house on the northeastern side of town, a man tells me that his son was traded a bunny-like Pokemon called Nidoran, which he angrily brands as a filthy outsider. It's good to see that the spirit of racism is still alive and well in children's media. He tells me that "outsiders" are the devil's work because they don't listen. The young boy sits on the floor nearby with his new acquisition, and the obedience issue is quite obvious: it's making a dog-like "bowbow" noise instead of the standard bunny sound of "I'm a fucking bunny".
Merrily walking down the streets of Pewter City later that day, I stop to pass my greetings along to a villager on the road, who asks me if I've seen the museum yet. I reply that I have not. This is clearly the wrong answer, because he immediately grabs my uncultured ass by the arm and drags me all the way across town to its front entrance. Note to self: I must learn to stop speaking to the locals in these wretched settlements. The man says that the museum is full of fossils and that I should totally pay the fifty bucks for a children's ticket. Alternatively, I could just go to the local retirement home and see the fossils there for free.
So, I buy a ticket and step inside. The only displays on the first floor are a couple of Pokemon fossils, which strike me as about as interesting as I suppose a pile of dusty old bones can be. An old man who apparently found them far more enthralling than I did saw me walking past him and began to ramble at length about how he should be grateful for his long life and that he never thought he'd live long enough to see dragon bones. Of course, since the bones in question don't even come in any way close to resembling a dragon, I figured that a large part of the geezer's amusement was being derived from the unyeilding deathgrip that senility clearly had on him.
I head up to the second floor, where the museum's curator meets me and informs me that they're running a space exhibit. Looking to my right, I notice that the centerpiece of said exhibit is a space shuttle roughly the size of a compact car. The little plaque posted near the red ropes that surround it, which is generally expected to contain a host of informative facts sufficient to label the entire experience as "educational", simply reads "space shuttle". I paid fifty bucks to see THIS? This is a bigger rip-off than stripper who promised me a "happy ending" for an extra twenty. I turn to leave before my 10 year-old girl tries to stuff it in her backpack.
On the left side of the room is an exhibit of rocks, which for some reason are described in far more detail than a vehicle (allegedly) capable of space travel. "Far more detail", of course, still consists of simply, "A rock that fell on Mt. Moon. It is thought to be a Moon Stone," which I guess is what you would call a rock that you got from a place called Mt. Moon. A nearby patron dismissively wonders aloud just what's so gosh darn special about Moon Stones, which I accept as just the ignorant viewpoint shared by everyone in this game toward anything that isn't in some way Pokemon-related. For that matter, I'm surprised at the length of time in which the game has now managed to somehow restrain itself from spamming me with propaganda about all things Pokemon-related. It's actually the game's best record in that regard thus far - at least until I would later learn that Moon Stones are, in fact, Pokemon-related.
Apparently sensing my keen observation of a momentary lack of complete Pokemon saturation, the game overcompensates hard by having me run into a little girl who is begging her father to go out and catch her a Pikachu. Knobgobbling fuckmuffins, why does every kid in this game want a fucking Pikachu? They're not even that hard to find! Hell, I could walk back through the Viridan Forest right now and come out the other side with at least a dozen of the little bastards clinging to my leg. You assholes need to stop talking about them like their mere touch can cure cancer and call up the fucking Orkin man before the Pikachu population spirals completely out of control and we all die in a high-voltage cacaphony of irritating, catch-phrase spouting rodents.
I leave the museum and start looking for a way out of town. As it turns out, the only route that doesn't go back the way I came in leads east. All attempts to proceed further north or west are met only with harsh, impassable terrain consisting mainly of rocks and trees. And all that my map says about what lies beyond is simply, "here be dragons". So, I walk over to Pewter City's eastern exit, fully intent on exploring fresh, new territory. Also, I wanted to get as far away from Professor Oak as humanly possible.
As I attempt to make my way out of town, I see a sign off to the side of the road that says, "Notice! Thieves have been stealing Pokemon fossils from Mt. Moon. Please call the Pewter Police if you have any information." I guess the boys in blue around here don't have anything on the boys in gray. Seriously, though, if I'd written that sign, I would have at least reworded it to read, "...if you have any RELEVANT information..." As is, this notice probably resulted in a flood of calls to the PCPD about how useful signs are. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that there doesn't seem to be anything even resembling a police station in the entire city.
While I'm distracted by reading the sign and thinking up the "boys in grey" pun, a boy sees me and recognizes me as a Pokemon trainer. He says that the city's gym leader, Brock, is looking for new challengers to battle. Before I can protest with arguments like, "I don't know what in the hell you're talking about", "I'm not a Pokemon trainer, I'm just holding these for someone else", or "I can't hear you because I'm deaf," he's already dragged me across town to the gym. Holy fuck, why can't anyone in this damned game keep their filthy hands off of me? If I had a dollar for every time my 10 year-old girl was inappropriately touched by someone, I could retire and spend all day swimming in a pool of money and sleeping with expensive prostitutes instead of the cheap ones that give me crabs and smell like pee.
I stand outside the gym, still a bit perturbed at what just happened, and reassess my situation. It would appear that beyond my initial pursuits of science and getting as far as humanly possible away from Professor Oak, I now had a new objective that consisted of entering every last one of these things and kicking the shit out of its leader. Why I have to do this is not entirely clear at this point, excepting the fact that some brat-ass little kid won't let me leave town until I do.
As I step inside the gym, I'm greeted by a slimy individual who yells, "Yo, Champ in the making!" as if I were some sort of 10 year-old Rocky wannabe. He seems intent on taking me under his wing and showing me the ropes, thus perpetuating the tendency of deranged old men in this game to recruit me for their own, questionable purposes. I tell him to fuck off; he continues anyway. "It's a free service. Let's get happening!" the sleazeball says. No, really, I can do without everybody in this game trying to "get happening" with me.
His first piece of advice is that the first Pokemon out in a battle is the one to the left on my list, a statement that would make no sense whatsoever to anybody whose life doesn't have a GUI (Graphical User Interface). The true nature of this advice is that I can theoretically tailor my lineup to begin the fight by sending out a Pokemon that will best exploit my opponent's weaknesses. This, of course, assumes that all of my opponents are too retarded to do the same thing (they are). Pokemon battles are thus a lot like a game of paper-rock-scissors, except you know beforehand which one your opponent is going to choose.
The basic concept at work here, for anyone who hasn't played a video game in the last 80 years, is that there's different types of attacks in the game which have different effects depending on who they get used on. Setting something on fire that's already made entirely out of fire, for example, has very little effect. The overall "theme" for this particular gym is that of Pokemon of the "rock" type, which is to say that every Pokemon I'd be fighting here would literally be made of rocks. For those who have been paying attention, my team consists at this point of a fire-breathing lizard, a cocoon, and a cocoon with a little poison stinger on it. None of them are particularly well-suited for busting up rocks. So, unless a prison bus hauling a chain gang broke down just outside the gym during the fight, I was fucked.
Next to the creepy scumbag is a statue displaying a list of all those who have dared enter into the sacred grounds of the Pewter City Gym and bested its mighty leader, Brock. The list begins and ends with Shitwad. It seems less like a legit victory claim and more like the result of crude vandalism. This was further evidenced by the fact that his name was emblazoned in neon green spray-paint right next to the phrase, "for a good time, call Lisa @ (713) 867-5309".
I step further into the decidedly earthy-feeling gym, which is fully decorated with rocks and... well, rocks. Before squaring off against Brock, I first must to do battle with his lackey, who apparently missed the whole "rock theme" memo and attacks me with a prairie dog. Naturally, I respond by sending out Chef Motorbreth to prepare some of his world-famous prarie dog BBQ. Marinated in twelve secret herbs and spices, this stuff is so good that it makes Poundcake emerge from his cocoon as a full-blown butterfly, or since nothing in the world of Pokemon can have a normal name, "Butterfree". The most notable aspect of this transformation, aside from the obvious, is that it allowed him to develop psychic powers. This is a good thing, as butterflies are generally not otherwise known for their ferocity in battle.
I approach the center of the gym where Brock stands, arms crossed in front of him. A cold, piercing gaze accents his otherwise-lifeless facade. Several moments of chilling silence pass before he finally speaks. "So, you're here," he stoically says, as if having predicted this very moment since prior to my conception. Somewhere in the distance, a black wind begin to howl. I respond only by staring in complete amazement at a man who spoke without in any way altering his facial expression, as if somehow channelling his inner Steven Seagal.
"I'm BROCK. I'm PEWTER'S GYM LEADER," he says. In print, the words in all caps should appear in boldface and with a double underline. When spoken, they should boom dramatically throughout the room. This is perhaps the most egregious example yet of an emerging pattern in the game: whoever wrote it was humping the shit out of his caps lock. At first, it seemed like just the word Pokemon and most proper nouns would recieve this treatment. It quickly degenerated into totally random shit: TRAINER, LAB, BUG CATCHER, BAG. It's like the writer was a 10 year-old who they injected with a gallon of Mountain Dew. CAPS LOCK: are you ready to unleash the fucking fury?
(Editor's note: for formatting reasons, with the exception of the above paragraph, the game's random capitalization has NOT been preserved in any of my quotations.)
Then comes the puns. Oh, God, the puns. "My rock-hard willpower is evident even in my Pokemon," Brock says with a glare. "My Pokemon are all rock-hard, and have true-grit determination." God, I hope he's still talking about his Pokemon. "That's right, my Pokemon are all the rock type!" Wow, really, Brock? I had no idea. The rock-themed lair, the hiker outfit, the hurricane of rock puns... honestly, I just thought you were autistic or something. It would certainly explain your appearance.
His lengthy monologue finally concludes with the mandatory trash-talk that customarily precedes any major battle. "Fuwahaha! You're going to challenge me knowing that you'll lose? That's the trainer's honor that compels you to challenge me." Apparently, "trainer's honor" is a compulsive need to randomly attack people for no reason. "Fine, then! "Show me your best!" he declares. And that's just what I did.
My battle with Brock was probably one of the most epic fights I've seen since the Pope and Jack Klugman defended the Earth from Plutonian space invaders back in '97, and this is despite the fact that a supposed Pokemon "master" who has been honing his craft for years upon end can't come up with a better hit squad to send after me than a level 12 Geodude and a level 14 Onix. Shit, Brock, there's kids in Viridian Forest getting beaten up for their lunch money that are pulling better Pokemon than that out of their asses. And they don't even have a shiny degree from the Pokemon City University of Pokemon in Pokemon Training and Combat Theory. Just imagine how effective you'd be in battle if you actually put some effort into it, you lazy fuck.
The fight begins with Motorbreth versus a large, angry rock called a Geodude. And I'm sure that whoever came up with that name thought it was hilarious. Setting it on fire proves to be a lot more effective than I was expecting, and Motorbreth takes no damage during the encounter since the rock's attack pattern consists entirely of adopting some form of defensive stance. As you can probably guess, it has the same effect against being set on fire as politely asking not to be set on fire: none whatsoever. Maybe Brock should have taught his Geodude how to stop, drop, and roll instead.
I'm feeling a bit cocky when Brock sends out his extremely large, angry rock snake to take on my slightly less-angry cocoon with tiny poison stinger. Bomber attacks the large, angry rock snake with his poison stinger for a whopping 1 point(s) of damage. The large, angry rock snake responds by dropping a bunch of large rocks directly onto my cocoon that reduces it to 1 point of life remaining. My only consolation is that I've somehow managed to poison a being made entirely of rock. I quickly conclud that the battlefield is not a safe place for Bomber and immediately send in Poundcake.
The battlefield apparently isn't a safe place for Poundcake, either. The same rock-to-the-head treatment that had nearly killed Bomber takes out Poundcake in a single blow. Motorbreth is deployed next alongside a hopeful prayer that my opponent would try using one of his other, crappier attacks on me, instead. This tactic actually works, and Motorbreth is able to deal a significant amount of damage to the beast while it attacks him with things like a menacing glare and a playful squeeze. My opponent eventually does remember that it has an attack that can kill me in one hit and employs it, but not before Motorbreth had burned the fucker down to within an inch of his life.
This leaves Bomber as my last remaining soldier. Having been brought down to within an inch of his own life at the beginning of the fight, Bomber is in no condition to do anything, let alone do battle. Lucky for me, nothing is pretty much all he has to do. Bomber hits the floor in just enough time to see the giantic, angry rock snake drop dead of the poison inflicted upon it earlier. As far as TKOs go, that has to rank up there with the best of 'em. I could have phoned this one in. Bomber's victory earns him a promotion from the cocoon-like Kakuna to the bee-like Beedrill.
Upon my victory, Brock presents me with the "Boulderbadge". This item posseses several inherent abilities, which are described to me thusly. The first is that it allows my Pokemon to use a technique known as "Flash" both in and out of battle. While this move thankfully doesn't involve the exposure of any Pokemon naughty bits, it bears note that it can only be learned at a later point in the game that can't possibly be reached until well after you are required to obtain the Boulderbadge. Its second function is to make any Pokemon that I've recieved in a trade actually listen to me during battle, as opposed to telling me where (besides my backpack) I can shove it. Its third and only actually useful function is to make my Pokemon magically more protected in battle simply by me having it. This makes about as much logical sense (none) as the first two, but at least there's some real benefit from it.
Brock also gives me a TM of his rock-drop attack. A TM is essentially a compact-shaped disc device that teaches Pokemon new moves. Where, exactly, you're supposed to insert them is unclear - the game just shows them being applied directly to your Pokemon's forehead. They also make great frisbees when the moves on them suck, which they usually do. This one wouldn't have been so bad, except for the fact that TMs also tend to be incompatible with Pokemon that you might actually want to use them on. I place the rock-drop TM inside the handy TM Case in my backpack - a case that materialized out of nowhere as soon as it was needed - and head on my way, hoping that a naked Swedish redhead would hurry up and materialize in my bed where I know damn good and well she'll be needed.
On my way out of town, I am once again spotted and accosted as I attempt to escape the city limits. Instinctively, I grabbed my privates and screamed "no, Professor Oak, don't touch me there!" The man stopping me turns out to be none other than one of Professor Oak's loyal aides, who for some reason knew exactly where to find me. He says that he is supposed to deliver a package to me, hands me the package in question, and leaves. The package contains a pair of running shoes, which I then put on in place of whatever the hell I was wearing before. They give me the ability to run where I previously could not, so I'm guessing that I just switched out a pair of high-heels.
There's also a letter from my mother: "Dear Lisa, here is a pair of running shoes for my beloved challenger." And yes, she writes "running shoes" in all caps. "Remember, I'll always cheer for you! Don't ever give up!" Perhaps meant to be inspiring, her message instead instills me with a newfound sense of fear that I'd yet to get far enough away from Professor Oak since he was still able to locate me. With my new footgear donned, I blaze eastward down Route 3 at speeds previously unthinkable.