The game's rapid descent into madness continues as I press farther onward. Just as in the Viridian Forest, there's a bunch of kids loitering around Route 3 that all apparently have nothing better to do than to pick a fight with me. One of them actually *is* one of the kids from Viridian Forest, which is extra-unforgivable since that makes him the one person here who should really know better than to anger me. About the only credit I can give the little masochist is that at least he speaks to me in a manner consistent with what you might expect from a small child attacking you for no reason, which is far more than can be said for all of the other kids on the road.
The young boys along Route 3 all seem to be suffering from what I can only describe as some kind of an acute delusional psychosis. Before attacking me, each youth professes his love of shorts and loudly extols upon their many virtues. I'm spurned as a shorts-hating cunt because I'm not wearing any, despite the fact that my 10 year-old girl is very clearly portrayed as, in fact, wearing shorts. So, either Professor Oak sneaked up behind me when I wasn't paying attention and removed them (very likely), or the kids on Route 3 have all gone insane from huffing too much paint (also very likely).
The fanatical devotion that these kids hold for the unremarkable garments is disturbingly akin to that of suicide bombers willing to die for their cause. "Hey, you're not wearing shorts! What's wrong with you?" one of them screams before attempting to murder me. He later states, "I always wear shorts, even in the winter. That's my policy." Yeah, and I have a policy about avoiding retards who have a policy about shorts. Who in the hell has a *policy* about shorts?
Seriously, I just can't get over how weird this whole random love affair with shorts is, and how it totally comes out of fucking nowhere. It's like one moment I'm walking along, minding my own business, and then suddenly some kid walks up and says, "Hi, I like shorts! They're delightfully comfy and easy to wear!" What in the hell *is* that? Are you trying to challenge the "I heart signs" girl for the title of "dumbest phrase ever"? Or did you just drop a pound of acid for lunch and everything that's being said here makes sense only inside of whatever warped, convoluted mind thought this shit up?
The girls on Route 3 are a different story altogether. They seem less focused on the inherent awesomeness of shorts and moreso on being incredibly PMSy, despite being likely far too young to experience that magical feeling. "Excuse me! You looked at me, didn't you?" exclaims a young girl as I enter her 50-foot "personal space" bubble. This is immediately followed by her attacking me before I can so much as reply by saying that I have no clue what in the fuck she's talking about. She even has the audacity to call me "mean" after I beat her up, and then she says that I shouldn't have been staring at her if I didn't want to battle. Look, I can't help it that I'm turned on by other girls - you just need to quit being a judgemental bitch.
Another girl is more understanding, responding to me undressing her with my eyes by walking up to me and saying, "that look you gave me... it's so intriguing!" And then she tries to beat my ass because everyone in this game seems to like it rough. I swear, these kids have some serious issues that they need to deal with before they grow up to be like all of the other adults in this game. And if you can't see how that's a bad thing, you clearly haven't been paying any attention at all.
The second girl does give me some very useful advice following her ass-kicking, however. She explains that I can avoid battles by not letting other trainers see me. And luckily for me, the line of sight possessed by every last person in this game is narrower than the Pope's views on homosexual abortion parties. True to this advice, I find it indeed possible to go around people entirely unnoticed - even hugging up so close to them that they can guess my cup size (13 AAA, in case you were curious). So long as I don't walk directly in front of anybody, I avoid incurring both unwanted physical altercations *and* non-sequitor rants about the cancer-curing properties of shorts.
The only caveat to all of this is that the strategic placement of hyper-aggressive children along any path that I might actually want to traverse makes it impossible to walk around just about any of them without being seen. My new stealth tactic fails me for the first of many times not ten seconds after being employed, as a boy determinedly walks up to me and says, "Are you a trainer? Let's get with it right away!" Well, at least he didn't recite a love poem about shorts.
Following his inevitable defeat, the boy whines that he would have won if he had new Pokemon. You know, that's really not your problem there, Sparky. Your problem is that you people are all worse battle tacticians than my grandmother, because even she could at least figure out that spamming your best attack over and over again is a much better idea than spamming your shittiest attack over and over again. She'd probably also frown on the use of this whole "evolution-cancel" technique that you kids today are experimenting with, because there's absolutely no reason to attack me with 12th-level caterpillars (not to insinuate that there's *any* good reason for random violence) that should have long since grown into butterflies with ass-destroying psychic powers.
Another bit of delicious irony is the constant advice that the children keep giving me about getting rid of unwanted Pokemon by dumping them online. Notwithstanding the fact that this is something with which I'm already quite familiar, the mere implication that I'm the one lugging dead weight around is laughable at best. Needless to say, every fight along Route 3 is hugely one-sided and in my favor. Poundcake and Bomber take great joy in reducing each opponent to shreds while Motorbreth watches on, proud of the progress that his two proteges have made. No longer is he solely carrying this team.
Finally breaking through the brutal gauntlet of hostile, shorts-crazed children, I see nothing but wilderness and the wide-open road ahead of me. Breathing a sigh of relief, I figure that I am at last home free. This sensation is sadly short-lived, however, as yet another young girl in the middle of the road screams, "Eek! Did you touch me?" before erupting into a berserked frenzy and attacking me. Actually, I'm nowhere near her. In fact, I'm trying to sneak past her using the tall grass behind her for cover. That much, at least, is my fault for not realizing that she, likely another victim of the nefarious Professor Oak, probably has some serious issues about people walking through any nearby tall grass and will instinctively try to kill them.
The girl attacks by throwing a marshmallow at me, which turns out to be a Jigglypuff. This particular Jigglypuff is a female, which presents some problems since Bomber is a boy bee and a female Jigglypuff will apparently cause whatever male who touches it to fall helplessly in love with the little pile of fluff. The battle pauses as I'm informed that Bomber is suddenly feeling deep affection towards Jigglypuff, and that he may not attack because of it. And then he beats the shit out of her, anyway. Finally, a love story that I can relate to!
After the battle is over, as the dust slowly settles, I come to a realization. Staring at the beaten, broken girl lying before me, it's as if I'm gazing into a reflection of myself. Is this... my future? Am I doomed to forever wander the Earth a violent sociopath, rabidly attacking whatever poor soul makes the mistake of getting too close to me? No, it can't be. It won't. I decide right then and there that whatever the cost may be, I will *not* allow my past to destroy my future - even if it means mercilessly slaughtering whoever stands in my way.
With every last child on the road at this point having been beaten senseless, I begin my newfound resolve by taking a moment to stop and beat some of the local wildlife senseless. I acquire several strange new animals for my Pokedex to poke and prod at, including a bird, two bunnies, and a large marshmallow (which again turns out to just be a Jigglypuff). The bunnies are an unusual case, as the two sexes are for some reason regarded by the 'dex as entirely separate species (something about one of them being from Venus and the other from Uranus), hence me having to grab two of them. I make a mental note to get rid of them as quickly as possible, lest I soon become the proud owner of 97 bunnies.
I continue eastward down Route 3 until it turns north and becomes Route 4. I spot an exhausted young boy off to the side of the bend in the road, who complains that the tunnel from "Cerulean" can certainly take a lot out of a person. It really must be exhausting, because you're actually talking to me like a normal person instead of trying to kill me. What makes this conversation monumentally surreal, however, is the fact I'll later discover that the journey he claims to have just taken is a one-way trip that only goes in the other direction.
After my long and perilous trek down Route 3, it's relieving to see that Route 4 consists of little more than a barren, rocky clearing just before the base of Mt. Moon and a remote Poke Center which had been conveniently established near the entrance to the Mt. Moon tunnel. A young girl here whines to me about having tripped over a large, angry rock - much like the large, angry rock I'd faced in Pewter City. Their presence in the area intrigues me, as I've been interested in acquiring one ever since my negative experience in combat against one. First, however, I need to ditch the all crap Pokemon that I just caught. Novelty aside, singing marshmallows are about as useful in a fight as they sound, and anyone who's ever played D&D knows that bards are a shitty class. Ignoring the girl crying about her scraped knees from tripping over something that had to be at least half her size, I head on into the Poke Center.
It seems that I'm not the only one who's trying to unload at this particular Poke Center, however. As I'm leaving my "deposit" in the computer in the back corner, I'm approached by a strange man in an overcoat who inquires as to whether or not I'd be interested in purchasing a fish. Now, I'm not sure on this one, but when a creepy guy with a carp shoved down his pants goes up to a 10 year-old girl and says, "Hello there, sweetie pie! Have I got a deal just for you!" I don't think that there's any appropriate response other than to run screaming in the other direction.
I try to report his sleazy ass to the lady at the reception desk, who appears to be the exact same receptionist I saw in both Viridian City and Pewter City. So, either I can make yet another addition the list of people I know to be stalking me, or socialized Pokemon healthcare is a family-owned business and the president had to find jobs for his daughter and her twenty identical twins. She doesn't appear to give anything resembling a shit about my report of a creep trying to show his Magikarp to little kids and responds to my concerns only with the same stock greeting phrase that her sisters all use and by doing the only thing that she seems to have been trained to do: grabbing my balls and shoving them inside her machine. Nepotism is a truly ugly thing.
A young boy near the counter seems unimpressed with the inferior number of balls in my possession and proudly shows me the six of them that he has. Dear God, I didn't even ask. Another boy explains that a hard six-ball limit is strictly enforced at all times and that any Pokemon I catch beyond the sixth will need to be stored in the worldwide garbage can that I call a computer. Interestingly, I'll soon figure out that if I do catch any Pokemon beyond what I can carry, the game will go ahead and do me the favor of getting rid of them for me. Now, if it could somehow just save me the trouble of cooking my own dinner and inducing my own orgasms, we'd really be in business.
On my way out the door, I pass by an old man reading a newspaper who says that Team Rocket is attacking Cerulean citizens. Wait, so Team Rocket is attacking Smurfs? No, it turns out that he's talking about Cerulean *City* on the other side of Mt. Moon, which has as of yet not been addressed by the game as such. Personally, I think it's a bit presumptuous to assume that players will have already picked up on the game's quirky city-naming schema, especially given that this leap of faith requires idiots who subscribe to "Shorts Lovers Monthly" to know that vermillion is a color. "Not a day goes by without Team Rocket being in the news," the old man then goes on to explain, much in the same way that not a day goes by here without that Paris Hilton cunt showing up in ours. Whichever of the two is more retarded is anyone's guess. By the way, what in the hell is Team Rocket?
I grab the old man's newspaper so that I can read more about these assholes who keep getting randomly mentioned with no explanation of who they are. After scanning the article, my 10 year-old girl calmly explains, "it's a newspaper". How very informative. It's too bad that the Pokemon Nazis had to go and burn all of the Hooked On Phonics books, because it looks like I can really use one right about now. The back of the box that this game comes in actually makes it a point to state that a basic level of reading comprehension is needed to fully enjoy playing Pokemon. Oh, how I wish that the same requirement was made of the people who wrote it.
I leave the Poke Center and step inside the tunnel entrance right next door. A spacious cave larger than any city I've been to leads the way through the gigantic Mt. Moon. A sign just beyond the entryway sets the tone for the stage; it reads, "Beware! Zubat is a bloodsucker!" which seems like an odd thing to write on a sign, even by Pokemon standards. While I recall disregarding a similar warning about my ex-wife, it was at least warranted in her case. Zubats, as I quickly discover, pose about the same threat level as an amputated Nerf ball. They, along with the previously mentioned rats and the occasional snake, will go on to become the most commonly-recurring stock enemies in the game. They might as well have all been given tiny red shirts to wear with "cannon fodder" embroidered on the front.
Continuing into the cavernous cavern, my first order of business is to recruit one of the local large, angry rocks. While attempting to capture one of the Pokemon known as Geodude, I notice several females among their ranks. Wait, there are female Geo*dudes*? How does rock sex even work? Does he "get his rocks off" inside... you know what, fuck it, I don't even want to know. All I know is that having a large, angry rock on my team could only possibly stand to make it better.
The only hitch to my little plan is locating a large, angry rock with a disposition suitable to my liking. In an apparent attempt to achieve some sense of variety in a game that already contains 149 more Pokemon than it's prepared to handle, every one of them comes labeled as a certain personality type - rather like Myers-Briggs, only retarded. It avoids any of that "INTJ" bullshit mostly because whatever idiot programmed this trash has liberally interpreted the word "personality" to mean "mood". Motorbreth, for example, is "lonely". This is sort of understandable, since people who set everyone they meet on fire are generally very lonely. And it's not like I'm the world's best companion, either, what with my laundry list of psychological hang-ups and violent tendencies. Hell, we deserve each other.
Back on topic, my problem with clashing personalities has very little to do with team morale and more to do with effectiveness in battle. Each personality type conveys a boost to a certain statistic - speed or strength, for example - at the expense of 10% off another stat. This would be a more welcome mechanic if every Pokemon made use of every statistic, but what it more commonly ends up doing is taking a huge chunk out of one that's actually useful to give a minuscule bonus to one that isn't. Cursing the devil-programmer who thought this fucking bullshit up, I spend a few hours throwing balls at rocks until I'm finally able to catch a Geodude that doesn't suck. DrFeelgood is welcomed to the team with open arms.
The first thing I notice about DrFeelgood, aside from his hardened exterior and surly attitude, is the fact that my opponents can pound on him for hours on end and not even make a dent. I suppose that's what I should be expecting from a rock, but it's good to know that at least something on my team can take more punishment than a Guatemalan prison inmate. On the offensive side of things, DrFeelgood's preferred method of attack is to lob rocks at his opponents. Where he gets them from I have no idea, since he's pretty much just a really big rock to begin with. My current theory is that DrFeelgood is the proud administrator of the world's most painful bukakke job.
Bomber takes point as I trudge my way through the massive cavern. If he's going to be of any use to my team, he's going to have to learn an attack that doesn't suck. Everyone else already has one or more moves that make my enemies bend over and grab their ankles in delightful ways. Motorbreth sets things on fire, DrFeelgood ejaculates rocks onto his opponents, and Poundcake makes the screen flash pretty colors and then everything in a ten-mile radius dies of a migraine. Bomber, on the other hand, is stuck with a shitty stinger attack that does random damage and misses half the time. Naturally, the only way to remedy this problem is to make him do all the fighting.
I don't get very far into the tunnel before encountering both of the things that I've come to expect from dangerous environments in this game: a kid who attacks me for no reason and a ball on the ground with something inside it. The former is far beyond the point of being made fun of, while the latter contains an aptly-named "Parlyz Heal", which the game describes as a "spray-type medicine" that will free any Pokemon from the condition of paralysis. The "spray-type" part seems unnecessary since the game applies it for you, not to mention that there isn't any medicine in this game that *doesn't* come in spray form. You know, it's a shame that this stuff only works on Pokemon, because I think that someone would otherwise like to have used an AIDS Heal on Freddie Mercury.
Three steps away, I run into a furry little niblet called a Clefairy. These are members of an alien race that crash-landed into Mt. Moon along with a giant meteor eons ago, and actually locating one is somewhat akin to an Elvis sighting some thirty years after his untimely death. I suppose this explains why my Pokedex knew so much about them even before being presented with a live specimen. They don't so much resemble strange creatures from another planet, at within the context of the Pokemon universe, as they do cheap Jigglypuff knockoffs - complete with near-identical fighting styles and physical stats. Apparently, one singing fluffball just wasn't enough.
As I press further into the cave, I'm blocked off by a young girl who is sure to let me know that she has friends, whom she is waiting on to find her here. She then pulls a Clefairy out of her ass and instructs it to beat me senseless - because, you know, it just seemed like the sensible thing to do. The tiny extraterrestrial attacks with a bizarre maneuver that causes a pair of gigantic hands to magically formulate out of nowhere and begin applauding Bomber as he stings the everloving shit out of the gay little fairy. The maneuver have no other apparent effect. And you know that things have gone to total crap when even your own attacks are rooting for the other team.
I continue on in search of riches, glory, and, most importantly, an exit. I instead find my way into one of the tunnel's many subterranean side paths, which I notice to be full of small, crab-like insects with large mushrooms growing on them. This is perhaps the best explanation I've gotten yet for much of the behavior I've observed up to this point, since at least a fraction of the game's wackiness can be attributed to bad 'shroom trips. This whole "fossil thief" business, which now that I think on it sounds more like a euphemism for someone who fucks old people, is probably just a cover for illegal drug trafficking of these things. It gets worse, too: they eventually "evolve" into gigantic mushrooms the size of Pam Anderson's tits before she had all the fake parts taken out.
Reaching the end of the underground path, I at last come face to face with one of the aforementioned fossil thieves, who turn out to be none other than the notorious Team Rocket! You can tell them apart from normal people because they're all dressed in matching 1930's-era silent movie villain jumpsuits. Also, they're usually pretty quick to identify themselves as such before trying to kill you.
People who are more familiar with the TV show than the game may have a different idea about what Team Rocket is, since in the show it consisted entirely of a cat, an attractive woman in her underwear named Jessie, and a less attractive woman with a much deeper voice named James. Their only real goals seemed to be harassing a little boy with ADHD while trying to to abduct his pet mouse and not even being able to do *that* right. In the game, however, they're just your run-of-the-mill organized crime syndicate, at least relatively speaking (this is Pokemon we're talking about, after all). The guy I've encountered describes his group thusly: "We, Team Rocket, are Pokemon gangsters. We strike fear with our power!" In other words, my 10 year-old girl's job description has just expanded to include "international crime fighter". As for Team Rocket themselves, they add a wonderful element of insanity to a game already rife with it.
"Darn it all! My associates won't stand for this!" the expendable mook says following his defeat. Yeah, and gosh darn it all to heck, while you're at it. I do sorta see his point, though. The poor bastard will probably be the laughingstock of the entire Evil, Inc. after they all find out that he just got his ass kicked by a 10 year-old girl. To add further insult to injury, I grab the ball lying on the ground that he was trying to protect. I inspect it and find that it contains a "star piece". Ah, good, I hear that some guy named Mario was looking for these.
Heading back in the other direction, I note that for such a supposedly perilous place to be, there are certainly a lot of civilians wandering around. A kid I run into as I make it back onto the main path tells me that I need to go through this tunnel to reach Cerulean City, which marks the first point in this game where it acknowledges the place as anything other than a color. I attempt to thank him for this advice in the only way I know how, but find myself in the middle of yet another senseless battle before I can so much as unhook my training bra.
The boy's already-limited ability to speak intelligently falls apart completely after the fight as he begins to talk about the local bats as if they were tiny gods with wings and rabies. He tells me that they're tough, and that if I can catch one, I'll be able to count on it. Yeah, I can count on it to suck, maybe. And what do you mean *if* I can catch one? I'm practically cleaning these fuckers out of my vagina, here. There's point whatsoever in catching a Zubat except to satisfy the illogical compulsion to "Catch 'Em All!": a catchphrase that the game will repeatedly spam you with to the point of madness and your only real mission in this whole mess besides vying for the world title of Pokemon master, combating an elite organization of supervillains in stupid uniforms, and beating up other kids and taking their money.
Concerning that last one, I'm at least beginning to see a much greater variety in the different types of people who for some reason all decided that I need to die, as well as the assorted crimes against humanity at their command. The game goes seemingly out of its way to label one unkempt boy who reeks heavily of Clreasil as a "super nerd", which skirts that fine line of insulting your customer base a bit too flippantly for my tastes. His weapons of choice - a self-aware flying magnet and a pissed-off ball - probably aren't helping his case any. Another kid attacks with what appears to be a walking radish and a huge weed. I tell ya, Alice in Wonderland ain't got shit on Pokemon.
Of course, as every pedestrain I encounter makes my life as aggravating as they possibly can, they also continue to raise the game's impossibly-high bar on stupidity. Weed girl concludes our encounter by asking, "how do you get out of here? It's so big, I may get lost." Now, a more rational person would conclude from the first half of her statement that she already *is* lost, but you have to remember that being rational is a crime in this world. Another pointless fight ends with the instigator/loser bitching, "Losing stinks! It's so uncool!" which he then directly follows with, "I came all the way down here to show off to girls." Dude, have you given any thought to just talking to them? Because hitting little girls is totally uncool.
Even the adults at this point aren't above picking random fights with me. I happen upon a hiker farther into the tunnel, whom I make the mistake of assuming should have grown out of that phase. Dismissing me as "just a kid" after I apparently surprise the hell out of him by walking up to him and politely saying "hello", he then starts throwing large, angry rocks at me. I respond by dispatching my own large, angry rock and watching in sheer terror/amusement at what can only be described as the totally hot rock-on-rock action that followed. And since said hot action amounts more or less to a stalemate of Merrimac/Monitor proportions, I finally get bored and have Poundcake turn the hiker's rock into a UHF test pattern.
As I progress deeper into Mt. Moon, I begin to encounter more members of Team Rocket - each one more ludicrously idiotic than the last. They try to intimidate me, usually after I'm done mopping the floor with them, with such hardcore phrases as, "if you find any fossils, give them to me and scram!" and "Little kids shouldn't be messing around with grown-ups! It could be bad news!" Of course, the real problem in this game is the exact inverse of that last statement, but I digress. The game hits yet another brand-new low, however, when one of them tells me, "We, Team Rocket, shall find the fossils! Reviving Pokemon from them will earn us huge riches!" Wait, what?
I eventually happen upon another "super nerd" who's standing in the bowels of the mountain next to a pair of gigantic fossils. And yes, the fossils are both stuffed into balls for reasons that I no longer care to question. Immediately assuming that I'm intent on having his loot and not just trying to get through the room, he besets me like a wild animal protecting its young. He attacks me with a pissed-off ball, a cloud of smog with a face and a bad case of smokers' lung, and an adorably cute puddle of toxic sludge. You know, I never imagined that at any point in my life I'd be yearning for the relative normalcy of singing marshmallows and talking rocks. Yet, here I am.
Following the dork's ass-kicking, he concedes to allow me to take one of the fossils for myself. True to the game's form up to this point, I'm presented with only the choice to take one fossil or the other, with no option to kick the scrawny geek in the junk and make off with both of them. It's not like he's in any position to stop me, but it's not like I have any use for a dried-up pile of bones, either. I choose the fossil labelled "Dome", wondering aloud what I can possibly do with it besides stuff it in my backpack next to the TV.
The spaz then tells me as I turn to leave that there's a place called Cinnibar Island where I can find a lab that specializes in bringing fossils back to life. Okay, seriously, what in the hell is wrong with you people? Aside from being just plain gross, necromancy also suffers from the slight drawback of being scientifically impossible. Clearly, my problem is that I'm still trying to make sense of a game that very obviously intends to make a mockery of it.
Still reeling from the wackiness of that last remark, I sit down to clear my head and make sure that it isn't just the result of some sort of contact high I might have caught from the massive 'shroom fest back in the tunnel. I take this opportunity to look over the items in my backback that I've taken from the various ground balls along the path. My loot includes: the previously-discussed "Paralyz Heal", a dome-shaped fossil that will remain dead and un-zombified so long as I draw breath, a Moon Stone, something that's given no further description than "rare candy", and an escape rope. Yes, I've discovered a special kind of rope that apparently has no other use than to escape from something. It sure would have been nice to have this back when Professor Oak was showing me his wood.
The escape rope really is something of an odd object. Using it makes me spin around really fast before shooting up into the air like someone stuffed my vag full of bottle rockets. The end result is, rather than a massive concussion from my head's high-velocity impact with the ceiling, me magically appearing just outside whatever interior I happened to be in. I don't see how the rope itself factors into any of this, since rope generally does not possess reality-bending capabilities. It's not really much help, either, since all it does is make me have to run back through the tunnel again and thank my lucky stars that one ass-kicking is all it takes for people to stop fucking with me entirely. As much as I've tried to convince myself otherwise, it's now clear to me that violence is and will always be the only solution.