How I Caught 'Em All: The Journey To 649

In Short
Not content to stop at 493, Jason goes for all 649...

Its been a little less than a year since I caught em all in Pokemon HeartGold, and Pokemon Black and White have finally hit U.S. shores. While I was psyched for the 156 brand new Pokemon promised in these new adventures, I debated going back and revisiting my single-minded journey to get one each of every Pokemon out there. The original 493 had a decent resting space in my copy of HeartGold, and transferring them over would take dozens of hours of repetitive nonsense. I went back and forth on my plans right up until the games actually came out, but after only 10 or 15 minutes of play time, I knew I had little choice: Before it was all said and done, Id have one each of all 649 Pokemon in my storage PC. I also knew Id need to update this months-old article to reflect my further adventures, so here it is.

Since I filled in a lot of the Pokemon background info when I first wrote this article, Ill be sticking to stuff concerning Pokemon Black and White only. That being said, my journey to catch every new species began about two months before the game hit shelves. A well-known game store (no plug sorry) started their promotion of Black and White in late January. During three set time periods, players could bring their DS systems and Pokemon games to the retail store and download shiny versions of the three legendary dog Pokemon Suicine, Entei and Raiku in order to unlock Zoroark in Black and White. A second promotion came on the firsts heels; a shiny Celebi was made available through the game store, and downloading it allowed players access to Zorua, another exclusive Black and White species. The catch was that Zorua and Zoroark would be completely unavailable to players who didnt download these four special Pokemon. I made it a point to download them all for my wife and I, but not everyone was so vigilant. Needless to say, these two Pokemon have become highly sought after in online trading, and with only a few little detours on my way home from work I made sure we werent left out in the cold.

When the game was finally in my hands, the first hurdle was the question of the starter Pokemon. I chose Oshawott, but that isnt really what I meant by hurdle. For the successful completion of this project, I needed nine starters, three of each Pokemon species, to account for evolutions down the road. Obtaining the nine starters in past games was one of my most vexing issues, but trading online to complete my collection seemed easier this time around. While the system was still plagued with Pokemon STDs (nicknames) and unrealistic trades (Patrat for Reshiram? WTF?), the GTS was essential in attaining my goal. But what made it easier? For whatever reason, it was like players had grown more realistic since HeartGold and SoulSilver, and there were reasonable offers abound for the starters. The ease in collecting starters was offset by some other frustrating aspects (the PC storage menus still sucked, Pokemon with ridiculously high evolution markers, etc.), but it was delightful to see one of my past headaches taken care of so quickly and with minimal effort.

And speaking of easy, a significant change was made to Black and White that separates it from past games. In collecting all 156 new Pokemon, very few are available exclusively through evolution. What? Basically, more Pokemon than ever before are found in the wild, making the grinding process less substantial. It also provides more focus on building a permanent team, rather than beefing up Pokemon for evolutionary development purposes and putting them back into the PC when theyve changed. Personally, I thought the game suffered with this new development. Capturing and training a Pokemon early in the game somehow loses its appeal when you know youll run into the evolved form eventually. And on the other side of this change, the few evolution-only Pokemon have amazingly high transformation levels. Were talking levels into the 60s in some cases, and grinding up to those heights can be time consuming and boring.

By the time I arrived at the Pokemon League to challenge the Elite Four, I had about 130 of the 156 species either in my party or stored in the PC. Of those, Id say a good 75 percent were caught in the wild, rather than evolved. Thankfully, there is a little challenge in collecting the already-evolved Pokemon; they usually only appear in special cases, where the grass shakes. Keeping an eye out for the special grass as I progressed wasnt going to cut it for my 156 goal, so I spent a ton of time leaving and re-entering areas, watching for the shaking spots to activate. Some will criticize this as a pointless waste of time, but the shaking grass held another secret Audino. This Pokemon appears MOST of the time when shaking spots are activated, whereas the Pokemon I was actually looking for only showed up 5-10 percent of the time. The good thing about Audino is he gives a TON of experience when knocked out, so the grind of looking for those rare species also resulted in my main team of Samurott, Zebstrika, Victini and Leavanny gaining levels pretty quickly. Sure, this made the gym leaders a breeze to defeat, but my goal wasnt playing the game, it was collecting em all.

I want to mention one more thing before I get to the post-Elite Four collecting. Black and White introduced an all new way to evolve Pokemon through trade, and as exciting as it was, it only works with two Pokemon Karrablast and Shelmet. These two Pokemon will only evolve when traded for their counterpart. For example, you can trade Shelmet for any Pokemon and nothing will happen, but if you trade for Karrablast, both will evolve into Accelgor and Escavalier, respectively. Thankfully, players on the GTS seemed to have figured this out as most trades involving these two Pokemon had their counterpart listed as what was wanted in return. Sure, these two (and eventually four) Pokemon are nearly worthless, but new evolution methods are always exciting to the catch em all crowd.

With the Elite Four, N and Ghetsis brought down with relative ease (dont nobody mess with my Victini/Samurott combo), it was time to grab a second DS and begin transfer of all my 493 Pokemon left safely in HeartGold. The transfer process this time around was the least frustrating yet, but that isnt saying a whole lot. Using two DS systems, you are required to pick six Pokemon no more, no less and a minigame launches. Its a bit like a duck shoot; a bow armed with Pokeballs is designed to be fired from the lower screen to the upper screen, to catch the six Pokemon in the transfer process. Though the system was much easier to deal with than the trade with yourself nonsense, or the too slow Pal Park, it still took quite a while to drag all 493 over from my last game. The feeling of accomplishment, though, was unmatched when that final Pokemon sat in my new games PC.

It would have been anti-climactic to import all my past Pokemon and immediately be finished with the new goal of 649. Of the newest 156 Pokemon, I had all but about 10, mostly high level evolutions and Legendaries. A few days later, after obtaining my last 10, I noticed my total 646. WHAT?! What had I missed?! Just like when Nintendo put the proverbial fork in my eye by announcing Black and White mere days after getting all 493, the people behind this game has a second piece of cutlery for my still-working eyeball: It seems the last three Pokemon in the new National Pokedex Keldeo, Meloetta and Genesect are simply unattainable. Period. I cant get them, you cant get them; at the moment, are just not out there. A little research showed that the last three will be made available through special promotions (probably through game store downloads or Nintendo WFC freebies) at some point in the future. Shenanigans.

As I finish up this piece, I have not yet attained the all-consuming goal of 649 Pokemon. Im stuck at 646, just like the other handful of folks who may make catching em all their highest priority. When those last three do rear their heads, watch this article for a further update. Until then, just imagine the end of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

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Transmitted: 4/21/2014 3:35:47 AM