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EToP: Orange Islands, Part 1

“Now, before I start this one, I want to make something very clear- there are some chapters I cannot do.  The entire final volume, “Surf’s Up, Pikachu,” apparently ran in very, very limited quantities, and as such, is GODDAMN EXPENSIVE.  My collection of the first 3 tankobons probably cost about $10.  By itself, “Surf’s Up, Pikachu” costs about $65.  So, unless I win the lottery by the time I finish tankobon 3, it’s not happening.”

-This very blog, September of 2012

Thank you, ValcorXanthos23 from Amazon.  You’ve made me a liar, and I couldn’t be happier.

So, if you’ve been reading this blog’s spotty updates for a while, you may recall a retrospective review of the Electric Tale of Pikachu manga.  As the quote above indicates, however, the review was forced to cut off with the third volume out of four thanks to financial reasons.  The last chapter of the third volume and the entirety of the fourth were skipped, and I called it a day.

I thought I would never get my hands on a copy of the final volume.  I saw the price, balked, and walked away.  Initial value plus time almost always equals a higher value, right?

But there are some things that happen unexpectedly.  And sometimes, people aren’t out to make as much money as possible- just to sell something they have at a reasonable price.  And sometimes, bloggers are in exactly the right place at the right time with the right amount of cash, and magical things happen.

…Ahem.  I may have gotten carried away there.  Shall we carry on to the review proper?  Snazzy.

So, a quick refresher on what EToP is, where we are, and what my opinions were.  The Electric Tale of Pikachu is a manga adaptation of the Pokémon anime written by Toshihiro Ono, a hentai artist.  It’s better than it sounds, thanks to its many artistic and storyline differences between it and the anime that give it more of a sense of progress than the anime.  It’s not without its quirks, though- my biggest complaints are a lack of focus on the captures or the most important battles of the series, as well as a few jokes that are a bit too…  risque for the target audience.  Or at least uncomfortable to hear coming from and being directed at ten-year-olds.

Overall, however, it’s a good series that gives a fresh coat of paint to some of the anime’s ideas.  Like, for example, The Kangaskhan Kid is my least-favorite episode of the show so far.  EToP integrates elements of that plot into their strongest chapter in the Indigo League.

As of the most recent chapter I reviewed, Ash finds himself in the Indigo League, but loses to Ritchie, a trainer that he befriends as the League continues.  His loss comes from a technical glitch that prevents Ritchie from recalling his own Charizard during their match.  The significance of this?  Ash’s Charizard was seconds away from killing it.  Blood from the neck and everything.  The manga’s hardcore.

There’s more to it than that, of course, and you can read the full review here.  But all you need to know to just jump in here is that Ash lost his battle to Ritchie, and struck out to train by himself.  Segue’ing into the final chapter of Electric Pikachu Boogaloo…

Chapter 14:  The Orange Islands

Holy crap, that name.  That chapter name brings back a lot of memories.

For the uninitiated, the Orange Archipelago (or Orange Islands for people who hate typing that word out) was a filler arc from the anime that stretched about thirty episodes.  Well, I say filler arc.  What I mean is that it was a sort of in-between arc while Game Freak finished Gold and Silver.  I didn’t mean to imply that nothing happens here- Ash catches a Snorlax and Lapras, gets Charizard to listen to him, battles a (kind of) League Champion…  Oh, yeah, and I guess Tracey was a thing.

The Orange Islands arc is usually brushed aside by fans, though, given its lack of an in-game counterpart, coming in between two of the most beloved generations of the series, and its lack of Brock, but it isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination.  Give it a look on Pokémon TV when it comes around.  Or buy the overpriced, stripped-down DVD.

With that, I’ll just drop this off here:

And we can begin.

So, the very first thing we’re greeted with is Ash and Pikachu flying on a blimp to Valencia, largest of the Orange Islands.  We’re treated to a number of crowded but superfluous panels before Ash registers for the League.  Also, side note- on the panel before Ash does this is a poster for the Orange League, and I swear I’ve seen the guy holding the Poké Ball before.  His face and hair are ringing all kinds of bells, but I just can’t place it.  Maybe you guys can do better:

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Anyway, Ash notes out loud that the closest gym is on Mikan Island before he’s stopped by three local trainers who proceed to talk a big game, challenge Ash to a battle, and get curb-stomped almost instantly.  I’d like to draw attention to Hitmonchan here, because it looks kind of like Groot.  Typical Toshihiro Ono Pokémon artwork- very different from the base Sugimori art, but not in a bad way at all.

But notes on the artwork aside, this chapter feels very filler-ish so far.  I mean, we’re six pages in, and nothing of consequence has happened.  Until Ash misses the ferry, though.  Probably would have gotten there faster if it wasn’t for that battle.  He’s got an hour to kill, so he and Pikachu screw around on the beach for a while.

A page later, Pikachu wakes Ash up from a nap, and leads him to a Lapras under assault by a veritable army of Krabby.  Ash decides to think tactically, and instead of just having Pikachu do what it always does to its problems, has Squirtle wash all the Krabby away with Hydro Pump.  Common sense says they’d come back pissed, but there aren’t enough pages for that.

Ash attempts to capture it in order to bring it to a Pokémon Center, but it throws a fit whenever he approaches.  Deciding that it must be nervous around humans, he has Pikachu negotiate it into the Ball.

Back at the Center, Nurse Joy comments that Lapras aren’t supposed to be in the area around this time of year, and that it might have been separated from its school.  She then suggests that Ash take it with him, which he seems shockingly unenthused about.  Possibly due to the fact that Pokémon he uses more often got less of an introduction than Lapras has.

Now, granted.  It’s nice to see EToP try and fix my biggest bit of frustration that I have with it.  But really, given that the series only has one volume to go, it feels a bit hollow.  Especially considering that Lapras never gets used in battle.

So, anyway, Ash misses the ferry again.  He figures out that he can use Lapras to Surf himself around, an idea that Lapras isn’t too thrilled about until Pikachu talks to it again, and it’s suddenly raring to go.  And with that, Ash sets sail for his next adventures.
…You know, after the League two-parter, a breather episode makes sense.  The thing is, this feels tacked-on.  Especially considering its placement as the last chapter of Volume 3.  Almost nothing of consequence happens over the first six pages, then there’s nine pages that introduce a new character.  And yeah, it could be treated as an epilogue.  For years, that’s how I had to see it.  But ultimately, this chapter is…  Kind of a disappointment.  Barely anything.

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Something exciting

IMG_1339

Review to follow.

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Pokémon Adventures, Rounds 1 and 2

It cannot be overstated how many Pokémon mangas there are.  We’ve already covered the Electric Tale of Pikachu (pre-Orange Islands,) but there are also Gag Mangas (like Pokémon Pocket Monsters,) Shoujo (Magical Pokémon Journey,) Slice-of-Life (How I Became A Pokémon Card…)

 

And then, there’s Pokémon Special, translated by Viz media as Pokémon Adventures.

 

When people talk about the Pokémon manga, this is usually the one they’re talking about.  Much like the anime, it’s been running since 1997, with no end in sight.  However, unlike the anime, protagonists rotate over time, the story of the games is loosely followed, and there’s usually a real sense of progress.  Even as the storylines move forward, there’s always a chance that older protagonists will continue to be major players in the plot.

 

For fans outside of Japan, this is the Pokémon adaptation that they’ve been clamoring for ever since they grew tired of the anime.  And this is why the Viz Media of the late nineties ought to be publicly shamed.

 

The initial release of Pokémon Adventures came in two forms.  First were the slim tankobons used in the Electric Tale of Pikachu releases.  Second were double-chapter comics available on a subscription basis.  Neither of these were built to last, especially the double-chapter comics, which would last a long time before suddenly and inexplicably falling apart.  So, naturally, the first releases are hard to find.  On top of this, they stopped releasing new volumes seven tankobons in, meaning that the Yellow arc was only just barely finished.

 

And so the series sat, prosperous in Japan, but stagnant outside (unless you were lucky enough to live in Singapore, where an official English translation was sold by Chuang Yi.)  Viz Media made no real effort to continue the series, but as what could either be interpreted as an apology or a screw you, they released a pair of “best of” volumes, each one being some of the most pivotal chapters of the two arc they picked.  If you have these, please put them down, and try to locate the full versions.  There is so much cut- for example, the entire Silph arc had to be removed from the Best of Red collection, as well as most of Team Rocket’s involvement at all.

 

During this time, the only way to reliably read the mangas was either paying a lot of money to import the Chuang Yi versions, or locate a scanlation.  I remember that Dragon Guard had actually started scanlating the GS arc when Viz Media, nearly ten years after they blew their chance at earning all our money, sent out C&D orders to all scanlators.  In the same movement, they announced their intention to re-release the old volumes, and continue from there.

 

Now, my initial reaction was ecstatic.  Then, I saw the release schedule.  It would be a year and a half before they reached the point I had.  But then, another problem arose when they finally got the GSC arc out- they skipped their releases ahead ten years, and started putting out the Black and White chapter.  All the older arcs would still get a release, of course- at random, and with very little in the way of prior announcement.  And it didn’t help that as a consequence of how few BW chapters had actually been released in Japan at the time, they were selling the manga at half-size, half-quality, and three-quarters the price of an average manga.

 

It is no secret that Viz has screwed this series over constantly since its initial 1998 US release.  There’s no way in hell that One Piece, Bleach, or Naruto would have to deal with this.  Hell, One Piece caught up with the Japanese version in a matter of months- about forty volumes over the course of a year.  If Viz cared at all, the localization would not have the problems that it does.

 

You ought to be ashamed, Viz.

 

With that massive rant out of the way, I’d like to clarify- yes, I am actually planning on reviewing the manga.  I’m going to be using the second-edition Viz release- the one that most people have access to.  Localized names will be used.  So yes, I know that Green is Blue and Blue is Green depending on which side of the Pacific you’re on.  But I’m reviewing what I have my hands on.  No need to cause any more confusion than necessary.

 

I would like to note that unlike the old volumes, the new ones are actually well-made, for the most part.  They don’t feel like they’re going to fall apart- the only ones that feel that way are the ones I picked up at the library, in the children’s section.  As in, where I have watched books be chucked across the room.  Viz actually can make a quality book when they feel like it.

 

Adventure 1: A Glimpse of the Glow

 

So, the story kicks off in Pallet Town.  What a surprise.  We see a crowd of children cornering a Nidorino, which looks surprisingly chill about this situation.  Seriously, except for a single growling sound effect, it doesn’t seem to be upset at all by the kids trying to capture it.  Maybe it’s because of how badly they’re doing it?  One of the kids tosses a single ball, which bounces off of it.  It doesn’t need to be worried.

 

That is, until Red shows up.  Red’s the protagonist of the manga.  He’s directly based on the protagonist of the games, and the template upon which every male Kanto-based Pokémon protagonist is based.  I bring all this up because although he’s only one version of the silent protagonist of the games, he and Ash are based on the same character.  It strikes me as funny how close the two are when you consider that Red provides a capture tutorial here, but Ash needs to be reminded in BW that you need to weaken a Pokémon before you capture it.

 

Red uses a Poliwhirl for the tutorial, revealing something about Adventures that’s fairly unusual for the meta-series.  Here, your starter is not necessarily your first Pokémon.  Not even Blue, grandson of the legendary starter distributor Professor Oak, began with his starter.

 

So, Nidorino is captured (and is likelyperms-boxed off-screen,) and Red begins heading home, revealing a massive ego in the narration boxes.  You think Ash is arrogant, but he never claimed to be the best trainer in Pallet.  Red also makes mention of catching every Pokémon.  I’m not sure if this is using the old script from the original release, but it’s interesting seeing that slogan used here, given that at the time of this edition’s release, the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” slogan had been retired six years.  It would not be revived for another four.  Anachronism or callback- you decide.

 

It quickly becomes apparent that, ego or no, Red is popular enough to have a crowd of other kids follow him around.  They ask him about Professor Oak, and whether he has any interest in going to learn about Pokémon from him.  Blue is teased for a minute before Red basically brushes the idea off, says good-bye to his friends we’ll never see again, and promptly bumps into a Rocket Grunt.

 

There’s a whole bunch of them, and they’re talking about tracking something down.  Red looks at this shady group of men dressed like troublemakers, and decides that the best option here would be to beat them to their target- a phantom Pokémon that for the time being, goes unnamed.  Grabbing a massive armful of Poké Balls (possibly from home,) Red begins combing the woods.  He happens in on a battle between a trainer and a glowing, pink cat fetus he’s never seen before.

 

The trainer’s name goes unmentioned here, but he has his (abso-frickin-lutely adorable) Charmander battle the thing.  Charmander’s outclassed, completely unable to hit its target, so its trainer recalls it- okay, its trainer is Blue.  It’s obviously Blue.  But anyway, Blue recalls his Charmander, and Red protests.  Red takes a shot at capturing it, and is promptly curb-stomped.  Poliwhirl is beaten, and its opponent escapes.

 

Blue departs after chastising Red for picking that particular fight, revealing that he was actually paying attention to his own.  Red is momentarily broken by the loss, but isn’t given time to angst, as Team Rocket charges into the clearing, shouting about how this twerp lost them the Mew they’d been searching for.  They then break away, as their time is better spent chasing Mew than killing the kid that fought it.

 

Red picks himself up, and leaves the forest.  He figures that the best way to become stronger is to maybe take his nameless friends’ advice, and maybe check out this Professor Oak person.

 

And that’s Chapter 1. The length may surprise you after EToP, but Adventure has fifteen-page chapters. Meaning that a single-chapter review is out of the question here.

 

As opening chapters go, this one is…  okay.  Not awful.  We get to learn a bit about our protagonist, as well as the tiniest bit about the world he lives in.  It’s nowhere near as good as the first anime episode, but given that it’s a two-parter, we still have time to end on a good note.

 

Adventure 2: Bulbasaur, Come Home!

 

This chapter starts off with Red just walking into Oak’s laboratory.  Please note that in this version, his lab also appears to be his house.  And that it’s dark inside.  Clearly, what Red is doing is illegal, but he’s the protagonist.  He’s going to be fine.

 

He finds himself surrounded by Poké Balls on all the shelves, and of course, decides to pick up and play with one- a Bulbasaur.  Here’s something kinda neat about Adventures- the tops of the Poké Balls are translucent, and you can see the miniaturized Pokémon inside.  This is utilized by Red to force his Poliwhirl and the Bulbasaur to stare at each other.

 

Thankfully, this foolishness is broken up by Professor Oak seconds later as he charges into the room, mistaking Red for a thief.  Not an unreasonable assumption, but…  Why did you just leave your door unlocked?

 

…Further question, why would you rig all the Balls to a button that releases every Pokémon in the lab when pushed?  Or in this case, when Red stumbles backwards into it.  In the ensuing pandemonium, a Pidgey shits on Oak, and Red is made to help Oak round up all of the escapees.  Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, some make it out the front door, and the  pair have to make a beeline for Viridian to get all of them back.

 

After much offscreen chasing, they’re down to only Bulbasaur, who they see running into the Viridian Gym.  Oak tries to approach it, and ends up with a bruised gut for his troubles.  Red tries a gentle approach, and it actually works.  Bulbasaur’s good to travel again, and they almost get out the door before a wild Machoke shows up, looking for a fight.

 

…Maybe it got loose from Victory Road?  I don’t know.  It’s never explained how a wild evolved Pokémon made it into Viridian without being captured or even noticed.

 

It goes after Red and Oak, but is held in place by Bulbasaur’s Vine Whip.  Red looks to Oak for advice, but OAK has fainted, leaving Red to try and think his way out of the situation.  Machoke breaks away from the Vine, and charges Red, who’s standing by a boarded-up window.  As it breaks free, however, Red notices sunlight streaming through the window, and ducks as the attack comes through.  The attack shatters the window, shines light on Bulbasaur, and allows it to Solar Beam the Machoke into submission.

 

Later, Oak questions Red about the fight, and Red reveals that he kind of bullshitted his way through the fight.  Oak is impressed by this (???,) and gives him Bulbasaur.  Red discusses his loss to Mew, and Oak gives him a talk about how his connection to his Pokémon is all he needs to become powerful.  …implying that he doesn’t have a real connection to Poliwhirl?

 

Anyway, Oak hands him the Pokédex, and sends him on his way.

 

Overall, a better chapter than the first, I think.  The action sequence is easier to follow, and Red seems a bit more sympathetic overall.  My one gripe is with Oak, who seems…  inconsistent.  Like he says one thing, and accidentally implies another.  Or he rigs one button to release every Pokémon he owns.  Certainly strange, but he’ll get better as time goes on.

 

Next time, we’ll see the proper introduction of a rival, and see one line that has started countless flame wars since its being put to paper.

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So that was terrible.

Yeah, I know.  A month and a half with no updates.  Most of that time, I’ve had internet.  I’m not going to try to excuse that- that was pretty damn lazy of me.  I’ll try and have a real update with actual content sometime before February.  I apologize.

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News

Sorry- I’ve been sans internet for the past week.  I won’t be able to work on my blog until it comes back, considering that I do everytihg via Google Drive.  When it does come back, I’ll get started on Fighting.

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Base Set: Psychic

Now you’re talking.

So, the first thing I usually do is explain the strengths and weaknesses of each type, but Psychic is…  very difficult to define.  They excel at so much with so little they’re bad at that I’m almost tempted to call them the best type in the game- you know, a representation of their typein the Gen I Game Boy games.  With type advantage against three types, a weakness versus themselves if they even have a weakness at all, and a plethora of different attack types with overall low Energy cost, it can certainly seem that way.  However, they tend to have mid-range HP at best, and attack damage isn’t always very high.  If we’re being optimistic, they share the first-place spot with another type (why am I waffling?  It’s Fighting, but we’ll discuss that later.)

So, what does Psychic do, exactly?  Well, it does quite a few Special Conditions- Paralysis and Sleep are big, but Confusion really enters the mainstream here.  It isn’t as broken as Paralysis, but it can still be crippling if the opponent isn’t perfectly lucky.

But that isn’t all it does.  It also has a lot of conditional damage- damage that relies on Energy count or the amount of damage an enemy has taken.  This is occasionally annoying, in that an untouched enemy will take minimal damage, but it’s more reliable than a coin flip.

043: Abra

Not a very impressive start, though.  What we have here is a flimsier Caterpie.  A one-Psychic Energy 10-damage attack with a Paralysis chance is decent, but Abra is less useful off the bat due to lastability problems caused by its 30 HP.  The zero retreat cost is nice, at least.  If you’re lucky, you can keep it alive until it evolves, but do not start with it.

044: Kadabra

Right off the bat, your eyes are probably going to be drawn to Super Psy, a two-Pshycic, one-Colorless 50-damage attack.  That one attack by itself is probably a major reason Kadabra is a major improvement over Abra- remember that a three-Energy 50 is very, very powerful, especially on a Stage 1 with one more evolution to go.  However, one of Abra’s weaknesses is on display here- namely, lower HP.  60 is a bit on the low end for a Stage 1, but it isn’t completely awful.  Keep it away from other Psychics, and it should be fine for a while.

Oh, yes, and Recover?  Kadabra is never going to be in tough enough of a spot to warrant burning an Energy to heal it and sacrifice an attack.  Anything that would would force it into that position is probably capable of knocking it right back down again, making this attack an inefficient stall.

One side note here- that retreat cost is ridiculous.  Zero to three in a single evolution.  Preposterous.

045: Alakazam

If you skipped the additional effects of its single attack, as well as the entirety of its power, you may be somewhat disappointed by Alakazam.  Three Psychic for thirty?  80 HP?  No fix for the retreat cost?  What a pile of-

Sit down.  Sit down right now, and behold the single best Cleric in the game.

Now, granted- the damage drop from 50 for three to 30 for three is a small disappointment.  However, a coin flip for Confusion means that this attack has a very real chance of functioning like a Paralyzing, delayed-effect Super Psy.  Confusion isn’t broken the way Paralysis is, but it does screw your opponent over in a different way- namely, it’s a real bitch to get rid of, and has a 50% chance to make the attacker smack themselves in the face every time they try to attack or retreat.  Even better- in older versions of the rules, retreating while Confused is hugely impractical, forcing you to discard the Energy before you determine if you’re successful.

But so what?  Other cards have access to Confusion, right?  Well, yeah, but not with 30 damage attached.  But if that doesn’t convince you, let’s have a look at its Power: you get to move damage counters on your own Pokémon around as you please.  As long as you don’t KO anything, you can load off damage from a powerful attacker as it accumulates, and keep them in the game.  This works even if Alakazam is on the bench, of course.

With Alakazam in your deck, you can basically run it with no Energy attached from the Bench, abusing its ability to have a CHarizard that never faints.  Or you can add Energy, and use it as an Auto-healing mage.  Honestly, one of the best evolved Pokémon in the Base Set.

046: Gastly

Sigh…  You were doing so well, Psychic-type…

So, back down to 30 HP.  Abra showed us that this can be manageable, given a decent-enough stall.  Gastly has two stalls, but neither one is efficient, or even deals damage.

The first one is Sleeping Gas.  A coin toss for Sleep.  And then another Coin Toss between turns because of the rules for Sleep.  If both are heads, the Defending Pokémon is out for that turn…  Assuming it isn’t switched or woken up via Trainer Card.  And it’s guaranteed- if any coin toss turns up tails, the response from the enemy is almost always a slap in the face that Gastly really can’t afford to take.

Destiny Bond is even worse.  Feed Gastly an Energy, and if it faints as a result of an enemy’s attack, the enemy goes down with it.  Great…Until you remember that such a thing is massively telegraphed.  So, you lose an Energy to stall the enemy a little.  And it doesn’t work if Gastly is KO’ed by Poison, either.  And you have to keep using it for it to work- it’s not a permanent effect.

Yeah, the lack of a weakness is okay, and the Fighting resistance is good, but don’t count on Gastly for anything.  Period.

047: Haunter

Did we not just discuss the problem with relying on Sleep?

It’s funny- Haunter almost seems like a Kadabra alternative with its 60 HP and very low-cost 50 damage attack.  However, its entire attacking game relies on Sleep.

The setup is Hypnosis, a no-damage, one-Psychic attack that is guaranteed to put the enemy to sleep.  Awesome!  One of the coin flips is removed, resulting in a 50% chance that the enemy remains asleep on its turn.  However, if it wants to use its massive 50-damage Dream Eater, another coin flip after that has to succeed to keep the enemy asleep on your turn.  Once again, a 25% chance to actually do anything.

And the worst part of all this?  Base Set lacks a Gengar.  Until Fossil a few months down the road, this is as good as Ghost-types will get.

Sad.

048: Drowzee

I don’t get this card.  It feels very much like they wanted to put a Hypno in this set, but couldn’t finish balancing it in time.  Our end result is a (currently) non-evolving Pokémon that feels like an evolving basic.  It starts with 50 HP- respectable.  It has a one-Colorless attack for 10, and a two-Psychic attack for 10 plus a chance for Confusion.  And…  That’s it, really.  Weird.

049: Jynx

Remember Electabuzz?  This one is his weird cousin.

So, Jynx continues the trend of really, really good Basics with 70 HP.  Its first attack, DOubleslap is nothing special- two coin flips for 10 each.  FOr one Psychic, it’s only a bit above average.  Where Jynx really shines, though, is its second attack, Mediatate.  Two Psychic and a Colorless deals 20 plus 10 for each damage counter on the enemy.  That’s right- it doubles the existing damage, and then adds twenty.  It fizzles out against many of the beefier threats in this game, but as a Basic killer, Jynx is unmatched, being able to 2HKO rather large numbers of Basics in the game.

050:  Mewtwo

This one makes me sad.

So, Mewtwo.  This Pokémon is the ultimate life-form of its world, having been cloned from Mew, an already powerful Pokémon, and made even stronger via genetic engineering.  It was unmatched in its debut Gen, being the most easily-accessible reason for the existence of Smogon’s Uber-tier.  In Gen VI, both of his Megas outclass GOD.

His first card blows.

60 HP is not bad, especially on a Basic.  However, his attacks are among the worst the type has to offer.  The first one, Psychic, deals damage based on the opponent’s Energy count.  A higher number of energies means more damage.  But I can already think of one flaw in this- the base damage is 10, and a large chunk of Colorless Pokémon resist Psychic.  They can basically whale on Mewtwo, destroying him over three or four turns, and never take a scratch.  Mewtwo’s enormous retreat cost doesn’t help this- three Energy to get out, and maybe fight again?  Ridiculous.

On top of that is Barrier.  One Energy burned means that your opponent cannot damage you next turn.  When has non-damaging burn been good before?  THe guarantee is nice, but not nice enough to save the card.
Sadly, it would take a Black Star Promo a year later to fix Mewtwo in the TCG.  But, well…  That’s a review for another time.

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Base Set: Electric

So, I know what many of you are thinking.  Your first thought is probably going to be along the lines of “Holy shit, an update?  He does those now?”  Your second is probably going to be along the lines of “Wait a minute, what about the GSC review?”  Still more of you are probably going to think “I just wish he’d get back to doing the anime.”

All very valid thoughts to have.  I’ll explain them in order.

First, yes, updates are still a thing.  I’ve been on a long unplanned hiatus for several months as a result of first moving several states away from anything I’ve ever known, then getting a job with a less-than constant schedule.  All the while, I’ve been fighting a dearth of inspiration that even affected my fanfic output even worse than the existing problem of burning myself out had.  So I’ve had a rough couple of months.  However, I fully intend to get back on the horse with writing, and I see no reason to not start here.

Second is in regards to the GSC review.  It will be finished; don’t you worry.  However, GSC happens to be a set of games that I have very strong feelings about, and writing about them from an objective standpoint is going to be difficult.  I’m going to be taking a short break from posting those until I finish writing the whole review, and then I’ll post it over a few days.

Finally- yes, I am still going to be writing about the anime every so often.  The big problem with writing about it, though, has mostly been that while it’s a great time killer and is really good for relaxing after I finish a long day at work, there are a lot of episodes not worth commenting on, or that feel like a drag to write about.  When I can think of an episode worth blogging about, I will do so, but there won’t be any regularity to them.  At least, not at first; who knows what the future will bring?

So, with all that explained, I move on to what is doubtless the final question on your minds:  “He said he wasn’t doing TCG reviews anymore, didn’t he?  That he just wasn’t feeling it?”  A fair question.  But I’ve found myself actually regretting leaving this one hanging.  On top of that…  Either my ego is just that out-of-control, or I think the reviews I wrote were actually pretty good.  Who knows?

But I figure that my comeback could be enhanced slightly by beginning to tie up a loose end.  With all that out of the way, let’s discuss the Base Set’s Electric element.

Electric:  Three words:

Spike.

Recoil.

Paralysis.

These three words make up the bulk of Electric’s gameplay, featuring spike attacks that hit the opponent’s bench, powerful attacks with low energy costs that also damage the attacker, and low-power attacks that have a chance to paralyze.  This level of versatility in attack forms is really only matched by Grass, but Electric has a slightly higher damage output.  It also hits most Water-types and some Colorless Pokémon with Super-Effective damage, something that Grass has trouble matching at all.

So, what’s not to love?  Well, simply put, Electric-types are garbage, defensively speaking.  Their sole weakness is Fighting, but Fighting also happens to be one of the most hard-hitting attackers in the game.  On top of this, Electric-types are second only to Fire in terms of Energy drain- most Stage 2 Pokémon require 3 Energy or more to use attacks, and those will almost always be colored.  In addition, their HP is deceptively low- they have okay numbers, but the numbers are offset by recoil.

As a result of these problems, Electric needs to have a strong early game, and near-perfect follow-up in order to win.  Unlike the other colors, mono-ing Electric is absolutely a bad move, and should be avoided.

035: Pikachu

Let’s jump right in with our franchise mascot.  Right off the bat, I want to call attention to the artwork.  Times have changed, haven’t they?  I bet that if you showed it to a younger fan, they’d think it was fake- especially when you compare it to something like the Furious Fists Pikachu.  Our mascot is so vastly different from when he started that it makes you wonder what he’ll look like in another 19 years…

Back on track, we have our first red flag in his HP, which is 40.  Remember, this is very low, and most Fighting-types will be able to drop him very quickly.  Sadly, this is a trend amongst evolving Electric Basics, as you’ll soon see.

His attacks are slightly better- one Colorless for 10, and one Electric plus one Colorless for 30.  Two for 30 is impressive, especially on an evolving Basic, but it’s here that we meet our first instance of recoil damage- a 50% chance of receiving 10 damage.  Given that it would take two turns to use this attack, Pikachu is probably already injured, especially if he went second.  Your best bet is to keep Pikachu out of the Active spot if you need him for more than a sacrifice.

036: Raichu

Right away, we see that Raichu’s health has doubled since evolving, and that’s good.  However, his energy count starts at 3, and 4 is needed for his strongest attack.  On top of this is one recoil attack replacing the other, and this one is overall nastier than the other.

It’s the 3-Energy attack I want to call attention to, though, so let’s examine it a minute.  Agility only does 20 damage for one Electric and two Colorless, which doesn’t sound good until you read the effect.  If you win a coin flip, you get a free dodge.  Your opponent’s attack on your next turn can basically be nullified.  What makes this hilarious is that if your opponent is running Fire, they might lose out on Energy by attacking you.  The damage is less-than-impressive, but the faux-Paralysis is worth the cost.

His second attack, Thunder, is not as good effect-wise.  Three Lightining and one Colorless nets you 60 damage, with a 50% chance of dealing 30 damage to yourself.  The 60 is good- really good, actually.  That effect, however, really limits Raichu’s stopping power.  Save the attack for when it looks like Raichu’s about to faint- you might take your opponent with you, and there’s a chance that you’ll be allowed to keep your attacker.  However, this is still relying too much on luck to save the card.

037: Magnemite

Remember the one-trick pony in Squirtle and Wartortle?  Here, we’re giving you another one of those.

Magnemite is frail- exactly as frail as Pikachu, but it has a single saving grace in that its most useful attack only requires one Energy, and has a chance to paralyze rather than deal recoil.  That’s Thundershock- one Lighting deals 10 and a chance for paralysis.

Its second attack?  Selfdestruct, but you’re probably never going to use it.  It’s a pity, because Selfdestruct is actually a very interesting attack.  In addition to blowing itself up and dealing 40 to the enemy, it also deals spike damage to every Benched Pokémon, ensuring that whatever enters play does so crippled.  It costs one Lightning and one Colorless, so it should be easy to use in theory.  However, here’s where its HP and Weakness come back to bite it- Selfdestruct is a sacrifice move, and should only be used when there’s no other alternative.  However, it’s very easy to take Magnemite down from full to zero in a single attack, so the attack is unlikely to ever be used.

038: Magneton

Hey, look!  It’s Magnemite 2.0!

On the surface, not a lot has changed from Magnemite.  It now has 60 HP instead of 40, and its attacks have all increased in damage and Energy cost.  However, offsetting this is how much extra beef 20 HP gives it.  It’s harder to one-shot now (although it is still very much within the realm of possibility,) so that makes Selfdestruct much more viable.  In addition, the extra damage output from Magnemite (30 on Thunder Wave versus 10, and 80-spike-20 on Selfdestruct instead of 40-spike-10) really does make a lot of difference.

039: Voltorb

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

A 40-HP basic with a single attack- one Colorless for 10.  Worthless by itself.

040: Electrode

I don’t know where to begin with this one.

Well, let’s start with the sure thing.  Three Lightning for 50 is great, even with a chance of 10 Recoil.  It’s kind of weird, given that its Basic form had no two-energy attack, but I’ll take it.  Its 80 HP allow for it to deal with most of the pains of recoil, so as an attacker, it’s unmatched among its Electric peers.

It’s the Power that I’m iffy about.

Buzzap allows Electrode to be sacrificed and converted into a Double Energy of any kind, which sounds really great until you realize that you’re handing a Prize card to your opponent when you do this.  On one hand, it’s really good for Energy burners like Ninetales or Charizard.  On the other…  It really has no place anywhere else.  No other scenario is going to be worth that Prize Card, not to mention the weirdness of Electrode of all things exploding and giving Energy…

And just hold on a minute here.  Electrode, the legendary detonator, doesn’t have a damaging Selfdestruct, nor does its Basic form?  And Magnemite does?  Who was putting these cards together?

041: Electabuzz

Let’s start out with the fact that this is a 70-HP Basic.  You will not one-shot Electabuzz on the first turn.

This alone would make it a great opener, but it just gets better from here.  One Lighting gives you a 10-damage attack with possible paralysis.  Great, but nothing we haven’t seen before.  On the other hand, an additional Colorless gives you 30 plus the possibility of 10 recoil…  if you don’t deal an extra 10 damage to your opponent.  30 for two is good, but the potential to deal 40 for two is, at this point in the review, unprecedented.

Electabuzz’s biggest achilles heel aside from the Fighting weakness is his retreat cost of two.  Other Electric-types from this set have, for the most part, had a retreat cost of one, meaning that getting them out of trouble without blowing them up could in fact be done.  Electabuzz, meanwhile, needs to sacrifice all of his offensive power to leave, something potentially very dangerous.  If Electabuzz looks like he’s out, probably best to go down swinging.

042: Zapdos

All rise for the disappointment of the yea- wait, that’s later?  Okay, then.  Disappointment of the week.

90 HP on a Basic is incredible.  No argument there.  And Zapdos’s damage output is unmatched, except by Charizard at this point.  But Zapdos has two massive problems that stop it from getting anywhere.  First is the Energy requirement for it: always four, and three are guaranteed to be Lightning.  THe second is the attack drawbacks.  The first attack is Raichu’s Thunder, verbatim: 60 damage for three Lightning and a Colorless, and a chance for 30 recoil.  And this is the less-risky attack.

Without a doubt, Zapdos’s Thunderbolt is the worst attack in the set.  Four Lightning Energy- that is, non-substitutable Energy- go into this 100-damage attack.  And then you discard all of them.

The thing is, I can see that this attack is supposed to be like Fire Spin,  And it fails to reach its Fire counterpart’s menace for a number of reasons.  First is the lack of an Energy Burn counterpart, so it is forced to use one kind of Energy with no substitutions.  Second is the fact that instead of discarding two Energy, you discard all of them.  That’s not me substituting four for all- the wording on the card says “all Energy attached to Zapdos.”  So yes.  You can lose more than four to this attack. ANd speaking of four, that’s how many turns you’ll be required to sit and sponge damage before you can attack again.

And without Trainer support, sponging damage is what you’ll be doing.  Remember Electabuzz being a slow retreater because of its two requirement instead of one?  Zapdos does him one better, and has a retreat cost of 3.

Without building an entire deck around this thing, you are not- I repeat, not!- going to get your money’s worth out of Zapdos.  It’s either dead on arrival, or burns itself out.

***
With that all wrapped-up, next time, I’ll be looking at the Psychic-type… if my next entry is about the TCG.  Until then, Tom Pokénutter out.

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