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The Very Mopey Pokemon

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“I’m sorry to disappoint you…”

You’re sorry? YOU’RE sorry? Lady, you don’t know the half of it.

Blackthorn City lies in the northeast corner of Johto and is home to Clair, the Dragon-type trainer that, once defeated, gives you your Rising Badge. The Rising Badge is the last badge obtained in Pokemon SoulSilver and obtaining means you are finally on your way to taking on the Elite Four. Blackthorn City is also home to a move tutor and a move deleter, individuals that will allow you to either delete moves taught to your Pokemon or relearn moves you chose not to learn as the Pokemon was leveling up. The city also is home to two move tutors, one of which is a little old lady who will teach your Dragon type Pokemon the Draco Meteor move. Draco Meteor calls forth a barrage of meteors, damaging your opponent but also lowering your Special Atk stat in the process. It’s kind of a last resort move, due to the special attack hit, but the damage you deal out can be worth it, in the right situation.

Dragon type Pokemon are one of only two types that are weak to themselves, the other being Ghost. What this means is that if you bring a Dragon type into a battle with other Dragon types, against a Dragon type gym leader for example, your moves are going to be extra effective however you’ll also be on the receiving end of the same moves and have the same weaknesses. Knowing this, I figured that every little bit could help, hence my visit to the move tutor to have my Dratini learn Draco Meteor. This is where the problems started.

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Pokemon introduced the concept of happiness back in Pokemon Yellow, with the initial introduction being limited to Pikachu and Pikachu’s happiness only determining whether or not a character gave away a certain Pokemon. Since then the concept has expanded to affect all Pokemon in the game and now affects a number of things including the ability to obtain TM’s and HM’s, how certain Pokemon evolve and the ability to learn certain moves from certain old ladies in Blackthorn City. If your Pokemon isn’t happy enough, sometimes described in the game as “not trusting you enough” it won’t learn the move. Which brings me to my problem.

Dratini just wasn’t happy.

Well, I don’t want to say he wasn’t happy, he just wasn’t happy enough. There’s no sense of “unhappiness” in Pokemon, there’s simply a lack of happiness. Happiness runs on a scale from 0 to 255. Certain things like leveling up, taking vitamins and getting groomed raise happiness. Being kept in the PC box, fainting during battle, taking medicine, these things all lower happiness. There’s no way to know exactly how happy your Pokemon is, however in SoulSilver you can have your lead Pokemon walk behind you, similar to how Pikachu did in Pokemon Yellow, and speaking to your Pokemon will elicit a phrase which can give you an idea of how happy they are. It’s an interesting system, and certainly not unique to Pokemon however when you have a Pokemon that isn’t happy, it can be very, very frustrating.

Dratini had been in my party for quite some time at this point. He was a good fighter and he knew Surf which meant he was my go to Pokemon for traversing water. Plus, his Dragon Rage move did a guaranteed 40 points of damage, which is superb when dealing with lower level foes. So based on the conditions for unhappiness, Dratini should have been one pretty stoked dude, but he just wasn’t stoked enough.

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Knowing this, I set out on a campaign to make Dratini the happiest Pokemon on earth. First, I gave him a soothe bell which makes him happier with every step. Then I gave him some rare candy so that he’d instantly level up (he was a little underleveled for Clair any way, so it wasn’t wasted) and then I gave him some vitamins to raise his stats. Perfect! Back to the tutor we went and once again she told me that she’s sorry to disappoint me, but Dratini just didn’t trust me enough.


So back out we went, walking, fighting, leveling up. We went to Goldenrod City and I got Dratini’s hair cut by the barbers in the tunnel even though Dratini doesn’t have hair. This ought to do it, I thought, so back to Blackthorn we went.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you…”


Back out we went, again. Walking, fighting, leveling. Back to Goldenrod City for yet another grooming appointment. Back to the store to buy more vitamins. More walking, more fighting, more leveling. I spoke to Dratini and he seemed positively thrilled. Aces. Back to Blackthorn City.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you…”

What the fuck, Dratini?! I mean, dude what the hell is your problem? I’ve taken you to get your nonexistent hair cut twice, stuffed you full of vitamins, knocked out half of Johto’s Pokemon population and you’re still not happy? What is your damage?

That’s what I wanted to say but I’m not sure if yelling at your Pokemon makes them unhappy so instead I kept it all inside and took him back out for walking, fighting, leveling and generally catering to his every pissy need. At this point, I really could give a fuck about Dratini’s happiness and wanted nothing more but to stuff him back in the PC box where he could rot with my level 3 Magikarp but I was determined to learn this move.

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So back to Blackthorn we want and miracle of miracles, he was finally happy enough to learn the move. Buoyed by my acquisition I marched into the Blackthorn Gym, challenged Clair and promptly proceeded to kick her ass with a collection of Ice type Pokemon and Ice type moves. I tried using Dratini’s new move but it ended up being too much of a hit to his Special Atk stat so it sat unused for most of the fight, as did Dratini himself.

So in the end, the Pokemon that I had bended over backwards to make happy ultimately ended up doing nothing but disappoint me. There’s an analogy for parenting if ever I’ve heard one.


Brandon loves games, which shouldn't be a surprise given where you're reading this. He has written for GameShark, The Escapist and G4, and made them all less relevant as a result.

2 thoughts to “The Very Mopey Pokemon”

  1. I always enjoyed going to the haircut brothers and telling them to cut my Pokemon’s nonexistent hair. Somehow it just amused me to imagine the barber waving scissors over the Pokemon’s head, claiming that, yes, he was cutting the hair, but only the pure of heart could actually see it. The Emperor’s New Haircut, or something.

  2. And possibly one in cosmetology. I would find a way to capitalize on fake haircuts. Rich and bald(and possibly finding yourself not as useful in bed as you used to be) come on in!

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