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I accidentally fought Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ Alpha Rapidash and survived to tell the tale

I lived bitch

A Pokémon trainer looking up at an alpha Rapidash Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company via Polygon
Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

I confess I’m shaky on Pokémon strategy and lore — I wanted the games growing up, but was never able to get them. So, as an adult, I wasn’t sure where to start, given just how many acclaimed titles exist for Nintendo Switch. But on the occasion of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, with an open world where wild (and also enormous) Pokémon roam, I decided it was time to fully commit. Things are going well.

My early hours gave me much to ponder. I had a lot of new friends, a sense that everyone hated my objectively cool T-shirt, and a very detailed chart of elemental matchups. However I had no idea who made for a good team, what attacks were worth investing in, nor did I understand how to swap Pokémon in and out of my team.

But I did know that throwing balls was fun, and that more Pokémon for the Pokédex is better. So, after completing the tutorial I decided to catch some of the cute beaver-guinea pig looking creatures, and no one — except for every NPC who needs to tell me random things — is going to get in my way.

Into the world I go. I am unstoppable. I’m going to catch some freakin’ Pokémon.

But that all changed when the fire horse attacked.

While minding my own business in the Horseshoe Plains (OK, technically not — I was catching Pokémon), an Alpha Rapidash spotted my humble team of six, ranging from level six to level nine. So I panic-threw Buizel. “He spits water, so maybe he’ll survive,” I thought. “This burning horse is going to murder me,” I also thought. Then again, maybe we’ll pull through. We’ve got a good thing going, my team and I — Cyndaquil, Starly, Buizel, and all three Bidoof. Maybe we’ve got this?

One passed-out Buizel, three passed out Bidoof, and one Heavy Poké Ball later, Rapidash was unexpectedly mine. My heartless sacrifices were worth it. I have never been a Horse Girl, but in that moment I became a Horse Woman.

Rapidash and I are best friends now. We are also mortal enemies. I unleash her all over Jubilife Village, where folks have professed to fear Pokémon; strangely, no one so much as flinches. She whinnies and scratches her hooves on the floor, taking a couple sharp inhales. She looks threatening — and she is truly large — but only I appear to care.

We venture out into the open planes. I throw her at trees, and I enjoy the fruits of her labor. She is the backbone of my team, a trusty rock-breaking steed, the horse to my horse owner. (I’m the horse owner.) As a thank you, I shove her back into her spherical cage. I took this beautiful horse, wild and free — several feet taller than me — and corralled her into a Heavy Poké Ball. Where she used to roam the plains, like Spirit in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, she now must stare down this level four Shinx. Because I say so.

An alpha Rapidash fighting a level four Shinx Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company via Polygon

Can she hurt me still? I do not know, but I still fear it.

I would go so far as to call her the workhorse of my team, but she refuses to comply in fights. She is obviously still the alpha.

An alpha Rapidash refusing to fight a level eight Drifloon Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company via Polygon

I will not swap her out. I will intimidate these smaller, lower level Pokémon. I even bought a matching outfit so we can stunt on our haters.

I somehow caught that Alpha Rapidash. And now all, including me, must cower.