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.
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.
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.