Revisiting Kanto – Pokemon’s Power Plant Gave Me An Existential Crisis

Our time as Pokemon adventurers together is coming to an end. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, you've obviously missed the last few months when I've been revisiting Kanto (title makes sense now, right?) to play Pokemon Blue with fresh eyes, trying to see it through a tourist's eyes rather than a trainer. If you've been with me all this way, thanks for joining me and yes, I miss Vermilion too. Made us all feel good, that one, didn't it? Anyway, newcomers can check out the journey so far here, and the rest of you may remember that last week we left the Seafoam Island and headed for the red hot shores of Cinnabar.

Today I'm gonna be a maverick. A rule breaker. An innovator. A logic eliminator. I'm a rebel without a Caterpie baby. Even though I've only just arrived in Cinnabar, no sooner do I haul myself out of the water and heal up my Pokemon, I'm off again. Last week I felt like a kid again when I caught the majestic Articuno, and since children have no concept of delayed gratification and love to gorge on enjoyment, I continue to channel my inner child and Fly to Lavender Town before Surfing down Route 10 to reach the Power Plant. There's not really a sensible way to reach this as part of a trip through Kanto, as both times when you cross through Lavender you'll be without Surf, so this messy little loop back the instant we touch down in Cinnabar is what we're getting.

Looking at Kanto from a tourist's perspective is decidedly difficult to figure out a head canon for when you're breaking into a power plant, but that only raises the question 'why does this power plant need to be broken into?'. I get that it's a dangerous place and therefore can't just be out in the open like, say, a cave full of dangerous monsters, but why is it so protected? Sure, it's abandoned, but then did they destroy the path to it when they closed it down? Or did the workers always swim down to it? Or tiptoe on the edge of the bank every day when they clocked out? Answers in my DMs, except please don't, it's a hypothetical question and I don't really care that much.

As for the Power Plant itself, it feels a little cold and sterile. I noticed there was a clear personality to Silph Co., the Celadon Rocket hideout, Silence Bridge, and the various caves of Kanto, but the Power Plant lacks any real identity whatsoever. I get that it's a Power Plant, but other, equally boring places have come to life. It gets a few points for the element of surprise that comes from interacting with items and having them be Voltorbs or Electrodes, but mostly the Power Plant is just a power plant. I guess that's on me for expecting anything better. There are bundles of rocks everywhere, which I think are supposed to be rubble, but the lines of the walls are clean and thick, meaning it lacks any sense of identity.

The worst part is that at the end of all this is Zapdos, not only the best Kanto Legendary bird, but one of the best Legendaries ever. Instead of a glorious nest suiting its stature, it's just in the back of an old power plant. Thematically, I can see how that fits, but in practice it doesn't land. Perhaps that's why catching Zapdos doesn't leave me with the same buzz as Articuno. It feels more like I'm checking an area off my list so I can write about it at work, which this column has never felt like so far. It's like the sand in the hourglass dripping out. I remained in a state of childlike wonder for too long, and now I have been cruelly ripped back to the reality of adulthood where your work goes unappreciated and your life unnoticed in the grand scheme of the universe.

Even my sacred tradition with Zapdos didn't help things. In fact, I think it might have made things worse. I always use my Master Ball on Zapdos, dating back to my very first playthrough in 1998 when I wasn't really sure how any of this worked. I've kept that tradition up because I feel Zapdos deserves it. Plus, it feels too basic to use your Master Ball on Mewtwo, and you're trying too hard if you use it on a Magikarp – especially if you then tell everyone about it. But it made capturing Zapdos all the more perfunctory. I leave the Power Plant victorious, but defeated.

Next week I'll be back on the trail when I return once more to Cinnabar Island, where hopefully life will be worth living again. If not, at least I'll get to catch a Ponyta. See you then, gamers!

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