OCD*, Pokémon Home and a Race Against Time

Despite Pokémon Home's rough launch and mixed feature set, the launch of the app for mobile and game(?) for the Nintendo Switch now means we can view the fruits of our decades of monster collecting with the greates of ease and abandon. As soon as was feasible, launch week bugs be damned (don't save in Lumiose City), we shifted everything over to Home and basked in the glory of our work. It was complete. Or was it?

Nestled within the innocuous pokédex feature on Pokémon Home is a search filter for 'unregistered'. Out of curiosity we ran a few searches on pokémon, moves and abilities to see BLANK ENTRIES. On top of that, the mobile app has a series of challenges that award next to pointless stickers for your profile for completion. The challenges range from making specific 'theme' trades but also for registering pokémon from different games, from different regions and forms etc. To our further shock and horror. We didn't have them all(tm).

The Challenge
Determined to not pay for a Pokémon Bank subscription beyond what we had left on our sub plus the bonus 'month' for the release of the app. we had just under 30 days to mine the DS and 3DS games for everything we needed. The ensuing challenge forming some kind of unique meta-game gaming toeing the line between playing and frantically logging in and out of games, joylessly transferring bits of code from handheld to handheld, cart to cart and over the Internet. Here is the story of that challenge.

There are many Pokémon which have different forms or appearances for example, the humble meowth comes in three regional forms, the meowth we know and love from the Kanto region, the blue fat face from Alola and the weird viking thing from the Galar region. Additionally, there's a Gigantamax form, a giveaway in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. So in total there are five forms to register for meowth.  There's quite a few of the bastards and they can change with items, moves, on evolution or the specific game and locality that they were caught, evolved and hatched in. At the time of writing, there's 890 different species of Pokémon but a whopping 1250 different forms. We had a living pokédex (we owned one of every single species) but had been slightly remiss in making sure all the different forms were present and correct. After shifting over to Pokémon Home we had about 125 gaps. A hundred. and. twenty. five.

Now some of these were forms of Alcremie, the cream pokémon, which has 64 forms depending on how you 'decorate' it and the time of day you spin it around but there were other gaps and worryingly gaps from older games. This is when the fear started to creep in. Because we'd shifted everything over and it was now stuck in Home, getting forms from older games would just be a case of transferring them back or breeding them in game because THERE WAS NO WAY BACK and not all of the 890 species are currently transferable to Sword and Shield.

I'd resigned myself to the fact that I'd had to live with some blanks in the dex because there was no way of changing Hoopa into it's Unbound form or getting back the own tempo Rockruff that I'd evolved. Fortunately, after a bit of digging, and some help from Internet friends, I worked out that you didn't need to have those pokémon, merely connect a pokedex from Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Pokémon Omega Ruby, Pokémon X, Pokémon Y, Pokémon Sun, Pokémon Moon, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon that had the form registered to Pokémon Bank and then connect Pokémon Bank to Pokémon Home. Cue half an hour of extremely dull cartridge switching and voila!

This still left a few older game gaps of forms I'd never seen including several colours of Flabebe, Floette and Florges. Two colours of Minior. Partner Hat Pikachu, Two forms of the seasonally changing pokémon Sawsbuck and three sizes of Pumkaboo and Gourgeist.

The Missing 'Chu

Several boring hours in the flower fields on Pokémon Y later I had all the Flabebe, Floette and Florges colours I needed. I went back to Ultra Moon's Mount Hokulani to painstakingly hunt down those two Minior colours because you see you can't see the colour of the Minior whilst it is in Shield Up mode and they have a habit of self destructing unless you're prepared. Partner hat Pikachu had me stumped because I'd thought I'd meticulously got all seven different hats of this special event only Pikachu. Again, after some digging, I'd missed a QR code event, separate to the internet distributions of the six regional hats, originally distributed at film screenings for the seventh and final hatachu. FORTUNATELY, the QR code was still floating around online and thankfully hadn't expired. I won't lie reader I whooped. I whooped out load. One scan and a chat to a man surrounded by Pikachu later, I'd filled the blank. Sawsbuck, however, was another issue as they change form with the season and I was missing Summer and Spring forms. I jumped back to the DS's Pokémon Black to stock up on as many winter Sawsbuck as possible and then spent an evening with one eye on the GTS trading with others globally until I had the two I needed. Watching the live stock market in Sawsbuck on the GTS was fascinating as there was a glut of the northern and southern hemisphere winter and summer forms as each timezone came online with spring and autumn in short supply. Fortunately, Pumpkaboo and Gourgeist are in Sword and Shield so that's just some time I need to spend rounding up different sized pumpkin 'mon with super size being the rarest form.

Form hunting after some Alcremie spinning, Dex connecting and then down to the FINAL NINE.
Of the most trivial challenges in Pokémon Home are the ones for depositing pokémon caught in different pokéballs. Depending on the ball there's an award for depositing 5, 15 and 30 in each ball (1, 5 and 10 for the rare balls). Most of this triggered on initial transfer but I ended up with gaps for the higher number awards for fast ball, heavy ball, safari ball and sport ball? The first two were simple enough as you do get given a handful in Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield and more had been given away as mystery gifts (presumably anticipating this issue) and once used can then be proliferated through breeding. However, safari balls are only available from the safari zone in Pokémon Heart Gold, Pokémon Soul Silver, Pokémon Diamond Pokémon Pearl. Lastly, I had to look up Sports balls because I didn't even remember them. These are only used in the bug catching contests on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in Pokémon Soul Silver. What's worse is, you can't manipulate the time on the DS as all time sensitive events freeze for a period afterwards meaning I only had a few days to remember to catch the bug hunt. Much safari zoning and one Tuesday prize winning Nincada later it was the fiddly transfer of pokémon from game to bank later and much breeding that ticked these off (if you need a sport ball pokémon, I have a few Nincada spare).

Although I very much did set the arbitrary rules of this stupid challenge, I'm not really in control of what my mind will consider acceptable or not. Pokémon Home will let you see which moves and abilities you have registered but for unknown reasons the 65/707 missing moves doesn't bother me but the 12/258 abilities did. With a notebook and serebii.net open I worked out that I needed to find five specific pokémon from older games, the rest were findable in Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield and one, the ability Libero, is currently not available at all...

Through luck rather than judgement, these were the ones I'd not picked up!

They were in alphabetical order, galvanize, grass pelt, power of alchemy, protean and toxic boost. All of these are hidden abilities, meaning that they're not findable on pokémon during normal play but require some extra effort to get. Grass pelt is a hidden ability on Skiddo, the mount pokémon, ONLY available through Pokémon X/Y friend safari an all but defunct feature where connected friends in that generation would randomly generate a small park with 2-3 pokémon with their hidden ability. I checked my Friend Safari on the off chance I'd left the game with a Skiddo park and I hadn't. FORTUNATELY, whilst complaining about this to a pokémon pal, they did have one open so I hope to get one from them (phew). Power of alchemy required SOS battling grimer in Pokémon Ultra Sun with a Gardevoir with the Trace ability. Protean required Dexnaving around Route 118 on Pokémon Alpha Sapphire for a hidden ability Kecleon. The easiest way to get a toxic boost Zangoose was engaging in horde battles on Route 8 in Pokémon Y and KOing the Seviper before they take down the Zangoose sporting this ability. The last one to get is galvanize. A hidden ability only found on self-destructing geodudes in Pokémon Moon. Thanks to the Internet memory this has never been an easy task as it's impossible to stop them from self destructing whilst checking if they have the hidden ability. I've got 7 days left to try...

HOT OFF THE PRESS Three days of trying (not continuously you understand) and a few near misses, we got one!


So there we have it. What a ridiculous thing to volunteer myself to under taking but I will say that chasing these all-but-arbitrary challenges and achievements has resulted in something of a victory lap tour around the older games and the events and mechanics that each introduced. I've got no doubt that the Galar expansions will bring new pokémon and abilities to track down but IF I get that geodude it'll be a satisfying way to say goodbye to the handheld pokémon generations and to round off the hundreds of hours of ""fun"" these games have given me.

* yes, yes, not proper OCD, headline innit.


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