Pokemon

Can you complete Pokemon Red/Blue with just a Magikarp?

by Paul Cotton

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One trainer set themselves the rather arduous task of trying to complete Pokemon Red/Blue with just a Magikarp, but is it actually possible to pull it off? 

The attempt do so is quite the story in itself, with numerous ups, downs and shocks a long the way - including one vile reset. A lot of your initial reactions to this question would be, no, of course you can't, but our hero - Jrose11 - decided to try anyway.

Firstly, anyone who knows anything about the original Pokemon games know you have to start off with either Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle - of course this would kill the challenge there and then, so a compromise is needed. Instead of getting one of these, a gameshark cheat code can be used to make the game give you a Magikarp instead. For the purpose of this challenge that is the only way to even attempt it.

Pokemon Fandom
Pokemon Fandom
Magikarp is arguably the most useless Pokemon from the Kanto region...


Magikarp only has splash

As Pokemon trainers are only all too aware, Magikarp has one move and one move only - splash. Sometimes one move isn't a problem, but when it's splash - a move which deals zero damage - then things are already looking difficult.

So how can you possibly level up your Magikarp to level 15, when it finally learns tackle, without being able to deal damage? This is where the challenge gets tiresome. Once you use all of splash's PP (of which there are 40) Magikarp will use struggle. Struggle is the move all Pokemon use when they run out of PP across all their moves.

Unfortunately, while struggle does deal a bit of damage, there is also recoil damage to deal with. So now after spending the time to use splash 40 times, you can now attempt to gain some EXP to level up Magikarp.

Only battling Metapod or Kakuna

However, there is another problem, even after you use all the splash PP, as Magikarp is weak even wild Pokemon in Route 1 will beat it. Therefore, the only way to level up Magikarp is to battle Metapod or Kakuna in Viridian Forest. These Pokemon only know the move harden, so can't deal any damage, and while it might take a while to defeat them, these are the only Pokemon you can currently beat.

Jrose11
Jrose11
Get used to facing Metapod and Kakuna - you'll be doing a lot of it if you attempt this challenge...

The whole process takes more discipline and time than it sounds as well - you might think potions can help you but due to early in-game money constraints you can only buy 10. This means you're very limited and will have to keep going back and forth between Pokemon Centers, in addition to having use splash over and over, and fighting hardened Metapods and Kakunas. These potions are also needed for the eventual Brock encounter.

Beating Brock can take forever

After a while of defeating these bug-type Pokemon in Viridian Forest, you can move on to battling the trainers. These become easier when your Magikarp is a high enough level. However, Brock in the Pewter City gym awaits you, which due to his relatively powerful Geodude and Onix is going to be a really tough battle.

Due to Onix's screech move, which significantly reduces your defense, you need a lot of luck to win the battle - luck which Jrose11 got with his Magikarp at Level 19.

Jrose11
Jrose11
Battling and defeating Brock's Onix requires a lot of luck...

Craziest reset ever?

To get to this point in the game alone takes nearly six hours but Jrose11 did the unthinkable. After realizing his video recording software failed to capture the Brock battle, rather than carrying and omitting this particular part, he decided to restart the challenge in its entirety! This means to get to this point he spent a total of 11 hours!

From here the challenge gets a little bit easier with the exception of a few tricky trainer battles in Mt Moon and a couple of others before and in Rock Tunnel. The problems mainly arose with Oddish, whose absorb means you need a lot of luck to beat it. Nevertheless, Jrose11 did eventually make it to Lavender Town.

Challenge unravels in Lavender Town

This is where the challenge unravelled. Magikarp can only learn tackle which is a normal-type move and therefore can't deal damage to ghost-type Pokemon - a real problem when you have to ascend the Pokemon Tower. The same problem lies with struggle whereby that is also a normal-type move - a mechanic only present in the first generation of Pokemon games.

Jrose11
Jrose11
Ghost-type Pokemon's resistance to normal-type moves are what finishes the challenge...

A lot of you are probably asking, at this point can't you evolve Magikarp into Gyarados, well yes you can but the whole aim of the challenge is to complete the game with Magikarp, so this is ruled out.

As a result the challenge dies at this point, meaning, no - you cannot complete Pokemon Red and Blue with just a Magikarp - despite the commendable and valiant attempt.

Full credit to Jrose11 for trying though, and to reset the game after five and a half hours to make sure all the footage was there is more than respectable - fully committed to the cause.