One Of Pokemon's Best Gyms Is Also One Of Its Least Respected – TheGamer

Pokemon has a lot of overlooked gyms, but Gen 1 has the least respected of them all
I've been working my way through Pokemon Blue again this year, keeping track of my journey each month and trying to treat it like a tourist. You can catch up on my adventure here, if you're so inclined, but this week I reached Saffron City. It always felt like a city operating well within its own potential, getting a suitable glow-up in Let's Go but even then seeming like it had a little more juice left in the tank. Here's hoping Pokemon Scarlet & Violet finally take advantage of the fact that they can be so much more expansive with its world building and city design, but Saffron should not be overlooked. It's the home of one of Pokemon's most interesting stories.
Pokemon cities have one gym. That's the rule. Occasionally they have zero, and have some other central point of interest (a tradition that dates back to Kanto's own Lavender Town), but it feels like Pokemon's world is built around gyms because that's the aim of the game. Win the gym badge to progress. Sure, there's a villain team story running alongside it, but gyms are the 'point' of the game. Scarlet & Violet again has promised to shake things up, offering two fully fledged stories alongside the gym saga. Back where it all started though, Saffron shook up the one gym rule.
Related: Ash's Showdown With Cynthia Is About To Be The Biggest Battle In Pokemon History
Saffron has two gyms, which look identical from the outside, giving both an air of legitimacy. However, the Fighting Dojo is no longer recognised by the League having been defeated and taken over by the Psychic gym next door. This seems especially harsh when you consider that Fighting is weak to Psychic and, thanks to a bug, Gen 1 Psychics were weak to nothing. Any gym could feasibly do this, and it seems grossly against the spirit of things. Could Lt. Surge move to Cerulean and annihilate Misty? Could Koga decide life would be much better in Celadon and overthrow Erica? Could post-Surge Misty decide to take over Blaine's private island? Pokemon have weaknesses and strengths, that's a core mechanic. A bunch of snooty Psychics deciding they want to run the gym in the capital and pushing down anyone who tries to stop them feels against the ethos of what the Pokemon League is about – they deliberately picked a fight with the opponents weakest to them.
Pokemon remembers the Fighting Dojo as a bit of a joke. It's inescapably humiliating to have your gym status revoked because you were crushed by another trainer, regardless of any type shenanigans. But it's also a very cool form of protest. You can't legislate away a man's spirit. They hunker down in Saffron and stay there, a constant reminder of how the Indigo League has cheated them.
The gym itself is a solid challenge too, unless you cheat and load up your whole team with Psychics, of course. The set up is pretty barren, but as a result it feels like a gauntlet. It's battle after battle after battle, against some of the toughest (admittedly with notable weaknesses) Pokemon in the game. Once you win, you then get the choice between Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, two Pokemon who cannot be caught anywhere else in the game. For a series with the tagline 'gotta catch 'em all!', this is a far more valuable reward than a TM. Aside from the badges and the occasional permission to use HMs outside of battle, winning at a Pokemon gym is a little pointless. Not the Fighting Dojo though. The Fighting Dojo treats you with respect, even if that's not always reciprocated.
Next: Pokemon Crystal Had Long Distance Trading Years Before The Nintendo DS
Stacey Henley is the Editor-in-Chief at TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *