Part 1: My Horse Must Lose
The first thing after starting a new game is a prompt to play the game normally or play a weird variant difficulty mode that would demand even more dependence on grinding and RNG than normal.
Welcome to Uranium.
It has a bog standard Pokemon intro. This project began in 2007 or so I've been told, which would've put it shortly after Diamond and Pearl. It kept up with game mechanics until its release, so this has features like Mega Evolution and the Fairy type.
Don't look too closely at his hand. Or at the sprite in general. The spritework in Uranium is passable at best and
disconcerting at worst.
Is the professor wearing jorts I swear I will fu-
Uranium is a fan production and uses fan terminology and unofficial definitions. It's suddenly jarring to have the characters in the game use slang.
Uranium has 3 options for the player character's appearance. The male on the left, the female on the right, and an androgynous, gender-neutral option in the middle. This is a nice touch, giving players a variety besides all dude or all lady.
The problem is the bad spritework continues here, and the other two options look really... off.
So I go with the male PC, because I am a misogynist and because it's the least-awful sprite. The name was provided by resident person Inthesto. The PC name has 12 slots. Great! If only Pokemon did too!
I need a foreshadowing filter.
As is standard for Pokemon games, it begins with exposition over a black screen.
Wait, no, that's not how any of them go.
Also it has what Uranium wants you to think is ominous and somber music.
It's a remix of the Dark Cave theme from Pokemon Gold & Silver. Uranium has a lot of remixes in its OST.
One of the few times I can give a Bulbapedia link for a character. This game is Pokemon Ranger fanfic on some level.
Also this makes the Uranium protagonist one of the few to have a known father.
Most characters are original for Uranium though.
Uranium uses "their" and such for the protagonist's pronouns. It may be accommodating having a gender-neutral option, or it may be not wanting to program three separate versions of lines. I'm not sure how much of each it is.
Also this makes the Uranium protagonist one of the few to have a named mother.
Oh great, what we needed, a tragic backstory.
You know what that means.
PANIC! MELTDOWN! DEVASTATION!
Everyone but mom evacuates.
This makes the Uranium protagonist one of the few to have a tragically dead mother.
You know that cheerful boy you played as in the second Pokemon Ranger game? Now he's bitter and buries his grief in his work.
This makes the Uranium protagonist one of the few to have a defined auntie.
After tragic backstory, we get control. First thing I do is check the PC item storage to get a potion, like in Red & Blue.
This is the only time PC item storage is relevant as the player has infinite item capacity. I don't know why besides that it's a default part of the Pokemon Essentials script package.
Auntie is nice and supportive of us starting our Pokemon journey. Auntie is not a bad part of this game.
Auntie also gives the running shoes. Normally you'd have to hold a dedicated run button, but you can toggle always running on the menu. I of course always run.
Arbitrary Undertale references are a bad part of this game.
Arbitrary giant dog erotica is perhaps even worse!
34 of the 200 pokemon in the Tandor pokedex are from the official games. The rest are new. And furthermore, Uranium adds some new evolutions and mega evolutions to spice a few of them up.
On the way to the lab, we're stopped by someone shouting off screen!
It's our rival, Theo. He's young and brash and impulsive.
How young, exactly? Dunno. Don't know how old Dick Solomon is either. He's at least 10 to have lost his mother 10 years ago, but how much older is unclear.
Then again this is Pokemon, which started with a 10-year-old toppling criminal empires, so it's whatever.
Jorts, tiny shades that don't actually cover his eyes, forgetting Theo's name... Bamb'o (pronounced bam-boe) is kind of a douche, huh?
The ostensible reason we're getting a Pokemon and going on a journey is to be a research assistant for Bamb'o. This does not include wages, which I only mention because Uranium is very stingy with money.
Theoretically the guy studies types but in the end he just gives you stuff for catching a lot of shit.
Rather than letting me look at the three goobers and picking one, Uranium is different for Reasons (a recurring element). He insists the starters have totally different styles and we gotta pick one that gels with our style, and we have to do a short questionaire.
Notice how they're color-coded? They correspond with the grass, fire, and water starters.
So it's just roundabout for no reason.
I find it vaguely appropriate that button-mashing gets you the high-power low-durability starter.
I'm aiming for the water-type starter, so I answer the blue option. This is true for me, though the poke ball in question is usually a quick ball so it starts and ends with the throw.
Truthfully it's Protect but that's because I'm a fool for doubles.
Gyarados would totally dunk the others but I have to rep the sheep that Ampharos theoretically is and also pick blue answers to get the water starter.
I guess "exploring the region" is the technical term for showing the metaphorical cracks in the pavement.
For teaching my Ampharos hidden power or whatever I get the blue starter.
Why was this so convoluted? Was "hey grab a tiny animal" too pedestrian?
I don't remember who picked most of the nicknames I used. Hell, I probably won't even remember the ones I picked myself.
Theo gets the starter weak to ours. So if we picked green answers to get the grass pokemon, he'd end up with the Eletux. That this way it's the one that actually fits his personality is incidental.
Of course, now that we both have starters we have to fight. It's iron law.
Theo has his own battle music.
But one of the things with Uranium - or maybe RPG Maker XP or Pokemon Essentials in general - is that its music folder is completely out in the open. Just take a song you like, convert it to .ogg with a program like Audacity, take out the original song, then put in your .ogg and rename it to the song it's replacing. So instead of the default PU-TheoBattle.ogg you can have whatever tracks you can jam in.
So Pokemon is technically cockfighting on some level, and my Eletux is apparently a horse of some kind. So, clearly...
The Sounds of Animals Fighting - My Horse Must Lose
As you might be able to tell by its lightning bolt decal and name of Eletux, Zapmander is water/electric. Theo's Raptorch is fire/ground, and the third starter Orchynx is grass/steel. These secondary types don't form a second triangle like the X & Y starters' dark/psychic/fighting types do. Ground beats both Steel and Electric. But what it means in the here and now is Water Gun will strike for quadruple damage and obliterate the opponent.
One thing I have to give Uranium is that its radial-looking menus are pretty slick all things considered.
Reprising a thing from my last attempt to LP a Pokemon game, here's a new, updated, and more colorful move info card.
Water Gun is utterly unremarkable by most metrics but I appreciate starting with a water move.
Ember is on the level of Water Gun, besides that 10% burn chance popping up now and then (which it did in my test run amusingly enough). Zapmander tanks it handily.
Then dunks Raptorch instantly.
Theo starts crying because his first battle was a loss, and because his starter has the type disadvantage.
And he runs off crying.
Theo is one of the more realistically-written children in a video game, in that he's a selfish little shit. That's probably not a good thing.
Our next goal is to comfort the crying child who feels his dreams have been crushed and learn how to abduct chipmunks.
But before that, there's a town map in the lab, so let's check out the Tandor regio-
is that a place named anthell
Tandor is ostensibly based on Brazil, I'm guessing the state of Pará by its geography, but that's just a guess. It doesn't do much with its Brazil-ness.
Uranium's Pokemon info shows IVs and EVs directly. This is a fair bit more complicated than I want to get into on the first update, so all you need to know for now is that it's both extremely helpful and extremely ominous that we get to look beyond the veil from the start completely unambiguously.
Oh yeah, a few Uranium pokemon have animations. The starters front sprites do, for example. You can see Raptorch up there is in a few different frames. What about Zapmander?
Welcome to Uranium.