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[July 12, 2019] Golden Days [Huntress Wizard]

Feature [July 12, 2019] Golden Days [Huntress Wizard]

I'm sure you've heard it all before. That magnum opus of a dramatic Nuzlocke story, where the hero triumphs over impossible circumstances and insurmountable challenges - gym leaders stacking the deck against them, an evil team hellbent on destruction, sometimes even their own rivals ready to take them down. All while their Pokémon die every time they faint. That's how it always seems to go, isn't it?

Well, not this time.

You know what? That does it. I dare you to box any Pokemon that faint over the summer!

Okay, then I dare you to not use healing items in any fights!

How is that even remotely fair!?

How is making me pretend it's the friggin' Stone Age fair!?

... Fine. It's a deal.
This time, I'm here to give you the story of two energetic teenagers having fun with Pokémon as they travel the region over summer vacation. I'm proud to present Golden Days, by Huntress Wizard.

Golden Days is a story-based screenshot run that sets itself apart early and often. The premise is that childhood friends Melody and Brio are setting out to take on the Pokémon League over summer vacation, as kids their age often do. They may not make it all the way, of course, but they'll have fun doing it. Melody is a huge battling fan, and has been itching to put her knowledge to practice since the first time she watched a replay on the battle channel. Brio, meanwhile, is much more timid and mild-mannered than his status as Silver analogue may imply, and comes along on the journey only at Melody's insistence.

Golden Days thrives on bucking the status quo of dynamics in Nuzlockes and in the Johto region in general, so it's no surprise, then, that the story's format does the same.

But I was just so excited that I caught Whiskey without even thinking about it! I don't remember why I named him that; I think I just thought it sounded cool.

He didn't seem all that bothered by me tripping over him. When I let him out of his Pokeball again, to make sure, he flew right up to my shoulder and chirped something in my ear. I gave him a pat on the head and told him I didn't understand, but that it was okay, because I was going to make sure nothing bad happened to him or any of the others.

He seemed alright with that. It's a bit difficult to tell with him. Maybe he's a bit older than Poppy and Zephyr, and better at hiding his feelings? In any case, I haven't had any trouble with him or anything. Not like with Surprise or Daisy.
Golden Days is told in a journal format, where Melody recites the events that have happened to her that day (or in the past few days, in the not infrequent days that she forgets to write her thoughts down). Huntress nailed this method of screenshot storytelling down to an art in a previous run, Nor Any Drop To Drink, and her polish with the medium shines through. She uses entries to signal events coming later in the section through references of the sort a child would make, or even by setting the tone with Melody's mood. Who are Surprise and Daisy? At this stage in the story, you won't know either, but you'll know you're going to find out.

These journal entries are occasionally interspersed with dialogue between characters... most typically between Melody and Brio. And if you thought this run stood out just for bucking trends, you'd be dead wrong.
Well, you met Scuttle, and you know about Wheezy and Hades. I also managed to find an Abra. His name's Hawkins.


Treasure Planet. Remember that weird space pirate movie we watched when we were, like, twelve? You had a crush on the main character for the entirety of sixth grade?

Oh! Yeah! That was so cool. Also, shut up.
Brio and Melody's interactions were probably what sold me on Golden Days, myself. There's a lot to love about this story, but seeing these two joking and acting like old friends, something really clicked with me. It's what makes you feel like yeah, this isn't a world where children have to rise up and foil a plot to take over the world, this is one where they can just have fun and be kids, with all the dumb kid things that entails. Nothing sold me on the world Huntress has made quite like seeing these two together did.

But it's not all sunshine and rainbows, you must be thinking. Team Rocket still exists, and they're such a big part of Johto. Did Huntress simply write them out of the run? Well, no, of course not. But I bet you're wondering what she did do. Well, wonder no more.

Further in the well, the grunt from outside was waiting. He started into this whole thing about how I wouldn't be able to stop Team Rocket from cutting off Slowpoke tails, then interrupted himself to ask where Kurt was. I told him about how he twisted his back, and he just sighed and shook his head, saying as soon as we were done battling he'd go out and see if Kurt needed any help.
If this bit didn't clue you in, Kurt's in on the act with Team Rocket this time. The whole thing is an event to spice up the summers of kids going on their League adventures, and Melody takes to the game like a fish takes to water. It's easy to see how much she enjoys stopping Rockets, letting her indulge in her fantasies and live out her dreams of being a top battler someday, despite her condition.

Oh, right, her condition. It's not all rosy in Melodyville, after all. Just like in our world, we all have our own share of worries and problems, issues we face, and that's true for Melody, too. They're just ones that hit a bit... closer to home.

One of Elm's aides gave me a few Potions, free of charge, wow! He said it's a courtesy from the lab, to help out starting trainers. He also said he packed me a few more than usual and then danced around the reason being that I can't understand my Pokemon's voices.

I don't get why adults are like that. Always "looking out" for me. Newsflash, I can do just fine on my own, and I have for fourteen years!!! I mean, I guess it's a little different now that I'm an actual trainer, but it's not like I haven't hung around Pokemon my whole life. My mom and pretty much everyone else in New Bark have Pokemon.

Ugh. Whatever.
Melody's problem may be unique to the world of Pokémon, but the way people treat her and the way she reacts to it are far from distant. The way people pity Melody or treat her as lesser will be all too familiar to those who find they stand out from the norm, not to mention legislation that feels necessary more to hold up old stigmas than to protect or serve - Melody never mentioned a capture limit in her bet, after all.

But don't let me put a damper on this story with all that - it certainly never holds Melody down for long. And ultimately, that's core to what this story is about - that light-hearted optimism and excitement we all felt the first time we got to sit down and get our very own Pokémon adventures, the same sort of adventures Melody lives out in Golden Days. It's a happy story that turns your expectations on their head without ever losing sight of that feeling unique to Nuzlockes.

And hey.
There might just be something strange going on in Johto after all.

So if you like what you see, give Golden Days a look. And if you have a run you'd like to see featured, you should send it the way of one of our Featurers! See you next time, y'all!
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