When you begin a new game, you’ll be greeted by the Professor, who will prompt you to choose a gender and name for your character. You’ll also have a chance to name your friend/rival. After a brief introduction, you’ll start off in your house in sleepy Twinleaf Town, having a chat with your mother. Go outside and stop by your friend’s place – he’ll come crashing through the door, spouting some brilliant idea about the red Gyarados you just saw on the news. Once he joins up with you, head west and north with him until you reach the shore. You’ll see the professor and his protégé will be having a nice chat. After they leave, your buddy will notice that they forgot a suitcase in the bushes. As soon as you pick it up, you’ll be assaulted by wild Starlies!

Now’s your opportunity to pick your starter pokemon from the pokeballs left in the suitcase. Your choices are Turtwig, a grass-type; Chimchar, a fire-type; and Piplup, a water-type. All three are very good pokemon, so just pick the one that appeals to you the most. (For this guide, we went with Piplup). You’ll end up in a battle against Starly, but it’s a cakewalk – just use your standard attack a couple of times and you’ll be set.

Above: Here's where you begin your quest. Look at all that healthy grass. That'll give you high hopes

Exit this area to see a short scene with the Professor again. Return home and talk with your mother, who will advise you to go to Sandgem Town. She’ll also give you a pair of running shoes, which let you increase your molasses-like walking speed to a brisk dash with a press of the B button. You’ll now need to go back through Route 201, but this time, head east. You will probably encounter a few wild Pokemon, though they’re not much of a threat. Still, if your HP gets dangerously low, it’s best to run.

You’ll reach Sandgem and talk with the Professor’s protégé, who is actually the character you didn’t choose as your player earlier. After another run-in with your buddy, they’ll take you inside the lab for a chat with the boss. He’s a bit peeved that he’s now missing two prized pokemon, but he gets over it pretty fast – and bestows your current critter on you as a gift. Say YES when he prompts you later in the conversation to get your Pokedex. This Pokedex covers all the beasties native to the Sinnoh region.

After your meeting, the professor’s protégé will show you the town’s Pokemon Center and shop. Before you can head anywhere, you’ll need to stop back at home and talk with your mother again. She’ll give you the Journal. Your friend’s mother will then barge in looking for her son. Since she can’t find him, she’ll ask you to deliver a package for her. Looks like you’re stuck chasing after him again – but first, let’s catch us some pokes!