The Right Way to Play Pokemon Crystal

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Pokemon Crystal is now on 3DS Virtual Console, with a special bonus: the game has been modified so that the Celebi event is now a part of normal gameplay! Not only that, the event can be accessed earlier than the original Japanese event would have allowed, so players can obtain one after beating the Elite Four!

This being the case, many players will make it their mission to breeze through the game as efficiently as possible in a mission to obtain Celebi. That’s where this guide comes in. This is a team building guide for Pokemon Crystal with the aim to choose the most proven and effective pokemon to get you through the game.

There are a few things I would like to point out about this guide. This guide is different from most teambuilding guides that you’ll find on the internet in several respects.

For one thing, this guide does not recommend for you a team of six battling pokemon, and there are a couple good reasons for this. First, most teambuilding guides out there don’t include dedicated HM users that can keep your team clean for you. The other reason is that leveling a team of six pokemon is cumbersome, and can take up a lot of time. Later in the game, the trainers that you see will not provide nearly enough experience to keep a full team of six decently leveled. All that experience spreads easier among only three or four pokemon, and it’s generally better to have a few stronger pokemon that can get the job done than a full team that can’t quite cut it.

Next, you’re going to want to get comfortable with boxing pokemon that are no longer pulling their weight. That’s especially true in this game, where there are several water types to choose from that can serve the team decently well, some for HMs.

What’s more, this guide assumes that you’re not exploiting glitches to get through the game fast. It’s also not a speed run guide, and the assumption is that you won’t be using external tools to get through the game. If you have a code-altering device and don’t care about playing fair, just hack yourself a Celebi and be done with it.

Okay, now for the pokemon. First up is your choice of starter:


Out of the starters, the best choice is Cyndaquil. This is something you should have seen coming. Cyndaquil is useful against the most major in-game opponents, such as Bugsy, Jasmine, Pryce, Koga, Karen, and so on. Fire is a great type to have in this game, but there aren’t many that are available early on, and of the ones available through most of the game, Cyndaquil is the best. Not only that, it’s evolved form Typhlosion can learn Thunderpunch to hit the Water types that usually give it trouble. Also, it’s a pokemon that’s also an explosion. It’s not just strong, Typhlosion wins on principle.

Why not Totodile? There are many, many superb Water pokemon to choose from in Crystal, and they are abundant. Totodile’s evolved form Feraligatr would simply be outclassed by many pokemon of the same type. And why not Chikorita? Because it’s a punching bag. It has too many weaknesses and too few useful offensive moves.


You’ll want to catch a Sentret. Sentret can learn Cut, but so can Cyndaquil. Sentret’s main selling point is that it can learn Surf, and it’s the earliest available pokemon (besides Totodile) that can learn it and is available in grass rather than on water. Sentret can be found on Route 29 during the morning or day. But if it’s night and you don’t want to wait, you can instead catch Poliwag on Routes 30 and 31 during the night. Poliwag doesn’t learn Cut, but can learn Surf. Whichever one you catch, it will be quickly replaced once you can catch a better pokemon that can use Surf.


Next, catch a Hoothoot. You can catch it on Route 29 at night. Don’t bother leveling it up, its purpose on your team is to later learn Fly and Flash. It also helps to have a different pokemon to switch into to end status effects in battles. This is helpful against Falkner, because he likes to lower accuracy.

After this, you’re only going to have a few pokemon on your team. You’ll be relying on Cyndaquil a lot, so don’t be afraid to level it up. You’ll also want to save your money for later on, so being higher leveled means relying less on items. The ones you find lying around usually suffice. Early on, saving up money is important, and I’ll get into why shortly.

With this single-battler approach, the most troublesome opponent you’ll face along the way is your rival, who will have a level 16 Croconaw with Water Gun when you encounter him at the entrance to Ilex Forest. If you’re leveled sufficiently, you should be able to overcome it.


It’s Casey! Most of you likely saw this coming. Abra is just too good to pass up. You can obtain one from the Game Corner, but it’s only level 5 in Crystal, so you may as well try getting a level 10 one from Route 34. Abra teleports at first chance, so your best bet is to try catching it as soon as it appears.

Abra is the reason you’ve been saving your money up. In the Goldenrod Dept. Store, you can buy the TMs for Thunderpunch, Fire Punch, and Ice Punch for 3000 yen each. You’ll want to teach your Abra all three. Once it evolves to Kadabra at level 16, it will learn a Special attack to match it’s type, and will have phenomenal Speed and Sp.Atk stats! With it’s awesome selection of moves and great stats for using them, you might find yourself relying on Kadabra a little too much!

And it gets better: Kadabra can evolve into the unnecessarily-strong Alakazam by trading! If you have the option to do this, the rest of the game might not be much of a challenge. But that’s the idea; you’re trying to win.


The next pokemon you’ll want to catch is another Abra on Route 34. This Abra won’t be for battling, but trading to a guy at Goldenrod Dept. Store for a…


Machop. This Machop serves just one purpose on your team: to take on Goldenrod Gym. It can just about solo it, depending on its level. It can level up fast due to being a traded pokemon, which also helps. You might have a better time of Goldenrod Gym if you level Machop a bit first, but that’s only a minor inconvenience.

Whitney herself takes a bit of strategy. One approach that works for me is sending Quilava (Cyndaquil) against Miltank first, then have it use Smokescreen as long as it can get away with it, or until it has lowered its accuracy as far as it can go. Miltank’s Rollout might seem like a problem, but it starts weak and gains in strength with successive hits. But if its accuracy is lowered, it’s really hard for it to get those successive hits in. After that, Machop shouldn’t have much trouble cleaning up.

After Whitney is beat, you can just box Machop. It’s served its main purpose for this team. However, if you want to keep it in your team, that’s not a bad choice. It evolves into Machoke at level 28, and performs decently well against Jasmine and Pryce, and if you have a friend to trade with, you can get a superstrong Machamp. It’s your call.


Gyarados is basically a glorified HM slave as far as this team goes, but it can hold it’s own until you get Suicune if you choose to use it in battle. After beating Morty, your pokemon can use Surf out of battle, so use that to get to the shiny Gyarados in the middle of the Lake of Rage. It’s a one-off encounter, so be sure to save the game beforehand just in case you mess it up. Once you catch it, your Poliwag can be boxed if you caught one, as its purpose was to get you to Gyarados. Sentret can remain if you didn’t teach your Cyndaquil Cut.

Gyarados can learn Surf, Strength, Whirlpool and Waterfall, so it can grant you some serious mobility. Not only that, its stats are great, so using it as a battling pokemon isn’t a bad idea. Thrash is a recommended move if you choose to have it battle. Just know that there are no Water physical moves in Gen II, and Gyarados gets no offensive Flying moves, so much of its Attack potential goes to waste.


The phenom. Suicune has excellent stats all around, you can teach it Surf, and it’s only one level away from learning an Ice type move once captured. And it has a majestic appearance on top of all that.

At this point, your team should look like:


Typhlosion (battler)
Kadabra (battler)
Suicune (battler)
Hoothoot (Flash, Fly)
Gyarados (Surf, Strength, Waterfall, Whirlpool)
Sentret (in case you’d rather not teach Typhlosion Cut)

With that, you should be set for the rest of the game. One thing I recommend is making sure that Kadabra and Suicune are leveled well, because strong Ice users will come in handy against Lance. It’s possible to solo him with Kadabra, but it would take either a high level or careful play.

But what about…

There are a few options that are left out, so I’ll go over them.


Lapras is an excellent Water type for your team. It can learn Surf, Ice Beam, and Thunder, and you can obtain it right after you get to use Surf. The catch is, you can only catch one on Fridays. You’re not likely to be playing through the game pretty quickly if you’re waiting for a certain day of the week to catch a certain pokemon. Therefore, you’re likely much better off not concerning yourself with getting a Lapras for your playthrough.


Dratini is available too late in the game at too low a level, and even once fully-evolved, there are still better choices against your late-game opponents. The Extremespeed Dratini gift in Blackthorn City is more of a trophy pokemon than one that you’d use in a serious playthrough.


You might think that that Unown there is a joke, but you’d be surprised how many people get distracted during what is supposed to be a focused playthrough. You’re trying to get through Crystal quickly, getting distracted by ridiculous side-quests isn’t helping. Especially that Ruins of Alph side-quest. If you can find all the different forms of Unown, so what?

So, for your playthrough of this 17-year-old game, what’s your prize? Here it is:


A Celebi! Once you beat the champion, go to the Goldenrod Pokemon Center, take a step up, and try to leave. Someone will give you the GS Ball. Take it to Kurt. After that, you’ll have to wait a day for the event to continue, but then you can visit Kurt again, and he’ll give the ball back to you. Take it to the shrine in Ilex Forest to make a Celebi appear there! It’s a good idea to save the game before interacting with the shrine, in case you mess up catching Celebi.

The Celebi is at level 30. Sadly, its level will be high enough that it will have replaced its more competitively viable moves with different moves on its learnset, and there is no move relearner in Gen II. However, you can transfer it up to a Gen 7 game, and have it learn its moves in those games.

Also, you have the opportunity to get a shiny Celebi this way, though the odds of any encounter with one being shiny is 1 in 8192. Have fun soft-resetting, shiny hunters.


1 thought on “The Right Way to Play Pokemon Crystal

  1. Pingback: The Right Way to Play Pokemon Emerald | Magnetricity

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