14
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This puzzle was meant to be for Fortnightly Challenge #35: Restricted Title #1, but due to various reasons I only got around to starting it recently. Constructed with apologies to my friend Atrus.


Pro tip: You can very effectively transform any normal cryptic into a mind reading exercise by withholding half of each clue.

Crossword grid

Clues

Across
1 Old relative with rubbish (8)
7 Type of jet lacking wings and lead-free coolant (7)
8 Elton John forgetting couple at rear in confusion (7)
9 Vacant dojo next to unusual blue ad (8)
10 Rose-tinted glasses wearer missing two times around middle of turn (8)
11 Eliminate source of light in dark (5)
13 Voiced character in Lord of the Rings (5)
15 In solitude, I noshed (5)
18 Enigma cracker not first to get around cryptosystem (8)
19 Spidey's co-creator contracted around time before end of year (8)
22 Titanic theme's singer embraces street music genre (7)
23 Essential journal brought back (7)
24 Peter Pan character trimmed diamond pattern, cut third from end (8)

Down
1 Expand falsehood incorporating vacuous truth (9)
2 Insect-induced infection not initially consuming immune system cell (7)
3 Marijuana smoking tool seen around Weasley and Zabini at first (8)
4 Egyptian city with no right to imprison yours truly (5)
5 Trouble surrounding mother interrupting both sides (7)
6 eSport's leader going last following losses (5)
9 Eagle perhaps headed north, going around large ancient city (7)
12 Hair around 12 grams looking back, not 500 (9)
14 Extremely useless chap's inside splitting molecule carrying genetic information (8)
16 One oddly nice in Zilch (7)
17 Nutmeg ultimately playing outranking suit, separately eliminating ten on both sides (7)
20 Finished scrubbing underground (5)
21 East's concealed mahjong quadruplet (5)

Across TEXT (for use with Across Lite)

<ACROSS PUZZLE V2>
<TITLE>
Making Things Difficult
<AUTHOR>
Sp3000
<COPYRIGHT>
2018
<SIZE>
15x15
<GRID>
.XXXXXXXX..X.X.
.X.X.X..XXXXXXX
XXXXXXX.X..X.X.
.X.X.X..X..X.X.
.X.X.X.XXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXX...X...
.X.X.X.X..XXXXX
.X...XXXXX...X.
XXXXX..X.X.X.X.
...X...XXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXX.X.X.X.
.X.X..X..X.X.X.
.X.X..X.XXXXXXX
XXXXXXX..X.X.X.
.X.X..XXXXXXXX.
<ACROSS>
Old relative with rubbish (8)
Type of jet lacking wings and lead-free coolant (7)
Elton John forgetting couple at rear in confusion (7)
Vacant dojo next to unusual blue ad (8)
Rose-tinted glasses wearer missing two times around middle of turn (8)
Eliminate source of light in dark (5)
Voiced character in Lord of the Rings (5)
In solitude, I noshed (5)
Enigma cracker not first to get around cryptosystem (8)
Spidey's co-creator contracted around time before end of year (8)
Titanic theme's singer embraces street music genre (7)
Essential journal brought back (7)
Peter Pan character trimmed diamond pattern, cut third from end (8)
<DOWN>
Expand falsehood incorporating vacuous truth (9)
Insect-induced infection not initially consuming immune system cell (7)
Marijuana smoking tool seen around Weasley and Zabini at first (8)
Egyptian city with no right to imprison yours truly (5)
Trouble surrounding mother interrupting both sides (7)
eSport's leader going last following losses (5)
Eagle perhaps headed north, going around large ancient city (7)
Hair around 12 grams looking back, not 500 (9)
Extremely useless chap's inside splitting molecule carrying genetic information (8)
One oddly nice in Zilch (7)
Nutmeg ultimately playing outranking suit, separately eliminating ten on both sides (7)
Finished scrubbing underground (5)
East's concealed mahjong quadruplet (5)
<NOTEPAD>
Pro tip: You can very effectively transform any normal cryptic into a mind reading exercise by withholding half of each clue.
$\endgroup$
12
$\begingroup$

As solvers can tell from the tag, this is not an ordinary cryptic crossword.

As suggested by the "Pro tip", each cryptic clue is missing an important half, specifically the definition; the clues given are wordplay only.

A little more detail into what's going on:

Some suggestive phrases include "very effective", "transform", "normal", "mind reading"=psychic. These all help suggest to the real theme of Pokemon.
Every clue is wordplay leading to a single Pokemon to be entered in the grid.

The complete grid: (click on image for larger size)

enter image description here

Across:

.1. Old relative with rubbish (8)

GRANBULL; "old relative" = GRAN + "rubbish" = BULL

.7. Type of jet lacking wings and lead-free coolant (7)

UMBREON; "Type of jet lacking wings" = (-j)UMB(-o) and "lead-free coolant" = (-f)REON

.8. Elton John forgetting couple at rear in confusion (7)

JOLTEON; "forgetting couple at rear" = remove last two letters of ELTON JO(-hn), then "in confusion" = anagram

.9. Vacant dojo next to unusual blue ad (8)

DOUBLADE; "vacant dojo" = D_O + (BLUE AD)* anagram

.10. Rose-tinted glasses wearer missing two times around middle of turn (8)

SIMIPOUR; "Rose-tinted glasses wearer missing two times" = OP(-t)IMIS(-t) "around" = reversed, and "middle of turn" = _UR_

.11. Eliminate source of light in dark (5)

GOOMY; "in dark" = G(l)OOMY, minus "source of light" = L(ight)

.13. Voiced character in Lord of the Rings (5)

GOLEM; "voiced" = homophone of "character in Lord of the Rings" = GOLLUM

.15. In solitude, I noshed (5)

DEINO; hidden in "solituDE I NOshed"

.18. Enigma cracker not first to get around cryptosystem (8)

URSARING; "Engima cracker not first" = (-t)URING containing "cryptosystem" = RSA

.19. Spidey's co-creator contracted around time before end of year (8)

STANTLER; "Spidey's co-creator contracted" = STAN LE(-e) containing "time" = T, then "end of year" = R

.22. Titanic theme's singer embraces street music genre (7)

DRAPION; "Titanic theme's singer" = DION containing "street music genre" = RAP

.23. Essential journal brought back (7)

GOLDEEN; ("Essential" = NEED and "journal" = LOG) "brought back" = reversed

.24. Peter Pan character trimmed diamond pattern, cut third from end (8)

SMEARGLE; "Peter Pan character trimmed" = SME(-e) + "diamond pattern, cut third from end" = ARG(-y)LE

Down:

.1. Expand falsehood incorporating vacuous truth (9)

GROWLITHE; "Expand" = GROW + "falsehood" = LIE containing "vacuous truth" = T_H

.2. Insect-induced infection not initially consuming immune system cell (7)

ALTARIA; "Insect-induded infection not initially" = (-m)ALARIA containing "immune system cell" = T(-cell)

.3. Marijuana smoking tool seen around Weasley and Zabini at first (8)

BRONZONG; "Marijuana smoking tool" = BONG containing ("Weasley" = RON and "Zabini at first" = Z_)

.4. Egyptian city with no right to imprison yours truly (5)

LUXIO; "Egyptian city with no right" = LUXO(-r) containing "yours truly" = I

.5. Trouble surrounding mother interrupting both sides (7)

ARMALDO; "Trouble" = ADO containing ("mother" = MA contained in "both sides" = R(ight) L(eft))

.6. eSport's leader going last following losses (5)

LOTAD; "eSport" = DOTA "leader going last" move first letter to last to get OTAD, after "losses" = L

.9. Eagle perhaps headed north, going around large ancient city (7)

DRILBUR; ("Eagle perhaps headed north" = BIRD reversed to DRIB containing "large" = L) and "ancient city" = UR

.12. Hair around 12 grams looking back, not 500 (9)

MAGNEZONE; "Hair" = MANE containing ("12 grams" = dOZEN G "looking back" reversed "not 500" minus d)

.14. Extremely useless chap's inside splitting molecule carrying genetic information (8)

MUSHARNA; "Extremely useless" = U_S and "chap's inside" = HA contained in "molecule carrying genetic information" = MRNA

.16. One oddly nice in Zilch (7)

NINCADA; "One" = I and "oddly nice" = N_C_ contained in "Zilch" = NADA

.17. Nutmeg ultimately playing outranking suit, separately eliminating ten on both sides (7)

GRUMPIG; "Nutmeg ultimately" = _G + ("playing outranking suit" = (t)RUMPI(n)G minus "ten on both sides" = t_n

.20. Finished scrubbing underground (5)

THROH; "Finished" = THROugH minus "underground" = ug

.21. East's concealed mahjong quadruplet (5)

EKANS; "East's" = E'S containing "mahjong quadruplet" = KAN

There is one more secret to be found: the final answer.

The National Pokedex has a canonical ordering of (almost) all Pokemon. Ordering all the clues/entries in this manner gives:

 023  EKANS      East's...
 058  GROWLITHE  Expand...
 076  GOLEM      Voiced...
 118  GOLDEEN    Essential...
 135  JOLTEON    Elton...
 197  UMBREON    Type...
 210  GRANBULL   Old...
 217  URSARING   Enigma...
 234  STANTLER   Spidey's...
 235  SMEARGLE   Peter...
 270  LOTAD      eSport's...
 290  NINCADA    One...
 326  GRUMPIG    Nutmeg...
 334  ALTARIA    Insect-induced...
 348  ARMALDO    Trouble...
 404  LUXIO      Egyptian...
 437  BRONZONG   Marijuana...
 452  DRAPION    Titanic...
 462  MAGNEZONE  Hair...
 516  SIMIPOUR   Rose-tinted...
 518  MUSHARNA   Extremely...
 529  DRILBUR    Eagle...
 538  THROH      Finished...
 633  DEINO      In...
 680  DOUBLADE   Vacant...
 704  GOOMY      Eliminate...
The first letters of the first words of the clues in order spell "EEVEETOESPEONITEMTHREEFIVE" or "Eevee to Espeon item (3 5)". Edit: This connects back to the 'pro tip' again; this evolution "transform[s]" the "normal"-type Eevee into the "mind-reading"=Psychic-type Espeon.
In most of the main games, Eevee evolves into Espeon by achieving a certain happiness level in the early morning. However, in the Gamecube game Pokemon XD, the time mechanic doesn't exist; instead, there are key items used to evolve Eevee into the otherwise unattainable Espeon and Umbreon.
To evolve Eevee into Espeon, we need our final answer: the SUN SHARD.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I particularly like "lead-free coolant" $\endgroup$ – Chris Cudmore Jul 18 '18 at 18:46

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