Jul 30 2010

The Urban Legend of Pokemon Black

Published by at 4:15 pm under Editorials,Video Games

pokemon-black2.jpg

Come hear a tale of evil and mystery within the Pokemon world. Where Pokemon and trainers alike are slaughtered, and their ghosts haunt the player as he makes his way through the countryside.

What you’re about to read is an urban legend about a highly modded Pokemon game someone once found at a flea market. The all black cartridge would have been a pretty big clue that something was amiss, but what was inside turned out to be even more terrifying.

Read on, if you dare:

ghost.gif

I’m what you could call a collector of bootleg Pokémon games. Pokémon Diamond & Jade, Chaos Black, etc. It’s amazing the frequency with which you can find them at pawnshops, Goodwill, flea markets, and such.

They’re generally fun; even if they are unplayable (which they often are), the mistranslations and poor quality make them unintentionally humorous.

I’ve been able to find most of the ones that I’ve played online, but there’s one that I haven’t seen any mention of. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.

Here’s a picture of the cartridge, in case anyone recognizes it. Unfortunately, when I moved two years ago, I lost the game, so I can’t provide you with screencaps. Sorry.

The game started with the familiar Nidorino and Gengar intro of Red and Blue version. However, the “press start” screen had been altered. Red was there, but the Pokémon did not cycle through. It also said “Black Version” under the Pokémon logo.

Upon selecting “New Game”, the game started the Professor Oak speech, and it quickly became evident that the game was essentially Pokémon Red Version.

After selecting your starter, if you looked at your Pokémon, you had in addition to Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle another Pokémon — “GHOST”.

The Pokémon was level 1. It had the sprite of the Ghosts that are encountered in Lavender Tower before obtaining the Sliph Scope. It had one attack — “Curse”. I know that there is a real move named curse, but the attack did not exist in Generation 1, so it appears it was hacked in.

Defending Pokémon were unable to attack Ghost — it would only say they were too scared to move. When the move “Curse” was used in battle, the screen would cut to black. The cry of the defending Pokémon would be heard, but it was distorted, played at a much lower pitch than normal. The battle screen would then reappear, and the defending Pokémon would be gone. If used in a battle against a trainer, when the Pokéballs representing their Pokemon would appear in the corner, they would have one fewer Pokéball.

The implication was that the Pokémon died.

What’s even stranger is that after defeating a trainer and seeing “Red received $200 for winning!”, the battle commands would appear again. If you selected “Run”, the battle would end as it normally does. You could also select Curse. If you did, upon returning to the overworld, the trainer’s sprite would be gone. After leaving and reentering the area, the spot [where] the trainer had been would be replaced with a tombstone like the ones at Lavender Tower.

The move “Curse” was not usable in all instances. It would fail against Ghost Pokémon. It would also fail if it was used against trainers that you would have to face again, such as your Rival or Giovanni. It was usable in your final battle against them, however.

I figured this was the gimmick of the game, allowing you to use the previously uncapturable Ghosts. And because Curse made the game so easy, I essentially used it throughout the whole adventure.

The game changed quite a bit after defeating the Elite Four. After viewing the Hall of Fame, which consisted of Ghost and a couple of very under leveled Pokémon, the screen cut to black. A box appeared with the words “Many years later…” It then cut to Lavender Tower. An old man was standing, looking at tombstones. You then realized this man was your character.

The man moved at only half of your normal walking speed. You no longer had any Pokémon with you, not even Ghost, who up to this point had been impossible to remove from your party through depositing in the PC. The overworld was entirely empty — there were no people at all. There were still the tombstones of the trainers that you used Curse on, however.

You could go pretty much anywhere in the overworld at this point, though your movement was limited by the fact that you had no Pokémon to use HMs. And regardless of where you went, the music of Lavender Town continued on an infinite loop. After wandering for a while, I found that if you go through Diglett’s Cave, one of the cuttable bushes that normally blocks the path on the other side is no longer there, allowing you to advance and return to Pallet Town.

Upon entering your house and going to the exact tile where you start the game, the screen would cut to black.

Then a sprite of a Caterpie appeared. It was the replaced by a Weedle, and then a Pidgey. I soon realized, as the Pokémon progressed from Rattata to Blastoise, that these were all of the Pokémon that I had used Curse on.

After the end of my Rival’s team, a Youngster appeared, and then a Bug Catcher. These were the trainers I had Cursed.

Throughout the sequence, the Lavender Town music was playing, but it was slowly decreasing in pitch. By the time your Rival appeared on screen, it was little more than a demonic rumble.

Another cut to black. A few moments later, the battle screen suddenly appeared — your trainer sprite was now that of an old man, the same one as the one who teaches you how to catch Pokémon in Viridian City.

Ghost appeared on the other side, along with the words “GHOST wants to fight!”.

You couldn’t use items, and you had no Pokémon. If you tried to run, you couldn’t escape. The only option was “FIGHT”.

Using fight would immediately cause you to use Struggle, which didn’t affect Ghost but did chip off a bit of your own HP. When it was Ghost’s turn to attack, it would simply say “…” Eventually, when your HP reached a critical point, Ghost would finally use Curse.

The screen cut to black a final time.

Regardless of the buttons you pressed, you were permanently stuck in this black screen. At this point, the only thing you could do was turn the Game Boy off. When you played again, “NEW GAME” was the only option — the game had erased the file.

I played through this hacked game many, many times, and every time the game ended with this sequence. Several times I didn’t use Ghost at all, though he was impossible to remove from the party. In these cases, it did not show any Pokémon or trainers and simply cut to the climactic “battle with Ghost.

I’m not sure what the motives were behind the creator of this hack. It wasn’t widely distributed, so it was presumably not for monetary gain. It was very well done for a bootleg.

It seems he was trying to convey a message; though it seems I am the sole receiver of this message. I’m not entirely sure what it was — the inevitability of death? The pointlessness of it? Perhaps he was simply trying to morbidly inject death and darkness into a children’s game. Regardless, this children’s game has made me think, and it has made me cry.

[Tiny Cartridge via PlayersPulse via probably 4chan]

Of course it’s fake, but still awesome.





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23 responses so far

  • MR

    I remember hearing of a pokemon black version when I was nine where it was rumored you could be a member of team rocket. I quit pokemon after gold. Some way some how, I noticed throughout my life I have been a gamer my whole life, and have been nimbly dodging all the addicting games before they became grind fests.

  • Josh

    interesting perspective on Pokemon Black, except, unlike life…you could reset and start over, but knowing the outcome, would you want to?

  • Freckles

    Wow. That’s kind of horrifying… o.o like Pokemon entered the Twilight Zone.

    If it was trying to make the game have more dire consequences, I’d say it succeeded. It’s always been a little disconcerting to me that you, the main character, have no other choice but to force these little animals/monsters to fight each other for your own entertainment and gain. In the newer versions, they even have made it so the Pokemon aren’t happy /unless/ they’re fighting other Pokemon. Which is, you know, not morbid at all.

    I’ll have to keep a look out for this game, though. If there are other copies, it’d be interesting to take screencaps from it and compare notes.

  • Oh boy

    Freckles, it’s fake.

  • Ben

    Man, this post has me combing the web looking for these bootlegs… The only ones I could find in non-download form, however, were Naranja and Chaos Black. Anyone know where one can buy tangible pokemon hacks?

  • Ben

    This was an awesome article, btw

  • Freckles

    @Oh boy:
    Well, yes, but fake things can still be morbid.

  • Mightyfaker

    If anyone knows about “The Game” they’ll enjoy this one on another level. You’ll read in the first few paragraphs that he publicly announces “I lost the game”. Everything else is just creativity.

  • Emily

    creepy…

  • Cat

    That’s really creepy. I still play Pokemon, but I know that there are glitches in the first three games- Yellow, Blue, and Red. It’s called Missingno. What ever you do, don’t catch it.

    • fettpett

      You can catch missingno….it just can mess up the game….or itll give you 999 of a single item…like nuggets and ultra balls..if you put them in the right slot

  • pigmandan

    so what, this game is fake? damn. i would play the shit out of it.

  • francisco

    are there any more myths like this one?
    i just found one, take a look, would like to know if there are any more:
    http://cubeupload.com/files/adf87a1283162881610.jpg

  • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi
  • Togepi

    Dude, you cannot say “it’s fake”. My family friend used to buy me games from China and they worked. He bought me heaps of games that had like 15 games in one. It had all these different games but you couldn’t save your progress in any of them. I have Pokemon Jade and Diamond in one of them. It is a bit weird but not as scary as Pokemon Black.
    I also do software design, and these sort of programs are possible.

    On another note, this story is genious. You cannot win by taking short cuts in life, you cannot be happy with choosing the easiest path in life. The only way you can be satisfied is to work for it!

  • Kurama

    “Curses come home to roost”

  • Craig

    no way does this sound real.
    Conveniently losing the game?
    Playing all the way through it several times?
    hmm…..

  • Anon The Mouse

    To me, this does not sound implausible at all. Yes, it would be very “convenient” for someone to have lost the cart and not taken screenshots. However, that is by no means conclusive, and the nature of this cartridge is by no means unlikely. There are some odd modifications of games out there, from the simply broken to the dark and strange. None of the functions attributed to this game would be impossible to program in, and there are no supernatural powers attributed to it. It is simply described as a very unique, very morbid take on an old pokemon game.

    I also fail to see how playing through the game multiple times makes the story less believable. If you enjoyed a game, there is no reason you wouldn’t play it again.

  • Faith

    Whoever made this hack has incredible creativity, depth, and story-writing skills.

  • rykuu

    wow…… thats all i can say…… wow……. truly, i could see this being a game….. how horrible though, the thought of this…. if someone like me who tries to get into te game to where they feel as though its real (gets you the most and best experiance) then this would leave them depressed i would say…. though it still is a powerfull story in itself

  • Vítor

    Reading this I’m having this strange reaction that I have when I listen to good “supposedly real” ghost stories, my eyes just turns wet, almost crying.
    I’ll never sleep again.

  • Someone

    I had one of these…I never played it actually. I can’t find it now. But I had it. I uncovered it from that terrifying place I like to call under my bed, and was really confused. I tried to fit it in my DS but its big so it wouldnt work. I put it in my gameboy advanced, but I couldnt find the charger(I’m gonna buy one). Now, its missing. Weird….

  • Pikakai

    I have pokemon ghost black retold on my ds. it explains the story like you said however at the end the guy said after 15 mins the game would say ‘ghost curses you (your name on your ds)’ this freaked me out like hell at first. my 11 year old brother screamed! anyways its probaly fake since I can’t even get a rom close to it on the internet

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