Friday, February 11, 2011

Pokemon Black

Just for effect, you can listen to the Lavender Town music while reading this if you like.

Before I get into what I wanted to post here, I'm going to give you a little of the backstory of Lavender Town from Pokemon Red, in case you've forgotten. Lavender Town is one of the smallest towns in the original games, other than your home of Pallet Town. It is known best for Pokemon Tower which resides to the Northeast. Pokemon Tower hosts memorial services and the graves of hundreds of dead pokemon. However, Pokemon Tower is now haunted by the ghosts of many pokemon, and as you walk through the tower you are vulnerable to attacks from ghosts and possessed psychics. Occasionally during this part of the game, you can see little flashes of movement on the floor inside the tower that I assume are supposed to be ghosts.
You cannot attack the ghosts until you steal back the Silph Scope from Team Rocket in Celedon City. Once you have the scope you can fight off the ghosts in Pokemon Tower which are actualy Ghastly's and Haunter's. When you near the top floor you will be able to fight the ghost that has caused the resurrection of the other ghost pokemon. It is a mother Marowak that died defending her baby Cubone from Team Rocket and once she is defeated and put to rest, the hauntings stop.

Also of note: In the original Pokemon Red/Blue, when you encounter your rival in Lavender Town he asks whether or not you know what it's like to have one of your Pokémon die. At this point in the game, he no longer has his Raticate that he used in previous battles.

The following account has been posted on a few different websites in the past couple years though no one has officially come forward as the original author. Most likely, the story was created for an imageboard like and was written by an anonymous poster as a hoax. However, here is the full, foremost article on the subject.

"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 anywhere. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.

Above is 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 (or Ash) 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 named “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 in Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town.

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 cut-able 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. "

That’s the end of the original account of the hacked Pokemon Black version. I did a little research online and couldn't find any trace of an old GameBoyColor version of a Pokemon Red game being hacked other than links and references to the article above. Another made up story is what I'll assume for now, unless I see some kind of evidence that makes me believe otherwise.

Here is a separate article that seems to have be written by a different person, judging by their style of writing and grammar, about someone else who got their hands onto one of these hacked versions of the game. Notice that the author blends the previously established mystery of "The Slender Man" into his story to add to the creepy-ness.

"A few years ago my friend purchased a supposedly hacked version of red online. When it arrived he put it in his old gameboy color and booted it up started a new character and went off on a another faintly nostalgic adventure. He played for hours but couldn't really find anything that would be consider hacked, and he thought he'd been ripped off by another asshole on the internet. He eventually reached Lavender town and that's when things got strange. He reached the part with the ghost and was on his way to Saffron and by chance he happened to find one tombstone in the tower that could actually be read it, it simply read S.L. Ender he didn't think much of it and went on with the game, when he eventually got back to the tower he identified and defeated Marowak, but then but for the rest of the game just on the edge of the screen there was an unidentifiable character that would follow him no matter where he went, my friend thought this was the glitch, that it summons some kind of ghost or something and eventually he made it to the indigo plateau and finished the game, he went back to his house in pallet to save for the last time but when he went in he noticed that the ghost man didn't follow him. he went back outside and noticed that the man was no longer on the edge of the screen but sitting maybe 5 or 6 paces in front of the house. He saved for the last time and turned off the game for good, understandably pissed at the 'hacked' game he bought. The next night he couldn't get to sleep because one of the dogs that his neighbor commonly left outside wouldn't stop barking, he looked out his window and saw a tall almost gangly man sitting on the bus stop bench across from his house, which was odd because the buses didn't run that late. He thought maybe it was just someone who was out for a late night jog or something and let it go and went to bed. He woke up around 3 in the morning to answer the call of nature, and on his way back to his bed he passed the window and noticed the man was still sitting there, he was unnerved but figured the man must have fallen asleep. The next day he woke up looked out his window and to his relief the man was gone. That same night he was settling in when he noticed the strange absence of the barking of his neighbor’s dog, he peered out his window only to see someone was sitting at the bus stop again. He didn’t get much sleep. Over the next couple of days a lot of people in the neighborhood where complaining that their pets where disappearing, He reported to the neighborhood watch about the man at the bus stop and they said they’d keep an eye out for him. Then a couple of nights later his mom asked him to take the trash to the curb, he was hesitant but after prodding from his mother he went to the garage opened the door and to his dismay someone was waiting at the bus stop. He went to the curb left the trash and walked very quickly back into the garage. As he was reaching for the button he looked back and saw the man tilted his head up to look at him, and that’s when he started to freak. The man appeared not to have a face. The man stood up and started taking long steps toward the garage. My friend pushed the button and the garage started closing. The door closing seemed to last an eternity, the man continued his long stride towards the garage picking up the pace just a little. His long, inhuman, awkward gait burning its image into his brain. The door closed just as he reached the threshold of the garage. My friend stood in horror as the man peered through the plastic windows on the door and put his hand on the glass lightly tapping on it, My friend ran back inside and locked all the windows and doors he wouldn’t tell his parents why he was so distressed, He just told them he would feel better if they were locked. He went to bed that night looked out the window and the man was sitting at the bus stop looking back at him. He wouldn't leave the house after dark, from then on.

A few years ago he moved out to California, haven't heard from him since."

EDIT: Apparently there is a ROM modding group calling themselves "Project Creepy Black" (lul) that is trying to recreate Pokemon black with a few "creative" changes. It's kind of cool to check out what they're doing but honestly it looks like they're dumbing it down a bit, like the Director's Cut of Donnie Darko. Here's a youtube video of one of their gameplay clips:

I've had to change this link twice because they keep removing all their posts and uploading them under different youtube user accounts. It's very strange.


  1. Ive read about that game before.
    Its awesome, is there a good ROM Download that you know of??

  2. I just needed to reread this again.
    I love freaky things about pokemon.

  3. Never heard of it before...awesome!!

  4. That part at the end sounds very much like the Slender Man stuff that comes from Something Awful.

  5. anyone beat every pokemon game?