I've always been a fan of the Pokemon games. I remember getting into the cards as a kid, and from there I went to the show, and finally, the games. And even though I got rid of my cards long ago, and I haven't watched the show in years, when the new games come out, I'm always excited to try them out and spend days playing them. And every once in a while, I go back to my old games for a nostalgia trip. Call me childish, but something about those old games keeps calling me back for more, no matter how many times I play through them.
The problem is that my Pokemon blue version can't save anymore. Whether it's a dead internal battery or just a worn out cartridge after literal weeks of solid playtime, the game just couldn't take it anymore and gave out. My red version still works, but for some reason I always preferred blue. Maybe it's because of the color scheme, or because I got Blue version first, but I always liked Blue version better. I never had yellow, so playing that was out of the question. The problem is that you can't go into a gamestop anymore and buy these games, and I didn't want to search ebay and risk getting another dead copy. On top of that, who wants to pay for a game they bought over 10 years ago (remakes don't count)?
I wasn't too into ROMS, but I had downloaded a few before, specifically some for the N64, because I had a playstation and never had the chance to experience a lot of the games on the N64 aside from the rare occasions when I went to my cousins' house. It had been a while, so I asked a few friends if they knew any good sites where I could download an emulator and some ROMs. Sure enough, one of them linked me to a site with a gameboy emulator and a ton of ROMs for download, all of them Pokemon titles. I installed the Emulator and loaded up Blue Version.
Now you're probably thinking that this is where I had some ghost Pokemon in my party or I was in some tower with a bunch of Unown or some shit like you read in most creepypastas, but that wasn't the case. The ROM worked perfectly fine, and I didn't have any problems with it.
It was when I started messing around with other ROMs is when problems began. I had no reason to download any other legitimate games since the rest of my cartridges worked fine. But I got curious about some of the hacked versions that were on the site. The poor translations and such gave me a laugh, but most of them were completely broken, so there wasn't much to them. My friend sent me one after a discussion we had about the different hacks on the site, saying it had been posted on the site a few months ago but was taken down after only a couple weeks. I was curious to see if it was another "disturbing" hack that was supposed to be like a Haunted Cartridge, a la Lost Silver, if it played off the Lavender town myths or the other various creepypastas about hacks, or if it was just a really violent or explicit version.
I loaded the game up and the intro from the first game played, and nothing was out of the ordinary. I asked my friend what regions the game had in it, and he said it was a hack of gold and silver, but had all the pokemon from the first two generations, which was awesome because there was never a game that didn't require trading or hacks to get all the pokemon. Before he went offline, my friend told me not to get too wrapped up in it, because it turned into "some fucked up shit" after a while. Now I was really excited. I get an awesome hack that has every region and every pokemon in it, and it had a dark bent to it as well.
When the game opened up, it had the sprite of Red and the rotating pokemon like the title screen from the original games. The logo was on the screen as was customary, but there was no version name under it. I thought that this was a little strange, but I thought that maybe the author couldn't think of a proper name, and didn't want to use a fake title like "Chaos Black."
I started a new game, and Oak gave his usual spiel about pokemon. I entered the game in Pallet town, and everything was normal at first. I claimed my Squirtle, my favorite starter, kicked my Rival's ass as usual. I got Oak's parcel, delivered it to him, and soon I had my pokeballs and had already caught a pidgey and a Rattata.
Things got… unpleasant when I went to Viridian forest.
I was grinding as usual, trying to raise my Rattata's level, when I was poisoned by a Weedle. Cursing silently, as I had forgotten to buy antidotes, I barely won the battle. I started to go back to the Pokemon center when Rattata fainted. I decided to keep farming XP on Pidgey, but when I went to check it's XP till the next level, I noticed something strange.
Rattata's health was nearly empty, although it had fainted.
Confused, I kept battling wild pokemon until I got it. The message that made me realize that this wasn't a normal hack.
"Rattata has died…"
I thought it was funny at first. I know I'm a dick for saying that. But I lol'd. I knew what the creator was going for now. He was going for a more "realistic" hack, where pokemon "died" if they suffered status ailments for too long. I soon realized that poison was much more common in this version, but it was least of your problems. Freezing could also kill your pokemon, but took much longer. Burning would permanently damage their stats. Sleep was still relatively harmless. But Paralysis was worse. I hated Paralysis. If you got paralyzed, you had until the second bar ran out to treat it. Otherwise, it was permanent. Your pokemon was crippled for life. After a while, I started thinking about what was really going on. The pokemon weren't just playing for fun anymore. They were poisoning and killing each other. It made the game much harder, and it added a sense of urgency if your pokemon fainted. Revives were gone, and you had to go to a center to heal and treat their status conditions. It made sense to me, though, in a sick way. After all, Team Rocket were criminals, why didn't they just kill the player character if they beat them? Lt Surge was in a war, so he had obviously used Pokemon to kill before. I liked the direction the hack took, at first.
There were ways you could die, too. The Rockets would kill you if you lost to them. And if you ran out of pokemon in the wild, you had to run back to a center. Only certain pokemon would attack you, like Ratticate or Arbok. Some would only wound you, but others could kill you instantly. In high level areas, you needed to be prepared, otherwise you would die. Your pokemon could also be killed by normal attacks from the more dangerous species, but only in areas such as Mt Silver or Victory Road.
When you died, you saw a short cutscene of the characters from Pallet town and the Gym leaders you'd beaten, as well as a sprite that looked like a minister, at your grave behind your house, then a cut at night to the tombstone. A Text box came up that said "Here lies Red… Pokemon Trainer…" and your age.
Did I mention you could age in the game? The game's clock wasn't like the one in Gold or Silver. Every 10 minutes of real world time or so was a day in game, and days passed by even if you weren't playing. I thought this was a really clever idea, and like how it made the span of time your character was in the game so much longer. There was no night or day cycle, unfortunately, but that was probably removed because the days were so short. It made catching everything a lot easier
I was conflicted about the game for a while. I liked the darker tone, but the funeral scene bugged me, as well as the player deaths. Whenever your character died, you would see a graphic sprite of his corpse, as well as an accompanying text box saying "You feel an endless darkness surrounding you." I thought the text was cheesy, but the image of my character's bloodied body was unsettling. And the funeral scene was a little too morbid for my tastes.
I did the best I could to stay alive, and things were normal until Pokemon Tower. Now, if you're into Pokemon Creepypasta, you know the story about Red killing Blue's Raticate by accident when they battle on the SS Anne. When that battle ends in this hack, Blue doesn't say anything, he just runs off in a hurry, which I thought was odd. When I encountered him in the tower, he didn't say anything, and didn't challenge me to battle. As he went downstairs, he uttered a single phrase.
"You killed my Raticate."
"You killed my friend."
He then went down the stairs. I was a little unnerved by the sudden tonal shift that had just happened, but pressed on. I had the silph scope so there were no ghosts to worry about aside from the usual ones. Everything was normal until what should've been the battle with the Marowak.
It was blue's Raticate instead
And it was just wrong. It was putrid, its body was decayed, one eye was missing from its sprite, its bones were exposed, and it was not a pleasant sight. I breezed through the battle as fast as I could, only for the worst thing possible to happen.
For its last attack, the move was "???" and it immediately killed my Wartortle. I cursed at the top of my lungs, furious and distraught. There was no warning, no explanation, nothing. My only guess is that the Raticate wanted me to feel the same pain I caused Blue.
After the fight, Mr Fuji gave a different speech than the one he gave in the originals. This time it was about my pokemon and how it had suffered such a cruel fate, because of the ghost's vengeful spirit. A window popped up showing my beloved starter gutted and decaying. I felt sick. Mr Fuji left me with a final note.
"Why do you make your pokemon fight? Don't you see what it does to them?"
It made me think. All the hours I've put into these games, all the time wasted, and all the battles I've fought, I made the pokemon I encountered suffer. But then I snapped out of it and remembered these were just 1s and 0s in a line of code, put together by some sick fuck playing with my emotions. I soldiered on, distraught but not broken.
My character was an adult by the time I reached the elite four. He started to get slower, but fortunately I had fly to transport him around. I beat the Elite Four after stocking up on full restores to keep my pokemon safe, before finally fighting and easily beating Blue. Once gain, no words. As Oak congratulated me and scolded Blue, all Blue uttered was "…". I was worried that this was going to turn into a recreation of "Blue's tears," but he walked away without saying a single word.
I moved on the Johto, and received a phone and pokegear from my mother, which was awesome. The Johto region was like Kanto, with low level wild pokemon but high level trainers. This decreased the risk of death and made it easier to get around. Everything was normal, until my character hit 30 years, right after I beat Claire.
I got a phonecall from my mother: "Red, you need to come back to Pallet Town. Professor Oak died last night." My jaw dropped. This was an absolute shock to me. But when I flew back to Pallet town, near the lab, there was a gravestone that, when examined, did in fact belong to Oak. I was distraught by this, but as I was training for the final encounter, I was around 45, when I received another call, this time from Blue.
My mother was the victim this time.
I didn't know whether to be disturbed or awestruck by what was happening. On one level, this hack was incredible, showing the devotion and sacrifice you need to make to become a pokemon master, through the people around me passing while I neglected them. And it started to make me think about Red. He's devoted his entire life to becoming a pokemon master, right? He never falls in love. He never has a family. He only has pokemon to comfort him, and he tortures them every day for his amusement. This was a fucked up game, and it hit me then how messed up this whole series was if you stopped to really think about it.
And I wanted it to be over. I climbed up Mt Silver, ready to end this hack once and for all. I had no idea who the final opponent was, since it couldn't be Red, but I had a hunch. And it was right.
It was Blue. And when he saw me, he was pissed.
"You finally made it. So, we can finally end this. You took everything from me. My Raticate, my Title, and my Grandfather's love. This is my one chance to settle this, once and for all. This ends here." And with that, the battle began.
I was not ready for what happened. Blue's Party was just like the one he uses in the last gym battle in Gold and Silver, only stronger. But in the end, I defeated him soundly. And when the battle was over, those same three periods greeted me as the screen flashed to black.
After the final battle, I woke up again in Pallet Town. I left my house and saw a third tombstone near the lab. My heart sank. I knew who it was for. Sure enough, it was Blue's. The gravestone noted that he had killed himself.
I was aging much faster now. Within a day I had hit 80, which was strange, because my character had been aging at a steady pace until now. My character's sprite was like the old man's from Viridian city. And I could tell the creator loved the pokemon black story because this next part seemed like something out of the story. Every so often my character would stop and a textbox would say "you feel a cold wind around you," and a low cry would be heard. My character shuttered. I didn't have any pokemon or items. I couldn't go into the tall grass, I was eternally stuck in Pallet Town, waiting for something to happen. After about a half hour, my character just fell down, and the screen faded to black.
"You feel an endless darkness surrounding you."
I realized that my character had died.
The game faded in again, with a white sprite of my character on a black background. The lavender town music started playing, but much slower and lower in pitch. A text box appeared.
"You think you are a pokemon master? You know nothing. All of the lives you destroyed… all the time you spent… all of the friendships you shattered…all for nothing! No matter how hard you try, you will never be at peace. There will always be more pokemon to catch, more trainers to fight, more lives to kill. You failed. And your time has come."
My sprite remained there until a series of noises started playing. It took me a while to catch on to what they were. I realized that they were the cries of every pokemon that had died in my playthrough, whether it was by my hand or another trainer's, and soon pictures of each on started to appear, each more gruesome than the last. The very last one was Blue, hung from a tree, and it was horrifying as it was accompanied by a low pitched rumble that sounded almost like a laugh. I was freaked out beyond words and just wanted this sequence of nightmare fuel to end.
Then the cries blended in with each other, and began to get faster, higher in pitch, and more distorted. The Noise was unbearable, and I scrambled for the volume as a terrifying screech blasted me through my headphones, as the screen cut to black. A heartbeat looped faintly in the background, as what looked to be two glowing eyes pulsed in the distance. Then a white hand flew at me as that horrible screech played again, making me fall out of my chair.
The screen went black again, and the emulator crashed. I stared at my screen for a moment, processing what had just happened. I restarted the emulator, and tried to load my last save.
It was gone. Upon completing the game the ROM had deleted my save.
I always though that hacks like Black Version were just crappy stories meant to entertain posters on 4chan, but after this experience, I never looked at Pokemon the same way again. It made sense, honestly. You spent all that time in the games, hurting everything in your path and causing all that suffering, only to have a new generation come out a few years later, making all your hard work for nothing. It turned me off playing pokemon for a while. I wish I had listened to my friend.
Be careful when looking for Pokemon ROMs. You won't get a cursed one, but you could get one like this.