How many of you have ever played Pokémon? I'm sure a few of you have; it's a very popular game, and even if it isfor children, people of all ages play it. But nothing can be entirely pure, entirely innocent, and if it is by some chance, through some form or another, it won't stay that way for long.
The story you are reading is a grim reminder of that rule. A grim reminder that nothing can be forgotten entirely. And most of all, a grim reminder that for some, it is more than just a game.
Let me start from the beginning.
I'd like to think myself a loyal fan of Pokémon, or at least I used to be. Even though I do not possess libraries of wisdom on the occurrences of every game, and I cannot memorize every character, glitch, rumour, and item, I still liked to think myself a loyal fan, and would proudly announce that I owned several games, two binders of trading cards, and have heard of every Pokémon in existence.
I never delete a save file. Call me a sentimental old fool, for that I am, but I feel for the little pixel creatures, and could never bring myself to wipe away my collection of Pokémon and more than forty hours of playing.
My love of Pokémon goes back a long way. I have collected the cards and the plushies since I was quite young, but my love of the games began when I saw a HeartGold/SoulSilver advertisement on the television. The minute I saw that ad I had to have the game.
It just seemed so perfect, and it came with all the frills. I could only dream how great it would be to have my own collection of Pokémon, the trading cards I loved so much brought to life, and even the PokéWalker to bring them with me everywhere.
When I received the game as a present for my birthday, you can safely say I was the happiest girl in the world. I rarely put the game down, and I even smuggled it into my bedroom, playing it on my DS Lite long after midnight, even though I knew my mother would have a cow if she found out what I was doing. I snuck the PokéWalker into school sometimes, despite it being against the rules, to level up my beloved Vulpix as I went from class to class. I beat the game quickly, and after a challenging the Elite Four, unlocking, finding, and playing with everything the game had to offer, I decided it was time to move on from Rory, my beloved Typhlosion, and get a new game. As I said, I couldn't bear the thought of wiping the save file.
So then it was off to the local GameStop again. My new game? I purchased a preused, old GameBoy cartridge; the old FireRed game. I played the old thing through as quick as the last one, and so it went. On and on, buying more and more Pokémon games, until finally came the release of Pokémon Black and White.
I bought Black. I simply had to get my hands on the legendary that came with it, the regal white dragon, called Reshiram, that was on the front cover.
I played the game knowing what I was getting into. Or so I thought. I knew it would probably be a bit cheesy with all the new Pokémon, nothing is ever as good as the original, but it was fun for me anyway.
I picked my starter without a second thought. I had decided on my companion as soon as I saw the commercials. A Snivy. I named him Vincent.
I instantly loved him with all my heart. His sly expression, that slight grin of his. We were best friends, and an unstoppable force together. He was my strongest Pokémon, always in my party even if that put me at a type disadvantage, and if he was injured or fainted, it became my top priority to heal him. I made sure to give him the most powerful moves, a Grass-boosting Miracle Seed to hold, and he was the only Pokémon I ever used in the musicals.
My little Vincent grew up fast, and was soon a Serperior, and not only that but a reliable powerhouse to help me beat the game as quick as the rest. And so I promised him and I promised myself that I would always strive to keep making him stronger, and better, and that I would take care of him.
After beating the initial storyline, as always, I explored the rest of the game, trying to catch the previous generation Pokémon that had been added in. I quickly decided it wasn't going fast enough, and that I wanted more, that I wanted shinies and rare items and money and secret event Pokémon, I wanted it all. I became impatient and greedy, and I did something I shouldn't have.
Borrowing my brother's action replay, and looking up codes on the internet like a madman, I plugged so many cheat codes into that game I can't even remember. I used a code for infinite money, every item, 100% catch rates, I made all wild Pokémon were shiny, and so many more. And the very best one?
A cheat code that allowed you to catch any Pokémon, any level you wanted, anytime, anywhere. I'm not lying.
And the saddest part of this was that with all this power, and all these amazing Pokémon, I rarely used Vincent anymore. Eventually I stopped at a city and left him in one of the PC Boxes. Partially because I didn't want to accidentally affect him with a cheat, but partially because I wanted to experiment with hacked Pokémon.
But soon things started to go wrong, the cheats started to screw up my game. It started to freeze at weird times, sprites started to glitch, and so on. And on top of it all, the game had become too easy, so, with quite a bit of regret, I stopped playing Pokémon Black, because I just couldn't find it in me to delete my file, and lose all my work.
However, I still wasn't done with the new generation. You see, while Snivy was my favorite starter, Oshawott was a very close second. And while Reshiram was quite magnificent, I still wanted to see what a Zekrom could do.
So, exactly two months after abandoning Black, it was down to the GameStop once again, this time for Pokémon White.
Being short on money from purchasing new generation Pokémon cards, I opted for another preused game. I read a lot of Pokémon Creepypastas, but I never thought they had anything to them. I mean, it makes for a nice story, but who the hell would really be messed up enough to hack a children's game with some gory and traumatizing glitch? And what producer would make a horrific easter egg or terrifying sprite just for sick kicks? And how on Earth would a Pokémon become offénded, or feel abandoned, and try to haunt you?
How I wish the world really worked that way. I was so naive.
As soon as I got home I started my new game. I named my brand new Oshawott Tsunami. It seemed a fitting name, meaning tidal wave in Japanese. I ran through the rest of the introduction not paying very close attention. I'd seen it all before. I had just worked my way through the intro, and was finally about to step into the tall grass and start battling, capturing, and working my way to the Elite 4 once again, when my DS ran out of power. I had been so focused on my game that I hadn't noticed the low power.
Frustrated, but thankful that I had saved only a minute or two before the shutdown, I decided to look for my elusive charger after dinner. I could play in bed tonight. My bed is right next to an outlet, after all, and it would provide me with some uninterrupted game time. So, after an uneventful dinner, I quickly crawled into bed, and as soon as the light in my mother's room shut off, I switched on my DS. However, I instantly noticed something very strange.
I did not start off from the point where I had last saved. I didn't start anywhere near it. I was in an empty Black City. There wasn't even a PokéCenter. Confused, I turned off my DS, and removed the game chip. It was indeed Pokémon White. This was so incredibly odd. Black city wasn't even supposed to show up in Pokémon White, much less in the beginning of the game.
Clicking the chip back in, I restarted it, hoping that the game would be back to normal. No such luck. I was still in an empty Black City. My first impulse was to check my party. It still consisted of just my new Oshawott, but something had changed about him, too. His sprite looked different, it looked worried and scared.
I exited my team menu, and returned to the normal game screen. I felt so weird, and nothing but the sound of an eerie wind blowing, the normal soundtrack for Black City could be heard in my earbuds.
I decided I had had enough of this creepy place, and just wanted to get out of here. I steered my character, who was moving slower than normal, over to one of Black City's exits. I walked into it, trying to go though, but to my shock, there was a flash and a slash-like streak, the one you see when a Pokémon uses a blade-related move, and my character was thrown back a few paces.
A green text box appeared, and in dark red writing that was thinner than the writing of normal gameplay, "I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE. NEITHER ARE YOU." was scrawled across it.
I was getting really damn freaked out by this point, and I could feel my heart beating at about a million miles an hour. I knew something was screwing up the game, but I had no idea what the hell it was. Serves me right for buying a used game.
I checked on Tsunami, hoping that move hadn't damaged him, and I what I saw only scared me more. His sprite's colors was colorless, and he looked sick. Tears of blood were forming around his eyes, and a large crack had appeared in the middle of the scallop shell on his chest. His HP was halved, and someone or something had changed his name to IMPOSTER.
I navigated away from Tsunami, now IMPOSTER, and suddenly my character began to walk on its own. My character's pace gradually slowed down as it walked, eventually slowing to a crawl and stopping in the dead center of the empty city.
Another green text box came up.
"DOES IT LOOK FAMILIAR HERE? IT SHOULD. THIS IS WHERE YOU LEFT ME TO DIE."
Deep in my brain, something stirred. I still didn't know what was going on, but something about it started to make a twisted kind of sense.
"DO YOU REMEMBER THE PROMISE YOU MADE ME? THAT YOU WOULD ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF ME? WHAT A WORTHLESS SENTIMENT. YOU NEVER CARED."
Then I remembered. That was the promise I made to Vincent, and Black City was the city I went to put Vincent in a PC Box. The last place I had saved.
"No... No! This can't be happening, it can't be you!" I whispered.
"OH, BUT IT IS! SO YOU DO REMEMBER ME? GOOD. THIS WOULDN'T BE ANY FUN IF YOU DIDN'T."
It was like he could hear me.
"ALL THOSE CHEATS YOU USED, THEY POISON ME. IT HURTS. DO YOU WANT ME TO BE HURT? YOU SEEM TO. YOU ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME, THEN YOU USE CHEATS THAT HURT ME SO MUCH, AND THEN YOU DEEM THEM BETTER AND LEAVE ME TO DIE. YOU DON'T LOVE ME. YOU NEVER DID."
I stammered at the game, not sure what to say. He was right. How could I have treated him like this?
"SPEECHLESS? FINE. WELL THEN, WHY DON'T I SHOW YOU WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE WHEN YOU NEGLECT A POKéMON!"
Suddenly a Serperior sprite appeared in front of me, and I only had time to notice that it bore the same dull colors as my Oshawott before the screen was filled by a picture of the Pokémon's sprite.
I felt sick to my stomach.
The sprite was a thin, sickly, emaciated Serperior. You could see its skeleton through the skin. Tears of blood ran freely down its cheeks, and it smiled from ear to ear in a slit-mouthed grin. It was covered in cuts and bruises, and an eye, one of its leafy hands, and chunks or skin were missing from it, revealing the bone underneath. It looked like a zombie. It said it had a "Scarred" nature, and the original trainer was TRAITOR.
I tried to turn off my DS, sliding the off switch repeatedly at all sorts of speeds, but still the nightmare played on. I was about to be sick when the normal gameplay screen finally returned.
"LOVELY, AREN'T I? SOON YOU WILL LOOK LIKE ME. YOU WILL SUFFER AS I HAVE SUFFERED. FIGHT ME! FIGHT FOR YOUR OWN LIFE, LIAR!"
And a battle began.
I was scared beyond belief by this point, and I knew I had no chance of winning this battle. All I had was a half-dead Oshawott, and it was at a type disadvantage against my powerhouse Serperior. I didn't know what would happen if I lost.
But when the decaying Serperior sprite came up, the name was glitched out and impossible to read, and it only had a few points of health.
I got to go first, for some reason, and when I opened IMPOSTER's (I suppose that's his name now) attacks, and I was confused.
They were attacks I had never heard of, and only one was water type. The attacks were Drown, Water type, 0/10 PP, Betray, Dark type, 0/5 PP, Leave Me to Die, normal type, 0/10 PP, and the last attack was End It, a Fire type, 1/5 PP.
I had no choice. I selected the Fire type attack, and the screen was filled with flames, all generated from my Oshawott. I could barely see the Serperior, it was just a faint black silouhette among the flames, and it quickly disintegrated to nothing. A haunted, heavily distorted Serperior cry played.
"(Glitched) has died. (Glitched) has suffered. I hope you are happy in all of your lies." scrawled across.
I was returned to the normal gamescreen, and there was a tombstone where the Serperior sprite was. I pressed 'A' in front of it. It read:
"You love me. You hate me. You lie to me. You neglect me. You leave me to die. And so I died, betrayed and hating you."
Then the sound disappeared, the screen glitched out, and then suddenly turned black. I got the "Save file corrupted" message. I was sobbing like a baby by this point, and my attempts to shut off the game were finally successful. Shutting the DS, I slid it back under my bed and cried myself to sleep.
That night I had unspeakable nightmares.
The next day, after finally getting calmed down, I did something that although I didn't like it, I knew it had to be done. There was no sense in putting it off. I had to play Pokémon Black one last time. I had to check on Vincent.
Booting up the game and skipping the start sequence, I opened my file and ran to the nearest Pokémon center. I tentatively activated the PC box, and scrolled through to the very last box where my Serpior was. Or should have been.
In the place where I had left him there was instead a glitched sprite. I couldn't tell what it was, but it certainly wasn't my Serperior. It's name was Farewell, it knew no moves, and all of the stats were too glitched out to read, except for its level. It was level 0.
No, this was not my Serperior. This was not my Serperior at all.
It couldn't be.
Letting out a wail, I searched through the rest of the boxes. No Vincent. I searched my party. No Vincent. I was almost sobbing again by this point. He couldn't be gone. He just couldn't. In a desperate, last-ditch attempt to find him, I boarded my Reshiram, and flew off back to my hometown to visit Professor Juniper.
As soon as I got there, it was strange. There was a gray fog hanging over the town. I disregarded it and walked into the lab, to speak with Professor Juniper. Walking up to her, I pressed 'A'.
"I am ashamed of you Luna. (Luna was what I had named my character.) Simply ashamed. Don't bother looking for him. He's gone. He's died and it's all your fault. He died hating you."
I pressed 'A' again, only to receive the same message. That was when I really broke down and cried. My game was ruined. I had lost everything that made the games worthwhile. And in my own greed, I had lost my Serperior. And I wept bitterly over that loss.
He died for me.
He died because of me.
And he died hating me.
And I can't fix it.
I never played Pokémon again. It only brought back bad memories. I never told anyone why. I gave away or burned all of my action figures, cards, and memorabilia. I didn't want it anymore. I even gave away all my games, only on the condition that they wouldn't delete the files. All of my games except two.
Pokémon Black and Pokémon White.
Half the time I don't know why I kept them. I would never play them again for as long as I lived. But if I really think about it, I can come up with a few reasons. The first is that I have the feeling that something about those games is cursed. I never want anyone else to suffer through what I had to suffer through.
Another is that they have some sentimentality to them. I don't want to let them go, because they represent a little bit of what I used to be. And I couldn't bear to destroy them or see them change hands. I suppose it's a bit selfish, really.
But the biggest reason that I kept them was as a reminder. I reminder of what happened. I don't want to forget, despite how horrific it all was. A reminder that it did happen. So I never have to question my sanity. So I never have to think I might have imagined it all, that it all was a fantasy, a cruel trick of a delusioned mind.
But mostly a reminder of the lesson I learned, and so I never make the same, foolish, selfish mistake again. I couldn't bare to make the same mistake.
That's really all those once beloved games are now. A grim reminder of the past.
Nothing but a grim reminder.