A custom Pokepasta by myself (Amelia Long) --- a.k.a=Element02 Please read and critique as you feel the need to, but please do not steal this, and do not EDIT this page without my permission. Many thanks.
It’s true that the hardest part about playing Pokémon was always the beginning of the game. Not really the choosing of the name of your character or the gender…but it was the option of choosing that first Pokémon that would shape the entirety of your adventure. Seems strange, doesn’t it? I mean, when you think about it…your first Pokémon really does not shape the world in the game. It does not influence how the storyline will play out…you do not get some secret chain of events for choosing a Charmander rather than having a Squirtle. In fact, the only thing that really changes with that first choice is the Pokémon chosen by your rival and then the way in which you need to fill the Pokedex.
So why does this decision seem so profound? What is it…that makes our hearts race in our chest, that makes our palms sweaty, and makes us bite our lips as we weigh the options. What is it past the team-building that makes this decision so hard?
I remember that my first Pokémon game was a Red version that I received for Christmas in 1998 with a brand-new Gameboy color. It was my pride and joy. But, as all things…it had aged a lot, and by the time 2013 came around, every time I popped it in, I was forced to start a New Game because the battery inside the cartridge was all worn out and no longer saved. But, because this was my prized game, when I finally moved to Germany and started getting paid at my new job…well, needless to say, nostalgia hit me hard, and I decided to celebrate my recent success by ordering a used FireRed version from an acquiantance---the remake of the first generation game(s). I had never owned the remakes and thought that it would be good to play something a bit more advanced so that I did not have to worry about age wearing the poor thing out as much. It was a month-long process before the small envelope finally got shipped over to my flat. The guy who sent my cartridge lived back in the USA…he had contacted me via e-mail when I posted a status on Facebook, looking for someonewho might want to get rid of such a game…and he claimed to be a friend of my Brother. He seemed like a really quiet guy, loved tinkering with old games---he said it was a hobby of his or something, and knowing that my brother was always a reliable source for things of nerdy nature, I figured this guy was legit, paid him a little over ten dollars and then what it cost for shipping, and while the month of waiting was agonizing, when I finally received the game, it was all I could do but lock myself in the room, lock my bedroom door, close the blinds, turn off the lights, flip on my SP and lose myself back in that simpler time…that simpler world of the classic generation of Pokémon.
…but not everything was the same. When the intro started…it was not the classic battle between Gengar and Nidorino. In fact it was something completely different. It showed the three starting Pokémon in their final evolved forms, battling it out for supremacy. It was not the innocent little movements and fake clashing sounds either. Charizard’s claws actually left gashes, Venosaur’s whips were tied rather tightly around Blastois’ neck and seemed to be squeezing the very life out of him. The sight disgusted me, I was outraged! What had this guy done to this game?! I might have just passed it off for an actual introduction since I had never owned a FireRed or LeafGreen before...but obviously…as someone who has been on the Pokepasta websites for some time, I knew that hacking games for some was a rather simple process. Anyone could do it if they had the training and technology. I was angry that the game was hacked, but, not wanting to wait another month to send it back so that he might return this game to its former glory, I decided to keep playing to see what other surprises he had left for me in this custom version.
The battle scene could only be stopped by pressing the START button and then you were taken to the front screen where normally Charizard would appear with flames dancing in the background. But it would seem that our little game-guy had not only changed the opening battle scene, he had changed this screen too. Obviously it now showed RED (from the classic game screen) holding a Pokeball on the left with a Charmander, GREEN holding a Pokeball on the right with a Squirtle, and then in the background, there was a lonely Pokémon sitting in the corner with no trainer…a Bulbasaur with his face shadowed over. That was my first indication that something about this storyline was going to go very badly for me. Because as I started my game (obviously male, named my character RED as my default, Rival stayed as GREEN) and entered Oak’s lab after trying to go into the tall grass, that scene of the lonely Bulbasaur was still playing in my mind. What DID happen to that third Pokémon that was never used? It’s not like in Gold and Silver where the professor takes it and takes care of it. It’s not like White and Black where all three are eventually chosen. This was in a time where there was meant to be a female character to make a third party option, but all-in-all…the games went out of the way of their original design, and out of the way in the Anime and Comics by leaving that third Pokeball to sit on the table and rot.
The thought really made me sad…really made me feel bad for the last Pokémon and made me feel so horrible for that poor starter that would always get left behind in some version somewhere. Still, as soon as I was prompted to choose my Pokémon, I went for the default Charmander, and of course GREEN then proceeded to choose his Squirtle. Professor Oak began his speech about going out, training your Pokémon, reaching for those high-goals and the normal stuff. Now as I turned to leave, GREEN came up to me, and where normally he would have battled me…instead he said:
“Charmander is the coolest! It’s always the Pokémon Gramps runs out of first.” “I knew you would choose Charmander. I would have gotten it myself but Gramps let you choose first!” “That’s okay though…second-best is always Squirtle and I’ll be able to beat you no problem once me and my partner start training!” “Smell ya later!!!”
Then, without another word or even a battle, he took off. This was odd. Now my Sprite was joined by Professor Oak who bowed his head and sighed:
”Yes…BLUE is right. Charmander is a very powerful Pokémon and is very popular with boys your age. I have been doing this for several years now, 17 to be exact, and every year it’s always Charmander and Squirtle.”
He turned to RED and then said:
“Won’t you change your mind about what you have chosen?”
That’s when the classic Talk bubble came up and all RED said was,”…”
“Yes…that’s what I thought.”
The Professor sighed,
”You want to show my Grandson you can beat him against the odds, I can’t blame you. Leave now…and have fun on your adventure with your new friend.”
Then he walked away.
It had not even given me the option…because now that I was thinking about it, I might have changed out partners just because I felt so guilty. But what had he said before? Almost twenty-years of handing out Pokémon to the children of Pallet Town and not once was a Bulbasaur Chosen? This thought was still running through my head as I exited the lab…and right as my Sprite crossed over the threshold of the door, I thought I heard a mangled Bulbasaur’s cry.
After that moment, the game continued as normal. Battles with the rival were normal, all the Pokémon were normal…even all the scripts were practically normal. I zoomed through the game having beat it so many times before on the classic version. I even got together the same team I always did in my old game and did not even bother catching any extra Pokémon. After beating the Elite Four, I was for sure that I was done playing and would soon send this game back to the guy who hacked it so that he could return my money for doing things to this game and not informing me about it…but when I entered Pallet Town (via Fly and my Fearow), I was going to talk to Oak one last time just to pretend I was saying goodbye when at the lab door, someone crashed into me. It was GREEN!!!
“RED! You gotta stop him! He’s gone crazy!!! I-I…”
and then GREEN’s line of text stopped. His sprite was shaking and looked worse for wear. His clothes were ripped and he looked like he was in bad shape. Still, what was he talking about? Was something wrong with Professor Oak?! I knew this had to be something that had been added in the game by that hacker…knew that maybe he had inserted one last battle with Team Rocket or some new enemy that I would have to fight in order to finish this game once and for all. I guess I could have just turned it off there…but human nature often lets curiosity get the better of us, and so, I went into the lab.
When I entered…there was a gruesome sight. Bookshelves were laying flat on the ground, one of them had crushed the body of one of the AIDE’s. Books were scattered all over with pages, and the other AIDE’s were dead except for the female who cowered in a corner made by the falling bookshelves. Text bubbles continued to pop up among the screen that said:
“Just Die Already!!”
…as with before there was that sound again, the sad and mangled Bulbasaur’s cry that had been heard when I had first left on my Pokémon adventure not even 30 hours ago.
Finally approaching the Professor’s desk, I let out a cry of my own in the real world as I saw a new scene before me. It was Oak, kicking around the Bulbasaur that used to be in that last Pokeball, the one that was never chosen. His skin was peeling, eyes hollow, and dark, pixelated blood stained the floor. The Professor noticed me right away and said,
”I knew you would come back…but I was hoping I could spare you from seeing this.”
and then he continued,
”Seventeen years ago, you chose a Charmander as your partner. Thirteen years ago…you chose a Charmander again. Nine years, five years, 2 years, and today…today you chose a Charmander to start off on your new Pokémon Journey.”
And then he ran over and kicked the Bulbasaur again, it let out a low and mangled cry…and more dotted blood spurted from its body.
he cried as he continued to beat the poor thing in front of me (I tried to stop him but found that I could not move),
”This Pokémon has sat and rotted with age…it is hideous, it is…a monster…and I must get rid of it, like I have all the others.”
And when the [?] appeared above RED’s head, the Professor stopped his assault on the poor creature and said,
”You’re confused? For seventeen years this Pokeball has sat here, untouched…no food, no exercise, nothing. Why have it anymore? You will leave again one day and when you come back, it will be Charmander all over again. My grandson will choose his Squirtle, and I am tired of hearing this damned thing CRY!!!”
and the assaults had started again.
“I don’t…want to hear it anymore! Why have it? You will never choose it! It’s time for this creature to DIE!!!”
Now I understand why GREEN was so shook up. The professor was insane! Even his eyes had gotten a red tint to them…I had to do something. His kicks and punches had gotten faster, and now there was an HP bar above the Bulbasaur’s head that was slowly diminishing with each series of attacks by Oak. Finally my Sprite was able to move and I ran to the Bulbasaur and clicked it. Its hollow-eyes looked up at me in distress and the option bar came up: [PUT BULBASAUR IN YOUR PARTY?] Then the classic [YES/NO] option appeared. I do not think that had ever pressed the ‘A’ button so fast in all my life. I was crying on the other side of the screen. I had never even thought about choosing the Bulbasaur because Fire had always been my favorite. I mean, it was only supposed to be a game! Never in my life had I even had the notion that, had this been a real-world or an alternate universe that a real Pokémon would be made to sit and rot like this. I clicked YES as my option…but that’s when the bar said, [YOU HAVE NO ROOM LEFT IN YOUR PARTY. PLEASE DEPOSIT A POKÉMON FIRST]. I cursed under my breath, I had totally forgotten about this. So, I ran as fast as I could to Oak’s PC and quickly deposited my Victreebel out of my party (luckily it was first). Even still, while normal game functions should have ceased while I had accessed the PC, Oak’s attacks had continued…and try as I might to move towards the Bulbasaur, right as I made it to the Pokémon Sprite to press ‘A’, the HP bar reached zero and the Bulbasaur gargled before a new box said: [BULBASAUR HAS DIED].
Professor Oak stood there in a large puddle of blood and said:
“Good. It’s done.”
I turned off the SP…crying…and feeling defeated…
It took me an hour before I was sane enough to remember that I had saved in another city, I could go back and try it again!!! So, switching on my system once more, I ran to the PC first thing in Lavender Town (I wanted a Ghost Pokémon but was having a hard time catching one) and deposited Victreebel. That’s when I flew to Pallet town to face the nightmares once more. The same scene played out. GREEN burst out of the lab, scared out of his mind, the AIDE’s were dead (by now I figured they had tried to stop Oak and he had killed them), and after the rant…Professor Oak started attacking the mutilated Bulbasaur. I ran to it first thing and accepted it into my party, Oak cried,
”What are you doing? Stop!!!”
But I did not stop there…
Having played the game for many years, I always used the Missingno cheat. So, opening my bag, I used a Full Restore on the Poor Bulbasaur. His mutilated appearance remained with the Hollow eyes and missing skin, but his stats were back to normal. Next, I started unloading one rare candy after the other, The Bulbasaur soon became an Ivysaur, and then, even a Venasaur…and I did not stop until my new Pokémon was level 100---completely maxed out with all the proteins I could feed him. He still looked somewhat gruesome, eyes were still missing, pieces were still scratched and a little bloody…but to me, just being alive and on my team made this Pokémon the most beautiful creature in the world. After I was done, I turned to Oak and spoke to him, the text was jumbled and shaky,
“HOW DARE YOU?!”
The Venasaur stood beside my Sprite, healthy and roaring out in anger towards the professor. The Venasaur took one step and headbutted the Professor into his desk, knocking him unconscious…and then, I knew what to expect. Just like with the three evolved Pokémon battling at the beginning of my game, Venosaur used vine whip and wrapped the vines around the Professor’s neck. The face of his sprite kept turning deeper colors until at last, Venasaur let go, and the body of the Professor fell to one side.
A part of me knew that I should have been horrified by this…but I felt almost…glad that the Professor was dead. I had my own share of guilt for all the pain I had put this poor creature through by never choosing it as my starting partner---but what Oak had done was truly unforgiveable. Even in a game, there was no excuse for harming a Pokémon for anything…especially for being “unwanted”. Now that the battle was over, the Venasaur turned to me, roared again, and a text box appeared: [GIVE A NICKNAME TO YOUR NEW VENASAUR?].
After that little scene, I decided that I was going to send my game back to the guy who had hacked it---But not before I had traded “Buddy” to my Ruby version…and onward throughout my different parties. Turns out “Buddy” was not a male, but actually a female…and was actually Shiny. She traveled with me in my main party everywhere and overpowered everyone and everything. She was always first in my line and only seconded my starter when I was grinding for levels. I also started buying all versions of the generations so that…from now on, I could choose all 3 Pokémon is one version or the other, and none of them ever got left behind.
A few months later I recieved another parcel to my flat. This time it was the same FireRed game only it had been fully restored back to it's default (no glitches and all the old graphics and cutscenes), with a full refund, and a note inside that said: “Did you learn a valuable lesson?”. Turns out the guy knew what it was like to be alone. He was always chosen last in games, never had any friends, he admitted to having lied about knowing my Brother, and while he originally had no intention of hacking the game, when he looked at my Facebook status and saw me bragging about my ‘record’ of picking Charmanders, it had really struck a painful nerve for him. When sending the game back to him, I had made a record of what had happened in the game, how it made me feel, and told him to never do this to anyone else EVER again.
But in a sense…I’m thankful for it now. It may just be a game for some…but “Buddy” has been one of the greatest Pokémon that I could have ever asked for. And what it all came down to was one…simple…DECISION.