Let's get it out in the open: I play pokémon. I have since I was a kid and they first came out, and I've played nearly every single game that's come out. It's a fun pastime, and there's usually at least one good pokémon per batch, so I keep coming back.
However, sometimes the new games bore me, and sometimes I long for older games. I've played Red and Blue a few times (Blue especially), but recently I decided I'd go for a different kind of game. I had played LeafGreen as a rom, but never the actual cartridge, so I decided to go out on a limb and buy a used one. I wasn't expecting much other than a fun time, but that wasn't what was in store for me.
I started up the game as normal. There wasn't any saved data, so I started a new game, picked a girl (I always play girl characters; it's just something I've done forever) and named her Ghi. And this is where things got weird.
As always, I grabbed the potion from my mailbox, because I sure as hell wasn't going to lose my first battle. I headed downstairs and outside, ignoring talking to people, since I knew what they were going to say anyway. However, when I walked into the grass, I got two steps in before it stopped me. Then, rather than the normal peppy music, the normal music continued and the game just sort of stopped. I thought it had froze, but just as I was about to turn it off Prof. Oak came walking out.
He sauntered up to my character, like normal, and started talking. However, it wasn't the normal speech. He started off with, "Oh, it's you. Did you get into a battle? No? Fine. Follow me, it's not safe here." My sprite followed his, walking at half-speed or so, and we finally got into the lab.
Now, at this point I was taking careful note of everything that was wrong with the game, because it was trippy. Nothing seemed off, really, except that there was only one pokédex sitting on the table. Oak stood in his place for a while, and then Gary started talking.
"Gramps, are you going to say something this time, or can I get out of here?" That was odd in and of itself, but then Oak responded.
"Yes, sure. You can both pick a pokémon. Go ahead and choose from those three." Now, before I could do anything, Gary walked over, grabbed a pokéball, and a textbox popped up.
"I'll take this one." Gary said.
"Fine. Go ahead, then." Oak said. After that, Gary started walking away, but as he got to the bottom of the screen, his sprite stopped and turned around to face Oak.
"Maybe you should stop spending all your time looking at that damn machine and get on with your life." Gary said, and then he walked out. I waited a little bit after that, and then I realized I could move. I went and picked up the Bulbasaur (which was funny, because I was going to pick it anyway, but Gary picked up the Squirtle), and then I waited for Oak to talk. When he didn't, I went and talked to him.
"Bulbasaur." He said after a long pause. "Good choice. Train it well." And that's all he would say.
So, I left. The game seemed to play like normal at this point. I went up towards Viridian City, fought a few battles on the way, and eventually got to the pokémart, where the cashier forced the package on me. Taking it, I made the trek back to Pallet Town, and headed to Prof. Oak's.
As is probably evident, I was very excited at this point, because Oak had just been full of surprises during this game, but I wasn't ready for what I found. First off, there were no aides walking around in the first part of the lab, so it was oddly empty. Then I got towards the back and became very confused.
Oak was standing facing a pokémon sprite. It was a sprite of a Celebi, and it just bobbed up and down in front of Oak. After a moment, a textbox popped up:
"Take me away from here."
Then the screen went white. A pokémon cry I couldn't place, but I assume was Celebi, sounded a few times while the screen was white, and then it rapidly started flashing through screens. Some of them looked like gyms, some like routes, and some were just plain bizarre, but they only lasted for a few seconds each, so I didn't see many details. After about a minute of this seizure-inducing flash, the screen went dark. At first I was upset, because I thought that was all there was and the game had finally just crashed, but then the screen lit back up.
And now everything was different. The first thing that jumped out was the scenery; the game did not look like a pokémon game. It was obviously better quality graphics than LeafGreen, and it looked like a jungle. Even stranger, my character's sprite was now the original Red and Blue version. In other words, I was now a boy sprite in a strange, new world.
I opened the menu, but I no longer had many choices. I had the POKéMON option, and the BAG option, and the EXIT option. But that was it. Confused, I looked in the POKéMON option, but I had no pokémon on me. Not too surprising, considering the circumstances, but I was still a little upset. I liked my Bulbasaur.
There was an entrance to a cave towards the top of the screen, so I moved upwards. Inside, the cave was half-good graphics, half-old school pokémon graphics. In particular, there were a whole bunch of boulders that required Strength to move sitting around. One was immediately in front of me and blocking my path, but I had no recourse, so I walked up to it and tried to push it out of the way.
Instead of moving, it turned into a sprite of my character, so there were two old school graphics. When I moved away, it followed me. Other than that, it did nothing, so I ignored it. I moved around the cave, looking at the scenery, but it wasn't very interesting, just a maze and a pool of water.
In the next screen, there were a bunch more of the boulders, and every time I touched one of them they would turn into a copy of my sprite and follow me, so I soon had a nice little line of eight or nine doppelgangers following me. Then I saw a pokéball lying on the ground, and I went right for it. The textbox that popped up was odd.
"It's a Caterpie! But it's sleeping. Let's not wake it." I checked my POKéMON menu again, and I now had a Caterpie, no level listed, that was asleep. About this time I realized that the menu was in the normal LeafGreen graphics.
I moved farther through the cave until I found a few more pokéballs lying on the ground. The next one I picked up said, "It's a picture of my dead UNOWN. That's not very nice
" A little odd, but alright. The third pokéball said, "It's Oak's genetically engineered ONYX!" Sure enough, I now had an Onyx in my party. The fourth, and final pokéball, popped up a textbox that said, "It's a KABUTOPS, fully restored!" Like before, I now had a Kabutops in my party. Seeing as I had walked through several screens with no battles at this point, I was mostly ignoring the pokémon, so I didn't really look up their stats or anything. I was more intrigued by the bizarre gameplay.
As I exited the cave, I was at the top of a cliff. I walked to the edge and a textbox popped up: "JUMP?" it said, and then a YES/NO box popped up. I clicked YES, seeing no other option, and my sprite jumped off the side.
I landed at the bottom of an apparently very tall cliff, but it was the cliff itself that really got me. There were skeletons embedded in the bottom of the cliff, what looked to be otherwise rock, and they were pretty clearly human. Talking to the cliff did nothing, so I took the only exit out of the screen. It led me to another cliff, but this one had two sprites overlooking it. As I got closer to the edge of the cliff, I could see trees looming up in the distance, as far as the horizon.
I stopped looking at the distance and focused on the sprites. It was Prof. Oak and the Celebi again, looking over the cliff. I walked up and talked to the Celebi, but the cry I had heard when the screen went white sounded again, and nothing else. So, I talked to Oak. It took a little while, but a textbox finally popped up (though Oak's sprite didn't turn to face me).
"This place is so nice." Oak said. His sprite finally turned to face me. "It's
Ghi, isn't it? I'm sorry you look so different now. I didn't mean for that to happen." A box popped up with two options: WHERE AM I? and WHAT? I chose WHAT?, because I was more interested in that.
"I didn't mean for you to come with us. Me and
Celebi." The textbox disappeared for a second and then reappeared. "When I was a trainer, I wanted to be the best, and I did pretty well. As I got older, I decided to leave the fighting for the youngsters and instead catalogue every pokémon. And I did very well. As you probably don't know, I have seen many pokémon no one else has. And, honestly, it disturbs me."
Another textbox popped up with two more choices: LIKE WHAT? and WHAT HAPPENED? Not wanting to repeat myself, I chose WHAT HAPPENED?
"The world is a terrible place. Adults send children out to play with monsters. When I was young, there was more training, more preparation. Nowadays, those little schools are all that prepares children to interact with vicious creatures. More than that, after seeing so much of the world, I just don't trust it anymore. So much of it has been industrialized, so much of it has been taken over by humans
people don't worry about the children, because there's very little left for the pokémon. That was when I decided."
Once more, a textbox popped up, two choices available: DECIDED WHAT? and WHEN WAS THIS? Obviously, DECIDED WHAT? was more interesting, so I picked that one.
"I decided I would fix the world, through whatever means. It took me many years, more than you can imagine since I had the help of Celebi, but I did it. I made Team Rocket, to get my funding up. I organized Team Magma and Team Aqua, which let me catch Kyogre and Groudon. That was all I needed to complete my goals."
The textbox appeared again, the choices: WHAT GOALS? and WHAT DID YOU DO? I chose WHAT DID YOU DO?, though I honestly wasn't putting much thought into it anymore.
"I ended the world. With those two legendary pokémon in the hands of a true master like myself, as opposed to those bumbling fools, I tore apart the sea and earth. With Celebi's help, I traveled through time, strategically destroying continents and islands, so that I could reduce human control to a minimum. By the time you showed up, I was almost done. Celebi had decided to show me one last glimpse of the past, to try and make me reconsider, but it didn't work. However, I didn't expect you to show up when you did."
This time there was only one choice: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
"I thought I would go to the future and see how I had fixed the world, but you got pulled along with me. You never really should have existed. You were a potential life in a time that no longer exists. That's why you look like you do; your timeline has been crossed, erased, and corrupted to such an extent that you really only exist as an anomaly." The textbox disappeared and Oak turned to face Celebi. Celebi's sprite bobbed up and down and it's cry sounded, and then the textbox appeared again.
"I know. Thank you for helping me. I won't bother you again." Oak said to the Celebi. It turned and faced my character, moved forward a step, but then stopped and backed up two. It spun once and disappeared. A textbox appeared under me that said, "WHAT HAPPENS NOW?"
now we wait. Celebi is gone, so there's no going back. I intend to explore this world I've made until it eventually kills me. In a way, I'm just as much an anomaly as you, so there's nothing else for me to do."
A different textbox appeared: "WHAT DO I DO?"
"You can do whatever you like. I have no answers past this point. We're all that's left of humanity; out there is pure wilderness. But, I'm leaving. I wish you luck on whatever you decide." As the textbox disappeared, Oak moved away, walking past my sprite to where I had walked from.
My sprite moved towards the cliff. As I stepped against it, another choice popped up: END IT? and TRY TO SURVIVE? I hesitated. On the one hand, END IT sounded interesting, but TRY TO SURVIVE made it sound like I might get to keep playing. I ended up caving to the chance that something interesting would happen and I chose END IT. My character stepped off the cliff and fell, disappearing over the side.
Then the screen went black. Much as I tried, it didn't respond. I ended up waiting for half an hour, hoping something would change, but nothing did. Finally, my battery died, leaving me with nothing else. I grabbed another pair of batteries and loaded the game up again, but instead the game started up like normal, as if nothing was wrong.
There was no continue option (I was really kicking myself that I hadn't saved when I had the chance), so I tried to recreate the circumstances. I started a new game, named everything the same, moved in the same motions, as best as I could remember. But, nothing. The game just continued like normal. Finally, after I played through until I delivered the custom pokéball to Prof. Oak, I gave up and consigned myself the fact that this was just going to be a normal game.
I've never found that bizarre event again. I played through LeafGreen like I had intended to and tried restarting again, but it never worked. No matter what I try, I can't seem to get back to that place. And I can't help but wonder what would have happened had I chose TRY TO SURVIVE.