Friday, June 27, 2014

Colour Blind (Pokemon)

Colour Blind

Endless stories seem to present themselves of hacked games and such. Some more believable than others, some leave you questioning who would go out of their way to edit their own version of a game, just to spook a few unfortunate victims who happen to come to possess one. I've never made an attempt to acquire one myself, however what I am about to tell you all is the story of how one game, managed to find it's way into my hands.

I had decided to purchase one of the original Blue/Red/Yellow cartridges to play purely for the Nostalgic side of pleasure, so I made my way to the city, and found myself at the closest game shop I could find, Toy World.

Toy World outlets aren't dedicated to selling gaming merchandise, but I did recall seeing them sell games in the past. After a good browse of the shop, I found nothing, leaving with nothing in hand but some minor information which I acquired from one of the Shop clerks, who informed me that I would have better luck finding older games at GameTraders.

So I made my way there, obvious patience in my stride, I was feeling confident that I would find what I so desired with every step. I arrived at GameTraders, a very small shop in comparison to Toy World, for that I found myself feeling grateful. I felt excitement kick in when I spotted a Pokémon cartridge case, only to find out it was a copy of Silver, with no other Pokémon related GameBoy Colour cartridges in sight. My search spanned over most of the day, being informed one way, only to be sent another.

Patience wore thin, til I decided to head home with no spoils of hard searching. I arrived home, disappointed after all the effort, so I gave in to online purchasing. I lucked out with finding a copy of Yellow being sold 3 blocks away from my home. I got hold of the owner, who was a girl who sounded no older than myself, 17-18. I practically ran out the door, hopped on my pushbike and made haste to the address.

When I arrived, I knocked on the door, to be answered by a relatively attractive girl,her only flaws seemed to be her unkept appearance. Bed hair, with clothes that crossed the borderline of being considered home-comfort to homeless rags, but it did not matter. I gave her the money, she gave me the game. Something felt eerie from how silent she was, vocally and physically. As I walked away after giving thanks, she mumbled out "You won't save him". I paused, confused at her implication, then left with another praise of thanks.

I arrived home, still curious as to what she meant by "You won't save him", it made me feel uneasy. But, nonetheless, I immediately started up Yellow on my trusty GameBoy Advance SP. That's when things got interesting. Normal titles appeared in their very nostalgic order, but the intro did not play. It went straight to the menu, which simply had the Games title, with no Pikachu in sight, only a boy with black hair, crouched with his arms extended, face hidden in shadow, facial features unable to be made out.

I instantly found disappointment. A hacked game, presumably one made to creep the victim out. But, I had gained no other copy of the game, I paid for this, and I was curious as to how this version was laid out. Hitting start, the basic title came up, except continue was the only available option of gameplay. Naturally, I hit continue. The game faded in to the lead characters bedroom, where the trainer was seated, staring amongst paintings and a map on the wall.

I decided to check out this playthrough's spoils of gameplay, so I brought up the start menu, and noticed the name. "Dain". A nice name, I admit, not a cliched name such as Red, or Yellow in this case. Moving on, I checked my trainer card, starting trainer cash, zero badges, everything seemed at norm, except for the portrait of the trainer.

As mentioned earlier on, a black hair boy, a very defined Japanese hairstyle, swept over to a side, all spiky and awesome, I found it to be in my favor. He was expressionless. No smile, a bare featured face, with dark eyes, and a stare that left you curious to his story. I found myself wanting to play through this hack, wanting to explore the unexplored, based in a childhood game.

I proceeded to check my Pokémon team, naturally finding a level 5 Pikachu, nicknamed "Ladie". I found that interesting, but she was a standard, level 5 Pikachu. After I was downstairs, I spotted my mother, who had a different hairstyle to the preset version, but seemed all the same, with dialogue etc. etc. I left the house, which was the house on the left, and Pallet town seemed to be normal. So I explored, my rivals house first, which was set-up as a normal NPC house, no rival sign out the front, but after speaking with the mother, it seemed Dain was a friend to the girl who lived here, named "Delia". I went upstairs, walked over and started a conversation with Delia. She seemed glad to see Dain, ranting on about how cute Ladie was.

She then prompted me a question, "Do you think I should get a Pokemon too? Become traveling partners, wouldn't it be fun?"

I chose yes, then shortly after her immediate ecstatic reaction, SNAP! The power turns off on the GameBoy. Frustration and confusion hit me at the same time, but I stubbornly turned the game back on. It jumped directly to the menu screen, with the title, and Dain standing with Delia, showing a small smile upon his face, which in turn made me smile. It seemed I lucked out on a hacked game with a luring progressive character storyline! I knew this game had me, I was hooked, I spent hours over the next few days traveling and collecting badges, all the while with Delia as company!

The storyline was laid out exactly the same as the default storyline, however fame of Dains battling efforts seemed to grow. Every NPC seemed to recognize him! I loved that Dain would occasionally speak, a rare feat in Pokémon games, almost a childhood dream in fact. He progressively got happier as I pushed him through the game, the occasional change of face on his trainer card, and his relationship with Delia seemed to grow more in depth after every gym. I made Ladie strong. She was by all rights my main,and was ahead the rest of my party, which only featured the obtainable free Charmander/Bulbasaur/Squirtle through the game.

I continued on, pushing through, until I arrived at Victory Road, where Delia asked to meet up later, as she wished to visit a friend in Viridian. I decided to see what would happen if I said no, so no I said. She seemed down at the reply, and asked if I wished to go with her. So I did, I wanted to get more in depth with Delia's storyline as well as Dain's. So we arrived at the house with basic NPC's, which made no special dialogue with me, so I left, and decided to give Viridian gym a look around, seeing as it was the final gym I had yet to conquer, and noticeably the one I had to forgot to challenge in my haste to the Elite Four.

That's when I was prompted by a caretaker of the Gym. "Do you wish to hold a strong position in Viridian? Possibly as Viridians Gym Leader? Viridian City lost it's previous Gym leader several years ago, he passed on, may he rest in peace. But nonetheless we require a new Gym Leader. You have grown renown Dain, word of your strength has reached nearly all of Kanto. It is only natural that the title of Viridian Gym Leader be given to someone of your attire?"

I said yes. Good God I said yes, I had never felt excited as I did at that moment. I had always wondered what being a Gym Leader would be like in one of these games. Ignoring all remarks I've heard over the years that all you would do is stand aimlessly waiting for the odd trainer to challenge you. Then, without warning, SNAP! Off went the power once more. Seeming less surprised than the first time it had happened, I turned on the console, and was directed to the menu.

There stood Dain, in a completely new attire, a dark grey outfit, suited to the Gym of Ground of course, I liked the look of it. Dain was also surrounded by a new party. Rhydon, Graveller, Kangaskhan, a very fitting party. However Ladie remained there, by Dains leg. But she looked...sullen. Sad, perhaps sad to the change? By then it dawned on me that Delia was missing from the image. In fact Dain's expression showed a weak smile. Something must have happened between the two when I accepted the role as a Gym Leader, so I hastily clicked continue. It faded in to the Gym, Dain standing there in all his glory, however I had no control over him. Then I realized this was a cinematic. It faded in, and out of countless battles, seemingly depressing 8-bit music playing in the meanwhile. Eventually, it faded to a black screen altogether, and a "One year later" appeared on the screen.

Then, vision of the game faded in, to nothing more than Lavender Towns Pokémon Tower, where Dain stood in front of a tombstone, Delia standing behind him, a step to the right. "I am so sorry Dain... she must've been everything to you.."

It was then it hit me. "Her". I think I knew exactly who had died in the passing year. Subsequent to the change of life, it would only make sense. I was give control once more, and I hesitantly clicked on the tombstone. "Here lies Ladie. Kanto's little flash of yellow, loved by all, fathered by Dain. Rest in peace". I was so in depth in the game at that moment that it was the soaked screen that snapped me out of it. I was crying, crying so hard over the loss over the Pokémon I had trained from the start. It was my fault it had died, I made those stupid decisions to completely change Ladie's life by becoming a Gym Leader, knowing that Ladie wouldn't be fit for the Gym. Guilt-written, I turned off the game, hoping to find a possible way to alter the storyline.

I arrived at the menu once more. No Pokémon stood with me. No Delia to comfort the loneliness. Just Dain, standing there. In all his.. "Glory". Tears had begun to run dry by this point, looking upon Dain's face, only to find an even more ominous shadowed face than when I first began. I clicked Continue, to instantly be shown a cinematic between Dain and Delia. Delia was crying, Dain arguing. It seemed Delia decided to comfort Dain with her presence after Ladie died, as he had given up on everything.

Then she left. With nothing but "I thought I could save you". I couldn't believe it. The previous owner of this game's warning entered my head. She warned me. Even now I brushed it off. I had just ruined Dain's last chance of friendship, all of it, my fault. I gained control once more, and I decided to check my menu. No Pokémon. Then, the trainer card. There it was. The original crouched position Dain was in when I first started. I wanted to strangle the person who made this by now, searching for an excuse that all this wasn't my fault.

Dialogue broke me out of the menu, surprising to say the least.

Dain: Ladie... gone. Delia... I'm sorry..


Ominous silence crept into the fray of my room. I felt continued disappointment. I sullenly paused at restarting the game. Asking myself if it was worth it. I might as well, I don't think I could get any more depressed at my vain efforts of getting Dain back on track, so I turned it back on. Usual lack of intro, but this time it went straight to the save file. Dain was standing out the front of his house, speaking to Delia. I almost yelped in delight there and then. Things possibly might have gone back on track. But the dialogue that followed, proved that hope wrong.

Dain: Keep the house, Mum would've liked you to have it anyway.

Delia: .. and where will you go? Don't do this Dain, you'll be a father soon..

Dain: I'd make a bad father anyway, I've already lost one child. She was all I had.

A father? That I was not expecting. This story was so intriguing. The implied child was obviously Ladie. But I was moreso interested that Delia would be staying in Dain's house, and where would he be going? The cinematic came to a fade, leaving Dain departing from Pallet. Dain appeared in Viridian City, standing outside the Gym. He silently trodded off, at half pace. Dialogue kicked in.

Dain: ... I know Ladie can't come back. Nor will any Pokémon fill the gap she left. But that won't stop me from acquiring one..

This world is cruel, undeserving of such Pokemon.

A villainous plot. How predictable and cliched. I didn't complain though, I moved on, and continued on. I gained control over Dain, and did the usual check of his status. A ground type party. The original party I was given when I accepted the role as a Gym Leader. Interesting. I check the trainer card. Dain is wearing a striped suit. His facial features much more defined and mature, Dain looked an adult now. I exited the menu, and instantly lost control, as Dain started a long journey through Kanto.

He walked, through Pewter, to Celadon, through Saffron, until he arrives in Lavender. Of course, a final farewell to Ladie before he sets off to a new life. He entered the Pokémon Tower, made his way to Ladie's tombstone, and gave me control to interact with it.

Dain: Here lies Ladie. My little flash of Yellow. You were my love to Delia, my Ladie.

I will never find another you, but a Pikachu I will find. I have lost strength to travel Kanto again, so I will form an organization to purge Kanto for me. I came in here as Dain, but I will leave as another, to start anew. As in depth as I was at this point, it was obviously noticeable of the layout of "Delia" and "Ladie". Same letters, spelt out differently. It seemed Ladie was Dain's way of showing his compassion to Delia in physical form. His love and strength, dedicated to a single person through his beloved Pokémon. Dain began walking amongst the other tombstones. Curiously, I attempted to press A, which started a minor dialogue.

Dain: I must find a name appropriate to depart with...Then he stopped at one. A tombstone singled out from the rest. I clicked on it, nerves settling in from what was about to appear.

"Here lies Giovanni."


Poliwhirl (Pokemon)


[The following document was recovered from the author's room shortly after his famed escape, and has been published in the hopes of helping to lead to his eventual capture. This publication is the property of the Kanto Department of Investigation and may not be republished in any unauthorized texts. Plagiarism of this text is subject to trial at the full extent of the law.]

People often ask me what my favorite Pokémon is. I always tell them, "Pikachu!"

But Pikachu isn't my favorite Pokémon. My favorite Pokémon is Poliwhirl.

I haven't lied about it for a long time, but I guess there's a good reason for that. I used to lie a lot, but I'm better now. Besides, everyone always thinks Pikachu is my favorite, and I'm tired of the questions and surprise I got all the time when I was honest. Now, I just don't tell people. But I'm telling you.

I first encountered Poliwhirl when Dad took me fishing. See, Dad really likes sports, and fishing was one of his old pastimes. Right away, I knew I had to have one. I loved the spiral on its belly and how it could make slime to keep itself alive outside of water.

Dad kept the Poliwhirl he caught, and we played together a lot. I'd fall asleep after a while, but we had fun when I was awake.

It was the spiral on its belly. I loved that spiral, and how deep and mysterious it was. I liked watching it. It went on and on and on, like it was going into Poliwhirl's body. I wanted to stick things in there to see if they'd go in the spiral, but never did, in case it really did go inside Poliwhirl's body and I'd hurt it. It was a silly thing to think, but I was really little back then.

No, no... I must lose this childish demeanor. While I am a child, during my journey, I've given up all rights to childhood. One who has seen the horrors produced by men cannot rightly be called a child, and cannot claim innocence under the guise of childish ignorance. I'm sure you think me ignorant, even now, or perhaps you think me some sort of genius? I can't tell you what goes on in your own mind, but while gifted with the genius of childhood, I'm burdened by the weight of adult issues. In the end, I suppose you can call me average, a person in my own right, neither child nor adult.

I suppose I should introduce myself! Forgive me, I'm a bit scatterbrained. My name is Satoshi Tajiri. I have been told I share a name with the man who created this world, but I know nothing of that. I'm twelve years of age, and I grew up in Pallet Town, a quiet, fairly new town in Kanto. I've loved Pokémon my whole life. I got my first Pokémon, Charmander, a year ago. While my birth name is, as I've said, Satoshi Tajiri, I'm far more well-known under the name my followers have given me – "Red".

Ah, I understand you're a little frightened, now that you're sure of my identity, as you've no doubt heard the tall tales spun by those who've misjudged my actions. "Spun" is an appropriate choice of verb, as these tales have been spun just like the whirling mass that led up to my current predicament. You must understand, I was once a curious boy. While once-famous for my curious venture into the dangerous tall grass outside my hometown, I'm sure my more recent curiosities that have come to light are of far greater importance to you.

Ah, but I forget myself! You must think me to be terribly off-track, if not insane, hm? I apologize for my tangent, but I figured it was best to introduce myself before telling you what you want to know.

That Poliwhirl is my favorite Pokémon is perhaps the most important piece of information I can tell you. Forgive me, my writing skills are sub-par, and I cannot write this piece to give emphasis to the important without up and saying what is important. Poliwhirl is crucial to what I am about to tell you.

As I grew up with this Poliwhirl, I found myself more and more attracted to the symbol on its belly. My childish thinking, that the spiral was physical swirling into Poliwhirl's body, was not far-off at all. You see, the blue-black spiral markings on Poliwhirl are actually its innards. Its intestines. I've had to dissect many species in order to better my understanding of them, and I can only conclude that Poliwhirl's digestive tract is the most unique I've encountered. The intestines themselves are tucked neatly behind a smooth, skin-like membrane. This membrane is, like your own skin, semi-permeable and sensitive to changes in environment. It is almost translucent in the areas where its entrails show, and even closer inspection reveals that the organs have their own distinctive, uneven shapes where food is digested.

Curiosity led me to wonder... Could the shape of its entrails bear any deeper meaning?

Had I not wondered that very thing, perhaps I wouldn't be where I am today, but I can't bring myself to regret it. My very own senses seem to reject the things I have discovered, and it wouldn't be dismissive of you not to believe me on the basis of the sheer audacity of my claims. A mad genius of a child, some have called me. Whether or not I am mad, I can't say for myself. They say those who are the maddest are those who struggle to defend their own sanity, but, in my case, it makes no difference.

To tell you this is to lift just some of the burden from me, and while this is a selfish whim, I'm sure you could benefit from this tale. ...If it could be called that.

Again, I apologize, as it may have been more fitting to begin this tale with on that note, but as I pen this in, I have no means of erasing my words, and it's unfitting for me to start from the beginning. You know who I am, and, I assure you, that Poliwhirl is my favorite Pokémon is a significant fact.

As some of you may already know, I did not encounter a wild Poliwhirl personally until far into my journey. Until then, I'd been raising my father's, a specimen I'd grown especially close to. It was this Poliwhirl, the one nicknamed "Poli" by my younger self, that initially led me to wonder about the deeper significance of the spiral.

I invite you to consider that your own body also has many spiral patterns. Your ears, your prints, perhaps even your entrails. The shape of the spiral is a fascinating one, one that resonates sound, leads the eye into its centre. It's a tricky shape, capable of vexation and illusion. The presence of the spiral influences the sense of touch, and coils of metal expand and contract to provide heat on stovetops and display temperature in thermometers.

Spirals are one of nature's best-repeated patterns. A weed, as it sprouts, slowly coils outward from itself as it comes to fruition, rejecting its spiral shape as it reaches for the Sun. Even in human biology, a fetus is curled in the womb, taking up little space until it, like the weed, grows and unfurls. This is a common, well-researched phenomenon.

Perhaps you find my terminology crude, but what better way to explain it? The spiral is the shape of inception – the very first shape born into our existence. Galaxies, solar systems, even the very foundation for life, are formed in that same shape. Do you believe me? No? Are you aware of the double helix figure? It's the common structure of nucleic acid, which, I'm sure you know, is the very basis for your own genetic makeup. Your very DNA is a spiral, wrapped up nice and tight, containing everything about you.

Yes, the spiral is a mystical shape! Cracking the mysteries of it could lead us to unimaginably powerful discoveries! It was Poli who initially led me to question the significance of a seemingly parodiable idea, and Poli who led me to discover the things I have.

Regretably, I haven't discovered great things, and for my impulsive actions, I have suffered.

I have many theories regarding the shape of Poliwhirl's entrails. While I don't think any species can consciously control its own evolutionary biology, I find that the spiral makes for, among other things, a terrific defense mechanism. Ah, but doesn't leading the eye to the perfect target (Poliwhirl's own soft belly) defeat the purpose?

No, I earnestly believe that the shape of its spiral is, like the eye-patterns on Scizor's claws, a natural defense mechanism, even a wonderful means of attack.

[The following few pages are a series of illegible scribbles in various colors of ink]

Forgive me, I've once again lost my place.

The spiral is rarely seen as a biological marking of a creature, often hidden inside. I highly doubt any simple human could use such things to their advantage, but Pokémon are powerful, incredible beings, capable of many things that seem impossible for them. My most famous defeat of Team Rocket's Boss lead me to encounter a very rare, oddly colored Persian who attacked with Thunderbolt.

While Poliwhirl is a Water-type, and any sort of hypnotic manipulation is more famously associated with Psychic-types, I once again invite you to consider that the powers Pokémon possess extend far, far beyond human understanding. Once again, I am only a child, but it doesn't take much more than a child's logic to ascertain that one can not be entirely convinced of somethings potential on the mere basis of what is.

I began my investigation into Poliwhirl's powers shortly after beginning my journey. Poli was young, and despite being relatively low-level, had little interest in obeying my commands outside of our shared home. Our first few Gym victories weren't rightly ours, as Poli chose to sit on the sidelines, refusing to stand by my side in battle.

Of course, being a Trainer, I've also traded with many people. I can say almost certainly that I never let any of these Pokémon disobey me so easily, and we quickly became friends despite their previous Trainers.

I can't be sure when I suspected that Poli was manipulating me, but I know I joked about the idea several times before earning my fifth badge. Poli and I were still friends (or so I had thought), the proof of which was that every night, Poli would use the hypnotic powers its spiral had gifted it with to lull me to sleep.

I wonder, even now, if Poli was only toying with me, putting me to sleep out of loathing and not as a favor to me. Unlikely, as the two of us were great friends, but still, I often wonder...

I remember very clearly the night I began my research. I remember the way the shadows on the wall began to twist into helix shapes, the way my eyes refused to focus. It was disorienting and dizzying to study Poli the way I did. Several times, Poli tried to escape, and I was forced to return him to his Pokéball to prevent this.

I remember the tantalizing shapes made out to me, the spirals and helixes, conic, circular, geometric, spanning different dimensions and yet, it was the simple, flat shape on Poli's belly that continued to fascinate me. It drew me in, lulling me into a state of stupor that was simultaneously both glorious and terrifying. It was a high unlike any thrill of victory, or any rush of adrenaline from battle. The spiral, unending and beautiful, stabbed me right in the heart, spiraling into the center of me, threatening to unwind me at my very core, as though it spinned in a way directly reverse to the direction I did. While such things might make little sense to one who has yet to behold them, I consider you fortunate you haven't had to experience what I did.

As I'm sure you heard, people call my crimes an act of insanity, but I disagree, as I broke the spell in a rare, screaming moment of coherency. I had no choice.

While I mourn Poli's loss, I am glad that his death, avoidable as it may have been, allowed me to look deeper into the mysteries of the spiral. I preserved the carcass for later research, but the following morning, I was surprised to find that the marking on its belly had faded away, leaving only white skin. Given my poor methods of preservation and lack of thought to the decomposition process, this isn't surprising, yet unsettling as it may seem, brought me to peace with my beloved companion's passing.

I eventually obtained another Poliwhirl, one I'd been fortunate to capture myself. As you can understand, I initially avoided this one, but, as I've always been one to befriend all of my companions, we came to know each other.

By that point, I was very nearly done with earning Kanto's eight Gym Badges, and my legacy, as it was, led no one to suspect my crime. Had I not sought just one more taste of the forbidden fruit – secret knowledge of the spiral – perhaps I would have gone on to live normally and retain my rights to childhood as I should have.

To this day, I don't believe I acted on my own accord. I had no desire to do the things I have done, and those who've known me know that such things are unlike me. While I find it hard to recall my previous demeanor, I was a curious, sweet boy, and though I had the dark gift of being rather intelligent for my age, there had never been anything sinister about me to suggest I'd behave this way. I suppose I was most like the childish demeanor I tried to display when beginning this text, however, I find that mindset impossible to replicate.

I've since rejected the spiral, though my efforts, I come to admit, are in vain. As I write, my ten fingertips ache under their dressings where I've removed my own external spirals. To deny the shape within myself is to deny all that ever was.

As you are no doubt aware, a similar Pokémon, Spinda, also has a similar spiral motif. I've researched the effects of Spinda, and never have I felt more than dizzy. At the same time, nor has any other person felt such deep hypnosis from the effects of Poliwhirl.

That spiral has driven me mad. Of this, I am finally certain. Do you want to know what I've seen?

Perhaps I was wrong in discarding the significance of my name. While I was largely known to the world as Red, the Champion from Pallet and Hero of Kanto, that identity is dead to me now. I've reverted to my birth name – Satoshi. It was this man whose image and persona I take on, and, I'm sure, he who originally chose Poliwhirl as his favorite Pokémon. And, in turn, I suppose those who venture into my world are also a bit of me. I am, as you would say, your "avatar" on your own Pokémon journey, am I not? My name is "Red" to you, but you are free to call me whatever you want, aren't you?

It is my theory that I was created to feel this affect, as well as all those who take on this "avatar". It would explain the lack of effect felt by others in my world who've experimented with Poliwhirl's hypnotic powers. I wonder, then, if my namesake did this deliberately, using the spiral to lure people into the world he'd created?

Can you clearly remember your first Poliwhirl encounter?

Can you be sure you've never felt a change since the first time you encountered a Poliwhirl on the screen of your device?

Are you sure?

Are you sure?

It's best not to wonder what I've done.

[The following half page is filled with gimicky, childlike scrawls. doodles of spiral-shapes and geometric figures, along with various, crudely-drawn Pokémon]

I resign myself to silence now, for I've said all I need to, and I'm sure this facility, one way or another, will come to silence me through their own means.

[The following three pages are blank]

Poliwhirl wasn't always my favorite Pokémon.

<i>Credited to Pyroluminescence on</i>

Ketsuban (Pokemon)


“Rhydon, use fissure!”

The Gym floor shook beneath Rhydon’s feet as it let out a tremendous bellow. If this move hits… SpriteGiovanni

All at once, an enormous crack opened in the earth. A gaping maw stretched across the gym floor, speeding rapidly towards the move’s target. Closer, closer…and the fissure opened up beneath the opposing Blastoise, sending it tumbling down untold feet into the darkness below. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, the tear was gone. The gym floor shone flawlessly under the cold, synthetic light, and Blastoise was nowhere to be seen.

The opposing trainer’s tears fell swiftly now, splashing silently onto the pristine tiling into which his Pokémon had vanished.

“Where…where’s Blastoise? Where…did he go?” The trainer was staring listlessly at the ground, refusing to move an inch. He was obviously in shock over the sheer magnitude of his defeat; Giovanni would have to remedy this.

“Pay up, kid”, ordered Giovanni in a low voice. The trainer acquiesced resignedly, forfeiting half of his life savings into Giovanni’s waiting palm. But he still refused to leave. “Go home”, commanded the leader, now slightly irritated. “You’re holding up the line.”

The trainer looked about himself in a dazed state, and noticed the challenger standing behind him, a small, black-haired boy of perhaps ten years of age. “Oh…sorry, I…I didn’t notice”, mumbled the defeated trainer with a small nod, and he at last began to pace resolutely back towards the Gym’s front door.

Giovanni turned his attention to the black-haired boy, who had stepped forward. He was wearing a red jacket over a black t-shirt and had a red-and-white cap pulled low over his eyes. Giovanni was intrigued by this challenger; something about him was unsettling, something about his slow, measured pace and expressionless visage seemed somehow…alien. But that was of no consequence; nobody had ever defeated Giovanni’s main team, and he was not about to let this child become the first.

“Welcome”, spoke Giovanni in a cool, intimidating tone. “I am the Viridian City Gym Leader. Do you dare to challenge me?” Giovanni rose to his full height. “I am the greatest trainer the world has ever known! I have defeated countless thousands in this very spot! Thousands upon thousands of championship dreams, terminated right where you’re standing! And yet you still dare to forever risk your only aspiration by blithely challenging my undefeated team?” The speech had been delivered flawlessly, and Giovanni felt quite proud of himself; surely, the child had by now realized his insignificance, surely he was at this moment quaking in his boots.

And yet, the challenger showed few outward signs of his distress. Giovanni’s oratory had reduced countless grown men to sniveling, crying imbeciles by means of that very speech, and yet here was a child, a whelp no more than ten years old, standing his ground. Rather than break down, the challenger nodded and stepped noiselessly forward. The effect was disconcerting, and Giovanni’s voice displayed an imperceptible faltering. “Very well…then let us begin.” Giovanni threw his first Poké Ball.

A stream of crimson light issued forth from the Poké Ball, quickly coalescing into Giovanni’s Rhyhorn. Rhyhorn was Giovanni’s usual lead, and had served him admirably in the past by gauging the strengths and identifying possible weaknesses of his opponents. The terrifying spectacle of the three-foot tall Rhyhorn’s single-minded charge attack had caused many to resign their challenge in terror by itself. But the child stared unflinchingly at Giovanni’s Pokémon, and threw down a Poké Ball of his own.

But there was a problem; the device was malfunctioning. This was unheard of; Poké Balls were made on assembly line now, and, as Kanto’s only major export, each Poké Ball had to be flawless. Those with faulty machinery were without exception weeded out somewhere in the manufacturing process; as a former head of Silph Corporation, Giovanni knew that. So what was wrong with the child’s Poké Ball?

Instead of releasing the customary beam of light, the Poké Ball was shaking eccentrically, without any discernable rhythm, and emitting periodic bursts of red light from its central seam. As bloody sparks jumped across its surface, the Poké Ball seemed ready to explode from the pressure of whatever was inside of it. Suddenly, the Poké Ball released its laser, but, instead of the customary red, it was a pale and sickly orange.

When the light faded, Giovanni caught his first glimpse of the thing that the Poké Ball had vomited. It was a pile of trash, just sitting there on the floor of the gym. Without warning, and before Giovanni could get a closer look, the pile of trash expelled a stream of pale brown-colored liquid, hissing and spurting as it did so.

“Water Gun”, commanded the challenger.

The fluid squirted through the air and impacted Rhyhorn squarely in the face. Giovanni’s face betrayed his worry; Rhyhorn did not usually survive any decently-powered Water- or Grass-type moves. Yet Rhyhorn did not falter; the pile of trash’s Special must have been completely pathetic for Rhyhorn to take such a small amount of damage.

But something was wrong. Something was…off about Rhyhorn after the brown liquid contacted him. Giovanni could sense it, though he couldn’t quite discern what it was; something seemed different about the shape of Rhyhorn’s back or the pattern of his armor plates. Giovanni only became truly alarmed when Rhyhorn did not turn his head, as usual, to receive orders; he stood unmoving, frozen to the spot from which he had received the attack. Giovanni walked around Rhyhorn to examine his face, and found it scrambled, with no discernable features. Various pieces of eyes, mouth, and nose were scattered haphazardly around its ruined face, which resembled a disassembled jigsaw puzzle on a featureless grey background. Giovanni was aghast. “Rhyhorn? Rhyhorn…use…Fury Attack! Rhyhorn?” Rhyhorn was not fainted, and showed no signs of collapse or fatigue. But he was clearly dead.

Giovanni could not look at the horror that his Pokémon had become, so he returned it to its Poké Ball. He could not lose; his team was undefeated, and this…thing would surely not prove a challenge to his stronger Pokémon. He decided to immediately move up a tier in strength, and so summoned Nidoking from its Poké Ball. Nidoking emerged with a savage scream, but Giovanni’s attention was focused on the pile of trash. As he searched for a weakness, he came to a sudden realization; most of what he had previously assumed to be trash consisted of discernable pieces of various Pokémon. Here was a Bulbasaur tail, there a Fearow beak and a Blastoise arm, all haphazardly stitched together into some kind of abominable mass and mixed in with…other things, things that he could not recognize. There were letters and numbers, pieces of signs and buildings, and chilling geometric patterns that he could not even begin to identify.

And it was distinctly larger than it had been thirty seconds ago. With each passing second, the thing…grew, Giovanni thought he noticed. It was a slow process, but the pile of trash appeared to be steadily expanding without any external source. But maybe that was just a trick of the light…

Giovanni didn’t even know where to look for a weakness, or what such a weakness would even be; but he did know that this monstrosity had to somehow be stopped. So he ordered Nidoking to attack.

“Nidoking, use Thrash!”

Nidoking looked around for a moment, wondering where the attack was even directed. Nidoking was considerably smarter than Rhyhorn, smart enough to notice that there weren’t actually any other Pokémon in the arena. Nidoking turned to look at Giovanni, who, presented with what might very well have turned out to be the last time he ever saw Nidoking whole, felt a sudden surge of regret. He pointed ruefully at the pile of trash, which had taken on an unmistakably crimson hue. Giovanni had seen it before, he thought, but he could not remember when…

Nidoking never got his close look at his foe. He was not one to disobey orders, for Giovanni was a hard master…and so Nidoking charged. He rammed fist after massive, armor-plated fist into the thing, but it showed no signs of any external damage or fatigue. It just sat there, glowing. As the word popped into his head, Giovanni knew what was about to happen. He tried to shout, tried a second too late to warn Nidoking of his fate. But Nidoking was so absorbed in its Thrash attack that it failed to notice, and so the end came quickly.

“Sky Attack”, said the challenger. His lips, Giovanni saw, did not move when he talked, but remained frozen open. In fact, he had not moved at all since the battle had begun. Giovanni suddenly began to wonder if he even could. The boy’s clothes were becoming distorted, becoming numbers and letters and Pokémon fragments one piece at a time. There were endless, mesmerizing geometric patterns in his eyes…

Nidoking flew through the air and smashed against the ceiling of the Gym with a reverberating crash. The collimated light from Giovanni’s Poké Ball intercepted the hapless Pokémon before the floor could; Giovanni did not want to have any opportunities to get a good look at the remains of his Nidoking. If only he had chosen a different move, Nidoking might have been saved…

The trash was not just larger now, but…spreading. The walls were spattered with it, oozing with Pokémon, and Giovanni’s pristine floor was covered in refuse. As Giovanni reached uncertainly for another Poké Ball, he discovered that his hand no longer fit securely around it in the position to which he had long been accustomed. For even he had not escaped the trash’s corrupting influence; his hand, though retaining its general shape, was gruesomely disfigured; a Weezing’s face, a Wigglytuff’s ear, and an Arcanine’s eye, along with other body parts too damaged to identify, protruded from his skin in tortured, hideous combination.

Giovanni tried to scream, but no sound came out. He fumbled with his Poké Ball, and tossed it onto the floor haphazardly, a novice trainer once again. Rhydon emerged, but even he was not free of the trash’s scarring. His skin had a reddish tint, and his spikes were misaligned with the ridge of his back… Giovanni could not order an attack, but he did not need to; Rhydon was as incapable of movement as Giovanni himself. Across the arena, the opposing trainer no longer bore any resemblance to a black-haired human being; he was already consumed, a pile of trash in a hominid shape. Only the cap remained, pulled low over where the trainer’s eyes had used to be. Giovanni could just make out the black, embroidered capital letters printed on the front. “Future Pokémon Master”, the cap read.

The boy’s lips could not move, but the trash’s attack came anyways. It let out a hideous scream, torn from the larynxes of nearly every Pokémon in Kanto, savagely twisted and ground together to form a single, unending screech. As the monster grew still larger, its cacophony grew louder, and Giovanni’s consciousness was fading fast. The walls of his gym turned to sludge, and Giovanni felt his body beginning to crumble around him. Rhydon was melting beside him, and the trainer and his Pokémon slowly merged into a single puddle of liquid death. The trash filling his vision at last invaded Giovanni’s final thoughts as he saw the world disintegrate, and the abomination consumed all.

Pokemon Pinwheel Village

Pokémon Pinwheel Village

It was 1/4/2012 when my friend let me have his copy of Pokémon Black; my friend had a tendency of selling his consoles but keeping the games, by evidently still owning Super Street Fighter IV though he hasn’t had an Xbox 360 since a year ago. The same applied for Black.

He recently sold his DSI to GameStop to make some money for the long board he wanted. Of course, when I asked him if he was willing to give it to me for free, he hesitated but agreed as long as I would find a way to transfer out his Pokémon.

I had a friend who would help me trade out the Pokémon but he was in Oregon for the holidays so he had to leave all his stuff at home. Over the next few days, I had the game in my dresser drawer waiting for my friend to get back from his vacation. Until then I thought to myself, 'I guess I can start a new game just as long as I don’t save'.

My starter, of course, had to be Oshawott, and I nicknamed him Chip. In every Pokémon game I've played since Crystal, I've come up with two rules; Rule 1:The first 6 Pokémon I catch would stay with me until I beat the Elite Four. Rule 2: I also could not catch any more after I've caught these six until after the Elite Four. Because of these rules I usually refrained from catching any Pokémon until later. I didn't catch my second Pokémon until I reached Nacrene City it was a female Blitzle.

I finally made it to Pinwheel Forest and managed to beat Team Plasma with Blitzle alone, which was good because she needed some training. After the events with Team Plasma I decided to remain in the forest before venturing onto the next town because I have the habit of leveling up my team to the next nearest 10, mostly because I loved having the upper hand in the next gym battle. While there, I also thought to have a look around for any items that could be useful.

While walking around I encountered a patch of rustling grass; being my first time seeing one I didn’t know what to expect (and over all unfamiliar with this generation, and the only information I knew about it being related to N), but I decided to go for it. The patch of grass began to move away from me and I immediately thought “I have to chase after it? Well it certainly makes catching Pokémon interesting. I guess.” I followed it for a minute when I realized I don’t really think this is worth it, so I began walking back.

As I began my walk back to the path I noticed I wasn’t in a familiar part of the forest. It didn’t concern me much, since I was thinking I could probably find more items this way. That’s when my game screen began to shake and large roots came out from behind the trees, blocking my path back.

I had thought back to a Pokémon Ranger I had battled while in pursuit of the Plasma Grunt with the Dragonite skull, mentioning that the forest was alive and that every day something changes. So I had thought, 'This is what he was talking about' :it was a maze that would shift randomly. So I began walking in the other direction to see if I could find another way around. After walking in a straight line for a while I began to think that this probably wasn’t a good idea.

Just then an “!” icon appeared above my character's head and the screen panned left to a woman in a dark green ball gown, as though she had come from a fancy party. She was facing the opposite direction and as I approached her the “!” icon appeared above her head. She turns around to face my character. Immediately she said “Oh well if it ain’t nothing but a child, what are you doing this far out in the woods, sugar? Not trying to scare anyone I hope,” She waited for my character to respond. When he didn’t, she continued to talk. “Well not much of a talker are ya? Well you should come with me anyway, we'll see if we can’t do something about your predicament.”

She began to lead my character west and into a town called Pinwheel Village. I hadn’t noticed it on the town map the last time I checked, and the music was a blues influenced version of Route 1 from the original Pokémon game. She continued to lead my character through the town, which was rural styled; almost all the houses were made of wood and old fashioned, the only exception being the stone cottages at the entrance. As we walked she began to speak. “Pinwheel Village is an old town and was built on a swamp. My family has owned these fertile lands for generations. We also don’t get many visitors round here, so I apologize if I seemed startled by ya’ll earlier.”

We finally stopped in front of a building that had a small sign on the front which I could not read because it was written in that universal gibberish for international cartoons. My first assumption was that this was some type of herbal shop. The woman then said, “This here is our town's Pokémon Center. Feel free to heal up your Pokémon, then when you’re done, come by my mansion and take on my gym challenge. I’ll be waiting for ya’ll so don’t keep me waiting.” She then walked north off the screen. Immediately I pulled out my town map and checked where I was, and sure enough I was in Pinwheel Village just west of Pinwheel Forest (before reaching the coast).

I then made my way into the Pokémon Center, but everything in there was totally different compared to the last Pokémon Center I was in. First off there was no upstairs for communicating with other players, no PC, and no Pokémart. It was cramped looking in there, but the nurse at the end of the hall along with what appeared to be a small pinkish Pokémon (I remind you, I know nothing of this generation so I still don’t know certain Pokémon names) were the only ones in there. I approached the desk and talked to the nurse. Instead of the regular greeting she simply said, “Welcome! Ya’ll look tired, why don’t ya have a quick lie down?” When my screen came to I exited and made my way to the gym. I noticed that all the houses were locked and the only person out was standing facing his Purloin. When I pressed A on him, he said: “They are busy playing. Maybe it's best we don’t disturb them.”

At first I saw nothing but fenced in wheat on both the left and right of my screen. The walkway was about three spaces wide and I had passed by an open gate earlier so I assumed I had entered the plantation. Upon approaching the gym the camera began to move behind my character as if I were walking right behind him, so I saw the mansion in total detail. The first thing I noticed was it was a HUGE mansion. Next I noticed the large amounts of vegetation growing on it which included vines, roots (similar to the ones that blocked my path earlier) and an extremely large tree bursting out of the roof of the complex. Multiple branches poked out of windows and balconies. I knew from that view that this was going to be a grass gym and since I had no fire types the best option was using Blitzle, seeing as Chip (who was a Dewott now) was a water type. I thought she stood a better chance.

Entering the gym, I was greeted by the music of any normal gym, but the man near the statues who was supposed to give me advice was not there. This was strange but I thought nothing of it since I didn’t really need any advice for this gym. As I looked around the rest of the room I noticed the building on the inside looked just as destroyed as on the outside. Roots were digging into the floor, vines were spreading on the wall, and shrubs grew from cracks in the walls. As I walked forward the floor was covered in the same roots as earlier and just as I was about to take my first step onto them, the screen began to shake and they opened up leaving a giant gaping hole in the floor and set of stairs. A trainer climbs up and says, “Well, it’s been awhile since we had a challenger. I promise to make it worth the trip.” When the battle sequence started the trainer’s sprite looked a lot like a mature version of the male character from Sinnoh when he wears his tuxedo; his trainer class was a Ball Room Dancer Stanley. The trainer had a Deerling and a Pansage which were both taken out by Blitzle’s stomp attack.

After the battle, the trainer says, “If you want to get to our gym Leader you’re going to have to battle all of us in the ball room. Every time you beat one of us a new root at the end of the room grows out, extending the bridge a little more.” Just as he had finished the sentence the screen panned north and began to shake, I saw a root come up patching up the bottom bit of the gap in the floor at the end of the room. Seeing as the opponents weren’t very tough I decided that in the next battle I would use Tito to gain some experience.

The next set of roots came up and just as last time the screen shook and the roots moved revealing another trainer. This time it was a young female dressed in a yellow ball gown. “May I have this dance?” Her name was Ball Room Dancer Jessica. Her sprite was a young brunette around the age of 10 or 11 in a big yellow dress. She had both a Deerling and a Snivy around level 16. As before, her Pokémon were fairly weak so it was an easy experience for Chip. By now Chip was level 20 and Blitzle was level 17. The battle ended and she ends with “Was I being polite?” The bridge then grows a bit more.

Now what I expected to be the final trainer was left, seeing as the bridge had one root remaining. I approached the next set of roots; as before the screen shook and the roots spread only this time revealing a pair of trainers, a male and a female. The man wore a dark green vest and the woman wore a black dress. The text box then appeared; Jack: “We are the best dancers in this room, so don’t expect us to let up easily!” Diane: “To get to Samantha you’ll have to do better than that!” The battle then started; their sprites were very dark, almost Hispanic. Both were dark haired and were making that classic tango pose with both hands together pointed to the character. Tango Couple Jack and Diane would like to battle, the text box said.

They had three Pokémon instead of the normal 2 that the other trainers had. The first 2 were Simisage and Maractus. I hadn’t ever seen a Maractus yet so I was a bit excited about it, but not as excited as I was going to be when I found out what was next. They were hit by my Chip’s Razor Shell and Blitzle’s Stomp; of course, the Simisage survived the Stomp without even a dent but Maractus had gone down in one hit. The next Pokémon to appear was a Pokémon called Hollowseed which I had never even heard of; its cry was the sound of rustling leaves and two wooden objects hitting one another. It looked like a walnut half way pried open enough to reveal two red eyes (similar to Kabuto) in the dark hollow space inside the shell. In its animation it rocked back and forth for a bit, stopped, then the eyes moved left and right inside the shell as though looking around. Then the animation repeated itself.

Assuming that it was just a Pokémon I would encounter later in the wild I attacked, this time I used Stomp on Holowseed and Razor Shell on Simisage. Simisage went down no problem, but the Holowseed didn’t take a hit. It had no effect so it must have been a Ghost Type. I thought to myself, “Ghost-Grass Pokémon? That’s a first. At least it’s something new, right?” The Pokémon then attacked with Bullet Seed. The next turn I KO’d it with Razor Shell before it could attack again. The match ended and the text box appeared; Jack: “It takes 2 to tango doesn’t it?” Diane; “Yet you still beat us by yourself.” The final root then shot out of the wall completing the bridge and allowing me to cross over to the Gym Leader.

She was standing at the base of the tall tree’s shadow with a beam of sunlight (almost like a spotlight), casting out from between the leaves on its colossal branches. I approached the Gym Leader and pressed A. “Ya know I just realized, I never properly introduced myself. I’m Samantha, the owner of this plantation, and what do they call you? … ‘Santi’, now that’s a mighty powerful name. Well now child, y'all kept me waiting long enough, it’s my turn to dance with y'all, so don’t hold anything back and give it all ya got!”

Samantha’s battle sprite had much more elegance then that of her overworld sprite. She was blonde and wore her hair in a bun with a white and purple flower on the side of her head and two streaks of hair running down both sides of her face. She had a beauty mark on her left cheek and had light green eyes. She wore long gloves going half way up her bicep, her dress sleeveless and starting from the top of her neck and slim fit until the waist; there, it spread out into a beautiful cascade of green and yellow dotted with light green flowers thickening into light green mist towards the bottom of the dress.

Her first Pokémon was a Hollowseed; mine was Chip. As my first attack I chose Razor Shell and took care of her Pokémon without hesitation. The next Pokémon was another Hollowseed, so I decided to use Blitzle this time because she lacked experience. For this attack I couldn’t use Stomp, so I decided to use Charge and then attack with Shock Wave. Hollowseed used Vine Whip, which took out a quarter of Blitzle’s health. The next time I attacked and KO’d it. Blitzle leveled up to 18, learning the move Flame Charge, which was perfect for the situation I was in.

The next Pokémon was called Swampress. Its cry was almost the same as Hollowseed's except the rustling was replaced with a more scraping sound and the wood taps were replaced with a small drum beat (like a heartbeat). When I first saw it the attributes that stood out to me were the same red eyes as Hollowseed, of course giving me the idea that this was its evolution. They were at the base of the tree in the shadow of the thick white roots which were spiraling upwards merging into a solid trunk of a tree. For its animation it would grow a few inches appearing to bounce but then spring back to its original height. I used Blitzle’s Flame Charge and got it almost down to zero health. Swampress then used Ingrain, but it didn’t help seeing as I took it out in the next attack.<

That was Samantha’s last Pokémon or so I thought. The battle ended and a text box appeared; “Well that was one heck of a battle, but don’t ya’ll think it’s over. I’m just getting started. It’s time I introduce you to my strongest Pokémon!” As she said that the music intensified and the whole gym began to shake. Roots began to detach from their places in the gym and back through the holes in the ground, shrubs sank into the wall. Then as the gym continued to shake a text box appeared “Seeing ya’ll this far out in the forest made me suspect something about ya’ll. But I didn’t expect that ya’ll would be the strongest challengers to step foot into this gym. I can’t let my families’ legacy die, so with great angst I must ask you for a rematch, and I won’t take no for an answer.”

The shaking began to intensify and the tree in the background suddenly had a little red orb moving about within its hollow frame appearing occasionally in the dark gaping holes in the bark. I immediately knew it was the final evolution of Hollowseed. It then began to rise out of the ground, revealing two more red eyes in the shadows of its roots. A battle then started, but the sound was much more intense as if fighting a legendary. Samantha rolled in saying “Alright now it’s time to show me what you really got!" She then faded into the background and the monstrous Pokémon rose from the ground. The only eye visible was the one moving about inside the dark brown bark; the two eyes I saw earlier were reburied into the ground. The sound it made was that of a tree after being cut falling, snapping branches and landing with a loud thud. The screen only fit in everything below the branches, maybe a reference to how tall it was.

My character then threw out two Pokéballs: both Blitzle and Chip came out. Of course I thought it was strange. I’m only going against one Pokémon so why would I need both at the same time? It was when the status bars finally slid into view that I realized why; The Pokémon’s name was Eternatree, but that wasn't all. Its level was 40 and compared to my teams level that was a little bit high… Make that really high, the strongest Pokémon I got is level 20. I don’t stand a chance. In its animation it would just sit quietly with its eye moving about uncoordinated as if it were looking around for something; then suddenly the tree would tilt back and all 3 eyes (including the now revealed ones hidden in the tangled mess of roots) would all focus on my screen as if looking at me. Then it would repeat.

Eternatree went first: it used the move Sunny Day, I immediately knew what it was trying to do. It was preparing for Solar Beam. Electra attacked with Flame Charge but that barely did anything, Tito used Razor Shell which didn’t do much either but at least lowered its defense. I had better luck this time around, though: it tried to use Shadow Ball but it missed. I then attacked with Flame Charge and Razor Shell again, reducing its health to a little bit less than half. Next round my luck ran out, because it used Shadow Ball on Blitzle and KO’d her. I was down to just Chip and I knew I was screwed. But, luckily, Razor Shell's effects had now taken their toll and lowered its defense enough so it was a somewhere in the third quarter of its health. Next round Eternatree was now using Ingrain and I thought I was done for in the next turn. But, just as I thought it was all over, Chip landed a critical hit on Eternatree and I won the match.

In the text box after the match the text read; “…” The next scene after the battle, instead of fading into the over world was a close up of Samantha. She was looking down with shadows covering her eyes, but tears running down her face. The Eternatree was in the background but back to its dormant state like before the battle; it appeared as if straight out of the anime, only much more detailed. Samantha looked up, with tears still running down her face. She was smiling. As soon as the text box appeared the song “Sad Song”, from the original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, played...but it sounded different, like it was softer and sadder, and slightly more orchestrated.

She then said “So I get it now...not everyone can be the strongest. I think I’ve known that for some time now… but I was too ashamed to admit it… (She then closed her eyes and her grin grew larger looking cheery) Santi, thank you; if it wasn’t for you and your Pokémon I wouldn’t have realized that. I owe you an apology, I had a bit of an outburst. I hope you will forgive me?"

(A 'yes' and 'no' option appeared, and I chose 'yes'.) "Oh you don’t’ know how much that means to me. I wish I could give you a badge for all your hard work but I honestly don’t have one. So instead I’ll leave you with something to remember me by. You’ll find it upstairs in my room…” (Her expression then changed to her looking away over her left shoulder. Her smile turned into a slight smirk) “So I guess this is goodbye, then. I wish I could say we will meet again…” (She then looked back down like from the beginning) “Santi… when you think all is over, never lose sight of the ones you love.” And with that she slowly faded into white and began to drift away, as if she were made of white petals and a gentle breeze was blowing her away. The now visible and still dormant Eternatree began to sink into the ground: it unraveled into millions of vines in a stop motion style, and it slowly slipped into the ground allowing sunlight into the now empty mansion.

“Wow,” I thought, shocked and speechless. “Gamefreak really went all out on this game, that was just awesome.” I was now looking at the gym, which seemed decayed as if it had been years since anybody had been there. It had shifted into a darkish brown as if the building had the life drained out of it.

The music began to fade, like it would stop, but instead it continued faintly. I made my way towards the doorway on the other side of the gaping hole left behind by Eternatree. I found myself in a dark room, as if it had been inside of a cave. The only forms of light were once again the beams of sunlight squeezing through the holes in the roof. I then noticed a bed and thought, “I could heal up my Pokémon while I’m here”. I walked over and pressed A expecting to take a nap. Instead a text box appeared: “There is a notebook on the bed. Would you like to read it?” I chose 'yes'. The music increased in volume and another text box appeared.

“November 6, 1861: it has been 8 months since I’ve seen my father. He had enlisted in the army to fight in the civil war. I’ve seen those beasts go at each other for months now, the black and white dragons shrouded in cloud. I told my mother about it, but when she looked up they were gone… As I was getting ready for bed I could hear them, crying out that they no longer wanted to fight…”

“June 11, 1862: We haven’t received a letter from my father in weeks. Mother waits for him every day, outside on the bench under the tree where they would spend their time together. As for my brother, he hasn’t spoken to anyone since my father left. I haven’t seen the black and white dragons since May, but I could still hear them at night. When I asked my mother she said that it was nothing, just the wind… Until my father can return home, when the war and the bloodshed stops, and until those beasts stop fighting… I won’t give up, as long as I carry his burning spirit…”

''December 20, 1862: We’ve just received the news. My mother has locked herself in her room since the letters arrival, and as for my brother… Nobody has heard from him since the night he disappeared… When the black dragon flew over our village, nobody saw it but me, and trying to prove it is pointless… As for me, I’ll carry the legacy on my shoulders, until my brother finds his way home…”

“July 20, 1864: My father’s birthday is in exactly a month, and we're having a ball in his honor. Everyone will be there, even Jack and Diane, my family’s closest friends. Seeing them dance is always the best and with all this maybe I’ll finally get to see my mother smile again…”

"August 1, 1864: I saw a Pokémon today but something about this one was odd, as if it didn’t belong here. It looked like it had come from a distant land. It had short white fur, it was on four legs, with the body of a hound, black tail and a black horn that looked like a scythe on the right side of its head. It then directed its gaze in my direction. It had a dark humanoid face, and two red shimmering eyes. I felt a warm sensation on my cheeks as if near a campfire or in front of an oven. The Pokémon then directed itself towards the forest and ran off. It looked into my eyes, almost as if it was trying to tell me something..."

"August 15, 1864: Five days until the ball, this morning I awoke to the sound of a Pokemon in the yard. When I went outside, I saw a quick figure dash around the side of my house and as I turned around the corner, it was gone. However, as I returned to the door, at the foot of the first step, I found an egg. I didn't see a nest or another Pokémon around so I decided to take it inside, at least until its mother returns. I'll make it a temporary nest until then."

“August 20, 1864: The ball is tonight at 8 o’clock, so it’s in about in an hour. This morning while out in the fields I saw three Pokémon again, only their appearance in comparison to the last was completely different. They all moved on four legs. One was thick, brown and strong looking; another was swift, green and made no sound as it galloped about; and the third was blue and stood upright with such presence, a dominate figure amongst the group. It looked at me, and I was overcome with a presence so familiar, I felt a sudden tear run down my face. It then turned and disappeared amongst the trees with the others. They were headed east towards the forest. I thought I saw smoke in the distance but everyone told me not to worry. Well, I must finish getting ready for the ball. We're supposed to be expecting a very important guest…"

The book ended there.

I then wandered about the room looking for anything else of significance. I ended up finding a notch behind the bookcase; my character, after pressing A, reached behind the bookcase and found an egg. He placed it in my party. After this I made my way out of the mansion. Everything was burned and didn’t look like as it did before. I never saw anyone on the way out. The music stopped and never returned: it was just silence the whole time except for the sound of my character bumping into things. The field was nothing but dry soil, the wooden houses were piles of charcoal, and the stone houses were nothing but moss-covered rocks. On my way back to the path, nothing made a sound. It was all quiet until I made it back to the familiar path leading to Castelia city. Then the music began to play again.

Now I wish I could say I still have the egg and that it hatched into something marvelous. I wish I could say that... Sadly, since I had no idea what I had come upon until the next day, it was too late. The day before I had turned off the DS because I had grown bored of it at the time, and I assumed I would just replay it again after my friend swaps out the Pokémon.

I was having a conversation with my friend (not the one who gave me the game) about it. I asked him,

“So do you have any idea what’s inside the egg that one chick gives you?”

My friend says, “What egg?”

“The one you get from Pinwheel Village after you defeat that Grass gym.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The Grass gym, after you beat that chick who has all those Ghost-Grass Pokémon.”

“There aren’t any Ghost-Grass Pokémon.”

“What about Eternatree and Hollowseed?”

“What the hell are those?”

“The Grass-Ghost Pokémon!”

“Those don’t even sound like Pokémon, man!”

I ended up explaining the whole story to him but he didn’t believe me, said I was full of crap. This whole time I was playing this game I thought Game Freak had just hit another jackpot on another memorable story. As soon as I got home I got on the game and checked the map, sure enough the landmark for Pinwheel Village was nowhere on the map. Even the path I took to get there is gone. Ever since then I’ve been trying to repeat the whole thing again without success... I feel like such an idiot! Whatever Samantha had inside that egg was the legacy she left behind… I’m sorry, Samantha….

Battery Ditto (Pokemon)

Battery Ditto

I can tell you why, but I warn you. You may not like what you hear, especially if you feel particularly attuned to the suffering of animals in our own world. With that out of the way I shall begin.

A lot of emphasis was put on Team Rocket's little science experiment at the Lake Of Rage and soon after that their takeover of the Radio tower. When all the while they had already set up a much larger, but more secretive operation. You see, the day care man and his wife were not the first to discover that Pokémon laid eggs. This was first the discovery of a lowly Rocket Grunt who was in charge of looking after the captured Ditto.
Free range breeding

The Rocket Grunt, Hiroshi, thought he had the easiest job in the whole organization. Not once had he run into that 11 year old child who had single handedly defeated Team Rocket not even a year ago, and he was not respected enough to have his plans follow through, so he's never messed up so badly that he'd have to come face to face with Giovanni to explain himself. Hiroshi really did have it easy, all he had to do was make sure the Pokémon weren't too loud, that they were generally fed and on the rare occasion that they soiled themselves, he had to wipe it up with a rag.

The Ditto were kept in squalor. Hiroshi was regularly required to electrocute them if they were not silent. However most nights they remained silent, with only a sad humming song that resonated down the filthy hallway. Each cage, no more than 20 cm x 20 cm, and electrified mesh wire held two Ditto; the transformation pits also held two Ditto, but where 10 ft x 10 ft wide to accommodate for the shape shifting to larger Pokémon, all controlled by electrical frequencies as to what Pokémon they became. They all sang, one after another and as the song spread outwards Hiroshi felt his eyes begin to flutter.

He felt compassion for the beasts, cramped in their cages, or in the transformation pits. Besides, the song wasn't unpleasant to listen to, but falling asleep on guard duty was a sure-fire way for things to go wrong. To help keep him awake he reached for a Pokeball. When the energy was released from the ball, an Arcanine padded forwards toward it's master.

"If you smell anything out of place, or if they try to escape, use whatever force you think necessary." The Arcanine nodded it's large head and padded down to sit next to its master. With that, Hiroshi nodded his head and almost instantly fell asleep, the song continued to resonate in his dream. He felt he had not slept all of ten minutes before he was woken by a terrible squealing and panting. His eyes bolted open and in a panic. He scanned the battery cages and the transformation pits. The song had died and in its place was a horrible screeching noise, as if all of the ditto began to panic at once. Hiroshi had only a split second to run to the lever and flip it down before several sparking volts seared through the wires, causing a high squeal from the confined Ditto before they knew to be silent once more. But still the whimpering and hushed language continued between them as they shuddered in their cages.

The panting continued. Hiroshi stepped slowly along the isle, looking inside each single cage. The Ditto stared back at him with an expression of pure fear as they shook from cold and hunger. It was in the first transformation pit that he found his Arcanine, panting. Under him was one of the transformed Ditto, in a shape that Hiroshi did not recognise. It was dog shaped, but was black with white horns from its head and a long whipping tail, the Ditto-dog panted helplessly while under the Arcanine, the searing pain of a forced transformation to an unfamiliar shape confused and distressed it. Arcanine gave a long, loud yelp before demounting the Ditto-dog and padding back towards Hiroshi, jumping the fence with ease.

Hiroshi himself was still in shock as he watched the Pokémon shape in front of him, he had never seen anything like it before. The Ditto-shape looked sickly, many of the bones that would have been internal showed on the outside of the dog-like body, it panted again before collapsing. Hiroshi shook his head and ushered his Pokémon away, such strange things were not uncommon to see with the Transformation pit Dittos. Sometimes with the different currents, the Ditto changed shape into structures they had never seen before. Excited by the concept of new Pokémon, Team Rocket had tried desperately to get the Ditto to stabilize into their new forms to no avail. What disturbed Hiroshi however, was the way in which his Arcanine had simply mounted the poor creature.

In the weeks that followed, Hiroshi had took care not to release any of his Pokémon from their balls while he was on Ditto duty. He paid extra attention to the dark dog ditto, who lay sprawled on the floor of the pit, tongue lolling from its mouth and its breathing extremely laboured. A lack of food, water and cleanliness making it look even worse than it had already. Hiroshi smirked a little. "You got the look of a doomed Hound" The dog-Ditto looked up to him and shakily stood on its four legs. What happened next astounded and scared Hiroshi for the rest of his days. The Ditto-dog scrunched up its face and howled in pain, causing the caged Ditto to again scream with terror. Hiroshi ran to get one of the pokédoctors, thinking that the Ditto was dying. Now that would be an offense to face Giovanni with.

When they both had returned, the Ditto-dog was still standing, and howling inhumanly, a high pitched squeal as it's innards burst from its backside and fell into a bloody heap behind it, a large, solid mass among the offal debris. The doctor jumped into the pen immediately, but the Ditto-dog had already began to dissolve, first into a pinkish gelatinous goop and then it began to shrink until it was nothing but liquid. The Ditto had expired, but still left on the dirt of the pit was the offal and the large mass.

The doctor sifted through the offal and picked up the mass, to his surprise it was steady in his hands, and held it up to Hiroshi. It was an egg.

The egg was monitored for days on end by the scientists and Hiroshi, who took a personal interest in his big discovery, until all at once, the news spread in the department that the egg was hatching. There was a big commotion at the department, as people crowded round the small table. The egg began to shake and crack, little splinters coming off in pieces before a dark head emerged.

It was disgusting, it was gruesome, it looked evil, it was new: A puppy, black as night with its skull seeming to be visible on the outside and it's ribs protruding from its back. It was perfect. Hiroshi stepped forward, parting the crowd. His mind swimming with opportunities. If this Pokémon lived, thrived and reproduced then he had successfully achieved by accident what the scientists had been trying to do since the Dittos were captured. He had created a new Pokémon.

"Its mother, Ditto, was a doomed hound. Houndoom. This is our hound. Houndour" The scientists nodded silently in agreement, all astounded by the events which happened before them.

From that moment onwards Hiroshi was presented before Giovanni with the Houndour, and was promptly put in charge of the Ditto evolution project. For the next two years, Hiroshi studied the Ditto in the pits, forcing them into strange and grotesque shapes with the aid of the electrical current, and then forcing them to breed with the male gender of a similar looking Pokémon. He managed to do this successfully with at least 100 different variations of the Ditto. All of them managed to give birth to eggs. Some eggs never hatched, some eggs hatched and the Pokémon died within a few days, some eggs hatched but the offspring were infertile or never evolved, but there were many, where the eggs hatched and just like Houndour, managed to successfully evolve and re-breed.

After this was successful, they even tried it with Pokémon that they already knew. Pikachu-Dittos had strange mini-chu babies, Magmar-Dittos had even stranger mini-mar babies. The discovery was outstanding, but tragic as none of these offspring lived very long after the mother Ditto had expired. Which lead to the development of better medical care, and gradually the Ditto could sustain more than one offspring in their lifespan, but still the babies did not thrive.

This continued for many years until word of mouth began to travel, with wealthy Pokémon collectors sporting brand new types of Pokémon. The Ditto, their eggs, and their babies were all mysteriously released one night and Hiroshi was found dead in the labs, his body charred beyond recognition through visual means alone. Whether this was a revolt from the tortured ditto who just so happened to escape, or whether Pokémon activists managed to infiltrate and release the Pokémon themselves is unknown.

It was several years afterwards, when many of these new species had began to thrive in the regions of Johto and Kanto that an old couple living just outside Goldrenrod came home to a rather shocking discovery. A large, soft egg, nestled between two Pokémon they were looking after.

Rocket continued the project however, with whatever Ditto they could find. Still to this day are they trying to manipulate them. And with a bigger gene pool than ever before, there is no end to the mutations they can force on those poor Battery Dittos.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

This Shadow (The Hedgehog)


As a kid I always liked violent video games, so when I became a fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, I nearly fell in love with the characters. I had gotten hyped up when I started watching the cutscenes of Shadow the Hedgehog. The graphics could have been better at the time, but a good game overall. So after around a year, I managed to buy a preowned PlayStation 2 version of the game from a gaming store by the name of GAME. I was nearly overjoyed by the fact that I owned it.

Shadow as a character never did please me with his so called sad and depressing past, with the death of his friend Maria. In the game I knew about the Black Arms, and how Shadow had obtained the ability to work weapons like a handgun, and that he mildly swore throughout the game.

After coming back from the shop with my parents, I instantly went to my room and turned on the PlayStation 2. I put it in and started. The game loaded and the normal starting save data menu had appeared. I of course clicked the new file and nearly jumped out of my skin at a sudden gunshot SFX from my small black TV. Damn game...I never knew that would happen. I instantly recovered and watched the starting cutscene.

The music for Shadow's game had always had my vote as the best soundtrack in a Sonic game, but the theme song "I Am All Of Me" wasn't playing. Only the sounds of a dying city in the background. The cutscene showed Shadow standing in front of a half-destroyed moon. Funny, I thought they had a plot-hole with the moon. Back in Sonic Adventure 2, Dr Eggman had blown half the moon up as threat to the planet. I must have an up to date one or something! This is so cool!

The black hedgehog looked slightly darker than he should have been. His stance was strange too, with a dead GUN soldier in one hand and what looked like a glowing red Chaos Emerald. Again, I thought it was a better version. I never liked the United Federation anyway.

The screen suddenly was swarmed by Black Arms aliens called Death Leeches around the dead human. Shadow smirked as a shiver went down my spine. The screen then faded to show his glowing red eyes and grin for a slight moment. The game was suddenly was brought to another menu, this time the starter menu to start the game. It then didn't act different at all. No difference to the game or levels. Westoplas was a wreck as it should be. I played until I had spotted a GUN soldier fighting off Black Arms.

I felt a rush of anger at the agent from god knows where and attacked him. He screamed in agony as Shadow shot at him, again with a small grin across his muzzle. Blood pooled around the dead and Shadow's hover skates, staining the pure white design. I also smiled at it. One down, twenty-nine to go.

Time and time again I shot and murdered the GUN agents, until I came across the end of the stage: a Chaos Emerald floating within a ring. I jumped into it and waited for the normal mission ranking screen to pop up, but it only showed Shadow standing there with the gun in his left hand.

Nothing happened as he dropped the gun and ran off the screen, heading to the next level. No cutscene with Black Doom or Sonic. Just skipping to the GUN Fortress level. That's quite a skip. This must be a hacked game or something. I sadly sighed, but continued to play.

I killed more and more GUN soldiers and somehow met up with Black Doom. He congratulated me with my mission on making the humans pay. Shadow didn't bother looking nor answering the Black Arms leader. The next level wasn't a boss with Sonic for the last boss of that path, but sent to Sky Troops. The only level with some difference to me.

It had my name in its title.

Sky without the added "e", but still seemed to link with me. Another cutscene showed with Shadow and Black Doom over looking the level, but as Black Doom talked about that the stage was a flying fortress that he had created over 2000 years before, Shadow stared upward and for the first time, I truly saw his face. Blood had stained his fur and deep dark circles around his eyes as if he had been crying for hours on end. His fur also seemed to be dirty and ungroomed, so it looked nothing like his normal self or like the cover. Black Doom had sank into the floor and left the hedgehog alone.

A voice began to whisper from the speakers in my TV.

"Why did you make me do it? I do want revenge from the humans on Maria, but not like this. Never..."

The "never" had impacted me like a brick. Shadow was talking about the way I was playing the game and choosing his path. He then looked straight at me through the screen.

"Why did you make me a monster, Skye?"

My jaw dropped. Shadow had just said my name and looked at me. My heart seemed to soar in happiness, but mixed with horror. Tears run down his face as his whole body began to shudder.

"I know you care about me. But not the real people around you. Just only me."

A grin slightly grew on his face. I couldn't stand it. This Shadow wasn't the Shadow that I knew and started to actually care about. This was the terror I had created that only looked like him. But I couldn't dare look away from his face.

"I don't want to kill like this anymore...make me stop...before it happens again, Skye...""

As I was about to reset the game, it screeched at me. Shadow screamed in pain as darkness overtook the screen. I suddenly try to talk through the screen just as Shadow had did before.

"Shadow, don't give up into it! Don't!"

My emotions overflowed as nothing had appeared on my screen. Then after moments of silence I spotted a young human girl with blonde hair and blue dress. Not her...anyone but her! The girl just stood there with a small version of Shadow lying in its pool of blood, dead.

Then as the girl turned around, her face changed from her normal facial structure to disfigured and menacing to the eye, and then changed to quite a similar face. My face. I wailed in terror at the sight and then she started to laugh at the dead corpse of the younger Shadow. Then I hear Shadow's voice coming from the game again.


Skye was found dead with a handgun in one hand while holding onto a bloody Shadow the Hedgehog plushie by the hand with a grim smile across its face. All police officers that had seen said scene has been murdered or caused suicide. One officer that was saved from hanging himself screams about a brown haired female teenager with a black and red hedgehog threatening him to not say anything or they would torture him forever...he then was found dead later that night with a direct gunshot to the forehead. Only thing found were bloody footprints of hover skates and trainers.

Dagon The Dark (Skyrim)


Most people don't see this, but Bethesda put a strange feature in The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Well, it's not really a feature, it's just a thing that happens. You see, when you use the wait feature, you can see the world move around you really fast.

The wait feature works on an hour-by-hour basis. That is, you can choose to wait a certain number of hours of in-game time. This is different from sleeping because it doesn't heal your wounds. It doesn't put you in a bed during those hours, you just stand there. Most people use this feature for little things, like, for example, if you get out of a dungeon or a building and it's night time, and it's hard to see, you might choose to wait till morning.

The thing about the wait feature that differs from previous Elder Scrolls games, such as Oblivion, is that in between the hours passing you can still see the world around you moving, albeit with an extremely modified frame rate.

Mostly, nothing interesting happens. You see the shadows of trees moving through the day, but nothing of real note. One night I came across something strange happening in between the hours.

I had previously assumed that people and living things didn't even render during Wait time, but it would appear I was wrong. It was about 11 pm, and i was drowsy. I was waiting from 3am in-game to 8am in-game, just waiting for the merchants in Whiterun to open. That's when I noticed something strange pass right by me. I saw some kind of shadowy figure dip out of the ground, up so it's head was showing, then fall back in, all within about half a second. I was shocked at first, and I almost jumped out of my seat. I tried to remember, and decided that the figure must have been the model of a dragon, preforming a flying animation a tad bit lower than it should have been, and missing its texture, just appearing as a black model.

I went on the Bethesda forums to ask about the dragon, but in writing my post, I misspelled "dragon" as "dagon", and we all affectionately dubbed the monster as Dagon the Dark. Even with about three people willing to help me speculate, we were clueless. A person under the alias of "Cylinder-dude" pointed out to me that if Dagon were simply missing his texture files, he wouldn't appear all black, he wouldn't appear at all. he'd be invisible. That's something. He told me he'd dig around in the game files for some all-black dragon textures.

I went back to my game and found something horrible had happened-- there were no more dragons in Skyrim. I searched far and wide for some sort of dragon to fight, but for the life of me, I couldn't find one. Over six in-game days of just wandering around, I didn't encounter one dragon. I even tried summoning Odahviin to fight with me, but nothing came. I did the shout successfully, but no dragon came. I figured something was wrong with my save file, but no-- Dragons were now completely gone.

I tried to start a new game, but that's when it got creepy.

Instead of starting out in the opening prisoner sequence and getting the Unbound quest, the game started off in Whiterun, at Dragonsreach. I searched the whole place and the Jarl was missing. All that happened was I appeared in the hall, and I heard the Jarl's voice say, "You have to slay the beast". I remember questioning weather I had actually heard that audio in-game or not. If you stick around in the hall for a while, you can hear him say, "Please", then the music stops until you leave.

I assumed that by "beast", he meant the drgon you meet in the Dragon Rising quest. I went outside and found Irileth and the rest of the guards waiting for me. I tried talking to Irileth, but all she said was "Please slay the beast".

So, I went down to the tower where you fight the dragon, only to find no dragon. The tower was still wrecked, but nothing was on fire like it usually is. I got close, and suddenly I got pulled into a conversation with one of the guards cowering in the tower. He said, again, with dialogue I had never heard in-game before, "Please... you have to kill it... it's only you... you can save us from it... you have to kill it... Please!" I'm pretty sure that wasn't the voice that guard usually talks in too. I got a dialogue choice; Yes or No. I chose yes, eagar to face the dragon and whatever else my clearly fucked-out game could throw at me.

It was then that the guard looked down at me and scared me. He said something, and it was bit louder than usual. My speakers must have messed up the stereo placement. because it sounded like it was coming from behind me. He said, "Don't just stand there!" in a suprisingly convincing dispair. Then, it happened.

Bam. Dagon the dark dove right the fuck out of the tower, this time without wings (a dragon without wings), swallowed up the guard, and dragged his body into the ground. I jumped, because it made this otherworldly, echo-y grunt that made my speakers buzz and my desk vibrate. From there, it became chaos. All the guards and Irileth started scrambling, running faster than they should have been able to, unarmed and hopeless. One by one, Dagon, a wingless ground dragon came up and swallowed up all of the people, one by one, until there was just me left. And then Dagon came up from out of the darkness and swallowed me. My character got sucked down into the ground, and everything was white. I looked down and the worst part happened. I saw dagon's face. My character's model was inside dagon's model, which was white from the inside, and at the bottom were two piercing, small black eyes and a big black mouth; like a dog's. It stared at me and I couldn't look away, which I initially registered to the game's fault, but soon realized was a deeper problem. I actually couldn't move the mouse. I was paralyzed at my desk, looking at this terrible face. This lasted for what seemed like an eternity, and then I woke up near my bed, standing.

It was insane. I just skipped through time to the next morning, completely blanking out on everything that happened that night. I'm really scared at this point, and I go to my computer to consult Cylinder-Dude about it. I find that he's sent me about five "where are you" messages over the night. I inform him of the events that happened the night prior, then he tells me he can't find the face texture or the dagon "wingless dragon" model anywhere in the game's directory.

He asks me to send him a copy of my game directory so he can patch his game with my buggy files and check it out. I send him the files and over the next few weeks, we both experiment with the game.

First, he played my save file again. He played a few times, and turns out the game has rules:

Rule 1: You need to kill Dagon. How exactly you do that is not certain, but Cylinder-Dude (Who has identified his name as Sam) thinks you may need to get an in-game item to kill him.

Rule 2: You can't let Dagon kill you. Now, this seems impossible at first, but me and Sam gradually found out that the thing that triggers Dagon attacking you is Irileth getting eaten. There is, in fact, a way to save Irileth and, by extension, yourself. Dagon makes a sreetching sound about 1 half-second before he attacks Irileth; If you can sucessfully hear that and start a conversation with her in time, you'll save her from getting eaten.

Rule 3: fast travel and Wait are disabled.

The initial plan was to - Get this - Simply run all over every inch of Skyrim's world, all whilst talking to Irileth every five seconds (we'd used the console to make her follow us), and just keep wandering and searching everywhere for this random item that kills Dagon, somehow. It was a crazy and painstaking plan, but noone can obsess over these things like internet losers.

Sam, understanding my concerns with the game after my black-out episode, offered to try it out for me. (I sent him a thank-you e-mail and he said he was going to work.

And that's the last I heard from Cylinder-Dude.

He was gone. No more e-mails. Nothing. I even scanned the forums for his posts, he just dropped off the map. Nonexistent.

I got scared; so scared I didn't even turn on my computer for a while. I scanned the news for mentions of search parties or something, and eventually succeeded in pushing it to the east-back of my mind. I just tried to forget about Sam and his fate. Of course, it didn't work. As soon as i went to sleep, I hovered over my bed and thought about Sam and what happened to him. It ate me up like; well, like a wingless dragon.

Over the course of a week, I gained the drive to try the game again. I decided that the omputer game ouldn't hurt me-- it was nothing more than a few billion lines of code. I started it up to the opening screen.


I swear to christ, they were chanting, "apples". The home screen music had switched to just a chant of "apples". I disregard my insanity and plunge further into my game.

There are approximately just over 4,000 apples in Skyrim, across barrels and other things. One of them is poison. One of them can kill Dagon. One of them can slay the beast.

I manage to save Irileth for the first few times. I walk backwards, keeping the crosshairs on her in case I need to save her, checking the map every so often to make sure I'm walking in the right direction.

I made it from Whiterun to a fort just outside it before I fucked up and let her die. Which means I had to stare into Dagon's piercing eyes again. Which means I blacked out again. I arose, standing in front of my bed. Angry. Violated. Filled with the kind of strange curiosity that created the first pedophiles. Still determined.

So this is what I did every night. Every night, making it a little further, but blacking out a little longer. This went on for about 2 weeks. Then I found what I made.

Sam is dead. I saw the news that his body had been found naked in the woods. His teeth had been ripped out-- and replaced. With a dog's teeth. This was the morning I woke up in front of my closet, not in front of my bed. I opened my closet.

I swear to Jesus H. Christ that for a mere milisecond - Maybe shorter - I saw Dagon's face in my closet. Did I jump? Of course I jumped. The face went away and at least 40 apples - All with a bite out of them - Some rotting, some fresh - fell out of my closet. Right onto my feet. Apples. Apples. Apples.

"Don't just stand there."

Sam was right behind me. It had to be him. I felt that it was him. I felt what I owed him. He was behind me one instant, and gone in the next. I fell into the apples. They ate me.

He died. He died because of me. He said please. I just stood and did nothing.

There are over 2,000 apples in Skyrim.

Don't just stand there.

You can save us. You can slay the beast.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Link's Awakening (Black)


For me, the defining Zelda experience was Link’s Awakening. It was the first Zelda title I played and the most challenging. It took me longer to clear than any other game (I was pretty young). That said, it’s clear why this has bothered me so much. A few months ago I was helping a friend of a friend move. After a few hours of heavy lifting we took a break. I saw a box of old game boy cartridges and my eyes lit up. I like the new systems, but I still dig busting out that little 8-bit handheld. Or at least, I did.

The guy we were helping saw me and asked if I felt like buying any. I picked out a couple and then spotted it: Link’s Awakening. I lost mine (The non-DX one) and was looking to replace it. He looked confused when I asked him how much he wanted for it, like he forgot he owned it. I paid him, pocketed the games and went back to work. I should stress this: There was nothing wrong with the cartridge. The label was fine, the cartridge wasn’t cracked, nothing. I probably wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. The game started off normally. There was nothing off about the music, color or animation. I was stoked to play it again. Then I went to start a file.

Something was wrong. First off, there was no music; there was only this barely audible thumping noise every other second. Next was the top right of the screen. The knight statues had been replaced with two Stalfos. Different from what I remembered. The thing that convinced me it was a defect was that there was only one (empty) file. The other two were gone. At this point the thumping noise was starting to annoy me, so I started the file and entered “Link.” The game was faulty, but I was curious to see how.

It started off with Link tossing and turning while Marin watches. There was no music, but the thumping noise was gone. When I woke up Marin says the wait is over. She then said she’d “make preparations” and left the room. I tried to leave only to be stopped at the door by a dialogue box that read “…” prompting me to speak with Tarin. His friendly tone was gone. He was pleading with me, offering my shield and asking to go. He begged, saying he’d tell me where the sword was. The usual sound effect for text was replaced by something duller and strangely paced. His wording and tone made it sound like Tarin was crying. He then insisted that I must be hungry, promising to make me mushroom stew before rushing out of the room.

It wasn’t defective; it was hacked. Realizing that made the sequence with Tarin kind of interesting. I started exploring the village. The physical layout of everything was the same as I remembered except for two things. All the human characters that lived outside of the village were now in it (Except for the witch). Richard and the Cucco Keeper were standing near the Cucco statue, Crazy Tracy was at the center of the field of bushes, the second Fisherman was beneath the first and Mr. Write was beside the library. The music was the same track used for the village in the original, but slower and a bit scratchy. Second, the crane-game was gone. In its place was an area fenced off by lit torches. Inside was a large collection of bone piles, the same ones used in the caves and dungeons. In this area there was no music. Just a low pitch broken up by sharp, awkward breaks.

Every villager laughed and said that I couldn’t be “him” because I had no sword. The one exception was Ulrira. His sprite changed to show that his eyebrows were lowered angrily. The sword comment was an obvious hint, so I headed toward the beach. I made my way down, the music fading to silence. Oddly, there were no monsters. I was more confused than bothered by it and went for the sword. The owl flew down when I got near it. He cackled and talked about how glad he was to fulfill his role. He ordered me to take the sword and go to the Mysterious Forest before flying off. I grabbed the sword (not that there were enemies to fight with it) and headed back toward the village/forest.

Near the village the owl appeared again. Walking toward it caused him to scream about how you can’t go; that they can’t know and that they don’t deserve to. The game was forcing me into the forest, the layout of which had been changed. From the first screen I could only go right, where I found the witch’s hut. The dull thumping noise started again. When I entered it became faster. Speaking with the witch made it louder and even faster. She insisted that there were “other ways to make it” and offered power for “a way out.” The game shot out this brief, high pitched screeching noise. Syrup’s sprite stopped moving and no further text could be prompted. I left the hut and headed right.

The next screen was more familiar. It was Tarin in his raccoon form. The crying sound from earlier began looping, louder this time. He charged and began doing damage, crying as he did. The shield kept him off of me, letting me pull up my inventory. The magic powder had been added. I threw some onto him, thinking it would cure him. His sprite movements became faster, and text appeared as he screamed about how his skin was burning. A new animation played, the game releasing another of those high-pitched screeches. This one lasted for the whole animation, mixing different sound effects. Lines of darkness began to cover Tarin’s sprite until he was covered. The arms fell off, his eyes disappearing as the ground was stained with his blood. The game was making sure I heard Tarin’s suffering. I was horrified.

He hit the ground, a pile of blood and guts. The crying sound looped softly. The owl flew in and marked how excellent it was. I had done it almost to the letter. He screamed at me to put the thing out of its misery. I had no idea what to do. A new dialogue box popped up, Tarin whimpering about the sword. I turned the game off. A few minutes later I turned it back on, annoyed at the idea of the hacker getting one over on me. The file name had changed from “Link” to “Black.” I was intimidated, but determined. It brought me to the point I had just left. The fact that I hadn’t saved made me nervous. Everything was the same except Link’s clothing. I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be red or black, but the file name gave me a hint.

I cut at the Tarin sprite. The panels above and below Tarin became dark and the game made that horrible screeching noise. The owl flapped its wings and laughed, complimenting me. He ordered me deeper into the forest before saying “two down.” Hearing that, I went to the previous screen, into Syrup’s hut. There was crudely drawn blood everywhere. Syrup’s head was on her table. The rat was hopping up and down beside it, feasting. I searched around and found nothing until I reached her cauldron. Text appeared. “Still a few bones in here. What’d you think magic powder was made of?”

I saw it as a taunt and resolved to keep going. No enemies, no music. Screen after screen of forest, with a soft high-pitched screech in the background. Eventually I had to go north, traveling a few more screens before finding it. At the center of the screen was a black sword. To either side were two treasure chests. The right contained the fire wand, the left the ocarina. Taking the sword summoned the owl, who proceeded to teach me “the Lullaby of Longslumber.” It didn’t sound like music, just hisses and scratches like a series of audio errors. He then asked me to try the wand. Trying to leave caused “…Afraid?” to pop up. I used the wand, trying to defy it. The screen flashed white for a second, followed by every tree on fire. The owl giggled, flapping his wings and screaming about how they can be given no quarter.

Everything in the forest was on fire, including some floor panels. Eventually I was out, the high-pitched noise ringing the entire time with the sound of burning. I decided to talk to the villagers to see if there had been a change in their dialogue. I started with Madame Meowmeow. The thumping noise started again as soon as I entered her screen.

It was similar to the witch. Meowmeow starts pleading and the audio for her text sounded like crying. She apologized, saying that they were just too hungry. The same screeching noise before her sprite stops. When I left her house Bow-wow was gone. I went back inside to see what had happened. Meowmeow was in pieces, blood all over. Bow-wow was moving from piece to piece. Interacting with him brought up a box that talked about how happy he seemed. How hungry.

Leaving the house I saw the owl again. He was eager he was to keep going. He told me to play the Lullaby It would speed things along. The prospect bothered me, but getting through this insult to my childhood faster sounded good. Playing the lullaby led me to a room like the ones you found at the end of each dungeon. There was a treasure chest and two full heart pieces. A plaque on the wall read that for every “one you carry out” you’d receive new treasures. I took the items (the first was the roc’s feather) and left through an exit at the rear of the room, which brought me back to Marin’s house.

Trees blocked off the plains and beach, the forest by fire. The select glitch brought me into a black screen that forced a reset. There was no way out of the village. It was a weird, cruel cycle. I approached a villager, they said something, that horrible screeching noise sounded out and I came back to see something horrific and disturbing. I’ll post their dialogue and how I found them here:

Crazy Tracy: “Before you do it, tell me I’m pretty.” / A bloody pile with skin to the right. Richard: “You silence only a symptom. I was merely the first.” / His hands and tongue formed a triangle around him. He was in a pool of blood. Ulrira: “You actually let me think I’d go to old age. How unkind.” / He was lying sideways with the telephone where his head would have been. The blood scattered all over the floor made it look like his head had been smashed apart with the phone Ulrira’s wife: “I won’t hide. Won’t give you the pleasure.” / I never saw her, but when I tried to interact with one of the cabinets it read, “She’s finished bleeding out. Leave her in there.” Cucco Keeper: “Ha ha, I’ll find a way out!” / Impaled on the Cucco statue. The Fishermen: “The funniest part? I don’t regret it.” “Me either.”/ Their fishing poles are by the pond. If you interact with them it reads, “No more bubbles. You’d reel them up, but it would just tear it off” Papahl, Wife, and Child: “Anything! Name it, it’s yours! I can get it! I can get anything!” “Mercy. The one thing I couldn’t get my hands on.” “Why?” / Found them hung by what appears to be the hookshot chain. Shopkeeper: “Everything I’ve got, here and back home. Information, powders, weapons. Just lemme sail away. You’ll never hear from me again.” / Found him in pieces with arrows in his torso. The fact that the bombs and bow are missing from his stock suggests that that’s what was used. Mr. Write: “I never stopped, you know. Here’s the key. You’ll need a magnifying lens.” / He was sitting at his desk, black pixels around where his mouth was and his hands cut off. I didn’t catch on to what the black pixels were about until later.

When I killed the last victim the owl appeared. He thanked me for helping him to fulfill his role. He said I’d find Marin in front of the library. I found Marin, who said it was almost time to go. She gave me the magnifying lens and told me to take my time. Inside there were more books out than in the original, with one blank bookstand near the entrance. Each was a profile organized by crime and sentence. From top left to bottom right:

Richard staged a coup against the Hyrule royal family. He was left to bleed to death publicly after having his hands cut off and tongue removed as punishment. Ulrira, a former advisor, betrayed the throne as Richard’s informant. His skull was caved in with the medium that represented communication. Ulrira’s wife hid criminals and rebels in support of her husband and Richard. She was given a small but mortal wound and bound before being left to die in a small, confined space similar to the ones she used to hide others. Mr. Write wrote slander during the coup. His hands were cut off to rob him of his favorite pastime before being force-fed enough ink to burst his stomach.

Papahl and his family where thieves. They were hung facing one another so the last thing they could steal was a look at their suffering loved ones. Crazy Tracy was a man who skinned women and wore their flesh. He would wear the face as a mask and hide within what looked like a seat, the body stuffed to appear as though it was sitting. That is why the body seems so much smaller. Skinned alive. Syrup kidnapped and sacrificed a child to the black arts. She was forced to watch the bones from her arms and legs be used in making magic powder before being beheaded.

Cucco Keeper was a felon who escaped every prison in Hyrule. Impaled on a statue that represented freedom. The fishermen were pedophiles. Drowned with their genitals attached to fishing hooks. Madame Meowmeow killed her children and fed them to her pets. Diced into pieces and served to animals. The shopkeeper was a powerful criminal drugs and arms dealer. Killed with his wares, magic powder forced down his throat. Tarin was a serial rapist. He was transformed into a literal beast and then executed.

At this point I felt sick. That low thumping in place of music wasn’t helping. It grew slower and duller, as if the sound were trudging along. I spoke with Marin and she explained the rest of it. Koholint is a prison island. The worst of Hyrule’s criminals are sent there before receiving their death sentence from the judge: The owl. He had been waiting for an executioner, someone to carry out his will. I was sent by Hyrule to enact the wishes of the throne, leaving their carcasses as a warning to the next group.

Marin was innocent. She had been wrongfully sentenced for a gruesome crime she had no part in. She accepted that she would be killed by the executioner, but refused to give Hyrule the satisfaction of fearing it. Nor would she let her name be passed around in horror stories. She saved me so that you could tell them they had failed to break her. She asked if I was ready to end it. I was given the option of “yes” or “no,” but choosing “no” just let me explore the village again. When I said “yes,” the screen faded to white.

It came back up to an animation of Link, or Black, sailing away. He looked satisfied. Happy, even. It then cut to a drawing of the library. Marin was lying propped up against it with her eyes rolled back. Her throat and stomach had been cut open, with a huge slash across her face. A lot of care was given to the blood and guts. It was disturbing, and the picture has stuck with me long after I turned off the game.

Bold font appeared in front of her reading “CONGRATULATIONS.” Beneath it in smaller black print was “You’re the hero of Hyrule!” It fades to black, before white text appears at the center of the screen.

“And no one will ever know you volunteered for it.”