Haunted Gaming - My First Pikachu

Haunted Gaming - My First Pikachu

About this story:

What follows is an account based on my experiences years ago. I've tried to remember events as best I could. Not all the details may be right, but they are as close to what happened in my first days of gaming as they possibly can be. Some may call what I have to describe as "creepy", and some may not. Personally, I don't believe that anything I experienced was evil, or even supernatural at all...but then again, I also never got the answers to any of my questions about what happened, either. What you think about this - whether you believe any of it or not - is entirely up to you. Kefke Wren (talk) 04:33, February 14, 2013 (UTC)

My story:

Remember when the Pokémon craze first started? How everyone and their brother had Red or Blue versions? Everyone but me, anyway. My parents were very anti-videogame, and I didn't get my first console until I went away to Job Corps. Of course, I made up for it. Bought a Dreamcast off of someone, an N64 from a local game shop. A friend got me a GBA SP and the (at that time) new Final Fantasy Tactics. I got a Pokémon knockoff too, something called "Demi Kids" (I got the "Dark" version, pretty much solely because it was "dark"). It's actually pretty good, but I didn't find out how rare it was until after I'd sold it for a new game. My loss.

I kept going back to the shop for new games, and I loved everything I got. Well…mostly everything. It was nice because it was a small shop, so they'd buy and sell pretty much anything as long as it worked, and you could find neat obscure titles sometimes. I used to be pretty adventurous with my purchases, grabbing whatever looked cool at the time, and they were a goldmine for that. For some reason, though, I never got any Pokémon games, even though when I'd played a friend's copy (when the first generation was new), I'd loved it. I guess it was just the price. I had to budget pretty carefully, because I had three systems and only got so much money in my J.C. paychecks. Whatever the reason, one day I saw a deal I couldn't pass up.

The first-gen remakes had just come out a few months before, and although I didn't know much about them, what with living up on at the Centre and being obsessed with gaming to make up for all the years I hadn't had any, I had heard a bit. I knew it was a recreation of the first set of games, that they were given enhancements for the new system, had a descriptor in the name to differentiate them, and…well, that was pretty much it. I also "knew" that being recent titles, they were a little more than I could afford. Even so, I'd been wanting one. I didn't know much about the new Pokémon, but first-gen is what had originally caught my interest. So when I found one for cheap at the game store, only around eight dollars with tax, I had to have it.

Now, I say that it was one of the new set, but that's not quite true. I thought it was at the time. Maybe it was even supposed to be. It wasn't though, not really. The cartridge was this translucent amber yellow color and there was a yellow swirl on the label with the words "PikaYellow Version" under the title. To me, it looked like any other Pokémon game I'd ever seen, and as far as I knew each set contained three games, two main ones and a third one with some added things they released later. So, I didn't really think much of it, figuring they'd just remade the special Pikachu edition Yellow Version along with the other two. I do remember asking why it was so cheap…apparently some trouble reading the cartridge on start that the seller had warned about but only happened one in five times when the guy at the store had checked for it. Since I didn't mind that, I forked over the money and bought it, along with a couple other games.

It started up pretty typically, title, Pikachu, light blue background with crackling lightning. From what I know now, all matching the real games. I couldn't say how well it followed the original Yellow, since I never played it then or now, but the story followed the anime pretty well. Gary takes Evee, you find a wild Pikachu…that hates you. Then you befriend it and start your journey. For the next few weeks, I played it all the time during my breaks, and my other consoles when Trade classes let out. Only a little bit at a time, so I wasn't making fantastic progress, but enough to screw around and learn about the features. It was pretty cool, actually. The big mechanic I remember was that when you talked to your Pikachu (who followed behind you) you would get a set of options like "Play", "Scold", and "Praise"…sort of like a Tamagotchi, I guess? There would also sometimes be little events with special options. It was interesting, because Pikachu's nature (the nature in his stats) could actually change depending on what you did with him. For instance when I first tried to evolve him into Raichu and it didn't work, I thought he was refusing and scolded him a few times (I forget who it was that finally told me the Yellow-Version Pikachu didn't evolve), temporarily giving him a Quiet nature until I could get him to forgive me.

Sounds weird, doesn't it…saying I had to get a bunch of pixels to forgive me? That's just how it worked, though. The little digital Pikachu responded to its treatment like a real living thing. I even remember these little pseudo cutscenes where it would zap Ash like in the show when it was mad. I thought that was hilarious at first. It wasn't so funny, though, when I was trying to get Tesla to have the personality I wanted and kept getting electrified, or when he'd disobey me in battle because he was upset. When he turned on me mid-way through the Pokémon Tower, causing me to black out and return to my last Pokémon Center, I'd had enough. I saved, not wanting to lose progress, and went back to my other games until I felt less sore about it.

I didn't go back to Pika Yellow until one day when I was feeling sick and couldn't go to my trade. Since I couldn't leave the dorm except for meal time, and staff pretty much expected you to be in your bed when they came in to check, I didn't have anything better to do than play gameboy all day. Out of boredom, I popped in the Pokémon cartridge…and things took a bad turn almost immediately. First, despite almost never having a problem with it before, the startup glitch came up with a vengeance. I must have tried five or six times, blowing in the cart, flicking the switch quickly, but it kept either freezing on the word "Nintendo" or going black and staying that way within moments of the title appearing. Finally, I got it to turn on just as I was about to give up. There was no lightning on the title screen, and no Pikachu cry, but I thought, "Hey, at least its running! "

When it started, though, it was obvious something was wrong. I was back in the Pokémon Center at Lavender Town, just like when I'd saved, but Tesla was gone. His sprite wasn't following me, and he wasn't in my party. In fact, running around the center in a panic, I couldn't find a sign of my Pikachu anywhere. In desperation, I tried talking to Brock and Misty, who (like in the anime) were traveling with me in the game. Both of them gave me some standard messages like they would do when the game was trying to not-so-subtly remind you to play with your virtual pet, "Ash, have you played with Tesla lately?" "It looks like Tesla wants something."…that sort of thing. Completely useless. Figuring it must be some kind of event I hadn't run into yet, I decided to look around town. For whatever reason, I thought of the "Lavender Volunteer Pokémon House", where lost Pokémon are supposed to be taken care of. Sure enough, as soon as I walked in, a Pikachu cry played and the familiar sprite ran up to me. Ash automatically turned, and I got the massage "Tesla is looking at you expectantly." with options for "Praise", "Scold", and "Gift". Well, I wasn't going to reward Pikachu for running away, and I didn't want to scare it into leaving again, so I selected "Praise". Pikachu's sprite got a little smile over its head and the message "Tesla has joined your party!" was displayed, so all was right in the world again…I thought.

Double checking my prodigal Pikachu's stats, I noticed that its nature had changed again. It was marked as "Lonely" now. I shrugged it off. Sure, I hadn't noticed a day/night cycle, but I knew from friends that the second-gen games had an internal clock, so I figured maybe this one did too. The game was probably just trying to use negative reinforcement on me for not playing in a while. It's a cheap gimmick to make the player feel more involved. Game designers love doing that stuff as much as they can, though. Figuring I should try to fix it before I went on, I took Pikachu around, talked to people, played with him, bought the little guy a lemonade. After a while, his nature changed to "Docile", which wasn't great, but at least told me that he knew I cared again. So, feeling like I had done my duty as a virtual caretaker, I returned to Lavender Town to try the tower again. Things went fairly normal, but now and then I would get a weird status message when Tesla was fighting. My Pikachu was flinching, becoming paralyzed, even getting confused at seeming random in fights. Not often, but enough to make me concerned. I thought about just saving and turning off the game, but it had been so hard to get it to start that I was reluctant…especially in case it made me go get Pikachu from the LVPH again.

At some point in the tower, Tesla changed natures again, becoming "Quirky". The random status effects stopped at that point. The only thing I remember thinking at the time was that Pikachu must have stopped being afraid of ghosts. Then, we got to Marowak's ghost, and things turned odd again. Throughout the fight, Marowak kept using Torment, a move I was unfamiliar with at the time. The effect was annoying, though not too bad, but for some reason after the first time it was used, I started getting the message "Tesla is in love with Marowak!", though strangely none of the other effects of infatuation. We won the battle, even if in the end it was with a little help from my Ivysaur…although I preferred using Pikachu.

Soon after that, I began to notice that my little Pikachu seemed different. I'd noticed that the game would pitch-shift the cry to make it sound sad or happy when I'd played before. Now, whenever we went into battle it sounded a little too harsh, a little too sharp. I couldn't shake the feeling that Tesla was eager to fight. It's nature would sometimes shift between "Quirky" and "Serious" for no reason I could find, and far more often than it felt like it should. The next time he leveled up, though, it got really weird. Tesla wanted to learn Torment, the move the Marowak had used. I figured it was just a change in the moveset, and said no. It didn't really fit my strategy. Then Pikachu immediately tried to learn another move…Shadow Rush. Had I known anything about the Gamecube Pokémon game out at the time, this might have worried me. Either way, I was still confused at learning two moves in one level, and decided to just cancel the Shadow Rush too…only, the game wouldn't let me. A message popped up, reading "Tesla disobeyed orders!" and then, "Tesla forgot Slam, and learned Shadow Rush!".

Needless to say, this unnerved me a little. I had NEVER heard of a Pokémon disobeying outside of battle before. However, the interactions with Pikachu seemed to be the focus of the game, so I figured that the programmers were just trying to drive home the point that he had a will of his own. It bugged me a little that I had been saddled with a weaker move, but the accuracy was higher, and Slam hadn't been a key weapon in my arsenal, so I counted my blessings that it hadn't replaced Thunderbolt and moved on. Figuring I might as well at least take a look at the attack animation, I went to try Shadow Rush out on something. I forget what I went up against…one of the countless nuisance Pokémon you find in every patch of tall grass, I guess. The attack itself was nothing special, but I was surprised when it said it was super effective. I went to double-check the type after battle, and found that it showed up as "???", normally only the type of eggs and the move Curse. It was weird, but I also found it kind of cool in a dark, mysterious way.

I was okay to work the next day, so it was back to my routine of trade and small fits of playing. It was probably the short sessions that kept me from noticing that something was wrong. Sometimes Pikachu would bump me when I wasn't moving, all his cries started to have that almost impatient quality to them, not just the battle ones. Sometimes I would get a message about my Pikachu's affectionate…or sometimes irritable…behavior, even though I hadn't checked him. Occasionally, I would use Shadow Rush when I was in a bind. I delighted in learning that it was super effective on everything. I was less delighted when my Pikachu started ignoring orders to use it on his own. Finally, I decided to switch in my other favorite, Wartortle. I'd done right by all my Pokémon, level-wise, even if I did favor Pikachu as my primary. Despite seeing less field time, Nemo (named for the Vern novel, not the fish movie) had a good move set and okay stats, so I wasn't really worried about the change in the lineup. Things went fine at first, really. After a few days, though, I noticed that Pikachu's messages were almost always about it being upset, or ignoring me, or wanting to train. It's nature was stuck on "Serious" and nothing I did would change it, not even back to Quirky anymore.

I've read stories about Pokémon who seem to always want to battle, but this wasn't like that. When I'd try to switch in Pikachu, I sometimes got messages like "Tesla ignored orders!" or it saying "(current Pokémon) is already in battle!". It felt like my Pikachu was sulking because I had replaced it. Then came that fateful battle…the last I ever played on Pika Yellow. It was a tag battle, and I had sent out Wartortle and Pikachu to battle James and Jesse's Weezing/Arbok pair. Pikachu's cry had pitch-shifted again, and the sound was mournful enough to make me shiver. I was having trouble in the fight too, mostly because Pikachu wouldn't follow commands. The weird status effects were back too, with the Torment and Attract effects both popping up at seeming random. Things took a turn for the worst with two lines that are burned permanently into my mind, "Tesla disobeyed orders!" "Tesla used Thundershock!". Then, shocking me to my core, the attack animation played…over Nemo. Electricity on a water-type, the attack was super effective and my Wartortle fainted then and there. I put in Fearow to replace Wartortle, and immediately swapped Pikachu for Charmander as well. From there I managed to win the fight, but afterward, I checked Tesla's info. Its nature had changed for the first time in a long while, from Serious to Naughty. Seeing that and remembering what it did to Nemo, I saved and quit, determined not to play again until I knew what the heck was going on with my Pikachu.

When the weekend rolled around, I signed up for the computer lab, hoping to get some answers. I made a thread about the game on a Pokémon-related forum I went on sometimes, hoping to get some help from a more experienced player. What followed caught me completely by surprise, though I'm sure you can guess. The thread exploded with flame comments, people calling me a troll, "cool story bro", and worse. The rancor of a vengeful internet, basically. Not knowing any better, I protested and yelled back…it didn't take long for a mod to lock the thread and message me a warning about "spamming the board with creepypastas". Confused, I messaged back to protest my innocence. He got upset with me at first, saying I'd taken my joke far enough, but I somehow got him to listen. I don't think he believed me, at least, not that the game was legit (I have to admit, I wonder sometimes), but he eventually gave me the IM of someone he knew at Gamefreak, who had answered questions for the site in the past.

Believe me, I wasted no time in using that! Of course, I couldn't get ahold of the guy. There's some cosmic force that keeps these sorts of things from working out, I guess. I decided to check back the next weekend, though. Much to my surprise, the Gamefreak employee messaged me almost as soon as I signed in. All it said was, "I got your message. Let's talk." and nothing else. I remember thinking that sounded ominous, but not caring as long as it got me a game I could enjoy playing again. He asked a lot of questions, everything from where I'd gotten the game to what kind of progress I'd made, my feelings on the was intense, and a little weird, but I felt like I was getting somewhere with this guy, so I went with it. I was pretty much telling the story sequentially, with him guiding me in it. We got to the events at the Pokémon Tower, and he started replying a lot slower. After I mentioned the attack on my Wartortle, he stopped replying. I tried to find out some more from him, but my computer time ended before I could. Two weeks went by without a word from my only hope for answers. Then one day during trade I was called in to speak to the Center Director. When I got there, there were two police officers waiting with serious looks on their faces. One of them told me that a report had been filed indicating that I was in possession of stolen property. In response to my pleas of innocence, they said they didn't think I knew it was stolen, and that if I turned it over then I wouldn't be charged with anything. What was I supposed to say? I agreed, and they informed me they were looking for my Pokémon game. They didn't call it that…they used much more official-sounding terms…but that was what they meant. Nervously, I handed it over, and they politely told me not to discuss the incident, as it was part of an "ongoing investigation" or something. I tried contacting the guy at Gamefreak again, but he'd blocked me. I eventually just put it out of my mind. Did I really want to know?

Of course, I suppose you're wondering why I'm bringing it up now. Well, not too long ago I was on eBay. I saw a really interesting listing and it sparked some old memories. It's too bad that I didn't have the money to bid. Really, I wish I had. Someone out there, though, they won that auction. They won, and now they have themselves a very interesting new game on a shiny amber-yellow cartridge.

Have fun.