?: I'm what you call a collector of bootleg Pokemon games. Pokemon Diamond, Jade, Chaos Black, ect. It's amazing the frequency with which you can find them at pawnshops, Goodwill, flea markets, and such. They're generally fun; even if they are unplayable (which they are often), the mistranslations and poor quality make them unintentionally humorous.

I've been able to find most of the ones that I've played online, but there's one that I haven't seen any mention of. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.

Here's a picture of the cartridge, in case anyone recognizes it. (shows picture of a black, original Game Boy game with a black sticker with the Pokemon logo in grey). Unfortunately, when I moved two years ago, I lost the game when I came home from summer vacation. I think I left it at the hotel.

The game started with the farmiliar Nidorino and Gengar intro of Red and Blue version. However, the "press start" screen had been altered. Red was there, but the Pokemon cycle did not cycle through. It said "Black Version" under the Pokemon logo.

Upon selecting "New Game", the game started the Professor Oak speech, and it quickly became evident that the game was essentially Pokemon Red Version.

After selecting your starter, if you looked at your Pokemon, you had in addition to Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle another Pokemon-


The Pokemon was level 1. It had the sprite of the Ghosts in Pokemon Tower before obtaining Silph Scope. It had one attack- "Curse". I know that there is a move named Curse, but the attack did not exist in Generation 1, so it appears it was hacked in.

Defending Pokemon were unable to attack Ghost-it would only say they were too scared to move. When the move "Curse" was used in battle , the screen would cut to black.

The cry of the defending Pokemon would be heard, but it was disorted, played at a much lower pitch than normal.

The battle screen would then reappear, and the defending Pokemon would be gone. If used in a battle against a trainer, when the Pokeballs representing their Pokemon would appear in the corner, the would have one fewer Pokeball.

The impliction was that the Pokemon died.

What's even stranger is that after defeating a trainer and seeing "Red received $200 for winning!", the battle commands would appear again. If you selected "Run", the battle would end as it normally does.

You could also select Curse. If you did, upon returning to the overworld, the trainer's sprite would be gone.

After leaving and reenturing the area, the spot where the trainer had been would be replaced with a tombstone like the ones at Pokemon Tower near Lavender Town.

The move "Curse" was not usable in all instances. It would fail against Ghost Pokemon. It would also fail if it was used against trainers such as your Rival or Giovanni. It was usablein your final battle against them, however.

I figured this was the gimmick of the game, allowing you to use the previously uncapturable Ghosts. And because Curse made the game so easy, I essentially used it throughout the whole adventure.

The game changed quite abit after defeating the Elite Four, though.

After viewing the Hall of Fame, which consited of Ghost and couple of very under leveled Pokemon, the screen cut out to black.

A box appeared with the words "Many years later..."

It then cut to Pokemon Tower in Lavender Town. An old man was standing, looking at tombstones. You then relized this man was your very character. The man at only half of your normal walking speed. You no longer had any Pokemon with you, not even Ghost, who up to this point had been impossible to remove from your party through depositing in the PC.

The overworld was entirely empty-there were no people at all. There were still tombstones of the trainers that you used Curse on, however. Only by walking around did I relize how many tombstones there were-how many trainers I had cursed.

You could pretty much go anywhere in the overwould at this point, though your movement was limited by the fact that you had no Pokemon to use HMs. And regardless of where you went, the music of Lavender Town continued on an infinite loop.

After wandering for awhile, I fould that if you go through Diglett's Cave, one of the cuttable bushes that normally blocks the path on the other side is no longer there. This allows you to advance and return to Pallet Town.

Upon entering your house and going to the exact tile where you start the game, the screen would cut to black.

Then the sprite of a Caterpie appeared.

It was replaced by a Ponyta...

...and then a Pidgey.

I soon relized, as the Pokemon progressed from Rattata to Blastoise, that these were all the Pokemon that I had used Curse on.

After the end of my Rival's Pokemon team, a Youngster appeared...

... then a Gambler...

and then my Rival. These, and so many more, were the trainers I had Cursed.

Throughout the sequence, the Lavender Town music was playing, but it was slowly decreasing in pitch. By the time your Rival appeared on screen, it was little more than a demonic rumble.

Another cut to black.

A few moments later, the battle screen suddenly appeared. Your trainer was now that of an old man, the same one as the one who teaches you how to catch Pokemon in Viridian City.

Ghost appeared on the other side, along with the words "GHOST wants to fight!"

You couldn't use items, and you had no Pokemon.

If you tried to run, you couldn't escape.

The only option was "FIGHT."

Using fight would immediately cause you to use Struggle, which didn't affect the Ghost but did chip off a bit of your own HP.

When it was Ghost's turn to attack, it would simply say "..."

Eventually, when your HP reached a critical point, Ghost would finally use Curse.

The screen cut to black for a final time.

Regardless of the buttons you pressed, you were permanently stuck in this black screen.

At this point, the only thing you could do was turn the Game Boy off.

When you played again, "NEW GAME" was the only option-the game had erased the savefile.

I played this hacked game many, many times, and every time the game ended with this sequence. Several times I didn't use Ghost at all, though he was impossible to remove from the party. In these cases, it did not show any Pokemon or trainers and simply cut to the climactic "Battle with Ghost."

I'm not sure what the motives were behind the creator of this hack. It wasn't widely distributed, so it was presumably not for monetary gain. It was very well done for a bootleg.

It seems he was trying to convey a message; though it seems I am the sole receiver of this message. I'm not entirely sure what it was-

The inevitability of death? The pointlessness of it?

Perhaps he was simply trying to morbidly inject death and darkness into a children's game.

There is something overly protective about the Pokemon World. The Pokemon are weapons, but they are your friends. They fight to the death, but never die. They are always waiting for you at the Pokemon Center, healed and ready and ready for another advenutre.

Its abit like Nintendogs. The puppies never grow up, remaining small, playful, innocent. You care for them. But they never deal with the one thing we all have to deal with-

Growing old. The curse of our morality.

Maybe this hack is ajoke to scare children. But do kids ever ask, "can Pokemon die?" They might after playing this.

Maybe that was the point-to make the player think. "What happens when Pokemon die?

...And perhaps that's the most scary thing of all. Because that means the Ghost's curse is true. And if we are cursed...

What happens to us when we die?

Remember I said that I lost the cartridge of this hack when I came home from summer vacation? That wasn't completely true.

I didn't lie abou having the cartridge anymore. But I didn't lose it. I got rid of it-intentionally. I went back to the flea market and sold it cheap to the first stranger who came near. He thinks he got away with a bargain. But I didn't tell him...

A day before, I played the hack again, for the last time. I played as I usually did and finished the game. The screen went black and the game froze, as it did before. I was about to turn my Game Boy off when the phone rang. I left the room. I talked on the phone for about 15 minutes.

After hanging up, I heard something from my room.

I came in and saw something on the Game Boy's screen. I was excited-maybe there was more to the hack than I relized. I picked up the Game Boy.

There were two red lights on the screen.

Suddenly, a message appeared under the lights.

There were four words.

It read...

GHOST curses you