A while back while searching through pawn shops for some interesting looking bootlegs or pirated games, I came across a rather funny looking cartridge simply labeled "POKEMON MYSTERY DUNGEON". Now, the first thing going through my mind is why the hell a pawn shop would pay any amount of money for a shit looking cartridge, but then again pawn shops would probably buy organs if they could get their hands on them.
The cartridge itself intrigued me though, it was a regular GBA cartridge aside from the paper label and some minor scratches. I've always been interested in things like 'Creepy Black' and 'Lost Silver', so I honestly thought that perhaps this could be some creepy unknown Pokemon game with a ghost in it or something.
I bought the crappy cartridge and returned home, grabbing my DS and shoving it into the slot. My hopes were high and getting higher as a badly glitched title screen popped up for me. This thing was already promising enough with the weird label, but now the unintelligible mess of a title screen made it even better.
From what I could see, it was the Standard Red Rescue Team game, but the colours of the screen were off, probably because the previous owner didn't take care of it at all. All the colours were a dull grey and any colours that weren't grey were badly washed out and bland. I choose a new game and started with the quiz.
The text in the quiz section was badly glitched. Letters were replaced with different characters and numbers. Even the answers looked like they were written in some poor man's leetspeak. I just answered the questions at random until I eventually reached the "Are you a boy or a girl" type question. Or at least it seemed like that. There were only two choices, and the respective symbols were in the text.
I chose boy (duh) and wondered what kind of Pokemon I'd get from the mess of questions I just answered. "A S37FISH PERSON LIKE YOU I5 A CUB0N3" the broken text managed to announce. Normally I'd try to be a Treecko or something, but Cubone was alright considering I couldn't understand the questions in the first place.
From here things started going downhill.
The game skipped past the choosing of my partner, and apparently the entire intro altogether, and threw me into a dungeon. This was weird to say the least. The game didn't even let me name myself.
The dungeon was as badly broken as the rest of the game, pieces of spritework and walls were littering the place, and the enemy pokemon were clipping into the pieces of wall and map all over. Naturally, being the cheap prick I am, I snuck up on them and took them out for EXP, the walls holding them in place while I pretty much mutilated them.
I should mention something else, combat in this game was considerably easier than in the original Red Rescue Team. Enemies were constantly getting stuck in the walls and didn't react when I attacked then at all, only making distorted cries when defeated. My Cubone was a bit odd too. When it leveled up, instead of the usual happy things like "I feel braver now!" or "I feel more confident!" he would say "Mommy" and his stats would barely increase.
I decided to nickname the Cubone 'Crybaby' because of this, and I quickly realized that no matter how many floors I was going down, Crybaby never seemed to reach the bottom. All the way down I encountered trapped Pokemon who I farmed for more EXP. The dungeon itself was getting more and more glitched as I continued too, meaning more Pokemon became ensnared in glitchy tiles and made helpless to Crybaby's assault. I managed to get Crybaby to level 6 before the entire dungeon suddenly changed.
The floors and walls were grey. Even the nasty washed out colours of the dungeon were replaced by the same shade of grey. I was still encountering weak Pokemon trapped in glitches, but now when defeated their bodies glitched out as well instead of fading away. At one point I managed to defeat a Rattata who wanted to join my party. Upon saying no (*&^ in game) I got this message: "^&(*$&$#^(#!!!!"
Something about this particular line of horribly broken text kinda gave me a chill. The Rattata in the glitched wall didn't fade or glitch out like Crybaby's other targets, he just kinda stood in the glitch and stopped moving altogether. Attempting to talk to him got the same line of text, but with a nice elipses (....) replacing the exclamation marks. His icon was that of a sad or depressed character in-game too.
After the Rattata incident (I decided to name him Schrodinger, because God knows whether his body would go away like the others or not) something finally hit me. I'd gone up six levels, gone down about twenty or so floors, if not more, and Crybaby hadn't complained about one of the more annoying aspects of the regular game. He wasn't hungry.
Normally, long explorations into Dungeons leaves Pokemon hungry, which can be relieved with apples. If he /was/ hungry, and thanks to the unreadable eldritch text of the game I wouldn't even know if he was, he would have fainted by now. It was at this moment that I checked my items. Since I'd played the normal game enough, I was able to go through the ungodly broken menu to see what I had.
I had a good number of something called "FORMULA".
First off, I was blown away by readable text, in all caps of all things.
Second, "formula"? Like, baby formula? Curious, I decided to use FORMULA on Crybaby.
Whatever this item was, it instantly leveled up Crybaby and gave his stats the boost that the regular level ups weren't even trying to give him.
I found that I could only use FORMULA every three floors, because Crybaby was full or something after each use. And by the time I was done he'd gone from level six to level sixteen. This meant that I had gone THIRTY FLOORS and still hadn't reached the end of this glitchy mess of a game. As if reading my mind, the endless dungeon of fun FINALLY...changed again. Grey walls with red splotches. Classy.
As I wandered this new area, thoughts started popping into my head.
"I wonder if Schrodinger is dead yet."
"Where's the boss?"
"Where's the bottom of this freakin' place!?"
"Wait, third floor. Did I use formula yet?"
Okay that last one was Crybaby, but at the rate enemy difficulty was suddenly increasing (And by difficulty I mean how long it took to kill their trapped bodies) I was pretty much crying for my mom, as well as for something else to happen.
Then, with a mix of FORMULA and senseless killing, Crybaby reached level 28 and evolved into a Marowak. I lost count of how many floors I'd gone down. I lost count of how many Pokemon were slaughtered, but at least-
Wait. How did Crybaby evolve?
One of the big things about Mystery Dungeon was that the Pokemon couldn't evolve, so how in the hell did Crybaby manage to do it?
With his evolution came a new level up phrase "Daddy".
I was creeped out to say the least. I decided to shake it off as the bad programming of a badly broken game. At least, I should have shaken it off.
Everything about Crybaby was becoming more and more disturbing the more I thought about him. He was a Marowak, one of the most depressing Pokemon ever, who was thrown into a deep pit as a Cubone, and was living out his life killing trapped Pokemon and drinking baby formula. The one Pokemon he spared, Schrodinger, had more than likely starved to death, meaning the one friend he could have had was now dead.
Why was I thinking about this so deeply? It was a broken copy of Red Rescue Team. It was a broken game. These weren't real people, or real situations. But still, with the amount of time I was spending on Crybaby's seemingly hopeless adventure into what was probably the depths of Pokemon hell, I was getting really attached to the little sociopath.
This made the 'end' of the dungeon even more heartwrenching.
Crybaby entered a large empty room. He was completely out of formula now, and was ridiculously overleveled. The room had absolutely nothing in it. No stairs, no Pokemon, no Wonder Tiles, nothing,
And then Crybaby got stuck. Walking up to the end of the room got the Marowak stuck in the same glitchy walls that once held his victims. No matter what I did, I couldn't get Crybaby to move out of the spot. All he could do was twitch and spin in place.
When Crybaby was trapped, the room flooded with enemy Pokemon, enemy Pokemon that Crybaby had killed during his 'adventure'.
All I could do was hold B. The Pokemon surrounded Crybaby and wittled away at his health. Sometimes broken text would pop up with empty icons, sometimes Crybaby let out the death wails of previous Pokemon he killed for experience points, but the end result was the same.
Crybaby's health hit zero, and the screen faded to black instead of warping Crybaby away. My DS then shut off on its own, making me jump and shaking me out of whatever dazed state it had put me into while playing.
After checking my pants I turned my DS back on and immediately tried to play again. If that was a game over and I didn't save the entire time, I could just restart right?
When the game turned on, the screen was just black. The only available option was a broken CONTINUE.
Obviously I choose it. I had to make sure Crybaby was okay.
Like hell he was.
Continuing the game I was given back control of Crybaby, who was now a nasty grey like the backgrounds of the hell he wandered for those few hours. He was stuck in the room where he died, with stuck Pokemon respawning over and over for him to slaughter. His old level up line of Daddy was replaced with "DADDY HELP ME".
By now I was tearing up and freaking the fuck out. The Pokemon I had raised in that endless hellhole was trapped in some sick room where he would never escape, and he was still hoping I'd help him. The broken text of the menu was replaced with "DADDY KILL ME" and selecting THAT just made the DS shut off. Any attempts to replay the game always sent me to the trap room where Crybaby was forced to re-kill his victims and beg me for death.
To this day, I've kept the broken cartridge with me, locked away where no one will take it. I already lost Crybaby once. I refuse to let it happen again. I understand why the cartridge said I was selfish now too, why it baited me into leading Crybaby to his own hell. Even if it was just the result of some sick programming or a bug, the adventure of 'Crybaby' made me look at myself and see that even humans are capable of becoming horrible monsters.