My account starts just a month ago. I was reminiscing about old video games with my college roommate while walking around campus. We did that sometimes when we had nothing better to do. Anyways, I told him that I had played every single Pokémon game there was right from the get-go; from Red and Blue all the way to Black and White, and I would soon play X and Y. It’s not that my claim was all that impressive, it’s just that most fans of the series had always played one or the other in each generation of its release - Red or Blue, Gold or Silver, and so on. I played all of them.
“Even Crystal?”, he asked.
“Yes. Every single one.”
After a few moments of thinking, he asked about one more. “What about Pokemon Yellow?”
Just then, my heart sunk. I had never played Yellow. My obsession didn’t really start until after I had played Gold and Silver. That’s when the Pokémon games became a series. By then I must have forgotten about Yellow. “How could I have forgotten about Pokémon Yellow?!” I said aloud. My friend just laughed in satisfaction. He clearly didn’t realize the weight of the situation. I have an obsessive-compulsive need to play every last Pokémon game. How did I miss Yellow?
After sulking for the rest of the day, I went to bed. I had a weird dream about Pokémon Snap. I was in the game, taking pictures. Everything seemed normal, but when I passed the water, a Lapras popped out. It was holding a copy of Pokemon Yellow in its mouth. I reached for it, but the Lapras swam away. That’s when I woke up. This dream should explicate to you just how imperative it was to me to play every Pokémon game.
I spent the next day hunting down my own copy of the game. I texted friends, but none of them had one. I went to GameStop, but they had stopped selling original Gameboy games. Unable to find a prompt form of retrieving the game, I tried my luck on eBay. I found three different copies in my price range, but I was outbid every time. I only had $11 in my Paypal account.
“Damn it!” I yelled out loud in my empty dorm room. I skipped class, today, just to find this game, but to no avail. What could I do now?
I started researching the game online. After an hour of doing so, I found a link in my search results. Unlike the rest of the hits, this one was just a link. It said “Pokemon Yellow”, and nothing else. Disregarding the fact that the odd looking link could potentially harm my laptop, I clicked on it. What can I say? I was curious. The link brought me to a website, void of any information. There were just two links. One was titled “GBemulator.exe” and the other was titled “PokemonYellow.gb”. I wanted to avoid having to play Yellow with an emulator at all costs, but I was running out of options. I downloaded the files.
After installing the emulator and moving around the necessary files, I started playing the game. Everything was normal. Oak explained the world of Pokémon. I named my character and then I was on my way. Like Red and Blue, I was left in my bedroom atop my home. I went downstairs and found everything there to be ordinary as well, aside from the fact that my mom was unmovable. She just sat there at the table and I was unable to speak to her. I blamed that on lazy programming. Maybe the person who transposed Yellow from cartridge to file found the mother to be an unimportant element of the game and didn’t bother making her sprite functional. I later decided that the action was deliberate to add effect to the game.
I made my way outside, and to my surprise, Pallet Town was completely empty, other than my house. At first I wondered if this was a part of the game, considering I had never played Yellow before. I quickly discarded the theory, realizing that such a thing would be nonsensical. I couldn’t even walk through the grass to Viridian City without being met with an invisible wall. I found myself trapped in an empty version of my favorite town from the Pokémon games. It made me feel uneasy.
After walking around aimlessly for five minutes, I decided to see if I had any Pokémon. I expected a Pikachu, even though he wasn’t walking behind me (I did know that part of the game, at least). I had one Pokémon. I shouldn’t say Pokémon; it was an Egg. A golden Egg. At least that’s what its description read; “A golden Egg”, while its name said the usual “???”. I say usual, but it was nothing but unusual to have an egg in Pokemon Yellow. Breeding Pokémon to lay eggs didn’t come about until Pokemon Gold and Silver were released. I took a look at my map to make sure I was in the Kanto region. The map displayed Pallet Town and a straight line leading to another town, but nothing else. It was like I was on a long, narrow island. I assumed the town above Pallet Town was Viridian City, but I was wrong - very wrong. It was none other than Goldenrod City, a city that was not in the Kanto Region. It was almost as if the person who made this game was trying to somehow combine Pokemon Yellow and Pokemon Gold/Silver - but why? And why only have these two towns on one narrow stretch of land? This game was a little too weird for my taste, but I had nothing better to do with my day of hooky, so I kept playing.
I decided to hatch the Egg. I walked around in endless circles for what felt like forever. Finally, it hatched. During the hatching animation, I couldn’t help but wonder what Pokémon would break free from the ‘golden’ Egg. I guessed that it might be a weird Pokémon that didn’t exist. I figured that the game was a hack, and even though I had never played one, I read that some of them contained Pokémon of the programmer’s creation. After sitting through the animation, I found my assumption to be wrong. It was a Pikachu. That wasn’t so bad. He even walked behind me like the one in the normal Pokemon Yellow. After walking around with him just for the sake of it for a minute or so, I looked at his stats. He was at level 5, and had normal stats. I looked at his sprite, and saw that he was discolored. He wasn’t yellow, he was gold. I guess Pikachu that hatch from golden Eggs come out looking gold (I laughed in my head at the odd nature of this game. It was too amusing to ‘put down’). I looked at my golden Pikachu’s moves to discover that he only had one - “FLY” (this time I laughed out loud - a level 5 golden Pikachu that can fly; admit it, that’s a little funny). I guess I had to fly out of Pallet Town to progress, so I did. I flew to Goldenrod City (It’s not like I could fly anywhere else). What I found there was less amusing, and more disquieting.
Goldenrod City was a ghost town. Each and every door on every building was ‘fortified’. I couldn’t walk in, nor could I get a reaction when I pressed the emulator’s 'A' button - much like my mom at the beginning of the game. I couldn’t even walk into the radio tower. There weren’t even any people walking around. With every step I took, I became more and more anxious, but I was pleased to see my Pikachu following me. At least there was something interactive in the game. I walked south to leave the town, and to my delight, I could. Finally, some progress.
After I left Goldenrod, I realized I was walking along Route 34, just as I would be in Gold or Silver (I had the maps from every Pokémon game memorized, plus the daycare center was a dead giveaway). I noticed the daycare center, but kept walking to see how far I could get. I was curious to see how the creator of the game connected Pallet Town to Goldenrod City. I didn’t get far at all. Another invisible wall stunted my venture, just as I passed the daycare. This was as far as I could walk.
With no other viable options, I tried the daycare center. Luckily, it was a serviceable building, unlike the rest. I was able to walk in. Upon entering, I noticed nothing unusual. I went over to the daycare man and hit the 'A' button.
“Ah, your golden egg has finally hatched! This is a most momentous milestone in your Pokémon journey! Not many trainers can claim to have a golden Pikachu. Take care now.”
That’s it? Now what? I spoke to him again, and all he could say was, “Take care now.” I talked to the daycare man’s wife and she too repeated the same thing, but instead of, ‘Take care now’, all she could say was, “Don’t upset him.” Upset who? Pikachu? The daycare man? Either way, it was a strange thing to say.
I walked out to the enclosure where the Pokémon would normally breed, and there was a generic Pokémon sprite (I always thought that these sprites looked like Eevee) all by its lonesome. Maybe this was the ‘him’ I shouldn’t upset. I walked over to it and clicked the 'A' button. To my amazement, the Pokémon spoke. I never learned what Pokémon it was, so I have nicknamed him “Vee” after the Eevee experimented on by Team Rocket in the Pokémon manga. I guess I just like putting a name to a face. Don’t ask me why I found this name fitting. Here is what Vee said:
“Hello. I can see that you are a Pokémon Trainer. Do you enjoy training your Pokemon?” I was given an option: 'YES' or 'NO'. In fact, I was bombarded with such questions. For this one, I chose YES.
“Do you want your Pokemon to grow stronger?” I chose YES.
“Would you stop at nothing to become the best Pokemon trainer you could be?” I chose YES.
“Even if it meant putting your Pikachu in harm’s way?” I chose NO, but Vee simply said “Don’t lie,” and I was given the option again. I was beginning to think I had to choose YES no matter what, so I chose YES.
“Your Pokemon is of a special breed. You should know how lucky you are.” I was given the option again, YES or NO. What? That was a statement. I chose NO.
“Don’t lie.” I chose YES. Vee was beginning to shake my calmness.
“A golden Pokémon is a gift. You should never harm a gift.” YES or NO. These weren’t even questions! Vee’s ‘questions’ were also becoming less and less intelligible. This made me feel a little perturbed. Unable to choose NO, I picked YES once again.
“Taking your Pokemon to battle is harmful fun for you.” That isn’t even a proper sentence. I chose YES.
“You damage your Pokemon.” I chose YES.
“You can’t be stopped.” I chose YES.
“Neither can I.”
I wasn’t given an option this time. Instead, the screen became glitchy for an instant, and my Pikachu had vanished. I also noticed that the water in the small pond had changed color. It became reddish. I assumed it was some sort of contrast issue on my monitor. I spoke to Vee again, and he said, “I ended your gift before you could.” I kept talking to him, but that is all he would say. I hit 'START' and looked at my Pokémon. There was nothing there. I sat there for a second and looked around. I determined that maybe the discoloration in the pond wasn’t a contrast issue after all. I walked over to it and pressed 'A'. I heard Pikachu’s battle cry. A text box appeared that said, “The water is calm and red…” After this, the game closed itself, as if it was over. I started it up again, played through, and the same exact thing happened. That was the entire game.
I can’t really describe to you the sinking feeling that I had in the pit of my stomach after playing this game - twice no less. It was like witnessing something so morally grotesque that it just ruins your day, and as much as you try, you just can’t seem to shake it. It’s like a dark image that you feel the need to erase from your memory. I could only gather that “Vee” killed my Pikachu and the red in the water behind the daycare center was my Pikachu’s blood. Why would anyone make this game? Honestly, I don’t care. I just want to forget about it. I no longer feel a need to play Pokémon Yellow. The game I played on the emulator didn’t traumatize me, but it did affect me. My obsession has become tainted. I may play Pokémon Yellow one day, but I don’t need to. Writing this has made me feel a bit better. Well, that is all.
Written by Christopher Maxim