Tarnished Silver

Author: Unknown
Year: Unknown

I am a simple college student living alone in an apartment. I was very enthusiastic about the release of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver in the states. At the time, I purposely locked myself out of all media and the Internet aside from school purposes. I was so busy and, being poor at the time, I wasn't able to buy SoulSilver at launch. After the school year ended, I ordered SoulSilver on Amazon. It would take a week to arrive, though, so I decided that during that time I would replay Pokemon Crystal on my Game Boy Color. But I realized my mother threw it away long ago, as I'd told her the save battery went dead. I was very upset about it then. She also mistakenly threw away my copy of Silver, leaving me with just the Game Boy Color and no games for it. As such, I went to GameStop and bought a used copy of Silver. It was $10, which was fairly cheap at the time. I went home and started my nostalgia trip. However, that's where things began getting bizarre. It's most likely the reason you're reading this, too.

The Game Freak logo showed up like normal, then the game froze. I thought the cart had an error or something (sometimes these old games need to be in the slot just right or they cause weird things to happen), so I turned it off, reseated the cartridge, and turned it on again. The same thing happened. I tried pressing all the buttons, but nothing happened. I didn't immediately turn it off, and noticed that eventually, the game unfroze. The logo vanished, leaving a black screen for a few seconds. Rather than going to the title screen and the menu, however, it skipped directly to continue a previous save file. It was kind of odd, considering I expected all these cartridges to not even have save files due to their age, but I wasn't complaining. I would've chosen "continue" anyway, just to see what was on the previous player's game.

I checked the trainer information. The character's name was set to "......" - the previous guy definitely didn't have much in the way of originality. I checked the profile and apparently he had put 999:999 hours into the game. It could've been more, but the game can only display up to that long. He had all 16 badges, max Pokedollars, and all 251 Pokemon logged into the Pokedex. Even a couple of the more harmless glitch Pokemon were there. I assumed he cheated or was a really hardcore Pokemon player. I checked his party to see what kind of badass team he had. To my surprise, there were five Unowns and a sixth Pokemon named HURRY. I thought it must have been some cruel joke played by the last player, but I decided to check the profiles anyway.

As expected, every Unown was a different letter. All of them were level five. I was a bit shaky with my Unown alphabet at the time, but I'm pretty sure if you put all five side by side, they spelled out the word "LEAVE." As for the sixth Pokemon, it was a Cyndaquil. It looked normal, but it was level five and only had one HP left. It also had only two attacks: Leer and Flash. I don't know why they named him "HURRY," but at the time I disregarded it. The most eerie thing about this was that, despite the volume being maxed out, none of the Pokemon had sounded their cries. There was only silence. Having enough of the team, I closed the screen.

I was in what appeared to be a room inside Bellsprout Tower, but there were no NPCs to be seen. Even stranger was that the "pillar" in the middle didn't move at all (the one in Bellsprout Tower does move every once in a while), and it appeared to almost be leaning to the side. There was no music, and there didn't appear to be any exit. I walked around for a few minutes and couldn't find a way out. This was certainly not a room inside Bellsprout Tower. I tried checking the bag for an Escape Rope, but it was completely empty. I didn't encounter any Wild Pokemon anywhere in the room, either. Finally, I managed to find a ladder. It turned out to be hidden behind the "pillar." The screen turned black and some music finally started. It was that theme you hear when you listened to the radio at the Ruins of Alph, where you catch Unown. I had a sudden chill when I recognized it.

It stayed dark...and eventually, I realized this was no loading transition. It was a dark room that required Flash to see in. Before I took care of that, however, I checked my Pokegear to change the radio to something more pleasant. I didn't want to hear the Ruins of Alph song for too long while all this other weird stuff was happening – it kind of creeped me out. But when I got there, there wasn't a Radio card. Oddly enough, the Pokegear was even lacking Phone and Time cards. There was only a Map card, in which Gold ("......" from earlier, who I'm going to refer to as Gold from now on for simplicity's sake) was walking in a sea of black. There was nothing else I could do, so I left the Pokegear screen.

I remembered that Cyndaquil had Flash, so I made him use it. I didn't see the usual message like "HURRY used Flash!" or anything of the sort. The room became lit suddenly, just like that. it was a chilling blood red. Looking around, I found only one way to go: a gray path. It didn't have one of those color changes for when you enter a certain area. One area was red and it cut off in the middle to a stark gray. The ladder I entered the room from was missing, so it really was the only way to go. I had no choice. The screen got darker ever so often, but never dark enough to require the use of Flash again. I finally made it to the end, where there was only a sign. It said "TURN BACK NOW." I'm not sure what that meant. There was nowhere else for me to go.

Suddenly, the option to select yes or no appeared, without a question. I chose yes, as I didn't know what it was asking me. The screen faded to black and the ladder climbing sound played. The Unown Radio stopped and switched to the not-so-creepy PokeFlute Radio. I was in another dark room, but held my breath and used Flash again. Another box appeared. "HURRY has fainted!" It was strange because, as I recall, there weren't any status conditions on him and I hadn't been in any battles. I checked my party, but he was no longer there. In fact, none of them were. Instead, they were all replaced with level ten Unown. I checked them. It said, "HEDIED."

Either way, after that creepy change I noticed the room was lit. It was small, and only four squares big. The walls were grey and textured like brick, as if I was inside something that was hollowed out. Outside that room was a bunch of graves similar to the ones in the Pokemon Tower in Red and Blue. I walked around that small room and pressed A a bunch of times to try and examine things, but nothing happened. I had concluded the game was hacked by some sadistic fuck and sold to Gamestop, but my curiosity kept me going. I checked the trainer profile again, only to find that Gold's sprite had lost his arms. He also appeared less smug and/or sure of himself and more...sad. Empty, even, in a way I don't know how to describe. The game also listed his badge count at 24 this time.

After a few minutes of aimless wandering around that room, the Escape Rope animation played. Instead of flying up, however, Gold spun downwards, as if sinking. After that, the music stopped. Gold landed, colored different. Instead of the usual red color, he appeared completely white, skin and all. It was as if he came straight from the old Game Boy titles and was placed into a Game Boy Color game without being colored first. I checked the profile again and he was as white as his overworld sprite. He had lost his legs and red streaks were coming from his eyes – blood, it looked like. It also said he had 32 badges, which was odd to me. This change seemed to represent something important, but I wasn't sure what. I also checked my Pokemon. This time, the party contained five Unown and a level 100 Celebi with no name. The name portion was completely blank. The Unown were level fifteen and spelled out "DYING." The Celebi's profile showed it to be shiny. Half the sprite wasn't there – there was only one leg, one arm, and one eye. It had only one attack: Perish Song.

I was in that Bellsprout Tower with the immobile pillar, but everything was red this time. I walked up for what felt like forever before encountering some kind of NPCs. They were lined up on the sides of the screen, facing the pillar in the middle of the room. They were completely white like Gold, and I couldn't interact with them. I paid them no mind and kept going up until the chopped off top of the pillar appeared. A transparent Red was in that spot and I walked up to him, intending to talk with him. Before I could press A, a battle started automatically.

The music started again. It sounded like the Unown Radio music was being played backwards. Gold's battle back sprite matched his front sprite from the profile, while Red's battle sprite was the same as it was in the normal Gold/Silver/Crystal. Well, except for being completely transparent, that is. The text that showed up said " wants to battle!". It was as if he had no name, like the Celebi in my party. Speaking of that, both of us only had a single Pokemon each (odd, since I had six before). The one I had was that Celebi, with that half-a-sprite for its back sprite as well. The noise and animation that normally played for Shiny Pokemon was different as well – it sounded like the sound effect for Screech Attack, played over and over for a moment. Red sent out a seemingly normal Pikachu that was level 255. The Pokemon's sprite looked sad and teary-eyed. Rather than the usual battle menu, I was only given "FIGHT". Because Celebi only had one attack, I used it. Since the Pikachu was a higher level, it went first.

"PIKACHU used CURSE!" Its speed was lowered and other stats were increased. I'm not even sure if a Pikachu can naturally learn that move.

"CELEBI used PERISH SONG!" In three turns, both Pokemon would be KO'd. It wasn't like I had a choice to use it, though. At this point, the battle didn't let me pick anything else. It continued without me. Because I was forced to watch the battle and not participate, I noticed there were no animations. It was like the options had been set that way.

"PIKACHU used FLAIL!" It didn't much damage, despite his level. It didn't boost his health, either, since it was maxed out.

"CELEBI used PERISH SONG!" Nothing happened, since Celebi had used it in the previous turn.

"PIKACHU used FRUSTRATION!" This did a ton of damage and knocked my Celebi down to less than ten HP. Wouldn't be long now, I guessed.

"CELEBI used PAIN SPLIT!" This surprised me. Celebi didn't have that move before, when I checked its profile or when I was selecting a move to use. Both Pokemon ended up with around 150 HP.

"PIKACHU used MEAN LOOK!" It did absolutely nothing.

As expected, due to the effects of Perish Song, Celebi fainted. Instead of saying "CELEBI has fainted!", though, it stated "CELEBI has died!". Instead of the normal fainting animation, the Celebi's sprite vanished. The Pikachu, for some reason, didn't faint or die, even with Perish Song still active. It also didn't count as my loss. Pikachu used one more attack after that, even though he'd already shown he had four attacks.


After that, it said "PIKACHU has died!" with that same slow fade-out animation that was used on Celebi's sprite. Apparently, I was the winner. The transparent Red sprite showed up and said "... ... ... ... ..." and at that point, his head disappeared. I freaked out. Nothing was left but his transparent body, and the battle faded out along with the music. I was back in the overworld again, but another thing had changed: Gold's sprite was transparent like Red's. I checked the trainer profile and it showed that all that remained of him was his head, with transparent skin. The head looked it like it was zoomed in a bit, showing a black void in his eyes. He also had 40 badges. I checked my Pokemon next. They were all level 20 shiny Unown that spelled out "NOMORE." There was no music playing, but for some reason I still felt like something was there to hear. I was back in Gold's room in New Bark Town. I thought maybe now the game would work as intended...but what was I kidding? I knew some sadistic fuck must have done something.

I walked around the room to interact with things, as I was afraid to go down the stairs and see what was waiting there. Note that I said walked...but while the background was scrolling, Gold wasn't animated. He was floating around like the ghosts in Diamond/Pearl. As expected, nothing could be interacted with. I had no choice but to go down the stairs. They, surprisingly, led down to the first floor of Gold's house. Everything looked normal, but Gold's mom wasn't there. Nothing could be interacted with there either, so I went outisde. To my surprise, the door didn't work. I walked straight through it and into a void. I continued moving around to see what was going on, and Gold's house "vanished" as I walked away from it. It was creepy. When I entered the void, Gold's outline turned white to contrast with the black. Eventually, I reached a white area and Gold's sprite turned black again. I continued on in that direction without thinking of stopping.

After a long walk, I finally encountered something: Gold's regular sprite. I talked to him, too. He could actually be interacted with. He said, "Goodbye forever ....." (notably with a space between "forever" and "......"), then vanished. After that, another text box appeared. "??? used NIGHTMARE!" At that point, it wasn't surprising for something like that to happen. Another Escape Rope animation played. I was back in that small room surrounded by graves. Or...well, I say I was back there. I didn't have a sprite to move around. I tried to walk, but nothing happened. There wasn't even a wall bumping noise. I checked my trainer profile and there was no sprite. It said I had 0 badges and all the Gym Leader sprites were replaced with skulls. I checked my party and it was filled with six level 25 Unown. As expected, they spelled something out: "IMDEAD."

Another area appeared and the previous one was covered with the same blocks as the walls. I figured out what that room was when a text box appeared that said "R.I.P. ..." That room was a big grave surrounded by graves. Gold had already been dead. He died presumably a few years after he defeated Red. He was a young trainer who, despite his efforts in collecting so many badges and attempts at becoming a Pokemon Master, was unable to avoid the inevitable fate of death. His efforts were eventually forgotten by the next generation.

This text appeared to me, explaining everything. I was unable to get away from it, no matter what I pressed. I tried to reset the game, but the same thing happened again and again until I decided to give up on that horrible thing. After that experience, I will never look at Unown the same way again. They say only the first generation has its folk tales and legends, but the second generation has shown me how unpleasant the "truth" can be. I eventually got my copy of SoulSilver and enjoyed it immensely, but I still can't unthink what that hacked game had shown me.