Pokémon Gold and Silver Beta: Before the Beginning of the Sequel to the Assumed and Actual Beginning

Pokémon Red, Blue, Green and Yellow are some of the best games in history. Red, Blue, and Green sold well over 20 million copies by the end of production, and Pokémon Yellow sold over 600 thousand cartridges the week of its release, and more than one million copies the next – good for the third best-selling video game in North America in 1999. So, of course, Game Freak had to give us more Pokémon!

The sequels – Pokémon Gold and Silver – were planned a year after Pokémon Red and Green were released in Japan. Details included: a clock system, 100 new Pokémon, new evolutions for the Generation 1 Pokémon, backwards compatibility, and new moves. But this article is not here to tell you what Gold and Silver were, but rather, what they were meant to be. Also promised: a skateboard as well as a bicycle and a release on the original Game Boy. The skateboard never made it in, but the games were released on the Game Boy Color, which was an improvement. The Pokémon anime (or TV series if that’s your thing) revealed the first Generation 2 Pokémon in the first and forty-sixth episodes of the series, and then in various shorts and movies afterwards.

Image credit: Know Your Meme.

The alpha demo had some beta Pokémon; in fact, all the starters were beta PokémonThe starters were vastly different from what we see now, although Chikorita was not that different. The weird part about these Pokémon is the fact that, though they are starters, they’re barely complete. These are the first Pokémon you see in the game, so it is strange that they were so far from finished (again not really  for Chikorita). Various other Pokémon were shown off: some are not very different (Tyranitar), and some are, well, very odd (spinning-top Clefairy abomination). It is often said that most of the beta Pokémon were inspirations for new ones.

Moving on from beta Pokémon, there are early screenshots of the towns and cities in the game. These screenshots are in the original Game Boy color palettes, since the GBC wasn’t yet the intended system for release. One of them shows the first town, where the player starts. The final version of the town is named New Bark Town, but in the time of the screenshot, it was named Silent Hill. Sound familiar? Not to me . . . Silent Hill is a Japanese survival horror video game series. You might be thinking “why would a world with adorable magical creatures have such an out-of-place reference?” Well, the thing is, Silent Hill (the first game in the series) was released in 1999. It can be assumed that once the developers heard of this, they changed the name to New Bark Town to avoid future problems.

There aren’t a lot of beta elements that didn’t make it into Gold and Silver, but you do have to go digging into the game files to find the goodies. You thought only New Bark Town was changed? In the game files, there are alternate maps for every town and city (and then some).  In the Generation 1 games, there was the Fuchsia City Safari Zone, a pay-to-play event where the player could catch many different species of Pokémon. The building exists in Gold and Silver, but it is inaccessible because the warden went on vacation. But there is a map in the game files, which is fully functional! The “warp tiles” for where the doors would be are even there, but alas, the doors were replaced with walls in the final. No Pokémon appear in the grass, but Pokémon can be fished and caught. This is probably a case of running out of time or space in production. A smaller version of the Safari Zone made it in elsewhere. Like some of the beta Pokémon, some of the elements in the game make the cut in later games. This can be seen in the Honey mechanic, or Sweet Honey in the game files, that attracts Wild Pokémon when used. Finally, we will look at the Pokémon and Trainer Color Test Menu. The only way to find this is to go into the code of the game and select a mode (Pokémon or Trainer) when the command that starts it is found. In the Gen 2 series, Shiny Pokémon were introduced. These Pokémon were rare color variants of the originals and could only be found if their randomly generated groups of IVs lined up with certain numbers. This program in the game would allow the user to change the color of the regular and Shiny variants. It would also see if the Pokémon was able to learn a certain move. The most interesting part of it is the fact that the program uses other Trainers as well!

Hopefully this was entertaining enough for an article after the Halloween season. I did mention Silent Hill . . .

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