Endless stories seem to present themselves of hacked games and such. Some more believable than others, some leave you questioning who would go out of their way to edit their own version of a game, just to spook a few unfortunate victims who happen to come to possess one. I've never made an attempt to acquire one myself, however what I am about to tell you all is the story of how one game, managed to find its way into my hands.
I had decided to purchase one of the original Blue/Red/Yellow cartridges to play purely for the nostalgic side of pleasure, so I made my way to the city, and found myself at the closest game shop I could find, Toy World.
Toy World outlets aren't dedicated to selling gaming merchandise, but I did recall seeing them sell games in the past. After a good browse of the shop, I found nothing, leaving with nothing in hand but some minor information which I acquired from one of the shop clerks, who informed me that I would have better luck finding older games at GameTraders.
So I made my way there, obvious patience in my stride, I was feeling confident that I would find what I so desired with every step. I arrived at GameTraders, a very small shop in comparison to Toy World, for that I found myself feeling grateful. I felt excitement kick in when I spotted a Pokémon cartridge case, only to find out it was a copy of Silver, with no other Pokémon related GameBoy Colour cartridges in sight. My search spanned over most of the day, being informed one way, only to be sent another.
Patience wore thin, til I decided to head home with no spoils of hard searching. I arrived home, disappointed after all the effort, so I gave in to online purchasing. I lucked out with finding a copy of Yellow being sold three blocks away from my home. I got hold of the owner, who was a girl who sounded no older than myself, 17-18. I practically ran out the door, hopped on my pushbike and made haste to the address.
When I arrived, I knocked on the door, to be answered by a relatively attractive girl, her only flaws seemed to be her unkempt appearance. Bed hair, with clothes that crossed the borderline of being considered home-comfort to homeless rags, but it did not matter. I gave her the money, she gave me the game. Something felt eerie from how silent she was, vocally and physically. As I walked away after giving thanks, she mumbled out "You won't save him". I paused, confused at her implication, then left with another praise of thanks.
I arrived home, still curious as to what she meant by "You won't save him", it made me feel uneasy. But, nonetheless, I immediately started up Yellow on my trusty GameBoy Advance SP. That's when things got interesting. Normal titles appeared in their very nostalgic order, but the intro did not play. It went straight to the menu, which simply had the Games title, with no Pikachu in sight, only a boy with black hair, crouched with his arms extended, face hidden in shadow, facial features unable to be made out.
I instantly found disappointment. A hacked game, presumably one made to creep the victim out. But, I had gained no other copy of the game, I paid for this, and I was curious as to how this version was laid out. Hitting start, the basic title came up, except continue was the only available option of gameplay. Naturally, I hit continue. The game faded in to the lead characters bedroom, where the trainer was seated, staring amongst paintings and a map on the wall.
I decided to check out this playthrough's spoils of gameplay, so I brought up the start menu, and noticed the name. "Dain". A nice name, I admit, not a clichéd name such as Red, or Yellow in this case. Moving on, I checked my trainer card, starting trainer cash, zero badges, everything seemed at norm, except for the portrait of the trainer.
As mentioned earlier on, a black hair boy, a very defined Japanese hairstyle, swept over to a side, all spiky and awesome, I found it to be in my favor. He was expressionless. No smile, a bare featured face, with dark eyes, and a stare that left you curious to his story. I found myself wanting to play through this hack, wanting to explore the unexplored, based in a childhood game.
I proceeded to check my Pokémon team, naturally finding a level five Pikachu, nicknamed "Ladie". I found that interesting, but she was a standard, level five Pikachu. After I went downstairs, I spotted my mother, who had a different hairstyle to the preset version, but seemed all the same, with dialogue etc. etc. I left the house, and discovered I was in Viridian city, Dain's house was next to the Pokemart. The city seemed to be normal. So, I explored, I headed over to the only other house, next to the gym, and went inside. It was set-up as a normal NPC house, no sign out the front, but after speaking with the mother of the home, it seemed Dain was a friend to the girl who lived here, named "Delia". I went upstairs, walked over and started a conversation with Delia. She seemed glad to see Dain, ranting on about how cute Ladie was.
She then prompted me a question, "Do you think I should get a Pokemon too? Become traveling partners, wouldn't it be fun?"
I chose yes, then shortly after her immediate ecstatic reaction, SNAP! The power turns off on the GameBoy. Frustration and confusion hit me at the same time, but I stubbornly turned the game back on. It jumped directly to the menu screen, with the title, and Dain standing with Delia, showing a small smile upon his face, which in turn made me smile. It seemed I lucked out on a hacked game with a luring progressive character storyline! I knew this game had me, I was hooked, I spent hours over the next few days traveling and collecting badges, all the while with Delia as company!
The storyline was laid out exactly the same as the default storyline, however fame of Dain's battling efforts seemed to grow. Every NPC seemed to recognize him! I loved that Dain would occasionally speak, a rare feat in Pokémon games, almost a childhood dream in fact. He progressively got happier as I pushed him through the game, the occasional change of face on his trainer card, and his relationship with Delia seemed to grow more in depth after every gym. I made Ladie strong. She was by all rights my main, and was ahead the rest of my party, which only featured the obtainable free Charmander/Bulbasaur/Squirtle through the game.
I continued on, pushing through, until I arrived at Victory Road, where Delia asked to meet up later, as she wished to visit her parents in Viridian. I decided to see what would happen if I said no, so no I said. She seemed down at the reply, and asked if I wished to go with her. So I did, I wanted to get more in depth with Delia's storyline as well as Dain's. So we arrived at the house with basic NPCs, which made no special dialogue with me, so I left, and decided to give Viridian gym a look around, seeing as it was the final gym I had yet to conquer, and noticeably the one I had to forgot to challenge in my haste to the Elite Four.
That's when I was prompted by a caretaker of the Gym.
"Do you wish to hold a strong position in Viridian? Possibly as Viridians Gym Leader? Viridian City lost its previous Gym leader several years ago, he passed on, may he rest in peace. But nonetheless we require a new Gym Leader. You have grown renown Dain, word of your strength has reached nearly all of Kanto. It is only natural that the title of Viridian Gym Leader be given to someone of your attire?"
I said yes. Good God I said yes, I had never felt excited as I did at that moment. I had always wondered what being a Gym Leader would be like in one of these games. Ignoring all remarks I've heard over the years that all you would do is stand aimlessly waiting for the odd trainer to challenge you. Then, without warning, SNAP! Off went the power once more. Seeming less surprised than the first time it had happened, I turned on the console, and was directed to the menu.
There stood Dain, in a completely new attire, a dark grey outfit, suited to the Gym of Ground of course, I liked the look of it. Dain was also surrounded by a new party. Rhydon, Graveller, Kangaskhan, a very fitting party. However Ladie remained there, by Dain's leg. But she looked...sullen. Sad, perhaps sad to the change? By then it dawned on me that Delia was missing from the image. In fact Dain's expression showed a weak smile. Something must have happened between the two when I accepted the role as a Gym Leader, so I hastily clicked continue. It faded in to the Gym, Dain standing there in all his glory, however I had no control over him. Then I realized this was a cinematic. It faded in, and out of countless battles, seemingly depressing 8-bit music playing in the meanwhile. Eventually, it faded to a black screen altogether, and a "One year later" appeared on the screen.
Then, vision of the game faded in, to nothing more than Lavender Town's Pokémon Tower, where Dain stood in front of a tombstone, Delia standing behind him, a step to the right. "I am so sorry Dain... she must've been everything to you.."
It was then it hit me. "Her". I think I knew exactly who had died in the passing year. Subsequent to the change of life, it would only make sense. I was give control once more, and I hesitantly clicked on the tombstone. "Here lies Ladie. Kanto's little flash of yellow, loved by all, fathered by Dain. Rest in peace". I was so in depth in the game at that moment that it was the soaked screen that snapped me out of it. I was crying, crying so hard over the loss over the Pokémon I had trained from the start. It was my fault it had died, I made those stupid decisions to completely change Ladie's life by becoming a Gym Leader, knowing that Ladie wouldn't be fit for the Gym. Guilt-written, I turned off the game, hoping to find a possible way to alter the storyline.
I arrived at the menu once more. No Pokémon stood with me. No Delia to comfort the loneliness. Just Dain, standing there. In all his.. "Glory". Tears had begun to run dry by this point, looking upon Dain's face, only to find an even more ominous shadowed face than when I first began. I clicked Continue, to instantly be shown a cinematic between Dain and Delia. Delia was crying, Dain arguing. It seemed Delia decided to comfort Dain with her presence after Ladie died, as he had given up on everything.
Then she left. With nothing but "I thought I could save you". I couldn't believe it. The previous owner of this game's warning entered my head. She warned me. Even now I brushed it off. I had just ruined Dain's last chance of friendship, all of it, my fault. I gained control once more, and I decided to check my menu. No Pokémon. Then, the trainer card. There it was. The original crouched position Dain was in when I first started. I wanted to strangle the person who made this by now, searching for an excuse that all this wasn't my fault.
Dialogue broke me out of the menu, surprising to say the least.
Dain: Ladie... gone. Delia... I'm sorry..
Ominous silence crept into the fray of my room. I felt continued disappointment. I sullenly paused at restarting the game. Asking myself if it was worth it. I might as well, I don't think I could get any more depressed at my vain efforts of getting Dain back on track, so I turned it back on. Usual lack of intro, but this time it went straight to the save file. Dain was standing out the front of his house, speaking to Delia. I almost yelped in delight there and then. Things possibly might have gone back on track. But the dialogue that followed, proved that hope wrong.
Dain: I've given you full ownership to our home in Pallet town, Mum would've liked you to have it anyway.
Delia: .. and where will you go? Don't do this Dain, you'll be a father soon..
Dain: I'd make a bad father anyway, I've already lost one child. She was all I had.
A father? That I was not expecting. This story was so intriguing. The implied child was obviously Ladie. But I was more-so interested that Delia would be staying in Dain's house, and where would he be going? The cinematic came to a fade, leaving Dain walking away. Dain appeared outside his Gym. He silently trodden off, at half pace. Dialogue kicked in.
Dain: ... I know Ladie can't come back. Nor will any Pokémon fill the gap she left. But that won't stop me from acquiring one..
This world is cruel, undeserving of such Pokemon.
A villainous plot. How predictable and clichéd. I didn't complain though, I moved on, and continued on. I gained control over Dain, and did the usual check of his status. A ground type party. The original party I was given when I accepted the role as a Gym Leader. Interesting. I check the trainer card. Dain is wearing a striped suit. His facial features much more defined and mature, Dain looked an adult now. I exited the menu, and instantly lost control, as Dain started a long journey through Kanto.
He walked, through Pewter, to Celadon, through Saffron, until he arrives in Lavender. Of course, a final farewell to Ladie before he sets off to a new life. He entered the Pokémon Tower, made his way to Ladie's tombstone, and gave me control to interact with it.
Dain: Here lies Ladie. My little flash of Yellow. You were my love to Delia, my Ladie.
I will never find another you, but a Pikachu I will find. I have lost strength to travel Kanto again, so I will form an organization to purge Kanto for me. I came in here as Dain, but I will leave as another, to start anew. As in depth as I was at this point, it was obviously noticeable of the layout of "Delia" and "Ladie". Same letters, spelt out differently. It seemed Ladie was Dain's way of showing his compassion to Delia in physical form. His love and strength, dedicated to a single person through his beloved Pokémon. Dain began walking amongst the other tombstones. Curiously, I attempted to press A, which started a minor dialogue.
Dain: I must find a name appropriate to depart with...Then he stopped at one. A tombstone singled out from the rest. I clicked on it, nerves settling in from what was about to appear.
"Here lies Giovanni."