Written by "perilz" on F Yeah Pokémon Creepypasta.
Pokémon Snap is one of those weird Pokémon spin-offs. Either you love it or you hate it. Actually, before they released it on a Virtual Console, I had assumed I was the only one who loved it—I could spend hours playing the same five-minute stages over and over and over again, but I knew I was kind of a weird little kid and it probably didn’t hold up as well for people who had better things to do, like try to get into the grass behind Bill’s house in R/B/Y or catch MissingNo or venture outside and feel their shriveled, unused melanin scream in protest.
Whatever the case, I played that game to death. Hell, I still do. It’s my gaming junk food. When I’m feeling down, I go boot up my Wii and spend time harassing helpless Charmanders with apples and Pester Balls until I feel better.
And since I was putting all that time into it, something eventually started bugging me:
Why are there only 63 Pokémon?
The first thing that most players fussed about when they finished their Snap Dex is that it seemed finished nearly two-thirds too early. While older players probably had a better grip of what was reasonable for the hardware requirements, plenty of us 12-year-olds went in expecting to take photos of all 150 Pokémon, with Mew just being the icing on the cake.
Once you get over that little life lesson, you realize that the developers not putting in one Pokémon more for the flagship number of 64 is absolutely bizarre. Every N64 game that possibly could, and even games on later consoles used that number, usually in an up-front nostalgic manner, but sometimes as a delightfully obtuse Easter egg. For example, one intrepid Nintendo Power reader did a little math at the end screen of Star Fox 64, where a bill is presented to Sgt. Pepper based on how many ships you shot down, and worked out that each enemy ship was worth exactly 64 points. With companies going that far out of the way to make a reference that wasn’t found for months, why didn’t HAL just squeeze in an easily-mapped Pokémon like an Oddish or something?
I’m forced to believe that it’s because there are 64 Pokémon in the game, but the last one was dummied out.
There are a number of things pointing to this, if you take the time to think about it.
—There’s a big focus on Mew in the game, featuring her in the title sequence and setting her up as the ultimate goal. Understandable, given that she was just introduced as a secret Pokémon, but is there something more to that? —It turns out that finding Mew is the ultimate goal, with her getting one stage entirely to herself. In this stage, nothing happens but Mew appearing in front of you over and over again until you hit the exit, at which point she gives a sad cry and disappears. Is she really just being playful?
—The game seems unfinished. You get a congratulations for documenting such a rare Pokémon after you catch a shot of Mew, and different credits roll, but nothing really happens. You don’t get anything extra, Professor Oak never mentions it again, and the only real impact it has is inevitably dominating your top score list (I’m not the only one who spent weeks getting a perfect 10,000 on that stage, right? Right?). It seems like there should be something more, if only a badge for your Snap Dex or some other little easily-programmed “good job” throwaway.
—This one requires a little outside knowledge, but HAL, the main dev company of the game, is better known for their work on the Mother series, known in the States as Earthbound. Many people have noted the similarity in appearance between Mewtwo and Giegue, the last boss of Mother (the precursor to Earthbound), and given that HAL has pitched in on a large number of Pokémon games, theorized that Mewtwo is either a tribute to Mother or an uncredited addition from the developers proper.
Given all of that, is it so hard to believe that Mewtwo was supposed to be in the game?It’s not hard to picture how it’s supposed to go. Mew isn’t being playful when she hovers endlessly in front of you, not caring how many times you hit her with bait or Pester Balls. She’s asking for help. That’s why she always sounds so plaintive at the end of the stage—there was originally supposed to be some kind of trigger where you could open up a new area, possibly the Cinnabar Lab, possibly the Unknown Dungeon. Maybe it would be something you could do in the stage, maybe it was an added dialogue tree from Oak. Maybe it even had something to do with all that odd, out-of-place machinery in the Cave level. Whatever the case, your job would have been to traverse the last area and rescue her son, from the scientists that abused him or from his own isolation and sadness. Then the game would have ended properly, with a conflict resolved instead of a vague “You found a rare Pokemon, congratulations” that seems so out of place after snapping all three of the Legendary Birds.
It’s not hard to figure out why the last part of the game was dummied out or never developed. Deadline issues could have been a problem. Wiki states that the game was originally meant to be made for the 64DD, but had to go in another direction at the last minute because of the DD’s poor sales, and that could have put the devs in a bind. Another, more sobering option is that censors pitched a fit at having anything more complex than “throw apple, Pikachu surfs” in a game they were hoping would draw in gamers too young to get through the text-heavy Gameboy games. Maybe it simply proved too complex to design or overtaxed the hardware requirements. We may never know.
Whatever the case, I can’t play the last stage of Pokémon Snap these days. Every time the exit animation plays, I hear that sad little cry and know that all she wants is to find her son.
A son that will always be lost.