The experience I'm about to recount to you is quite short, unfortunately, but I remember it quite vividly.
You remember Wally, right? The cute little boy who served as your rival in Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald? Yeah, he's easily one of my favorites. He doesn't seem to have any emotional hang-ups; he's not arrogant, he doesn't constantly call you weak, he's not a hyperactive annoyance, and he's not trying to deceive you even for the smallest amount of time. He's just a sweet, innocent little boy who wants to be a good Pokémon trainer.
He was the one I hated to beat. But, at the same time, I loved it. The way he accepted his defeat at my character's hands with the vow to try harder made me feel like I was a motivator of some sort. I wasn't beating him mercilessly; I was helping him get better.
It had been quite some time since I played my Ruby game; a few years, at least, but I never once misplaced it. As I suddenly got the urge to play it one day after watching the Jirachi Wishmaker movie, I found it neatly tucked away in my sock drawer in the exact same corner in which I had left it. It wasn't even dusty, the cloth protection of a bunch of unused socks kept it safe from any damaging elements, which in turn answered the question as to why I had placed it in my sock drawer in the first place.
I located my DS -I misplaced my GBA SP quite a while ago. Not that it mattered- and quickly inserted the red cartridge, excited to see my old, completely unbalanced Pokémon team. I selected my save file and saw that I had saved right in front of the Pokémon League, which was good considering I planned to challenge them straight away anyway. Rather...since I was there, I figured I'd pay my favorite little Rival a friendly visit before doing anything. First Wally, then the League, then I'd see if there was a chance I had been lucky enough to find my game on the day I could find Mirage Island.
As I stepped away from the League entrance, following the zigzag path downward, I stopped a moment and opened my party. Normally, when I leave a Pokémon game alone for a while, I find out that the last thing I did was trade to help out my Pokédex on my other games...It certainly wouldn't have been the first time that I enter battle completely unaware that I had a party full of level 5 Rattata and Magikarp... it's a bit of an embarrassing situation, to say the least.
They were all there though:
Inferno the level 100 Blaziken
Volcano the level 85 Groudon
Dailoros the level 87 Rayquaza
Duragon the level 65 Salamence
Harbinger the level 55 Absol
and Vengeance the level 34 Banette
As I said, painfully unbalanced, but they were all there just as I had left them. I was relieved, actually. That meant that Ruby was the game I hadn't abused the Pal Park with. It must've been Emerald.
But that's not really important, though, and I'm getting off track. My party was there, so I didn't have to waste a few minutes in going back up to the League to switch out my dinky little under-leveled Pokémon for something a little better. So I began my little trek to see Wally once more.
As I entered the cave, he was standing there waiting for me already. I couldn't remember if that was what he was supposed to do or not... as I said, it's been quite a long time since I've so much as thought about this game. But I was excited to talk to him either way... whether I felt guilty for beating him or not, I really loved seeing him.
I approached him and pressed 'A' to talk, but rather than have him say something in greeting before challenging me to a battle, the 'trainer spotted' theme played for a second or two before the screen flickered, signifying a battle had started. But just as quickly as the screen faded to black, it faded back in to the normal cave scene once more. Only Wally was no longer there.
I shrugged it off, thinking that years of having the cartridge had actually put a little wear on the game's inner workings... not that I'm actually techno-savvy enough to really know how that'd work.
I started to walk away, thinking I'd try to see if this glitch continued in the Pokémon League. If it did, I was out of a game... I'd either have to reset or get a new one. Either option would kill me; Inferno was the best Pokémon I've ever had. Though before I could take a single step passed turning around, the PokéNav rang. I didn't think it could function properly in caves and the like, but since I was kinda close to the exit and open air, I supposed it made sense for it to work.
"... ... ... ... ... ...
WALLY: Come to PETALBURG...
I'm not entirely sure how to explain it, but with the little hiccup my game just had with the battle scene and the face that I'm almost positive that small bit of dialogue wasn't scripted, I just felt uneasy. Nonetheless, I got out of the cave and selected Dailoros to fly to Petalburg City. When I got there, I could definitely tell something was off. The whole area looked foggy and all the colors looked as if they had been washed out, leaving the normally-cheery little town looking rather dismal. Even the music was different, just slightly though. The tempo had been noticeably slowed, further adding to the incredibly dreary effect.
I explored the area a little, going in the few buildings surrounding the Pokémon Center, just to see what else had changed... for one thing, no one was around. The area was completely devoid of all NPCs, but it didn't take me long to figure out where they all were.
I walked up to Wally's parents' house to find seven NPC sprites lining the path to the door--two columns of three with one standing to one side of the door--all of them wore black any my uneasy feeling only grew.
Curious, I spoke to each of them... none of them seemed happy...
"This shouldn't have happened." "I thought he was doing so well."
"We thought he had beaten it." "He looked up to you."
"Why couldn't you give him a break?" "He'd still be with us if not for you..."
"He didn't think he was good enough to move further... it's your fault."
I knew what was going on now, but I didn't want to believe it... but as I walked into his house, I was forced to. A couple more NPCs dotted the small room as a small black coffin rested in the middle of the area.
Wally was dead.
I spoke to the other NPCs, most only repeated, "It's all your fault." But one, which I believed was his mother, explained things a little better for me.
"The damp cave air aggravated his condition.
He strained himself to become better so he could
finally be as good as you... but he pushed himself
too hard. His body gave out...
A HIKER found him, a POKÉBALL clutched
in his little hand, his Pokémon refusing to
leave his side... He called us using Wally's Nav.
Do you know what it's like?
Being informed by a total stranger
that someone you love is dead?
Pay your respects and leave.
This is all your fault."
By now, I felt absolutely terrible... Wouldn't you? So I did as I was told and walked up to the small casket. As soon as I touched it, the music stopped and a blank dialogue box popped up. It stayed there for a few seconds before a single word was slowly typed out in it:
A battle started--a real one this time, rather than the teaser I had experienced earlier. My heart sank as Wally's sprite slid into the opposing trainer's spot. His skin was pale, his colors were washed out, and he looked quite sad. But what hurt the most was the opening battle announcement.
"Pkmn Trainer Wally wants one last battle."
He sent out his first Pokémon--his cherished Gardevoir--who also looked upset. I assumed this would be the trend with his Pokémon. I sent out Inferno. Sympathy urged me to throw this battle, to make his last one a good one for him, but the competitor in me said to give it all I had... guess which one I listened to?
Inferno plowed through each and every one of his saddened Pokémon, knocking them flat with one attack each. As the battle ended, Wally slid back into frame, his sprite now mostly transparent, and said:
"Why can't you let me win?..."
When the battle screen faded, Wally's mother approached my character and pushed him back and away from the coffin.
"Get out. You're done here.
You disgust me."
As she shoved me out the door, instead of appearing outside the house, the screen cut to white and began rolling the credits. As the names of those involved in the production of the game faded in and out, the white was replaced by an ending scene: poor Wally's funeral procession. NPC sprites slowly paraded through Petalburg, the tiny casket at the center of the crowd. My eyes watered as they slowly left through the right exit of the city. The camera followed as they stopped at the small patch of grass where Wally had caught his dear Ralts.
When they stopped, they all turned to face the screen--just for a second, but I could almost feel the judgment... As they turned back to the casket, the screen faded to white and Wally's trainer sprite faded in. Beneath it were three little words:
"In Loving Memory"