The original games in the Pokémon series were a surprise hit in Japan. The franchise took on a life of its own, and extended into toys, a trading card game, numerous manga adaptations, and an anime series that has been running since 1997. Pokémon made its way across the world, and became a global phenomenon.
Pokémon Red & Blue & Yellow have sold almost 50 million copies worldwide. They revived the flagging Game Boy system, and led to the founding of Nintendo’s 2nd biggest franchise. After the release of the first generation of games, fans eagerly awaited what was to come next.
In the year 2000, Pokémon Gold & Silver was finally released in America. The games did not disappoint. The second generation of Pokémon games improved on almost every aspect of the original, and offered one of the most comprehensive experiences in the series to date.
Pokémon Gold & Silver had a tumultuous development cycle, with numerous problems and delays. This meant that a lot of features and concepts had to be cut out of the game. We are here today to talk about the Johto that we could have seen, had the developers been given more time. From the frightful home town, to the potential ending of the series as a whole. Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Pokémon Gold And Silver.
15. Your Home Town Was Silent Hills
Name changes were a regular occurrence in the old days of Pokémon. In Japan, the series was originally called Pocket Monsters. This name could not be used in America, due to a potential lawsuit from the makers of the Monster in my Pocket franchise. Since then, the franchise has universally been known as Pokémon (though the Pocket Monsters name is still occasionally used in Japan).
When it comes to Pokémon names, many of the 1st generation Pokémon had theirs changed. Kakuna was originally named Kokoon, Rattata was Rattatak, Vulpix was Foxfire, Jigglypuff was Pudding, Paras was Parasyte, Machop was Kara-Tee, Exeggcute was Eggstre, Lickitung was Tonguetyd, Gyarados was Skullkraken, and Dratini was Dragoon. It’s a shame some of these were changed, as Skullkraken and Parasyte are awesome names!
The name changing also happened for the towns. In Pokémon Gold & Silver, the starting area of the game is called New Bark Town. In the demo of the games, shown at Nintendo Space World 1997, New Bark Town had a very different name. It was originally known as Silent Hills. The name change was most likely to avoid comparisons with the PlayStation horror game, Silent Hill, which was released in 1999. Silent Hill‘s release predates Pokémon Gold & Silver by almost a year.
14. The Lost Safari Zone
The original Safari Zone in Pokémon Red & Blue was a source of frustration for a lot of people. Not only was the first episode of the anime dedicated to it banned for depicting gun use, but the actual area in the game was annoying as hell. Unlike the rest of the game, you could not use your Pokémon to weaken or inflict status effects (like sleep) onto the enemy in order to capture them. Instead, you had to rely on luck. You could either throw a Pokéball and hope for the best, throw a rock (which will make the Pokémon easier to capture, but more likely to run away), or put down bait (which has the opposite effect of the rock). What makes this even more infuriating is that there are several Pokémon that can only be caught in this area.
Pokémon Gold & Silver were originally intended to have a Safari Zone. The developers could not finish it in time, and it cannot be accessed in the final game. Through the aid of rom hacks and codes, fans have discovered how to access a few basic Safari Zone maps that were coded into the game.
When Pokémon Heart Gold & Soul Silver were released on the Nintendo DS, the Safari Zone was finally included in the game. Now trainers in Johto could experience the annoying thrill of trying to catch a rare Pokémon in the Safari Zone.
13. The Rival = Giovanni’s Son
The original Pokémon games had one of the best rivals of all time, Gary Oak. He was a smug jerk, who insulted you at every turn. These traits actually made him a great antagonist, as it made beating him all the more satisfying.
When Pokémon Gold & Silver was released, they featured a new rival, whose default name is the opposite colour of the version you bought. Most fans refer to him as Silver, as that was his name in the Pokémon Adventures manga series. Unlike Gary, Silver is sullen, and angry with the world. He treats his Pokémon as mere tools, and sees the player as nothing but a challenge that needs defeating.
In Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen on the Game Boy Advance, it is stated that the boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni, has a son with red hair. This led to fan speculation that Silver is Giovanni’s son, and the reason he is angry with the world is due to resentment towards his father for abandoning him.
The relationship between Silver and Giovanni was finally confirmed in Pokémon Heart Gold & Soul Silver. Nintendo gave out a special Celebi that would activate an event in Illex Forest. This event sends you back in time, where you witness Silver angrily shouting at his father. Giovanni leaves his son, and goes into isolation in order to train. The player then gets a chance to battle Giovanni while he is in hiding.
12. The Early Honey Mechanic
The fourth generation of Pokémon games were a massive step up in terms of technology for the series. Pokémon Diamond & Pearl were the first games in the series to use the Internet as a means of trading and battling Pokémon. Through the use of the Nintendo DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities, players could now take on the world.
Pokémon Diamond & Pearl also included other new features into the game. One of these was the Honey mechanic. Players could find delicious Honey, and smear it onto special gold coloured trees. This attracted rare Pokémon, who could only be caught using this method.
Fans have discovered text files in Pokémon Gold & Silver that suggest the Honey mechanic was intended to be included as far back as the second generation of games. There exists dialogue files for a character who would give the player an item known as SWEET HONEY, and would advise you to smear it on trees in order to attract Pokémon.
11. The Lost Memory Game
The Game Corner was a gambling based arcade that appeared in many early Pokémon games. The player could use their cash to buy coins that could be used on the machines. This allowed the players to gamble their earnings, and potentially win more coins than what they started with. The coins could then be traded in for prizes, including rare Pokémon (this was the only way to catch Porygon in Pokémon Red & Blue).
Over the years, the Game Corner drew criticism from PEGI (Pan-European Game Information), due to its use of gambling within a kids game. The Game Corner was slowly written out of the series, with similar areas that used memory games taking their place in the European and Korean versions of the games. Staring with Pokémon Black & White, the Game Corners were written out completely.
In Pokémon Gold & Silver, the Game Corner has two games, one based around slot machines, and the other based on flipping cards. There was a third game based around memorizing cards, that was intended for inclusion, but it was not completed in time. Fans discovered how to access the game, and it exists in a mostly complete state.
10. You Almost Had A Skateboard
The Pokémon series has included many different bikes for the player to get around on. Once the player acquires their bicycle, it allows them to move faster on the overworld, with an increased chance of encountering a wild Pokémon (if they are travelling in tall grass, or in a cave). Professor Oak hates people who ride bikes indoors, and he will telepathically assault you like Professor Xavier if you attempt to do so.
When developing Pokémon Gold & Silver, Game Freak wanted to change things up a bit. In some of the earliest promotional material for the game, it was promised that the players would now be able to ride a skateboard instead of a bike. It was possibly due to the game’s shaky development, that the skateboard was ultimately dropped in favour of another bike.
Fans went through the code of the game, and actually discovered some lingering code concerning the skateboard in the Key Items menu. While no new graphics existed for it, the player can activate the skateboard in the menu. This changes the main character, so that all of his movements are the same as when you are on a icy floor (like in the 7th Johto Gym). If you press a directional button, you will move in that direction until you hit a surface.
9. The Useless Status Effects
One of the most effective ways of catching a Pokémon is to inflict status effects upon it. Most wild Pokémon in the game do not require such extreme tactics, and simply weakening it through battle should be enough to make it easy to catch.
When it comes to catching legendary Pokémon, then you’re going to need all the help you can get. With each game only giving you one Master Ball, you will have to go through some long and frustrating battles if you intend to catch every legendary in the game. The most effective way of doing this is through sleep, paralysis, and poison attacks.
In Pokémon Gold & Silver, this process was even more frustrating, although players were unaware of the reason at the time. Due to a glitch in the programming, the paralysis, burn, and poison element do not affect catch rates. Using any of those moves was about as effective as pushing down + B when the Pokéball hits the Pokémon.
8. The Cheating Champion
Lance is the 2nd most powerful opponent you will face in Pokémon Red & Blue. As the leader of the Kanto Elite Four, he is only one step behind the Champion in terms of difficulty. Due to his mastery of Dragon-type Pokémon, he possesses a team composed of some of the most frightening creatures in the game.
Much like another famous Lance, this one is a dirty cheater!
The Champion of the Johto region is Lance. Once you defeat the Elite Four, you must now battle a stronger version of Lance than what you encountered in Kanto. Of his six Pokémon, four of them are illegal. His Aerodactyl knows Rock Slide, a move it couldn’t learn in the 2nd generation of games. His three Dragonites are levels, 47, 47, and 50 respectively, even though Dragonair cannot evolve until level 55. It’s a shame that the Pokémon League does not have an equivalent to the WWE Wellness Program, as Lance would soon be on Twitter, claiming he was giving his Pokémon cough medicine, and that this is just a whole big understanding. He’d be kicked out of the Elite Four, and sent packing to Digimon before you could say “wellness violation”.
7. The Early Wireless Connection
Wireless Internet has become so big a part of our daily lives, that it would be hard to go back to how it was before. If a Mad Max scenario happens, and the Internet is destroyed forever, then most of us will have no function in the new society. People will be drawing pictures of their dinner, and showing it to strangers on the street for approval. List based Internet writers will have to crawl from their pits, scuttle out of their front door, and face the harsh rays of the sun in order to find sustenance.
Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen came packed with a wireless adapter for local play. It wasn’t until Pokémon Diamond & Pearl that the series made full use of the Internet, through the use of the Nintendo DS’ Wi-Fi capabilities.
In Japan, the Pokémon series had access to wireless functions as far back as the second generation of games. In Pokémon Crystal, the Japanese players could connect to a mobile phone network with the aid of a special adapter. The wireless service, known as Mobile System GB, allowed players to hold brief, ten minute battles over the network.
Due to the relative scarceness of mobile phones in America at the time of release, the Mobile System was not implemented into the English language versions of Pokémon Crystal. Its legacy lives on, with the current wireless features of the 3DS Pokémon games.
6. The Dead Cartridges
If you have the right amount of systems and games, then it is possible to trade a Pokémon from Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire on the Game Boy Advance, into Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS. The Pokémon games have used essentially the same game rules since the 3rd generation, which is what makes such a lengthy trade possible.
It is not possible to trade a Pokémon from the 1st or 2nd generation of games into the others. This due to several rules changes between those and the 3rd generation. The biggest change was to the Special stat. In the first two generation of games, the Special stat determined both the strength of Special attacks, and how much you resisted them. In the 3rd generation of games, this stat was split into Special Attack and Special Defense.
The sad thing about the old Pokémon games is the fact that they are all dying. The battery required for saving the game was never meant to last for more than a few years. The batteries in the second generation of games are even weaker than those of the first. There is a good chance that if you still have a copy of these games, then it will likely not hold a save. The batteries can be replaced, but any existing save data that you had will be wiped.
With the release of the remakes of Pokémon Red & Blue & Yellow on the 3DS (with Gold & Silver & Crystal most likely coming in the future), it will be possible to send your old Pokémon into the latest game, Pokémon Sun & Moon. While the old cartridges may be dying, the spirit of those Pokémon still lives on.
5. The Changed Name
The Pokémon franchise has long been subjected to censorship, even in its native Japan. Ever since the Porygon episode sent children into seizures, the series has been closely scrutinised over its content. With Jynx being accused of being a blackface stereotype, numerous episodes being banned due to their unsuitable content, and claims that the series promotes violence towards animals – there is no shortage of proof that Pokémon is one of the most controversial video game series ever made.
When Pokémon Heart Gold & Soul Silver were released, one of the trainers from the original games had his name changed. There is a trainer class in the Pokémon series known as “Firebreather”. As the name suggests, Firebreathers are dressed like circus performers, and their sprite art shows them breathing fire. In Pokémon Gold & Silver, there was a trainer known as Firebreather Dick. He had his name changed to Firebreather Richard in the Nintendo DS remake of the games.
4. Countering Psychic
The original games in the Pokémon series are notorious for their glitches, and for the overall combat system being highly unbalanced. In Pokémon Red & Blue, Psychic-types ruled the game. Along with some of the most powerful Pokémon in the game having Psychic as one of their types (Mewtwo, Alakazam, Starmie), they had only one full weakness. In generation 1, only Bug-type Pokémon had an advantage against them in battle. This was in a game where Bug-types mostly sucked, so Psychics went unchallenged.
Pokémon Gold & Silver changed all that. Two new types were included into the game, for no other reason than to oppose Psychics. They were the Dark, and Steel-type Pokémon.
Steel-type Pokémon only took half damage from Psychic attacks. Dark-type Pokémon are totally immune to Psychic attacks, and they deal double damage to Psychic-type Pokémon. These two types were only included in the game in order to balance out the competitive scene, and improve upon the mess that was created with the typing in Pokémon Red & Blue.
3. The Celebi Glitch
The original Pokémon games included one of the most tantalizing video game secrets of all time – a Pokémon you could not acquire through normal gameplay. The mythical 151st Pokémon, Mew, formed the basis of numerous urban legends during the early days of the Internet. There are many pages online that discuss increasingly bizarre methods of catching this elusive Pokémon. It was thought for years that you could only get Mew at special Pokémon events. Nowadays, there are numerous well-known glitches that have been explained on the Internet. If you know what you are doing, then you can get Mew as early as the Cerulean City Gym.
Pokémon Gold & Silver repeated the mystery of Mew, with an elusive 251st Pokémon known as Celebi. Officially, you were only supposed to be able to receive a Celebi at special Pokémon events. Like Mew, there are ways to acquire it through cheating, such as with the Celebi Egg glitch.
Through the use of messing with the name of the Pokémon (similar to how Missingno is formed in the 1st generation of games), and the usage of eggs in the daycare centre, it is possible for the player to hatch a level 0 Celebi.
2. The Rival’s Secret
The rival in Pokémon Gold & Silver actually develops as a character as the game goes on. Unlike Gary, who remains an asshole well into the second generation of games, Silver undergoes growth on his Pokémon journey.
After being abandoned by his father, Silver decides that he can only become a strong trainer through his own merits. He treats his Pokémon as nothing more than weapons at his disposal, and does not see them as partners. It takes a few losses at the hands of the player before Silver begins to change his mind. We actually see proof of his character growth in his Pokémon.
When you battle Silver for the final time, his Golbat has evolved into Crobat. Golbat only evolves when it has a very high Friendship stat. This shows that Silver has grown to care for his Pokémon, and he now has the result of that affection. This is further shown in Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver, where we see that Silver’s Pokémon now follow him around, like they do with the player.
1. Pokémon Gold & Silver Were Going To Be The Last Games In The Series
It might seem like a crazy idea nowadays, but the Pokémon franchise was not supposed to last beyond the second generation of games. It was decided that Pokémon Gold & Silver would be the final Pokémon games ever made.
The success of Pokémon was a huge surprise for both Nintendo and Game Freak. During the development of Pokémon Gold & Silver, the Pokémon Company President, Tsunekazu Ishihara, had intended for those games to be the last, as the sheer financial success of the series hadn’t become apparent yet. This is why Pokémon Gold & Silver have so much content compared to the other games in the series. They were intended to be as good as possible, so that the series could go out with a bang.
Would this decision have remained permanent? Most likely not. At best, there would have been a larger gap between the 2nd and 3rd generation of games. The Pokémon franchise was making too much money to have ended there. It is fascinating to think of what would have happened in a world where Game Freak stuck to their guns, and refused for any more Pokémon games to be made.
It is good that the series did not end with the second generation, as we would have missed all of the great games that came after it. If all of our Pokémon journeys had ended in Johto, then we couldn’t think of a more fitting finale than battling Red at the end of Pokémon Gold & Silver.