Gaming

16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood

Posted by
David Cornish
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On 27 February 1996, Satoshi Tajiri released a video game based on a childhood obsession with catching insects near his suburban Tokyo home. It would go on to become one of Nintendo's most successful franchises.

Pokémon was a strange concept: part role-playing game, part turn-based strategy, it arrived on Japanese Game Boys in two versions - Red and Green. It took a while before gamers got their head around the idea, with slow sales eventually giving way to an avalanche of popularity, spurred on by playing cards, TV shows and multiple versions of the game.

But 20 years and over 700 Pokémon later, we've still got some bones to pick with Tajiri over his genre-changing game.

Here are 16 facts about the original Pokémon releases that are bound to ruin some childhood memories.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood

    Drowzee the dream eater

    This is Drowzee. Loveable looking chap, isn't he? Would get along nicely with The Muppets and the Sesame Street gang. 

    Until you realise that this jovial character "Puts enemies to sleep then eats their dreams".

    Eats. Their. Dreams.

    "Occasionally it gets sick from eating bad dreams."

    Serves it bloody right, the weirdo. 

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 1

    A violent past

    Resurrected from a fossil, the Pokédex entry for Kabutops makes for a chilling read:

    "Its sleek shape is perfect for swimming. It slashes prey with its claws and drains the body fluids."

    Science should have left it for dead.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 2

    Machamp's belt

    Pokémon are supposed to be wild creatures, right? 

    Then why in God's name, when "A Wild Machamp appeared!", is it wearing trunks and a belt? 

    Those black markings are either a weird natural censorship of Machamp's macock, or some conservative types have been running around slapping tiny shorts on all the wild Machamaps they can find.

    And the 'P' belt? Apparently it's supposed to limit Machamp's powers - which is just downright cruel. Machop appears in blissful nudity, but Machoke and Machamp get this weird extra appendage. What gives?

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 3

    Cubone's mummy issues

    A single question strikes everyone when they first encounter Cubone:

    "Huh, neat looking skull mask. Wonder where he got it?"

    On reading the Pokédex, things take a turn to the downright heartbreaking. The skull belongs to its mother.

    Cubone wears the skull of its deceased mother as a form of mourning, presumably wielding her tibia as a club. It's described as the "Lonely Pokémon" as it cares "only for itself". This is a game FOR CHILDREN?!

    Things get even weirder when it evolves into Marowak, at which point the skull mask fuses to its own skull, making it impossible to remove. Never mind having its mother's eyes, it's wearing its mother's face.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 4

    The origins of Koffing

    In the Red and Blue versions of the game, Koffing is located in the ruined old Pokémon Mansion - a dilapidated haunt once used by the famed Pokémon Researcher who experimented on these creatures to create genetic hybrids.

    Journal entries can be found explaining how scientists cloned Mew to create Mewtwo - something PETA would probably have some major issues with.

    The creepy link between Koffing and the Mansion is the implication that this jolly fart bubble could be the result of another experiment. That's a human poison symbol on his little belly, filled as he is with poisonous gases likely to explode at any time. 

    Who knows - perhaps Koffing was a normal purple Pokémon before the researchers got their hands on him. Poor love.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 5

    Gengar is a dick

    According to the original Pokédex, "Under a full moon, this Pokémon likes to mimic the shadows of people and laugh at their fright."

    So not only does Gengar have a understanding of the concept of fear, it gets a kick of out inflicting it on humans. 

    Fuck off, Gengar. 

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 6

    Poor translation

    You've got to feel sorry for Magikarp.

    With a Pokédex entry that explains "In the distant past, it was somewhat stronger than the horribly weak descendants that exist today", it begins its life with the utterly pointless move "Splash" - a description that left gamers thinking it was capable of unleashing some sort of aquatic attack.

    Things made much more sense in the Japanese version of the game, which described the move as はねる, haneru, which can be translated to splash - or more commonly, hop.

    Magikarp isn't splashing. It's hopping. A mistranslation left us thinking it had more purpose than it really did.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 7

    Where are have all the adults gone?

    Ever noticed how Red and Blue lacked a significant male adult presence?

    Think about it. Why kids are being left unsupervised to capture, train and battle wild animals? There are women in the Centres and Stores, but no men. As Bonnie Tyler asked, where have all the good men gone?

    They've gone to war. A vast, terrible global war, that’s reduced core services such as the police and health care reduced to female-only staff, while the game’s only male characters are usually reprehensible criminals, often tied up with Team Rocket. The Vermillion city Gym Leader, Lt Surge, is a damaged veteran who talks of how his Pokémon saved him "during war". Sure, there was Professor Oak – but he was possibly too old to fight. That, or he just skipped conscription.

    This is a game about kids growing up in a war-raged world with no paternal presence. Deep.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 8

    What are Team Rocket actually up to

    The periphery antagonists of the original Pokémon games, there's something seriously wretched going on with Team Rocket.

    Encountered throughout Kanto, their basic aim seems to be one of stealing Pokémon for sinister means - from illegal trade to experimentation. 

    A kids game featuring bad guys who carry out harmful, genetic experiments on animals. It didn't even get a PG rating.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 9

    Possessed Pokémon?

    The Pokédex information on Voltorb notes its marked similarities with Pokéballs - stating that it's found in the power plants that were used to create the animal-catching balls. 

    But one fan theory we can't get over is the notion that this powerful orb is actually a Pokéball possessed by a Haunter - just look at how similar the eyes are.

    The theory goes that the Pokémon could be the result of a hideous experiment, trapping the ghost Pokémon inside a ball in an effort to harness its powers.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 10

    The parasitic Pokémon

    Paras is a cute little dual-type Bug/Grass Pokémon you probably didn't bother with. At level 24, it evolved into the more useful Parasect, which had some potent attack options.

    However, something rather unsettling occurs in this evolution. The mushrooms on Paras' back develop into one large spore, which "takes over its host". That's why Parasect's eyes are blank - it's actually a mindless monster, controlled by a parasitic growth. It's dead, merely animated by a plant.

    We need a wash.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 11

    A bit much

    Remember Farfetch'd, the wild duck Pokémon?

    It used a sprig of green onions as a weapon, which isn't that creepy in the original context of the game.

    However, when the anime series makes a reference to the fact that humans nearly hunted Farfetch'd to the point of extinction for food, that choice of weapon becomes a touch more bizarre.

    The bird is using the food it would typically be cooked alongside to defend itself from predators.

    Mental.

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 12

    Pokémon eat other Pokémon

    While Pokémon trainers don't fight their creatures to the death, it looks like things get a little more ugly in the wild.

    Slowbro is an odd evolution of Slowpoke - a Pokémon so dopey it feels pain after a delay of five seconds. According it its Pokédex info, Slowpoke evolves into Slowbro after after a Shellder bites into its tale. It stays here, feeding off scraps of food the Slowpoke doesn't finish eating, sucking goodness-knows-what out of its blood stream.

    What the hell were the designers smoking while making this?

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 13

    Dark stuff

    In the Red and Blue versions of the game, Haunter has a fairly sinister Pokédex entry: "Because of its ability to slip through block walls, it is said to be from another dimension."

    Spooky eh? But the game's designers got even more twisted when they added further details for the Yellow version of the game.

    "By licking, it saps the victim's life. It causes shaking that won't stop until the victim's demise."

    Bloody hell. 

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 14

    Take one for the team

    Imagine, for a moment, that Pokémon were real. That you had spent a great deal of love and energy training it up, like a loyal pet, to become the ultimate fighting machine. That you had formed a bond with your beloved companion, seeing you through thick and thin.

    Then imaging telling your Pokémon to 'Explode', effectively killing itself for the greater good. "It's fine, I'll heal you up later," you say - but you never do. You slot this creature with zero HP into your store in favour of a different Pokémon, leaving it there to rot. 

    Let that play on your conscience. 

  • 16 facts about Pokémon that could ruin your childhood 15

    Bonus: The eager Youngster

    Okay, so this isn't creepy - we just never understood it.

    The Youngster was a type of trainer you encountered in the early sections of Red and Blue, usually challenging you to a fight with Bug and Grass Pokémon. 

    But he was always so bloody excited to tell us about his shorts, uttering the unforgettable: "Hi! I like shorts! They're comfortable and easy to wear!"

    And just like that, he started a fight with you. 

    What gives, kid? Was it because we weren't wearing shorts? You don't see us picking fights with people because they're not wearing a hat. Back off, you nutter.

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Author

David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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