(WRITTEN 01/12/2021)It's my own fault I've never finished Pokemon X.
It's not necessarily that I didn't want to, or didn't try. It just never clicked with me. No matter how hard I tried, I just wasn't having fun. I tried to power through the story, but playing something I didn't like wore me down.
So I stopped playing pretty much at the climax - the part where Team Flare's about to activate the ultimate weapon and destroy the world. If I'd gotten THAT far and still wasn't enjoying it, then I figured I never would.
I was right, kinda.
Y'see, I wanted to give X another chance. It'd been sitting untouched for a couple years now, figured the least I could do was actually finish it. I was close to the end, after all.
I popped the cart in. It didn't load. Took it out, tried it again. No dice. Was it broken? Dusted it off, tried it again. Finally, it worked! There was an unusually long load as it booted.
No intro, it skipped straight to the title. Where Xerneas normally stood, there was just an empty black screen. No music. Something was wrong.
I went to the menu, and there was no New Game button. Only Continue. Well, I'd meant to continue anyway... I loaded my save. My character stood in Geosenge Town, where I'd been standing in front of the ultimate weapon. But the weapon was gone.
And so was everything else. Around me was nothing but a wasteland strewn with rubble, and only silence where music should be. The menu wouldn't open, and the bottom screen was black. I wandered for a while, traveling through Kalos, but everything was desolate.
When I'd made it back to Vaniville Town, there I saw the first living thing other than me in the entire game. Xerneas. It looked withered and bloodied. It slowly walked towards me, and a textbox appeared.
[YOU LEFT IN MY TIME OF NEED. IN THEIR TIME OF NEED. ARE YOU SATISFIED?]
A yes/no prompt. "No," I chose.
[TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.]
The game crashed with a grating static scream. The cart never worked again.
And so I've never finished Pokemon X.
(WRITTEN 01/17/2021)I've never liked downloading Pokemon save files off the internet. Especially not those "100%" ones.
You probably know the kind if you've ever needed to find or test something specific in an emulated game - boxes of every Pokemon under the sun, all level 100 and usually with optimized movesets. Probably also cheated into existence, but the uploader'll claim they're all legit.
I don't really have anything against cheating in general. These things have their uses, even if it can be kind of scary to the Pokemon involved if you're not mindful. But saves like this, duplicated over and over with regard to the mass produced Pokemon... it's scary.
I've only ever used a save like that just once. I wanted to grab some screencaps of some dialogue in Pokemon Platinum, but I didn't have an emulated save and didn't wanna play through it.
So, begrudgingly, to the 'net I went. I grabbed the first save I found. Normally I avoided 100% saves just out of principle, but I was lazy that day...
When I loaded the save, I fully expected I'd have to comfort some stressed and confused 'mons finding themselves very out of place, like most times I've had to download a save. They can sense when something's wrong, y'know.
But I could barely hear anything from the screen. No reaction at all to my presence, even when I spoke to them. Every single party member, every single box, the Pokemon were all near-silent - except for this faint, almost imperceptible whispering.
I craned my head closer to the computer to make out what they were saying. Through the static, hundreds of voices chattering and overlapping... desperately, frantically repeating their names, their moves, their stats, the only things that they had to define them. On and on, endlessly.
I don't think there was anything I could do to help them. I got my screencaps and deleted the save, in hopes they could find peace being returned to the void.
I only wonder how those who distribute these saves could possibly stand the whispers.
SOMEBODY ELSE'S PROBLEM
(WRITTEN 01/31/2021)"God, dear god, just fucking take it!" the wild-eyed customer screamed, slamming the worn-down Pokemon Red cartridge on the store counter. "I need this curse out of my life!"
Becky remained unphased even at the customer's spittle-flecked screaming. Thaaaat's retail. "Sorry you weren't satisfied. Do you want to return i-"
"YES!" they snapped with wild eyes. "Dear god, the things I've SEEN...!!"
"Riiight. Do you want a refund?" Becky leaned back as the customer got a bit too close for comfort.
"No... no... I just want freedom..." they half-mumbled, half-sobbed, turning to skulk out of the used game store looking much frailer than before. "...it's somebody else's problem now..."
Becky was honestly pretty used to this by this point.
The cart had came into the store a couple months ago, worn down with the label scratched off and "POKEMON" written crudely on it in black marker. And, ever since it'd arrived, it'd been in and out a LOT.
Sold at a decent markdown, it got bought pretty often by those looking for a deal... but not long later, the buyers would return, haggard and haunted and wanting nothing more to do with the damn thing.
Their stories varied. Ranged all the way from simple Pokemon turned violent to unsettlingly pixel-rendered gore of family members, poltergeists and demonic symbology and glowing eyes in darkness. Of course, anyone with sense blew the whole thing off as a bunch of wild fantasies.
But Becky knew better.
Marking down the cartridge's return as a refund, she subtlely pocketed the cash the customer would've otherwise been refunded before setting the cart back onto the sale shelf with a new price sticker.
On the way out to her lunch break, she smirked and high-fived the ghost that lurked in the mirror beside her reflection.
It was a pretty damn good hustle.
(WRITTEN 04/07/2021)I'd trapped a Darkrai in the Pokemon Dream World.
It wasn't all my fault - my White cart went missing and I'd forgotten, and by the time I realized Nintendo WFC had shut down.
I needed it back, of course. It was a legit Darkrai!
But Google didn't find an easy fix. Then, I decided to try cheats - I figured that wouldn't invalidate its legitimacy.
Shamefully, I spent several days searching for a good code. I trawled the shadier side of the 'net until finally I found something that'd hopefully work.
"Return Dream World Pokemon Trade", it was called. Strange name, and a long code. But if it worked, it worked.
While I was plugging in the code, my brother had come to visit. We'd agreed a week ago we'd hang out for the first time in a while. And we'd agreed a week before that, and before that...
"Hey, man, ready to go?"
I'd ignored him. Wasn't really interested in going. "I'm busy. Not tonight,"
"Right. Yeah." he'd said flatly, brown eyes dull. "Thought so." He'd left while I started the game.
Whatever. Even as he slammed the door behind him, I just watched the game boot into a gift animation. My Darkrai descended onto the screen. I had it back.
The day after, I heard about my brother's accident. He'd gone out drunk driving, and...
I was told he was hospitalized, in a coma. Nothing could rouse him. I felt sick.
I didn't really care about the game after that. It'd gained a bad association.
A few months after the accident, I'd had the dream. I'd tried not to think about it much, but it haunted my mind.
I was walking alone in a purple mist when I saw him - my brother. He just stood there, cradling a glass Munna in his arms.
I stared into my his empty face, trembling. His eyes were impossibly blue.
"I can never wake up," he whispered.
Everything went dark.
I awoke shaky and teary-eyed. On a whim I opened my DS, faced with the Darkrai. I looked closer.
A text box appeared, text creeping slowly.
[The trade has been completed.]