USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘pokemon’
Digital
Game
Legends

Pokemon Truck

Collected in my empty apartment. I began by simply asking, “What do you know about the truck from Pokemon?”

The informant is a big fan of the Pokemon franchise, and is very immersed in gaming culture. He has played many Pokemon games of different varieties, and loves the first generation of Pokemon (which includes the game he is referencing), though it’s not his favorite.
Informant: “There is a truck in Pokemon Red, I believe, either Red or – well, the first generation of games. So Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, all that good stuff. Umm, and apparently if you go to that truck and look under it, you can get Mew.

Interviewer: “What do you mean ‘Look under it?’”

Informant: “Like, y- you, if you, I guess if you just interact with the truck, you can battle and catch Mew.”

Interviewer: “Do you know what city it’s in?”

Informant: “It’s, ooh, I wanna say it’s one of the port cities so…. [inhales] I wanna say it’s one of the cities where you board the S.S. Anne, making it either… the city with Lieutenant Serge, which I cannot remember for the life of me.

Interviewer: “Vermillion?”

Informant: “Ver… million… Possibly, that’s probably it.”

Interviewer: “Um, where did you hear about this, and when?”

Informant: “Oh I have no idea when I heard this. I guess it was just, like, when I was still playing Pokemon Red, it was just a rumor that always went around.”

Interviewer: “Through word of mouth?”

Informant: “Mm, yeah, well or on the Internet.

Interviewer: “So you saw it on the Internet?”

Informant: “Yeah.”

Interviewer: “How old were you?”

Informant: “I don’t know. Probably a kid.”

Interviewer: “Is it real?”

Informant: “No… Well, no. First off, you can’t access the truck in the game by yourself. You have to, like, glitch over to it. Which is probably how… it kept people thinking it was real, cause they couldn’t test it out themselves. Um, yeah, but no, even if you glitch over to it and press A, it doesn’t do anything. However, uh, you can glitch the game and get Mew, just not through the truck.”

Interviewer: “For real? You can get Mew?”

Informant: “M-hm. I did it. I was 100 percenting all the games and I got all 151 Pokemon in the first game.”

Interviewer: “How?”

Informant: “Um, that is a question… I do not know the answer to. Uhh, it’s really complicated, so I forgot it, but I know it involves entering and exiting buildings and flying… to certain places. Yeah.”

Interviewer: “But it has nothing to do with the truck?”

Informant: “No. [Sudden realization] OHH!! I do remember! Okay so… above Cerulean City, there was, like, this path on the way to Bill’s house, and there was a bunch of trainers. And when you get to one of the trainers, it’ll, like, you know, exclamation point above their head when they see you. When you do that, you press Start, and then fly somewhere else. And then a bunch of other stuff. And that’s how you unlock Mew.”
This version of the truck myth has to do with finding Mew. The informant does not believe the truck has any real significance, though he is aware of the rumors. He does, however, know a real way to get Mew, proving that it is possible to get Mew in the game, even if it’s not through the truck. Like other versions, the truck is in Pokemon Red.

Digital
Game
Legends

Pokemon Truck

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. I began by simply asking, “Do you know any word-of-mouth secrets for video games?” Then I specified, “What do you know about the truck from Pokemon?”

The informant is well-versed in gaming culture, and knows a lot about Pokemon, but has never played some of the older games.
Informant: “So, uhh, rumor used to have it that you could get Mew in the first gen Pokemon games Red and Blue by walking up to a truck next to the, umm, next to the boat in Vermillion City. And I think y- you needed to get over a fence, and, like, press A on it, like, a hundred times, and then Mew would fight you. I think there’s also a version of it where you use Teleport at a Pokemon Center on a bike, and it teleports you to the truck, and Mew is there. There are a few different versions I’ve heard, but those are the two I remember.”

Interviewer: “Did you try any of them?”

Informant: “I never played Pokemon Red.”

Interviewer: “Do you know people who tried any of them?”

Informant: “Uhh, yeah.”

Interviewer: “But it didn’t work?”

Informant: “Didn’t work [laughs].”

Interviewer: “So it’s not real?”

Informant: “Not as far as I know? Maybe they were doing it wrong.”
This version of the truck myth has to do with finding Mew. The informant does not really believe the myth, but has no proof denying it. Like other versions, the truck is in Pokemon Red, but the informant includes all generation 1 Pokemon games.

Digital
Game
Legends

Pokemon Truck

Collected privately in an empty hallway while his friends played a horror game in the other room, which he returned to after the interview. The informant mentioned this myth while I was interviewing him about another video game myth.

The informant, as a child around 7 to 9, had unlimited Internet access, and spent much of his time on forums looking for cheat codes. He was the one who introduced his peers to Pokemon, as well as the supposed “cheat codes” within it.
Informant: “Yeah so I know the 99 master ball thing under the, um, under the truck. So the idea was that… like, you know this was back in, like, the age when everyone had all the cheat code websites and, you know, people were talking on the playground and sharing, like, ‘Oh if you do this then you get this, you can unlock, you know, Sonic in… in, you know, you know, Super Smash Bros Melee if you beat the game 500 times and don’t die’ and so on. So like, you know, I can see how they spread. But yeah, like, there was this rumor spread that you could, you could unlock, you could get 100 master balls in which – There was only one in the game; you couldn’t find them any other way unless you won. I don’t know if they had the, the ticket thing, like the lottery, um, if you – I forget what you exactly have to do, I think you use, like, Strength on the truck in a certain circumstance or something. And then you unlock, you know, you get the master balls.”

Interviewer: “Was it real?”

Informant: “Not, it’s not real.”

Interviewer: “Who’d you hear that from?”

Informant: “I… I think… I don’t know where, I think it was, like, I read it on Cheat Code Central when I was looking through the cheat list. And of course Pokemon doesn’t have any cheats, so there’s nothing on the list. Though obviously someone had put that in there, cause they were like, ‘Oh yeah you can do it.’ I was like, I think if you got all three red G’s and you went to this special spot, then you would unlock something in, like, Pokemon Ruby, I forgot what it was.”

Interviewer: “How old were you?”

Informant: “My first Pokemon game was Pokemon Ruby, and that came out in, like, 2006? I don’t know when it came out. No, it was 2003, I think. So I got it around then, so I would’ve been… I was born in ‘96, so that would’ve been, I would’ve been, like, 7, 8? 9?”

Interviewer: “Anything else to add?”

Informant: “I mean, I re- I remember, um, trying a bunch of those. I think, [sighs], I think it was the red G’s. I’m not sure if I’m confusing it with the actual method to unlock them, cause that was weird enough as it was; It was, like, you had to read, like, the braille and then you had to, like, go through all these stages and find these specific Pokemon and stuff. And I remember, I think there was something in those cheat codes I actually did try, cause I was a kid. And it didn’t work, so me and my sister were very disappointed, cause we played it together.”
This informant has some beliefs that differ from other accounts of the truck in Pokemon. First of all, he claims that the truck has to do with master balls, not Mew. Secondly, he does not name Pokemon Red, but only describes a different secret in Pokemon Ruby.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Flip Phone Accessories

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Flip Phone Accessories

This particular post shows an early 2000’s cell phone with an excessive amount of Pokemon accessories. Such accessories were a fad in the days of the flip-phone. The Pokemon attached to the phone are from the years 1996 to 2006, highlighting the target audience of this meme page. By combining the retro mobile phone with an excessive amount of once-trendy, Pokemon themed folk objects, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Folk Beliefs

Pokemon Catching Superstition (Gotta Catch em’ All!)

About the Interviewed: Max is a twenty year old college student at Pasadena City College studying Architecture and Fashion Design. His ethnic background is remotely Swedish, though his family has been in America for a couple generations.

I talked to my friend Max about  pop beliefs and superstitions around popular video games he’s played.

Max: “I know this one about Pokemon. It’s actually pretty well known.”

I asked him to elaborate.

Max: “Pokemon is a video game where players have to catch these magical creatures. You wanna catch as many as possible. The actual science behind catching each one is actually kind-of crazy. It depends on the power level of the thing you’re trying to catch, how strong you are, what pokeball you use, etcetera.”

“When I was a little kid, me and all my friends believed that there were secret ways to hack the game, like you could change the results so that you always got your catch. Things like that.”

“The rumor was something like, when you’re in battle with a Pokemon you want to catch, you have to hold down both the “down” button, and the “B” buttons at the same time on the controllers. The funny thing is, it didn’t make a difference at all. It was all in our minds. But everyone I knew did it anyway.”

I asked Max where he felt the beliefs originated from.

Max: “I don’t know. It was just that Pokemon was so popular. My friends were doing the down B thing, so I sort of did it too.”

“It doesn’t help that Pokemon games were really hard.”

Summary:

A popular belief persists among American juvenile players of the video game “Pokemon”, that monsters are easier to catch if you hold down both the “Down” and “B” buttons. There is no evidence of the trick actually working, but the belief is widespread.

The “down-B” trick that Max informed of me seems to be a tradition observed in American children who played the Pokemon games growing up. I’d actually be interested to know if other cultures had similar luck granting gifts when playing games with large luck-based elements such as Pokemon. It seems similar to the tradition of “blowing on your dice” for good luck. 

 

Digital

Pokemon Capture Button Press Ritual

Click here for video.

“So as a kid, I was a huge fan of the Pokemon games. Best game ever, just putting that out there. So there’s quite a few times during the game where you have to catch these Legendary Pokemon. Like you know, in like Pokemon Yellow you go into the cave and you’re like ‘Oh my god its a Mewtwo, I need that Mewtwo’, right? So I have like 20 Ultra Balls and I’ll be like ‘Oh crap. I need to catch this thing before I’m out of Pokeballs’, so I go in and like every single time I throw a Pokeball I have to do the traditional moves. Once you throw that Pokeball you have to press left, right, left, right, and then while you’re doing that you have to vigorously press the A and B buttons. That increases your chances of catching that Mewtwo. Trust me it works. Try it next time.”

This practice of mashing buttons while trying to catch a Pokemon is incredibly widespread. Everyone that I’ve seen play Pokemon has done something similar. It is almost like a nervous fidget while waiting for a successful capture or a failure. Everyone I’ve watched does it differently based on where they grew up. In my hometown, the common practice was to hold the A button and tap B in rhythm with the twitching of the Pokeball. As children, we had no understanding of programming or how games were designed. We didn’t know that the designers of our Pokemon games never programmed in any functionality for button pressing to affect Pokemon capture rates. To us, Gameboys were these magical boxes that did things when we pressed buttons. I think we just assumed that pressing buttons while a Pokemon was being captured would affect the probability of catching the Pokemon because why would it not? This ritual speaks volumes about how we see new technologies. When we don’t understand things we tend to come up with rituals to deal with them. When we catch a Pokemon due to random chance, but happened to be pressing a certain button combination, we’re often lead to believe that pressing buttons works. For many people, these button patterns became consolidated because every once in a while, they appear to work.

There is an incredible amount of folklore and rumor surrounding the Pokemon franchise thanks to the internet and poor translation. In 1998, When Pokemon first achieved mass appeal in the United States, the internet was just burgeoning. I remember going on “gaming tips” sites that often featured wild rumors and had little-to-no fact-checking. What complicated things was that a lot of literature about Pokemon was in Japanese, the game’s original language. Many of gaming tip sites were run by people with no knowledge of Japanese, so often they just took pictures that were available in Japanese gaming guides and made an educated guess as to what the pictures were trying to illustrate. As a result, there were many theories and rumors, mostly incorrect, about the game.

In Pokemon, the main goal of the game is to catch a multitude of colorful monsters and battle them. Perhaps this explains why the game is so incredibly popular. The core concept of the game plays into our drive to collect, dominate, and compete. A friend of mine once compared it to a more interactive form of stamp collecting.

Contagious
Digital
Magic
Musical

Lavender Town Syndrome

The informant is a college student from Reno, Nevada.

This supposed “syndrome” is a piece of online lore which comes from the Pokemon video games for Gameboy. The informant first stumbled upon a website about it while he was in high school. However, he played the games when he was seven or eight years old. In the game, the player travels from town to town, advancing towards the end. One of the towns is called Lavender Town. In it, there is a tower full of ghosts of wandering souls of Pokemon who have been murdered. When the player enters a new area, the music changes. Each town has its own song, and the informant recalls Lavender Town’s being particularly creepy.

This song is central to the lore which has become an online legend. According to the legend, when the first prototypes of the game came out in Japan in February of 1996, there was a spike in illness of children who bought and played the game. These “illnesses” supposedly made them mentally unstably, resulting in a spike in suicides and violent behavior. According to the legend, the high frequencies used in the song resulted in these physiological changes. The informant does not actually believe the legend is actually true, mostly because it is posted on a page called “creepypasta Wiki”, a page for stories that are generally made-up internet hoaxes. Still, there are entire forums filled with lengthy theories about missing frequencies and ghosts in the machine. The following is a link to the song, as heard in the final, U.S. version:

 

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