Type: EV (electronic virus).
Period/location of origin: Precise period and location of origin are unknown. It is suspected that subject originated on imageboard website 4chan circa 2010, although this remains unconfirmed. Widespread proliferation of subject is known to have begun on July 7, 2010 following the publication of a short account of subject on the website Tiny Cartridge. Alternate accounts of subject began to appear in various other forms around the internet that same year, including ROMS, videos, etc.
Appearance: Subject appears to be a hacked or bootleg cartridge for the 8-bit handheld game console known as the Game Boy. The cartridge’s title is Pokemon Black. The person or persons responsible for creating the cartridge remain(s) unknown.
Note: Subject should not be confused with the official Nintendo DS release also titled Pokemon Black. Subject predates this game by several months.
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Modus operandi: Subject first presents itself as an item for sale in the sorts of venues in which one would expect to find used, vintage, bootlegged, and/or hacked video games and systems: Flea markets, second-hand stores, shops specializing in gaming paraphernalia and collectibles, garage sales, etc. Subject’s presence alone will typically be enough to compel targets to purchase it; targets tend to be self-selecting.
Once subject has been procured by a target, it is only a matter of time before target attempts to play subject.
What follows is a description of subject’s contents, should it be played:
Upon insertion into the appropriate game console and initial start-up, subject appears at first to be a bootleg version of original Pokemon release Pokemon Red. The introduction animation of subject will be identical, as will the opening character speech after a new game is begun. However, target will also notice certain details of subject to be different from those of Pokemon Red: The “start” screen does not feature a rotating roster of Pokemon; the logo present on the “start” screen reads “Black Version,” rather than “Red Version”; and, when a new game is begun, an additional starter Pokemon is available. This Pokemon is called “Ghost” (hereafter referred to as Subject 1A).
Should target begin a game using Subject 1A as their starter Pokemon, the following will occur whenever target engages a defending Pokemon and/or trainer in battle:
- Defending Pokemon will be unable to attack or defend against Subject 1A.
- Subject 1A will have only one attack option (“Curse”).
- Should target choose to have Subject 1A deploy this attack, the screen will go momentarily black. In the darkness, the defending Pokemon will be heard crying out. When the screen returns to normal, target will find the defending Pokemon to have vanished from the battle screen. Additionally, the defending Pokemon’s trainer will have one fewer Pokeball in their inventory.
- After target has received their reward for winning, target may exit the battle screen by choosing one of two options: “Run” or “Curse.”
- Should target choose “Curse,” the losing trainer will disappear.
- Should target then exit and reenter the area in which the losing trainer was first encountered, the location where the losing trainer had previously stood will be occupied by a tombstone.
Subject 1A will be a permanent part of target’s party. Target will be unable to remove or replace Subject 1A through any method.
Subject 1A’s attack may not be used in all circumstances; for example, other Ghost-type Pokemon are not susceptible to it, nor will target be able to choose to deploy it against trainers who must be re-matched later on according to Pokemon Red’s storyline. However, “Curse” is usable in the vast majority of in-game situations; indeed, its success rate will make it difficult for target to refrain from deploying it.
The ending of subject’s storyline also differs greatly from the standard Pokemon Red ending. After target views the Hall of Fame in subject’s storyline, a time cut will occur. Target’s player character will then appear in Lavender Town as an elderly individual. The player character will have no Pokemon in their inventory, including Subject 1A; nor will they have any items. Should target choose to explore the overworld, there will be no other humans or Pokemon present; however, any tombstones created using “Curse” throughout the game will still be present.
Should target return to the location in which the player character began the game, the Pokemon and trainers on which target chose to deploy “Curse” will flash in rapid succession. Subject 1A will then appear and challenged target to battle. Target’s only option will be “FIGHT.” The battle will end with Subject 1A using “Curse” on target’s player character, at which point the screen will go black.
Target’s only option at this point is to turn the console off. Should the console be rebooted with subject still inserted in the cartridge slot, target will find any save data from previous games to have disappeared. Target may begin a new game if they wish.
(It is not recommended that targets begin a new game.)
Subject’s ultimate goal in persuading targets to acquire and play it remains somewhat obscured, as do the motivations of the person or persons responsible for subject’s creation. (Monetary gain has been ruled out as a possibility; subject has simply not been circulated enough for this option to be the case.) However, several theories exist:
- Subject may be intended as a prank to frighten children.
- Subject may be intended to prompt reflection in targets on the nature of mortality.
- Subject may be intended to test target in some way, shape, or form. (Target, after all, may choose or not choose to use “Curse,” may choose or not choose to use Subject 1A, may choose or not choose to play subject, and may choose or not choose to purchase or acquire subject in the first place. Target’s choices are perhaps worth considering. See: Additional notes.)
- Subject may be intended to cause mental and/or physical harm to targets. (See: Additional notes.)
Containment: Subject remains neutralized as long as it is NOT inserted into a game console and remains un-played.
Additional notes: According to one target’s account, an unusual event occurred after one of many playthroughs: Target, who had acquired subject at a flea market, had finished the game and arrived at the final black screen. Before target could turn the console off and back on again, however, target temporarily put the console down and left the room in order to answer the telephone. After target had finished their call (roughly 15 minutes later), target heard a noise and returned to the room in which they had left the console.
The console’s screen was no longer black. On it were two red lights that resembled eyes. As target watched, three words appeared below the lights, followed by target’s own name:
“GHOST curses you, [REDACTED].”
Target returned to the flea market the next day and sold subject to another marketgoer.
Target’s account may be experienced in full here.
The fates of both the original target and the marketgoer to whom subject was sold — that is, subject’s next target — remain unknown.
Recommendation: Do not play subject.
[Photo via SuperNerdOtaku/YouTube]