Glitches, Rumours & Hoaxes: Pokemon Red & Blue Edition

Pokemon-Hoax-Mew-TruckPrior to the Internet and its vast supply of information, the cheats within games were often shared by word of mouth and print. As we didn't have a creditable source to prove otherwise, these 'schoolground' cheats were often taken as truth until painfully proved wrong.

Today we will kick off a new feature, looking at these influential moments we all witnessed in gaming that the web has since proved wrong, starting with Pokemon Red & Blue, a highly influential game of its time that saw release on the original Nintendo Gameboy.

Try to think back to mid 1999... The Internet was still vastly underpopulated, Napster was still yet to arrive and games companies such as Nintendo were unaware of the impact the Internet would eventually have. At this point Pokemon fever had just begun to grip Europe, as it finally arrived on our shores a whole three years since the game was released in Japan.

Back then, without Wikipedia or GameFAQs to back up any quote, a cheat described by a friend of a friend could be taken as fact until proved wrong. Sadly, a lot of us would find ourselves repeating the steps of this described cheat over and over until we realised it was yet another hoax started by another kid in the school ground. Our desire to exploit the games and access sections of the game we weren't meant to was overwhelming and we were willing to give anything a try.

One cheat in particular that perfectly fits this description is the 'Mew Truck' which became an often tried (with disappointment) and failed attempt to land the event only Pokemon; Mew.

The Mew Truck and the SS Anne

Mew, the 151st Pokemon in the original line up was a secret Pokemon set to be given out free at events held by Nintendo across the world while Pokemon fever took place. Making the most of the Nintendo Gameboy link-cable-kids, Nintendo's events not only allowed you to link up and receive Mew from one of their representatives, but competitions were also held to find the strongest Pokemon player/team in the country.

Unfortunately for some, getting to these events was not easy. Our one and only chance to catch the elusive Mew was well beyond our reach and we began to look at other ways to obtain number 151. The obvious method would be purchasing a Game Genie, Pro Action Replay or Gameshark cheat device and inputting the correct codes. But there was little fun to be had in an 8 digit code.

Below we have what was the original so-called method to obtaining Mew:

The original rumour took advantage of a slight mishap in the order of events that were meant to take place in the game's story. Pokemon are able to learn abilities that help outside of battle, one of those being 'Surf', giving the ability to cross water tiles in game. The technique was not meant to be used before you board the SS Anne boat featured in the clip above, but could be obtained by using the link cable and trading with a friend for one of his/her Pokemon that already knew the move.

Once you had Surf earlier than expected, you could explore the area around the boat that was meant to be out of sight. This section would become inaccessible after the boat set sail, making the order of the events crucial. And as shown by the video, there was a rather interesting truck parked beside the SS Anne that didn't appear anywhere else in the game.

Upon finding this unseen before truck, it is only natural to believe that the cunning amongst us decided to make a little story out of it. As the rumour originally said, Mew was hidden inside the truck. Variations on the story suggested you had to move the ruck, open the door, push it into the ocean and so on. But all of these were nothing but hoaxes. In reality the truck was exactly as it seems, a left over sprite with no use, hidden away off screen to those without Surf.

But without the Internet, it sounded awfully authentic and hard to prove wrong at the time.


The second rumour to feature was in fact a legitimate claim that made use of a glitch within the game. While Mew took number #151 in the Pokedex, the glitch we are about to describe, MissingNo, was exactly at is says, a Pokemon with no number.

To activate the glitch above, you had to speak to the Old Man in Viridian City and watch his tutorial on catching Pokemon. Immediately after, the player must use the Fly ability and head down to Cinnabar Island and Surf along the coast till a battle begins. The trick involved here is a rather odd one to describe, as it abuses a formula in the game's code to select which Pokemon you are due to fight next. The best way to describe the events that take place, is to quote a website more informed on the matter, RageCandyBar:

When performing the Cinnabar Island trick, people may not get the same results as other people. This is because how how the trick works in the first place, which is mostly a screw up in the programming on GAMEFREAK's part.

When the programmers were creating the map to determine which Pokemon appear in which area, they programmed the 'half land half water' edge of Cinnabar as a place that wild Pokemon could appear, but they forgot to define which Pokemon appeared there. This usually wouldn't be a big deal because it would just use the settings from the patch of grass you were in previously.

However... When you talk to the Old Man who catches Weedle, the variables assigned to "Your Name" are overwritten with "Old Man" when it says "Old Man threw Pokeball!"

But what does this have to do with anything?
Well, when the variables that make up your name are overwritten, they had to decide on a place for the variables for "Your Name" to go, so the game could recall them later. It just so happens that the programmers had the variables for "Your Name" overwrite the slots for what Pokemon you can run into, since when you went into a new area they would be re-written, and wouldn't disturb the game. Because of this, you can run into MissingNo. and other level 100+ Pokemon on the edge of Cinnabar.

The rest of the webpage quoted above documents the rest of the trick and shows how you can take advantage of this glitch.

One thing that is often mentioned when discussing MissingNo is regarding its capture. Nearly every website discussing the glitch will advise you not to catch MissingNo should you plan to play the game properly. This is due to the glitch having quite severe side effects such as corrupting the save game and the end-game Hall Of Fame.

But don't see MissingNo as useless. The video shown above shows that an encounter with MissingNo will take the item in the sixth slot of your inventory and maximise its quantity. Infinite Master Balls I hear you say, but take care and expect the worst when using this glitch.

PokeGods and other Hoaxes

While we may have touched upon the tip of the iceberg regarding Pokemon Glitches, Rumours & Hoaxes, there is plenty more to get stuck into and a wealth of information online. From old websites featuring Fake Pokemon Cheats to those carefully documenting the PokeGods and other hoaxes, to ones featuring every exploit within Pokemon Red & Blue, lots of laughs and exploration is yet to be had in this classic.

Time to dust off those Pokemon cartridges!

Last Updated ( 26 October 2010 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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(Link to this comment) Tyron 2010-12-12 19:51
I went to the Pokemon event at Bluewater to get Mew, it was literally a 30 second queue!

Nice article, I remember loads of these "cheats" being spread around.
(Link to this comment) Redstar 2010-12-29 20:19
This is a truly superb article. I had great pleasure reading this and it brought a huge smile to my face. I can recall playground chats about certain cheats alongside many POG battles. Ah those where the days!

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