The original story of Lost Silver was recorded and narrated by a Pokemon fan who claims he bought a used copy of the game at GameStop for a bargain price. But once he loaded the game onto his Game Boy, he immediately noticed that the saved game left behind by the cart’s previous owner was highly unusual. Whomever had owned the game simply named their trainer “…”, had maxed out their PokeDex with all 251 entries (including legendary Pokemon like Celebi and Mew), and had also maxed out their money and levels.
But most unsettling was the active party that the game’s previous owner had left behind. It contained five Unown (alien Pokemon with letter-shaped bodies that can spell out messages) and a Cyndaquill. According to the teller of the tale, the Unown spelled out “LEAVE,” and the Cyndaquill was named “HURRY.”
The rest of the story does an impressive job of creeping the reader out, considering it’s based around a jolly franchise that kids love. The narrator talks about finding himself trapped in a silent, still version of Pokemon Gold/Silver’s Bellsprout Tower, and how he used “Flash” to illuminate a dark area, only to have the room bathed in a menacing red glow. Other events include the utter death of the Cyndaquill (as opposed to the usual “faint”), the Unown spelling out messages like “DYING” and “NO MORE,” and a ghostly battle with the trainer from Pokemon Red/Blue, which ends with Celebii and a tormented-looking Pikachu using Perish Song and Destiny Bond to finish each other off simultaneously.
At the story’s conclusion, the trainer named “…” becomes a ghost and is trapped forever amongst several Pokemon graves. The moral, if you can call it that, spells out that despite his enormous success as a Pokemon trainer in life, death still came for “…” in the end, same as it comes for all of us. Worse, “…” seemingly died nameless, alone, and forgotten.
The playable version of Pokemon Lost Silver is an .exe file that lets you experience the narrator’s haunted journey first-hand. If you don’t have the stomach for that kind of excitement, there are several YouTube videos of the experience.
There is also a Lost Silver Hidden game that lets the player attempt to change “…”’s fate at a critical junction. If the player manages to initiate the change, “…” goes on a short journey that involves meeting more haunted trainers, and Pokemon and non-player characters that lack eyeballs. The death of “…” is still inevitable, but the final message is “RIP Pokemon Trainer Gold,” as opposed to “RIP …”, which indicates that the mysterious trainer at least gained an identity before he passed away.
If you’re already familiar with Pokemon Red/Blue’s myth about Lavender Town Syndrome, then you should understand why the Pokemon series in general is a breeding ground for so many stories and myths. When a series series touts itself as family-friendly, it makes it that much easier to make up hazy, dark tales about its games.
Admittedly, Nintendo occasionally throws us off with reminders that Pokemon are capable of dying, or getting sick or hurt. When you get right down to it, a term like “Perish Song” doesn’t sound like it belongs in the cutesy Pokemon world, but it exists.
But whereas Nintendo makes active choices to make Pokemon a little darker, the Lost Silver myth may actually have been born in part by some of the bugs that plagued the early Pokemon games. Pokemon Red/Blue is particularly infamous for the presence of “MissingNo” (“Missing Number”), an error handler that appears in-game as a pillar of garbled pixels. The MissingNo bug can be exploited to replicate rare items—but it can also damage or crash the game, which makes it helpful as well as sinister.
In a way, the myth of Pokemon Lost Silver is based around humanity’s newfound fear of technology flipping out/gaining a mind of its own. We expect to be able to exude a certain amount of control over our video games, and when things go off the rails because of a bug, we become fascinated, but also a little uneasy. The uneasiness is doubled when we turn on a beloved classic like Pokemon Silver and instead find a grim reminder of our own mortality.