Pokemon's creepy Lavender Town urban legends

By Mike on 11:44 pm

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Pokemon is a game where adorable monsters battle it out. When they loose the fight, they feint. All they need is a little rest at the Pokemon Centre to bring them back to fighting strength. But do Pokemon die? Even though it's just a kids game, the original Pokemon Red & Blue says they do. It's even implied that the games villains kill the lovable creatures. That's heavy stuff Doc.

People seem obsessed with Lavender Town because of that. It's the only location in the series where there's a Pokemon cemetery. Even though it's a fairly minor location, it has spawned plenty of urban legends. Many of these are downright disturbing. Here are some of the more bizarre Pokemon ghost stories.

The Existential Pokemon Silver
This legend appeared on 4Chan, posted by an anonymous user. It reappeared linked to an article on Kotaku, posted by commenter Travakh.

A gamer bought a used copy of Pokemon Silver from a Gamestop. Upon loading the save file, he found the last owner had all 251 Pokemon, had played for 999 hours, and had all gym badges.

The game started up in Bellsprout Tower, inside an inescapable room. The trainer, simply named "..." had five Unown in his party with a sixth Cyndaquil named "HURRY". Unown were a species of Pokemon that looked like letters of the Latin Alphabet. The gamer discovered the Unown spelled out "LEAVE".

After finding a way out, he was confronted with a sign that read "Turn Back Now". HURRY suddenly fainted for no apparent reason. A new team of Unown replaced him, spelling out "HEDIED". The deceased is replaced by a Celebi.

Still trapped in the tower, the gamer engages in a battle with Red, the final boss of the game and protagonist from the first generation. The fight was between his Pikachu and the gamer's Celebi. Pikachu uses curse. Both Pokemon die at the end of the fight instead of feinting. His Celebi is now gone from his party. The gamer then notices his avatar's sprite is missing limbs and has turned transparent.

The game then cuts to the trainer's house at the very beginning. He has no items, his Pokegear doesn't work, and outside the house is nothing but a black abyss. After wondering aimlessly for awhile, the gamer eventually encountered himself, or rather his regular sprite. The sprite says "goodbye forever ..." He checks the Unown in his party, which now spell out "IMDEAD". He then finds himself in a room with blocked walls. A final text reads "R.I.P". The gamer figures out his trainer is dead and this is his grave.

The gamer believes the moral of this hack is about the futility of life. Despite his efforts to become the greatest Pokemon trainer, "...", who he refers to as Gold, was unable to cheat death. His adventures become forgotten in time. We've all had this go through out minds at some point. Usually lying in bed wide awake at 3am.

Since this was originally posted on 4Chan, we can assume it's fake. The site is famous for its viral pranks and hoaxes. However, it is plausible since hacked cartridges do exist. Like all great urban legends, stories like this are impossible either prove or disprove.

Lavender's Missing Frequencies
Lavender Town is known for it's sad, haunting theme music in the original game. This legend is based on reading between the lines, and finding missing sounds. Almost like a Pokemon DaVinci Code.

A young man and his best friend Anthony were obsessed with Pokemon as kids. They go their separate ways in college but Pokemon ties them together. They keep having wifi battles nearly every day. Anthony eventually asks him to replay Pokemon Red & Blue together. Despite not really wanting to, the young man goes through with it. When he asks Anthony why, he says he might find something nobody else has before.

Three weeks later he receives a call from the Anthony's parents. Anthony has died. He suffered what appeared to be an intense seizure, despite having no history of epilepsy.

The man finds his friend had been obsessed with the music in Lavender Town. Anthony bragged about finding a rare rip from the original Japanese release. This rip apparently contained audio frequencies later versions missed. It was supposedly due to sound limitations of the Gameboy. Anthony began experimenting to replace the missing frequencies.

The young man describes finding the audio.

Driven by my desire to know what caused his untimely death, I opened the properties dialog box for the audio file, without opening the file to listen to it. Within the comments section of the metadata, he had written, "binaural tones, i added the necessary frequencies, i know why lavender town sounds so sad, and i know the part that was missing". Even eerier, I looked in his default audio program (still without listening to the file) and found the playcount for this file. One. I chatted with a sound enthusiast online in hope to decipher these cryptic comments. He gave me some special software which would analyze the audio in real time and said that was the most that could be done. This video is a screen recording of me running the aforementioned software with the original audio file. To this day I have not listened to the actual audio, as I am too emotionally disturbed by my best friend, Anthony's, death.

The story implies the missing frequencies caused Anthony's seizure. You can listen to the remix here along with the full story. I seriously doubt it will cause your head to explode as Anthony's did.

This particular story is very implausible. No audio engineer could work on something without listening to it multiple times. It sounds all too similar to the "brown note" legend, where a specific audio frequency was said to cause loss of bowel control. It also has a dash of a real world Pokemon incident. In that case, flashing lights in one particular anime episode triggered seizures in Japan.

A similar legend claims the original Lavender Town music contained frequencies only children could hear. The tones apparently caused Japanese children to go insane and die. While it's true Lavender Town originally did have slightly different music in Japan, no deaths have been linked to it.

Pokemon Black
Pokemon Black, not to be confused with the real Black & White, is supposedly a hack of the original Red. The gamer claims it features a "Ghost" pokemon, with the same sprite as the mystery ghosts found in Lavender Town before obtaining the SilphScope. It acts as your starter and cannot be removed from the party. It also only comes with one move, "Curse". When used, the move apparently kills the target Pokemon, and their trainer. The trainer is replaced by a tombstone with their name on it in the overworld.

The story gets a bit more interesting after you beat the Elite Four.

After viewing the Hall of Fame, which consisted of Ghost and a couple of very under leveled Pokémon, the screen cut to black. A box appeared with the words “Many years later…” It then cut to Lavender Tower. An old man was standing, looking at tombstones. You then realized this man was your character.

The man moved at only half of your normal walking speed. You no longer had any Pokémon with you, not even Ghost, who up to this point had been impossible to remove from your party through depositing in the PC. The overworld was entirely empty — there were no people at all. There were still the tombstones of the trainers that you used Curse on, however.You could go pretty much anywhere in the overworld at this point, though your movement was limited by the fact that you had no Pokémon to use HMs. And regardless of where you went, the music of Lavender Town continued on an infinite loop.

After wandering for a while, I found that if you go through Diglett’s Cave, one of the cuttable bushes that normally blocks the path on the other side is no longer there, allowing you to advance and return to Pallet Town.

Upon entering your house and going to the exact tile where you start the game, the screen would cut to black.

Then a sprite of a Caterpie appeared. It was the replaced by a Weedle, and then a Pidgey. I soon realized, as the Pokémon progressed from Rattata to Blastoise, that these were all of the Pokémon that I had used Curse on.

After the end of my Rival’s team, a Youngster appeared, and then a Bug Catcher. These were the trainers I had Cursed.

Throughout the sequence, the Lavender Town music was playing, but it was slowly decreasing in pitch. By the time your Rival appeared on screen, it was little more than a demonic rumble.

Another cut to black. A few moments later, the battle screen suddenly appeared — your trainer sprite was now that of an old man, the same one as the one who teaches you how to catch Pokémon in Viridian City.

Ghost appeared on the other side, along with the words “GHOST wants to fight!”.

You couldn’t use items, and you had no Pokémon. If you tried to run, you couldn’t escape. The only option was “FIGHT”.

Using fight would immediately cause you to use Struggle, which didn’t affect Ghost but did chip off a bit of your own HP. When it was Ghost’s turn to attack, it would simply say “…” Eventually, when your HP reached a critical point, Ghost would finally use Curse.

The screen cut to black a final time.

Regardless of the buttons you pressed, you were permanently stuck in this black screen. At this point, the only thing you could do was turn the Game Boy off. When you played again, “NEW GAME” was the only option — the game had erased the file.

I played through this hacked game many, many times, and every time the game ended with this sequence. Several times I didn’t use Ghost at all, though he was impossible to remove from the party. In these cases, it did not show any Pokémon or trainers and simply cut to the climactic “battle with Ghost.

I’m not sure what the motives were behind the creator of this hack. It wasn’t widely distributed, so it was presumably not for monetary gain. It was very well done for a bootleg.

It seems he was trying to convey a message; though it seems I am the sole receiver of this message. I’m not entirely sure what it was — the inevitability of death? The pointlessness of it? Perhaps he was simply trying to morbidly inject death and darkness into a children’s game. Regardless, this children’s game has made me think, and it has made me cry.

Pokemon Black was also posted on 4Chan so it's authenticity can't be verified. The unnamed author claims he lost the game cartridge years ago. Some versions claim he sold it out of fear. One variation on the story says a demonic image appeared on the screen after the character's death, with the words "you're next." It's still a great ghost story for any gamer out there.

Image courtesy of Bulbapedia, originally from the Pokemon anime.

2 comments for this post

i totally believe this article im looking into the lavender town syndrome and im close to the truth

Posted on 5 November 2010 at 23:40  

I have done alot of research on the "Lavender Town Tones". There's been alot of deaths. I've heard mixed stories. a rare pokemon, the dead talking (LOL), the music having some odd tone that messes up your brain...

Posted on 21 December 2010 at 01:28