1998 was one heck of a year for video games. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Resident Evil 2, Metal Gear Solid, Banjo-Kazooie… all absolute classics, and frequent contenders in Best Game Ever Made™ lists all around the world.
This was also the year that the likes of Spyro the Dragon, F-Zero X and cult classic MediEvil were released. What was in the water at development studios around the world in 1998? It's impossible to say, but some of them could sure use a dose of it today.
You probably see where we're going with this. Amongst all of that, 1998 also saw another title make its western debut. A game that, by all conventional logic, was inherently Japanese and shouldn’t really have gotten far elsewhere.
That game was Pokémon Red and Blue, probably the biggest success story in handheld gaming history (Tetris aside). It was an incredibly ambitious title for the humble Game Boy, and a heck of an achievement for Game Freak.
Younger Pokémon fans might look at this old relic and scoff, two decades later, but the oldies among us remember the sheer joy of getting our first starter Pokémon (Charmander for life), battling Brock for the first time, finally besting the Elite 4… ah, the memories that are thundering through our nostalgia-glands right now.
If it’s been about fifteen years since you last played this one, or you’re one of those new Pokémon fans experiencing its monochrome majesty for the first time, here are some of the best secret areas (and secrets hidden in familiar areas) that will probably pass you by.
Mew’s infamous truck? The developers putting themselves in the game? A mysterious battle with Professor Oak himself? Buckle up, friends, it’s all here.
25 Glitch City Will Make A Mess Of Whichever Area You Visited Last
Now, with Red and Blue being the very first games in the series, it’s only fair to expect a few… anomalies. Over the years, players have discovered that certain areas of Kanto are a good deal less stable than others, and this has left them ripe for glitch-exploiting.
One such area is the Safari Zone. As players will know, this is a sort of minigame area that the player is allowed to roam and catch Pokémon in until they’ve taken 500 steps. As we’ve reported before, there’s a way to glitch out the Safari Zone, so that you can leave and have the step counter keep ticking away.
What happens when your steps reach zero outside of the Safari Zone? Well, a horrible mess known as Glitch City, that’s what. A broken, distorted version of whichever area you were in at the time.
24 Cinnabar Island Is Home To MissingNo.
All you need to do is watch the old man in Viridian City demonstrate his how-to-catch-a-Pokémon party trick, then Fly over to Cinnabar and surf along the eastern coast of the island (make sure you’re touching the coast of the island itself, don’t stray into the ocean).
Follow these steps correctly (and maybe fight a regular battle or two first) until the broken glitch-mon MissingNo. emerges as a wild encounter. Defeat it (it can play havoc on your save file if you catch it, so probably don’t do that), and you’ll find that the sixth item in your bag has been duplicated 128 times. Limitless Rare Candies, here we go.
23 Glitching The Safari Zone Onto Cinnabar Island
Way back in the day, the Safari Zone was many players' favorite location in Red and Blue. It was one heck of a pain to catch the rarer ‘mon (Kangaskhan in particular just point-blank did not want to come home with us, however many rocks we threw), but it was a neat idea and a great twist on the Pokémon catching mechanics.
It was also, as we say, very volatile from a gameplay standpoint. You wouldn’t know it from playing through the game as ‘intended,’ but it’s surprisingly easy to glitch the system. Back in the also-broken waters of Cinnabar Island, you can surf along the coast to encounter Pokémon from the last route you were in.
This includes the Safari Zone, meaning that you can take on Kangaskhan, Scyther, and such without time limitations. Or throwing rocks.
22 You Can Use The Cut TM To Remove Patches Of The Long Grass
Ah, yes. When it comes to the Pokémon franchise, is there any location more iconic than simply, ‘The Long Grass?’ No, friends, no there isn’t.
As we all know, this is where the wild Pokémon live, the area where you’ll find a great majority of your random encounters (those darn constant Zubat and other cave encounters notwithstanding). Knowing this, there’s a clever little trick you can exploit.
That Cut TM? That isn’t just for trees, you know. You can also use it to slice away 2x2 patches of long grass, making for an elaborate but brilliant way to pass through mandatory grassy areas when you really, really don’t want to battle.
21 Route One: The Secret 'Bird-Type' Pokémon
Now, we can’t voice our appreciation for that sweet, sweet long grass without discussing the very first patch in the game. Route One is an area that will be intimately familiar to a whole generation of you (that music’s probably playing in your head at the very mention of it), and it also holds an interesting secret.
One of the very first Pokémon you encounter on your adventure will be a Pidgey, the original Route One Trash-tastic Flying-Type™. Did you know, though, that Pidgey came close to not being a Flying-type at all?
As we reported over on TheGamer, Game Freak originally intended to create the Bird-type. Fortunately, early in the process, the team decided against this, presumably realizing that 'Flying' is a far better catch-all for winged things that are not birds.
Does Yveltal look like a sparrow to you? It does not.
20 Game Freak Coded Themselves Into The Game, In Celadon City
The different regions of the Pokémon games, as we know, tend to be references to particular regions of real-world Japan. As such, it’s no surprise that Game Freak decided to throw in a reference to a real-world Japanese development team too. Namely themselves.
This trend was established right from the very first game. Here, the team’s headquarters is in Celadon City’s Celadon Condominiums. At its heart, it’s just a cool little touch that casual players are likely to pass right by, but the building is certainly worth a visit. For one thing, there’s an Eevee here that the player can collect.
The main allure for the Pokémon faithful, however, is the fact that you can meet the game’s developer here as an NPC, and if you complete your Pokédex, he’ll reward you with a diploma.
19 Viridian City's Gym Was Originally Going To House A Battle With A Young Giovanni
In a lot of ways, Viridian City serves as an extended tutorial for the game. Many younger players are still very much finding their feet and exploring at this point, after all, and it’s super important to break them in gently.
The Bug Catchers in Viridian Forest are a great way of doing so, teaching us how battles play out while pitting us against… well, Metapods and other feeble foes. Did you know, though, that there was originally going to be a gym leader battle in the city?
According to some old artwork that Ken Sugimori revealed for the first time recently, the first gym leader was originally going to be what looks like a much younger Giovanni.
18 Lavender Town's Theme Was Rumoured To Make Players Ill
Yep, Lavender Town is yet another area that you’ll have to visit on your journey through the main story. As befits its spooky atmosphere, though, it’s home to all kinds of secrets and mysteries that inexperienced players will have probably never heard of.
It’s just a Creepypasta magnet. Take the supposed Lavender Town Syndrome, for instance. The story goes that, soon after the game’s original release in Japan (February 1996), children were being affected by the music of Lavender Town. It was said to be of a very high frequency that only young children could hear, and was making them become ill and giving them headaches.
It’s all just a story, but one so popular that it’s become part of Lavender Town’s frightening vibe.
17 The Pokémon Mansion Houses A Frightening Secret In The Japanese Version
Crossing back over to Cinnabar Island now, we’re going to take a look at the Pokémon Mansion. The building was so named for the scientific research that took place there, and the nature of this research has been made a little shonky by the English translation.
The documents you’ll come across in this derelict building explain that Mewtwo was created by a team of scientists. The original Japanese version of the game, however, states that just one scientist was responsible for Mewtwo’s birth. By the looks of it, it was Mr. Fuji.
You probably didn’t know this, and you almost certainly don’t know the reason for this discrepancy. Nobody does!
16 Cerulean Cave, The Hidden Home Of Mewtwo
It’s odd to think that there was ever a time when we didn’t have the almighty Google in our pockets at all times. When we had questions about useless trivia, we had to consult books or something. Remember when books existed? What a wild time to be alive.
We didn’t have GameFAQs or anything like that, either, which meant that game secrets could sometimes actually remain secret. For younger players, Cerulean Cave (the post-game home of Mewtwo) would be a darn obscure secret to find. You only get a glimpse of it in the background, after all, and it’s very early on. Would everyone think to come all the way back here later? Of course not.
15 Lavender Town’s Pokémon Tower, The Home Of Gary's Poor Raticate?
Much like Lavender Town itself, the Pokémon Tower is a necessary part of your journey to becoming champion. You get the Poké Flute here, and those Snorlax will be blocking the path forever without it. Also like Lavender Town, some curious (and rather frightening) stories have arisen around it.
In one popular fan theory, the Tower is the resting place of your rival (Gary Oak by default)’s Raticate. The rodent has disappeared from Gary’s team when you battle him here, and some fans have read far too much into that.
Granted, he explains that he’s really just here to catch Cubone and Marowak, but there could be more to the story than that.
14 You Can Conquer The Pokémon Tower Without The Silph Scope
Now, let’s not get too hung up on the tragic tale of our rival’s Raticate. It’s super sad, yes, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry elsewhere in Pokémon Tower.
A big old ghostly Marowak-fish, in fact. If you’ve already played through this section of the game, you’ll know that the Silph Scope is needed to unmask the phantom and be able to battle it. Technically, though, that isn’t the case.
The Poké Doll item works on this specter, allowing you to skip the battle (and, by extension, the Silph Scope entirely). It’s an obscure little trick that even seasoned players may never have discovered.
13 Near The S.S. Anne, Mew's Supposedly Hiding Under A Truck
Ah, yes. If there’s any enduring story that long-time fans will remember, it’s the whole Mew-under-the-truck thing.
As we know, there are a total of 151 Pokémon in generation one, only 150 of which were available through normal means. Your only real chance of getting your hands on a legitimate Mew back in the day was a special event.
There are various ways to glitch Mew into your game, and a lot of hype around a certain truck located near the SS Anne. It’s in an area you can’t usually access, and using Strength on the truck was supposed to reveal Mew underneath it.
This… wasn’t a thing at all, but the legend of Mew’s truck lives on regardless.
12 Route 8: The OTHER Supposed Home Of Mew
Route 8 is another of those grassy paths that make up much of the Pokémon world. It connects Lavender Town and Saffron City, and yields some fairly interesting Pokémon for players to catch (the Blue-exclusive Vulpix, and Red-exclusive Growlithe among them), but otherwise? It’s nothing especially notable. Or so you’d think.
As fans in the know will tell you, you can grab yourself a Mew here. As IGN details, you need to have saved the Gambler trainer here until you’ve learned Fly (you can’t perform the glitch if you can’t battle him), as well as the Youngster up on route 24/25. Dodge the Gambler, battle the Youngster, head back to Route 8 and a battle against Mew will begin.
It’s very convoluted, but man was Mew popular back then.
11 On Route 10, A Trainer Tells You About Munna... Over A Decade Before The Pokémon Actually Existed
Route 10 is a curious place. Unlike a lot of routes that are just long grass and a couple of trainers, this place is hopping like a bar on New Year’s. Not only are the Kalos Power Plant (home of Zapdos) and Rock Tunnel (home of… even more dang Zubat) here, but there’s also something else very interesting. A little foreshadowing of a later Pokémon.
On this route, you’ll meet Picknicker Coral. What does this NPC say when you talk to them? “The Pokemon here are so chunky! There should be a pink one with a floral pattern!”
It doesn’t sound like much, perhaps, until you realise that Munna would be released later, a Pokémon that perfectly matches that description. At the time of Red and Blue, though, Munna wouldn’t be released for over a decade!
10 You Can Get A Mew At Misty’s Gym Too
So, yes. If you’ve battled in Misty’s gym before, you’ll know how things go down. There’s a lot of water, her Starmie is not the threat it appears to be (Starmie really needs TMs to be anything more than a fancy, bejeweled punching bag)… that’s how it is.
Interestingly, though, there’s yet another method of bagging an illegitimate Mew, and it centers around the Celadon City Gym. This is the quickest way to obtain the mythical Pokémon (and the earliest in the game you can do so). It’s very similar to the last method, simply using the Jr. Trainer on Route 24 and the first trainer in Misty’s gym instead of the Youngster and Gambler.
This early in the game, you don’t have Fly, so need to rely on an Abra’s Teleport.
9 You Can Battle Professor Oak, Like You Were Always Supposed To
In a regular playthrough of the game, Professor Oak appears only in the role of kindly old advisor. He gives you your starter Pokémon and Pokédex, then gives you encouragement about your progress towards completing the dex throughout. In short, he’s like a lovable old grandpa, and that’s something that we can all totally appreciate.
That doesn’t seem to be the only role he was intended to serve, though. The game contains unused data for Oak as a trainer, suggesting that it was originally going to be possible to battle him. Through yet another obscure glitch, it still is, and his Pokémon are just above the levels of the champion battle. Was he going to be a post-game challenge, perhaps?
8 There Is A Mysterious Statue That You Can Fish Inside
Debugging and testing games is not an easy process. Open world titles like Skyrim are inevitably going to have all kinds of odd bugs, just because it’s not possible to deal with everything. From minor quibbles like items of clothing clipping the character to game-breaking glitches, you’re always going to come across these odd things.
Sometimes, you can’t even tell if they’re intentional or if they’re programming oversights. We couldn’t tell you why you can fish in those statues that flank the entrances to gyms, but you can.
The rules are oddly specific, as we’ve shown before. This works only with the larger statues (Cinnabar Island and Saffron City’s statues don’t work), and the Super Rod won’t work either. You can encounter Pokémon this way, though, which is very odd.
7 You Can Crash The Party At Cerulean Cape, Misty’s Secret Place
This next entry requires a little more knowledge of Red and Blue, not to mention the generation two titles.
As fans will know, Pokémon Gold and Silver is primarily set in Johto. At the end of your adventure, though, Kanto becomes accessible, allowing you to return to the region a few years after the events of the original games.
While you’re there, naturally, you’re going to want to challenge Kanto’s gym leaders all over again. Things are a little different this time around, however. For one thing, you won’t find Misty at her gym at first. Instead, she’ll be at her favorite place, Cerulean Cape (Route 25), on a date with her boyfriend.
The interesting thing is that you can visit this same spot in the original game, but won’t know the significance of it just yet.
6 The Waters Of The Seafoam Islands Lead To Some Odd Glitches Too
As we’ve established, then, the waters around Cinnabar Island are especially volatile. For whatever reason, they’re the site of all kinds of odd happenings and well-known glitches (see MissingNo).
It’s not just Cinnabar, though. There’s another island that seems to be a hotbed of this odd activity. A group of them, in fact: the Seafoam Islands.
You probably know this place as the home of Articuno (and a series of fiendish boulder-pushing Strength puzzles that many ten-year-olds just could not cope with back in the day). What you may not know is that it’s also subject to that same encounter-wild- Pokémon-from-the-last-area-you-visited glitch. Very strange, but handy.
5 You Can Cheat At The Game Corner
Do you know what else many ten-year-old Poké-players couldn’t appreciate in Red and Blue? Celadon’s Game Corner, that’s what.
The fact was, the minigames within just weren’t… minigames at all. Sure, this is a 1998 Game Boy game, so we can’t really expect too much functionality here, but trying to make a worthwhile amount from the slots here was just so tedious. And mostly fruitless, in a lot of players' experience.
There’s a secret, though. The machines’ odds are all different, and all in flux, so the best technique is to find a machine that gives two wins within four tries (as we’ve detailed here).
4 You Can Skip Right Past Brock’s Gym (Briefly)
Lots of us are still a little conflicted about the battle with Brock. Is it super easy, or is it super difficult (super difficult by Pokémon game standards, of course)?
His ‘mon may be laughably low-leveled, but being as pro-Charmander as a lot of long-time fans are, you can see the problem. How some might run into trouble against a band of early-game Rock-types.
As a result, we have no issues at all with the fact that you can skip Brock’s gym. This is done via some save/reload shenanigans, which can keep the NPC who usually prevents you from leaving town at bay.
Yes, you’ll have to come back for his badge, but for now? Onwards to Misty!
3 You Can Cheat The System And Clone Pokémon While Trading
Veteran Pokémon players from the nineties remember a simpler time, before WiFi (or just about anything else wireless, for that matter). Back in the days of Red and Blue, we had to connect up our clunky link cables to get any trading done.
The great thing about this, though, was that it gave us that brilliant on-screen animation, where each Pokémon was sucked into a pipe and funnelled along into the other system.
The other great thing about this was that you could ‘clone’ Pokémon, by interrupting the data transfer at a crucial point. A fodder Pokémon would be permanently lost in the process, but the valuable one would remain on both players’ Game Boys.
2 There's An Unexplained Invisible PC In Celadon City
Speaking of the good old days, do you even remember what PCs looked like back then? Like TVs, they were huge boxes, with a casing that spread about two feet behind the screen. Flatscreen space-savers, these were not.
If there’s one thing we certainly didn’t have back then, it was fancy, stealth PCs that turn invisible (not that we have those now, you understand).
Regardless, though, there’s one in the hotel in Celadon City. It’s immediately below the plant on the right, where a PC would be. It was supposedly removed from the game, but due to yet another programming oddity, it’s still ‘there’ and it still functions.
1 At The Impossible Pokémon Lab On Cinnabar Island, You Can Evolve Raichu
Now, we'd never dare to call ourselves Pokémon masters. The more you brag, we've always felt, the more embarrassing it is to be called out. We're veterans of the series, though, there’s no doubt about that.
Now, we may not know the exact wingspan of a Mothim in nano-inches, but there’s one thing we can tell you for sure: Raichu can’t evolve anymore.
Unless, of course, you’re playing the original game. Here, in Cinnabar Island’s Pokémon Lab, there’s an NPC who wants to trade the player’s Raichu for an Electrode. On completing the trade, he’ll tell you that the Pokémon you traded to him evolved!
What’s happening here? Not some amazing new secret Pokémon you’d never heard of, sadly. Just a translation mistake. In the Japanese edition, the NPC asks for a Kadabra (which, of course, does evolve when traded). The original line just wasn't changed.