In November 1997 Nintendo gave the world its first glimpse at the follow up to their massively successful Gameboy debut of Pokemon at their annual Spaceworld event. Rumors & leaked information had already been circulating for months, with die-hard fans whispering to each other about new potential legendary monsters and the new water mouse, Pikablu. This new demo Nintendo shared at Spaceworld in 1997 did little to contain the speculation, with several new monster designs being discussed by the lucky players who saw the game. Yet when the new titles, called Gold & Silver, were released on Gameboy Color a few years later in 1999 many of these reported Pocket Monsters were nowhere to be seen.
Were the fans at Spaceworld pulling our leg? Did Nintendo make last-minute changes to the game? What happened to the starter Pokemon that were present originally? While we don’t know the answers to all of these questions, we do finally have confirmation of those original reports thanks to an anonymous source that leaked the infamous demo earlier today.
Players are still pouring over the demo to discover all of the differences featured in the game, some of which are immediately noticeable. Being an early version of a massive title this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but the never before seen content featured in this demo sheds light on what could have been. And some of the changes and omissions would have had an impact on some of the most popular characters in the franchise for nearly 20 years.
Right off the bat, there’s a significant difference in the Pokemon available to you at the start. Gone are Cyndaquil, Totodile, and their evolutionary chains; instead replaced by 6 completely different monsters of the fire & water variety. Chikorita also receives a different secondary evolution in Hanamogura. In addition to these rejected monsters are several rejected baby evolutions for 1st generation Monsters like Vulpix, Meowth, and Grimer.
There’s a lot more in this prototype than I could ever hope to discover or even understand myself, but being able to see the hidden history behind one of the world’s most beloved franchises is absolutely fascinating. I fondly remember days in my youth spent on long defunct Pokemon websites discussing all of our theories about the new Pokemon games, and what it could mean for the future of the franchise. To see something like this pop up after so long is nothing shy of magical. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on all of the treasure that is unearthed as the game is scoured more thoroughly, and if you want to read into it a bit more yourself you can find a thread about the demo on Resetera or follow along at video game archival wiki The Cutting Room Floor.