Playground Pokemon Rumors
August 23, 2020
If you were a kid into Pokemon back in 1999, you probably spent some time on the playground at recess discussing Pokemon rumors. There were TONS of crazy rumors about Pokemon back then: Was Mew real? How to get into Bill's Backyard? How to get infinite Rare Candies and Masterballs? Was there a PikaBlu? It was so much fun discussing them and hearing new ones.
You have to understand how different things were in 1999. First, games were glitchy. There were no updates or patches back then, once the game was out, that was it. And GameBoys and game consoles were being pushed to their limit with clever programming, which could introduce glitches. Second, the internet was different too. It was new and mysterious (and super slow). Websites looked crazy. People liked to call it the "World Wide Web" and rather than just a few big sites like Facebook, Youtube, etc. people had their own websites dedicated to all kinds of stuff--including Pokemon video games and cheats. Third, in Pokemon's case, things didn't move so fast. We all knew that Pokemon came from Japan, and sometimes a picture or card would make its way over to the US, but mostly we were totally unaware of what was going on there. (We all thought it was so cool to have a japanese version of a pokemon card. I still have no idea where kids got these from.)
The biggest rumors by far involved the mythical pokemon Mew. Supposedly, Mew was a super powerful, little pink pokemon. Somehow related to Mewtwo. At first, I was skeptical and didn't know what to believe. Friends who had beat the games had never seen Mew. And nobody had a Mew pokemon card either. I had an official Pokemon sticker book, and it only had space for 150 pokemon--no room for Mew. Playground kids would say they caught Mew, but would never actually show him in their game. But then things started to change. I don't know how it happened exactly. By the time the Pokemon movie came out, we definitely knew there was a Mew, as he was one of the main characters in the official movie, so he had to be real. But as for catching it? That was still a mystery, fueling lots of playground rumors.
I was pretty good at using the web back then and would find video game cheat websites. These were extremely sketchy, as half the cheats didn't actually work. Plus, they would be conflicting, like one website would say to do one thing while another web site would have completely different instructions. The cheats for getting Mew usually involved some insanely time-consuming task, like: Beat the Elite 4 one hundred times in a row with a Ditto on your team, and after the hundredth time, he would turn into Mew. That would take hundreds of hours and normal kids just didn't have time for that.
The reason we kept looking for cheats to get Mew was because we knew certain cheats worked. In particular, the MissingNo cheat. Ask any boy who played Pokemon about it--it was a foolproof way to get infinite of any item you wanted. (We mostly used it to get Rare Candies and Masterballs). Basically, doing a really weird series of steps in the game would lead you to find a glitched-out pokemon called MissingNo on the east coast of Cinnibar Island, and after you fought him, you would have 99 of whatever item you wanted. It was crazy! The first time I heard it, I could NOT believe it because the steps to do it were so crazy. My older cousin taught me, and it blew my mind.
The most popular rumor to get Mew was that he was in a secret area behind Bill's house. They called it "Bill's Secret Garden". I can't tell you how badly I wanted to go to that garden. Supposedly not only was Mew there, but also wild Squirtles, Charmanders, Bulbasaurs, all the best rare pokemon. Of course, it wasn't real, but at the time that was one of the big rumors.
The other popular rumor was that Mew was stuck underneath a truck next to the S.S. Anne, and that if your pokemon had strength, they could move the truck and catch Mew. My friend Jason told me this one...and he HAD a Mew in his game! So I completely believed him. The steps to moving the truck were difficult, but doable. It took me a few weeks of starting a new game to do it and...it didn't work. I could not believe it. How had Jason done it? Now that I look back on it, I'm betting someone gave him the Mew after catching it with a Gameshark cheating device, and that Jason had believed the playground rumor about the truck.
In the end, I think most people who got Mew back then used a Gameshark. In modern times, a valid cheat to get Mew does exist in the game, and you can see it done on YouTube, but nobody knew it back then...if they had, it would have spread like wildfire.
PikaBlu was the other big mystery pokemon talked about on the playground. PikaBlu was supposedly a different version of Pikachu, but he was blue and water-typed. We had seen pictures of this mystery pokemon, and he was in the Pokemon movie. It turns out that PikaBlu was actually the pokemon Marill. But we wouldn't find this out until much later, when Pokemon Gold and Silver came out, and it was such a mystery to us kids back then. My neighbor said he saw one in the cave behind Cerulean City. But he also said he saw a flying car in the back of a Toys-R-Us once, and that his friend had a real life lightsaber. He was one of those kids.
Looking back, these rumors made Pokemon even more fun. It was so exciting seeing which cheats worked and finding more about the mythical pokemon Mew. It is also fun remembering the early internet and how crazy it was. In Pokemon lore, Mew is considered a "mythical" pokemon, and I think it is so fitting, considering he was such a big myth for all the kids into Pokemon back in 1999.