False facts about Pokemon you always thought were true

The game and cartoon series Pokemon has been around for decades (wait, really?), long enough to inspire playground rumors from multiple generations of fans. Secret tricks, hidden rooms and characters, all sorts of stuff. Considering the series took hold around the time when most folks had dial-up internet, if any at all, urban legends were mostly allowed to thrive unchallenged. Even the creator of the series, Satoshi Tajiri, believes the various myths and legends about the game contributed to its success.

In this article we track down several of the most pervasive of these rumors and provide the context and actual truth behind them.

Holding down + B does literally nothing

Many fans have found themselves not content with knowing that capturing Pokemon with a Pokeball is largely a random affair. Yes, odds of capture can be improved by using different levels of Pokeball and it's based on the stats of the creature being captured, but players want to feel there is something they can actively do to help. Over the years, many combinations of button-jamming have been suggested, with the most prevalent being a combination of holding the down arrow while pressing button B. More recently, there's the idea that saying a phrase like "GOTCHA" into the game system microphone will help improve the odds.

Unfortunately, there is no proof or statement from the developers confirming that any of these tricks actually work. Keep trying, though. Maybe shout louder?

You can't recover Pokeballs In Pokemon GO by tapping them

Pokemon GO was released this past summer, and it changed up the formula of gameplay for fans. The game required players to actually, physically walk around to chase down monsters, and crucial game items could only be acquired through leveling up, in-game purchases, or be found at various Pokestops scattered around the real world. This led to several theories on how to conserve items since they could occasionally be few and far-between, depending on how often you wanted to take a literal hike to restock. Players noticed that tapping a Pokeball that missed its target would cause it to disappear, and they theorized that you could pick them back up. That way, they wouldn't go to waste. Turns out, all that does is spare you the trouble of having to wait for the ball to roll off-screen before you can launch another. A small win, but a win nonetheless.

Pikablu, Mewthree and other 'Fakemon'

Over the years and largely because of delays between Japanese and American releases, characters could appear in the animated cartoons/films that weren't actually available in the current American game series. Or, sometimes it was mistranslations or jokes that were taken as serious by the fan base. These, and many other reasons, fueled rumors of the group of Pokemon and special creatures usually called "PokeGods" or "Fakemon." Not naming them "Hoaxemon" seems like a missed opportunity, but we don't make the rules.

The first of these was a rumored creature called "Pikablu," suspected to be a special evolution of Pikachu past Raichu. The rumor started with the appearance of what is now known as Marill in the short "Pikachu's Vacation" from the first Pokemon movie. It didn't help that the related Topps trading cards also referred to the Marill with that name "Pikablu." Not knowing the character was exclusive to Pokemon Gold and later games, fans devised all sorts of theories on how to capture it in the currently available Red and Blue.

The first Pokemon movie also spawned theories over a "Mewthree" hidden in the game, all based on a single line of dialog mentioning it. That came from the scientists after the creation of Mewtwo, and the fact that Mewtwo destroyed the lab later in the movie didn't stop the rumor of the non-existent character. Honestly, we wanted this to be real, too. Here's hoping?

Mew hiding under a truck

Mew was the 151st Pokemon, and was originally only available at exclusive "Nintendo Roadshow" events. The idea was that folks who attended these events and downloaded their own Mew could distribute it to others via linked-Gameboy tradeoffs. Unfortunately, it couldn't spread to everybody, so many folks hoped and theorized of other possibilities.

One such theory arose when players discovered they could access some previously unreachable areas in the vicinity of the SS Anne, if they had acquired a Pokemon from another player with the "Surf" skill (which you normally wouldn't have had this early in normal gameplay). In particular, a lone truck on an island accessible only through this trick became the focus of many rumors, the prevailing one being that the highly desirable rare Pokemon Mew was, in fact, inside. As with the other entries in this list, this turned out to be just rumor. On the plus side, you got the ability to "Surf" earlier, and that's something to be proud of.

Lavender Town's music caused people to commit suicide

At this point you are thinking, "Well, of course this one is fake! A game causing people to commit suicide is a horror movie plot and would be an insurmountable public relations disaster for the developers and publisher in the real world!" And you would be right. But there's some interesting aspects to this town, and it's music, in the greater context of the game that could be the reason this particular rumor sticks around so adamantly.

For starters, let's consider the music. It's stark, deliberately atonal and reminiscent of early horror music soundtracks. It's been suspected that the tones are spaced out in a certain way as an experiment in binaural beats, which are a particularly creepy sort of music that seems to literally vibrate your brain. We know, right? Regardless of whether or not your brain is dancing along, the music sets a pervading tone of dread.

The town itself represents a drastic shift away from the tone of the rest of the game. At this point in an otherwise cutesy and playful game, it is revealed that Pokemon are actually capable of dying. Your Pokemon. That you've loved and raised and waited up for at night when they've gone off on their first date… you love them. (We're not here to judge.) That initial shock of that revelation could be why so much fixation is placed on the town. It's not the sort of place you'll forget any time soon, especially when it's scarred your impressionable young mind.

Pokemon Shock Syndrome

This is one of the first on this list that actually has truth to it, but in spite of the sensationalism of it, the issue itself was isolated to one broadcast of one episode. On December 16, 1997 the episode "Electric Soldier Porygon" aired in Japan. The episode takes place inside a virtual reality world. There is a scene where Pikachu uses a lightning attack to disable a bunch of virtual missiles. In order to portray what they thought would be an appropriately cybernetic explosion, the animators included rapid red-blue flashing across the entire background of the screen. This rapid strobe effect caused 685 children across Japan to experience blurred vision, nausea and in some cases seizures that required hospitalization. Most recovered quickly, and only a few were actually diagnosed with epilepsy.

The show was taken off the air for four months while the producers consulted with health professionals to figure out what happened. Nintendo, Pokemon, and children's animation broadcasting related stocks all took hits over the loss in confidence. When the show returned, the first new episode included a public-service announcement about what had been dubbed "Pokemon Shock," and promised viewers that precautions were being taken and it would never occur again. The episode never aired again, and a short clip from the show that appeared in the original opening title sequence was removed. Even the pokemon the episode was named after, Porygon, was never featured in an episode again even though it was Pikachu who was featured in the infamous scene. We'd suggest Porygon needs to seek legal counsel over that wrongful accusation.

Bill's secret garden

Similar to the rumors flying around the random truck you can find by utilizing techniques you narratively shouldn't have, a lot of Pokemon legends center around being able to find your way to normally inaccessible areas in the vicinity of the house of a Pokemon researcher named Bill. Traditionally, the rumors surrounded the area behind the house which is completely inaccessible… at least, traditionally. The only way to get access is to exploit a glitch, and some folks have found a way into a fenced off area next to the house by using "Surf." In either case, folks that have managed to access those areas have never found anything special. If we were programmers, we'd put stuff like that there on purpose.

Hidden Yoshi or other Mario/Nintendo characters

The background of this rumor is pretty simple, and it started when actual April Fools posts from Nintendo itself wound up accepted as fact. The Yoshi/Dragonite evolution appeared in the April 1999 issue of Nintendo Power, and an elaborate gameplay sequence to capture Luigi appeared on the official Nintendo website. You can actually see the Nintendo website's retraction of the fake story in the Wayback Machine, but some people won't take "no" for an answer.

MissingNo, the secret Pokemon

This is another entry that is actually based in fact. You can actually catch this Pokemon, but you might not want to. You won't encounter this one normally; it requires such a specific sequence of events to find you almost have to wonder how anyone found it in the first place. It requires a specific NPC encounter, isolating yourself to a very specific area of the game to look, and even spelling your character's name a certain way.

In short, "MissingNo" isn't actually a real Pokemon, much less a super secret one. It's called that because the game is saying the Pokemon you found has a "Missing Number." Basically, you found something outside the game's internal database of different monsters. The more in-depth explanation is enough to make your brain hurt (trust us), and folks with experience programming may realize pretty quickly this is a potential disaster waiting to happen, populating your character's Pokedex data with basically random gibberish like this. While on one hand you can find yourself with a Pokemon in your arsenal capable of levels and stats outside normal limitations, you can also find this unstable glitched data corrupting graphics, ruining save files and resetting your Gameboy. Some have found the only way to fix their game is to start over, and no one wants that. Not even for the Pokemon equivalent of the yeti.

Blue/Gary Oak's Raticate

Gary Oak (or Blue) is your character's nemesis through the game Pokemon: Red and Blue. (Spoiler alert!) He always seems to advance slightly faster, is highly competitive and arrogant, and just generally makes himself a constant thorn in the player's side throughout the entire game. He's a jerk, however, the lingering possibility that your player might have actually killed one of his Pokemon has haunted players for nearly two decades… and made them feel a bit guilty.

Unfortunately, this one doesn't have a solid answer, and things certainly do look grim. You do encounter Gary on the SS Anne, where you fight him and he again brings out his by now trademark Raticate. After you defeat him, the next time you see him is in Lavender Town. Yes, the "where you learn Pokemon actually die" town. You fight, and his Raticate is nowhere to be seen.

However, there is also a pretty strong case to be made that you didn't kill the poor thing. One, Gary never mentions it. Every other Pokemon master you encounter in the Lavender Town tower mentions their dead Pokemon by name, whereas Gary mentions that he is there to capture a Ghost Pokemon. Also, Raticate just isn't a Pokemon you throw around much in later levels. It's a good early-game Pokemon, but quickly plateaus in capabilities and becomes less desirable as you encounter higher-level monsters.

Hopefully with that knowledge you can rest easier, you (probably not) Pokemon-murderer.

Wild Starters

At the beginning of every Pokemon game you have what are called the "Starters." They're the three Pokemon offered to you by Professor Oak at the beginning of the game, and the one you choose determines strategy for the rest of the game because you never encounter the other starters in the wild. Those poor Pokemon you don't pick for your team can only be found through trading with other players. This has led to decades of rumors about where to encounter "Wild Starters" so certain players (apparently folks with no friends) can actually catch them all.

However, at this point the only game where you encounter starter Pokemon in the wild is Pokemon GO, hopefully while you're encountering some new friends, too.