Beta Features: Pokemon Red and Blue

An often overlooked part of Pokemon game’s development period is the features that were cut along the way. Games are often announced months prior to their release, so any footage shown in trailers is not the final version. Careful analysis brings these features to light, and allows individuals to consider how far a title has come since the beginning. Due to the extent of features that were changed since the beta, this article will be split up into two parts, the second one will go live on Friday, September 2nd.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at what has changed during the development cycle of Pokemon Red and Blue.

Female Trainer
The cover of the official guidebook for Pokemon Red, Green and Blue depicted a female protagonist alongside a Squirtle, though this never made it into the final cut of the game. Trainers were only allowed a male selection for a protagonist until the release of Pokemon Crystal in 2001. However, Green from the Pokemon Adventures manga seems to be based off this pre-release depiction, so the concept was not scrapped altogether. In the remakes of Red and Green, Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen, Green’s character was redesigned and made playable.


Exclusion of Mew
During an interview with Tsunekazu Ishihara and Shigeki Morimoto after the release of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, they stated that after the debugging tools were taken out of the games, they added Mew with the remaining space they had left. This was a risky choice due to the fact that any bugs or glitches after removing these debugging tools would be more difficult to fix, so it was taken out of the final release. Still, the infamous Mew’s Truck theory lives on, as a supposed truck found outside of the S.S. Anne docking port sparked the interest of many players. Many people speculated that Mew was hiding under this truck due to the fact that it could not be moved, but Mew could not be found. The sheer popularity of this rumor still resonates years after its inception, however.


Trainer Battles and Poke Balls
Concept art of Poke Balls in Red and Blue depicted them not only in two pieces, but without a button in the center like the modern design. In addition, an interview with Tsunekazu Ishihara also revealed that a trainer battle was supposed to be triggered any time a player walked in front of them, regardless of a previous confrontation. This was removed from the final release, likely to make grinding out Pokemon levels harder. From a personal standpoint, the added challenge of only battling a trainer once makes for an interesting experience, one that relies on a solid understanding of team building and Pokemon frequency in battle.


Unused Items
According to the internal data of Pokemon Red and Blue, Badges were originally going to be obtainable Key Items, before the decision to limit them to their own Badge Case was official. For example, the BoulderBadge and CascadeBadge had index numbers 0x15 and 0x16, respectively, designating a spot in the player’s bag. It was found that using these items in battle allow the player to throw Bait and Rocks, like in the Safari Zone battle. When being used in the overworld, the music would switch to the Guidance theme, or the Opening theme in the dungeon. These were, of course, not intended features, thus justifying the movement of the badges to a specialized case.

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Another Key Item with the index number 0x07 allowed the player to Surf without a Pokemon, and supposedly was known as the Surfboard. The Pokedex also appeared as a Key Item and could be used during battle, much like Ash in the anime, to gather data on your opponent’s Pokemon. This would have been an interesting feature to be implemented, but may have been too complicated for beginners to get familiarized with.


Another item known as the Coin served no purpose whatsoever, as it could not be used for slot machines. Aside from that, data for TMs 51-55 could be found, containing the effects of HMs 01-05: Cut, Fly, Surf, Strength, and Flash. Each could be sold and bought, though this would take away from the element of gathering the HMs and requiring badges to utilize them.


Professor Oak Battle
Professor Oak had three different teams of five Pokemon programmed into the game, surpassing even Champion Blue in terms of their levels. This suggests that he could have been confronted somewhere later in the postgame. He was supposed to battle trainers using a Level 66 Tauros, a Level 67 Exeggutor, a Level 68 Arcanine, a Level 70 Gyarados, and a Level 69 Pokemon that corresponded with the final evolution of your starter.


Unused Type, Class, and Move
Data from Pokemon Red and Blue shows that a type known as the Bird-type was supposed to make it into the game, but may just have been an early version of the Flying-type. However, MissingNo. is listed as a Bird/Normal Pokemon when digging into the game files, so it may have been a glitch or scrapped type rather than a prototype one.

The Chief Trainer class was also supposed to make it into the final game, and can only be accessed through modifying the game’s data. It appears to have the same sprite as the Scientist class, and its Japanese name (Silph’s Chief) hints that the President of the Silph Corporation was intended to be battled.


The game files also show that there was supposed to be an HM between Fly and Surf, as evidenced by the unused text “Ground rose up somewhere!” The exact name of this HM is unknown, however.

There are already a plethora of changes from Pokemon Red and Blue‘s original versions compared to the final release, but there is still plenty to cover! Check back next Friday for the second part of this Beta Features article, where I will be covering unused locations, text, and even Pokemon names.


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