CURSE of POKÉMON EMERALD: The Haunted Cartridge

It was 2021, and I was feeling nostalgic. I wasn't super into Pokemon anymore, but people kept talking about the cards and the Diamond and Pearl remakes, so I wanted to go back to one of the ones I never played: Pokemon Emerald. I had played Ruby and Sapphire before, but I heard the changes in Emerald were good enough to give it a shot.

I knew I would more than likely get a fake cartridge buying online, but I didn't mind as long as it wasn't Engrish or something. I didn't want to emulate either because my dad works at Nintendo and I didn't want to get him into trouble like I did when I was 12. Anyway, I got really lucky and found a listing online for only 40 bucks, so I soon had an Emerald cartridge in hand.

[Image: A picture of the Pokémon Emerald cartridge.]

It all seemed normal, and in pretty good condition. I really like how the old Pokemon carts are colored and how some of them are transparent too, it never sat right with me how they stopped doing that.

Anyway, I couldn't find my old GBA so I had to use my old modded DS to be able to play it. It let me take screenshots too, which is pretty nice. I figured I could screenshot some of my gameplay just for fun and to show my friends.

[Image: A picture of the Pokémon Emerald title screen.]

The title screen is surprisingly nice. I really enjoy the colors.

[Image: "So it's EMERALD?", addressing the female protagonist sprite.]

I started the game with the female character because I think she's cuter, and because I never really liked the male one's weird hat-hair thing. I also named her Emerald, because it's been my tradition since Red and Blue to name the character whatever color the game is. With that, it was time to begin.

[Image: "Fugiiiiih!", said by the moving company Vigoroth in the protagonist's house.]

I forget the name of these things, but it's pretty neat that they're moving the boxes into the house instead of Machoke. A gen 3 Pokemon instead of a gen 1 one.

[Image: "Hello! You over there! Please! Help!", said by Professor Birch as a Zigzagoon bullies him.]

I guess Prof Birch is being chased by a Zigzagoon now too? It never made much sense to me that these things would be intimidating, though I guess I'd run if a dog or raccoon was after me, too.

[Image: "Do you choose this POKéMON?", indicating Mudkip.]
[Image: "MUDKIP used TACKLE!", reducing Zigzagoon's HP to 0.]

I chose Mudkip because he's the best starter, and he easily took care of that Zigzagoon.

[Image: "MUDKIP used TACKLE!", reducing Treecko's HP to 0.]
[Image: "MUDKIP gained 69 EXP. Points!"]

I also easily defeated Brendan, and got some really nice exp points. After that, I went back to the lab, got poke balls, and was free to leave the town to go to the next city.

[Image: A battle with a wild lv4 Ralts.]
[Image: "Gotcha! RALTS was caught!"]

On the way to Petalburg the first wild Pokemon I found was Ralts, which is really good because Gardevoir is one of my favourites. I caught it really easily, too.

[Image: After being defeated by a Shroomish, "EMERALD is out of usable POKéMON!"]

I lost one battle on the way, but that's just because I haven't played Pokemon for a while. This Shroomish just got lucky.

[Image: "You're either a rookie TRAINER, or maybe you're just an ordinary kid.", said by Scott in Petalburg City.]

I didn't remember this guy being here, so I guess he's new to Emerald? He seems like kind of a d*ck to be honest.

[Image: The protagonist standing in front of the door to Rustboro City's gym.]

Anyway, the next route and the forest seemed the same as I remembered it from Ruby and Sapphire, so I just kept going until I got to the gym. Some really weird sh*t was about to go down, though.

[Image: The interior of Rustboro Gym, with no trainers whatsoever.]
[Image: The interior of Rustboro Gym, with Roxanne missing from her pedestal.]

It did look a bit different from how I remembered it, but the gym was also completely empty. There was no trainers and no gym leader. I figured it was just a part of the new story changes, so I kept going and assumed the gym leader would be there again soon.

[Image: The route to the right of Rustboro City, where two trainers are challenging the protagonist to a battle at the same time.]
[Image: A double battle with Hiker Clark and Youngster Johnson.]

I'd heard about this one, two trainers can now see you at the same time and start a double battle. Pretty cool.

Anyway, I checked the tunnel but that old man wasn't there and neither were Peeko or the Team Aqua grunt.

[Image: Rusturf Tunnel, "It's a rugged rock, but a POKéMON may be able to smash it."]

I was really confused by this, so I just started talking to everyone and even when to the Devon Corp building to see if there was something I could do there.

[Image: Devon Corporation building, "I'm sorry, only authorized people are allowed to enter here."]

No dice whatsoever. At this point, I had no idea what I was meant to do to be able to battle the gym leader.

[Image: A text entry field, "POOPOO PEEPEE"]
[Image: Walda's father in Rustboro City, "I've been saying "POOPOO PEEPEE" to amuse her lately."]

They had a thing where you could write text in Rustboro City, so I wrote the most obscene thing I could think of. I really hope my dad doesn't find this page.

[Image: Scott in Rustboro City's Trainer School, "Let me introduce myself. My name's SCOTT."]

I did find this Scott guy again and he told me to try using Cut, so I grabbed the HM from another house and taught it to a random Pokemon.

[Image: The Pokémon party screen. Zigzagoon is selected, and the cursor is on the move Cut.]
[Image: "This can't be used until a new BADGE is obtained."]

I'm not kidding when I say I tried literally everything, and NOTHING was letting me progress in the game. I talked to everyone multiple times, I went in the gym again several times to check, I tried using Cut over and over, and still nothing. I was beginning to think that this game had actually been modified in some way to make it impossible or something, so the person selling it could prank the next buyer or something.

I was at a total loss. So I did what any sane person would do in this situation.

[Image: "Wild MARILL appeared!", but the actual Pokémon displayed is Mewtwo.]
[Image: Mewtwo's status screen. Its name is still displayed as "MARILL".]

I hacked a wild Mewtwo, caught it with a Master Ball, levelled it up a few times, and used a walk-through-walls code to cross the sea.

[Image: The protagonist is walking on the sea, and being approached by a swimming trainer who wants to battle.]
[Image: Mewtwo is facing an actual Marill, whilst Mewtwo's name still displays as "MARILL".]

I'm not sure why the game thought Mewtwo's name was Marill, but I guess it is pretty funny. I still had my normal Pokemon, but having Mewtwo let me cross the sea safely without fainting a million times.

[Image: The protagonist walking on the beach north of Dewford Town.]

I had made it to Dewford island without needing to use the boat, and I was feeling pretty good about it. My blood was soon about to run cold however.

[Image: The trendy phrase guy in Dewford Town. "Wherever you're from, "RUN AWAY NOW""]

This line of text really, really startled me for some reason. I knew it was definitely just a coincidence, so even though it didn't seem right, I just kept going and ignored it.

[Image: Mewtwo after having defeated Brawly.]

Anyway the gym seemed normal but had an extra double battle that wasn't in Ruby and Sapphire. I levelled up my Mudkip and Ralts in there but ended up having to use Mewtwo for the gym battle because they fainted.

[Image: The protagonist's Trainer Card. They have just one badge, and it's the second one on the list.]

I finally got my first badge. The boat still wasn't there at Dewford Town, so I used a walk-through-walls code again to cross the sea to Slateport. Even if some guy had messed with this cartridge or whatever, I still wanted to play the game.

[Image: The protagonist crossing the sea between Dewford and Slateport, with the Abandoned Ship looming above.]
[Image: The protagonist next to the lighthouse in Slateport City.]

I got into a few battles on the way, but Mewtwo took care of them. Anyway, I was now in Slateport City, and I was really hoping the game would go back to normal after this and let me progress as normal. I know I hadn't played Emerald before, but the weird missing gym leader stuff didn't seem right.

[Image: Team Aqua queueing in front of the Oceanic Museum in Slateport.]
[Image: Captain Stern in the Oceanic Museum, "Yes? If you're looking for STERN, that would be me."]

Luckily for me, the game seemed to think I had the Devon Goods even though I didn't have them, and I was able to fight Team Aqua.

[Image: "Player defeated TEAM AQUA GRUNT!"]
[Image: "Congratulations! Your MUDKIP evolved into MARSHTOMP!"]

My Mudkip finally evolved too, so I was really happy. It finally felt like I was getting somewhere in this weird, seemingly-broken game. I kept going, battled Brendan with his weird hat-hair, and soon made it up to Mauville City.

[Image: Brendan, after being defeated by Mewtwo. "Hmm... You're pretty good."]

I entered Mauville City, started walking tot he Pokemon center, and...

[Image: Roxanne walking out of the Poké Mart, with an exclamation point over her head.]

The first gym leader was here, for some godforsaken reason. She walked out of the poke mart, quickly spotted me, and walked down to talk to me.

[Image: Roxanne in front of the protagonist.]

She actually had a LOT of things to say, so I'll just copy them down here:

ROXANNE: Hi, you look like a strong trainer. Would you be interested in battling at my GYM?
Huh? You say the GYM is empty? But we lock the doors whenever we leave.
...Oh no! If somebody finds the switch, then...!
Excuse me, I really need to leave, it's an emergency.

She flew away quicker than I could screencap, but now I was really intrigued. I would probably be able to battle at the Mauville gym, but whatever was happening with Roxanne seemed way more interesting. I still didn't have Rock Smash, but I used the walk-through-walls code again to take a shortcut through the Rusturf Tunnel.

[Image: The protagonist walking through walls in the Rusturf Tunnel, bypassing the rocks blocking the way.]

Once again, I was in Rustboro City, in front of the gym, and I had no idea what to expect.

[Image: The protagonist standing in front of the Rustboro City Gym once more.]

I was really excited to finally see what kind of new plot was happening here, but for some reason, there was also a cold feeling growing in my stomach.

The gym was still empty, but when I walked up to the podium I noticed a small tunnel had appeared.

[Image: The Rustboro City Gym, with a tunnel with a ladder in the top right corner. The lighting is a bit darker than usual.]

It felt like the gym had gotten darker for some reason. I thought to myself, maybe it was just me, maybe it was just my imagination. With no other way to go, I let my curiosity get the better of me and I descended the stairs.

[Image: A dark, ominous tunnel, with Wally lying in a corner.]

It was some kind of weird dark tunnel, and that was spooky enough. But my eyes were immediately drawn to Wally laying on the ground, where his sprite looked greyscale and his eyes were closed. My heart pounding, I quickly ran up to him to speak to him.

[Image: The protagonist talks to Wally, who says: "RUN AWAY NOW"]

I felt chills just reading his words. What on earth had happened to poor Wally? I kept trying to tell myself that this was clearly some kind of edgy romhack that someone had made and that I was just being pranked big time by some hacker out there. But at the same time, I was feeling really creeped out. I probably should have turned the game off at this point and got an actual legitimate Emerald, but I felt compelled to see how far this went.

[Image: A very long corridor with Sky Pillar markings on the ground.]

I ended up in a really really long corridor that kept going for like five minutes, my feeling of dread slowly intensifying. The markings on the floor felt familiar for some reason, but I couldn't remember why.

[Image: A mirror blocks the way to a narrow, continuing part of the corridor.]

Eventually the corridor narrowed, as I stumbled upon a shining, bright mirror. This seemed really unusual and out of place, all things considered, but there was nothing else I could possibly interact with after so much walking. It seemed obvious that this mirror was meant to be checked.

I pressed A on the mirror. And I was immediately horrified.

This mirror... showed a picture of me.

[Image: A box on the screen displays the Pokémon Trubbish.]

I cried out in shock and disbelief, an icy feeling of fear surging through my whole body. How was this possible?? How did the game have an exact photo of me? Every cell in my body was begging me to stop playing, to throw the game away and be done with it. But I kept going.

The mirror somehow dissapeared when I talked to it, so I just kept walking and walking.

[Image: Roxanne in the midst of the endless corridor, facing the protagonist.]

Roxanne was in the corridor up ahead. I felt some small sense of relief, but I was still absolutely terrified by this point. Once again, she had several things to say to me.

ROXANNE: ...You really shouldn't have come here.
That poor trainer stumbled into here, and now...

She walked ahead and my character automatically followed, and Roxanne stopped every now and then to say more things.

ROXANNE: I was born into a family of mystics. Our job has always been to protect the tunnel sealing this place off.
We even lock the GYM with a special seal.
...But, I think it got sabotaged while I was away.
This shouldn't be able to happen, but now...
Now it's my responsibility to fix all of this.

She paused for a moment, looking to the side.

ROXANNE: Deep within these tunnels, it was sealed away.
DEATHKILL... the lord of DEATH.
Even as we walk, can you feel its presence?
I may not make it out of here, but I and my POKéMON will do our duty to protect you, and to protect HOENN.

I felt absolutely sick, my heart racing and my head spinning. Every moment deeper into this labyrinth filled me with more and more dread. I had no choice but to trust Roxanne.

ROXANNE: ...We're here. Prepare yourself.

The thin corridor finally opened up into a room, a room containing a sickening and foul creature. That was the moment that I first saw DEATHKILL.

[Image: Roxanne, Nosepass and the protagonist facing a stark white creature resembling a white Rayquaza with black markings.]

From the small screen of my game boy, it emitted such an extreme amount of malevolence that I started crying without realising. This creature was unmistakably evil, and its red eyes seemed to pierce through my soul. I frantically tried to switch my game off, but the sheer force of its evil power stopped the game from being powered down. I even ripped out the cartridge, but the foul creature merely chuckled at my efforts.

Roxanne had already summoned her Pokemon to help ward off this cursed beast, but before I knew it it did something I never would have expected.

...It LEAPT out of my screen at me, manifesting directly in the real world to attack me.

I hope you understand there was no way I could take screencaps or photos of this, because this thing was absolutely brutal. DEATHKILL clawed at me, breathed white flames that seemed to scorch me to my very soul, and absolutely trashed my small room with its thrashing and writhing. I wasn't just about to give up and die, though - with all the strength I could muster, I grabbed the awful serpent and threw it against the walls over and over, hitting it as hard as I could. It clawed and threw its hands at me again and again, but I slapped them away with as much energy as I could muster. I grabbed my computer chair, and repeatedly smashed it against the head of the vile creature.

I was exhausted beyond exhausted. I hadn't even left my house for a year, yet alone battle a serpentine hellbeast. But, help was at hand.

Somehow, with its power, Nosepass reached through the DS screen and grabbed DEATHKILL, pulling it back into the game and doing something incredible, something that shocked me to my very core.

Nosepass SUPLEXED the demon into the ground, defeating it instantly.

[Image: Nosepass suplexing DEATHKILL with all of their might!]

I shrieked and hollered and cheered, ecstatic to be rid of this nightmare. But with DEATHKILL defeated, its power could no longer force the game to keep running. My DS immediately shut off, putting an end to its evil.

I fell backwards onto my bed, drenched in sweat and trembling from adrenaline. It was all over. I could only hope that in their own world, Roxanne, Nosepass and Wally would all be okay.

I was safe from the curse of DEATHKILL, but unfortunately not safe from the wrath of my dad. He came home and saw that my room had been utterly demolished, AND that I had a cursed game cartridge, and as a result I was grounded for fifty years. Nintendo also noticed I had an illegal cursed cartridge, so they no longer let my dad bring home unreleased games early for me to play (such as Metroid Prime 4 and Pikmin Kart DX). In many ways, it was a fate worse than death.

For personal reasons I soon became a skeleton, but that had nothing to do with the game. All in all, Roxanne and Nosepass saved my life and I had a good time. 10/10 game, highly recommended, but DON'T PLAY THIS GAME if your dad works at Nintendo or else you'll never play a video game again. Thanks!

Page originally published on 1st April 2021 at 05:36 UTC.