What Dreams May Come: Prototype Data for Pokémon Red and Green

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.

-Hamlet, Hamlet

So… you may have watched the Pokéthon broadcast, and read the documentation, and you may be expecting some explanations. We present to you the preliminary rundown and analysis of all the prototype assets for Generation I games that we published right here.

As a response to some of the commentaries and criticisms of how we went about the release, we’ve added some notes and made some changes to this article. Pokéthon did not go exactly as planned; we had no intentions to trick the community, we’re a really small site and we couldn’t care less about views or clickbaity shenanigans. Our main aim is, and always will be, sharing our findings with the community as soon as we prove their legitimacy. No one on the team has ever released something of this magnitude, so we’re learning from this mistake in communication.
As a result, we’d like to apologize in that regard, and we’ve removed the fan names we made for the MissingNos and any references to our ‘restoration’ romhack’s interpretations from this article, in order to prevent any further confusion. There have also been some edits made for factual correction and clarification, naturally.

As there is an incredible amount of information to go through, this is only a summary of the most important parts of the prototype data given to us. We have no other data from this, as this is all that we were given. Additionally, the formats in which we were given the files were non-negotiable (i.e. ROMs were off the table).

Early Title Screens

Do these look familiar to you? We’ve seen both of these logos before: on the map sheet for Capsule Monsters, and the Kaiju Index’s cover. Rhyhorn looks like its early design, with no drill pattern on its horn.

No longer lost to printer ink
If only we had it in higher resolution… oh, wait

The MissingNo. Family Robinson

In general knowledge, MissingNo. is a glitch Pokémon created from garbage data. Through hints like the internal index order and leftover data, like cries, speculation arose that these were Pokémon that were deleted and overwritten. A few of the MissingNo. identities were already known from sources like Satoshi Tajiri’s recently published biographical manga and an NHK broadcast that revealed some early Capumon designs. The information that we received served to further unmask the cut Pokémon. MissingNo. was never Ho-Oh, Lugia, Nidogod, Pikablu, Togepi, Yoshi, Charcolt, or Venustoise…….. it was these guys. And we’re so glad to have them back. For the most part, we only got back sprites, not front sprites, so we had to take some liberties as to what these Pokémon resembled or were based on, and recreated them for the Pokéthon presentation. For the purpose of clarity, there is no fanmade content in this article.

There’s only three unidentified MissingNo. left, not counting revisions that were overwritten or the Fossil/Ghost sprite slots

21 (Omega), who we all know and love, isn’t here because Mew overwrote its spot! However, its name is found in the cry list. Omega, seen in the Capumon pitch documents, is based pretty heavily on robotic kaiju such as Mechagodzilla.

Red and Green’s early sprite style often resembles super-deformed versions of kaiju characters.
Gyaoon’s front sprite from the Tajiri Manga

31 (Gyaoon) – Gyaoon (originally Gyace), the second Capumon sprite, has had a rocky history, and seems to have inspired Tyranitar later on. We also know from the Game Informer cry list that it once had Ivysaur’s original cry. Its backsprite may reflect changes that were made to its design by the time of the Tajiri Manga poll. As we already know from our analysis of the index list changes, Gyaoon was plucked from slot 1 of the list fairly early on and caused a small restructuring of the index order. It’s possible that another Pokémon was originally in slot 31, and then it was deleted to make room for Gyaoon’s newer design.. and then even that was deleted. Woo-hoo.

32 (Nidorino Lookalike) is probably an earlier spot for Nidorino. It has two horns on its back, like Nidorina, and has Nidorino’s general body shape and ears. It also looks like a bigger Nidoran M…. Like Shellos and Gastrodon, maybe Nidorino and Nidorina were once one, but…. How would that even work? Why did it change? Nidorino and Nidorina’s final spots are very late, right after Raticate; perhaps the final Nidorino overwrote a third Rattata-line evolution…?

Barunda’s front sprite from the Tajiri Manga.

50 (Barunda) – Barunda ended up being in a different slot than our hypothesized slot 81 (which is where Mikon is). All of the Pokémon seen in the Tajiri Manga were pretty close together index number-wise, it seems. We are aware of Barunda’s name because it was voted for in the Tajiri Manga’s ballot. Jigglypuff was probably the other potential design for Barunda, as there were (a) and (b) designs at the time of the manga poll, and Jigglypuff ultimately seemed to have been preferred over Barunda.

The name “Buu” from the Tajiri Manga ballot

52 (Buu?) – You can say a lot about this one right away. Its design is sure to bring up some… conversations. The missing ‘Ice Punch Yokai’, and possibly Jynx’s male counterpart, MissingNo. 52 is very unfortunate. We think it was inspired by “Woo”, a similar yeti-like kaiju with a dark face from Ultraman. Woo was actually a female of its species, which may explain the nature of Jynx, and perhaps also the reason for 52’s removal. As a bonus, if its name is really “Buu” (seen in the Tajiri Manga poll as a name on the ballot), it’s an obvious play on “Woo” – and it stands between “Elebuu” and “Buuber” in the index, bridging the names of the trio. If there’s anything that we’ve learned from this, it’s that the Game Freak staff adored Ultraman.

Deer’s name and front sprite from the Tajiri Manga

56 (Deer) – Deer’s here. Its backsprite doesn’t suggest that any changes happened to it between the Tajiri Manga and right before it was canned. It may have eventually been redesigned into S