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What Are the Weird, Never-Before-Seen Pokémon the Internet Is in Love With?

who's that Pokémon screen

Video game news is working itself up to fever pitch right now as E3 2018 approaches, with pre-show game announcements accompanied by the usual surge of leaks, leaving everyone to wonder just what we have left to see during the actual show. (Still probably a lot.) For the second year in a row, we got some pre-E3 Pokémon news out of Nintendo, including several new game announcements, but fans’ imaginations have been captured instead by the series’ past—a part of it that never happened.

Unused Pokémon are nothing new. The original 151 Pokémon from the Game Boy versions of the game have become inextricably linked to the series at this point, but even those games were once intended to include more than that well-known number, supposedly 190 in total. The theory goes that these missing Pokémon even still had data positions held open for them in the game, leading to the MissingNo. glitch in all of its various forms, as well as that some of them may have been used in the Gold/Silver sequels. This isn’t exactly surprising, considering the original set of Pokémon went through many rounds of design and redesign as the series went from creator Satoshi Tajiri’s original ideas to the eventual reality.

But a lot of that process has been left to our imaginations, despite how enthusiastic we all are about the truth—as demonstrated by the reaction to the recent discovery of a Pokémon Gold demo version, complete with Pokémon that players never got to meet in the final release. The demo was originally playable at Nintendo’s Space World game show in 1997, but a copy of the ROM made it online just last week, and data-miners quickly discovered the previously unknown Pokémon.

Among them were more “baby” Pokémon forms, which Gold and Silver introduced for Pokémon like Pikachu (Pichu) and Jynx (Smoochum) along with the egg hatching mechanic, as well as alternate forms of Pokémon that eventually appeared in the game, and a lovably ridiculous evolution for the copycat blob Pokémon Ditto. Here’s the full, extensive list of unreleased Pokémon, broken down into categories:

Baby Pokémon:

  • Mikon, apparently a baby Vulpix, despite its seemingly accidental water typing.
  • Monja, a baby Tangela.
  • Gyopin, a baby Goldeen.
  • Para, a baby Paras.
  • Hinaazu, a baby Doduo.
  • Koonya, a baby Meowth.
  • Puchikoon, a baby Ponyta.
  • Betobebii, a baby grimer.
  • Pudi, a baby Growlithe.
  • Baririina, a baby Mr. Mime.

New evolved forms:

  • Jaranra, an evolved form of Tangela that would eventually become Tangrowth in later games.
  • Shibirefugu, a Qwilfish evolution that looks like a puffer fish. (Qwuilfish still doesn’t evolve to this day.)
  • Animon, the derpy, unicorn-horned Ditto evolution immediately beloved by all for its perpetual scream.
  • Tsubomitto, an alternate Weepinbell evolution through stone usage.
  • Madaamu, a Farfetch’d evolution. (Farfetch’d still has no official evolved form.)
  • Happii, an evolved Chansey that was eventually replaced by Blissey.
  • Purakkusu, a Pinsir evolution that never was.
  • Nameeru, an evolution of Lickitung that would be replaced generations later with Lickilicky.
  • Riifi, a grass-type Eevee evolution that would eventually be replaced by Leafeon’s debut in later generations.

Alternate starter Pokémon:

  • Hanamogura, appearing to be an evolved form of grass starter Chikorita that was later scrapped for Bayleef.
  • Honooguma, an adorable flaming teddy bear that looks kind of like someone set a small Raichu on fire, which seems to have been intended for fire starter Cyndaquil’s spot.
  • Borubeaa, Honooguma’s middle evolution.
  • Bainabea, Honooguma’s final form.
  • Kurusu, a seal that appears to have been the water starter before Totodile took its place. (A seal water started would eventually arrive with Popplio, generations later.)
  • Akua, Kurusu’s middle evolution.
  • Akueria, Kurusu’s final form.

All-new Pokémon:

  • Haneei, a water/flying Pokémon.
  • Manboo 1, a fish Pokémon.
  • Ikari, a shark Pokémon that’s mostly just a big shark head followed by an anchor. It evolves from Manboo 1, reminiscent of Carvanha/Sharpedo from later generations.
  • Gurotesu, a bizarre, eel-looking water/steel type.
  • Tsuinzu, a pair of connected ghost pokémon.
  • Rinrin, a dark cat.
  • Berurun, Rinrin’s evolved form.
  • Taaban, which appears to be a standalone version of the shell on a Slowbro’s tail.
  • Bomushikaa, a flaming seal that seems to be an unusual fire/water dual type.
  • Kotora, a stout, adorable electric tiger.
  • Raitora, its similarly chubby and cute evolved form.
  • Norowara, a creepy bear (panda?) doll with a nail through it. It’s a ghost type that apparently evolves at level 1. Maybe actually a “baby” Pokémon or some other special circumstance?
  • Kyonpan, its evolved, less unsettling form.
  • Urufuman, a fluffy little wolf.
  • Waaurufu, Urufuman’s more menacing fluffy little wolf evolution.

At a total of 41 different Pokémon out of Generation 2’s roughly 100 additions to the series, the list is kind of staggering. Even Pokémon that did appear in the final game had their sprites altered in mostly minor but sometimes major ways: an alternate Girafarig design appeared with its light/dark halves both looking more like the final design’s light half, Sneasel looked completely different, baby-Electabuzz Elekid looked like an adorable pointy-headed bee, Porygon2 was unrecognizable, and the “legendary beasts” Entei, Raikou, and Suicune underwent some big changes, just to name a few.

The full sprite sheet (complete with final product comparisons) is an incredible window into the design process that Pokémon games have gone through, and it only makes us wonder more about the Pokémon apparently missing from the originals. It’s also captured the heart of fans and resulted in some pretty wonderful fan art.

(featured image: The Pokémon Company)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.