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What Could Have Been / Pokémon Red and Blue

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Being the original titles in the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Red and Blue have the most changes by far. These changes date back to the series' earliest days as a concept called Capsule Monsters.

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    Capsule Monsters 
  • Red's original Capsule Monsters design had a Poké Ball on his hat and straight hair. This explains why Red's sprite displays these designs but not his official art.
  • Capsule Monsters concept art shows an unused cat Pokémon, a Godzilla-based Pokémon called "Godzillante", a gorilla Pokémon called "Gorillaimo", a dragon Pokémon that is likely an early version of Charizard, and a weird round Pokémon called "Kabiin". There's also concept art of an early Rhydon with a spiked shell on its back, a Lapras without its ears (and a horn on its nose), a Blastoise without cannons, a more kirin-looking Arcanine with hooves, and a prototypical Gyarados that looks like a giant eyeless worm.
  • An early version of Nidorino more resembled a reptile.
  • The logo to Capsule Monsters depicts a prototypical Rhyhorn without its horn.
  • Capsule Monsters era concept art shows a bald man working at a proto-Pokémart. This man resembles a man from the Game Freak game Quinty.
  • Concept art depicts eggs and newborn Pokémon. Despite this, breeding wouldn't be utilized until Gold and Silver.
  • Pokémon called "Firefly", "Green Dragon", and "Power King" are mentioned but not depicted, though it's possible that these were names of generic example Pokémon rather than any specific creatures.
  • Clefairy dates back to Capsule Monsters. It was cutened up for its finalized design.
  • Omuomu is a bird Pokémon that resembles Spearow, and may have been an earlier draft of it.
  • Early concept art for Gastly depicted it as made completely of gas, and as much larger than a human trainer. Its eyes also resembled those of a Koffing.
  • Originally there were no elemental typings, no evolutions, and no starters. It was also planned for there to be monsters that could not be caught, only fought as enemies.
  • Pokémon were going to be regularly bought and sold at shops. Each creature would have a base value using gold as the currency instead of pokédollars.
  • There was going to be a charisma stat tied to the player which would determine if they would be able to capture/recruit wild Pokemon.
  • Inns were going to be a major aspect that appeared in nearly every town. They would have provided healing before being seemingly replaced by Pokémon Centers. Curiously, Pokémon Centers double as inns for trainers in the anime.
  • According to old map designs, Celadon was going to have the harbor and Vermilion would have had the department store.

    Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue 
  • According to a 1996 Japan-exclusive handbook called the Pokédex, the Pokémon games were originally going to be set on an alternate version of Earth — hence the reference to real-world events and animals like Indian elephants. The early episodes anime occasionally make references to the handbook, such as including a descendant of one of the first scientists to study Pokémon.
  • Early promotional art suggests that a female player character was supposed to be available in the games. Her character design was similar to Green's (Blue in Japan) from the Pokémon Adventures manga. She ended up redesigned for FireRed and LeafGreen as the female protagonist "Leaf" and as "Green" in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!.
  • Cut characters and trainer classes:
    • Student was either an early Lass or an early Cool Trainer.
    • Shinjuku Jack, modeled after Jacky Bryant from Virtua Fighter.
    • Firefighters were ultimately cut and had their index slot given to Psychics.
    • There's a trainer called Silph Chief who used what would become Blaine's final design. Blaine's original design was army-inspired, and it can still be found in the original games' manual, as well as the anime.
    • Yujirou is a young boy. His original sprite resembles a Youngster and has a "C" on it (for "Capsule Monsters"). His later redesign lacks a hat and has a badge on it, and Ken Sugimori's gym leader sketches show him labeled "1" before Brock, suggesting he would be battled in Viridian Gym early in the game.
    • Ichitarou is a prototypal version of Brock. He's a generic boy with a plain shirt and slightly spiky hair.
    • Umezou is a little boy who wears a cap with a badge on it.
    • Red's father was going to be a defined character, or at least mentioned.
  • Professor Oak was originally going to be an opponent in Red and Blue, using the last Pokémon neither the player nor rival chose and overall having a team stronger than the champion.note 
  • The "glitch Pokémon" Missingno exists 39 times in the code for the original games. Missingo is actually the remnant of 39 cut Pokémon. An interview with the designer of Ho-oh reveals that there were originally meant to be 190 Pokémon in the original games. The same people who discovered this information also discovered that the series was meant to end after Gold and Silver. Most of these Pokémon have been discovered, but three are still unknown:
    • "Omega" resembles a robotic kaiju. Mew overwrote it in the final product.
    • "Gyaoon" (originally called "Gyaasu") looks a lot like Tyranitar. It originally had Ivysaur's cry. There's also a Pokémon that seems to be its pre-evolution, and bears some resemblance to the iconic substitute doll.
    • Raichu originally had an evolution called "Gorochu". It had fangs sticking out of its mouth, a horn on its head, and looked like a Raijin. According to a developer interview, it was removed for balance reasons.
    • There's a Pokémon that looks exactly like a large male Nidorino. However, it doesn't appear to be either Nidorino or Nidorina.
    • Barunda is literally just a balloon. No clear images of its front sprite have been found, but it apparently had a face. Jigglypuff replaced it.
    • Buu is a yeti-like Pokémon that bears some resemblance to Jynx. It's inspired by Woo from Ultraman.
    • There is an unused deer Pokémon with a Kangaskhan-like face.
    • There's an unnamed elephant Pokémon with four tusks.
    • Crocky is an unused crocodile Pokémon. Its original design, as briefly shown in a bio manga about Satoshi Tajiri, had hair, however its sprite is a later design that features spikes instead.
    • There are two squid Pokémon, but it's unknown if they're simply similar looking or if they share an evolutionary family.
    • Cactus is, as its name implies, just a simple cactus Pokémon.
    • Jagg is an unused hammerhead shark/swordfish Pokémon.
    • Zubat originally had a pre-evolution. It was a simple-looking bat with a tiny little body and oversized wings.
    • There are two dark-colored fish Pokémon, possibly based on either flying fish or betta fish.
    • Mikon is an unused Vulpix pre-evolution. It has three white-tipped tails. This explains Vulpix's Pokédex entries mentioning Vulpix being born with white tails. Mikon was later going to be reused in Gold and Silver but was scrapped again.
    • There are two cut Pokémon with what appear to be Japanese-style topknots, though it's difficult to tell what they're meant to be with how little their low-resolution back sprites actually show.
    • There is a three-stage evolutionary line that appear to be vaguely reptilian in nature.
    • Psyduck was meant to have a three-stage evolutionary family. In between Psyduck and Goldduck was a Psyduck-looking Pokémon with a darker palette.
    • Konya is a Meowth pre-evolution. It was scrapped, was going to appear in Gold and Silver, but was scrapped again. Between the two designs, the original Konya had a longer, straighter tail. It was also larger than Meowth (because Meowth was originally larger than it ended up being).
    • There is a cut Magneton-looking Pokémon without its magnets, likely either a pre-evolution or middle evolution.
    • Marowak originally had an evolution. The evolution is depicted holding a baby Cubone, similarly to how Kangaskhan has its baby in a pouch.
    • Gyopin is an unused goldfish Pokémon that would have evolved into Goldeen. It was planned to be added in Gold and Silver as a baby Pokémon, but was scrapped again there.
    • Kotora is a tiger Pokémon. Its evolution Raitora has two separate designs: a round looking version that resembles Kotora and a more tiger-looking design. Kotora and Raitora were later reused for Gold and Silver (with Raitora's designs being combined) before ultimately being scrapped.
    • Puchicorn is a unicorn Pokémon that would have evolved into Ponyta. Yet another pre-evolution that was considered to be brought in as a baby Pokémon in Gold and Silver before being cut for good.
    • Wartortle's evolution was not originally Blastoise, instead bearing a much closer resemblance to Wartortle. Blastoise was part of a separate, two-stage family. For the final game they combined the families, ditching Blastoise's preevo and Squirtle original final stage. This explains the oddity of the Squirtle line gaining ears and a bigger tail in its second stage, only for them to shrink and change shape completely in its third stage.
  • Changed moves:
    • Flash was originally named "Squid Ink".
    • Substitute was originally named "Cast-off Cicada Shell".
    • There are three cut Fighting moves called "Punch", "Upper Cut", and "BaiBai Punch".
    • Hydro Pump was originally named "Hydro Jet".
    • "50Man Volt" is a cut stronger version of Thunderbolt.
    • "Mega Fire" is a cut Fire move.
    • There's a cut move just called "Honoo" (Fire). It made it into the trading-card game and was translated as "Flare".
    • Rock Throw was originally named "Rock Slide", a name later given to a stronger Rock-type move.
  • Redesigned Pokémon:
    • Early official art depicts Pikachu and Charizard's earlier designs. Pikachu is much larger and has a white spot on its stomach while Charizard has a larger lower jaw.
    • The original Red and Green website circa 1997 featured unused designs for Dragonair, Weedle, Poliwag, and Poliwrath. The most noticeable changes are that Dragonair has a striped back, Weedle is lacking stingers, Poliwag has a short tail instead of a fin, and Poliwrath is wearing a King's Rock-like crown.
    • Pikachu is based on a squirrel. Originally it was a vertically long daifuku rice confection with ears. As said before, a design with a white stomach existed prior to its finalized design. This design can be seen in early promotional art and (more finalized and smaller) in a 1996 New Years card distributed internally at Game Freak.
    • Scyther was originally a dragon with mantis elements instead of a mantis with dragon elements.
    • Arcanine was more kirin-like early in development and was named "Wing" instead of "Windie".
    • Tentacool was originally named "Ambler". It was more of a jellyfish/squid mix early on.
    • Gyarados was a large, worm-like creature.
    • The prototypical Seel, Pauwau, had a black face and spots on its back.
  • Originally, Mew was not planned to be programmed into the games as an actual Pokémon at all and was only supposed to be referenced in Pokémon Mansion texts. Shigeki Morimoto slipped Mew into the code just two weeks before the games were finished.
  • Red's prototypical design is referred to as "Yuuichi". Yuuichi looks a lot like Red, but lacks his Anime Hair and doesn't wear sleeves. He has two different sprites: one standing straight and the other with a Poké ball, whip, and his eyes shaded by his hat. It's likely that Red's sprite was meant to change as you progress, like how Blue has several sprites.
  • Most of Blue's sprites in RGB depict him with an Off-Model haircut, implying that was an earlier design that the devs didn't remove. Yellow and the remakes fixed it.
  • A lot of the early official artwork depicts Poké Balls as breaking in two when Pokémon are released. This dates back to Capsule Monsters.
  • According to the official website circa 1997, Weedle originally evolved into a Pokémon called "Kasanagi" and then an unnamed Pokémon. Noticeably, the last evolution resembles a cockroach, not a wasp.
  • Clefairy was the original planned mascot of the franchise, however the popularity of Pikachu led to it being the mascot. Predating both, Rhyhorn was seemingly a mascot as it was featured on two different early logos.
  • Pokémon trainers were originally called "dealers".
  • Agatha's original team consisted of the Eeveelutions and a Tauros.
  • Giovanni was originally a Flying-type trainer. He also originally wasn't a gym leader.
  • The various trainer classes had different Pokémon earlier in development. For examples, Youngsters used Bulbasaurs a lot.
  • Coding indicates that badges were at one point supposed to be items in your bag that could be used outside of battle similarly to the Hidden Machine moves, perhaps as a replacement for them.
  • Present in the coding is an unnamed item, referred to as the Surfboard by fans because it acted similarly to the Surf HM (whether it was meant as a usable item or simply a debugging tool is up for debate).
  • In Red and Blue/Green, you were originally going to be able to pull out your Pokédex in the middle of battle (like Ash Ketchum does in the anime) to refresh your memory on a Pokémon's type or see if you've caught it yet. But due to glitches, this was removed and left out of later games. They eventually settled on adding an icon to a wild Pokémon's health bar if you've already caught one of that species in later generations.
  • Trainer battles were originally going to trigger every time you entered line-of-sight instead of just the first time. Future games have this feature but only with certain trainer classes (such as Breeders).
  • HMs were originally normal TMs that could be purchased and sold just like the others. Looking at the index numbers of the HMs also reveal that there's an empty slot between Fly and Surf, suggesting that another was planned.
  • The English localization team considered making up Pokémon more muscular under the impression that Americans might not take well to "cute monsters".
  • Many Pokémon had different names planned for them in the English translation. These changes range from minor (i.e. Pidgey was going to be Pidge), slightly different versions of their original names (i.e. Kakuna was Kokoon, a corruption of its Japanese name Cocoon), completely different names (i.e. Tentacruel was Man O' War), or direct translations of their original Japanese (i.e. Chansey was going to be Lucky).
  • There were plans for Pokémon games to have multiple save files, but due to game space constraints, the developers were forced to choose either having multiple save files or being able to nickname your Pokémon. The developers chose being able to nickname your mons and haven't looked back since.
  • The gym coach was originally named "Danpei", after the coach from Ashita no Joe. He even had dark skin and wore an eyepatch like him, and was likely changed for copyright reasons.
  • There's an overworld sprite for a Virtual Boy in early versions of the game.
  • Blastoise's original name was "Caravaggio".
  • Concept art shows that Erika was originally the fifth gym leader.
  • Silph Co. was going to be the original host of the Pokémon League, in Saffron City. This likely means that it would have been the last city visited in the game, explaining why it's initially walled off in the final game, and why it's the last Fly spot. It also would have served as the final dungeon with each floor being based on the earlier "dungeons" in the game. The post game would have had a battle tower like set up as well, where the player would fight three trainers then one of the gym leaders, a la Pokémon Stadium. There were going to be wild Mewtwo on the top floor.
  • Individual mons retain their catch rate after you capture them. In the final game, this isn't used for anything (though if you trade them to and from a Gen II game those bits will be repurposed to preserve their hold item), but its inclusion suggests that at some point, the possibility was considered for enemy trainers to be able to steal your mons, with some method you'd use to mitigate this by reducing their catch rate. Or, admittedly, it might have been intended for something else entirely — the existence of the data is all we have to work with, after all.
  • The map for Capsule Monsters shows a city in the sea south of Celadon City, likely related to an unused fly location in the game which crashes the game when selected.
  • Moltres was going to have its own optional fire dungeon, but it was cut and moved to Victory Road. There it was going to have its own separate room, which also ended up getting cut.
  • There was going to be a town in an island west of Vermilion and south of Celadon. The player likely would have taken the S.S. Anne to it, and then to Celadon. When it was cut, the story progression was altered so that players would have to backtrack to Cerulean and take the Rock Tunnel to Lavender instead. This explains why the HM for Flash is labeled HM 05 despite being the second HM obtainable in the game (in this Generation, HMs are generally labeled in the order they're obtained) — originally Rock Tunnel would have been an optional dungeon (possibly even a late game dungeon, like the Power Plant), so Flash would have been a more optional move. It also explains why the player can visit the S.S. Anne but not board it when it embarks.

    Pokémon Yellow 
  • The source code for Yellow mentions a Pokémon Pink that was never released.
  • Various Pokémon were originally intended to use Pokémon Speak, many of which, if they had an English voice, retained their Japanese voice. In the final product, only Pikachu does.

    Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen 
  • LeafGreen was originally considered to be retitled to "WaterBlue" for the international releases to match how Red and Blue were the versions released outside of Japan instead of Red and Green. However, it was ultimately decided that the international releases would be titled the same as the Japanese release, as the Leaf in the title was supposed to symbolize peace in a world of friendly competition, and they also did not feel like redesigning the box art.


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