There isn't a Pokémon fan around that hasn't at least heard of Missingno. Especially for kids playing Pokémon Red and Blue for the first time, Missingno. was not only exciting but decidedly creepy, to boot, sparking some of the series' original dark lore and continuing to spawn creepypastas today. Why wouldn't it? A strange series of actions in a game spawns this mass of glitched-out pixels and catching it does weird things to your game file?
Anyone, especially a fresh-faced kid, would find their mind racing with all sorts of disturbing theories and explanations.
Though we've since discovered the exact reasoning and coding processes that create Missingno. (as well as its many brothers and sisters), its legend will never be forgotten. In fact, one zealous Missingno. fan has gone so far as to add Missingno. into a modern Pokémon game! And quite effectively, too.
Missingno. Goes Next Gen!
If you thought you'd seen every form of Missingno., just wait until you see it in 3D!
YouTube user (and bona fide game hacker) VGMoose has created the 3D monstrosity from scratch (using the program SketchUp), then used open-source 3DS extraction tools such as Ohana3DS to pull out the code from Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and switch an existing Pokémon's model for his custom Missingno. skin.
“It was kind of a trial-and-error learning experience. I had to do a lot of research about 3D modeling to make the model, then apply the texture so it looked right in the game. It’s still not perfect, but a little glitchiness is forgivable when it comes to Missingno.”
The makeover and name change aren't the only things VGMoose implemented in the game. To further enhance that "Missingno. Experience," he even added in some dialogue (with very specific choices) and the traditional "surf up and down along the coastline" schtick to resemble the original method of spawning a Missingno. It's quite the homage to the little backwards-L-shaped mish-mash of pixels!
Missingno. in Pokémon Red and Blue
The history of Missingno. is as hair-raising as it is fascinating. I didn't even know much of the story behind it myself (which resulted in me spending hours reading about and still not fully understanding the process)!
Missingno.'s existence can attribute itself to a coding glitch. A rather complicated coding glitch, I might add (as well as one I still don't understand how people found in the first place!).
You see, each Pokémon has an index number, and amongst that list of 151 Pokémon available in the original games, there are "placeholders," no doubt due to Pokémon being deleted or replaced. Though these Pokémon themselves no longer exist, their index numbers remain. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, as nothing in the game will ever try and access those index numbers!
Or so they thought...
Enter the "Old Man Glitch," as it's come to be called. In Viridian City is an old man who'll teach you about catching Pokémon. During that scene, the player's image will temporarily change into an Old Man for a short battle with a Weedle, along with the player's name, which will become "OLD MAN."
So as not to lose the custom name you gave yourself, the game will save the data for your name temporarily. Because Viridian City is, well, a city, and thus doesn't need to store any data for wild Pokémon, the game uses this space to store the information for your name.
Now, normally, as soon as you move to an area with new wild Pokémon data, everything will refresh itself. Your name will be your name again, and the proper wild Pokémon data will be loaded. BUT! What if you flew to another area with no wild Pokémon data, and what if that specific area accidentally had a few tiles with wild Pokémon?
Such is the case with Cinnabar Island. The shores of Cinnabar Island were incorrectly labeled as "grass" within the game, meaning that wild Pokémon will spawn there if you surf along it. However, as this area is not normally supposed to spawn wild Pokémon, it doesn't have any wild Pokémon data programmed into it. Meaning? That it will automatically use the last wild Pokémon data available. So as you're surfing along that coast, you'll run into Pokémon from the previous area you explored.
This is still not too glitchy, right? (though it does allow you to tackle some of those Safari Pokémon in a normal battle!) BUT! If you've just flown there after talking to the Old Man and having, that's right, the wild Pokémon data replaced with your name, weird things are going to start happening. It's going to start spawning Pokémon by their index numbers based on the letters of your name! And when some of those index numbers refer to deleted Pokémon, well, that's how Missingno. appears!
There are a couple different variations of Missingno. depending on which index number is called, as well as which version of the game you're playing (the Missingno. in Pokémon Yellow, for instance, uses Pikachu's color palette), but they generally all follow the same patterns (and have the power to severely glitch or freeze your game).
One of the most useful aspects of the glitch comes from its ability to cause another glitch—the item duplication glitch. Running from, defeating, or catching a Missingno. will give you 128 copies of the item in your sixth item slot! Many players would use this to get 128 rare candies, which is why "rare candy glitches" is the dialogue choice to spawn Missingno. in VGMoose's easter egg.
An "Official" Missingno.? Maybe, Maybe Not
Though the Missingno. glitch has been mentioned and commented upon by representatives of Game Freak and Nintendo, Missingno. itself has never been acknowledged in a Pokémon game. Personally, I feel like adding in some creepy, mysterious lore, perhaps revealing a form of what Missingno. was supposed to be, or even just peppering an easter egg or two into the games would be a great way for the developers to connect with the fanbase, especially for something so widely known and loved by Pokémon fans everywhere.
In the end, though, we'll just have to wait and see. Pokémon Sun and Moon is already advertising itself as the throwback to the original games we've all been waiting for (especially now with the inclusion of grown-up Red and Blue!), so it could be the perfect opportunity for at least a reference to the beloved glitch Pokémon. As VGMoose puts it:
“People were speculating that Missingno might become ‘official,’ and I’ve always thought that would be cool. So I think doing a pretend event along those lines would be a fun wish-fulfillment mod.”
Watch the full video of Missingno. in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire below:
For more glitchy Pokemon goodness on Now Loading:
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- Here's How To Catch The Mew That's Been Eluding You For 20 Years