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I always wanted to experience the life of a Pokémon. Being a trainer and giving your Pokémon all sorts of commands they are forced to follow is fun, but it won’t take long before you start wondering how a Pokémon goes through his life before being captured by a trainer. The video game in question: The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. I don’t even know where to begin expressing my love for this game, so I won’t. I’ll just delve right into my story.

Because there’s indeed a reason why I’m telling you all of this. Lately I have experienced something, something shocking. My favorite games in the series would definitely be “Explorers of Time” and “Explorers of Darkness”. Later on they also released a sister game called Explorers of Sky. They didn’t alter the storyline or anything, (which I didn’t have a problem with, because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”) But they did add some cool features like: Spinda’s café, a few new dungeons and the best off them all: the special episodes.

I just loved how these gave backstories to some of the main characters. Bidoof, Wigglytuff, Grovyle, Dusknoir and even Sunflora received more depth because of these and went from characters to more than just characters. You started caring about them more than you already did. But I always felt as if one character was missing. Someone important, mysterious: your partner. Where did he come from? What are his motives to become an explorer? These were only some of the questions I constantly asked myself while playing the game for the hundredth time or something. And all those questions were about to be answered.

I was checking out some of my favorite video game related websites to get some more information on the recently announced Pokémon X and Y games, when I stumbled upon an announcement for a new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky event. It was about a new special episode. They wouldn’t give away who it was centered around, but it would happen today and I was already excited. Since this was an official event, I decided to go to my local game store. They were always up to date and would have certainly heard of the announcement already. Apparently I wasn’t the only one interested in the special mission. There was a whole crowd surrounding the shop, which made me feel good. Despite the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series selling really well, they weren’t as popular as the main games and I would always feel alone, like I was the only person playing this game. Luckily that clearly wasn’t the case anymore.

The manager gave us instructions on how to connect to the Internet and what steps to follow to eventually become the end result: a special mission called “Ethan’s confession”. I almost jumped for joy when I read the title. Ethan was my partner’s name. I would finally get the backstory I was always waiting for. I instantly ran back to my home, which was only two blocks, and started the mission.

It started off as normal with the centered character telling the player about his experiences with the main characters and how they changed him.

But one textbox startled me, saying: “I haven’t been completely honest with Alex, (my character’s name) because I am also a human.”

This was a huge confession, since that means he had been lying to the main character the whole time. Even I wouldn’t have guessed that. He continued with telling that he voluntarily left the world of the humans. Was that even possible? You, in-game, and Grovyle had suffered the same fate, but it didn’t happen voluntarily in their case. After the screen had faded to black, a flashback began.

I wasn’t in control of the character yet. Ethan was now in his human form and was walking with two other people, named Sam and Kyle. The human sprites were similar to the ones from the Pokémon Ranger games, only their clothing was different. Ethan was wearing a pair of shorts and a blue T-shirt. Kyle was wearing a green sweater and jeans. Sam had sunglasses on, which was an instant eye-catcher for me. Other than that he had a yellow hoodie and blue pants. They were just walking through a town apparently having a great time, since they did almost nothing but laughing at each other’s jokes. Sam and Kyle went ahead while Ethan stood still in front of a shop.

A textbox said: ”Those fools soon won’t have anything to laugh about anymore.”

It sounded sinister. A little bit too sinister for a game like this.

Eventually Ethan caught up to his friends and said: “You know what would be a great idea? We should go camping!”

Sam and Kyle happily agreed with the idea, showing this by nodding heavily. They responded with: “We’re going to pack. See you in an hour or so.”

They left and Ethan was alone now. I was finally in control of the character when the cutscene ended. For some reason I instantly checked his inventory. My fear suddenly became reality. He was carrying one item with him: a knife. As if seeing the knife was some kind of cue, the screen went to black.

When it faded back in, it showed the three friends all geared up. They seemed ready to go “camping”. But I knew what was going to happen, so did Ethan. They found a good spot and set up their gear: tents, sleeping bags, even a campfire. Sam and Kyle quickly fell asleep. The rhythmic snoring animation and sound felt soothing, but it couldn’t distract me. Ethan started talking again.

“You’re probably wondering what my motives are. I’ll tell you. I hate those two, but they don’t know. They wouldn’t care. They don’t care at all! Sam and Kyle pretend to be my friends. No, not even that. They don’t even take the effort to act as if they care about me! In Kyle’s case, if I and Sam would be hanging from a cliff, he would save Sam first and leave me there for dead. The same for Sam, if this would happen to Kyle too. They would abandon me as soon as they got a chance! At least, not if I abandon them first.”

I could control the character, only partially though. I couldn’t move, despite all my attempts. The sick memory came back to me. The knife in my inventory. I checked if I could open the menu. All options were disabled except for “Items”. I chose it and got greeted by no other item than the same knife. I hoped it would’ve been gone, but it wasn’t. One choice was given to me when I picked the object: Use. It didn’t trigger a cutscene though. I was still in control, only I could now also move.

I approached the two, slowly, as I had been told by Ethan. It only came to me now that every footstep you take, while running, triggers a sound that could possibly wake Sam or Kyle up. Although I didn’t know for sure, I wasn’t going to take any risks. I felt disgusted, but what should I have done then. I came closer and closer, slowly, until my finger slipped resulting in my character sprinting forward. Only for a bit, but I heard the crack of a twig and as expected they woke up.

Finally this nightmare would be over. Maybe it was even scripted. But, to my surprise, Sam backed off and fell down the cliff they were camping next to, completely unexpected. Kyle jumped after him, presumably to save him. Ethan looked shocked, so was I. He ran away from the place. You think he would be relieved by now, it was over, he had done it, but it seemed like he was about to cry. Tears were flowing down his cheek. Sobbing he said: “What is this feeling? I thought this was what I wanted. Was it? I don’t know anymore. What is this feeling?” Regret, I mouthed right before the screen faded to black again.

It was raining, thunder, lightning. Someone begging not to let go. This cutscene, the opening cutscene from the 2nd generation of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. Grovyle, the main character. Sam, Kyle. Everything suddenly fell into place. Sam and Kyle didn’t die. They fell in the water after Ethan had approached them with the knife. That way they eventually stranded on a beach, turned into a Pokémon. But what about Ethan?

“I eventually wanted to drown myself after experiencing this… Emotion.” Ethan was once again speaking “But suddenly a storm arrived and I was swung all over the place. I passed out. When I woke up I wasn’t floating in the water anymore. I hit solid ground, well actually it was sand. My body felt different. I was smaller than I used to be. I had a tail. I also had claws and my skin was blue. I had turned into a Pokémon. A Totodile to be more precise. I immediately jumped up though, despite all my bruises and wounds, when I saw a yellow figure, a Pikachu, Sam. I went hiding. He seemed to be unconscious, so I approached him, very calmly though. I hoped he was still alive, and he was. Luckily he appeared to suffer from some kind of memory loss because of the accident. He didn’t remember me or what had happened. We eventually joined the guild and had a lot of fun. But all fun ended when we met Kyle again, who had turned into a Grovyle. He knew.”

“After all these adventures, the fun has to end,” said Ethan.

When the screen faded to black again. Grovyle, Kyle and Sam were sleeping. Ethan was holding the knife once again. There was something so ironic about a Pokémon that could use his teeth as a weapon, holding a knife. But I didn’t laugh. I was in control again. I didn’t want to do this. I wouldn’t. I won’t. I put my DS down and walked further away from it, until I knew for sure that it wasn’t going to pull some kind of trick like a loud screeching noise or something.

Surprisingly, a textbox appeared saying: “What are you waiting for? He knows. He can tell him. They would abandon me. Everyone would abandon me. I finally have good friends now. Don’t you feel any sympathy?” 

That hit me. I felt bad for him. It was true, he finally had good friends. I would ruin everything for him. I picked the DS up and started walking up to Kyle and Sam.

I would hurt them. I would sacrifice 2 lives to save one from repudiation. Was this the right thing to do? Would the opposite option be better.

I couldn’t think, Ethan was pressuring me by constantly repeating the same sentence: “Do it. Do it. Do it!”

I snapped. I completely lost it. I ran towards them effectively waking them up, but it was too late. He killed Sam first. Lying on the ground not moving a muscle. Kyle tried to jump away, but it was no use. He got hit and covered his wound that was heavily bleeding.

He said one last word before hitting the ground and never standing up again: “Why?”

Ethan responded: “I needed closure. Your past is your present and future, unless you find a way to eliminate it.” The game shut off.

I tried days to find a reason behind all of this. I went back to the game store and saw an angry mob in front of it. They probably suffered through the same experience. Surprisingly, that wasn’t what all the children were complaining about. I their cases the special mission wouldn’t even work. I saw nobody who had actually played it. I was the only one, so I went back home and posted the event on several game-related forums. In the end I only got comments saying: “Dude, I want what you’re smoking.” Or “Yeah, sure, and the Tooth Fairy exists as well.” Eventually, I even sent Nintendo an email.

I got no response for a pretty long time, when I finally received an answer: “So, you were one of the lucky people to have suffered through my fate.”                                                                      

“Why?”                                                                                                                                                                                   

“Your past is your present and future, unless you find a way to eliminate it.”

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