Old Pokémon Gold and Silver Demos from 1997 Surface for the First Time Ever

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Pokémon has been around for over 20 years now, transcending time and evolving into a global phenomenon. Yet,we’ve rarely seen an inside look at what the game’s are before public release. That has all changed today, however: thanks to the folks at The Cutting Room Floor, and an anonymous poster with the original software, we now have a rare look at a demo version of Pokémon Gold and Silver. 

The real-colored sprites of unused Pokémon.

This version of the games was playable at Nintendo Space World 1997, which was, until its end in 2001, a version of E3 that was specific to Nintendo’s products and reveals.

One of the coolest parts about this surfacing is seeing all the changes that went into the final versions, respectively. Many Pokémon’s types were changed and sprites re-written, Routes around the map were moved, and trainers to battle were modified. While we’d like to dive into

Complete list of the sprites.

all the details, the best way to view all of the information on scraped Pokémon are accessible elsewhere. This information shows the transformations certain sprites–virtually all of them–underwent, and just how many little design aspects go into a Pokémon


That all said, feast your eyes on every sprite originally in Pokémon Gold and Silver, along with a sneak-peak at some of it. Here are some quick, random notes:

  • Lugia used to have a cat-like head
  • Kanto was merely a single town on the map
  • A list of original gym leaders, according to their sprites, hint at a different order than implented
  • The Elite Four were to be composed of Bruno, Misty, Lorelei, and Lance
  • Pinsir had an evolution
  • There were plenty of baby-Pokémon like Meowth, Paras, and Growlithe
  • The original map was to encompass all of Japan
  • Ditto–yes, Ditto–had an evolution
  • Umbreon was a poison-type

There is plenty of more information to be found within, all with speculation attached. It’s hard to imagine a game where all of these Pokémon were a thing, and who knows what else was denied inclusion, but it sure is eye-opening to see them surface now.

Another fun note that many will find, once looking at the designs that weren’t used in the final game, is that certain Pokémon creations were seemingly still used, albeit many generations later.  Take these guys:

Initial look at what Totodile started as, leading to a potential design for Popplio years later.

What’s the first name that comes to mind? For us it was Popplio. While there’s no way to confirm this, it begs the question of what happens with designs that aren’t used in a final game. Are they put into a secret vault to bring up later? Do staff take votes every time a new game is released to see if they want to use it? How long are they kept around? No one can be certain, unless you’ve worked on a generation of Pokémon software, but these are interesting questions to think about.

Original map for Gen 2.

The ROMs are available to download now, making these versions fully-playable. There are no English translations currently, though, and bugs are present, so don’t go in expecting the world. You also will need a decent emulator to run it, along with editing some of the code.

There are poeple working on bringing a translated, and debugged, version of the betas to the public, and when they do we’ll be sure to let you know. If you have any other information about this discovery, we’d love to hear from you! We’ll keep our ears open to any other Nintendo leaks that may surface, too.

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