Twenty years since its America debut, Pokemon is still one of the biggest, most beloved #brands in gaming. And it’s not slowing down any time soon. Not that long ago we learned that Pokemon is coming to the already super popular Nintendo Switch this holiday as Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee. And there’s already another Pokemon Switch game on deck for 2019.

Pokemon can be enjoyed by folks of all ages, but if we’re being honest most fans got into the franchise as children. Whether it was playing the RPGs on Game Boy or tearing up at the anime movies, children represent the lifeblood of Pokemon. But as tends to be the case with otherwise whimsical kids franchises, there’s an occasional dark edge to the world of Pokemon. And we’re going to shine a spotlight on it. Here are messed up things about Pokemon no one ever talks about. Not since Middle-Earth: Shadow of War has there been this much video game slavery.

It’s Basically Cockfighting

Okay this is kind of a hacky joke observation by now, but it’s true. Pokemon’s core gimmick of catching monsters to make them fight may have been inspired by Japanese bug collecting, but it shares more in common with illegal immoral bloodsports like cockfighting and dogfighting. What makes Pokemon Black and White one of the best games in the series is that its plot actually tried to almost grapple with this dilemma.

There’s a Pokemon 9/11

Speaking of Pokemon Black and White, abandoning the Japanese-inspired regions of previously Pokemon games, the Unova region is New York City with the serial number filed off. As you explore Pokemon Manhattan you’ll see the Pokemon Financial District, Pokemon Brooklyn Bridge, and a blasted pile of “meteor” rubble that could only be the aftermath of Pokemon 9/11. Seriously.

You Can Catch God

If you read the details in individual Pokemon descriptions, you’ll be blown away at just how bonkers this lore can get. For example, Arceus, one of the legendary Pokemon of the cosmic Diamond and Pearl, is described as the creator of the Pokemon world. So along with enslaving the physical manifestations of space and time, you can put God in a ball and make Him do your bidding.

Dead Humans Become Pokemon

Spirituality in general is a tricky subject in Pokemon. What does it say about the afterlife that there’s a whole type of Pokemon known as Ghost? Yamask provides one terrifying explanation. These Pokemon carry masks that represent their past lives as humans, and they weep when those masks are removed and possess the wearers. So if you die, thousands of years later your spirit may restlessly roam the Earth forever as some tween trainer’s sidekick.

Cubone Wears Its Mother’s Skull

Pour one out for poor Cubone. This understandably angry little Pokemon gets its iconic look by wearing the skull of its dead mother. That’s why it’s “The Lonely Pokemon.” These games are supposed to be for kids!

Parasect is Controlled By Fungus

Before The Last of Us got us all afraid of ant-controlling fungus, Paras and Parasect subtly introduced this particular strain of biohorror to the masses. As Paras, these creatures have a somewhat symbiotic relationship with the mushrooms growing on their back, sucking nutrients but providing guidance. However, once this monster evolves into Parasect, the mushroom grows huge and utterly dominates the host, assuming complete control.

Poke Balls Are Basically The Matrix

The mechanics of how Poke Balls actually work runs on a lot of dream logic. You throw them at Pokemon, they turn the Pokemon into energy, and if the Pokemon is weak enough they’ll stay as energy inside the Poke Ball (or PC) until summoned again reformed as matter. But one especially Black Mirror-esque detail is that inside the Poke Ball Pokemon are kept docile with a simulation of their natural environment. We’re waiting for Pokemon Neo to free his people from this technological trap.

The Anime Gave Kids Seizures

Because they feature so many fast flashing lights and colors, video games and the shows inspired by them tend to trigger seizures in those suffering from Epilepsy. Unfortunately this happened with an episode of the Pokemon anime in 1997, starring the digital Pokemon Porygon. Nearly 700 viewers were hospitalized in Japan, and episode hasn’t been rebroadcast since. Even Porygon itself has been conveniently forgotten in future episodes.

Pokemon Go Halloween

Pokemon Go Find Dead Bodies

The biggest Pokemon phenomenon perhaps since the franchise’s inception, Pokemon Go inspired millions of people to walk around trying to catch fake monsters in the real world using augmented reality on our smartphones. Exploring the real world also means you’ll stumble across real problems. Just ask the shocking amount of people who have discovered dead bodies while playing Pokemon Go.

There Are Still Real Animals?

Add an elemental superpower to an existing animal, give it a pun name, and you’ve basically created a new Pokemon. But in a world swarming with electric mice and fire dogs and poison bees, you may be surprised to learn that there are still regular mice and dogs and bees. We’re not talking about Normal-type Pokemon, but just normal animals. I guess this is how they get around eating meat without acknowledging Pokemon are delicious.

Pokemon Creepy Black

Before there was an actual Pokemon Black, there was an infamous creepypasta internet horror short story about a bootleg “Pokemon Black” Game Boy cartridge. You should read it for yourself, but in this hypothetical hacked version of Pokemon Red, you could use your ghost Pokemon to “Curse” opponents, or murder them. Eventually your evil deeds catch up with you though in your old age. While this game clearly never existed, clever fans have tried to recreate it.

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