This month saw the launch of the sixth generation of Pokémon games. Usually, we'd talk about how the series' jump to 3D has made it all the more adorable, but we'll push that aside for Halloween. Instead, let's discuss some of the more bizarrely horrifying aspects to one of gaming's biggest franchises.
Those who grew up with Pokémon Red and Blue for the Game Boy immediately know where this article is going. The original games didn't have much happening in the way of 'creepy' until the player wandered into Lavender Town. The change in mood was immediate, with the infamous town theme picking up and the background becoming a pale purple for Game Boy Color users. The entire town acted as a Pokémon graveyard and featured one of the darker plot points in the series.
Players progressed by heading to “Pokémon Tower” where Team Rocket, the game's mafia-like evil organization, was accosting an elderly man. Players who entered this area found themselves attacked by several Channelers, who had either been possessed by the local ghost Pokémon or a few of Sam Raimi's Deadites. These enemies felt so out of place for a game whose biggest rival used phrases like “smell ya later”. If the player tried to make their way through the tower without the special Silph Scope they'd find that the swarming ghost-types were unidentifiable, making the trainer's Pokémon too frightened to attack.
Once players reached the top floor, they were forced to battle the ghost of Cubone's mother, a Marowak that Team Rocket had recently murdered. That's right, this game's evil team downright murders a Pokémon. For some additional morbidity, the Pokédex entry for Cubone states that the skull it wears on its head once belonged to its deceased mother. Seeing as how Cubone's mother had only been killed a short while ago, this makes us wonder how the Pokémon tore apart her skull and why it would do such a thing. This entry isn't exclusive to the original games either, where it'd make at least some sense in context. The recently released Pokémon X/Y still states that Cubone wears its dead mother's skull, which leads us to believe that either Marowak don't live to be very old, or every Cubone is a raging sociopath with a thing for matricide.
The franchise wouldn't feature another creepy location for a while, though honorable mention goes to the third generation's Ruby version. A critical moment of that game's plot saw the release of an ancient Pokémon named Groudon, who threatened to set the world ablaze with an immediate worldwide drought. While the idea of the world drying up and becoming increasingly hotter by the minute is rather depressing for such a colorful game, this scene's music is what made it so memorable (spawning quite a few Creepypasta as well).
The third generation also introduced Banette, an especially creepy ghost-type who is said to be filled with a vengeful hatred. Its Pokédex entries state that it was once a simple doll that came to life. It gains its power by sticking itself with pins, and supposedly would lose its energy if the zipper over its mouth was ever undone. Wild Banette spend their days wandering the streets, searching for the children that threw them away. Remember this Pokémon next time you don't take care of your old toys, and sleep tight.
The fourth generation, which included the Diamond, Pearl and Platinum versions, featured a new ghost-type. A lone Drifloon appears in one particular field every Friday. While it may seem like an innocent balloon, those 'string' arms hanging from it are actually used to capture children. The English version only states that it takes the children away, but the original Japanese version elaborates by revealing that it whisks them away to the land of the dead. Yeah, maybe it's better to just stick with a first generation ghost. At least Haunter gives its victims a playful lick before causing them to convulse to death.
Equally as frightening as the thought of your child being stolen into the underworld is them being trapped in an endless nightmare. That is exactly what happens if you have a run-in with Darkrai, the legendary dark-type Pokémon. Players come across such a case in the fourth generation games, and are unable to help a child awaken unless they received a special item in a promotional event. This means that most people who have played these games, and anyone who were to pick them up now, would be unable to save this child from his endless coma of nightmarish torment.
Finally, the fourth generation also features a haunted area known as the Old Chateau. This building is full of ghost Pokémon and odd happenings. A little girl can be seen walking through doors, only to disappear on the other side, while a butler appears to be 'floating' in the dining room. The upstairs television glows ominously and the pictures seem to watch the player as they walk around. While none of this is terribly frightening, this was the first time the franchise had ever done anything like it, making the Old Chateau an odd sort of detour, much like the Pokémon Tower from the original games.
Of course, Game Freak isn't done messing with players just yet. There was a creepy 'ghost girl' in the fifth generation titles, and the newly released Pokémon X and Y feature their own ghostly encounters, but we won't spoil them just yet.