What Do Japanese Fans Think of the Leaked Pokémon Spaceworld Demo?

20 Comments

About a week ago, the Pokémon Gold/Silver demo ROM from Nintendo Spaceworld 1997 was leaked online. Pokémon fans went wild looking through all the weird beta Pokémon creatures, digging up buried data, and even translating the game into English. News of the leak and the fans’ findings hit all the major gaming sites in countries around the world.

Most of this happened outside of Japan, though, so a question I’ve been getting is: What do Japanese fans think of the leaked Pokémon demo? So I checked out a whole bunch of Japanese message boards, blogs, etc. to see how fans there responded to the leak and the pile of new information.

Note: I only have minimal Pokémon knowledge so it’s possible I messed up some names in translation – if so, let me know!

Japanese Responses

Below are random comments from Japanese social media, websites, videos, and message boards that I’ve translated into English. Of course, there are so few comments listed here that they shouldn’t be considered representative of all Japanese gamers – that would be a silly thing to assume. This is only to satisfy readers’ curiosity.


Excited

First

I’ve been waiting for this for so long!

There’s something dreamy about unused content seeing the light of day, you know?

So I guess the rumor about that Mr. Saturn Pokemon was just a rumor after all

Old designs were great

I’m shocked that something like this got leaked!

They could probably put some of these to use now!

That evolution from a gun to a tank cannon makes so much sense!

It’s incredible lately – first Satoshi Tajiri releases his book full of unused Pokemon info, and now this demo from 1997 gets out

Oh, this is all so exciting!

I recognize some of these from other unused Pokemon lists

I bet some of the unused baby Pokemon would’ve been pretty popular

That big tongue guy reminds me of Super Mario RPG

Shellder already had a clear name with Red/Green, so I wonder what they had in mind for that other unused shell Pokemon

I love how they all make the same cry

That Shellder on Slowbro’s tail was actually supposed to be a completely different Pokemon called a “Turbin”??

Oh man I loooove when stuff like this happens!

I’d love to see that scary stingray one in Pokemon Snap!

Much nicer designs than the junk they come up with these days

I love learning about scrapped Pokemon

Some of these remind me slightly of recent Pokemon

Wow, Wataneko looks like a Rabite straight out of Secret of Mana

All these baby ones are hilarious, they’re practically characters from a totally different game

Wow, it really did take place all over Japan originally

LOL @ Kyushu being so in the middle of nowhere

So exciting!

They could make a new Pokemon game with these that’s on a branched-off timeline

I played the demo at Spaceworld but only remember that the water starter seemed a lot like Seel

Thank you for saving this game Iwata


Critiques (Both Positive & Negative)

They made the right choice to delay this game’s release back then, based on these

What kind of names are these?!

Seriously, Chikorita’s name was simply “Leaf”?

What horrible names, lol

this feels like “Chinese Pokemon” lol

That Girafarig is SCARY

They must’ve thrown this out there after the terrible response to Let’s Go

Man, some of these names aren’t clever at all

I can really see why these didn’t make the cut

Look at all these mistakes

If this is real, then whoever gave these ones the axe really knew what they were doing

It’s so obvious that this leak was timed just right

Adults shouldn’t be playing Pokemon you know lol

Silent Hill? Haha

It seems like all these extra baby Pokemon would’ve been a real hassle

If they’d sold this version, I bet Pokemon never would’ve caught on

These names feel so low-effort, probably because it was still being developed

You can definitely tell that Gold/Silver wouldn’t have been what it was had they not gone through the various design changes we see here… but many of these designs would never be feasible in today’s Pokemon series

Lame names

This is way better than that trashy Pokemon Go Switch crap

“Leaf”

It seems like most of these are amateur-level Pokemon ideas that got dropped

Some of these are creepy!

ROFL the scrapped designs are better than the final ones


Suspicious

If it’s legit, this is a huge discovery, but I feel like it’s just a well-done fake

Come on, this is so obviously fake

How did they even get this ROM in the first place?!

ROM hacks are really sophisticated these days, this could just be a fake

Why would this only be released now?

So many people gonna get viruses trying to play this rofl

Obvious fake is obvious

All of these look like hacked Pokemon to me

These are obviously fakes that some fan made, when will people ever learn

It’s so easy to do simple pixel art like this that this could all be a hoax

I wonder who leaked the ROM. Game Freak? Nintendo? Someone on the Spaceworld staff?

People calling this fake need to go watch some videos of it in action

Given how much all these things match with known info, there’s no way this could be some elaborate hoax

I did some checking and apparently the leaked ROM is real after all, but I can’t help but wonder why it only got leaked now? I wonder if it’s somehow connected with the recent release of Satoshi Tajiri’s manga…

I so want to know how they get their hands on this ROM


Confused

How do you open sgb files? I tried searching but couldn’t find out how

I can’t unzip the ROM

I can’t get the ROM to work

I can’t read English, what do I do???


Just because it isn’t actually for sale doesn’t mean it’s legal to share it

I know it’s illegal to share ROMs and all, but you should at least confirm with a *firsthand* source that this is legit before reporting about it

Nintendo’s gonna sue the leaker for damages, aren’t they?

Again, the comments in this list should not be considered representative of all Japanese gamers. This is only to satisfy readers’ curiosity.

The Porygon2 Surprise

One thing really stood out among all the Japanese comments: the demo version of the Pokémon named “Porygon2” looked incredibly like “Pon de Lion”, a famous mascot for the popular Japanese “Mister Donut” doughnut shop chain.

Porygon2 is so obviously the Pon de Lion

There’s a Pon de Lion!

That’s totally Pon de Lion lol

Wait, wouldn’t this have predated Pon de Lion? Did the guy who designed Pon de Lion also work on Pokemon stuff or something?

It’s amazing to think that Porygon2’s design was done BEFORE Pon de Lion’s!

Hold on. Pon de Lion first appeared in 2003…

It seems that the Pon de Lion’s designer, Yuichi Ito, actually worked for Game Freak around 1996. The unused Porygon2 design might seriously have been his!

Huh? If this connection is real, then wouldn’t that be really bad info to get out? Taking a design done for one specific client under NDA and selling it to a completely different client?

I looked into the rumor that Yuichi Ito worked for Game Freak and that he worked with them on Bazaru Degozaru no Game Degozaru. He’s nowhere in the credits, so after some further digging it seems he apparently worked on the TV commercial for the game instead – probably this one:

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to check if he worked on it or not, so I can’t really confirm much myself. If anyone has more info, please let me know!

Summary

As we can see, there’ve been a variety of reactions from the Japanese side: surprise, suspicion, delight, negativity, and realizations. But most of all, I saw lots of laughs and fans having lots of fun with this new Pokémon info.


BTW, if you liked this look at Japanese responses, check out these articles too - they cover Japanese comments about other popular games and characters!

20 Comments
  1. Out of curiosity, which boards did you browse specifically? : ) Either way, it’s a nice look. As usual with these types of articles, we find out that people in the east and west are more alike than they may think or know! xD

    Reply
    1. I basically went on Google and picked out the top page or two of results, went on YouTube and picked out some top results, went on Twitter, picked out some top results, etc.

      Unsurprisingly, the particularly negative comments came from YouTube, 2ch-ish boards, and some fanboy-heavy blogs.

      Reply
  2. Good to know they’re meh on Let’s Go over there too. Some of the leaked Pokemon are actually pretty good. “Ikari” is a brilliant pun and a lot of the cut Pokemon would have been better than Stanler (who wasn’t in this demo) wound up being.

    Not sure why they’re complaining about “leaf”. Gen 1 had Pokemon had the laziest, most uncreative Japanese names ever, producing gems like “Rat”, “Big Rat”, “Snowers”, “Thunders”, “Fire”, “Thunder” [sic] and “Freezer”.

    Reply
    1. Yes, but those were in ENGLISH. If you use the foreign equivalents of normal words, people mistakenly think you’re being creeative. The laziness is more noticeable when you use the JAPANESE word for “leaf”.

      Reply
      1. Yeah, I think the fact that the beta Japanese names are just simple Japanese words is why they’re so surprised. I don’t know much about Pokemon but I assume they just needed placeholder names for some things, similar to how they had placeholder text for descriptions. As a translator and a programmer I come up with basic placeholder names all the time 😛

        Reply
        1. They are. Back before Black and White got released, a character model sheet for an early BW anime episode got leaked, and the names used there were completely different from the actual names. Pokemon names aren’t finalized until they get officially revealed.
          Likewise, official products that use non-finalized names in their product description occasionally pop up on Amazon listings.

          Reply
      2. There are a few Pokémon whose Japanese names are just Japanese words, such as Hitokage (Charmander; salamander, literally “fire lizard”) and Zenigame (Squirtle, pond turtle).

        Reply
  3. Any idea if the doughnut mascot is supposed to be a reference to Ponce de Leon?

    Reply
    1. Possibly, but when I do a Google search I get almost nothing about the two together. The name is at least a play on “Pon de Ring”, this kind of donut:

      And apparently the “Pon de Ring” name was based on “Pão de queijo”, but with creative changes added.

      Reply
  4. I’m surprised at how many comments thought it was fake.

    Also, I found the ones claiming about the legality of the leak amusing, because (and i know i’m in the minority on this) i actually kinda agree with them.

    Reply
    1. It was pretty surprising how loud the “this is fake” voices were when I was going through comments. My gut instinct is that because Pokemon is a giant Japanese brand and almost all Pokemon news comes from out of Japan, suddenly hearing “hey we got this Japanese-only demo from a Japanese-only event about a mega Japanese brand” on a bunch of foreign sites that you can’t really understand set off lots of people’s BS-ometer. If the roles were reversed I could see the same thing happening too, though, so it’s understandable in a way.

      Reply
      1. I’m assuming most of the people saying it’s fake are just like first impressions and not their thoughts after looking into it too much because it would be hard to open up this proto that has a half-done picross game in it and call it fake lol.

        Reply
  5. “It’s incredible lately – first Satoshi Tajiri releases his book full of unused Pokemon info, and now this demo from 1997 gets out”

    What book is being referred to here? I was thrilled by this SpaceWorld leak! There’s something especially magical and mesmerizing about unused Pokemon content. Would love to see more if there’s anything from this book available in English.

    Reply
    1. Search for “Satoshi Tajiri manga”. The first in a series of educational manga for kids was recently released, with the life of Satoshi Tajiri as the first subject. This includes some info about his development of the first Pokémon games.

      Reply
    2. The book is Japanese-only at the moment, and it’s about the creation of Pokémon. It’s filled with a wealth of previously-unseen information, sketches of Pokémon that never made the cut, and so forth. There’s a bunch of info about it here: https://www.resetera.com/threads/manga-about-pokemon-creator-shows-unused-pokemon.43045/

      Reply
  6. I love that “first!” posts are apparently a universal truth, beyond the boundaries of nations, continents, or language.

    Reply
  7. I’ve heard nearly every one of these sentiments in the west at some point. Even “they must be using this to distract people from the poor response to Let’s Go”.

    Reply
  8. It’s amusing that one of the comments is how they commented on how the old Pokemon is much better than the new designs, because I thought that disliking newer design of Pokemon is just an English issue.

    Reply
    1. There are then also Genwunners on Japan 😛

      Reply
  9. Out of all the Beta designs, let’s just say I got attached to that Girafarig design the most. It’s just memorable really. That grinning visage sure can bring you the creeps…

    Reply

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