Pokémon Gold

The fabled ROM file of Pokémon Gold‘s 1997 beta demo has been leaked and uploaded online to The Cutting Room Floor. Having been dormant for 21 years, the demo is a deep dive into the game’s early development, including many unreleased and altered Pokémon.

The original 100 Pokémon that would have been introduced in Gold and Silver. Spot the differences.

The beta demo for Pokémon Gold highlights a very different version of the games first released in 1999, with a different map of the Johto region, a debug menu, and a very different roster of Pokémon. This look into the game’s ROM reveals countless creatures previously unseen by the public, including scrapped concepts, unused evolutions, and critters that got started here but saved and reworked for future titles. Many of the original 151 in the game also sport very different sprite work, some of them lifted directly from Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue.

The original map of Johto.

Pokémon Gold and Silver, originally announced back in 1997 as Pokémon 2, were originally slated to launch in Japan in spring 1998 for the original Game Boy. The public got its first hands on with the game at Nintendo’s Space World expo in November 1997. Facing production delays, the sequel was notoriously taken out back and converted to the Game Boy Color, heavily altered from the original rendition, and were given assistance from Satoru Iwata that allowed the Kanto region to fit in as a post-game bonus. The information from this leak lines up with the past 21 years of written accounts, artwork, and fuzzy off-screen shots from the few who got to play the demo back in 1997.

The Pokémon Gold beta demo is available online as a playable ROM, and a crack team of top men from ResetEra is working on documentation and providing an English translation. This proto-build of Pokémon’s first major sequel is a fascinating peek behind the scenes at a game that never was.

Alex Irish
When he's not writing about games, Alex Irish is an illustrator and animation expert. His favorite gaming franchise is Pokémon, full-stop, but his favorite game of all time is Resident Evil 4. He attended the first-ever IGN House Party and is a five-time attendee of the Ottowa International Animation Festival.