The Case of the Missing Skateboard

Posted By at 4:24 PM on Monday April 29, 2013

In the late 1990s, the Pokémon craze was in full swing. Following the release of the original Red, Green, and Blue, Game Freak announced that they would be creating a pair of sequels that went by the development title Pokémon 2: Gold & Silver.

Fanart by ぬぬぬ on pixiv

Speculation abounded as to what these games would be like, and gaming magazines of the era were quick to jump on any leaked screenshots and information. One detail that was released during Pokémon 2’s development was the fact that, in addition to the bicycle of the first games, players would be able to ride around on a skateboard!

This information was even published on Nintendo’s Pokémon 2 page, prior to the games’ release. The original page was archived on June 5th, 1997, more than 2 years before the games’ release on November 21st, 1999. Point 1 states:

A new mode of transportation debuts in the form of the Skateboard! In Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue, the protagonist used a Bicycle as a handy mode of transportation on his Pokémon-catching adventure. In addition to the Bicycle that appeared in Red, Green, and blue, Pokémon 2 will feature a Skateboard as a new mode of transportation. Riding it may even allow players to reach unexpected locations in the world of Pokémon 2.

The Magazines

The same information made it into contemporary game mags. Our first published source regarding the Skateboard is a magazine scan of unknown origin that I discovered on a 2ch discussion about the development of Pokémon. I’ve taken the liberty of translating the page into English for your viewing pleasure.

Click to enlarge. The unedited Japanese scan is visible here.

The same information was also published in English. I retrieved this scan from from the same 2ch thread. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it in a larger resolution.

Zooming in on point (8) will reveal the following text:

“You now have a new mode of transport. In the RGB versions you used a bicycle, but in the GS versions you have a rather trendy Skateboard!”

Finally, an imaginative little illustration of Ash riding the Skateboard, perhaps a mockup created by the magazine’s staff, who didn’t yet know what Pokémon 2’s protagonist would look like. The caption reads “We’ll see new methods of transportation, including a Skateboard!”

Still in the game?

Could there be any traces of this scrapped item left in the final versions of Pokémon Gold & Silver? One Japanese webmaster thinks so. ボスポケモン応援隊 (The Scrapped Pokémon Support Group), famous for her artistic interpretations of the prototype starter Pokémon that appeared in the playable Gold demo at Spaceworld ’97, thinks so.

The webmaster’s artistic interpretation of Honooguma, apparently a prototype version of Cyndaquil.

In an article published on May 9th, 2012, she claims that scrapped data for the Skateboard still exists in the games. The section below is an edited translation of the article in question.

Testing Gold & Silver’s Scrapped Skateboard

Before Pokémon Gold & Silver were released, information about a Skateboard item that would allow players to jump up ledges was published in sources such as CoroCoro Comic and the Spaceworld ’97 Official Guidebook. The item’s name was shortened to “Skebo” (スケボー) in Japanese.

The item screen depicting a Kabichuu, with the description “?”.

I heard that scrapped data for the Skateboard still existed in the final versions of the games, so I took it upon myself to investigate. I started by looking over all the items in Gold & Silver, but didn’t find anything called “Skebo”. There are a large number of placeholder items named “Kabichuu” (カビチュウ), however, so I think it’s one of those.

Next, I decided to poke around in the Skateboard’s scrapped data and test out its animations.

This is a screenshot of me riding the Skateboard. But, as you can see, my character is just walking along.

It appears that the protagonist doesn’t have special graphics for when he’s using the Skateboard, like he does for when he’s Surfing or riding the Bicycle. But that doesn’t mean he glides around stiffly. Instead, his feet move as he slides.

When you close a window or a message pops up, the Skateboarding action will be canceled. I don’t know whether that’s because it was meant to be like that, or whether it happens because the concept was scrapped mid-development. Probably the latter.

As for its fundamental function, the Skateboard is exactly the same as the Bicycle in terms of speed.

In Gold & Silver, you can turn on the spot by pressing lightly on the D-pad. (You could do this in the Gen I games, too, but it’s easier in Gen II.) This also works on the Bicycle, but not while riding the Skateboard.

Once you press the D-pad on the Skateboard, you won’t stop until you hit something. If you try to change direction, you’ll keep sliding until you collide with an obstacle, such as a wall, person, or tree. None of the buttons, including Start, have any effect while you’re in motion.

Even though you have no way to break yourself, you can still be spotted by trainers. Once the battle is over, you won’t start sliding again, so that is one method you can use to stop.

Your character will also come to a halt if he encounters a wild Pokémon. I believe you stop because you run into them.

Because you continue sliding until you hit a wall, you can’t enter areas like the gatehouse to Ilex Forest, seen in the picture above. (Though, you would be able to if you could encounter wild Pokémon in one of the 4 tiles directly below the door…)

Also, if you ride your skateboard off a ledge, you will keep sliding till you hit something. The same thing happens when you slide off a ledge on the ice.

This aspect makes the Skateboard extremely annoying. It functions in pretty much the same manner as sliding around on the ice does in the final game. Perhaps the icy areas are all that remains of the Skateboard function. However, it’s possible that the Skateboard existed alongside the icy areas, so we can’t know for certain. All I can say is that if the Skateboard had actually worked like this, it would have been incredibly inconvenient.

Despite its similarities to the ice effect, however, there are some differences. When you’re standing on ice, if you face a wall and walk forwards, the protagonist keeps moving his feet, and you hear a “bonk bonk bonk” sound as he collides with it. On the Skateboard, if you face a wall and walk forwards, the collision sound effect will play, but the protagonist’s feet don’t move.

In any case, the biggest feature of the Skateboard was its ability to jump up ledges! So, I decided to check that out next…

BUT, IT WASN’T POSSIBLE! Hey!! That was the one thing I was really looking forward to!! Perhaps the item was cut before that function was programmed…?

No matter how far away you start your approach from, you still can’t jump the ledges. I tried it on right- and left-oriented ledges as well, but still no luck. What a pity…

Marika tries to switch to the Bicycle, to no avail.

So, what happens when you try riding the Bicycle while you have Skateboard Mode enabled? I expected to see a message like “Marika got off the Skateboard!”, but instead, I got the message “OAK: Marika! This isn’t the time to use that!”

I don’t know why, but it seems like you can’t switch from riding the Skateboard to riding the Bicycle. Unfortunately, with no item called “Skateboard”, I can’t try switching from the Skateboard to the Bicycle.

Comparing the Ice Effect & The Skateboard

Alright, GlitterBerri here again. Even though the Skateboard effect is almost identical to the ice effect, there are a few differences. Let’s recap:

Skateboard Ice
Using D-Pad to Change Direction Not possible. Not possible.
Stopping Not possible. Not possible.
Jumping Off Ledges Protagonist keeps sliding till you hit something. Protagonist keeps sliding till you hit something.
Opening the Menu While Sliding Not possible. Not possible.
Animation Feet move while sliding. Feet don’t move while sliding.
Walking Into Walls Sound effect plays. Sound effect plays, protagonist keeps walking forward.

The Data

Sanky, one of The Cutting Room Floor’s resident hackers, was kind enough to take a look into the games’ data for me to confirm the Japanese webmaster’s account of her experiences.

In the English versions of Gold & Silver, the Kabichuu placeholder items are renamed Teru-sama. They were probably named after Teruki Murakawa, who is listed in the English versions’ credits as a programmer. Its sell value, ¥19660, may also represent the year he was born.

Three of the Teru-samas are marked by the game as Key Items, pointing towards the existence of important items that were deleted. However, these items turn into Pokémon Crystal Key Items when traded from Gold & Silver. (They are the GS Ball, Blue Card, and Egg Ticket, respectively.) Whether these were their original intended functions is unknown.

Other Pokémon hackers have published a list of memory locations for the US Pokémon Gold & Silver versions online. There are five valid memory values which specify the protagonist’s current movement type:

Value Function
0 Walking
1 Bicycling
2 Skateboarding (?)
4 Surfing
8 Surfing(?)

In Sanky’s words, if you set a breakpoint, three places check the memory location. One compares for 1 and 2, another for 0, 4, 8, 1, 2 and yet another for 4 and 8.

If you step onto ice while Skateboard Mode is activated, the protagonist will slide across the surface as he normally would, with no walking animation. Stepping off the ice causes you to revert to Skateboard Mode again, meaning that the walking animation is reinstated as you slide. This means that the two modes are totally different, functionally.

Skateboard Mode does not exist in Pokémon Yellow, which has the following memory values regarding movement:

Value Function
0 Walking
1 Bicycling
2 Surfing

The Code

To test out the Skateboard function for yourself, enter the GameShark code 010282D6 while playing the US version of Pokémon Gold. Normally, speaking to anyone or opening the menu cancels the Skateboard function, but this code will prevent that from happening.

Sliding around at Bicycle speed while the walking animation plays.

Walking into an obstacle, with no walking animation.

Sliding off a ledge.

Talking to someone cancels the effect.

Running into a wild Pokémon cancels the Skateboard effect.

Being spotted by a trainer cancels the effect.

While it isn’t 100% certain that this animation is the Skateboard, it is unused, and it’s located next to the Bicycle in the movement data.

UPDATE: padz of the Pokémon Disassembly Project points out that it may be a scrapped animation for the unused mine cart found in the unused caves tileset seen below:

Other Theories

The character Gold from the Pokémon Adventures manga enjoys skateboarding. Pokémon Adventures is known to contain elements based on early concept art from the games. Perhaps his skateboarding hobby is another?

Doing tricks on the Acro Bike.

In addition, it is possible that the ideas the developers intended for the Skateboard were later incorporated into the Bicycle items of later games. In Ruby & Sapphire, players can use the Acro Bike to perform tricks like wheelies and bunny hops, which allow access to additional areas. The player is also able to ride up muddy slopes using the Acro Bike and Mach Bike in the Gen III games (Ruby & Sapphire), and the regular Bicycle in the Gen IV games (Diamond & Pearl).

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11 Responses

  1. Super Smash Sis says:

    So that’s why Gold had a skateboard. Interesting!

  2. Terance says:

    In most games there’s items that let you test out features in beta before they’re actually added to the areas of the game. In the first generation of games, there were no ice floors.

    Isn’t there a greater possibility that this item exists to let devs test the features of ice sliding before adding it in?

    • Sanky says:

      Not really, this unused movement type is functionally separate from sliding on ice. Even though it may not be the skateboard, it’s definitely unrelated to ice.

  3. […] The Case of the Missing Skateboard [Glitterberri] […]

  4. Mic says:

    With those “5 played movement types” could that second Surf be used for Waterfall travel?

  5. […] them, though? Why were they replaced with bikes? To find out, take a quick look through the article.The Case of the Missing Skateboard – GlitterBerri.comYou must be logged in to post a comment. Share This […]

  6. IIMarckus says:

    The second Surf is Surfing Pikachu. (Different overworld sprite.)

    Yes, there is an unused movement type, but there is no evidence that it’s related to the skateboard. Probably the movement type was an initial implementation of ice, until they moved it to collision data or wherever it is now. So far nobody has found any evidence of the skateboard in the ROMs.

  7. umbrachu says:

    cool! i wish i could try!

  8. I am Christina Aguilera says:

    Oh neat, 2ch in Japan discovered my American scans of a Japanese 1998 Game Boy guidebook! And then Glitterberri discovered and translated that, so I can finally understand this book I have more than just the katakana and the prepositions! THE WORLD, IT IS SO CHIISAI YOU KNOW

    Here, have the full preview:

    And here’s the guide that it comes from (very affordable):

    Really cool guide — it has at least an alphabetized screenshot of every Game Boy game that came out in Japan since launch. I taught myself how to read katakana off of this book.

  9. I am Christina Aguilera says:

    Incidentally, if anyone would be particularly interested in me scanning them, the guide also has a handful of photos of early-era Japanese Pokemon merchandise, plastic/plush figurines and such.

    The different sections also have illustrations on their cover pages by the guy who did the illustrations for NES-era Nintendo Power’s Top 20 sections, among other things:

    Does the English-speaking internet know yet what that artist’s name is? Because if not, it appears to be 中村登 / Noboru Nakamura.

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