The Day I Caught a Mew


I grew up forever marked by the mystique of Pokemon. My childhood was running home to catch the latest episode on TV, playing the game on my brother’s Gameboy, and talking with my sister about her growing collection of cards.

Many of the people I grew up with were in on the obsession, too. There were kids who told others that you could get a rare, or even sometimes nonexistent, Pokemon through these obscure, ridiculous, time-consuming and frustrating means. There were others who stole other kids’ rare Pokemon cards. Kids spent time in class and out on the playground talking about Pokemon.

Over time, the obsession faded. But in middle schoolPokemon was still a part of my life. I had found myself browsing the web when I stumbled upon this site, dedicated to the fan theories and exploits of my childhood. The site’s been closed down since 2011, and the proprietor is more interested in showing off her cosplay work as opposed to exposing glitches. But back then, it had this one article:

“How to catch Mew.”

When I was a kid, it was well known: There were one hundred and fifty Pokemon. The song used to go, “At least a hundred and fifty, or more to see! To be a Pokemon Master is my destiny!” But we all knew there was one more. Pokemon #151. Mew. Mew was the focus of many a rumor, many a story, many a fabrication on the playground. There would be kids who said they caught it once, but that their file disappeared, or that they didn’t bring their cartridge to school. They said that Mew was the strongest, most versatile Pokemon in existence. Stronger and more powerful than even Mewtwo, the ultimate Pokemon almost no one could capture.

I was skeptical.

There was the method, and how to do it. This one was quicker and you could do it a lot sooner in a game than you could the ‘standard’ version, the one that required you going all the way to a later-game town.

But… well, I had heard a lot of different stories, from my brother and my sister and the kids on the playground. The stories where you had to beat the game 500 times without saving and then capture all the Pokemon except for Mew (a feat I still haven’t done today!) to get the critter. The stories where you had to delete a perfectly good save file and remove the cartridge to make it happen. This one was tame.

Why the hell not.

I dug up good old Pokemon Blue. I hooked up the game to Pokemon Stadium (a game that lets you battle Pokemon in full 3D! Wow!) and played up to this point on the TV.

At some point, my brother got involved. He began to read the instructions for me. There was another section of the page that has since been lost, but it detailed the use of Bellsprout (a Pokemon that looks like it has a bell for a mouth), Abra (a sleeping cat Pokemon that can teleport), and the trainer in the Cerulean gym. He was skeptical. But we did it.

We caught the Bellsprout. It learned Sleep Powder (a move that puts Pokemon to sleep, making them unable to fight or run from you), and we caught an Abra with it. And we fulfilled the steps.

  • Walk towards the guy in the grass, then teleport away.
  • Go fight the guy in the gym (making sure he walks to you!)
  • Go back to the bridge.

We stopped at the Pokemon Center on the way, healing the team. With bated breath, we stepped onto the bridge.

The game stopped, for a moment. My brother and I looked at each other. A text box scrolled onto the screen. “With your ability, you could be a top leader in TEAM ROCKET!” There was a hush in the room as my brother dully noted the strange man floating on the water in the corner of the screen.

Suddenly, we were in a fight. A wild Pokemon battle. The game spiraled out to black, and we waited. There was a pause as the game considered the data it was reading. Usually, a wild battle is quick. “Oh, you walked here,” it thinks, “I’ll get you a Pidgey. You needed more of those, right?” No, no, it wasn’t quick. It contemplated. And then, it spat out a sprite I had never seen. And a Pokemon noise I had never heard.

And a text string I had never thought I would read.

My brother and I were pointing and screaming, shrieking like the Red Sox had just won the World Series for the first time in 80 years. And the text confirmed it: Wild MEW appeared!

We continued screaming and muttering and ohmygodding as I engaged in battle. The fight was fierce, and many a Pokeball (the device used to capture a Pokemon) was thrown.

At long last, the Pokeball stopped wiggling. My brother and I erupted into screams again, and I think our land lady upstairs was wondering what those damn kids were up to. Ever so carefully, I entered the new name for my new Mew: “Omigod.”

We sat in dull silence. I had in my possession the single most powerful Pokemon in the game to date. I had a Pokemon that even today you have to go to special events to acquire, and most people would rather hack it into their game. I had a legend, sitting in my party, at level 7. Its name was “Omigod”.

For a brief moment, I was the queen of the world. I could do anything. I was the coolest kid on the playground, for the first time in my life. And it was MAGICAL.