Tales from the Glitch 4:

MissingNo Mystery Solved

Jolt135 writes:
Mystery Solved!

Q: What is Missingno.?
A: For most variables on Game Boy games, the fewest possibilities for the variable is 256 (HEX 100), labeled 0 to 255 (HEX 00 to FF). This goes for most variables in RBY, including ones for all the Pokemon lookup slots. However, only 151 Pokemon exist in RBY. So, if there are 256 possibilities, and only 151 slots were defined by the programmers, what do the other 105 slots have? Glitches. And so, Missingno. was created.

Q: How do I find it?
A: You don't know how to find it? Go play some more RBY. But, if you're one of the outcasts who doesn't know how to find it, here goes. Talk to the Old Man at the northern edge of Viridian, and let him catch a Weedle. Then, Fly to Cinnabar (you can also go to Fuchsia and Surf to Seafoam Islands, but that takes a lot longer) and Surf up and down the right edge. After a while, you'll run into some unnatural Pokemon at high levels, and Missingno. (or a Pokemon with a glitched name containing 'M in the middle). NOTE: THIS DOES NOT WORK IN YELLOW, OR THE EUROPEAN VERSIONS OF THE GAME.
Not true! I've received reports of MissingNos and 'Ms from European players!!!

(At this point, it gets very complex. You'll be better off reading the rest if you know how to hack.)

Q: Why does the above trick work?
A: There are two things that, when combined, made it possible for this trick to exist. Here they are:

1. When creating the map for what Pokemon appear where, they made a crucial flaw. The 1-square-wide strip of water on the right side of Cinnabar and Seafoam Islands was programmed to be a place where wild Pokemon CAN appear. But (and thank GAMEFREAK for this one) they forgot to define what Pokemon can appear there. This wouldn't be that big of a deal, except that means the previous settings for "what Pokemon can appear" will remain, and if you read #2, you'll see why that causes the glitch.

2. When the Old Man catches the Weedle, they change the variables that are assigned to "Your Name" to Old Man, so it shows up as "Old Man threw the Poke Ball." Now, in order to do that, it overwrites the variables you gave to "Your Name". Therefore, the game must store the variables that make up your name to another place, so it can recall them later. So the programmers at NOA probably thought,
"What are some variables that we can overwrite to assign to the character's name for this process?"
"I got it! How about the slots that define what Pokemon you can run into?"
"That's it! Whenever the character enters a new area, they'll be rewritten, so it won't disturb the game at all!"
*points to #1* Umm.....no. As a result, that wonderful glitch can be yours for only *insert whatever price your local retailer charges for R/B*! Of course, it's not JUST Missingno. you can run into. There will also be some L100+ Pokemon, whose species and levels are determined by your name.

*sees audience sleeping*
*turns on 12-inch subwoofers at full blast*
There. Now that I have your attention,....

Q: How do I determine the levels?
A: First off, look at letters 2, 4, and 6 of your name. Those letters will determine the levels of the Pokemon you can run into. First, take the NUMERICAL equivalent (A=1, B=2, etc.) of those letters, and add 127 for uppercase or 159 for lowercase. In addition, the symbols are as follows:

( 154
) 155
: 156
; 157
[ 158
] 159
PK 209
MN 210
? 239
P(monetary symbol) 240
x(times sign) 241
. 242
? 245
Also, at the end of your name, the game inserts an 80 (HEX 50) to designate "End of Name". Because of how the variables are used, this means that one of the levels your Missingno. (or glitched 'M name) will be is always L80.

Q: Species determined by name? Cool! I'll get a new name and try that so I can get Mew WITHOUT SHARKING!
A: Hold it right there. While it is determined by name, the lowest number assigned to a character (other than the 80 that is assigned to the "End of Name" character) is 128, for a capital A. In EVERY variable that designates a Pokemon, Mew is assigned the number 21 (HEX 15). If you can make the connection, that means that NO name you enter will result in Mew being a possibility. The low numbers like 21 represent glitch characters that are not available for naming anything and can only be found with a Shark. For convenience, here is the table of what Pokemon will appear for each letter. Letters 3, 5, and 7 are used to determine this:

A: Golduck
B: Hypno
C: Golbat
E: Snorlax
F: Magikarp
G: Missingno.
H: Missingno.
I: Muk
J: Missingno.
K: Kingler
L: Cloyster
M: Missingno. ('M)
N: Electrode
O: Clefable
P: Weezing
Q: Persian
R: Marowak
S: Missingno.
T: Haunter
U: Abra
V: Alakazam
W: Pidgeotto
X: Pidgeot
Y: Starmie
Z: Bulbasaur (Get all the starters without trading!)
a: Missingno.
b: Missingno.
c: Missingno.
d: Ponyta
e: Rapidash
f: Rattata
g: Raticate
h: Nidorino
i: Nidorina
j: Geodude
k: Porygon
l: Aerodactyl
m: Missingno.
n: Magnemite
o: Missingno.
p: Missingno.
q: Charmander (Get all the starters without trading!)
r: Squirtle (Get all the starters without trading!)
s: Charmeleon
t: Wartortle
u: Charizard
v: Missingno.
w: Missingno. (KABUTOPS FOSSIL)
y: Missingno. (GHOST)
z: Oddish

Note: If you want to try the glitch, DO NOT use one of the special characters in your name. If you do, you might end up facing a Trainer. You will not be able to get out of the match, and eventually one of their Pokemon will be a glitch that can freeze (and possibly erase) your game. Also, species from 3 goes with level from 2, species from 5 goes with level from 4, and species from 7 goes with level from 6.

Q: How about some examples?
A: Okay.
Test #1- Name: PIKACHU
Letters 2, 4, and 6 (levels):
2: I = 9 + 127 = 136
4: A = 1 + 127 = 128
6: H = 8 + 127 = 135
Letters 3, 5, and 7 (species):
3: K = Kingler on chart
5: C = Golbat on chart
7: U = Abra on chart
Combining the numbers, the name "PIKACHU" should yield L136 Kingler, L128 Golbat, and L135 Abra. Test it out; it does.

Test #2- Name: DxDyDzD
Letters 2, 4, 6 (levels):
x: 24 + 159 = 183
y: 25 + 159 = 184
z: 26 + 159 = 185
Letters 3, 5, and 7 (species):
D = Mewtwo on chart
Result: Mewtwo at levels 183-185. Name change, anyone?

Test #3- Name: BLUE
Result: Starmie, Abra, Golduck (????????)
The name "BLUE" only has 4 letters, the third of which is a U, yielding Abra (the L giving L139). But that doesn't explain Starmie and Golduck! Starmie corresponds to Y and Golduck to A, neither of which appear! The E in slot 4 means L132, which explains the L132 Missingno that I run into sometimes (slot 5 is probably an 80, which yields Missingno.). If you have any research that I could use in explaining this, e-mail me at Jolt0135@aol.com.

UPDATE-10/29/01: I just picked up NO$GMB, and I have now solved this mystery. No further help needed.

Incidentally, you can Rare-Candy these L100+ monsters past 255 to get to L0, then to whatever you want. Or, you can just take them into battle, where ANY experience reverts them to L100.

Q: Where would I get that many Rare Candies?
A: I was hoping you would ask. That's the other part of the Missingno. glitch. You see, when I was referring to the 256 possibilities earlier on, it's stored as 8 bits (0 or 1 each). Whenever you run into Missingno., it takes the first bit of the "Copies of Sixth Item Held" byte (D329) and sets it to 1. In simpler terms, if you have 127 or fewer copies of your sixth item, you get an extra 128 copies (if you already have 128+, nothing happens). And since the most copies of an item you can naturally have is 99 = HEX 63 = BIN 01100011, the "127 or less" requirement will always happen unless you sharked items or have used the trick on that item before.

Q: How do I shark a name change? I want that "DxDyDzD" name without having to restart!
A: Well, if you're sharking, just go ahead and get the Pokemon that way. But if you want a name change, here it is:
Letter 1: 01**58D1
Letter 2: 01**59D1
Letter 3: 01**5AD1
Letter 4: 01**5BD1
Letter 5: 01**5CD1
Letter 6: 01**5DD1
Letter 7: 01**5ED1
End Name: 01505FD1

That ends this venture into the World of Glitches. If you are still here, consider yourself lucky to understand what I was saying.

SkeritXP writes:
"Missingo is a pokémon you CAN catch without it messing up your game but M block is the dangerous one...

"Anyway, how did missingno come to life? You know you got to surf on the black bar to get him, well, this is because the game coders decidec that you should still be able to come across land pokémon on those bars, but even though they're brilliant, they forgot to code in the wild pokémon data for the bars in the cinibar island (and at tht cave) Because of this, the last 'wild pokémon data' you saw will be loaded in memory (provben by the safari zone thing) and when you go to viridian and talk to that man a lot of stuff is changed, you don't appear but the old man does, your name doesn't appear but it says 'old man' or something, and they stored this info in the 'missingno' place of the rom (this comes after the pokémon data)

"Now, when you surf up and down the system will look for that pokémon (derived from the name 'old man' or whatever it was) and in hex that'll be 99 or something and that pokémon doesn't exist (cause then it's already filled with missingno, why is this? Because there are 151 pokémon and a byte has 255 possibilities) anyway, you also come across other pokémon, like 151 level snorlax or something,, this is caused by your name (and some people have a bad name (hehe) and because of that Mblock is loaded or other missingno's, or even trainers that will really mess things up)

"Ah yes, and why is missingno's pic messed up?
"Well, you know (or don't) that a regular computer game has an executable, then a file with the maps in it, a grafix folder etc But a gameboy game does not, everything is stored in 1 file (1!) All the tiles etc.

"So, when it loads missingno, it wants tiles. It goes to look for the tiles. It knows where to look for this information, even though there shouldn't be any information because he's probably reading something else (like text or so) and interpreting that into whatever it's looking for. Like, pikachu's picture is at address 100, there will be a lot of bytes that it'll just read without any info, but missingno's picture info can be anything. Anyway, it reads it, it displays it and it's just messy...

"A bit hard to understand (I used to be a poké rom hacker, aah, the days...)"

Abwayax writes:
OK, this is cool - I've found out there are actually 4 different types of MissingNO.

The four types are: Blocky Glitch Type (also called 'M), Ghost type, Kabutops skeleton type, and Aerodactyl fossil type.

To get the 3 special missingnos (ghost and fossil) you have to have w (for Kabutops fossil), x (for Aerodactyl fossil), or y (for ghost) (they're lowercase) in the 3rd, 5th, or 7th spot in your name. You then have to go to the Cinnabar coast (where Missingno is) and surf. The Missingnos will be OVER Lv. 100, which makes them more powerful. This also explains why TR Rose has a ghost Missingno in her game - it's the "y" in her name "Mandy" that makes it appear.

Okk writes:

Prof Glitch's Lab didn't have much info, but it did get me thinking about Missingno 182's base pokemon, and got me to test that further. That's why I found that title-screen pokemon can change it as well. I started the game when a Porygon was on the title screen, and the next Missingno I encountered knew Conversion. It seems to grab its stats from the last pokemon to go through the games memory. So if Missingno is the only pokemon on your party, you can change its stats, abilities, TM list, etc. by looking at a pokedex entry, or by saving, reseting, and waiting for the approproate pokemon to appear on the title screen. (This explains why my Ghost MissingNo starts with weak Water attacks - my Blue Version starts with a Squirtle on the title screen!)

I have a theory as to why this works. I suspect that this family of Missingno are actually valid pokemon. After all, all three of them do appear in the game, right? But they don't have any stats of their own, because they were never meant to be seen in battle. So instead, they pull their stats from whatever was left in the games memory. There is a flaw to my theory, though, in that it doesn't explain why their names are an error message.

I wonder what would happen if a game were hacked so that Missingno 182 appeared on the title screen..... I guess it's stats would probably be filled with zeros or nulls.

Happy to be of service! Don't forget that the traits of this Missingno aren't set in stone. This is most evident in its displayed types. You've seen them change from one type to another, right?

Your name occupies a string of eleven characters, but you can only define up to seven. In custom names, directly following the last defined character is the end-string (hex 50) which corresponds to Missingno or L80. Everything after that is null, which calls 'M or L zero.

When using a default name, however, all eleven characters are occupied. You simply can't see the entire string because of the end-string character. Here are the full default names for red and blue. The underscores should be read as end-string.

"Kenichi" & "hey you" writes:

For the past few years, I have played my beloved pokemon blue on and off, using it as a playground for missingno experiments.
I haven't picked it up in about a year, but after a friend and I started messing around with missingno again, I made an interesting discovery worth noting.

The missingno.'s that are caught if you have an 'x' or 'y' (I.E. Aerodactyl fossil MISSINGNO. and Ghost MISSINGNO., respectively) in the fifth slot of your name, which are the ones that change type in accord to the last pokemon in your list, can learn ANY TM. For an example: When I had my MISSINGNO. Aerodactyl fossil (obtained from extended mew trick) at the top of my list and a venusaur at the bottom, MISSINGNO. couldn't learn surf. However, when blastoise was moved to the final spot, surf could be learned! I again attempted the same thing using the HM fly and my "fuzzy" MISSINGNO., (The kind I naturally catch along the coast of cinnibar,) at the bottom of my list. When "fuzzy" MISSINGNO. (affectionatly named POWERNO.) was at the bottom the the list, fly was learnable. However, when venusaur took POWERNO.'s place, fly was NOT learnable. I made a third test to be sure; I put my Zapdos at the final spot and MISSINGNO. (Aerodactyl-type) could learn HM flash & fly.

The only odd occurance was that the ability to learn TM 50, substitute, changed randomly.

My particular MISSINGNO. never changed it's attacks, only it's type and back-sprite. But the learnable TMs/HMs always varied due to the final pokemon on my list. These moves are never lost during type-transformation.

blessed360k writes:

You can "evolve" the ghost and Kabutops MissingNo's into Rhydons with their moves. Dump them in the pc (preferably at LVL 5 after using rare candies), save, and turn off. Turn it back on and you should get a Rhydon (or a very stubborn MissingNo that loves the PC).

Talon IceHawk writes:

I recall on your site that somebody said they found a Missingno. and after doing some stuff with it it became a Rhydon, which you qustioned after. Well, I'd just like to say that this happened to me too. I think I just put Missingno. and M-Block into my PC and withdrew them (no game-freeze either) and after checking out the stats page again they were Rhydons. The even more peculiar part is, Missingno. and M-Block are themselves in-battle, but on the stats screen they have no image, and Rhydon's cry. Well, now they've got his picture too, in-battle and out, and have started learning his moves from level-up, because they're no longer actually Missingno. and M-Block.

Why Does MissingNo Exist?

As I was researching the Mew Trick, I found and compiled a list of Pokemon Hex Numbers from gamefaqs. Notice the blank spaces in between the Pokemon names? Maybe these were Pokemon that were deleted before the game was released. These are the spaces where MissingNo lurks in the programming code! If you check the list above (of letters that match with hex values), you will notice that the order is exactly the same (this is the order in which all Pokemon were created - with Rhydon being the first Pokemon ever made). It just so happens that the letters you use for your trainer name make up only part of the complete list. The full list can be accessed using the Mew Glitch or a GameShark code.

256 is a common number of possibilities because computer coding is done in Hexidecimal, which is base 16. (Decimal, which the average person uses for math, is base 10). Beyond the numerals 0-9 are the letters A-F. Early GB games use 8 bits of data to program (a bit being either a 0 or 1 - binary number system - base 2). Hex is a simplified way of writing out binary (because no one wants to fight with strings of 0s and 1s).

The highest possibility in binary is 11111111 = FF = 255. Of course, the lowest possibility is 0. This gives the 256 possibilities for Pokemon spaces, and doubtless is at least part of the reason that there were only 151 Pokemon. Later games use more advanced programming, which allows for many more. Some of these spaces were used to program other Pokemon (like MissingNo). In the original R/B games, the 256 slots are filled with both Pokemon and trainers. This is why certain symbols (like the Male/Female symbols) will cause glitched trainers to appear. However, in G/S only Pokemon occupy 251 of the possible 256 slots (there are glitches residing in the remaining slots, but these can only be found using a Gameshark).

I couldn't tell you where the other glitches came from (I'm speaking of the glitches .4, A, PokeManiac, PkMn, and others that can be found using a GameShark - these are sometimes referred to as "PokeGods" since their number is higher than 151) These Pokemon have no actual form and immediately turn into Rhydons once you catch them. It is said that you can train these Pokemon if you catch them twice, but some people report that catching them at all crashes the game. Sometimes these Pokemon are called made-up names like "Anthrax" or "Beepin". It is doubtful that they were ever Pokemon at all (although 'M and MissingNo are - you can catch them, battle with them, and teach them TM/HM moves right away - you only need to catch them once).

The "256 possibilities" also explains why you can level a glitched high-level Pokemon up to 255 before they revert back to level 0, and why your maximum time in the game is 255 hours - it will NEVER hit the 256th hour.

Image courtesy of MissingNo98

So in conclusion, here's what we've learned from our MissingNo experiments:

  1. Nintendo officially discourages trainers from messing around with MissingNo (and other Glitch Pokemon).

  2. The strip of land east of Cinnabar (where you can Surf on land) is the only game location with no specific Pokemon programmed. As a result, Pokemon from the last area you visited will show up there, enabling you to battle Safari Zone Pokemon and catch ghosts without a Silph Scope.

  3. You can catch MissingNo and 'M, the Glitch Pokemon, as long as they don't get shipped to your PC.

  4. MissingNo and 'M are not remnants of Mew having been removed from the programming - they are place-holders. Mew is still obtainable using the Mew Trick, and was never removed from the game - she simply wasn't programmed to appear anywhere.

  5. Supposedly, if a glitch Pokemon gets sent to Bill's PC, the system will "crash" and you won't be able to retrieve ANY of your Pokemon from storage (gasp!). But I think only 'M causes this problem.

  6. If you "catch" the glitch Pokemon 'M it won't go away, and you'll still have to defeat it (or catch it a second time). A second catch lets you catch a level 0 or 80 Ditto.

  7. It apparently has no official "type", as its symbol rapidly switches between all available Pokemon symbols (and some non-Pokemon symbols, like the police officer and an old man).

  8. It will appear in Pokemon Stadium as the "Substitute" Rhydon doll. A MissingNo will appear as a Ditto in Pokemon Stadium 2, and then be permanently transformed into a Ditto on your R/B game - this allows you to remove 'Ms from your PC and stop your game from freezing up when you withdraw Pokemon.

  9. MissingNo and 'M aren't all bad. Encountering one causes the sixth item you're carrying to be duplicated. which is a great way to get a nearly-endless stash of Master Balls, Evolution Stones, and stat-boosting items like Protein and Iron.

  10. 'M actually causes much more damage to your records than MissingNo.

  11. Battling with 'M and MissingNo can cause your game's graphics to be temporarily scrambled during battles. Wild Pokemon may face away from you, mirror-imaged. Your trainer's sprite viewed through the menu looks like a scrambled Brock.

  12. Most MissingNos look identical to 'M (a backwards L-shaped block of pixels). Using the letters w, x, or y in your name in the 3rd, 5th, or 7th spot will produce Kabutops fossil, Aerodactyl fossil, and Ghost respectively - it was just luck that I discovered the Ghost MissingNo, thanks to my real name.

  13. Ghost MissingNo behaves differently from his pixel form. Ghost MissingNo's moves change depending on the Pokemon in your party, and sometimes change after the battle. Although you may battle against a Ghost that knows Bubble, Tail Whip, Water Gun, and Tackle, the one you capture may know different moves (like Hypnosis and Confusion). Ghost MissingNo's type will change to the type of whatever Pokemon is in the last slot of your party. When Ghost or Fossil MissingNo (MissingNo 182-184) appears, it pulls its stats from the last Pokemon to go through the game's memory - either from viewing your Pokedex, looking at a Pokemon's stats, or even the Pokemon that is on the title screen when you press start.

  14. Using special characters in your name produces trainers on the coast of Cinnabar. Their Pokemon will be glitches like MissingNo, but can sometimes crash your game.

  15. There's the unresolved issue of the Hall of Fame data. Any random Pokemon can appear, even a Mew! Others mention the names of their character and rival appearing in the Hall of Fame, as well as names of attacks, items, and your Pokemon. Sometimes, combination Pokemon will appear (like half a Bulbasaur and half of something else mixed together). Other times, you will see either a glitched block/bar or no picture at all! Usually, there will be a Bird/Normal type Pokemon in there (the actual MissingNo?). There are also odd type combinations listed: Pokemaniac/9, Normal/Normal, Normal/Ghost, etc. It appears that the worst HoF glitches appear from catching 'Ms (pink screens, odd Pokemon types), but these seem to work themselves out with repeated HoF viewing. The music may change as you scroll through the HoF.

Maybe (MAYBE), there are other rare MissingNos like the Ghost and Fossils that can be accessed by using the Mew Glitch! After all, it's a fluke that those three rare MissingNos fall within the range of possible names. Few people would ever discover the fossils, and I was lucky (thanks to Mom and Dad) that my name happened to have a y in the 5th slot. What if there are other strange MissingNos in different slots that aren't accessible with the letters of your name? We know that really high-numbered Pokemon (sometimes called "PokeGods") don't have an actual form - they revert to Rhydons as soon as you catch them the first time - BUT are any other 'rare' glitches trainable in their original form as 'M and MissingNo are?

And what about the Hall of Fame data? And the "new" Pokemon that appear within your Hall of Fame records? Where did these come from, and why do your records get screwed up? Your Pokedex and trainer info is perfectly fine...

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