Tales From the Glitch 1:

MissingNo... the Phantom of the Pokedex!


MissingNo. the Phantom of the Pokedex!

We've heard warnings all our lives. Don't talk to strangers. Don't fill up on snacks before dinner. Look both ways before you cross the street. Add one more to the list: Never mess with a MissingNo. What is this "evil" Pokemon? Where can I find one? What's so bad about MissingNo anyway? Read on to discover the eerie truth about this creepy Pokemon glitch.

Strange Chain of Events

Thanks to my good friend PKMNAll, I finally got a clear, concise path to discovering the "legendary" glitch Pokemon. Following this set of directions will yield some of the strangest things ever seen in a Pokemon game.

  1. Go to Viridian City and walk north until you reach the Old Man who's just had his coffee. He'll ask if you're in a hurry. Tell him no. Watch a demonstration on how to catch Pokemon.
  2. Fly straight to Cinnabar Island. Get on a water Pokemon and Surf along the east coast of Cinnabar. (Note: in this area, you will encounter Pokemon from the last area you visited. It's a great idea to come here after you leave the Safari Zone, as you can catch Safari Pokemon using regular attacks and Poke Balls, not just food and rocks.)
  3. Keep Surfing until you discover a "glitched" Pokemon. By the way, you will also receive an "infinite" amount of the item you have in the 6th spot. It's a good idea to clone items like Full Restore, Rare Candy, Lemonade, Max Revive, Poke Balls (especially the Master Ball) and Evolution Stones. A pixelly symbol will appear next to the item, showing that you have many more of the item.


The first of the glitch Pokemon is known as "MISSINGNO." Exactly like that. It appears as any other wild Pokemon does, and seems like your typical rare Pokemon. I know for a fact that it doesn't make your game save (like some of the other glitches do) but acts like a regular wild Pokemon.

MissingNo does NOT look like a scrambled mess of pixels like its cousin, 'M (see below). Instead, MissingNo actually LOOKS like a real Pokemon. When you encounter one, you will receive the message that a wild MissingNo has appeared. MissingNo looks like a Ghost Pokemon, actually very similar to Haunter. It has a black body, outlined in light purple, surrounded by an orange glow. Its face looks like a leering Jack-o'-Lantern and it has long-fingered hands that look like they belong to a zombie. I hate to admit it, but it actually looks like a real Pokemon and I can see how many players could be fooled into trying to catch one.

MissingNo's Cousin, 'M

While Surfing around looking for MissingNo, I came across another glitch Pokemon. This dude was nothing more than a big mess of pixels, arranged in a shape vaguely resembling a backwards letter L (almost like a Tetris block). 'M is a purple-orange color, but even his name doesn't look right, since on both sides of the 'M there are strange pixelly blocks that change color when you change to different types of Pokemon. Also, as soon as you run into 'M (when playing Pokemon Stadium's GB Tower) your game will automatically save, whether you want it to or not!

'M is strange in another way as well. He (it?) is either at level 0 or level 80. If you fight the level 0 variety, it goes down after one hit and gives you a whopping 0 experience points. The level 80 'M is a bit tougher to beat, but defeating it yields a bunch of experience. (I only encountered the level 80 variety a few times, so I'm not sure if its attacks are the same as its weaker state.)

Wanting to know more about 'M, I used my Ditto and Transformed into it (the level 0 variety), just to see what kind of attacks this sucker had. First off, Ditto became (if you can believe it), a pixelly bunch of blocks just like 'M! It was as if this guy was supposed to be in here, and Ditto just Transformed. Looking at the attacks, there were two Water Gun attacks and Sky Attack. For Sky Attack, it always began with "'M is glowing!" I've never actually used a Sky Attack before, so I don't know, does it always say this? But I find a combination flying/water Pokemon pretty strange, don't you? Yeah, I know, Gyarados is one, but Gyarados doesn't use flying attacks!

The Big Battler

The final glitch Pokemon you will find on Cinnabar is a REAL Pokemon. You can catch it. But I don't know what Pokemon it's going to be. In my game, I encountered a level 160 Magnemite with Swift, Screech, Supersonic, and Thunder Wave attacks. PKMNAll found a high-level Nidorina. But whatever type Pokemon is in your game, that's it. You can catch as many of this high-leveler as you want, but you won't find any other Pokemon that high. According to PKMNAll, you can raise this Pokemon all the way up to level 250! Of course, if you bring it into Stadium, it'll revert back to level 100. Still, it's not a bad deal! And defeating it (which might be tricky) will give you lots of experience. it's what helped my Mewtwo grow a level!

Gotta Catch 'Em All?

The big thing I've heard about MissingNo is that you should NEVER, EVER try to catch one! According to rumor (legend?) the capturing of a MissingNo will cause your GB game to malfunction and erase ALL your saved data! At the very least, a MissingNo in your game will make all your GB data inaccessible to the N64 game Pokemon Stadium.

For some of the older gamers out there (like me!), remember back to the original Super Mario Bros. Remember that trick where you jumped on the turtle shell at the end of level 3-1 and accumulated tons of extra lives? How you could jump all you liked, happily collecting points and extra lives, as long as you didn't ever collect more than 128 lives? (Of course, after 9 lives, the numbers turned into symbols so you couldn't tell how many you had anyway. kinda like the symbols that appear next to your number of Pokemon items after you do the Cinnabar Surfing code.) As soon as you got that 129th extra life, the game somehow got mixed up and thought you only had one life left. and once you lost that life, it was Game Over.

And remember the "Minus World"? There was a nearly-impossible (until you figured it out) trick in level 1-2 of Super Mario Bros in which you were supposed to "get your head stuck in a brick" which would lead you to a secret "lost" level. Until you actually did this once (or saw someone do it), it sounds not only impossible, but just plain weird. And what was your reward for accomplishing this feat? A water level, full of nasties, that just kept repeating over and over again. The only way out was to hit reset, destroying your current game.

Sounds a lot like our buddy MissingNo, doesn't it?

Ok, so maybe you don't believe the rumors. Or you don't care. Well, good luck to you. But I have to warn you, catching MissingNo is almost impossible, even if you should want to try. This sucker's at a level 163 (the highest your own Pokemon can reach is level 100) and it seems to have no set pattern of attacks. Needless to say, after my first encounter with Mr. Glitchy, all my Pokemon got wiped out rather quickly and I wound up back at a Pokemon Center, half-broke.

But after some trial-and-error, I noticed something fascinating. It seemed that MissingNo became the Pokemon type of the LAST Pokemon I used in battle (not necessarily the one I started this battle with). Here's an example: When Victreebel was the last Pokemon I used, MissingNo started off with Sleep Powder, Acid, and Razor Leaf attacks (even though I began the MissingNo battle with a Persian). Likewise when Mewtwo was the last one I battled with, MissingNo began with Disable, Swift, and Psychic attacks. If I hadn't battled any other Pokemon since the last time I entered a Pokemon Center, MissingNo had the weak attacks of a water Pokemon (Tackle, Tail Whip, Bubble, and Water Gun). I call MissingNo the "evil Ditto" for this reason, as it can mimic whatever type of Pokemon you last used without using up a turn to Transform.

Bring It On!

Once I discovered the secret to MissingNo's attacks, I decided that a little strategy was in order. If MissingNo was the "evil Ditto", why not counter its transformation with my own Ditto? So I built up my Ditto's level and decided to take on the big, bad glitch. I made sure that whenever I battled another Pokemon, Ditto was always the last one I used.

Finally, it happened. MissingNo attacked me, and this time I was ready. Right off the bat, I used Transform, but not before MissingNo Transformed into Ditto! So there we were at a stalemate, Ditto vs. Ditto. So I switched Ditto for my Victreebel. Like a good predictable Pokemon, MissingNo Transformed into Victreebel, so I pulled him back and brought out bad boy Mewtwo. Using my own Pokemon's weakness to another of my Pokemon, I defeated MissingNo without too much effort. I got a bunch of experience points (upwards of 1000 per Pokemon, I believe) and that was it. Battle over. But I still wanted to know more.

One More Time!

I was determined to learn more about MissingNo, whether my game liked it or not, so I healed up at the Cinnabar Pokemon Center and ventured out. By this point, I was half-wondering if I'd imagined the whole thing. I mean, a ghost-looking Pokemon that can "curse" your game? Sounds pretty Farfetch'd to me. (Audience groans at Mandy's horrible pun.)

I ran into a lot of the 'M Pokemon but no MissingNo. I kept returning to the Pokemon Center for healing, and then it happened. Leading off with my Ditto, I ran smack into MissingNo. Since I hadn't battled anything since my healing, I was facing the weak water-type MissingNo. Right away I used Transform.

Ditto Transformed all right. into the same pixelly mess as when it became the 'M Pokemon. So what, right? Actually, it tells us something very important about MissingNo. It was never supposed to be captured, trained, and battled with. Think about it, whenever Ditto becomes another Pokemon, it's as if you have the opposing Pokemon and you're battling with it. If there wasn't an image for a MissingNo (fighting on your side), I guess it's not meant to be caught.


I don't remember if I won that battle or not. Really, it doesn't matter. After playing around on the coast of Cinnabar for a while longer, I got kinda bored with the whole glitch Pokemon thing and decided to end out my game. I didn't want my game data to be corrupted, so I just shut the game off without saving.

Later in the evening, I turned the game back on, deciding I was going to level up some Pokemon (like my trusty Ditto) for play in Pokemon Stadium. I was double-checking all my info to make sure I hadn't botched anything in my quest for the truth about MissingNo. Everything seemed fine. I realized that I had saved my game after I increased my number of items (doing the code above), so I'd never again have to worry about Ultra Balls, Rare Candy, etc. I also had that level 160 Magnemite in my collection.

Looking at the Cinnabar PC, I checked my items. and my Pokemon. and Oak's PC. Everything was fine. Then I logged onto the Pokemon League's site.

My jaw almost hit the floor when I saw that all my Hall of Fame records were totally garbled. There were a few Japanese characters mixed in with the English letters. One Pokemon entry read "Gary" (the name of my rival). There were also pictures of a Magmar and a Rattata, two Pokemon that I KNOW I never used in the Elite Four battle.

I never caught MissingNo. I never caught 'M. All I did was run into these guys and look what happened to my saved game! Maybe Ditto's little Transforming act made the game go haywire. But all is not lost: my Pokemon still work on Pokemon Stadium. I have a huge amount of special items. And most importantly of all, I've started to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the evil glitch Pokemon, 'M and MissingNo.

What Now?

But there's much more to learn about these "mistake" Pokemon. For example, why are these Pokemon in the game at all? Obviously MissingNo looks like a REAL Pokemon. Was it originally a character that got cut from the game? Is this some sick programmer's idea of a joke? Did the developers think that 150 (151) Pokemon were enough? Why didn't it show up in Gold and Silver as one of the 100 NEW Pokemon? CAN you catch MissingNo? Since there are weird glitch Pokemon, accessed only through a bizarre sequence of events, might other strange events (talking to people in a specific order, etc) trigger the appearance of OTHER glitch/high-level Pokemon?

Rumors abound regarding these glitches. For example, one source claims that catching a MissingNo and feeding it a Rare Candy will produce a Kangaskhan. These are also the sources that claim buying a Magikarp for 500 Poke-bucks and sending it off to Daycare will produce a Mew, so I'm not putting too much stock in these stories. But IS there anything cool you can do with a MissingNo or an 'M?

Join me next time for Pokemon Mysteries Revealed. Or better yet, why not send me an account of YOUR experiences with MissingNo and 'M. And let me know which high-level Pokemon lurks within YOUR game! And has it caused any glitches in your Hall of Fame data?

You'd better believe the truth is out there. but will we ever discover it? (Theme from X-Files plays.)

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