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Game music of the dead: Pokemon Red and Blue

Game: Pokemon Red and Blue/Green

Song: Lavender Town theme

Composer: Junichi Masuda


Above: The original Lavender Town theme from the first release of Red and Green in Japan

The Pokemon series is full of creepy allusions if you look hard enough, but by far the creepiest place in all the Pokemon kingdom is Lavender Town and its depressing Pokemon Tower in the Kanto region of Pokemon Red and Blue. Meant to showcase Ghost-type Pokemon, Lavender Town reeks of death. As you ascend the seven-story mausoleum of the Pokemon Tower, you see nothing but grave after grave and trainers wailing in anguish at the loss of their beloved Pokemon friends. It's also the homeplace of Cubone, who wears his dead mother's skull as a mask to hide his own face.

Lavender Town's story goes beyond the in-game creepiness though, and the eerie audio track itself sparked an intense urban legend. The story goes that the properties of the Lavender Town theme audio, particularly some of the high pitched tones, caused mental disturbances specifically in children (whose ears are much better at hearing higher frequencies), and in at least a few cases drove the childen to commit suicide. Symptoms, allegedly documented by Game Freak employee Satou Harue, included headaches/migraines, nosebleeds, insomnia, hemorrhaging of the brain and violent behavior. The effects of the tone weren't discovered until after the game released because only adults were involved in the testing process.

And of course, to make the story appear more credible, it includes the usual conspiracy theory bits about Game Freak and Nintendo paying people off and covering the whole thing up. The one thing that can't be denied though, is that in subsequent versions of the game in Japan and worldwide, the Lavender Town music is noticably altered to remove the higher pitched tones.


Above: The slightly altered, less suicide-inducing version from Pokemon Red and Blue


Above: The Lavender Town theme played backwards is not for the faint of heart. Can you feel the ghosts swishing past your head?

But it's still just an urban legend... right?  

Oct 26, 2010

 

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46 comments

  • EdDeRs1 - October 28, 2011 4:21 a.m.

    jesus, that musics so creepy i would expect to see the Undertaker come in to it...
  • Kyo - March 4, 2011 5:45 p.m.

    Even when I was little I loved Lavender towns music alot lol I still do to this day. It's creepy and filled with sorrow and sadness but it's nice. I had no idea about all the urban legends though XD crazy
  • ShokuaHyuga - November 13, 2010 4:39 a.m.

    I could feel the original Lavender town theme affecting my brain; and reversed was even wierder.
  • GameManiac - October 29, 2010 10:47 p.m.

    By far, Lavender Town and its Pokemon Tower is the most depressing factor in the entire series. Odd, I don't think the music is suicide-inducing, but clearly depressing and unusual. I was more preoccupied hearing Gary (or whatever people decided to call him) say "Are your Pokemon dead? I can at least make them faint." Or even when the Chandlers inside the Pokemon Tower demand blood and souls and whatnot. That creeped me out when I replayed LeafGreen.
  • SolarPoweredShitMachine - October 28, 2010 4:22 p.m.

    Anyone who would kill themselves over a song is an idiot. That makes it harder to deny the legitemacy of the urban legend since there are plenty of idiots in the world...
  • elpurplemonkey - October 28, 2010 5:28 a.m.

    Jesus H. Christ. I was playing the Lavender Town song through headphones while reading that urban legend- and had a generic scary movie on tv. Then I listened to the Lavender Town song backwards. I could only get through 48 seconds of it because I am genuinely afraid right now. Goosebumps. All the creepy stuff you guys have been posting and Pokemon is the one that gets to me. Halloweek indeed.
  • philipshaw - October 28, 2010 2:39 a.m.

    Forgot how creepy this music is,but the urban legend is just that
  • Ilyere - October 27, 2010 11:57 p.m.

    Figured this would be featured. I hated going through Lavender Town back when I played Pokemon Blue religiously.
  • shmoopy97 - October 27, 2010 8:47 p.m.

    Wow thats very frightning..... the first time i plaed threw blue when i got to lavendar town i got a nose bleed..... wow
  • Kenzo - October 27, 2010 4:53 p.m.

    i always turned the volume down when i got to lavender town. not because of headaches, but because it was creepy as hell. and that backwards version? there's gonna be zombie pikachus in my dreams for a week now. thanks a ton.
  • rpadTVbsuKenyan5000 - October 27, 2010 4:24 p.m.

    Lavender Town always did have creepy music. I always preferred turning the volume down when I got to that section when I was a kid because it did make my head hurt to listen for too long. Interesting that there are suicide conspiracies with the Japanese version though.
  • TheElephantManchurianCandidate - October 27, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    This lead me to some really scary stories from here http://www.falconchurch.com/showthread.php?180-Lavender-Town-Tone%28Pokemon-Red-Green%29-THIS-IS-VERY-VERY-LONG also aparently these enemies were in Lavender tower hidden in the code they are suprisingly creepy for a kids game: http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l88eaa3xAe1qd0isso1_100.png http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l88e6af6gQ1qd0isso1_100.png Thanks for all the nightmare fuel Carolyn
  • Tobio - October 27, 2010 9:38 a.m.

    Always grabbed my bike when I had to go through this... bubudum bubudum bubuduuduuduuduuu...
  • NanoElite666 - October 27, 2010 6:29 a.m.

    Glad to see the reverse version featured. Came across that sometime earlier this year and thought it was pretty spiffy.
  • garfunkling - October 27, 2010 2:45 a.m.

    Truth be told i turned down the volume all the way when i got to this part. I hated the beginning of it ,creepy
  • Robusken - October 27, 2010 1:58 a.m.

    That backwards version just sounds like something that would play when a ghost is screwing around with all the stuff in your house. Or the noise your gameboy would make once it dies.
  • WickedSid - October 27, 2010 1:32 a.m.

    Hmm, the reversed Lavender town music makes me want to make babies... Interesting, no? Most likely they'd be featured in next years 11 scariest babies article due to being conceived and serenaded by these beautiful tones. This is Halloweek after all.
  • Pry0citer - October 27, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    I actually hear a bit of a difference. The earlier (Suicidal one) was a bit more high pitched, but I didn't get a headache... I'm 14... so i guess I fall under the younger children catagory for hearing high pitched noises... I can see how it might give people migranes or headaches, but I doubt very highly kids killed themselves when they could have just flipped the ON/OFF Button. God Pokemon is trying to kill us! First the Porygon episode on TV giving thousands of kids seizures, and now this music causing kids to kill themselves.
  • abbottfrizzell - October 27, 2010 12:36 a.m.

    OOO nice reverse I sorta want this as my ringtone
  • shyfonzie - October 26, 2010 11:44 p.m.

    Lavendar Town made me sad. It reminded me of dead pets. Good Halloween choice.

Showing 1-20 of 46 comments

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