Game music of the dead: Pokemon Red and Blue

GR's ongoing tribute to creepy-ass videogame music

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 depressingPokemon Towerin 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 anintense 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 brainand violent behavior. The effects of the tone weren't discovered until after the game released because only adultswere 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 thatin 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?

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