Many gamers have wondered about the origins of Mew. The common knowledge version is that designer Shigeki Morimoto was a bit of a prankster and added number 151 to the Pokémon Red / Pokémon Green file at the very end of development. In fact, Mew replaced the debug tools just two weeks before the game went gold. There’s more to the story, however, as Mr. Morimoto discussed in Game Freak Secret Base, a video series on the developer’s YouTube page. Siliconera has translated the highlights.
Morimoto & Mew
Mew was distributed via a giveaway in 1996 after the game launched. The first contest had only 20 winners, followed by 100 in a second, and the reason why so few were given away was because they had to be procedurally generated individually on Morimoto’s PC. Then he had to trade each one via Link Cable. A larger distribution happened later at the World Hobby Fair in Japan.
In Pokémon Emerald, Morimoto was the director of the Old Sea Map event where players can catch Mew on Faraway Island.
The origins of Mewtwo feature prominently in Pokémon: The First Movie. Mr. Morimoto talks about how amazed he was to see his Mew design animated and moving. Originally, Game Freak only handled the official art and game sprites. Nowadays, however, they design Pokémon with three-dimensional movement in mind so they have greater input in how Pokémon animate.
Finally, Mew’s design was based off Mewtwo‘s. Specifically, Mew was meant to look like a simpler version of Mewtwo to conserve cart space. This means that although Mewtwo is a clone of Mew, the origins of Mew actually lie in Mewtwo. Trippy!
The origins of Pokémon
Pokémon has come a long way since 1996. Monsters are distributed via the internet rather than by contests. The roster of every game is meticulously curated, with no room for zero-hour additions. However, I would argue that the secret monster hiding in the code and the minuscule number of players who had it helped the series grow into what it is now.
Do you have fond memories of using Strength to push a truck on a pier? Did you Surf along the eastern coast of Cinnabar Island instead? Let us know!