A Word of Caution
This game is meant as an art project, but there are mature themes all over it. Yes, this is a pokemon romhack, but if you do not like such topics, don’t play it or let your kid play it. That said, just because such topics are in the game doesn’t mean the creator condones or encourages such actions. This is based in a setting that is post-apocalyptic, which brings in a notion of morality and this is not the first game to explore such themes, take a look at the classic Fallout and Fallout 2.
With that, let’s introduce you to Plaguemon: Lost Diaries. Plaguemon is an art project of a Pokemon Red romhack by Hikikomori, set in a post-apocalyptic setting where much of Kanto has been destroyed and pokemon have be mutated into grotesque creatures. Type names have been changed to somewhat reflect these changes and pokemon names have been changed appropriately, too (these creatures being referred to as Plaguemon in game). There are also drugs that help your plaguemon and Plague Corp. provides nuking services to heal them. Mart are stocked with items like flamethrowers and motorcycles, and yes, they are awesome.
This Game is Cursed
This game holds the ambiance of a game that is meant to scare you. The opening alone give that impression along with the stock black and white color scheme chosen for Super GameBoy modes. The glitches in game provide a sense of it, too. One thing you may notice as you play the game is a stutter, and if you catch the stutter from the front, the eyes blinking. This is the first romhack I have ever played that had the eyes on the character blink and it added much to the crazy feel this hack is supposed to give.
The imagery and graphic changes in the game make for an interesting experience. So, another warning, this game does feature graphic images. The names of plaguemon are also horrible puns on real-world events, but again, it adds to the atmosphere already presented. Names of attacks also have name changes that many will view as inappropriate. I do not condone or encourage these actions for which these moves or plaguemon are named. In the end it lends as a commentary of sorts of what the world of Pokemon would be like in a post-apocalyptic setting.
So the game changes to the world tell a story of destruction and post nuclear trauma, which people deal with in different ways. You will notice that some buildings have been destroyed and others have been cut short from what they were in the base game. All of Saffron is a big mess, and you can no longer go and visit the Game Corner in Celadon. Needless to say, you cannot get some items that would normally be found in these places or get the experience you would typically get from them, but there have been alternatives added to compensate for that. You can buy the items that you wouldn’t be able to get or there are random NPCs that give them to you.
The trainers in-game also show stripes of corruption from the devastation. Hikers are wheeling and dealing in risque activities and gym leaders make deals with demons. The world shows flavor in the caliber of people and what they have to say to you. In fact, the S.S. Anne was replaced with the Titanic. There are plenty of things to get offended at, but that’s someone else’s problem.
So, as noted above, this game adds items like a car and motorcycle. The car can shoot people, the motorcycle goes really fast which makes it easier to hit spots earlier in the game. The flamethrower is definitely a fun addition, but you must be right next to the person to actually get rid of them. The code for the flamethrower works on things designated as objects in game, which means, item balls and NPCs. Unfortunately, trees are tile entities and the block is changed whenever you cut a tree. Another addition is a special item that evolves your starter plaguemon a third time, making a total of four evolution steps.
Finally, you’ll notice this early on in the game, but the battle scenes got changed. You no longer use a back sprite and both pokemon are on the same level. This messes with the battle scene animations a bit and creates interesting glitchy looking effects when the battle is over. The background also changes depending on your location. It is usually the same in most locations, but there are a few that are different. You also don’t name your rival.
I left out story elements and some details for sake of not spoiling anything and to keep this Safe For Work. The hack is one of those most people will avoid playing in public where prying eyes can peer over their shoulders while in hospital waiting rooms. This hack is also an interesting look into what the world of Pokemon would look like if a situation similar to the Fallout series happened there. I may do an article on Fallout and Fallout 2 to give background on what I mean by that and the original intention of the Fallout series by Interplay. This hack did remind me of those games in many respects from an analytical standpoint. It was fun to play and interesting to poke around in due to the changes there are in it, almost making one explore for shear curiosity after finding out the normal flow of the game was disrupted. I found it super weird when all the knowledge I had of playing Red and Blue came to an abrupt halt after I got into the game. I saw some things missing, but wrote it off as only minor, until I got deeper into the rabbit hole.
As a final point, this is liable to offend you if you leave yourself prone to getting offended. This is not a typical romhack by any stretch of the meaning, it does take a step out of the kid-friendly ring. If you would like to follow the development, then head over to the discord server, but beware, there are plenty of Italians there and you may not understand everything.