Tears of Blue

One of my favorite Pokemon in the world is Latios. It’s my favorite color - blue - and part dragon type, and just super cool looking, if I’m honest. It was a Pokemon I had desperately wanted in my party since my very first Pokemon game, Emerald. There was just one problem with that dream, at the time.

I am awful at catching roaming Pokemon.

I know there’s some fancy strategy to it. Something about keeping the Pokemon from fleeing and status effects or whatever, but I’ve never been able to get it right. I either knock out the Pokemon, or it finds a way to get away from me again.

Considering Latios is a roaming Pokemon in Emerald, that was a problem for me. The problem was only worsened by the fact that, as a child who wasn’t aware of how roaming Pokemon worked yet, I’d foolishly used my only Master Ball on Rayquaza hoping for a quick legendary capture. I didn’t have it in my heart to restart the entire game for one Pokemon just because my Master Ball was gone, even if I really wanted it. As far as Pokemon Emerald was concerned, Latios remained uncaptured, as I just could not figure out how to catch it.

As other games pulled at my attention, the challenge that kept victory just out of my grasp almost completely slipped my mind. I still loved Latios, but I wasn’t quite as frustrated when trying to get him on my team as soon as possible became less of a current problem.

I got roped back into building a team of my favorite Pokemon upon the release of HeartGold and SoulSilver.

I got SoulSilver as soon as it came out, since I really liked Lugia. I completely focused on getting through the story of the game. I knew better about roaming Pokemon, especially since Raikou and Entei could be met relatively early, so I kept my Master Ball saved and caught Lugia easily with something else.

As I played through Kanto, I started focusing on my Pokedex as well. That was how I found out about the other roaming Pokemon.

By some stroke of luck or fate, I’d managed to pick the game that had Latios as the version exclusive roaming Pokemon.

A friend helped me get a Latias, while I worked on catching my Latios. Not that it was particularly hard, once I found out what routes it frequented. As soon as I met it in battle, I showed no hesitation in using my Master Ball.

I couldn’t think of a good nickname that would fit my new party member, so I decided to just leave it as is. Latios was a pretty cool name anyway, even if it wasn’t very original or unique or even personalized on my part. It was my Latios, that I caught myself. That was all that had mattered.

Thrilled by my new teammate, I added Latios to the front of my party, allowing it to walk behind me. I absolutely loved its little miniature sprite.

Since that day, I did everything in the game with Latios. Finish my Pokedex, get the highest rating trainer card, train my other Pokemon… Latios even quickly made it to level 100.

Unfortunately, eventually, there was just nothing left to do. With no particular tasks to keep my interest, I started focusing on other games.

It at least wasn’t long before Pokemon Black and White were released. I chose Black this time, liking Reshiram’s design. I fell in love with Pokemon all over again, ready to complete Black the same way I completed SoulSilver.

As soon as I was able to transfer Pokemon, I knew exactly the team I wanted to transfer over. Mainly, I knew I wanted to transfer over Latios, to journey with me again like he did before.

I had a feeling transferring Pokemon would be difficult with HMs, and Latios knew Fly from when I was using him, so I was going to have to return to SoulSilver to remove that first. It also gave me a chance to play around with looking at his sprites in that game one last time.

Starting up SoulSilver, I looked up where the Move Deleter was and flew to Blackthorn City. Considering I liked Fly, I figured I’d just leave the move’s slot empty to reteach it to Latios later.

After wandering around doing relatively nothing, I finally transferred Latios to Pokemon Black. Once he was in my party, I took some time to admire the new sprite and add Fly back to his moveset.

Then, it was time to complete the game.

As I started running low on tasks again, I properly learned about shiny hunting. I knew about shiny Pokemon of course, but I always figured it was just a completely random event to simply hope for. It never occurred to me to try actually focusing on a Pokemon to hunt for a shiny version.

I also found a shiny hunting group online, dedicated to tips and trading Pokemon. I built up quite the collection thanks to the help of some of the more knowledgeable members.

One day as I was checking in on the group, one of the other members posted a message that they were sending off all their shiny Pokemon to new homes. They didn’t give a reason, just that they weren’t really interested anymore but didn’t want to leave them in storage forever. The member messaged me, pointing out the post and that they had a shiny Latios among the Pokemon they were finding homes for, and how they noticed it was my favorite Pokemon.

They were asking if I wanted it, completely for free.

I said yes without even thinking on it. We set up a trade and I sent them the random Pokemon they suggested I offer. I was so, so excited when the Latios appeared on my screen. He was instantly another addition to my permanent party.

I ran out of tasks in the game, and started solely focusing on shiny hunting. I didn’t really need many Pokemon to catch any that I found, so over time, my party started to dwindle. Unless I needed something else, I was pretty much using exclusively my shiny Latios.

It wasn’t meant to be favoritism, or me liking one more than the other, I just found it fun to watch the shiny sparkle animation whenever I battled.

Somewhere along the way, my other Latios just ended up in the PC. I needed party space for eggs, since I was hatching several at a time. It wasn’t supposed to be for long, just until another game came out and I could transfer him and start using him again.

The incident truly began when I was cleaning out some of my old, random Pokemon. I wasn’t really paying attention, and next thing I know, I’d accidentally confirmed releasing my very first Latios.

It had been a while since I last saved… and worse, my last save was before a trade with a friend. I was holding on to one of their Pokemon while they were doing something else. Resetting to get my Latios back would delete my friend’s Pokemon.

As much as I hated it, I had no choice but to say goodbye. With hardly a way to get out of the frustrating situation, I just went back to do some more shiny hunting. When I was done for the day, I saved, mourning my lost Pokemon once more, and quit the game for a bit.

My mood managed to lift after a small break. It was just pixels and data, I’d told myself. Unique data, sure, but it wasn’t like my life was over. I still had the memories of everything I’d done with Latios at least.

Eventually, news about Pokemon Black and White 2 was on the rise. I was probably going to transfer my shiny Pokemon and some other favorites over when the games would be released, so I thought it would be fun to train and mess around until then.

For whatever reason, my location of choice for the day ended up being Pinwheel Forest. I ran around, letting my Latios fight whatever Pokemon, until a Tornadus appeared among the random encounters.

That seemed… odd. I was certain I’d already caught the Tornadus that roamed my game.

Granted, I’d also recently completely destroyed one of my other games with a new Action Replay. I just figured maybe it screwed up my DS in some way too. Not wanting to do anything to the game with my most important Pokemon on it, I decided to run away from the battle. If it was legitimate, I’d just meet it again and decide what to do later.

I continued my trek through the forest, until another battle occurred. Another Tornadus. This time, it was shiny.

Something was definitely off. Not just the fact that I’d encountered two completely different Tornadus in a row, but something also felt… marginally different about the new one’s sprite. I struggled to place what it was, despite having just seen a more normal Tornadus.

Regardless, I still wasn’t in the mood to play around with potential glitches. It wasn’t like I had the supplies on me to properly catch a roaming Pokemon anyway. I ran from the fight again, finding it too cruel to just battle the shiny.

A few more steps, and another battle initiated. I begged for it to be something other than a Tornadus.

A Thundurus appeared on the screen. It wasn’t Tornadus, but it wasn’t unrelated, either. I ran again.

Every few steps, the pattern continued. Shiny Thundurus. Landorus. Shiny Landorus.

It was when that final Landorus appeared on my screen that I realized what the differences among the shiny sprites were. They had patches of discoloration, almost like bruises or welts on their bodies. They were barely noticeable on that first Tornadus, but Landorus was covered in them.

I continued to flee, thoroughly unnerved by how badly my game was acting up. I didn’t want to give up and quit just yet, so I wondered if reloading the area would fix it. I was close to the little area Virizion usually waited in, so I thought maybe just walking into and out of there would do the trick.

I stepped into Rumination Field, ready to just do a quick little loop to ease my nerves and step back out, only to find a Virizion actually waiting for me. Again, I was positive I’d already caught it.

For whatever reason, I trusted the Virizion more than I trusted some random encounters, so I approached it.

A battle started, and revealed the Virizion to be a shiny version. However, it looked even more messed up than the other encounters. It had even more of those glitched, bruised spots, but specks of red were far more noticeable among the messed up pixels. In fact, some of the patches were mostly red, as though it was bleeding out.

I felt horrible looking at its miserable sprite. As much as I hated knocking out shinies, I decided to put this one out of its misery. Its HP bar emptied, and the battle ended.

When the game faded back to the overworld, another Pokemon stood in Virizion’s place. At least, I assumed it was a Pokemon. The pixels looked too jumbled to tell what it was.

Already deep into whatever was going on, I interacted with the pixels.

A fight started with what the game at least identified as a Latios. It wasn’t entirely wrong. The Pokemon was a Latios, but rather than glitchy and bruised, it looked more like one Latios gorily stitched to another. The majority of its body was a regular blue Latios, with one of its wings broken in half. The other wing was that of a shiny Latios, with red splayed across the seam where it connected to the rest of the body. Another bloody patch was placed on its chest, replacing the little triangle marking with the shiny variant, almost like a skin graft. More red poured out of its eyes, as if the Latios was crying blood. A glitchy version of the shiny sparkle played out, with only half of the graphic appearing before the animation gave up and quit before it could even finish.

My shiny Latios was sent out on my side of the battle, its animations still playing normally.

The game prompted me to pick something to do, but I just couldn’t stop staring at the opposing Pokemon. It was a wild battle, so there was a Pokeball next to the Latios’s name to signify that I had caught the species before. Though even that seemed messed up somehow. The Pokeball icon was the wrong color, with the top more of a purple rather than the usual red.

Almost like a tiny Master Ball.

Perhaps it was hopeful of me at the time, to start thinking about my old Latios. However, the small glitched effect coupled with the Pokemon’s level felt too coincidental to just happen by chance.

The battle suddenly continued without me, as if I’d been taking too long to think.

“The wild Latios used Dragon Claw!”

The super effective attack lashed out at my shiny. Rather than leave it like that and let my Pokemon fight, the animation played out more like Fury Swipes, striking again and again until my Latios’s health bar reached 0.

The game wouldn’t even ask me to switch out Pokemon. The screen shifted to reveal my trainer, and a new health bar appeared with her name attached to it. I had a measly 1 HP to my trainer’s name. Even if I could fight, the rest of her stats probably weren’t any better, if I had to guess.

“The wild Latios used Psychic!”

I hadn’t even been given a menu. The game just kept going as if I was watching a scripted battle.

The animation for Psychic played, but rather than deal damage to my trainer, a text box started acting as if someone was talking.

“What did he have that I don’t?” A Latios cry sounded, and the glitchy sparkle animation played again. “His COLORS? Not anymore.” Another attack animation played. It looked like Dragonbreath this time, though it still didn’t harm my trainer. “His MOVES? My moveset now.”

My battle menu finally made me do something, prompting me only to swap out my fainted Pokemon. My shiny Latios was completely missing from my party, the first slot now occupied by the shiny Lucario I’d also brought along. It was far weaker than Latios, having been only recently been obtained.

Before I could send Lucario out to lose in a battle it had no hopes on standing a chance in, the dialogue box continued. “His LIFE? Gone.”

The party menu closed without me even selecting anything.

“Now you’ll have to pay attention to me. I’m what you WANTED!”

The battle menu only gave me one option in response.


I selected it, and watched a Master Ball fly across the screen, catching the Latios without any issue.

No other Pokemon popped out of the shadows. No more text gave any further context, as the game simply pulled me out of the battle and let me do whatever I wanted to do again.

I checked my party. A Latios was in the first slot again, innocently seeming as if nothing had just happened.

I knew better. I checked his summary. That creepy, half-shiny Latios was what greeted me. Beyond his sprite, all of his data matched that of my old Latios from SoulSilver. My old Latios, who apparently felt lonely, and betrayed.

I wished there was some way to tell him that it was an accident, that I didn’t mean to release him with those other Pokemon, but… was that even true? Even if I hadn’t released him, I would have just left him in the box while I waited for the new game. Even if I brought him to the new game, how long until the shiny Latios or yet another new Pokemon ended up taking away my attention? I’d chosen that fate for him.

When I first caught him, I didn’t want two Latios. I definitely didn’t want two in one, either. Yet, I chose to have them anyway.

I saved my game.