How far would you go to “Catch ’em All?” One would-be Pokémon master went a little too far, and spoiled the whole experience for himself.

Catching most Pokémon is just a matter of putting the time in, but when it comes to the very rarest creatures, everything changes. It takes a lot of luck, dedication, and the occasional trip to Japan to get them all, because they’re only available at special events held in different parts of the world. In Issue 287 of The Escapist, John Funk talks about how the difficulty of catching the likes of Celebi and Deoxys drove him to cheat, and how he wished it hadn’t.

Once upon a time, I caught ’em all. I had every single Pokémon – every starter, every evolution, every legendary – from every generation of the series. My collection was complete; I was a true Pokémon master.

Once upon a time, I was a cheater.

From the earliest days of Red and Blue, the franchise has divided its roster of characters up between the two versions … That wasn’t much of a problem in itself: If you were a kid in junior high school in 1998, it was a safe bet that you’d be able to find whichever version you didn’t have yourself among your classmates.

It was trickier to get the one-of-a-kind monsters found in the games … [but] back in the misty days of 1998 none of these trials seemed insurmountable to a young collector determined to succeed. With the right help, I could catch all 150 of those Pokémon!

Except there were actually 151.

Mew, the secret 151st pocket monster – barely mentioned in the game – was the Pokémon series’ first impossible hurdle. Every other challenge was surmountable if you put in enough time and knew the right people to trade with, but Mew, the tiny pink psychic cat-thing, was only given out to people who attended rare official Nintendo events and could not actually be caught in the game.

It was a simple matter to use technological trickery to score Mew and other ultra-rare Pokémon, but it was a hollow victory, with none of the thrill of the hunt. You can read more about it in Funk’s article, “Can’t Catch ’em All.”

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