Game Freak has been on a revival kick ever since Pokémon Sun and Moon and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield will introduce a Galarian Weezing, Galarian variants of Zigzagoon and Linoone (and their new evolution Obstagoon), and the recently announced Galarian evolution of Farfetch’d, named Sirfetch’d.
While I am excited to see the funny little waterfowl receive an evolution, let’s step back a moment and remember that it almost evolved in 1999.
Late last year, a ROM for the 1997 beta version of Pokémon Gold and Silver leaked onto the Internet. While the ROM features quite a few, um, features that didn’t make it into the final version, the big takeaway from the ROM is its early Gen II Pokémon designs.
Some Pokémon, such as Chikorita and Ampharos, were virtually unchanged between the beta and the final release, while others, including Bilssey and Entei, underwent radical redesigns.
However, quite a few Pokémon in the beta were cut from the game entirely, including a Farfetch’d evolution.
That beta evolution was a wildly different beast from Sirfetch’d.
Instead of looking like a haughty Lancelot duck with a leek lance and shield, the scrapped evolution was distinctly swan-like, wielded a mushroom staff, and donned a black ballet mask.
Or perhaps the mask was actually a collection of black facial feathers in the shape of a mask.
Moreover, the beta evolution’s name came out of left field.
According to The Cutting Room Floor, a site that collects unused and cut video game content, this Pokemon would have been called Madame. Not Madamfetch’d, just Madame.
While Sirfetch’d is a far cry from Madame, at least the company is finally fulfilling its decade-long dream of evolving the weird little duckling.
Then again, Madame wasn’t the only scrapped Gold and Silver beta Pokémon to see new life in a later generation.
The Cutting Room Floor’s collection of Gold and Silver beta sprites is full of examples of ideas that were discarded and later reused in subsequent Pokémon games.
For instance, Gurotesu is a ditched Pokémon that looks like a cross between a gulper eel and an angler fish, while Ikari is another Pokémon cut from the final version that is essentially a shark with an anchor for a tail.
If you were to remove Gurotesu’s tail and replace it with Ikari’s anchor, you have a monster that is a dead ringer for Gen III’s Huntail. That can’t be a coincidence.
Further down the list of beta sprites, you can also an early design for Mime Jr., another Pokémon that was scrapped from Gold and Silver and introduced in a later generation.
Granted, the beta’s design is decidedly more egg-shaped —and sports the name Baririina— but since it was supposed to evolve into Mr. Mime and includes Mime Jr.’s pointed hat, you would be hard-pressed to not to see the similarities.
The Cutting Room Floor’s list also includes early concepts of Leafeon and Lickilicky which, interestingly enough, evolve quite differently from their final versions.
The beta Leafeon lacks the final design’s forehead leaf and was supposed to evolve via a Leaf Stone, while the prototype Lickilicky looks like a bewhiskered Slowpoke and could evolve without knowing Rollout.
On a side note, The Cutting Room Floor also provides an example of Pokemon that look as though they started life as relatives of a preexisting Pokemon but were eventually recycled into their own unrelated evolutionary line.
In the beta, Game Freak programmed Tangela to evolve from what was called Monja, as well as evolve into the Pokémon Jaranra.
Needless to say, Monja and Jaranra never made it past the beta, and Tangela wouldn’t evolve until Gen IV thanks to the introduction of Tangrowth.
However, Game Freak may have potentially recycled Monja and Jaranra for Pokémon Sun and Moon. The beta Pokémon might be a stark departure from Tangela’s tangled vine-like appearance, but they share several design aspects with Sun and Moon’s Mareanie and Toxapex, namely their body shapes and weaponized hair motifs.
I would love to know if Game Freak actually salvaged Monja and Jaranra for Mareanie and Toxapex, if the similarities are nothing more than coincidence, or if I’m seeing patterns where none exist.
After ten long years, Game Freak has finally evolved Farfetch’d, but the Gold and Silver beta ROM is still full of the sprites of unfulfilled ideas, many of which I couldn’t list in this article.
Perhaps these concepts could come to fruition as future regional variants and evolutions. The future holds so much promise and potential.
For more on Farfetch’d and its new evolution, Sirfetch’d, you can watch the reveal trailer down below:
Featured Images from The Pokemon Company and The Hard Times