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YouTuber Reveals Rare Pokemon Cartridges We Were Never Supposed To See

The gaming world is full of rare cartridges never meant for the public eye. There are old Nintendo 64 demo carts, special NES and Super NES cartridges designed for tournaments, and more than a few pieces of Pokémon physical media that were supposed to be returned to Nintendo after use. Well, not everyone followed these instructions, which has given audiences an inside look at the man behind the curtain.

YouTuber The Retro Future recently came into possession of three very special (and very expensive and rare) Pokémon cartridges. These aren't demo cartridges that gave lucky gamers a sneak peek at upcoming titles. No, these are distribution cartridges. What is a distribution cartridge, you may ask? Back before Nintendo let players receive special Pokémon in the comfort of their homes through the magic of wi-fi, Nintendo held special events in stores. If you wanted an Arceus or Regigigas, you had to visit a participating chain, receive a Mystery Gift through the Nintendo DS' wireless, and would finally have a free Pokémon waiting for you in-game — no link cables needed. And the cartridges were the secret behind these giveaways.

In order to get the cartridges to work, The Retro Future had to finagle with his Nintendo DS since, apparently, the carts were (and still are) soft-locked from being used outside of scheduled giveaway dates — and because Nintendo discontinued the Wi-Fi connection service necessary for the giveaways. But after a ton of research, hard work, and exploits, The Retro Gamer got the giveaway cartridges up and running, and he was rewarded with ... a static screen of a wooden sign with a Pokéball and the words, "Distribution Pending," as well as the instructions, "Press the A Button to start distribution." Seems fairly underwhelming, but The Retro Future followed the instructions, and once he started up his copy of Pokémon Platinum and selected to receive a Mystery Gift via wireless, he obtained his free Pokémon. It was a simple, hands-free, and idiot-proof way for store owners to distribute Pokémon while dealing with customers — so long as retailers remembered to keep their DS plugged in.

Since each distribution cartridge is covered in labels that state "Must Return to Nintendo" and "Not for Resale" (the latter is so important it is posted twice on the cartridge), Nintendo clearly intended to prevent them from escaping into the wild. But, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and we gamers tend to reap the benefits.