Two Incredible Glitches Make The First Pokémon Games Way Easier

Two Incredible Glitches Make The First Pokémon Games Way Easier

One thing many Pokémon fans have in common is that growing up, we'd hear all sorts of stories about glitches and legendaries you could capture if you did something random and esoteric. Most kids, as we now know, were lying. Or well: it's more like they didn't know how to pull the glitches off, exactly.

Turns out, Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow have a couple of absurd glitches which allow you not only to level to 100 before the first gym, but also allow you to capture the legendary Mew before the second gym (and then, yes, level that to 100).

I'm not pulling your leg! The hardcore may know these glitches as "The EXP underflow glitch" and "The Mew glitch," respectively. And while these glitches have been documented before, Redditor I_Kissed_Cereal took the time recently to write up tutorials which you can follow to pull off both glitches — and they're complete with pictures.

The EXP Underflow Glitch

First, an explanation — here's Bulbapedia, breaking down why this glitch exists:

In Generation I and Generation II, level 1 Pokémon in the Medium Slow group were calculated to have -54 experience points. However, due to the use of unsigned integers, the game interpreted this value as 16,777,162 experience points. If a level 1 Pokémon with negative experience points completed a battle without gaining enough experience points to reach 0 or higher, the game, attempting to determine its level based on the number of experience points it had, would consider it to be at level 100 (having gone well over the amount required to reach this level), causing it to instantaneously jump to this level.

Which is to say, the glitch doesn't work on all Pokémon. Another curious thing about the glitch is that if the Pokémon has two evolutions, you won't actually be able to get to the last evolution — 'mon only evolve once per level-up sequence. So if you try this glitch with a Bulbasaur, it will turn into a level 100 Ivysaur, not a level 100 Venusaur. But, hey — that's the trade-off you get for fully levelling a Pokemon, a glitch you can pull off before you even reach the first gym.

Anyway, here's the tutorial — click on each image on the bottom of the gallery, from left to right, to see each step: Or, if you'd like to see the glitch in action, here's some footage by TTEchidna:

The Mew Glitch

This glitch feels like the more unbelievable of the two — but it's real. You can in fact catch Mew early — and then level it to 100. You can't do this glitch as early as the EXP underflow glitch, but still — if you pull it off, you can have a level 100 Mew. All you need is the move growl, lots of Pokeballs, and some patience — just because this glitch is possible doesn't mean it's easy!

Here's the tutorial by I_Kissed_Cereal — once again, click on each image at the bottom of the gallery, from left to right, to see each individual step. And if you'd like to see the glitch in action, here's footage from MackLL:

Neat, right? Weird to think this was all possible when we first played the games, and that that knowledge did percolate across many playgrounds, but many of us didn't learn how to actually do it until adulthood. So it goes!

It's worth noting that I_Kissed_Cereal is currently writing a whole bunch of different tutorials to glitches you might not know about in early Pokémon games — if you'd like to see them all, check this out. And if you'd like to read about all the documented glitches for all the games, you should read up on Bulbapedia.

Via Reddit


    The best glitch was the one that allowed you to duplicate items and create unlimited rare candy and master pokeballs. Made it very very easy to win.

    I found out about the second Mew glitch WAAAAY back in the early 2000's, let's just say there was a massacre at my school playground that day - many young minds were blown. "No way! You got MEW???! I thought you could only get that in Japan by asking Satoshi Tajiri very nicely?"

      i also did this back in school, and then started cloning him using the trade cable trick, and selling them for $5 each.
      Cleaned up :D

        And of course this was when $5 was a veritable fortune, I can only imagine the sort of playground pimp you must have become - better than investing in Apple at the time

          actually yeah, back in 97, $5 would get me a pie, a coke and "king of fighters/dynomite cop" money

      I remember there was a small Pokémon convention/roadshow in Perth where you plugged in your cartridge to a machine and they gave you Mew for free :)

    I tried so hard to catch a 'Pikablu' back then *sigh*. I managed to get a Mew (three of them actually) the legit way though - went to that special event at Macquarie Centre.

    Last edited 12/03/14 9:57 am

      Me too - exact same place. I also got three! Traded one to a best friend, the other two were still on the cart when I sold it years later.

    Ha! I just looked at the second YouTube video ON YouTube, to see that I've already liked it! Probably back in 2007 when I actually liked Pokemon.

    Umm, that first glitch doesn't work for legit games. Yes, the glitch exists, but I can't think of any way to get a level 1 pokemon in gen1 or 2 because the lowest level wild pokemon is 2 and eggs hatch at 5 (reduced to lv.1 only in gen4 onwards)

      If you took the time to read the slide information, you'd find that the main part of the glitch is actually obtaining the lv. 1 Pokemon.

      From what I read, it also included a way to catch a lvl 1 pokemon too. This was on imgur, didn't bother reading the kotaku one since they both appear to be the same.

        Ah, I didn't look at the Imgur images here because I figured they were showing the exact same stuff as the video, but the video starts out with a lv1 bulbasaur.

      The images explain it better. Through a series of bullshit, you're able to get one pokemon, lower its attack 6 times, perform aforementioned bullshit, and the next pokemon you encounter will be level 1.

      I want to take this time to point out Patricia was browsing Imgur and made an "article" about it.
      She got paid for this.

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