There’s elaborate performance art, and then there’s whatever renowned Twitch jester Jerma did over the weekend. In a truly inspired stream, he parodied the recent Pokémon booster pack craze by going out into the Nevada desert and pretending to excavate a chest seemingly full of unopened Pokémon cards from 1997. They turned out to be something different: Grotto Beasts. Spoiler: Grotto Beasts is not and never has been a real series, but that hasn’t stopped Jerma’s community from taking the joke and running with it to the furthest ends of the internet.
The stream, which took place on Saturday, set a new high bar for the phrase “commitment to a bit.” Jerma went out into the Nevada desert with an excavator, a production crew, and a paleontologist from the Nevada Science Centre. Clad in an archaeologist outfit that was definitely just a Poe Dameron Halloween costume and a scarf, he unearthed a wooden chest apparently left behind by his grandpa. It contained a treasure trove of ‘90s snacks — which Jerma joked were underwhelming because Dunkaroos, Surge soda, and the like came back after “a bunch of people complained on Twitter” — and a box of “collectible monster card packs” from 1997. Jerma, never once breaking character, lost his shit. After all, old Pokémon cards can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars now.
He proceeded to delicately pry open the box, only to find booster packs for something called Grotto Beasts.
“Grandpa, you picked…” he said in a tone of faux-bewilderment. “This shit didn’t even go for one full season on TV.”
Once he started opening the packs, however, he came across some legitimately interesting creature designs, like Veggiroo, a kangaroo made of vegetables, and Meowdy, the cowboy cat. “These are actually fucking cool,” he said.
Of course, everybody in chat already knew it was a gag; that was the fun of it. Plus, evidence of the cards’ true origin was hidden in plain sight, with each card displaying the Twitter handle of the artist who drew it. On Twitter, artists were ecstatic at how well their work was being received.
“I’m so overwhelmed with the response about Grotto Beasts from @Jerma985‘s stream!!” Hollulu, one of the artists who worked on the project, said on Twitter. “It was an honour to work on them, and it couldn’t have been done without the other fantastic artists, @Sturnerart, @melscribbles, @BellymouthArt, who all knocked it out the park!!”
That’s an understatement, given the timeframe they were working with. In a DM, Melscribbles told Kotaku that “we managed to get it all done in just over a week.”
The stream felt like it had been planned out for much longer, with an entire second segment in which Jerma and a legitimate paleontologist, Joshua Bonde from the Nevada Science Centre, cracked open geodes and examined the crystal formations within. Bonde patiently explained the combinations of air and water that had caused unique patterns to form over the course of thousands of years, even as Jerma occasionally produced gag geodes that contained things like plastic Minecraft diamonds and a seed pack from Stardew Valley. Jerma, meanwhile, reacted to Bonde’s explanations with real enthusiasm, saying that if he’d been able to do this when he was 20, he’d be a paleontologist now and not a streamer. It was funny, wholesome, weirdly educational entertainment — and it was wholly unlike anything anyone has done on Twitch before.
After the stream wrapped up, fans immediately latched onto Grotto Beasts. It did not take them long to discover an official website (seemingly created by Jerma) that looks like a Geocities page from 1997, complete with an info signup form that promises a launch in “mid-1997.” If you dig into the page’s code, you can even find a webmaster email address, which some fans have reached out to in an attempt to get jobs. Others took matters into their own hands, continuing the idea that Grotto Beasts was definitely a real ‘90s Poké-wannabe with their own period-appropriate art and theme songs — which they “found” in closets and on cassette tapes — as well as an entire Discord and subreddit where users create monsters and mechanics to pretend to be nostalgic about in real time.
For example, one user on the subreddit posted about a card called “Sk-8-ter Shroom” with an ability that lets you “Take your opponent’s Grotto Beast and shred it in front of their face.”
“I took this card away from my friend, but he continued to use the ability,” said another user, waxing faux-nostalgic.
This all sprang up incredibly quickly, with entire songs and cards materialising mere hours after Jerma’s stream ended on Saturday. If you weren’t in on the joke, you could be tricked into believing that people really have been sitting on hazy memories of an ill-fated Pokémon clone for over two decades. All this from a parody stream that taught people about rocks. These days it’s about as rare as a holographic Razzleposs, but sometimes, the internet is alright.
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