4) N's Room (a.k.a. Welcome to Neverland) (Pokemon Black/White Version)
Team Plasma and their plans for world domination were doomed for failure from day one. Why? The group unanimously decided it would be best to place all of their faith in Natural Harmonia Gropius (rolls right off the tongue, right?), or "N" as his chums like to call him. He certainly covers all the standard paint-by-numbers criteria for an evil leader, but there was just one teensy snag that derailed everything: guy's got the mind of a child.
Intentional or purely coincidence, the developers took a page from Michael Jackson's Neverland, with N's room filled to the brim with children's toys and games (minus the incriminating appearance of Youngster and Bug Catcher trainers, naturally). All of this lends itself to the theory that N suffers from a severe case of Peter Pan syndrome; pretty psychologically heavy stuff for a game rated "E." Fortunately, N escapes his tortured life as "King Man-Child" with his legendary Pokemon, traveling to parts unknown. But knowing N, he probably went out to ransack a bunch of toy stores.
3) Hacking Off Slowpoke Tails = Profit (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal Versions)
It's a question that has entered the mind of nearly every gamer: with no real world livestock in sight, do people eat Pokemon? Team Rocket answered this for us when they peddled fresh Slowpoke tails for the masses to devour upon discovering they secrete a sweet-tasting substance from the tips of their tails (you learn something disturbingly new every day). You can't say they don't jump on a profitable venture when they see one.
True, the Slowpokes' tails grew back over time, implying that they are a living renewable resource (thus opening a brand new chapter in Pokemon zoology). Regardless, it makes you think about the other Pokemon that are being exploited for food items. Somewhere, out there, there's a Rocket grunt selling fudge-dipped Mankey paws and glazed Snorlax spleens from a cooler inside his beat-up 1986 econovan.
2) Pokemon On an Open Fire (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal Version)
The Legendary Dogs. The Legendary "Dammit, get in the f**king PokeBall already!" Call them what you will, but the Legendary Beasts -- Entei, Raikou and Suicune -- are a part of the mythos of the Johto region. Now, as geeks, we've played enough video games to know that legendary creatures always have epic origin stories. And this time is no different. The Legendary Dogs sprung up from the charred remains of Pokemon that were caught in a disastrous blaze.
Yeah, they were given a second lease on life as omnipotent beasts, but being burned alive is still being burned alive no matter how hard one tries to soften the blow. And it's hard to shake the image of three tiny Pokemon running around in erratic circles, screeching their names in anguish as their skin is seared like a roast pig over a flaming spit. It's easy to see that Nintendo was trying to add some subtle shock value to the series, probably hoping to shed its childish stigma. For now, it's best to leave the burning of Pokemon to overzealous and misinformed television evangelists denouncing the franchise as the devil's work.
1) Pokemon Can Die?! (Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow Version)
Pokemon is targeted at kids. And what do kids like? Cute and endearing characters that promote the virtue of friendship. And what's the worst possible thing to do with said characters? Kill them. And what does Nintendo do? Shake some serious shit up and create Pokemon Tower: a massive graveyard with wall-to-wall gravestones that drive home the shocking and universal truth that even Ash's companion Pikachu is susceptible to Death's cold embrace.
Who was the Game Freak employee charged with designing this stage (and concept)? It must have been a much older, bitter game developer. You know, that hermity-looking skeleton who sits all the way at the end of the conference table mumbling profanities under his breath while damning children, cuddly animals and good will towards man. And Pokemon Tower was his magnum opus of misery.