Part 50: The Ridiculous Rabbit Hole of the e-Reader (Part 1: Overview)Side Notes 09: The Ridiculous Rabbit Hole of the e-Reader (Part 1: Overview)
Right... the e-Reader. Do you remember this periphery? I sure don't, since Europe never got this thing as it nearly went the way of the Mobile GB. It's a GBA cartridge that can have special cards scanned onto it to unlock new features in existing games, or to play a wide (and I mean WIDE) variety of minigames on the e-Reader itself. Originally slated specifically for Pokemon TCG cards, Japan got a load of these cards sold in packs that had some come over to North America. Some. While it was pretty popular in Japan, as per usual, it wasn't in the US and Australia and so was never released in Europe, or in other languages aside from Japanese and English.
So what the hell did this thing do? Well, it unlocked a fair amount of features in FRLG and Emerald, as well as a few other Pokemon games, like Colosseum, Channel and Pinball RS. It still had the main use of scanning different TCG cards, with the short strip on the card detailing the card's Pokedex entry, a card summary and info on the long strip. The long strip contained data for various minigame applications, which, when combined with other similar cards with other data, could become playable. The biggest of these minigames was Construction: Action, where you scanned cards that had Player data and ones with Map data to navigate stages and catch Pokemon.
Now, if you clicked that link to read all about the minigame, scroll down to the bottom to see all the various applications you could use with the TCG cards. It's a big box, right? The minigames take up HALF of it. If I sat here and described each minigame to you and what cards you needed to unlock them, I would be here all fucking night. There is seriously SO MUCH to do with the e-Reader and did I mention these minigames could be unlocked by promotional cards? As in, ones that you could only get at specific events and are incredibly rare? And require other cards from those specific events? Like the Tokotoko Truck, which required 5 cards, all of them from the JR Train Rally held in August 2002. Remember, a lot of this stuff was only released in Japan, so there's even more ridiculously rare content that you've probably never heard of.
I'm not kidding when I say it's a rabbit hole. Other small features include certain TCG cards that have hidden attacks or Poke-Powers or Poke-Bodies when scanned into the e-Reader. Seriously. There are also miscellaneous TCG applications, such as a Coin Toss with a Chansey coin, or a Kitchen Timer, or just moving a random Pokemon around the screen using the d-pad, or a chess clock application, but for the TCG. If some of this stuff sounds familiar to you, that's because some of them were taken to become Poketch applications. So yeah, this is where the Poketch came from, from a TCG set in December 2001.
Now, before we go over the other big thing the e-Reader could do, let's talk berries. There are 12 berries exclusive to the e-Reader and only 6 of them were released in the US and thus have english names. These berries could be scanned in, held by Pokemon, had various effects, could be planted and grown, but could not be moved forward to FRLG and Emerald, or Colosseum, XD and Pokemon Box RS, since it only originates in Ruby and Sapphire. The Enigma Berry serves as its placeholder in Gen 3, though e-Reader berries traded forward to Gen 4 will become Enigma Berries and is the only way to obtain that berry unless you buy it in Battle Revolution or held by event Darkrai. All of these e-Reader berries can be made into Pokeblocks, usually having great flavour stats for it and they're mostly for that purpose, though some cure status and the Ginema Berry acts as a White Herb.
Next up is the Eon Ticket. Is there anyone reading who got it this way? During 2003, either at E3, or through the September issue of Nintendo Power, or Toys "R" Us (RIP), you could scan this card into the e-Reader and onto an RS game if you'd unlock the Mystery Gift (or Mystery Events), putting the Eon Ticket into your bag. Since Emerald doesn't have the Mystery Events option, just Mystery Gift, you needed to mix records with an RS player who had scanned in the Eon Ticket to get it in that game.
Then for Pinball RS, you could scan in 5 different cards to activate various events that were diffcult to trigger, such as being able to catch a rare Pokemon, increase low encounter rates, or basically cheat mode, picking from any bonus stage, or starting a game maxed out on everything. Finally, for Smeargle Paint on Pokemon Channel, there were e-Reader cards to unlock new line art to use while drawing, as well as palette patterns. These were only released in the US or AUS and one card was exclusive to each region.
Finally, we have the various cards you could scan in to battle new trainers in various locations in the game. Only one of these sets was released outside of Japan, the one with the berries. They came in booster packs of 9 cards, 8 trainers, 1 berry, each with different names, like the booster pack of a TCG set, though always containing the same cards. When scanned in, the trainers on these cards would appear in the basement of the old man's house in Mossdeep, with the Sootopolis house only available in Emerald and thus Japan only. These trainers could also appear in the Battle Tower and some had Pokemon not in the Hoenn Dex and could be fought as high as level 100. In just this single set alone, out of six sets total, spanning different games, there are 48 trainers. The second set for RS was pretty similar, having the second set of berries, as well as some trainers with Shiny Pokemon. Again, they came in six sets of 9 cards.
Not just Ruby and Sapphire got these battle cards. Colosseum got them for use in a postgame area exclusive in the Japanese versions. Remember that left door in Phenac Colosseum that never opened? Beating these battles also let you obtain 3 Shadow Pokemon that are otherwise completely unobtainable: Togepi, Mareep and Scizor. The next two series were for the FRLG and Emerald Trainer Tower/Trainer Hill, increasing its height from the default of 2 floors in the Japanese version, giving exclusive time trials in FRLG and rare HMs in Emerald. We'll go into more detail in Part 2, when we reach that area, but to fluff up the place in the international versions, like they did with the Battle Tower in Crystal, they made it perfectly accessible from the start and pulled a fair few trainers from those cards to use as opponents. There were also promotional e-Reader cards, with even more trainers to fight, for all 5 battle sets, just in case there wasn't enough trainers already.
And that is, at least, a glance over everything you can do with the e-Reader for the Pokemon games. It's a fuckin rabbit hole on which you can spend hours going over and there is definitely more to talk about. Later.