Did You Know Gaming? has come a long way. Once a blog full of Facebook-tier image macros about questionable videogame trivia, now it’s a YouTube empire with a focus on videogame history and preservation. DYKG’s latest project involved the resurrection of a lost Pokémon browser game called Pokémon 2000 Adventure, which has now been uploaded to the Internet Archive.
Originally created as a tie-in for the second Pokémon movie, Pokémon 2000 Adventure was the work of Cyberworld, a company making browser-based 3D environments as promotional tools—letting users wander around in first-person recreations of scenes from movies, comics, and so on. Hired by Warner Bros. to help market Pokémon: The Movie 2000, Cyberworld went above and beyond, making a fondly remembered though short-lived game where you chose from three teams of Pokémon with different abilities you could use to solve puzzles across three explorable islands.
With its 3D world populated with 2D sprites, Pokémon 2000 Adventure resembled late-90s shooters. It was a real and actual videogame, and that turned out to be its downfall. After racking up around a million downloads over the course of a month, it was shut down by Nintendo.
As Eddie Ruminski, a programmer at Cyberworld who worked on Pokémon 2000 Adventure, explained in DYKG’s video, “Nintendo freaked and they immediately hit us with a cease and desist.” Having expected a modest interactive webtour rather than a videogame, Nintendo was concerned about brand confusion between Cyberworld’s creation and the official product. “It was the greatest compliment,” Ruminski said. “Via cease and desist, saying, ‘Sorry, what you made was too much like a good videogame.'”
Thanks to Ruminski providing the files and archivists rufus10 and DoomTay getting them working, Pokémon 2000 Adventure is playable again today. You can download it from the Internet Archive in a package that also includes design docs and storyboards, as well as the raw files and demos of other Cyberworld games. If you played it at the time, I imagine firing up Pokémon 2000 Adventure today will be a potent hit of nostalgia—a Proustian rush only with Moltres and Articuno instead of madeleine cake.
Though none of the monster trainers on PC have taken off in quite the same way as Pokémon, the series has found a home on our platform of choice thanks to emulation and randomizers, which add to their replayability, and then there’s the whole history of weird bootleg Pokemon games on PC.