The Vegetable Mareep of Kalos
I love Pokémon. As soon as a new game gets released, I play it almost religiously. I became especially happy when I heard about X and Y, as they would be released simultaneously worldwide. Finally, a main series Pokémon game without the inconvenience of waiting months on end for a western release.
But I digress.
Once I got my hands on Pokémon X, my new adventure in the Kalos region began. I started out with a male Froakie named Kermit. Ten days after starting the game, I’ve raised my whole team to beyond level eighty before challenging the elite four and the champion.
Once I had finished the initial game, I went about exploring areas I missed during my game play as well as the hope to complete my Pokédex.
And that’s where things get……weird.
I battled a horde of Mareep on route twelve. When I returned to the over-world, a pokéball had appeared on the battle site. When I picked it up, the message “You obtained a Lamb Berry” appeared. I found that odd because when obtaining a berry in X and Y, it’s usually near a berry tree and they are shown as a tiny round berry like item, instead of a Pokéball item model.
I checked the lamb berry and as expected, it was found in the berry pocket. For some odd reason, when selecting the lamb berry, the cry of a Mareep was played while all the other berries didn’t have any cries at all.
The icon for the lamb berry looked like a yellowish cloud with small green leaves and a stem attached. Curiously I read the description.
“A berry often found near flocks of Mareep. If held by a Pokémon, it makes the Pokémon immune to electric attacks”
When I read that, I thought that this could come in handy in future battles. I decided to go to the berry garden on route seven, near Camphrier Town, where I planted the berry and added water to the soil, resulting in another Mareep cry after watering the buried lamb berry.
For about three or four days, I kept checking out the bush that grew from the lamb berry. Unlike the other berry bushes, which are usually green leafed, the lamb berry bush had yellow leaves and a blue stem: the same color scheme as a Mareep. It was also much bigger than the normal berry bushes, at least double or triple the size.
When I attempted to harvest the newly grown berries, multiple Mareep cries were heard simultaneously. Then came the transition animation for a battle with multiple Pokémon. What appeared surprised me and made me feel a little sick.
I recognized the battlefield scene as being similar to that of Santalune Forest and the forest covering route twenty. However, rather than normal foliage, the trees were all the same color scheme as the lamb berry bush. In front of me was a central lamb berry bush from which five Mareep were hung from on stems as if they themselves were the fruit of the bush.
I sent out my Pyroar, Ceasar and attacked one of the Mareep that were hanging from the tree-like bush. Although I managed to bring the opposing Mareep’s HP to zero, the normal fainting animation did not occur. Instead, the Mareep shriveled up and during the animation a weak distorted cry was heard, along with the sound of cracking and crumbling of bones along with the sound of stretching skin. The skin pulled tightly around the skull and leg bones, falling off of its stem to the ground with a hard thud sound before disintegrating to dust. I was then met with the text “Mareep has died”.
The color faded from my face when I saw what had transpired; I felt my lunch rising up from my stomach, but I managed to hold it in. The event reminded me of a story I've read a long time ago but I couldn't figure out what it was. I repeated the same process on each opponent until only one Mareep remained. I tried to capture it, like any wild Pokémon. I succeeded with the use of only one Pokéball.
My team was already full, so the newly captured Mareep was sent directly to the PC. When I returned to the over-world, the lamb berry bush had not died off and vanished the way I would have expected it to do once berries have been harvested. Not only that, but more lamb berry bushes had sprouted from the soil patches throughout the entire garden. Mareep cries could be heard through the entire area.
This was freaking me out. I decided to leave the garden and head to the Pokémon Center in Camphrier Town to check up on the Mareep I had caught. I switched out my Heliolisk, Nedry for the newly caught Mareep and checked out its stats. The Mareep itself appeared a bit withered and sickly. It also said that it is an ELECTRIC/GRASS type instead of the usual electric type. Also its HP bar showed as if it had been damaged during the battle, but I didn’t even attack it during the battle. Even if I did damage it during the battle, I expected it's HP to be fully recovered like what usually happens when a newly captured Pokémon was sent to the PC box. It only had one move – Seed Flare – a move I was sure Mareep couldn’t learn.
When I left the Center, I noticed that every ten steps, the screen would glitch. It was much like if a Pokémon were poisoned. “This is impossible” I thought to myself “Poison damage while walking in the over-world hasn't been in the games since it was last used in the fourth generation main game series”. When I checked my party, my Mareep’s health deteriorated. When checking its stats, the model had become more sickly and grotesque. Another ten steps and the mareep’s health was less then half it's total HP and looked even worse then before.
I tried to give it a super potion, but it had no effect. The Electric sheep's health just continue to deteriorate with every step. Suddenly I met with the animation for Sweet Scent, though yellowish, rather than its normal pink. A text then followed, “Mareep used Seed Flare. Mareep has died”.
I checked the stats and the character model was now a skull next to a pile of withered wool with flies all around it. Its type has changed to GRASS/GHOST. Its status now says “DEAD”
Now I was sure what these transpired events reminded me off. It's a myth called "The Vegetable lamb of Tartary", in which, like the Mareep in the game, sheep grew from a mysterious plant and slowly die when "harvested". Did Game Freak finally wanted to add an event based on a rather dark myth? I was both creeped out and intrigued.
When returning to the over-world, to my shock, I noticed yellow and blue sprouts appearing along the route. Some of which have become full-fledged lamb berry bushes. I tried to enter the grass to find other Pokémon. However, I kept running into the same horrifying horde battles with the lamb berry bushes with a flock of dangling Mareep.
I managed to escape the battles, but every escape simply made way for another battle, and then another in constant succession. More and more Mareep cries flooded the speakers. The cries grew so loud and numerous that the background music was drowned out completely. At that point, the screen glitched horribly and then received a message “The save file has gone corrupt and is deleted”
There I was....hours of training my team gone to waste. All of it...gone. That strange in-game experience...cost me all of it. Once I snapped out of my utter disbelief, I hurried online to see if others have had similar experiences with this event. Had others lost hours of progress due to this? Indeed, I found that I had not been the only one.
There were several other cases just like mine.... So many that even Nintendo....Even Game Freak have acknowledged it, though with no explanation as to why it had occurred. Instead, they simply offered special patches to prevent it.
I've since restarted the game and began rebuilding the team I lost. This time, I know to never pick up or plant a lamb berry. I can resume normal game play now, but I'll never forget the invasion of the vegetable Mareep of Kalos.