Some Pokémon Sun and Moon players are reporting that the games suffer from a devastating bug which renders them unplayable. Creating a save in a handful of locations corrupted their progress entirely, they say, forcing them to start over — but the actual culprit of that bug appears to be an unauthorized homebrew program, not a glitch in the game itself.
Users of the PKHex tool, a program that allows players to edit Sun and Moon’s code to alter their locations, encounter rates and Pokémon teams, found that saving in Pokémon Centers across the entire Alola region damaged their files. As the program is an unofficial tool primarily used by hackers, many players falling victim to the save glitch weren’t forthcoming about PKHex’s possible involvement.
Tweets and posts from a variety of those affected were enough to scare Pokémon Sun and Moon players from saving in the game’s Pokémon Centers. Video and images of the bug showed that, upon reloading their files, player characters were gone, and they said they were unable to proceed any further.
The same was true when saving in certain portions of the Battle Tree, a competitive area unlocked during the post-game.
Either way, it was enough to ward all players using the editor off of saving inside of either location. The Pokémon Center is a common save point, although Sun and Moon lets players save their game anywhere at any time.
Players have since come forward about their use of PKHex, which its creator says is the cause of the save glitch, not Sun and Moon themselves.
“Funny how people blame the games for a 'glitch' instead of stating they used an illicit tool,” PKHex developer Kurt, well known in the Pokémon hacking and datamining communities as “Kaphotics,” wrote on Twitter following original reports of the glitch. “The tool caused the problem.”
An older version of the editor caused the glitches, but has since been updated following Sun and Moon’s launch on Nov. 18. Those using the outdated PKHex program were affected by the bug, according to Kurt. He detailed the issue in an email to Polygon.
“Basically, the game stores player coordinate data in fixed point (like decimal),” Kurt wrote. “When the game loads, it plops your character on the overworld map at those coordinates. If the coordinates don't mesh with the map, the glitch occurs.”
The person who uploaded the original glitch video has since removed it following Kaphotics’ tweets, while another user who experienced the bug confirmed to Polygon that they’d used PKHex.
“I originally thought the glitch was due to messing with PKHeX so I kinda just ignored it, but since other people were reporting the same issue I thought it may have been a genuine issue with the game but it seems like it is just a side effect to PKHeX,” Twitter user Desu Oshawott told us.
It’s possible to reverse this damage, according to Desu Oshawott, who said that the editor allows users to change their locations to circumvent the bug. The most recent version of PKHex has corrected the issue, Kurt said.
“If users are experiencing [the glitch] without using any sort of editing tool, it may be the same issue related to coordinates,” he told us. “I really doubt this happens without cheating.”
A similar glitch affected 2013’s Pokémon X and Y at launch, as some unfortunate, non-hacking players may recall. Saving in the North and South Boulevards of the gigantic Lumiose City would lock up the game upon load. A patch was issued shortly after players brought it to light, but not before they had to suffer the consequences.
Update: We’ve updated the story above to reflect that this is a glitch affecting a small portion of the player base, as the result of using an outdated hacking program. We’ve contacted The Pokémon Company and Nintendo to confirm that the glitch is solely the result of cheating, and will update again accordingly.