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Pokémon’s big superstitions (and mine, too)

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If Friday the 13th doesn’t bring out your superstitious side, consider yourself lucky

ash throwing a poké ball, looking kind of weird The Pokémon Company

I am a tremendously superstitious person, for reasons that are inexplicable: I will never open an umbrella indoors. I don’t step on cracks, if I can help it. I won’t walk under a ladder, and keep your black cat away from me, please.

There’s no day brings that out in me more than Friday the 13th. That’s made all the worse by the fact that the accursed date falls in the most inherently spooky month, October — so yeah, you can bet I am wearing as many of my lucky charms as possible today.

But even if you don’t share in or even respect these admittedly inane beliefs of mine, when it comes to playing games, we all have our odd quirks that we think will give us just that little boost of extra luck. That’s especially true when it comes to Pokémon, a series that’s steeped in superstitious behavior.

Players have subscribed to certain rituals since the games first launched. There’s the notorious “down plus B-button” trick, which players have long believed will guarantee them a successful Pokémon capture. Holding down on the D-pad and the B-button right after throwing a Poké Ball has long been said to be the key to catching any Pokémon, and it’s easily the best known Pokémon superstition.

There are others, too, including variations on this one. I’ve gotten used to holding down the A-button aggressively — no D-pad required — in order to secure my Pokémon. I have a similar compulsion with Pokémon Go, although that involves anxious tapping on the screen after I swipe a Poké Ball at whatever I’m trying to catch. If I don’t do that, I feel like I’m seriously halving my chance at a successful capture. Again: stupid, but it doesn’t hurt to just try it, right?

I also have a weird thing about making sure that my starter Pokémon is in the first slot, so that it will still like me and know that I like it back. (There’s actually a reason to keep your starter Pokémon in this spot in certain games, so I’m not totally deluded.) I also used to save in the same place every single time, treating it like a sort of home base — or else my game would end up borked or crash somehow.

Slightly different superstitions include those revolving around how to find Mew in the original games. The story back in the day was that the legendary Mew could actually be found in Pokémon Red and Blue — which is false, unless you perform a glitch — if you were willing to follow an elaborate set of steps to do so. The idea was that Mew was tucked underneath a nondescript truck, and players had to try to move it aside using the Strength ability to unearth Mew. That wasn’t actually possible, but the rumor was enough to make everyone hold out hope that one day, they could get that truck moving.

There’s also the disturbing MissingNo, a glitch that was said to crash your save file permanently if you battled it incorrectly. That one’s a little less superstition, a little more based in reality; MissingNo is an actual glitched-out Pokémon, but that doesn’t mean the rumors around the nature and powers of it weren’t the stuff of fabled scares.

But most of us really just have rituals when it comes to trying to catch Pokémon. Whatever button you press after throwing that ball, you know you press one. And you also know you don’t need to.

Everyone has some unique, nonsensical thing they do while playing a game they’re obsessed with — at least, I believe that to be true. Maybe sharing them below will help keep the rest of us steeped in good luck ... or just encourage me to get even more obsessive about this.