Pokémon Gold and Silver are 19 years old—quite a bit older than much of Pokémon's fanbase. But we only recently got an in-depth look at the beloved games' beta form thanks to a ROM dump that's brimming with unused sprites, unseen monsters, and other tidbits of information.
This elusive demo was previously only seen at Space World 1997. Its legacy survived thanks to blurry game magazine scans and bits of VHS footage. Now you can study an early sprite sheet, learn the early names of Pokémon introduced through Gold and Silver, and take a gander at the games' initial map. Interestingly, the map seems to spread across the entirety of "Japan," not simply the Johto region. Kanto is in the game—squished into a town—and is mostly non-functional, though Resetera member "The Shadow Knight" did a little fenagling to explore at least part of it.
The Space World demo for Gold and Silver was playable two years before the games launched in Japan, but it's very interesting to see how much was changed and cut in the Pokémon roster alone. We get to see a fiery bear-like starter who was eventually replaced by Cyndaquil, as well as baby versions of Growlithe and Meowth. We even see cut Pokémon who were given life much later down the line; the demo's cut Water-type starter is a seal who might be the basis for Pokémon Sun and Moon's Popplio.
Pokémon history enthusiasts are already translating the demo ROM, and published a spreadsheet with more information about the project. It's been an exciting time for Pokémon overall thanks to a slew of recent announcements that paint a picture of what we can expect for Pokémon Generation 8 on the Switch.