The Demo for the DS' First Pokemon Game Has Been Archived

The Demo for the DS' First Pokemon Game Has Been Archived

Maybe you don't remember Pokemon Dash, but it's a piece of Pokemon history nonetheless.

With a franchise as long-lived and as storied as Pokemon, not every game in the series is destined to stand out. Pokemon Dash is one of those lesser official Pokemon titles, but the simple Nintendo DS racing game now has two noteworthy facts to its name: not only was it the first Pokemon title released for the platform, as of today it's also the last Nintendo DS game to have its store kiosk demo preserved for posterity.

Today, dataminer and video game preservation enthusiast SimonTime announced that they had located and archived the demo for dash, which they refer to as the "holy grail of Nintendo DS kiosk demos." According to SimonTime, until now there was only one known copy in existence, and nobody had managed to "dump" or save the contents of the demo until now.

Forgettable as Pokemon Dash may have been—our sister site Eurogamer doesn't appear to have reviewed it upon release, even though it was a launch title in Europe—you can trace an interesting history of Nintendo's handheld systems and the way it could distribute its games and demos through the game.

Remember that the first Nintendo handheld to launch with support for enough removable store to potentially hold a game demo was the DSi, a hardware revision that didn't come out until late 2008. Even then, the DSiWare online store didn't support buying full versions of retail Nintendo DS games-physical games existed on cartridges, and DSiWare games were digital-only.

That means that kiosk demos of DS games essentially had to be distributed on cartridges (the alternative, I suppose, would've been making special kiosk-only DS units with other storage options, which would be even more desirable targets of theft).

Having a file of a game isn't the beginning and end of game preservation, but they're important to keep nonetheless. Demos, especially for games made early in a system's lifespan, could also prove even more interesting to researchers and historians.

So, unless you're a game archivist, you might not have much reason to visit SimonTime's repository of the demo, and Pokemon Dash is probably at the bottom of the list of Pokemon games that'll get a modern remake. Still, it's neat knowing that the community has closed the book on one chapter of preserving the history of Pokemon and the DS (which, by the way, barely trails behind the PS2 as the best-selling line of video game hardware ever). Perhaps when someone sits down to craft the definitive history of Pokemon, this'll mean Dash can be more than a mere footnote.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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