"By the way: If you like this game, buy it or die."

July 27, 2010 by Noah
I discovered I hold a small chunk of Internet fame even though nobody knows it.

In Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, there's an anti-piracy measure that I triggered late one night while using a MysticTicket and AuroraTicket to start my quest of capturing Lugia, Ho-oh and Deoxys. The ticket checker at Vermilion City told me to buy this game or die.

By the way: If you like this game, buy it or die.

I created a You're The Man Now, Dog page using this animated GIF image (because at the time--near the end of high school--YTMND was cool). From there apparently the GIF found a home in the Bulbagarden forums.

Months (years?) after making the GIF I decided to google this and see if anyone else has seen it. Apparently it's been verified by various ROM dumpers to be legitimately in the game's code, so my ROM wasn't just a hacked copy. And that's when I discovered the familiar-looking animated GIF; verifying its MD5 hash proved it was indeed the result of my 5 minutes spent taking screenshots and animating them that these people were all linking to.

Interestingly, it seems that the GIF is the only screenshot (animated or otherwise) that exists on the topic. IIRC all I did was enter some cheats to get me a MysticTicket and AuroraTicket (either by cheating and making my monsters carry them when captured and subsequently take them away, or else by buying them at a Pokemart) and then attempting to catch a boat with them in hand.



There are 19 comments on this page. Add yours.

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Red posted on September 26, 2010 @ 11:25 UTC

wow, gamefreak is harsh O.o

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"buy it or die" posted on November 30, 2010 @ 02:03 UTC

by the way if you like this game, buy it or die.

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Silver Fangirl posted on November 30, 2010 @ 04:49 UTC

Geez, I think you should buy the game...

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By the way: If you like this game, buy it or die. posted on November 23, 2011 @ 05:40 UTC

by the way if you like this game, buy it or die.

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Tom Selleck posted on June 18, 2012 @ 22:32 UTC

Better buy the game son, Or gamefreak will kill you. This is grounds to sue them man, go get your money from these nazi assholes.

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357 posted on June 20, 2012 @ 02:20 UTC

i wanted to buy it but now you blackmailed me, why should i

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Guest posted on June 24, 2012 @ 16:29 UTC

I wish it had a happend to me. By the way: if you like this game, buy it or die.

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BAD@$$ posted on July 12, 2012 @ 17:53 UTC


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zen posted on January 6, 2013 @ 00:44 UTC


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Anonymous posted on February 27, 2013 @ 05:04 UTC

Did you now gaming sent me here.

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Anonymous posted on June 21, 2013 @ 19:38 UTC

ok i think game freak are a bit to mad about emulators!!!

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Randy posted on December 21, 2013 @ 08:52 UTC

Well, They are mod because you're basicly stealing away their game in-which has been made carefully. They do now want their game they put so much time into that's meant to be paid for being able to be downloadable free of charge. Still, It's kinda hardcore for a multi-national company...

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Anonymous posted on April 16, 2014 @ 16:37 UTC

Lol Mix

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Gamefreak posted on November 25, 2014 @ 01:47 UTC

By the way, if you like this game, buy it or die!

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r4rev2 posted on February 10, 2015 @ 01:30 UTC

I know this is very old, but after searching through the game's code I can confirm that there is no text string that contains that message. Nice lie though it seems to have gotten a lot of attention around the internet.

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Noah (@kirsle) posted on February 10, 2015 @ 04:45 UTC

@r4rev2: citation needed?

I saw this happen while playing Pokemon FireRed on VisualBoy Advance years ago. I took screenshots and made the gif animation in the blog post above. To the best of my knowledge, I was not playing a ROM hack based on FireRed, but FireRed version itself.

Of course, I won't rule out the possibility that somebody hacked FireRed to insert this text and then widely distributed it across the Internet to the point where multiple people will unwittingly be playing this modified version of the game. Clearly, I'm not the only person in the world who's seen this message come up in-game.

The hashes of my copy of the game are:

  • MD5: f2539569f53289d01a1f8264022c049f
  • SHA1: 2bb16265c038d8c354e6b256501bdcf101685b13

I Googled around just now to see if I could redownload this exact copy of the ROM and didn't find any luck in the first handful of results; I found ROMs with these MD5 hashes though:

  • e26ee0d44e809351c8ce2d73c7400cdd was the most common
  • 51901a6e40661b3914aa333c802e24e8 seems to be a v1.1 version of the game

This is making me curious, so I ran a diff of my copy of the ROM vs. the e26ee0d copy I found on the majority of download sites. Pastebin link. I'm not a ROM hacker so I don't know what was modified between these two versions of the ROM.

If I had to wager a hypothesis, it appears to me that the common version of the ROM online today (e26ee0d) has a large amount of code dummied out (set to 0xFF); this may be somebody's hack of removing this copy protection code from the game, which I would expect as typically pirates will patch games to remove features like this. You can see that my copy of the game has a good amount of code in that section of the ROM.

Maybe I have the original ROM before this copy protection "nagging" was hacked out, and that you can't find an original copy of the ROM online anymore.

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Noah (@kirsle) posted on February 10, 2015 @ 05:08 UTC

Update: I figured the ROM doesn't use ASCII encoding for their text strings (the strings utility returns a bunch of random noise) so I looked up the encoding.

The tail half of the dummied out code is the text "By the way: if you like this game, buy it or die." starting at address 0071a29f and stopping at 0071a2cf. Pokemon text encoding table

The code between 0071a23d and 0071a29e would be interesting to decode as this is probably the copy protection mechanism that triggers the text.

If this was a simple ROM hack by a prankster adding a bit of text to a dialog box, I wouldn't expect to see much code added to the file except the simple text itself.

Hexdump code translated to the Pokemon text encoding (the . for fe is an end-of-line character):

0071a290  cd c6 bb c8 be 00 d5 e2  ed e8 dd e1 d9 ad fb bc  |...............B|
0071a2a0  ed 00 e8 dc d9 00 eb d5  ed f0 00 c3 da 00 ed e3  |y the way: if yo|
0071a2b0  e9 fe e0 dd df d9 00 e8  dc dd e7 00 db d5 e1 d9  | this game|
0071a2c0  b8 00 d6 e9 ed 00 dd e8  00 e3 e6 00 d8 dd d9 ad  |, buy it or die.|

Edit: I transcribed the rest of that entire block of code into PokeAscii. It's the entire bit of speech starting from the Aurora Ticket:

0071a230  e0 03 00 02 30 68 1b e9  1e ff 2f e1 ff c9 dc ab  |1Â Á..âuì..m.Oh!|
0071a240  00 ce dc d5 e8 b4 e7 00  d5 e2 00 bb cf cc c9 cc  | That's an AUROR|
0071a250  bb ce c3 bd c5 bf ce ab  fe c8 e3 eb 00 e8 dc d5  |ATICKET!$Now tha|
0071a260  e8 00 dd e7 00 e6 d5 e6  d9 ad fb d1 d9 b4 e0 e0  |t is rare.$We'll|
0071a270  00 d6 d9 00 dc d5 e4 e4  ed 00 e8 e3 00 e8 d5 df  | be happy to tak|
0071a280  d9 00 ed e3 e9 00 e8 e3  fe bc c3 cc ce c2 00 c3  |e you to|BIRTH I|
0071a290  cd c6 bb c8 be 00 d5 e2  ed e8 dd e1 d9 ad fb     |SLAND anytime.\B|
0071a2a0  ed 00 e8 dc d9 00 eb d5  ed f0 00 c3 da 00 ed e3  |y the way: if yo|
0071a2b0  e9 fe e0 dd df d9 00 e8  dc dd e7 00 db d5 e1 d9  | this game|
0071a2c0  b8 00 d6 e9 ed 00 dd e8  00 e3 e6 00 d8 dd d9 ad  |, buy it or die.|

This speech about the Aurora Ticket is also found around address 0017fc60 in both versions of the ROM. At that address is also the text about the Mystic Ticket. My new hypothesis is that there's a code jump from ~0017fc60 to ~0071a230 when a copy protection check was tripped.

Edit 2: The first three bytes changed in the diff (starting at address 00166aaa, bytes 3d a2 71) is probably a jump instruction. Rearrange those three bytes into 71 a2 3d and go to memory address 0071a23d and that's where the beginning of the text "Oh! That's an AURORATICKET!" starts.

From more Googling it looks like this is probably a hacked copy of the ROM. There's a large amount (~3M) of unused space in the ROM (all the FF bytes around 0071a230) that somebody copied the AuroraTicket text to, extended it, and then changed a pointer to make the game say that instead of the original AuroraTicket text (which then goes un-used).

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CRASHIR posted on November 9, 2015 @ 16:39 UTC

So Krisle, did you buy the game? you must have, your still alive right?

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Sortash Zorn posted on March 21, 2016 @ 10:40 UTC

This kind of messages is typically written in readme by cracking groups that don't agree with the "why should I buy anything if I can get it for free" mentality.

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