Part 6: Assorted ‘Old’ Kanto
A few basic differences are that the maps still use the Gen I signpost design and the house tiles haven’t been touched at all, leaving the harsh shading from the original that makes all Kanto houses seem angry. But overall, there are three major groups here: the maps that were kept the same (and I won’t bother showing, assume everything not included here looks exactly the same as it does in the version you can play at home); the ones that were given some QoL improvements that were then undone in the final version; and the maps that are yet intact and then were heavily edited for the final. Weird, I know.
So let’s do a rapid shootout of these two categories.
Maps that were improved for the beta but kept the same in the final
Route 3 & 4
Mt. Moon is fine and all, but, seriously, even its reduced version is a bit of a hassle at that point of the game. So that shortcut would have been useful and should have improved the commerce and communications between Pewter and Cerulean! And they could have put the Silver battle somewhere unavoidable along those narrow paths anyway.
No Rock Tunnel! A clear path to the Power Plant and to Lavender! I mean, from a practical point of view, this fits the idea of “the plant was up and running again” than the final/original one, landlocked in the middle of nowhere. I guess they eventually found the space to resurrect Rock Tunnel and the rest is history.
Maps that were the same in the beta but edited for the final
The Trainer’s School was still there in the beta, replaced by the Trainers’ House in the final. Also, the entrance to Blue’s Gym has only one house, as opposed to two in the final.
The Science Museum is famously closed in the final. Not so much in the beta.
Strictly speaking, there is a change: the cuttable tree at the bottom was removed already. But the final makes some minor adjustments to make the city not feel like a maze.
Lavender is entirely intact. No hint of a Kanto Radio Tower or the Cemetery yet.
I think this is a case of “There’s a lot of pointlessly empty space and we are running out of space in the ROM, cut something!”
Also, there is no gate to check whether you were riding a bike. I don’t get why.
Not much to say – the map is literally intact compared to the original. The final, on the other hand, changes a lot, especially on the northern side. It baffles me that the cuttable trees remained to the end, though.
Still up and running. Not so much later. Also, one of the caves mysteriously moved up a couple of tiles… I blame the volcano eruption.
Speaking of which, Cinnabar was intact. I assume at some point they realised how many Johto dungeons they could make by deleting maps from he– I mean, having a volcano accidentally erupt.
Fun fact: the lab maps survived (albeit unused) until the end, and were found in the final cartridge.
The League Reception Gate was shrunk, possibly to match the Johto side, and certainly to make the trip slightly less aggravating.
Saffron & Vermilion
And finally, there are two maps that were edited for the beta and then had some of the changes undone and new different ones made instead. A mix of the two, essentially.
What do we have here? A redesign of all buildings, plus two of them boarded out, and a whole block removed from the middle row to make it look symmetrical. Hope its inhabitants were given alternative emergency housing. Also, there are no gates in any of the exits. No idea why. Saving maps?
And yet, there are a few things missing. Where is the Magnet Train? No, really, we know it departs from Johto. Was it just a decoration? Where would it drop you off?
Also, in the final map, they got enough room to reopen one of the houses from the second row they had boarded up… but not the same one. I guess they forgot which one they had removed at first when they had the chance to re-add it.
I don’t even know how to categorise this one. How in the hell were you supposed to get into Kanto, if there was no SS. Aqua port on either side and the Magnet Train didn’t have a station in Kanto? Had they thought this through? Other than that, it’s identical to the original, but man, that’s a huge change.
The final reinstated the port, but also changed the path to Digglet’s Cave, to allow for a Snorlax to block the path. Whatever they had planned for Kanto originally, it was extremely different to what we eventually got.
And that was our trip through the beta maps! That was a lot of work, but wow, there was a lot of meat to chew here. So many fascinating changes and early drafts that were dramatically improved. Gen II is one of my favourites, along with Gen V, and I’m so glad they took all that extra time to make these games so much better. Gen I made Pokémon a fad but Gen II solidified it into the highest-grossing entertainment franchise of all time, and I’m sure that all the care they put in the final version of the games was a huge factor on that.