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The effects of the MISSINGNO. glitch in Pokemon Red and Blue have well-documented at many sources. Encountering MISSINGNO. corrupts Hall of Fame data, causes temporary graphics glitches, and sets the most-significant bit of the 6th item in the player's inventory.

That said, there are also a lot of rumors about MISSINGNO. and its origins. There are many sites online that claim that MISSINGNO. can delete saved game files, but I've yet to find any actual verifiable claims that support this.

Are there any verifiable reports of MISSINGNO. actually deleting saved game files or otherwise rendering an existing save file unusable? Or is this just another urban legend?


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up vote 16 down vote accepted

As directly quoted from the MissingNo. page on Bulbapedia:

"Missingno.'s appearance in-battle allows the item duplication glitch, which increases the number of items in the 6th Bag slot by 128 unless the number of items in the slot already exceeds 128.

Encountering Missingno. has been known to interfere with the save game data in various ways, such as adversely affecting the Hall of Fame saved data and (if its stats are viewed) messing with some graphics until the stats of a non-glitch Pokémon are viewed. When a Trainer battles with Missingno. in their party, both the Trainer sprite and their Pokémon's sprites will be scrambled, and all other sprites will be reversed. Viewing the stats screen of a non-glitch Pokémon will remove the effects. In Pokémon Yellow, capturing Missingno. will cause multiple player sprites to walk around the screen. "

Nintendo has an official description of Missingno. listed in their Customer Service troubleshooting section. A direct Nintendo quote:

MissingNO is a programming quirk, and not a real part of the game. When you get this, your game can perform strangely, and the graphics will often become scrambled. The MissingNO Pokémon is most often found after you perform the Fight Safari Zone Pokémon trick. To fix the scrambled graphics, try releasing the MissingNo Pokémon. If the problem persists, the only solution is to re-start your game. This means erasing your current game and starting a brand new one."

TL;DR: No, it just messes with your save files, permanently messing them up, but not actually deleting them.

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This confirms the known graphics, item-duplication, and HoF corruption aspects of MISSINGNO., but doesn't seem to suggest that it would destroy saved game files. – templatetypedef Feb 24 '14 at 22:55
Exactly. There doesn't appear to be any indication of MissingNO corrupting a game outside of a few stores. – Thebluefish Feb 24 '14 at 22:57
As TheBlueFish said, there is no quantifiable evidence suggesting deletion. So your answer would be 'No, it does not delete save files." – Ataxia Feb 25 '14 at 1:31
I have personally had, and heard other reports, of the exploit completely botching the game. At this point, nothing will work. In one case I seen, the game will not even save. So keep in mind that the MissingNO problems can become quite permanent. – Timelord64 Oct 6 '15 at 23:06

After a bit of research I have found a lot of information with little verifiable proof.

MissingNo is created by an error handler which replaces any unknown pokemon ID with MissingNo. MissingNo is commonly confused with 'M' or 'M-Block' but is not the same pokemon, nor the same glitch.

From Missingno. Master/Glitch Rumors:

Seeing or capturing Missingno. will wreck your game.


Probably the oldest rumor out there. It still holds strong amongst newbies, as in this day and age, the old Red and Blue versions are conking out due to old age and people are quick to blame Missingno. for this. Missingno. scrambles the sprites and screws over the Hall of Fame, sure, but the first is easily fixed and the second is actually entertaining. This is the extent of Missingno.'s damage to the game.

That being said. As the game shows the same corruption across saves this proves that the game save itself is corrupted. The two main corruptions known are the garbled display (which can be easily fixed), and corruption in the Hall of Fame (which can't). Even if the save is corrupted in a non-chaotic fashion, there is no way to verify that the savedata will remain stable across the rest of the game without re-running the entire QA process on the new corrupted save.

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It doesn't delete the save game files. But it does make them unusable.

One friend could see his game but couldn't login.
Another friend could login but was in some kinda void, black empty space as a map.

In result they have to restart the games.

(I do not remember for sure but I think this only happened to one color (red or blue) only 1 of them)

Some people actually benefited from MISSINGNO. So it goes both ways.

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Do you have an independently verifiable source on this? – templatetypedef Feb 22 '14 at 21:27
nothing more than, 2 years of my childhood, 2000+ hours of gameplay, full pokedex, being the pokemon master of my middle school – Esqarrouth Feb 22 '14 at 21:35
1 read this, i do remember that alot of people messed with missingno but only 2 lost game saves. it seems only the early blue&red versions have these. any blue&red version ever produced ran out of internal battery years ago, so you should have this problem :) – Esqarrouth Feb 22 '14 at 21:39
@Esq ......pointless huh? for the childhood you spent on that game you say pointless to play the original? tsk tsk tsk – Dupree3 Feb 24 '14 at 21:46
It's not an exact copy... It's not only expanded and has more areas and catchable Pokémon, it most notably lacks many glitches and uses an entirely different internal battling system. The original doesn't have shinies, abilities, or natures, also EVs and IVs work completely differently (which is why they're called differently, too). The remakes not only have better graphics and access to many more Pokémon, they also are much more complex and complicated. And glitches really affect the playing experience, whether positively or negatively depends on the player's character and play style. – scenia Feb 25 '14 at 13:02

Yes, MissingNo. affects saves, but only the area containing Hall of Fame (I refer to RB MissingNo here, Yellow one is a very different issue).

When encountering any Pokemon in the game, save bank with Hall of Fame data is opened. The reason being that the area just before Hall of Fame used for decoding sprite data (for this reason, Pokemon games with corrupted save RAM don't display any Pokemon or display them incorrectly).

However, MissingNo. sprite causes buffer overflow, and goes beyond the limit of sprite buffer area, overwriting Hall of Fame data. The sprite is constant (read from ROM, not RAM), so it always corrupts the same area of RAM, and there is no risk of it doing something unexpected.

Despite that, the Hall of Fame corruption is actually harmful. If you won't view Hall of Fame (on PC), MissingNo. should be completely safe. However, Hall of Fame has garbage data, which means it can load glitch Pokemon which can have worse effects on RAM (and some of these are loaded from RAM, which means inserting actually pseudo-random data into Hall of Fame). The save bank containing the Hall of Fame data doesn't contain any important data, which means those mons don't have much to corrupt. Although, you are advised to not save after viewing the Hall of Fame, because there is a potential that viewing it corrupted some of actual game RAM (and saving would store those changes in save RAM).

MissingNo. also sets highest bit of sixth item in inventory when seen. This usually increases it by 128, unless it was 128 or higher already. This is because the code to handle seen Pokemon considers Pokemon 0 to be 256, and then goes beyond area of seen Pokemon, accessing the item data.

Garbled sprites after seeing MissingNo. are caused by leaving the flip flag set after decoding the sprite. This normally should never happen, but it did, because MissingNo.'s sprite is not intentional. Seeing a sprite in Pokedex should reset the state of this flag.

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protected by StrixVaria Dec 20 '14 at 21:23

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