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From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
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The old man, as he appears in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, shows the player how to catch wild Pokémon.The old man is a small, grumpy old man that lives in Viridian City, Kanto. At first, he is very grumpy and will not let the player pass through to Route 2, until he has had his coffee for the day. This is just a barrier in the game, so players will not wander past Viridian City until the player goes to the Viridian Poké Mart and delivers a parcel to Professor Oak.
After that, he starts to lighten up and help the player by teaching them how to catch a Pokémon using a Poké Ball. This is like a guide for novice players in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Rather than teaching how to catch Pokémon, he gives the player a Teachy TV in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, which teaches the player a variety of things about battling and catching Pokémon. His grandson is the Poké Dude.
He appears again in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, and Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver saying that he had his cup of coffee and also tells the player he was once an expert at catching Pokémon. This is a reference to the events that happened three years before Generation II. Because Kanto is not accessed until later in those games, the old man will not demonstrate how to catch Pokémon; this role is taken by Route 29's dude in Gold, Silver, and Crystal and Gold/Kotone in HeartGold and SoulSilver.
In the original Japanese, the old man is not grumpy from lack of coffee, but rather passed out, drunk. This was changed in English for obvious reasons, as this could be deemed as "unsuitable" by parent activist groups.
The old man in Generation I Old man glitch
Main article: Rare Candy cheat
The old man glitch (more commonly known as the Rare Candy cheat) is probably one of the most infamous glitches in the Generation I Pokémon games. It is the reason for the appearance of Missingno. and 'M, and has a side effect of multiplying the player's sixth item.
The reason for this is the game's use of the space for wild Pokémon data as a temporary storage for the player's name while the game demonstrates how to catch Pokémon with the name "OLD MAN" entered instead. As this data is overwritten neither in cities nor in sea routes, Missingno. and co. can appear to the player depending on the name entered. This was rectified in later games (Yellow especially) which deleted the data on moving to another town.
Pokémon Red and Blue
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen
The old man is the first non-player character to receive a back sprite. Unlike most other NPCs with back sprites, however, he (and Route 29's Dude) lacks a front sprite.
In Pokémon Red and Blue, the old man successfully captures the wild Pokémon, after throwing a Poké Ball at it, however, in Pokémon Yellow, the Pokémon escapes the ball the first time.
In Pokémon Red and Blue, he owns a total of 50 Poké Balls in his bag before he demonstrates how to capture Pokémon to the Trainer. This was changed to one in Pokémon Yellow
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