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On the Origin of Species: Mew

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[[File:151Mew.png|200px|thumb|Mew, the New Species Pokémon]]When I first played {{bp|Pokémon Yellow Version|Pokémon Yellow}} at the tender age of nineteen, there was still an air of genuine mystery and excitement surrounding {{p|Mew}}, the very first event-exclusive Pokémon. There was no global trading or wiWi-fiFi distribution back then: if you wanted Mew in your Pokédex, you had to be damn lucky.
 
Or you could cheat, I suppose, but that's not the point.
By now, we're all used to Nintendo's well-established act of pretending that event legendaries don't exist until they're ready to distribute them. While {{bp|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl}} were released in September 2006, {{p|Arceus}} wasn't officially revealed to Japanese fans until February of 2009. But in Mew's case, they had a good reason for not revealing it: they didn't know it existed.
 
Although the first generation of Pokémon games contain a handful of references to Mew as the mysterious creature used in the creation of {{p|Mewtwo}}, there was no plan for it to appear in the games. However, at the end of the development of {{bp|Pokémon Red and Green Versions|Red and Green}}, programmer {{bp|Shigeki Morimoto}} noticed that there was enough room for one more Pokémon, following the removal of the debugging tools. And so, Mew itself was quietly inserted into the code, and although the higher-ups at {{bp|Game Freak}} were all aware of the new hidden content, Nintendo werenwasn't. Mew couldn't be accessed through normal gameplay and, as Morimoto put it, "Unless we could think about any good opportunity to do so, the existence of Mew wouldn’t have been revealed to the public. It was left in there in case it was suitable for some post-launch activity."
 
Mew might have remained a secret forever were it not for certain bugs in the games that led some players to discover its existence. As rumors of a hidden Pokémon began to spread, Nintendo capitalized on them by launching the "Legendary Pokémon offerOffer" in {{bp|CoroCoro|CoroCoro Comic}}. Twenty winners would be selected to have Mew put on their game cartridges, and there were around 78,000 entrants. Nintendo and Game Freak have both indicated that this was the turning point for Red and Green, lifting them to best-seller status.
 
Mew definitely had a role to play in the growing popularity of the Pokémon franchise, and it place in the in-game universe is equally important. It is often described as the ancestor of all Pokémon, although this phrasing wasn't used until {{bp|Pokémon Crystal Version|Pokémon Crystal}}, where it can be found in Mew's Pokédex entry. Prior to this, in {{bp|Pokémon Silver Version|Pokémon Silver}} it was stated that ''"Its DNA is said to contain the genetic codes of all Pokémon"'', which was used to explain Mew's ability to learn all {{bp|TM|TM moves}}. In the whole of the first generation, however, no statements were made regarding Mew's relation to other Pokémon. This is interesting, because it seems that Mew wasn't originally conceived as the ancestor of all Pokémon at all. Instead, this is an idea that seems to have gradually developed over time. To see why the designers arrived at this decision, let's take a look at Mew's appearance.
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