Live streaming Siamese fighting fish Mutekimaru is hundreds of hours into his quest to be the very best.

While some video games’ success is limited to a specific demographic, Pokémon has an incredibly broad fanbase. The series is played by boys and girls, kids and adults…and now, even a fish.

Mutekimaru (also known as Maurice) is a beautiful blue betta whose owner, Japanese YouTube user Mutekimaru Channel, recently posed the question of can a fish finish a Pokémon game?

For this experiment, Mutekimaru Channel visually divided Mutekimaru’s tank into nine different sections, each corresponding to a controller directional or button input (with the wrinkle that hovering over the section for the A/confirm button for three seconds counts as a second press). He then set up a camera to track Maruice’s movements, and put together a circuit board that would relay the inputs to a GameCube running 2002’s Pokémon Sapphire (no emulation here!).

The owner gave Mutekimaru a tiny bit of help at the start, advancing the game’s lines of introductory text. But once the game starts in earnest, the human turned things over to the fish, which happens at the 1:45 mark of the video above. Things get off to a pretty good start, too, as after just about a minute and a half Mutekimaru is able to move his no-screen Pokémon trainer out of the truck where the adventure begins.

One of the first tasks for the player to perform is going to the main character’s house and setting his clock. This takes Mutekimaru 35 minutes, which is still impressively speedy considering he’s a fish and doesn’t actually know he’s playing a video game. But then things hit a major snag. Before you can venture out not the field and start catching Pocket Monsters, Pokémon Sapphire makes you go to your neighbor’s house and say hi to the kid who lives on the second floor. Completing this task takes Mutekimaru a whopping 19 hours and 10 minutes.

▼ The house with the arrow is the one he needs to go to.

▼ Yes!

OK, now Mutekimaru can finally go out into the field. Unfortunately, there’s only one exit out of town, a narrow opening at the north border, and it takes the fish a long time to stumble through it: 59 hours and 20 minutes! When he does, though, it’s a wonderful sight to see.

There’s no time to waste celebrating, though, because this is where Pokémon Sapphire has you choose your starter Pokémon by grabbing a Poké Ball from a bag and rescuing Professor Birch. Mutekimaru selects a Torchic, and then makes short work of a wild Poochyena, as seen here.

▼ Attacking with Scratch

▼ Victory!

Of course, this also gives Mutekimaru the right to give his Torchic a nickname.

▼ He goes with “Nohohohoho.”

But though the betta is also known as the Siamese fighting fish, it turns out the Mutekimaru is far from aggressive in Pokémon battles. In addition to the condensed videos above, Mutekimaru Channel has also posted a number of multi-hour ones. At 60 hours and 11 minutes of playtime, Mutekimaru gets into his first random battle…

…in which he attacks only once, and then runs away!

“You successfully ran away!”

This isn’t a one-time thing, either. Mutekimaru almost immediately gets into another random battle, and again runs away before wandering back into town, and his pacifism continues even after he returns to the field and gets into more random battles.

The problem seems to be related to the game’s user interface. In order to attack, first the battle menu cursor has to be positioned over “Attack.” From there, pressing the A button to confirm, brings up a list of available techniques, and hitting the A button again executes the attack, while hitting the B button cancels out and take you back to the main battle menu. On the other hand, if the cursor is positioned over “Run away,” all you have to do to initiate the escape attempt is hit A once. In other words, attacking is a two-step process, but running away is only a single-step one. Factor in that defeating enemies usually takes multiple attacks, but successfully running away instantly ends the battle, and pure probability ensures that the majority of Mutekimaru’s fights are going to end with him turning tail.

And yet, Mutekimaru eventually gets the hang of fighting, and manages to capture an impressive variety of Pocket Monster species, including a three Zigzagoons, a Taillow, a Whismur, and a Nincada.

▼ Mutekimaru’s battle triumphs

▼ Once again, his choice of nicknames is unique, like with this Zigzagoon that he named “A!!”

You might have noticed that in the Pokémon-capturing montage, the layout of Mutekimaru’s “controller” goes through some changes. That’s because his owner noticed that the fish occasionally likes to concentrate on swimming in one part of his aquarium, which can lead to input loops that prevent him from making any progress. So occasionally his owner tinkers with the input assignments for different sections of the tank.

Other impressive feats Mutekimaru has accomplished: evolving his Torchic into Combusken and defeating gym leaders to earn badges!

▼ Sure, it took him 373 hours and eight minutes to acquire the Stone Badge, but that’s still less time than it would take us humans to learn how to breathe underwater.

▼ “Mutekimaru received the Stone Badge from Roxanne!”

Mutekimaru has now logged over 676 hours playing Pokémon Sapphire, earning two gym badges in the process, as well as a contingent of French fans in addition to his Japanese followers.

▼ Mutekimaru’s current live stream

Oh, and if you like the idea of fish playing video games on Nintendo hardware, but you’re not into Pokémon

…it looks like Super Smash Bros. is next on Mutekimaru’s to-play list!

Related: Mutekimaru YouTube channel, Twitter
Top image: YouTube/むてきまるちゃんねる -Mutekimaru Channel-
Insert images: YouTube/むてきまるちゃんねる -Mutekimaru Channel- (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
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