With the impending Virtual Console release of Pokémon Gold and Silver, I thought it would be a good time to go over one of the second generation’s most potentially interesting, but unfortunately flawed, mechanics: the Apricorn Poké Balls.
At first glance, it probably seems like a pretty neat idea. Drive Team Rocket out of Azalea Town, and you’ll be able to avail yourself of the services of Kurt, an old man who still knows how to make Poké Balls the old-fashioned way. Give him a special fruit known as an Apricorn, and one real-time day later, he’ll have a special variety of ball to give you. These special balls are designed to make catches easier in certain situations, such as when capturing exceptionally heavy Pokémon.
To help you decide which of these balls you might like to use, here is a guide of which color of Apricorn produces which type of ball, and where they can be found.
Red-Level Ball (Route 37)
Blue-Lure Ball (Route 37)
Pink-Love Ball (Route 42)
Yellow-Moon Ball (Route 42)
Green-Friend Ball (Route 42)
Black-Heavy Ball (Route 37)
White-Fast Ball (Azalea Town)
Unfortunately, if we take a look under the surface, we’ll discover that several of these balls have malfunctioning behavior that, if it doesn’t render them effectively useless, severely curtails when they can be useful.
Let’s begin with a look at the Love Ball. Presumably intended to make it easier to catch breeding partners for your party members (this was the generation that introduced breeding) this ball is supposed to have a higher chance of catching Pokémon that are the same species as yours, but the opposite gender. As it happens, the function was coded improperly. The bonus only kicks in if the target is the same species and gender as your Pokémon. Good luck using this ball to make capturing breeding partners easier.
Next up, the Moon Ball. The intended purpose of this model was to have a higher chance of catching Pokémon that evolve by way of exposure to a Moon Stone (for example, members of the Jigglypuff and Clefairy families). However it happened, the system instead checks whether the current target evolves by way of exposure to…Burn Heal. Of course, no Pokémon back then evolved by way of exposure to medicine (none do now, either). As a result, all that really happens if you take this option is that you turn in the Apricorn, wait one day, and…get a regular Poké Ball for your trouble.
Finally, (with regard to glitched models) we have the Fast Ball. Generation II introduced the ability for non-legendary, non-Safari Zone Pokémon to flee from you (a feature abandoned in future games). This ball is supposed to make it easier for you to catch those Pokémon before they can run away. Unfortunately, due to yet another error in implementation, don’t expect any difference unless your target is a Grimer, Tangela, or Magnemite.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Friend Ball (massive boost in friendship upon successful capture), Lure Ball (increased catch rate against Pokémon hooked while fishing), Heavy Ball (Catch rate increased by varying amounts depending upon the weight of the target), and the Level Ball (The catch rate is increased by a varying amount depending upon how much your Pokémon outlevels the target) apparently work as intended (although you should be aware that if used against something weighing less than 225.8 lbs. the Heavy Ball will actually subtract from the catch rate).
Still, that means that roughly half of the balls that you can obtain from Apricorns are hindered by a glitch of some kind. Add to this the fact that you can only obtain one ball every twenty-four hours, the fact that you can only pick one Apricorn from a given tree once every twenty-four hours (apparently, the in-universe explanation is that the trees are very fragile: picking too many at once or picking unripened ones could kill them), and the fact that in Generation II, there is only one tree available for each color of Apricorn, and you may find yourself wondering whether all the waiting is really worth it.